Is it Legit? 7/9/24: Matt Waldron, Kyle Finnegan, and Riley Greene

Are Matt Waldron, Kyle Finnegan, and Riley Greene for real?

We are past the midpoint of the season. For most guys, we have plenty of data to be confident in. Here are some players that are playing well. Let’s see if it makes sense to be aggressive in picking them up, or buying/selling them.


Matt Waldron, SP, San Diego Padres


Overall Waldron’s numbers are decent but not great. In 99.2 IP he has a 3.61 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 22.3% K%, and 7.2% BB%. However, since May 15 he has 60.1 IP in 10 starts, a 2.39 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 21.1% K%, and 6.2% BB%. He is of course a knuckleballer, but he isn’t a modern Tim Wakefield that just tries to sneak the occasional low-quality four-seamer or curve as a surprise. He has a fairly deep arsenal. Along with the knuckleball (39% usage), he throws a four-seamer (21%), sweeper (21%), sinker (14%), and a cutter (6%).

Stuff-wise I’m not sure how to rate a knuckleball since there is so little to compare it against. For what it’s worth, PLV gives it a 5.01, which translates to an xRuns value of 3.57. It has allowed a wOBA of .253 and an xwOBA of .231. It does have just a 43.1% Zone%. As Nick often states knuckleballs are inconsistent, but in a vacuum, it is an effective pitch for Waldron.

His four-seamer averages just 90.7 mph (8th percentile) and it has a 4.73 PL (21st percentile). Stuff+ gives it just a 57. It also has just 13.3″ of iVB. It does get mediocre outcomes, but given its stuff, they’re better than expected. A .327 wOBA (57th percentile), .327 xwOBA (60th percentile), and 28.0% CSW% (57th percentile) give credence to the idea that he is using it effectively. However, if he were ever to be in a position where he must rely on it, it would not be good.

The story of his sinker is very similar. Below-average stuff, but average results. He throws it in the zone 60.6% (83rd percentile) and it has a 24.7% CS% (72nd percentile). It works for him to steal called strikes, but if he has to throw it much more than 14% it would likely get hit hard.

His cutter is a little different. It also has poor stuff, but it gets poor results too. It might be a small sample size as he’s only thrown 93 of them. It might help to make his other fastballs perform a little better as it’s one more pitch type for a batter to think about. If it continues to get hit hard he might want to ditch it entirely, but right now I’d say it isn’t going to make or break him with a 6% usage.

To summarize his fastballs, they are fine if they serve as secondary options. If they are forced to be primary, he’ll get shelled.

Last year he threw a slider 16% of the time, but he’s exchanged it for a sweeper this year which has a 21% usage. I believe this is the pitch that makes him a more stable option. PLV gives it a 5.65 (86th percentile) and it has 83rd percentile iVB. When batters swing at it it doesn’t get great results for Waldron. It has just a 19.9% Whiff% (14th percentile) and 33.9% ICR (51st percentile). However, it’s so much different than his other pitches guys can’t seem to pull the trigger on it. It has just a 37.2% Swing% (18th percentile), despite a 51.6% Zone% (92nd percentile). Because of this, it has a 29.0% CS% (97th percentile), putting him in good condition to throw his knuckleball.

Verdict: Legit. I don’t see any specific reasons for his improved results over the last 10 starts. I’m guessing it’s just a better understanding of how to utilize his arsenal. He has been throwing his cutter slightly less in favor of his knuckleball and sweeper. On days he doesn’t have his knuckleball he may struggle against a lineup with a lot of LHBs as he has little else to negate them, but his arsenal is so deep he will usually have a good floor. Of course, I don’t expect him to have a high ceiling either. As long as you don’t expect too much from him he will give you a good amount of innings per start, be a low injury risk, and provide an OK ERA and WHIP.



Kyle Finnegan, CL, Washington Nationals


While most have thought it’s only a matter of time before Hunter Harvey takes over for Finnegan as the National’s closer Finnegan has been posting great numbers. In 37.1 IP he has 23 saves, a 2.17 ERA, .96 WHIP, 26.5% K%, and 8.2% BB%. He’s been at least a part-time closer since 2021, but his ERA, WHIP, and K% have never been impressive. Has he changed anything to deserve this career year?

He added a sweeper this year, but he’s thrown it only 2% of the time. His repertoire is nearly identical to last year. In addition to the sweeper, he throws a four-seamer 67%, a splitter 27%, and a slider 4%. We’ll focus on the four-seamer and splitter.

The PLV on his four-seamer has jumped from an average 4.92 in 2023 to an 88th percentile 5.32. Its velo has remained solid at 97.2 mph (91st percentile) and he’s added 1.1″ of iVB to bring it up to 15.2″. That’s still just 53rd percentile, but it’s an improvement. The 1.2 HAVAA is decent, but nothing special, and is similar to last year. Stuff+ has given it a 100 in 2023 and 2024, so the high PLV must be due to great location right?

Well… it has a higher hiLoc%, but it’s still only 47.5%. It’s not really an explosive rising fastball anyway.


He doesn’t work any particular locations. He peppers the zone with it to the tune of a 95th percentile 62.6% Zone%. That’s a 7.3% increase over last year. It has a 10.9% SwStr% (56th percentile), 18.8% CS% (70th percentile), 41.0% ICR (50th percentile), and very low 21.3% FB% (9th percentile). Basically, it’s OK at generating whiffs, good at getting called strikes, and, when it is hit into play, it’s decent at limiting damage.

The 5.24 PLV on his splitter is 69th percentile and is comparable to 2023. It’s maintained its velocity while adding about 3″ more vertical break to it. This might be the reason for the significant O-Swing% increase. It’s jumped about 12% to 45.6% (85th percentile). This is fortunate for him because it’s been hit quite a bit harder this year. It has a 53.6% ICR (35th percentile) and .362 xwOBA (10th percentile).

Verdict: Not Legit. The splitter has a .362 xwOBA and a .269 wOBA. The four-seamer has a .308 xwOBA and .259 wOBA. I find it hard to believe that having that kind of difference on pitches you throw a total of 94% of the time is sustainable. The metrics behind those two pitches have only slightly improved since 2023 as have the locations. He is basically the same pitcher just with improved results. Couple that with the likelihood he will get traded out of the closer role and, if possible, you should sell. What you’d get in return might be so minuscule that it’s not even worth it.


Riley Greene, OF, Detroit Tigers


Greene was a much-hyped prospect and seems to be living up to his pedigree. In 2022 FanGraphs ranked him the #1 overall prospect with a 60 Future Value, 45/60 Hit, 45/60 Game Power, 55/60 Raw Power, and 40/40 Speed. In 2022 and 2023 he posted wRC+s of 96 and 119 respectively. Great numbers for someone who is just 23 this year.

He has continued to improve this year with a .261/.356/.500 triple slash. His ISO has also climbed from .109 to .159 to .239 this year. He’s even on pace to set a career-high in steals with 4 already. He has a 12.8% Brl% (89th percentile), 43.6% ICR (85th percentile), and 87th percentile bat speed.

He’s continually decreased his GB% while increasing his FB%, allowing him to increase that ISO. He even has an above-average Pitcher List Decision Value of 110. Combine that with his bat speed and you get his excellent results.

Verdict: Very Legit. If you want to be nitpicky you can point to his unsustainable 23.9% HR/FB%. Everything else says he is a rising star entering the prime of his career. He’s obviously not on any waiver wires, but I’d spend a lot to get him in keeper leagues.


Featured image by Doug Carlin (@bdougals on Twitter)

Andrew Krutz

Andrew writes for Pitcher List and is a lifelong New York Yankees fan. During the warmer months he can be found playing vintage baseball in the Catskill Mountains of Upstate New York.

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