Patience or Panic: Kevin Gausman, Francisco Lindor, and Kenley Jansen

What should we do with these struggling players?

Welcome back to our Patience or Panic series! We just finished our second full week of regular season games, so we’re at a point where sample sizes remain small yet meaningful. Unless you aced your fantasy drafts this season, you’re all too aware that many stud players are struggling mightily out of the gates. Today, I will break down three struggling players and provide a recommendation on whether you should exercise patience or start to press the panic button. While you’re here, check out our first two articles from this weekly series: Week 1 from yours truly and Week 2 from Ryan Loren. Here’s to those recommendations continuing to age well!


Kevin Gausman, SP, Toronto Blue Jays


A minor shoulder injury in Spring Training caused Gausman’s draft stock to drop slightly in mid- and late-March drafts once it was clear that he wouldn’t be built up fully to start the season. Drafters who took the discount (including me in one of our PL staff leagues) had to be stoked after Gausman’s first outing, as he posted a 36% CSW% en route to 1 ER in 4.1 IP with 6 Ks against the Rays. Since then, Gausman has gotten shelled, allowing 11 ER in his last 5 IP (19.80 ERA, 3.20 WHIP).

Kevin Gausman, 2024 Starts

As you can see in the chart above, Gausman’s fastball velo has been inconsistent start-to-start, leading to uneven results. In the 4/6 start in the Bronx, he surrendered 5 ER in 1.1 IP, while failing to record a single strikeout. The swing-and-miss stuff returned somewhat last week against the Rockies, but he still got lit up (6 ER in 3.2 IP) in one of the most favorable matchups a pitcher could have.


Verdict: Patience. I’m not going to lie, this start has me a little nervous, but it was good to see the velo and stuff come back to some extent in the 4/12 start. Gausman has been a stud for fantasy teams over more than 600 IP from 2020-2023, and we need to keep that strong track record in mind when deciding what to make of this slow start. Gausman’s PLV of 5.17 this year is actually better than his 5.09 mark last year and his second-highest in the five years that PLV has been tracked. He also attributed the drop in fastball velo on 4/6 to cold weather, something a few pitchers seem to be struggling with early this year. Managers should continue to keep a close eye on Gausman’s velocity in upcoming starts, but I expect him to land on his feet. Don’t be afraid to buy low on him if there are disgruntled managers in your leagues who aren’t willing to wait it out.


Francisco Lindor, SS, New York Mets


After a 30-30 season last year, the always-steady Lindor has hit .152/.260/.227 in 77 PA this year, with 1 HR and 0 SB. Lindor’s 48 wRC+ ranks 17th-worst among qualified hitters. Joining him in the bottom 20 are Julio Rodriguez (.186/.238/.203, 0 HR, 2 SB) and Nolan Jones (.182/.270/.318, 1 HR, 1 SB), yet another indicator of just how early it is in the 2024 campaign.

Francisco Lindor, 2023 vs. 2024

Even after looking under the hood, Lindor’s struggles remain puzzling. He’s showing improved plate discipline and contact skills that have helped him cut his strikeout rate in half! However, the drops in Barrel% and ICR% indicate that he may be sacrificing contact quality to make more contact, which is concerning. Hitters like Lindor who already make plenty of contact don’t need to make such changes, especially when they have 30-homer power.


Verdict: Patience. Pitch-level metrics like chase rate/O-Swing% and Z-Con% stabilize more quickly than batted-ball stats like Barrel% and ICR%, so I’m going to place more weight on those this time of year. Lindor is showcasing even stronger swing decision skills, and I expect that to start bearing fruit for him shortly. Lindor is not an asset for teams in batting average (.262 career, .254 last season), but he should be a steady volume-based contributor in all other categories, even if the power takes a step back this season.


Kenley Jansen, RP, Boston Red Sox


Jansen’s inclusion in this article might seem puzzling given that he’s 4-4 in save opportunities with a 1.59 ERA in 5.2 IP this season. However, he has a 9:8 K:BB ratio in six appearances so far and has had just one outing where he didn’t allow any baserunners. After Sunday’s wobbly effort (1 IP, 1H, 1ER, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 2 K), Jansen spoke about having difficulty controlling the ball this season. Jansen’s velocity is also way down on his trademark cutter; it averaged 94.3 MPH last season but only sits at 91.8 MPH this year. Because of his poor control, Jansen has needed to lean on the pitch more than ever (91.1% usage in ’24, 77.3% in ’23), even as the pitch’s nastiness has diminished. Its PLV of 4.70 is the worst mark the pitch has posted in the PLV era (since 2020).


Verdict: Panic. There comes a time when every aging closer loses his stuff, and I think we’re seeing that right now with Jansen in his age-36 season. The challenge he’s having with gripping the ball isn’t likely to be fixed overnight, and the same can be said for the diminished velocity. Even last year, when his stuff was far better, he was only decent by closer’s standards (3.63 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 29 SV).  I don’t want to be the one left holding the bag, so I would start shopping Jansen now for mid-tier starters or bats.

Patrick Fitzgerald

Patrick Fitzgerald is a Staff Writer for Pitcher List's fantasy team. He is an alum of Vassar College, where he pitched on the baseball team and studied economics and political science. Patrick is an avid O's fan and head-to-head fantasy baseball player (roto remains a work in progress).

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