5 Star Pitchers Who Could Fall Apart in the 2020 MLB Season
High-end performance from starting pitchers can be fickle. Even after a player blooms into a star at the position, it's much easier to fall from that peak than it is to maintain success. Whether it's injuries, age or just a decrease in performance, we regularly see top hurlers suddenly start to disappoint.
These five pitchers could suffer that exact fate in the 2020 MLB season.
1. Marcus Stroman, New York Mets
Freed from the Toronto Blue Jays midway through the 2019 season, Marcus Stroman finished the year ranking 12th among qualifying pitchers with a 3.22 ERA, appearing to have pitched significantly better than he did in 2018 (5.54 ERA). His skill-interactive ERA (SIERA) tells a different story though, jumping from 4.04 in 2018 to a career-worst 4.41 in 2019. Stroman has now set a new career-worst in SIERA in each of his six MLB seasons. Despite the apparent improvements in 2019, Stroman could very well be in for another campaign reminiscent of that terrible 2018.
2. Hyun-Jin Ryu, Toronto Blue Jays
From an old Blue Jay to a new one, Hyun-Jin Ryu's stats from 2019 check similarly worrying boxes. His stellar 2.32 ERA was good for tops among qualifying pitchers. His 3.77 SIERA, though, had him tied for 13th. That's still not a bad mark, but it's a far cry from the ERA. The 32-year-old also posted a SIERA north of 4.00 (4.36) as recently as 2017.
3. Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox
Injury concerns have already popped up for Chris Sale, but that's not the only red flag. At 30 years old, Sale's best years may already be behind him. We saw his average fastball velocity take a serious dip from 94.8 miles per hour in 2018 to 93.1 in 2019. Accordingly, his swinging-strike rate fell to 14.2 percent (still strong, but his second-worst in the last five seasons) and he allowed an average batted-ball distance of 208 feet (up from 183 in 2018). Even if he heals up quickly, there's no guarantee we see Sale back at the elite levels he reached in his first couple seasons with the Boston Red Sox.
4. Trevor Bauer, Cincinnati Reds
Trevor Bauer's status already took a hit last year, when he posted a 4.48 ERA after notching a terrific 2.21 in 2018. Last year's numbers show that we can expect more of the same as well. His 4.14 SIERA looked a lot more like it did in the 2015 (4.20) and 2016 (4.22) seasons than in his strong years, and we saw an accompanying drop in strikeout rate (27.8 percent) and rise in walk rate (9.0 percent).
5. Mike Soroka, Atlanta Braves
Similar to Stroman and Ryu, Mike Soroka's ERA (2.68) and SIERA (4.28) did not match up in 2019, and that's never a good sign moving forward. At just 22 years old he has plenty of room to grow, but a 4.28 SIERA put him tied for 28th among qualifying pitchers, and it will take a lot of growth for him to look like a star again in 2019. Adding a 20.3 percent strikeout rate with a middling 10.3 percent swinging-strike rate, and we shouldn't expect the youngster to look nearly as impressive in 2020.
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Jason Schandl is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Jason Schandl also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Jaymun. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.