Pitchers poised to break out in 2019: Pablo Lopez, German Marquez, and Hector Neris

SP Pablo Lopez / 23 years old / Miami Marlins

Photo: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

RHP Pablo Lopez’s admirable ascent to the major leagues is a wonderful success story. After missing all of the 2014 season due to TJ surgery, Lopez dominated every level of the minors leagues (2016: A; 2017: A+; 2018: AA, AAA, and MLB) and pitched pretty well in his first big league stint in 2018. Here were his minor league stats from last year…

AA

  • IP: 43.2
  • ERA: 0.62
  • K/9: 10.51
  • BB/9: 1.65

AAA

  • IP: 18.2
  • ERA: 3.38
  • K/9: 7.23
  • B/9: 1.93

Lopez’s strong showing earned him a call-up to the majors, where he flashed mid-rotation upside. He induced GBs regularly (over 50% of the time, which ranked 20th among MLB SPs with at least 50 IP) and generated plenty of swings and misses on his off-speed stuff…

  • Curveball SwStr%: 16.1 (per FanGraphs)
  • Changeup SwStr%: 15.9

His fastball lacks the lethality (SwStr%: 6.9) that his off-speed pitches bring the table, but it presumably enables Lopez to better set up his CH and CU. Pablo Lopez also throws a sinker (65.4% GBs!) which doesn’t coax many whiffs (SwStr%: 7.4), but it is still an effective pitch.

HRs were a little bit of an issue in 2018 (1.23 HR/9 in just under 60 IP at the major league level). On the plus side, Lopez’s control was great (2.76 BB/9), and he put up an ERA a tad over 4.00 (4.14).

Additionally, Lopez has been fantastic in Spring Training…

  • IP: 20
  • K: 16
  • BB: 1
  • ERA: 0.90

In terms of upside, I’d say Lopez’s ceiling is likely capped at a #3 starter (until his fastball establishes itself as a weapon).

SP German Marquez / 24 years old / Colorado Rockies

German Marquez is a deep sleeper candidate to win the NL Cy Young — he genuinely possesses that kind of upside. In the 2nd half of last year, Marquez raised his game to the next level…

  • K/9: 12.00 (5th among SPs with at least 40 IP post-all-star-break)
  • ERA: 2.61 (17th)
  • xFIP: 2.30 (4th)
  • FIP: 2.25 (5th)
  • fWAR: 3.3 (2nd)

German Marquez has done a solid job of limiting the long ball (only 1.10 HR/9), but he hasn’t fared very well in Coors Field overall…

Home

  • IP: 89.1
  • ER: 47
  • H: 100

Away

  • IP: 106.2
  • ER: 35
  • H: 79

All indications point to the fact that he’s healthy, as conveyed below…

2016

  • IP: 20.2 (pitched 166.2 innings between AA and AAA)
  • FB velocity: 94.4

2017

  • IP: 162
  • FB velocity: 95.3 (+0.9)

2018

  • IP: 196
  • FB velocity: 95.7 (+0.4)

Marquez also has two plus-plus pitches he can lean on in is his curveball (SwStr%: 20.4) and slider (SwStr%: 21.5) Taking into consideration the stark contrast that exists between Marquez’s production at home and on the road, he’d be a risky pick who could potentially put your fantasy team over the top. In a deep league, it could be feasible to rest him when he pitches at home against good offensive teams.

RP Hector Neris / 29 years old / Philadelphia Phillies

Hector Neris’ 2018 season was filled with extreme ups and downs; however, he finished the year very strong (post-all-star-break)…

1st half

  • IP: 30.0
  • K/9: 12.30 (22nd among RPs with at least 20 IP in the 1st half)
  • BB/9: 3.30
  • HR/9: 3.30
  • ERA: 6.90
  • FIP: 6.39 (6th worst)
  • xFIP: 3.61

2nd half (post-all-star-break)

  • IP: 17.2
  • K/9: 17.83 (2nd among RPs with at least 15 IP in the 2nd half)
  • BB/9: 2.55
  • HR/9: 0
  • ERA: 2.04
  • FIP: 0.05 (1st)
  • xFIP: 1.17 (1st)

Neris figures to get a fair share of high leverage innings in 2019 and his adept ability to rack up K’s at an unbelievable rate makes him all the more appealing.

Thanks for reading.

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