potential free-agent starting-pitching fits
Blake Snell: Snell’s 13.3% walk rate has understandably drawn a lot of attention. But while evaluating whether the National League Cy Young candidate can continue to be as fortunate with runners on, it’s fair to point out his ground-ball rate rose to 43.7%, one percent lower than the mark he produced during his 2018 American League Cy Young Award-winning season. But the 30-year-old has been consistently hampered by some minor ailments. He has started 27 games or fewer in three of the past four full seasons.
Aaron Nola: Nola is widely regarded as a tremendous teammate. He spent time with Braves pitching coach Rick Kranitz with Philadelphia from 2016-18 and has gotten a feel for the Braves while being a part of the Phillies’ rotation since ’15. Nola has three top-10 finishes in NL Cy Young balloting over the past six seasons. He has made at least 32 starts during each of the five non-shortened seasons within this span.
Sonny Gray: Gray bolstered his stock with a 2.79 ERA over 32 starts for the Twins this year. But the soon-to-be 34-year-old hurler pitched 135 1/3 innings or fewer during each of the four previous full seasons. Gray’s age combined with his recent workload entering this season might create hesitancy to enter a multiyear deal.
Maybe Japanese product Yoshinobu Yamamoto could indeed become a legit front-line starter. Maybe one of Fried’s high school buddies, Lucas Giolito or Jack Flaherty, will regain consistency. Maybe Jordan Montgomery ’s postseason success with the World Series champion Rangers was just a reminder of how good he could be over the next few seasons.
Regardless, there’s risk in any free-agent deal, especially those involving starting pitching. Next offseason’s starting pitcher market could include Gerrit Cole, Zack Wheeler, Corbin Burnes and Walker Buehler. So perhaps it might be better to wait to make a splash in the always unpredictable starting-pitching pool.