KBO DFS: The Lackluster Argument for Mike Wright

Mike Wright has been living rent-free in my head all day. Then, I read Dave Potts’ excellent fill-in for today’s “Pitching Primer” article here at RotoGrinders and my head is straight spinning.

I prefer to use this space for semi-confident situational takes, but there comes the time for humility. The humility to say that I just don’t know.

I don’t know when I’m at my best writing—confident, semi-confident, making a hot take, or confessing that I don’t know. But I do know that I love these situations, especially in these small KBO slates where we have to be careful to x-out spots with high potential after only one look. In 12-game MLB slates, we can loosely eliminate guys, never look back, and be fine. With five-game KBO slates, on the other hand, we have to take a scalpel to our player pools instead of a machete.

Wright comes off as a straight-up average pitcher. That’s it. Just average. And I have no idea what to do with that.

If we take to the notion that The O is a Quad-A league, somewhere between Triple-A and MLB but much closer to Triple-A, we see Wright as a tragically average pitcher, looking at his 447.2-inning Triple-A career:

4.30 RA/9, not great.
6.9 K/9, fine.
1.253 WHIP, fine.
8.8 H/9, eh.
2.5 BB/9, nice.
0.64 HR/9, nice

Wright is fine. A fine command pitcher. A fine real-life KBO player

I say we’re here for Ks and Potts says we can get them against Hanwha because Hanwha is bad and Wright may “pitching to his competition.” That his K stuff comes out against weaker competition because he knows that he can strike them out, while not trying to strike out the Jose Miguel Fernandezes of the world. That Wright is “well aware of who is good enough to beat him in this league, and also aware that the majority of batters aren’t good enough to beat him.”

I think Potts may be onto something. Wright’s groundball-flyball ratios in Triple-A were:

2016: 1.27
2017: 1.16
2019: 0.84

2018 was an MLB season and 2019 was in the Pacific Coast League, full of heat and elevation, which is rough someone who relies on his sinkerball nearly as much as his fastball and slider. I’m also still going with the notion that the sinker might be a KBO cheat code.

Wright’s 93-mph sinker “generates more whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers’ sinkers,” according to Brooks Baseball. It also drops about eight-to-ten inches, on average.

We don’t have KBO pitch data, but we may have reliable batted ball data at Statiz saying that Wright is not generating groundballs to prevent runs through his 16.0 IP this season. He has given up 23 flyballs to eight grounders. A GB:FB ratio of only 0.35. A batting average on balls to the outfield of only .433 (that’s really low).

Either Wright is really lucky—as indicated by his .262 BABIP and 5.16 FIP to start the season—or he’s generating a ton of soft contact. Being so largely sinker-slider, with a lot of movement, can do that. But we don’t really see what he’s doing over there in terms of pitch selection.

Mike Wright has a 1.69 ERA and 9.00 K/9 through 16.0 IP this season. My gut says that regression is coming, but the matchup is so good.

The O is striking out at an 18.0% rate this season and Hanwha is striking out at 19.0%, so if Wright faces 26 hitters in six innings, we can feel good about four Ks and a good shot at five Ks. Not really afraid of runs being scored, as Hanwha has scored a second-to-lowest four runs per game through their first 16 games.

To start Wright is to say that he’s creating his own luck, so to speak, and to trust Potts in that the matchup dictates how he battles hitters. There is monster consensus that Wright will be the highest-owned pitcher on both sites, so beware. Pretty sure I’m fading him, but I don’t feel great about it.

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