The rise of Reds pitcher Graham Ashcraft should not be ignored in fantasy baseball

There is little in the world more frustrating than being rejected.

If you’ve been ghosting after several successful dates, you’re curious as to why.

If you ask a family member a question via text and they don’t respond right away, even though the read receipt says the message was read almost immediately, you want to know why.

Although it happens to all of us, being left out stinks. It makes you feel unwanted or unheard, even though you know you have a lot to offer.

That was the case with the Reds who were largely ignored in fantasy drafts.

The only names that came up were Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo and Alexis Diaz.

That’s likely because not much is expected of the Reds: Cincinnati plays half its games in a hitter-friendly park, and the staff owned a 4.86 ERA, the third-worst mark in the majors, while allowing the second-most home runs. league (213) and walks (612) in 2022.

However, Roto Rage believes there is one more red that shouldn’t be ignored.

Over 19 starts last season, Graham Ashcraft went 5-6 with a 4.89 ERA, 6.5 percent walk rate and 8.4 percent swinging strikeout rate.

His strikeout rate (15.3 percent) ranked in the bottom 6 percent of the league, and his maximum exit velocity (115.9 mph) was in the bottom 5 percent.

The numbers aren’t pretty, but there are reasons to believe the Reds’ No. 3 starter has more upside than reflected in his rookie campaign.

Graham Ashcraft of the Cincinnati Reds in St. He throws against the St. Louis CardinalsAP

Ashcraft, who will make his 2023 debut on Sunday, allowed five earned runs over 17 ¹/₃ innings this spring, finishing the exhibition season with a 2.60 ERA.

He also walked just two batters, had a 0.87 WHIP and a .197 opponents’ average.

Perhaps the most impressive number was 13 strikeouts in nine innings, highlighted by a 10-strikeout effort in six scoreless innings against San Diego on March 22nd.

Now, some of you may be saying, “Wait, you’re basing Ashcraft’s potential on spring stats?” Well, yes… and no.

Strikeout potential is nothing new, as Ashcraft struck out 10.3 in nine innings over three seasons in the minors.

The 2016 sixth-round pick also went 16-11 with a 3.33 ERA and 1.276 WHIP over that span.

Ashcraft’s groundball rate (54.5 percent) ranked eighth among pitchers who threw at least 100 innings in the majors, ahead of NL Cy Young winner Sandy Alcantara.

(Oh, in that March 22 spring outing mentioned earlier, he had eight groundball outs).

His xERA (4.02), FIP (4.21), and xFIP (4.09) were all 60 or more points below his ERA, indicating that he was unlucky.

RedsGraham Ashcraft AP

Ashcraft has a four-pitch arsenal (cutter, slider, sinker, changeup), and his cutter and sinker both average around 97 mph and top out at 101 mph.

Opponents hit .285 against his cutter (.270 xBA), which he launched 50.7 percent of the time.

They had more success hitting .313 against him with an 11.1 percent slugging rate (though he had a .278 xBA, so hitters got a little lucky). He threw that pitch 21.5 percent of the time.

Aschcraft did the most damage with his slider, throwing the pitch 27.1 percent of the time and opponents hitting .235 against him with a .229 expected batting average.

The slider had a 32 percent slugging rate, and was pitched 21.3 percent of the time.

He seems to have reshaped his grip for that pitch this season.

Now, imagine if Ashcraft continues to control his walks, continue to throw strikes and induce ground balls, and also increase his strikeout rate.

If that happens, it will be hard to ignore him.

This is a pitcher to keep on your radar.

Great Hits

OF Corbin Carroll, D’backs

Not only did he hit .370 in 46 spring at-bats, but he also led the majors in triples (three), runs (15), walks (13), on-base percentage (.508) and OPS (1.138). He was also 5-for-5 in stolen base attempts.

Yusei Kikuchi SP, Blue Jays

He has 12.5 strikeouts per nine innings with a .130 opponents’ average, 0.87 ERA and 0.92 WHIP. All of which helped overshadow his ugly 5.0 walks per nine.

the brave onesOzzie Albies has an RBI single against the Nationals.USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

Ozzie Albies 2B, Braves

He showed little rust this spring after playing just 64 games in 2022 because of a broken foot, hitting .300 with four homers, 15 RBI and a .970 OPS.

Shane Bieber SP, Guardians

He followed up a stellar spring (1.54 ERA, 25-2 K-BB, .163 opponents’ average) with a strong opener in which he pitched six scoreless innings.

Big bangs

Eric Lauer SP, Brewers

Better hope spring training wasn’t a sign of things to come, as he had an 11.57 ERA with a 2.49 WHIP and a .407 opponents’ average.

Chris Taylor OF/2B, Dodgers

Not only did he strike out 25 in 57 at-bats this spring, which was the second most in the majors, he hit .158 with a .627 OPS.

Red SoxTanner HouckAP

Tanner Houck SP, Red Sox

Despite striking out 11.1 over 20 ¹/₃ in nine innings, he walked 5.3 per nine and allowed 22 earned runs (9.74 ERA). He hit five batters, gave up nine homers and owned a 1.92 WHIP.

OF Bryan Reynolds, Pirates

He went 1-for-4 with an RBI in the Pirates’ season-opening win after going 10-for-52 (.192) with 13 strikeouts and a .615 OPS in training camp.

Check out the Swings

Some of Jacob deGrom’s Opening Day numbers looked very deGrom-esque; you know, like striking out 41.2 percent of the batters he faced without issuing a walk. What didn’t seem normal: Six extra-base hits allowed…or a .353 opponents’ average…or a 12.27 ERA to his name. No need to worry about his fantasy value, just watch. More amazing stuff: CJ Cron went 4-for-5 with two homers and five RBIs in Colorado’s opener … on the road. For perspective, he hit .214 with seven HR and 27 RBI in 77 games away from Coors Field in 2022. After walking 6.8 per nine innings and posting a 7.31 ERA in 16 spring innings, Dylan Cease struck out 10, walked none and walked one. He pitched over 6 ¹/₃ innings against no-decision Houston on Thursday.Baltimore’s Adley Rutschman went 5-for-5 on Thursday with a home run, four RBIs and a walk, becoming the first catcher since 1901 to hit at least five. hits or gets on base six times in a season opener.


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