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Zach Plesac showed he still has room to grow in 2021

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Zach Plesac’s innings total reached a new high in 2021, but so did his ERA

Cleveland Indians v New York Yankees Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images

Zach Plesac is a baseball player who is primarily utilized as a starting pitcher.

(Nope)


Zach Plesac is a starting pitcher for the Cleveland Guardians organization. During the 2021 season, he tallied a cool 4.67 ERA in nearly 150 innings, good for 1.1 fWAR and tenth on our countdown.

(Boring)


What is Zach Plesac?

A starting pitcher for the Cleveland Guardians who battled through injury to go 10-6 with a 4.67 ERA in 25 starts? Perhaps. OR PERHAPS HE—

(Stop)


We’ve arrived at 10 on our Guardians MVP countdown. It has not been a long, strange trip — we’ve just been clicking buttons on a website.

Anyway, I am pleased to present Zach Plesac. In 25 starts for the 2021 Guardians, Plesac won ten games with a 4.67 ERA and 1.1 total fWAR.

(Fine)

An integral part of the rotation when healthy, Plesac threw a fastball, curveball, slider, and changeup in 2021. His three off-speed offerings were all above-average pitches throughout the season. The problem is that hitters obliterated his fastball, which he threw 41.9% of the time. It was a much more effective pitch in years past, and I am unable to tease out the cause.

For all I know, it’s just a blip. Or it simply requires a shuffling in how Plesac orders his offerings to hitters. Even if he doesn’t manage to correct this defect, he will remain a Pretty Good Starting Pitcher, Oh Dang and the Other Night He Went Eight Scoreless.

The final thing to call out from Plesac’s season is his strikeout rate. In 2019, Plesac started 21 games and owned a K% of 18.5%. In the shortened 2020 season, it hopped to 27.7%. This appeared to be much more in line with the figures he posted throughout his career in the minors.

Then, in 2021? 16.7%.

I’m not sure what to make of that, except to say that his stuff doesn’t miss bats. Certainly, his fastball does not. But it does manage to shimmy a bit as it nears the plate, and weak contact may always be his calling card. He will be neither the first nor last pitcher to carve out a career this way if it happens.

I cannot help but hope that he gets that strikeout rate back up, though. It is difficult to see a flash of potential that may unlock the path to elite status and then never quite see it fulfilled.

(You’re talking about Danny Salazar again, aren’t you?)

Shut up, disembodied voice. Jeez.

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