When Andrew Triggs took the mound for the Athletics on Monday night, he was making his fifth start as a professional, and only one of those had come in the minor leagues. As a 27-year-old rookie with a 4.98 ERA about to face the Indians — one of the majors’ most prolific offenses — it’s safe to say that Triggs didn’t have a lot of appeal for weekly or daily Fantasy owners.
Yet Triggs held his own against that tough lineup and a dominant Carlos Carrasco, holding the Indians scoreless over six innings, while striking out six batters. After three consecutive turns in the rotation that have produced a 2.30 ERA, Triggs seems to have secured a place for himself as one of the A’s starters. For the month of August (which also includes three relief appearances), Triggs leads all A’s pitchers in WAR and has the lowest ERA of any of the current members of the rotation.
During his early August appearances in middle relief, no one could have known that Triggs was about to become a viable target for Fantasy owners in deeper leagues, but some changes were already underfoot. According to PitchFX data from Brooks Baseball, he started to throw his sinker from a higher release point and get more strikes with it.
Once inserted into the rotation, Triggs started getting more vertical movement on his cutter (see graph above), and hitters took fewer swings at it. Prior to his current stint in the rotation, the swing rate on Triggs’ cutter was 45 percent, but since then, it’s fallen to 37 percent, per Brooks Baseball. Given that it’s a pitch that he was already throwing reliably for strikes, it’s helped Triggs to post a 20 percent called strikes rate over his three August starts.
He also added a changeup into arsenal, though he has thrown only 12 of the 16 he has offered for strikes.
On the basis of these three performances, and particularly Monday’s outing, I have put in a claim for Triggs in a 12-team AL-only Rotisserie league. That’s not a huge endorsement, especially considering that he would replace Vance Worley, who hasn’t started since July 24. I’m not quite ready to take the plunge in deeper mixed Roto leagues, but he is worth a try in deeper leagues that have RP slots. That’s right: Triggs can be used in a relief slot, and with his next start, he becomes a SPARP in leagues that grant starter eligibility with five starts.
Triggs still has almost no track record as a starter, and even if he continues to fare well, he is not likely to get much run support. However, he does have an extended history of high ground ball rates, and of late, he is showing improved control and the ability to freeze batters. That not only makes Triggs someone to target in deeper leagues, but also someone to keep an eye on for some not-so-deep formats.