(Photo: Ken Blaze, USA TODAY Sports)
2020 season age: 25 – Throws: Right – Bats: Right – Contract: $583,500 (Pre-Arb)
2019 in review: To the surprise of many, for many reasons, Plesac ascended to make his major league debut in 2019. He started in Akron and ended up making his first start in Fenway Park fairly early in the season. In 115 MLB innings he struck out 88 and walked 40 with a 3.81 ERA. He had 65 strikeouts and nine walks in 63.2 innings between Columbus and Akron.
Beyond the stats: Plesac far outpitched his peripherals in 2019, finishing with a 4.81 FIP and 5.04 xFIP. That matches up with his batted ball metrics, in the 19th percentile in exit velocity and 29th percentile in hard hit rate. Both his slider and his curve did manage to have effective xwOBA’s with a .277 and .298 respectively, which is surprising because his changeup is his best pitch and it performed to a .322 xwOBA. His fastball, despite being in the 67th percentile in velocity is in the bottom of the barrel in terms of fastball spin.
On the mound: As stated, Plesa throws a fastball, cutter, slider, curve and change. His changeup is his best pitch, which gives him an effective weapon against left handers. However, the results say in 2019 that his slider was his best pitch, getting a 17.2% swinging strike rate with it and hitters had just an 86 wRC+ against it. He averaged 94 with the fastball and his cutter is seen as effective. His curveball has also come a long way but pretty much all of his pitches are about average and he has just average command.
2020 role: With injuries to Mike Clevinger and Carlos Carrasco out of the gate, and potentially Aaron Civale, Plesac is pretty much assured a rotation spot. Initially, it seemed like he would battle Civale for the fifth spot in the rotation but as long as Plesac’s healthy, he might be the second or third starter until everyone is 100%. He worked all offseason with Mike Clevinger on the things Clevinger likes to work on – flexibility, balance and velocity training. Added velocity would potentially offset his low fastball spin and the flexibility and balance could aid his delivery and help his command. He seems like a sure bet to hold a rotation spot for a while.
Fantasy impact: The lack of strikeouts gives Plesac somewhat of a low fantasy floor. He’ll have a rotation job, but his peripherals last year suggest he outperformed in a lot of ways. He might be draftable in deeper, AL only leagues because he is going to have a rotation spot and some benefit of the doubt that the Indians have done a good job developing starters. Given that, he’s a late draft flier if you need a starter who will provide innings that you think has some upside. See how his fastball velocity checks in the spring to see what his offseason workouts improved for him.