Image: USA Today
2021 season age: 25
Contract status: Pre-Arb 2
2021 stats: 74IP, 69K/16BB, 4.74 ERA/4.03 FIP, 4-6, 1.2 fWAR
2020 season: Civale was innings eater in the short 2020 making 12 starts for combined 74 innings. While Civale has seen successful early in his young career his ERA jumped from 2019 2.34 to 2020 4.74. He walked even less batters in 2020 than he did in 2019 but he gave up a lot of hits, specifically the long ball. Hitters were hitting .216 vs CIvale in 2019, and that jumped to .282 in 2020. Civale rough 2020 was in part due to COVID short season and also some bad luck. His hard hit percentage actually went down 1.5% from 2019 to 2020. His strikeout rate increased slightly in 2020. His BABIP was a career high including minors at .333.
On the Mound: Civale pitches with craft; he’s won’t blowing at hitters in today’s game with his cutter and sinker sitting around 87-92 mph. He throws his cutter and sinker a combined 57.6% of the time. Civale is in 89th percentile in walk rate and usually never gives hitters a free base. This keeps his WHIP low throughout his career with exception to giving up the long ball at high rate last season. Civale has a big mix of pitches but this winter he changed his change-up which he threw roughly 10 percent of time into a split-change that he has been working on. Also this winter CIvale made a arm path adjustment which in turn hopefully makes him more deceptive and less hittable or to be timed up.
Beyond the stats: Despite a six pitch mix, Civale threw three of those offerings 20% of the time or more. That’s still good at keeping hitters guessing, but the mix didn’t completely keep hitters off some of them. He upped his curveball usage in 2019 from 11% to 21% in 2020, and the pitch got hit well to the tune of a .277 average and a .426 slugging. It did end up being his best swing and miss pitch (39.4% whiff rate). He only used his changeup 9% of the time in 2020 but it did have a 34% whiff rate. Perhaps the adjustments to his changeup will encourage Civale to throw it more and will keep the results as sterling. The single biggest reason in 2020 that skyrocketed his ERA was the damage to his sinker. Hitters put together a .213/.288 AVG/SLG line against it in 2019 without any fluky luck around it, shockingly. In 2020 that line rose to .310/.470. That probably had to do with the league adjusting to Civale and having more film on him, but hitters average exit velocity against the sinker went down 2mph from 2019 to 2020 and yet he still had worse results. So there appears to be some bad-luck to Civale’s sinker woes. Perhaps that straightens out in 2021. There’s plenty of reason for optimism here.
2021 role: Civale will be a key piece of this rotation in 2021. While hes only made 22 career starts so far, he’s a mature arm with more starting experience on this staff than three other rotation candidates. He has a deep arsenal of pitches, uses all parts of the plate, and does not walk hitters. Coaches like crafty pitchers. He can be hittable at times, but also roughly strikeouts out a batter a inning. He will eat innings at bottom of any rotation for the next few seasons. Hopefully his winter program pitching adjustments allow for even more success.
2021 fantasy: Civale is not a top of rotation starter but he eats innings. He also wins occasional game and strikes out a handful of batters. Civale could be someone you draft late and stash him on the bench and see how successful his 2021 campaign goes before making a decision to start him on your fantasy team.