A Moment to Reflect

Nick Pollack reviews every single starting pitcher's performances from Wednesday's games.

Today is the day.

It’s the day that the SP Roundup shifts completely to 2020 as every pitcher from yesterday’s games is not expected to make another start for the rest of the year as Sunday is one day too close to Wednesday. Just too close. (There is an exception here for a possible Game 163 between possible arms of Sean Manaea, Shane Bieber, and Charlie Mortonbut you don’t need me to tell you that you’d start an ace.)

Yes, there will be a few pitchers that I express my emotions for yesterday’s performance (I’m looking at you, Tyler Mahle), but for the most part, the actual value of this piece – to help you grasp the SP landscape – has dissolved into the 2019 solution. It’s a part of it, but there’s no use looking for it.

So join me as I begin my sentimental reminiscing on these pitchers, leading to Monday’s way-too-early ranking of the Top 100 starting pitchers for 2020.

Let’s see how every SP did Wednesday:

Jacob deGrom7.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks. Aces gonna ace. We drafted deGrom like he was going to repeat 2018, got frustrated when he didn’t have his slider or changeup early, then completely forgot about the entire charade by July. He’ll be #3 for me above Max Scherzer on Monday, something seems a little off with Scherzer’s back in the same way we saw with Clayton Kershaw. I’m sure I’ll be in the minority here and that’s fine, I’m only drafting a top tier SP if I’m at the end of the 2nd round and one of the Top 4 are around (possible deGrom…?)

Randy Dobnak6.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks. Well ain’t this a surprise. The man I accidentally called Robert in the morning podcast continued his trend and finished the season allowing just 2 ER across three starts of 5+ frames. Wild. He’s nothing to consider for next season and congrats to those that saw the Tigers and took a random shot.

Zack Greinke8.1 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks. Aces gonna ace. Likely to be undervalued once again entering next year, I’d be okay with Greinke as my ace in some cases, but as a #2 paired with Clevinger? Sure, that sounds lovely.

Charlie Morton6.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 3 BBs, 9 Ks. Aces gonna ace. I’ll be down on Morton because I simply don’t understand how he survived this year. There will people with pushback here about injuries, understand that Morton essentially pitched through a busted elbow this year. It’s wild to me and sure, he could do it again next year, just very unlikely.

Daniel Norris3.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks. It still blows my mind that Norris was held back for just three innings at a time since early August, and it’s too bad that Drew VerHagen hasn’t been as sharp as of late following. Both could be deep AL-Only options next year, but not something I’d consider in standard or most 15-teamers.

Jeff Samardzija6.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. I’m proud of Samardzija, pulling off a 3.52 ERA and 1.11 WHIP despite stuff that wasn’t nearly what it used to be and staving of a 4.92 SIERA. Nothing like a .240 BABIP to get you through a season. I feel weird about this one as I ranked Samardzija higher than most in the pre-season…for the wrong reasons, then jumped ship early on as he wasn’t pitching like his 2017 self. Luck brought him back into the fold (even without the 19% strikeout rate) and he even held it together through the end. So good work Samardzija, the days of 200+ seasons are over even with your 32 starts (that’s the age we live in, I guess) and I don’t expect his price to be high despite the ERA next year. It’s not like people chase Jhoulys Chacin and Trevor Williams entering drafts this year despite their excellent ERA marks.

Jacob Waguespack6.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. Hey, this worked! The Pack got the Orioles and made good use of his matchup, pairing his fastball and cutter effectively. What you’re hoping for is a Toby at the end of the day so don’t expect this man to be the face of the Jays or anything, but I can see some AL-Only value. Maybe.

Andrew Heaney5.1 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks. Atta boy Heaney, I’m proud of you. Give us something to lean on a little entering the off-season. I don’t like his volatility, though, and there’s still another gear to hit with that consistency…something I question will ever arrive given his lower arm slot that generally produces a lack of repeated results. Still, your CSW is among the best with excellent fastball/secondary stuff location separation and it will make you very ownable next season. Just stay healthy and hopefully, we’ll get a two-month stretch that makes us all feel like geniuses next year.

Tim Melville5.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks. It was Melville in the end – not Peter Lambert – and I’ve been talking about this start for weeks. What do you know, he heads to Oracle Park and gets you a great 1.80 ERA across five frames with a 1.20 WHIP. Sure, no win and just two strikeouts, but that’s value. Good work, buddy, we’re all so proud.

Frankie Montas6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. He came back and we had no idea what to do. I’d likely lead with Montas on any other day talking about how his splitter wasn’t that great – BABIP was in its favor – 25/87 CSW is good but not great and I’m overall satisfied. The line dictates marvel, the performance was satisfactory. Not the satisfactory you get in 5th grade that equates to a D+, the satisfactory that says “okay, this is good enough but doesn’t amaze me.” He’ll be a hotly debated arm in the off-season and I’ll probably have him in the late 30s or so, maybe earlier. Not a target as I don’t buy his command overall, but his heater is strong and as long as the split or slider are working, he should be solid.

Josh Tomlin3.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks. With Soroka getting pushed back to Sunday, the Braves turned to Tomlin to do things. Yes, he’s still pitching in the league, we’ll see if he is again in 2020 when we get there.

Dario Agrazal6.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks. Whoa, five strikeouts from the D.A.! The man ends the year with a 13% strikeout rate, so yeah, good for him. So that means… That I’ll have him ranked outside the Top 100, of course.

Yusei Kikuchi6.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks. Last week, I had to change his nickname from Y2K to Y1K with how few strikeouts he got. So it’s Y4K here and lovely ratios to go with it as he survived the Astros. Really good slider with an approach to elevate four-seamers. It’s a good game plan, but his stuff isn’t quite good enough to get away with through a full year. I’m not ruling out a strong stretch from Y2K in his second season, but I ain’t chasing it out of the gate.

Jon Lester6.0 IP, 2 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks. We had some worries about Lester, even against the Pirates, and I’m glad he pulled it off. This year was the 4.46 ERA that he likely should have held last season and while he did slightly raise his strikeout rate this season, his increased hitability (yes, the .347 BABIP is inflated, but he pitched plenty worse) isn’t likely to disappear in full next year. I’d preach caution in 12-teamers unless you want a blegh Toby for volume in the final rounds.

Jonathan Loaisiga1.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks. One day Loaisiga will be a true starter for an elongated amount of time. What a glorious time that will be. He opened for Happ, in case you were curious.

JA Happ – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. I separated the two Yanks, sue me. Good to see Happ get his season together in the final month, but it’s too little too late. He was the king of the high heater last year and it faded away as his secondary stuff took a step back. I can imagine a better season than the 4.91 ERA he posted this year, but not a large enough one to make me jump for him in drafts.

Jordan Lyles5.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. Atta boy Lyles, I wonder where you end up this off-season. When he’s cooking with high heat and curveballs down, life is wonderful. Could be one of those random Athletics adds that makes a difference as a Toby and nothing more. He’ll be in the 70s or so as someone at the end of drafts to consider, but don’t reach in the slightest.

Mike Montgomery4.2 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks. Blegh. You had your brief moment and it’s been so poor since. I miss the crispy M&M, not whatever modern atrocity this is.

Anibal Sanchez7.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks. We debated about starting Anibal or not against the Phils and boy did this one pay off.

Drew Smyly6.1 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 10 Ks. And so did this one! The Nationals didn’t even have their “Hungover” lineup as I suggested and Smyly still dominated, here with 20/38 CSW on just curveballs and 37/97 overall. Great work, sure surprised me. I imagine some will target him in the last round, I personally have little interest. The way I see it, there are better options that whose talent you’ll be able to discern early in the season and can let go or hold. With Smyly, you’ll be lost in a haze all year. Not worth it.

Michael Wacha1.2 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. Wacha left this one with a mild shoulder strain as he gets an MRI today. What an apropos way to end his season of blegh. There’s an outside chance he figures something out next year, but I ain’t drafting it. 

Gabriel Ynoa4.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. This is better than expected. Yes, four frames of a 4.50 ERA and 1.50 WHIP is better than expected. His season, was not.

Shane Bieber5.2 IP, 3 ER, 10 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks. Aces gonna make you roll your eyes as you got served a Philly. Be aware that he could be pitching on Monday in a potential Game 163 to earn the right to play on Tuesday, so don’t quite drop him yet. Nearly 215 frames of a 30% K rate, 2.28 ERA, and 1.05 WHIP are astounding and will get some deserved love in my Top 100, don’t worry.

Ross Detwiler5.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 1 Ks. You never wanted the Deets. And you never will.

Rick Porcello6.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 8 Ks. So The Thief pulled it off an gave you a PQS with eight strikeouts to cap off a horrible season that hurt you more than he helped. Luckily, you dropped a long time ago and could have returned for the last two starts if you needed to spin the wheel. I expect some sort of rebound next year, but nothing to make me reconsider.

Ross Stripling3.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks. Stripling tried to do his best to produce in his limited time on the Hill and earning 7/9 outs as strikeouts is wonderful…but man those ratios. I’m not drafting Strip next year as I cannot deal with the Dodgers headache, nor do I think chasing the 2018 peak is a wise move. It seems more like everything coming together at the right time rather than his true skill set.

Dinelson Lamet5.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 10 Ks. This is somewhat exactly the line you’d expect from Lamet against the Dodgers. He’ll be one of the tougher arms to rank on Monday as the strikeouts are legit, but I have little faith he’ll take the necessary steps forward with his fastball/changeup command to become anything more than a Cherry Bomb. How much are those strikeouts worth? Enjoy the Robbie Ray tier.

Kolby Allard3.0 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks. Oh Allard, we didn’t expect much against the Sawx, but just one strikeout? HAISTFMFWT?! You’ll forget him in a few months, don’t worry.

Merrill Kelly6.0 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks. What, no. We needed one more Kelly, and sure you gave us seven strikeouts, but we needed a strong PQS or better outing, not this. His velocity was suddenly down to sub 92 mph levels – ugh – and his cutter/curveball wasn’t enough. Still a good 32/99 CSW, but without that good heater, it wasn’t the same. He’s a Toby entering next year, someone I won’t draft – I don’t draft Tobys – and likely available the first few weeks as you have no idea if it’ll work or not.

Robert Dugger2.0 IP, 6 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. Blegh. There was a chance Dugger’s two-seamer heavy approach would squeeze out a PQS here, but it wasn’t in the cards. Cards? You mean Mets. No but yes, sure. 

Tyler Mahle2.1 IP, 7 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 1 Ks. Noooooooooooooo, Mahle, really? Streaming Record: 101- 67. Look at that, nearly exact 2:1 odds. Sure, there was an understanding this could go badly, but not this badly. Ugh. I remember debates of Mahle’s potential back in the spring and it’s sad that it ended with a blegh September. His fastball needs more help and he never truly found it – for 2020, I wouldn’t consider this as the Reds rotation is a bit full and even if he gets the innings, it could be a lot more of the volatility.


Today’s Streamer


For those unaware, I’m forced to make my streamer picks under the condition of sub-20% owned in Fantasy Pros’ consolidated ownership rates.


Dylan Cease vs. Cleveland Indians – I know the Indians are a bit scary right now and if I could take a safer ratio arm today, I would. But among the options – Tyler Beede hosting the Rockies or Jordan Yamamoto vs. Mets – I’d side with the ceiling of Cease.


Tomorrow’s Streamer


Jose Urquidy vs. Los Angeles Angels – This may be my stream of the week as Urquidy could unload on the Angels. The question is how many innings the Astros will let him go, but 5/6 are not out of the question and it could be a difference-maker. Anthony DeSclafani against the Pirates is safer, but not streamable for most, while Justus Sheffield and Reynaldo Lopez are similar plays but with more risk.


Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer


Reynaldo Lopez vs. Detroit Tigers – He got pushed to Saturday and during a day of terrible options, ReyLo is your best hope for a big upside swing. I don’t see a safe streaming option here, so let’s cross our fingers. I know, I said I was done, but what else should I chase? Adam Plutko against the Nationals? They have the same floor. Bleeeegggggh.


Game of the Day


Frankie Montas vs. Andrew HeaneyHey, he gets a start in before the season ends! And it’s against Heaney! Sweet.


(Photo by Juan DeLeon/Icon Sportswire)

Nick Pollack

Founder of Pitcher List. Creator of CSW, The List, and SP Roundup. Worked with MSG, FanGraphs, CBS Sports, and Washington Post. Former college pitcher, travel coach, pitching coach, and Brandeis alum. Wants every pitcher to be dope.

3 responses to “A Moment to Reflect”

  1. Homer at the Bat says:

    I rolled the dice with Merrill and, since I’m punting ERA and WHIP this week, he gave me exactly what I needed. Here’s to hoping Big Joe Musgrove can do the same today.

  2. Tom S says:

    You were so excited about the Montas vs. Heaney game, you want them to start again today!

  3. Justin says:

    Hey Nick – Thanks for all your work. It was a pleasure spending the season with you and the PL staff. One more ask: our redraft league runs waivers on Fridays (tomorrow) and counts game 163 stats. I might need one more win to finish in the money. Other than Morton, Manaea, and Bieber (who are obviously not on the wire), what pitchers do you think I should target as lottery tickets who might luck into a W. Thanks so much in advance.

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