A Walker In The Park

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

We’ve seen a rough season from Walker Buehler thus far, but we might be seeing the man break through the dark forest after last night’s 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks start against the Nationals. It’s his second straight game of 7+ Ks and seven frames, but more importantly, the second start of dominant heaters. There’s still room to grow with his breaking stuff on the whiffs front, but both pitchers hovered the zone plenty, which was the biggest catalyst of his 5.22 ERA in April. This was an outing where he attacked with heat, backed it up with breakers, then shut the door with more heat. The Reds are next and you can put your chips in on Walker doing more of the same. I can hear the exhales across the country now.

Let’s see how every other SP did Saturday:

Trevor Bauer7.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 10 Ks. Aces gonna ace. Yes, the walks are still a little high, but everything is lovely. 

Zach Eflin9.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks. So just nine whiffs, but 31 called strikes. That’s 40/110 CSW and that will certainly work. It’s still a very prominent slider/fastball combo, but it’s working against teams like the Royals and even though it’s nuts that we have two CGSHO already from Eflin, I still think he’s just a Toby. Sorry, I know you want more from me here but I’m not seeing anything that jumps out to say “Hey! This guy is legit Top 30 potential!” He pumps the zone, has a good slider, doesn’t miss a ton of bats, leading him to be a bit volatile. Some nights are above, others he’ll get hit around a bit. That’s fine, that’s a Toby, and he’ll stay off the wire.

Jesse Chavez1.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 Hits, 0 BBs, 0 Ks. Lots of openers today. Drew Smyly followed as the False Starter against the Astros and was as blegh as you’d expect.

Liam Hendriks1.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 0 BBs, 1 Ks. Then Aaron Brooks was the False Starter against the Indians and allowed 1 ER in four frames. Whoop. De. Scooby. Doo.

Ryne Stanek2.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 0 BBs, 1 Ks. Finally, the OG Rays elected to give Yonny Chirinos the nod in the 3rd frame and got us the cheap Win at the cost of a 4.50 ERA and 1.25 WHIP with just 2 Ks. Is it worth y’all? IS IT?!

Gerrit Cole6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 12 Ks. Aces gonna ace. I love getting texts at night from Fast, geeking over pitching performances. Here we got “50 four-seamers and just three put in play” not to mention 15 whiffs. 30% whiff rate ON A FASTBALL. Stupid. 24 whiffs total for a Gallows Pole, duh.

Zach Davies6.1 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. The dream keeps on dreaming. Or something. It’s a Vargas Rule that is so obviously a TEEs, it hurts. Seriously, it’s a 1.54 ERA with a 4.97 SIERA now. Do it with me now, tilt your head, give that look you’d give to a child saying they didn’t steal a cookie when you see the chocolate on their face, and say the words. Come on.

Jacob deGrom7.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks. Aces gonna ace. Look at this, aces actually doing things. Maybe the storm is over. Maybe it’s just begun. No, definitely not that, we’re not stuck in Twister and this isn’t the eye. Or maybe— Stop that.

Kevin Gausman6.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. After a pair of 5 ER disasters, Gausman has improved with just 5 ER in three starts against the Fish, Blue Whales (LA), and Snakes. (I’ll admit, I called the Dodgers “Blue Whales” to make the animal thing work, but I kinda love that name as “whale” refers to those that spend an exuberant amount of money relative to the heavy majority. It’s sticking.) It’s kinda nuts how much he’s still just hanging out arm-side, and he had better up/down separation with that four-seamer and splitter here. On one hand, hard up, slow low is what I preach and I’m happy about this. On the other, I wonder if this is becoming too predictable, not to mention, he has to get separation between the two for it to legit work on a given night. We’ll see.

Cole Hamels7.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks. Keep on keepin’ on Hamels. While I don’t think a 3.08 ERA and 1.07 WHIP are here to stay, you’re a Toby at worst and that’s fine by me.

Joey Lucchesi5.1 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. Good to see Lucchesi not act like a Fugghesi, I’d still like to favor others on the wire instead, though.

Jordan Lyles6.0 IP, 1 ER, 1 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks. Solid stuff here Lyles, I don’t love you a whole lot given your middling repertoire, but you have the ability as a Toby to have starts like this one. Not my favorite one out there, but there are certainly worse options.

Ivan Nova6.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks. The man went Super Nova as we continue to scan the night sky wondering when we’ll see the next one. Not all of us can be Bart Simpson.

Matt Harvey4.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. Look at Harvey try to make us forget that he has a 6.69 ERA on the year. No, that is not nice.

Miles Mikolas7.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks. YES MIKOLAS. YES. Slider was up to 87.5 mph again – 14/17 for strikes! – and everything came into place because of it. Y’all hear that? It’s the sound of his buy-low window slamming shut. Here’s to hoping Mikolas has truly turned the corner with the slide piece as I need to have some hesitation as he faced the Pirates n all.

CC Sabathia5.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 4 BBs, 2 Ks. Ehhhhhh. You’re not going to see CC past five innings often (if ever?) and you’re hoping he has the ratios + lead when that happens. It’s a bit too little reward for a decent amount of risk for me.

Max Scherzer7.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks. Aces gonna ace. Yes, he’s still #1.

Spencer Turnbull5.2 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 6 Ks. Ehhhhhhh, I guess if this wasn’t a Philly we’d be fine with it, and the Twins are solid so fine. We’re cool Turnbull. The slider was strong, he focused on more four-seamers, though his curveball isn’t acting as strong as we’ve seen. There’s still room to grow – that’s a good thing, ultimately! It means there’s a higher ceiling to reach – and here’s to hoping it comes out against weaker opponents.

Dylan Bundy5.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks. Blegh. I highly doubt there’s a day when I tell you to roster Bundy again. I hope there is, but I don’t think there’s a day for Ted.

Jon Gray6.0 IP, 3 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks. A VPQS with 8 Ks? I’m a little surprised to see it since Gray is normally on the extreme ends, but I guess this is what we ultimately expect, right? Strikeout upside with shaky ratios. He heads to Philly next and I’d start him there.

Merrill Kelly7.0 IP, 3 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks. Sure, that’s fine Kelly. You’re still a Panda but this is fine.

Michael Pineda6.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks. His slider was solid, helping him earn 15/96 whiffs, and I’ll take a PQS from Pineda with that WHIP and five Ks. Streaming Record: 24-18. Seattle and the Angels are next and that’s a maybe for each. I’d like to look elsewhere if possible for my ratios, but the Ks should be a double-digit total.

Jeff Samardzija4.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks. At least we can all exhale as Loose Lips’ ERA finally matches his actual ability on the bump. Man, I really wanted Samardzija to work out this year but he looks like a shell of his former self. So it goes. 

Kohl Stewart6.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks. I now understand why kids get so upset when they get Kohl in their stockings.

Marcus Stroman6.1 IP, 3 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks. Okay, I guess. The whiffs are still not there and the hope of Stroman becoming that strong arm once again fades with every outing. But this wasn’t bad! Sure, it’s fine. It was the air of “phew, that was close” instead of “awww man.” That’s the problem.

Sandy Alcantara5.2 IP, 4 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks. This is a guy using his spell slots in the morning and realizing he’s helpless through all of the events ahead. Yes, I just made that joke, don’t care, it’s Sandy who had one brilliant moment early and has no idea how to get it back. I mean a HAISTFMWT?! in 17 outs? Really?! I wouldn’t be shocked if Sandy is removed or makes just one more start and is replaced by Zac GallenIt’s time.

Anthony DeSclafani4.0 IP, 4 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks. The super hot topic of the past week or two couldn’t take advantage of the Giants and now gets a super tough schedule of LAD and @CHC in his next two. No thanks, I regret placing him as high as I did last week on The List.

Rick Porcello6.2 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. Yeah, sure. I mean it’s one ER from your acceptance as Porcello is a Toby for a winning club (he got the dub here). You have no choice but to nod and continue to roster him.

Brad Keller5.0 IP, 5 ER, 5 Hits, 4 BBs, 3 Ks. Yeeeeep. Now just a Panda as I question more of the Effective Velocity discussion. Let me make that point clear – I agree with EV and how it explains how a pitcher with middling stuff squeezes out the most from it to be effective. What it gets taken as is a method that is repeatable and can be trusted. Keller isn’t executing, neither is Kyle Freelandand it means they aren’t performing up to snuff. So while I nod my head reading these pieces as a great exposition on how they have been successful, I don’t see it as a reason to believe they will be successful.

Felix Hernandez2.1 IP, 7 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks. Man, just a week ago we were wondering if his curveball had returned and a possible zombie season was ahead. Ha. Ha. Ha. Guess we’re back to the new normal. The true Prince That Was Promised.

Gregory Soto4.0 IP, 7 ER, 9 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks. Poor Soto. He made his MLB debut for the Tigers and was lit UP, returning a HAISTFMFWT?! in the process. He’s a Cup of Schmo for clear reasons and maybe things get better moving forward as we’ve seen worse come through the ranks. But yeah, poor guy.


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.


Lucas Giolito vs. Toronto Blue Jays – The Jays are bad and feel bad and Giolito is looking solid.


Tomorrow’s Streamer


Jonathan Loaisiga vs. Baltimore Orioles – I’m lucky to have a variety of choices for a 7-game Monday, and I’ll go with Loaisiga surviving 5+ with solid stuff against the O’s. Could have gone with Reynaldo Lopez against the Indians and I’d go with Brad Peacock vs. the Tigers, but he’s most likely gone after his last start.


Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer


Trent Thornton vs. San Francisco Giants – He has strikeout stuff and among a sea of blegh options (assuming Wade Miley is taken), I’ll chase the Ks of Thornton vs the weak Giants.


Game of the Day


Corbin Martin vs. Texas Rangers – Sure, why not. Collin McHugh has been demoted to the pen and Forrest Whitely hasn’t been pitching well enough in the minors to justify a call-up, so we get Martin. I could cite stats – 13% swinging strike rates, strong ERAs, etc. – but we never really know until he shows up and pitches. Speculative add? Sure why not, but I doubt we’ll want to start him against the Sawx next time if he sticks around. So if you haven’t yet, you might want to wait.


(Photo by Brian Rothmuller/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.

8 responses to “A Walker In The Park”

  1. Saint says:

    Hello Nick,

    12 Team 6×6 H2H QS Redraft

    I currently roster Verlander, Wheeler, Flaherty, Weaver, Musgrove, Strahm, Woodruff, Heaney IL, and P. Lopez. I’m looking to solidify the back end of my rotation.

    I’m looking to add Skaggs or Luzardo. I know you were high on Skaggs in the pre draft days and he is currently ranked 39 on The List. I’m looking to drop Lopez and add either of the two previously mentioned.

    Your thoughts based on my current staff would be greatly appreciated

  2. dig deeper says:

    Wouldn’t it be more relevant to review the False Starter rather than the guy who nominally gets the start and goes an inning or two?

    • Manley Ramirez says:

      Also, semantically this is off — the guy who nominally gets the start and goes an inning or two would be a “False Starter” .

      The bulk innings guy is not a starter at all. If he’s false, it’s as a reliever, because “true” relievers don’t get pre-planned bulk innings.

      • Nick Pollack says:

        Actually, to your suggestion, that’s originally what I called The Opener!

        Over time, it made more sense to me to call the guy that followed the False Starter – the first guy is the starter, the second is the starter but not really the starter = false.

        Besides, the first pitcher already has a name – The Opener – and False Starter is a solid name for something we currently don’t have. After all, his timing is off i.e. a False Start.

        • Manley Ramirez says:

          Thanks for your reply. False starter is snappy and I could see why you would want to use it…but you have to admit its much more intuitively understood as a synonym for opener. You could maybe request suggestions for a new term for the bulk innings reliever?

          • Manley Ramirez says:

            False start timing = too soon. Here, the pitcher is coming in too late. This is forced.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      I definitely get that, it’s part of the way I gather the stats accurately every night (it’s automated). I purposefully go in and detail the False Starter in these cases to ensure they aren’t skipped over.

      Hopefully we can change it in the near future.

  3. John D Benchley says:

    Nice article!! As soon as i saw this i was hoping the article title was (White Walker) Game of thrones reference.

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