Aces Wild

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

Last night was ridiculous. While technically this opener is focused on Stephen Strasburg and his poor 4.0 IP, 6 ER, 6 Hits, 4 BBs, 3 Ks, I’m not sure I’ve seen a night where so many excellent starters fell on their faces. Marquez, deGrom, Sale, Nola, and even Greinke and Cole to an extent joined Stras in a collective effort to make owners livid – I see you Kluber, I see you. Specifically about Strasburg, this is his second start of three with at least 4 ER, though he more than doubled his walk total with his atrocious four-spot here. and I’d be a little worried. Not a whole lot – way too early – but Strasburg’s command was pretty dang bad in this game and earned just six whiffs the entire night. You owned him for the quality of innings when he’s healthy (highly unlikely he hints 200 frames), yet here’s 10 ER in 16.2 innings. It won’t cut it. Here’s to not allowing batters to crush your fastball moving forward and rebounding against the Giants. That really should work out for him.

Let’s see how every other SP did Tuesday:

Aaron Nola6.1 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. Sure, let’s lean right into this and talk about each of these aces from last night right at the start. Nola had just 5 whiffs in 99 pitches. WHAT. Not a single one on changeups, 3/42 with his deuce and life was rough. That’s back-to-back poor outings…against the Nationals. Maybe  they have his number. Maybe he tried to do too much. Maybe we’re overthinking this. Nola is fine, all of these guys save for one is fine. EVERYTHING IS FINE.

German Marquez5.0 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks. Marquez had two excellent outings to launch the season…again the Marlins and Rays outside of Coors. He looked spectacular in Florida and not so great last night. Just 24 CSW on 92 pitches and only six swinging strikes is all kinds of worrisome, though I’ll hand it to Marquez for keeping his slider down. Fastball…not so much. A lot of middle-middle without working the batters properly. Sitting 95/96 is lovely, though, and while I still believe Marquez should be started in 95% of his games, I think this start should sober some people expecting an ascension to the Top 15 or higher this year. Expect him to hover the 20s for a while and that’s just fine.

Chris Sale4.0 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks. Okay, here’s the one I’m legit worried about. Sale said himself that he’s lost on the mound. He missed up-and-arm-side with all his fastballs – a clear indication of a pitcher’s arm hurting or at least being tired as he’s lagging in his arm-circle. More foul balls than CSW on his slider is flat-out wrong and his average velocity was still under 92mph. I’m so scared. We talked about him a bit last night on the OTC podcast and I’m selling wherever I can get a Top ~20 SP. Yes I do believe that Sale returns to form at some point. No I don’t think that’ll happen in the next month. Cash out at 80 cents to the dollar and rid yourself of the stress.

Jacob deGrom4.0 IP, 6 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. Even deGrom got involved in this mess of a day. Who sacrificed to what god and how do I get involved?

Zack Greinke6.2 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks. So this started poorly, but Greinke recovered to give a start we’re cool with. 34% CSW is cool, though just 10% whiffs is not Greinke-esque. Whatever, still nine Ks and life is fine.

Gerrit Cole7.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks. Yeah, I’m okay with it. I think we’ll see a decent amount of these starts from Cole with a low WHIP but slightly too high ERA as he’s still longball prone. He won’t be a 2.50 ERA arm, but if he hovers 3.00 with 200+ frames and over a K per inning, that’s all kinds of wonderful.

Corey Kluber6.0 IP, 1 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks. Hey, an actual Aces Gonna Ace! WOULD YOU LOOK AT THAT.

Luis Castillo7.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks. Nick, Castillo belongs in this ace discussion! Does he? He’s certainly pitched like one out of the gate, now holding a 35% K rate, 0.92 ERA, and 0.66 WHIP through three starts and 19.2 frames. Ahhhh, small samples. The Marlins are bad and feel bad as Castillo carved them up. Weird to see him earn more whiffs on heaters than changeups (10 vs 7), but I’m all for it. Keep on riding Castillo and let’s hope his fastball command doesn’t falter.

Max Fried6.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. Fried went into Coors and was kinda dope. I recommended owners to hold back on Fried after his last start, labeling this start as a risk and I’m glad I was wrong. Wait, really? Yes! I love when exciting arms outperform my expectations. Now, I wouldn’t say that Fried looked incredibly good in this start. No Charlie Blackmon or David Dahl in this lineup, while just 19% CSW is unbelievably low. 22 Foul balls and a ton of balls in play add up to a start that could have gone south quickly, though he did induce a good amount of weak contact. He gets the Mets next at home and while he’s not a must-add (does Wright or Fried survive Folty’s return? Is it Newcomb instead?), I’d consider it for those in desperate need.

Dakota Hudson4.2 IP, 0 ER, 6 Hits, 4 BBs, 4 Ks. A sinkerballer that walks four batters? Why on earth would I want anything to do with that?

Derek Holland7.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 9 Ks. Whoa! Hey! Holland! I’ve been lukewarm on Holland after his first start of the year, but I’M ROARING BACK. No one cares about Derek – 5% owned in leagues! – yet that was 35% CSW as he pounded the zone with heaters and cruised with sliders and curveballs. Sure, I want him using both sides of the plate more instead of going exclusively glove-side, but I’m okay hosting the Rockies at home next week after collecting 21 strikeouts in just 16 frames to kick off the season.

John Means 3.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks. If you want to tank your season, John is a Means to an end.

Brett Anderson6.2 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. Sure, whatever Anderson. You do well, but deGrom, Nola, Strasburg, Marquez all tank. That’s baseball, Suzyn.

Marco Gonzales6.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. Solid stuff from Marco, who has already earned four wins. These Mariners are ridiculous. What about Marco? Sure, he’s fine. I feel like I labeled someone Spiderman already, was it Hamels? Marco vs. Hamels sounds like a fun season-long game.

Jonathan Loaisiga3.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. I like Loaisiga if he’s properly stretched out and earns 120+ frames as a starter. I don’t like him in his first start of the year against the Astros. I want to call him a Young Gun as his true fantasy relevancy probably won’t show up until 2020.

Mike Minor7.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. That’s two strong starts in a row from Minor – don’t call it a trend – whose 29% CSW is exactly how I feel about him. A Toby, average and without that major thing that makes me believe he deserves a Top 50 spot on The List. Play this start by start – the Diamondbacks last night made sense – and I’m okay hosting the Angels in Arlington next week.

Charlie Morton5.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks. Yep, I’ll take this from Morton. I’m not surprised to see the five frames, though. I feel like that will be a bit typical for the oft-injured Morton on the bullpen-focused Rays.

Matt Shoemaker5.2 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. Some wanted to stream Shoemaker here and he handed you a Philly with decent ratios. It’s fine, impressive really when you consider the Sawx in the batter’s box. Why would I care about the cotton on their feet? IT WAS ARGYLE. Anyway, Shoemaker is a bit of a Vargas Rule and Cherry Bomb in one, where he’ll go on hot streaks where his splitter is wonderful, then lose it suddenly and kill your team for a month. I think we’re nearing the latter now.

Kyle Gibson4.2 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks. And the 2019 Toby season of Gibson continues. Sure, he’ll have K upside at times, he’ll also kill your ratios at times. Keep starting him against weak teams and call it a day.

Jake Junis4.0 IP, 4 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. Love the six Ks, hate everything else. Junis, we just aren’t going to be friends this year, are we. He is a really nice guy, though. Okay, that’s true but I wouldn’t take Jake to make cake by the lake, if you know what I mean. I know you mean to rhyme and make no sense. Yep, you know what I mean.

Ross Stripling5.0 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks. Nooooo, Stripling too? I’m stoked he has a comfortable roll in the rotation, but I’m wondering if he’s worth it right now. His whole approach is a bit out of whack and the Brewers are next. If you have a clear-cut starter to chase on the wire, I’d make the swap. Otherwise, tough it out and I’ll give him a TIARA.

Jose Urena5.0 IP, 4 ER, 8 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks. Remember kids, if you roster Jose, Urena boatload of trouble.

Jordan Zimmermann4.1 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. We thought that Jay-Z’s hot start matched up against the team with the worst strikeout rate would be a Blueprint for success. It was not. Get off this train! Streaming Record: 7-5.

Matt Harvey4.1 IP, 6 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. Oddly enough, I’m seeing a 14.5% swinging strike rate here from Harvey – fuelled by well-executed sliders – and wondering if he’s going to turn it around sometime this year. If so, it’ll come down to figuring out either his changeup or curveball as his fastball is just oh-so-hittable.

Joey Lucchesi4.0 IP, 7 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. He’s no ace, but I’m sure many were highly disappointed with Lucchesi’s outing as well, especially during a date in Oracle Park. That “new pitch” of a four-seamer with cut action was thrown six times here, so let’s kill that narrative for those still on the fence about it. His two-seamer was hit a little too much and it just wasn’t in the cards here. I actually think he pitched better than the line suggested, FWIW.

Freddy Peralta3.1 IP, 7 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. Peralta allowed 6 ER in the first frame alone, then settled down a bit until the second Tommy La Stella blast of the game. The man is a Cherry Bomb. Please don’t forget it, too many people got burned here after his unreal performance last week and you best be truly afraid now.

Ervin Santana3.2 IP, 7 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 1 Ks. Hey, Santana is back! Hey, we don’t care!

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.

Frankie Montas vs. Baltimore Orioles – Just 5% owned in leagues and armed with a new splitter. Paired with a date against the O’s, this looks like the safest stream.


Tomorrow’s Streamer


Spencer Turnbull vs. Cleveland Indians – He has a solid ceiling and the Indians have a wonderful floor.


Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer


Michael Pineda vs. Detroit TigersStill at just 18% owned, Pineda deserves to be owned in your 12-teamer, especially against the Tigers.


Game of the Day


Matt Boyd vs. Trevor Bauer – This is going to be such a fun day game. Also curious about Yu Darvish‘ performance tonight against the Pirates (yes, I’m starting him).


(Photo by Andy Lewis/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.

49 responses to “Aces Wild”

  1. Jake says:

    Fried or strahm? Qs league

  2. AH says:

    Just a note on Cole, if you didn’t get to see the start: he was getting squeezed to hell and back at times. Dotting 97 on the corners and getting nothing for it. He looked reeeaaal mad about it at a couple of points.

  3. Chucky says:

    Death of a Sales(man). Look at the bright side, it’s not our $150 mil.

  4. D says:

    Drop Stripling for McHugh or JA Happ?

  5. Matt says:

    In Yu I trust

  6. MrMojoRisin says:

    Would you take James Paxton and Justus Sheff for Sale? Sale may be banged up now, but Paxton most certainly will later on in the season.

  7. Johnson says:

    If I can get Yu for Stripling I do that, right?

  8. Brian says:

    Lost Clevinger for months yesterday, so sad … was going to pick up Peralta, but he Cherry Bombed as you put it … I have rostered on bench: Happ or Pablo (Lopez, not Escobar) … Free Agents out there: Fried, Shoe, German, Musgrove, Thornton to name a few … any advice – stick with a rostered or go with a FA to replace Clevinger? Hoping you touch on Clevinger and replacement options in the podcast :(

  9. Rick Jones says:

    Please rank. QS league. D. Holland, Burns, Alcantara, Montas. Points league

  10. Kyle says:

    If I’m selling Castillo, what sort of arm should I go after?

  11. Joseph says:

    Yo, just a like notice, it doesn’t look like the list has updated. Also just wanna say I’m hyped as hell for Swarber, looks like he has made some significant changes and I expect big things.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Thanks Joseph! I forgot to update the sidebar.

      It’s been fixed + I also added a new page to the site that we’ll update through the week as we release our weekly ranking articles.

      Check out the “Weekly Rankings” at the top left of the menu now.

  12. Big League S. Choo says:

    Luis Castillo should be Top 10 on the next list or it means nothing. He is absolutely filthy.

  13. Kenneth says:

    I’m sorry but did you watch the Sale game? I think it was like 7 singles in a row for 5 runs? That last game was just as much bad luck and Pedroia misreading a ball and it getting past him.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Oh he definitely did get some bad luck – no question! – but Sale put himself in a position to *get* bad luck. He normally doesn’t do that, with sliders and fastballs that are plenty harder to make contact with.

      In other words, he doesn’t deserve to get a nasty 5 spot in four frames, but he didn’t deserve a 2 spot either.

    • theKraken says:

      I am of the mind that allowing hits is a problem. I don’t think XBH represent a significant lack of skill as opposed to singles.

  14. Wil says:

    In case you appreciate horror stories, here’s my NL-Only pitching staff:
    STRASBURG, Maeda, STRIPLING, LUCCHESI, Paddack, F. PERALTA, M. Kelly, Margevicius (with P. Lopez on the bench). I need to pick 7 to start next week, but am panicking about Peralta/Lucchesi/Stripling (all of whom have 2-start weeks next week). Roto league. Please advise!

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Ouch, sorry the week is already lost there! Start all the strikeout guys this week – maybe you can win that one at the very least (if it’s H2H Cats).

      I haven’t looked at next week’s matchups, though I’d favor benching Margevicius and probably Peralta (with PabLo getting the start).

      • Wil says:

        Thanks Nick! I love your content, daily reader…It’s yearlong Roto (not weekly) so that’s undoubtedly worse for me. We set lineups weekly on Mondays, so I’m already locked in with Margie, Maeda, Paddack and Kelly this week. Fingers crossed there are no more blowups!!!

  15. Christian says:

    Nick, I dropped Urias way too early (but I promise I’m picking him back up ASAP). Along with Urias, I dropped Strahm, and picked up Eflin and Kelly, who I definitely want to start this week. Is Pivetta’s roster spot expendable? Lord knows I’m going to ride Wheeler and Skaggs out -_-

  16. Chelsa says:

    Hi Nick,

    My team is in trouble! Need help with which SPs to keep and which ones to drop. Please advise.
    (10 team, roto, 6×6, keeper league with Runs, RBI, HRs, AVG, SBs, OPS, Wins, Ks, ERA, WHIP, K/BB, and Saves+Holds)

    C – Mejia
    1B – Rizzo
    2B – D. Murphy
    SS – Tatis
    3B – Machado
    CI – Shaw
    MI – McNeil
    OFs – Trout, Acuna, Dahl & E. Jimenez
    U – K. Marte & Y. Diaz
    IL – J. Wendle, Andujar & D. Murphy
    SP – Bieber, Boyd, Gausman, Lucchesi, Musgrove, Peralta, Stripling & Woodruff
    RP – Treinen, W. Smith, Colome & Pressley

    Available SPs: M. Kelly, T. Cahill, Pineda, T. Williams, C. Smith, W. Miley, Stroman, Strahm, Skaggs & Gibson.

    Please advise.

    Many thanks,

  17. larry says:

    Would you stream Leake @ KC tomorrow?

  18. theKraken says:

    Re – Castillo: I don’t really get the race to anoint everyone the next big something. There is nothing wrong with making them earn it. In my book, an ace has to have a track record and reliability. Castillo is looking good so far, but so are the Mets, Mariners, Twins and Rays. We are not racing to call them dynasties… Isn’t it more exciting when we tell a narrative about overachieving?

  19. theKraken says:

    This is a beautiful moment to point out that HR aversion is not the skill that it is cracked up to be. DeGrom’s best “skill” from 2018 was HR aversion and he gave up 3 yesterday. Sure, some guys have HR issues but putting as much weight as we do into the least common outcome is just inaccurate. One bad day has a huge effect on the entire season… as does one day where the wind is blowing in.

  20. theKraken says:

    Community question here – I know they change the WAR equations every year and pitcher WAR in particular is a work in progress… I have been looking at some pitcher WARs from 2018 and I swear they are different than they were last year. Specifically, DeGrom and Snell seem like they gained a few WAR over the offseason… or am I crazy? It seems like they reverse engineered the WAR algorithm to support the narrative that they were the best pitchers in baseball. I do not recall them leading WAR last year and it certainly was not by the margin that it is now. This is a potential problem with arbitrary formulas that get revised…

    • theKraken says:

      I guess I didn’t really look at the end of the year. I might be a bit crazy. The best I can find are WAR values for DeGrom in Mid August at which point he was tied with Scherzer. The thing that I find odd is how much they diverged over the past 6 weeks, which doesn’t seem right. In any case, the idea that there is not a game log or historical reference as well as teh complletely opaque process computed differently in different places is problematic. When you read that a guy has X WAR they could be using whatever equation they feel like – they only say where it is from sometimes. These are problems that must be acknowledged if progress is to be made… which is why I am so cynical of many of these new metrics. People are not critical of them and they blindly support them… which is absurd. They wait until a few years later to dump on them, not realizing that the new one they support will be obsolete in a few years. I think of it like the people who line up around the block for the new iPhone because the one they waited in line for a year ago is now trash.

    • Doug B says:

      It was pretty solidly deGrom/Scherzer with Nola behind them for a while late last year in my recollection.

  21. Crenshaw says:

    Hi Nick! Thanks for the above content, love these reviews. I’m a Darvish owner in a 12 team points league. My questions is, why start him today? Wouldn’t it make sense to wait until he’s back to himself?

    Thanks Nick!

  22. Chris says:

    Would you drop Stripling for Boyd?

    • Doug B says:

      I did, the second my weekly additions reset. Lookin’ like a great idea… Boyd is clearly a different pitcher than he used to be. You’re gonna get more wins with Stripling while he’s starting, but everything else is probably going to be better with Boyd. He out-dueled Bauer today.

  23. ExBengalsFan says:

    Would you drop Domingo/Caleb Smith/Urias to stream Pineda?

    Keeper league (5 players)

    Also how dumb of an idea would it be to stream CC Sabathia against the Sox this weekend?


    • Nick Pollack says:

      CC is a Still ILL (Injured List Layover) – our replacement for DLH where you don’t start a guy in his first start back from the IL.

      I think you’re okay dropping German as he gets the Sawx next.

  24. Brandon says:

    It’s funny, I felt the Marquez start was actually a reason to push him up the rankings. He clearly didn’t have his best stuff and I don’t think it was a Coors Field issue, rather a “not good stuff” issue. Given he had such brutal stuff in Coors and still only gave up 5 runs (with not too many base runners) makes me think the Coors effect might be over blown.

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