An Uncanning Impression

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

I really like Griffin Canning and I think that surprises a good amount of people. After yesterday’s 3.1 IP, 6 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks starting against the Rangers, Canning holds a ghastly 4.43 ERA with a 4.70 FIP and 4.09 SIERA, making it look like I’m taking crazy pills. What I see is Shane Bieber 2.0. He has a fastball that gives in a little too often, but his slider and curveball help him maintain an elite 14.5% swinging strike rate, pushing his strikeout rate to 26% while limiting walks to a sub 7% rate. His 1.80 HR/9 is the product of everything, something I believe will drop as he gets more experience in the majors and polishing the consistency of his breakers. Not to mention, this specific start from Canning was a bit off – he was very understandably emotional about his former teammate, he featured changeups as his predominant second pitch, and had a tough matchup inside Arlington for a guy with an inflated HR/9. It makes for a pitcher that could have a major second half and not cost the same as other Top 25 SP. And with about 115 frames under his belt from 2018, I don’t see why he can’t go 160 this year, which isn’t enough setting him up for a major shutdown (maybe the last week or two, but that’s it, really). I’d buy low here as we overlook the ERA numbers for the skills underneath.

Let’s see how every other SP did Thursday:

Matt Carasiti1.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks. After Matty Nice was Tommy Milone, our Call Boy for the day who went 5.1 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. Womp womp. I’m a bit disappointed here and I wonder if the glimmer is fading as we turn toward the second half.  Streaming Record: 54-37.

Luis Castillo7.2 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks. Aces gonna ace. Castillo held a no-hitter with zero walks (two HBPs, of course) in the seventh and didn’t let the single rattle him. He did this against the Brewers, ya’ll. Really great to the see the walks tumble and I expect him to have a sub 10% walk rate in the second half. It will also likely come with other forms of regression in the other direction, though, but it’s wonderful being a Castillo owner.

Hyun-Jin Ryu6.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks. Aces gonna ace. Good to see Ryu rebound after last start and continue helping your team. He is #7 on The List, but it comes with a small shifty eye from me as I still expect the mask to fall off at any point. No, I don’t mean the injury history, I mean his actual ability to hold a 1.73 ERA despite a 3.50 SIERA. I can’t be the only one that feels this way, right? Now I just talked about SIERA and ERA not telling the whole story with Canning so there’s more to it than that but you get the idea. I’m just hoping that he coasts in the second half then I can write the massive piece on why he’ll be overdrafted in 2020 during the off-season. That’ll be fun.

Tanner Anderson4.2 IP, 1 ER, 9 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. Did you fly with Tan An? Why? Because he gave me a good ERA. At the cost of demolishing your WHIP and just three strikeouts. This isn’t the game you want to play. 

J. A. Happ5.1 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks. I’ll certainly take this from Happ, who we’d be happy with settling in as a Toby with Win potential. That would be fantastic.

Derek Law0.2 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 0 Ks. Pannone followed the Law and no one won as he allowed 4 ER in 4.1 IP because he’s Thomas Pannone.

Anibal Sanchez6.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks. Anibal’s cutter has been plenty more effective since his IL stint, though his splitter didn’t do much in the ways of whiffs (1/12). It earned 11/13 strikes, but that’s not the point! Well it kinda is the point but we want those strikeouts as this was the Marlins. Please get the feel for that splitty back, k? K.

Brandon Woodruff6.0 IP, 1 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks. Woodruff really is killing it just with that 97 mph heater. It’s fascinating to me. I really don’t like the rest of his repertoire and his slider can be good, but this game was dominated with heat as he induced plenty of foul balls and outs in play. I know the peripherals love the kid and I have him in the Top 30 after all, but without a stronger #2 and #3 pitch, I can’t help but worry that this isn’t for the long haul. Maybe he adds something else to figure it out.

Homer Bailey5.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. Bailey struggled against the Jays last time and allowed a HR to JoRam here (WHOA) but this is Homer Bale and this line is acceptable. Fastball velocity wasn’t up like we’ve seen, though, and I’m not seeing anything that advocates trust.

Lance Lynn7.0 IP, 2 ER, 9 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks. Just start Lance Lynn. Just do it. I wouldn’t be shocked if the wheels came off as we near the end of the year, but I don’t care. Do it.

Jose Berrios5.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks. Berrios’ curveball was good but not great while his changeup returned 0/14 CSW. OH COME ON BERRIOS. I so badly want you to have your proper breakout. Like the real deal. Otherwise, every year in drafts we’ll be debating if this is the year or not. and it can get very tiring. But Nick! He has a 3.00 ERA and 1.11 WHIP! Isn’t this his breakout? He also has a sub 22% strikeout rate and 4.28 SIERA. It’s a better season, but this isn’t him truly taking that next step.

Yonny Chirinos7.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. It’s not easy facing the Yankees and Chirinos did a fine job here. I have yet to find a good reason to not start Chirinos since his inclusion as a legit starter and while I don’t think he elevates to being a strong #2 for your team, we can all nod our heads in approval.

Elieser Hernandez4.1 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. I could talk a long time about Elieser. What I see from him is a decently commanded heater – not elite, but not poor at all – a strong slider that can fizzle and isn’t overwhelming like the studs, and a changeup that he doesn’t have a ton of confidence in. It spells an arm with a limited ceiling – low fastball velocity, no stupid legit secondary pitch – but good enough stuff that he should be owned in a 12-teamer as he long as he pitches. It’s at least 6 Ks are all five of his starts now, which is great, though I see him more like a 23% strikeout guy ultimately than the 25%+ studs with his repertoire. This isn’t the sleeper of the second half arm, and hopefully he continues to warrant that roster spot.

Dinelson Lamet5.0 IP, 3 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks. We knew Lamet would be held to five frames and that mixed with standard DLH procedure + a date with the Dodgers made for a clear sit. But a 1.00 WHIP with 7 Ks? Huh. This is surprisingly good. Fastball was sitting 95 mph – sweet – his changeup was much better than usual, and his slider was…okay. Weird. I think this is one of those cases where we really don’t know what to expect out of Lamet for a bit and I’d play it a bit cautiously for the next few starts. Definitely hold as the upside is well worth more than what’s on the standard wire.

Zach Plesac2.2 IP, 3 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 1 Ks. Plesac didn’t have it. Three walks, one strikeout (HAISTFMFWT?!) and a bailout from the bullpen made up his day. Now he’ll get plenty of rest and able to come out swinging after the ASB. I don’t think it’s time to drop him, he should bounce back.

Jose Quintana7.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. Yep, this is solid Quintana. Not the prettiest ERA, but Tobys rarely are the prettiest. Being pretty isn’t everything, you know.

Hector Velazquez2.1 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks. Vince and Hector make it easy. If you’re a starter and your last name starts with “Vela”, then you don’t want to own them.

Matt Boyd5.1 IP, 4 ER, 9 Hits, 0 BBs, 13 Ks. Man, how can I hate on a 13/0 K per BB? I know, he allowed a pair of two-run shots but that happens. 13 strikeouts doesn’t. WE ARE BOYD BOYZ AND BEEGEES.

Mike Soroka4.2 IP, 4 ER, 9 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. He didn’t have the best command of his fastballs today, leaving a good amount of the plate. This a rarity and it’s too bad that his changeup and slider aren’t so good that they can take over when the heaters aren’t as they should be. This isn’t massive regression hitting – though it is a little bit – and Soroka should still be very helpful moving forward.

Michael Wacha3.1 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 0 Ks. This is why we did one stream of Wacha and called it a day. 10 outs without a punchout? HAISTFMFWT?!

Zach Eflin3.0 IP, 6 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. Ugh, when you’re an ultra strike throwing without major swing-and-miss stuff, you have a decent chance at getting lit up quickly. It’s the main reason why Eflin’s ceiling is so limited, but he should still be owned. It’s a good enough 1-2 punch for most days.

Reynaldo Lopez5.1 IP, 6 ER, 9 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks. It really does pain me every time I see ReyLo struggle. I wonder if he gets dealt to another squad and can take that leap in new scenery. Not to say that the ChiSox are bad at developing pitchers, but I have to think there’s untapped potential that another organization could extract.

Jordan Lyles4.0 IP, 7 ER, 10 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks. Cool to see the Ks, tough to endure the ratios. The Cubs are no joke and you likely want to drop Lyles. We don’t know how the rotations will shape up yet, but if Lyles skips the Cubs and gets the Cardinals post ASB, I’m all for holding on here.


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.


Martin Perez vs. Texas Rangers – Blegh. I danced between a few options here and settled on Perez, who showcased improved velocity last time out. Here’s to hoping.


Tomorrow’s Streamer


Anthony DeSclafani vs. Cleveland Indians – He had a strong performance last time out and I think he can take on a middling Cleveland lineup.


Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer


Tyler Mahle vs. Cleveland Indians – I’m amazed I can still pick him, you should ride his strikeout rate against the Tribe as we head into the break.


Game of the Day 


Masahiro Tanaka vs. Brendan McKay – Let’s see if Tanaka can recover from the London series and if it’s more of the same from McKay.


(Photo by John Cordes/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.

4 responses to “An Uncanning Impression”

  1. Jeremy says:

    Boyd’s homerun issues are so annoying. 8 longballs in his last 3 starts. The K’s are fantastic but a 6.85 ERA and 1.45 whip in his last 4 is brutal.

  2. Swfcdan says:

    Acquired Clevenger ($12 thru 2020) and McKay (prosp)
    J Ramirez ($45) and C Kieboom (prosp)

    Its a lost year so J-Ram was useless to me especially as we have a $330 cap so I was suprised I could trade him. Both prospects promoteable next year and I’m excited about McKay like you. Tough to give up Kieboom but getting Clev cheap for next year makes me feel better. You down with this deal?

  3. SteveO says:

    Out of these 3, who would you go with on Sunday?

    Flaherty v SF
    Musgrove v Mil
    Mahle v Cle

    • theKraken says:

      How can you not go JF? If you own him I think you have to use him in the best case scenario.

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