As Lo As It Gets

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

(Photo by Samuel Stringer/Icon Sportswire)

I have a term – Spice Girls – that talks about younger arms that could turn into solid anchors in your staff…or fall off into the waiver wire in a heartbeat. One the more popular ones I’ve been touting is Reynaldo Lopez, who had allowed just 6 ER in five games with a 10K game under his belt entering his start against the Twins last night. It didn’t go so well in Chicago, finishing with a line of 6.2 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 0 Ks (HAIGTFMFWT?), now returning just four strikeouts in his last three starts combined. So what on earth is going with Reynaldo? I watched every pitch from this game and I was a bit disappointed to see his secondary pitches fall flat. Seriously, I think I counted three or four total across his changeup, slider, and curveball that I liked. Without those weapons – especially his slider, which was the difference maker in that 10 strikeout start – Lopez had to rely heavily on his four-seamer…and actually even though the line shows 4 ER, he kinda killed it with the pitch. There was a hiccup in the third when he was flying open on eight straight pitches (leading to a LoMo 2-run shot), but otherwise, he did an incredible job busting left-handers up-and-in to generate weak fly outs that deserved his low BABIP. So on one hand, I love the foundation is Lopez’s heater still and we have seen him display great secondary stuff in the past (slider and even his changeup as well!) so the ceiling is still there of a Top 40 SP, if not higher. Problem is he hasn’t put it all together yet and I can’t tell you when it will happen. He’ll take a small drop on Monday, but I’d still like to roll with this if I can. His fastball command is better than the underlying numbers look.

Let’s see how every other SP did Thursday:

Jeremy Hellickson – 5.2 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks. No. No no no no. HE IS THE DEVIL. He looks all seductive until you introduce him to your village. He will burn it. He will burn it all to the ground.

Wade LeBlanc – 4.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. I get that Wade’s 0 ER outing made him LeBlanc this time, but next time he will be LeRocked.

Julio Teheran – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. Y’all know I hate Teheran, but I’m not blind to the fact he has allowed just 3 ER total in four of his last five starts, and the one exception is when he was pulled mid-game with injury. Those solid outings also came with 28 Ks and now we’re talking…but he also held a 4.00 SIERA and 10%+ walk rate in that time, with just 17% soft contact, a 6.7% HR/FB rate – HA! – .232 BABIP and 88.2% LOB rate…yeah I can’t jump on board. I’ll give him a small bump on Monday but that’s it.

Patrick Corbin – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. You may have heard that Corbin averaged 89.1mph on his heater yesterday. For reference, he was pumping 92.3mph the previous start. That is worrisome. It’s not as worrisome as throwing 92-93 in the first then 88-89 in the third, but suddenly we have a reason to question Corbin’s white hot performances out of the gate. I wouldn’t sell him – I think it’s just one of those days, honestly – and not to mention that the actual results were still solid. Just 10 whiffs though, still good but not the overwhelming result we’ve become accustomed to. Just be patient and buy low if someone is terrified.

Alex Wood – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks. He’s still chucking 90mph “heat” and still having success, this time with 14 whiffs to his name. I can’t deny it, even if I try it, but he’s going to supply it, so I guess you should buy it…? It still makes me a bit uneasy, but clearly lower velocity wood (#WoodVelocityWatch2018) is still an effective pitcher who should be owned, it’s just the injury history + lack of ceiling because of it that has me worried. So roll with it, don’t sell if you’re not getting a ton back as I’m changing my stance a little here.

Jaime Barria – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks. I just met a girl named Barrrrrrria! Ohhhh, is she nice? Nah, she gave me a parking ticket. Oh.

Lance McCullers – 7.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks. I’ll take it from McCullers, though it’s weird to see what looks as close to purgatory as I’ll ever see in a pitching line. No extremes in strikeouts, super middling ratios, no dub like the 2009 White House…just ignore it and move on.

Mike Minor – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks. Minor had the tough job of facing the Sawx and managed to eek out a VVPQS. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I’m buying Minor after his May 15th start. I think he has the talent and repertoire to be a Top 40-50 arm consistently through the year, but he needs the time to get it all in place. Two starts to go, I think he can still do it. Feel free to let him loose to the wire til then.

Jake Odorizzi – 5.1 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks. If you see this line and are wondering the same thing, no Odorizzi’s curveball was not a factor. Disappointed! He got 11 whiffs on 70 four-seamers which I just don’t expect again, so you keep this stupid start in your pocket.

Adam Plutko – 7.1 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks. When my friend told me he was playing Plutko, I told him I hope he wins $25,000 and start from the far right. Not left, right. The Indians had themselves a doubleheader against the Jays and Plutko is a Cup of Schmo. Sorry.

Masahiro Tanaka – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks. Tanaka actually pitched six shutout frames with 3 baserunners, then led off the seven with a pair of singles then a HBP against Bregman that was as close as you’ll ever see, got the hook with all three runners scoring. Womp womp. A pretty impressive start against the mighty Astros, featuring more of the same – 12 whiffs on 83 pitches and under 30% hard stuff. I’m buying all day here.

Trevor Williams – 5.2 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. Slowly and surely the Williams’ ERA will come to an end. Not so long may he reign!

Sean Manaea – 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks. Leave it to Manaea to have his small moments of blegh in a start, then dominate for the rest of it. That 2-run HR was the main blemish here, yet you still got a 1.00 WHIP and 5 Ks. That’s very salvagable.

Mike Fiers – 4.0 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks. Oh look it’s Fiers! You know what that means. Stop, drop, and have an existential crisis after wondering how life could ever make you believe starting him was a good idea.

Eric Skoglund – 4.2 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks. Skoglund. Maybe one day my vision will come true of a Wisconsin family from enjoying their morning breakfast and a son asking his father how well Skoglund did last night. “Skoglund is my favorite!” I don’t know what it is, I just want that name to be popular, like how we all know how to pronounce Foltynewicz or Berrios or Trout. Who’s Trout? I still hate how few people know who Trout is. IT’S WRONG.

Joe Biagini – 4.1 IP, 6 ER, 10 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. Oh snap it’s Biagini! Oh snap he was bad! He’s still a Young Gun to me as I innately believe the stuff he brings to the table. Thing is, he needs experience on the hill and time to get into a rhythm before I can begin endorsing him in any way. This was a spot start for a doubleheader so don’t get any silly ideas.

Carlos Carrasco – 5.1 IP, 6 ER, 9 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks. I totally get being upset with Carrasco’s 3.95 ERA and 22.4% K rate through seven starts this year, and now this is 10 ER in two starts. Guess what, he actually won the Gallows Pole with 18 whiffs to his name and I’m willing to give him a shrug in this one. I think this makes for a solid buy low, actually, as Carrasco simply isn’t a 4.00 ERA pitcher and isn’t a sub 25% K rate pitcher. You may find his owner sick and tired of his antics and get yourself a solid discount.

Jaime Garcia – 3.1 IP, 6 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. Well yeah, it’s Jaime as in “Hi! May I please drop you?”

Jason Vargas – 4.2 IP, 6 ER, 11 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. The Vargas Rule this year is to not touch anyone named Jason Vargas.

David Price – 3.2 IP, 7 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. Ugggggh. I’m taking the L here on Price as he just hasn’t been up to snuff this year. I was a bit too ambitious believing that his fastballs could return back to their 2015/2016 self and averaging 92.2mph just isn’t going to cut it. Good to see a 20% whiff rate on his changeup in this one, though. I think at some point this year Price does figure it out and becomes that consistent Top 20 stud, but he needs to take a major hit on Monday. My b y’all.

Chris Tillman – 1.0 IP, 7 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 0 Ks. You Can’t Spell Win With Tillman. I’m glad all is right with the world once again.

Today’s Streamer

Nick Kingham vs. Milwaukee Brewers Why not, right? He’s getting the start Can’t really choose this one anymore as he’s owned in 40% of leagues. I could go Ian Kennedy against the Tigers, Daniel Mengden against the Orioles, or Zack Wheeler hosting the Rockies, and I’ll officially select…Daniel Mengden against the Orioles.

Tomorrow’s Streamer

Caleb Smith vs. Cincinnati Reds – Dude has fanned 19 in his last two games and gets the weak Reds offense. Go for it.

Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer

Kyle Gibson vs. Chicago White Sox – He has the K upside against a meh offense to make this work. I’d roll with Mike Soroka as well, but you guys are smart and have already picked him up in over 30% of leagues.

Game of the Day

Nick Kingham vs. Milwaukee Brewers – Who doesn’t want to see if Kingham can pick up where he left off?

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.

36 responses to “As Lo As It Gets”

  1. Matt says:

    Godley and Nola to much for kershaw? 12 tm points league. Other pitchers I have are severino Berrios erod Faria Castillo clev and Gohara stashed

  2. Barry says:

    I grabbed Heaney and profited Wednesday. I’ll drop him now as Buehler, Sabathia, and Kennedy are all available. I’m assuming Buehler is better for the long run in your opinion since Ryu is now hurt?

  3. ReleasetheMcKraken says:

    Reynaldo Lopez or Marco Gonzales?

  4. Brushback Mountain says:

    Hi, Nick. When you talk about David Price “figuring it out,” do you think it’s more about mechanics or pitch progression? Also: I’m liking Tyson Ross’ K/9 rates and hoping he can maintain a 3.7-ish ERA. Do you think he has Top 40 potential?

    • DGM says:

      Here is a good write up on Price’s struggles – basically boils down to all of his pitches being around the same velocity. Hopefully he can get things right.


      • Nick Pollack says:

        Interesting stuff, I’m not totally sold as I think the problem is more rooted in locating his fastballs, but definitely something to explore.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      I question if we’ll get to a point that we can trust Ross enough to call him a Top 40 guy. There are a lot of talented arms inside the Top 50 right now.

      Regarding Price, I think that’s more about getting a feel back for his heaters to hit their spots more often. He’s not getting the same swings out of the zone that he used to mask mistakes when he doesn’t hit his spots.

  5. Mike says:

    I’m hanging with Minor and Lopez man. I’ve been skeptical of Minor but I am trusting you.

    For Williams, I can’t say I am surprised with his start yesterday but still, 3 ER against the Nats? Not as bad as you’d expect.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Sure, though the Nats aren’t as scary of an offense with Eaton and Rendon out.

      If you have other options on the wire, I have no problem dropping Minor and Lopez, FWIW. Here’s to a successful June 1st and beyond for both of them.

  6. Play Ball says:

    Who do you like ROS if you had to choose – Tanaka or Godley?

  7. Bob says:

    I’m interested in your take as to why you don’t think 92.2 MPH from price is enough to cut it. When you are a big believer in Manea who sits 89-91. I know velocity obviously it’s everything but what makes you think he can’t win with the diminished velocity. Also I watched Price 2 starts a go and he has a couple 94, 95’s mixed in there. Are their off speed pitches that much different? I’m just saying plenty of guys can be pretty good working at 92.2 MPH.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Good question Bob!

      It’s not always about the actual number, moreso relative to what he has done in the past that made him successful. Price was a Top 15 guy when he was sitting 94-95 and pushing 97-98 at times. Now that he’s not at that point, we can’t value him with the same ceiling.

      The bar has been set for the player, now they need to adjust their game to accommodate the change of velocity.

      Manaea is an interesting example as his mechanics make his low 90s heat play up a bit more.

      • Bob says:

        Assuming he can make the adjustment from 94-95 to 92-93 he still good be very good. I don’t know if this is a great example and they aren’t the same type of pitcher but Keuchel won a Cy Young topping at 91 in 2015. So it’s not always about velocity. And still 92-93 from the left side is nothing to sneeze at. He needs throw more strikes and keep the ball out of the middle of the plate. And he could still be top 20 with that kind of stuff.

  8. Let's Play Two says:

    Could Corbin’s drop in velo be attributed to the overuse of sliders negatively affecting his arm?

    • Nick Pollack says:

      I wouldn’t say that. There isn’t a correlation between breaking ball usage and velocity drops.

      • theKraken says:

        There sure used to be correlation between sliders and arm injuries. I am never sure about what has been “de-bunked” on the Internet though.

        • Nick Pollack says:

          That was a product of terrible archaic techniques. We know now that twisting your wrist as you pitch destroys your arm, etc.

          There are so many arm injuries now, when someone finally gets one who throws sliders, it’s unfair to say “Oh of course, because he threw a lot of sliders!”

          The other way as well. Plenty of pitchers throw an abundant amount of breaking pitches and don’t see 3mph drops on their fastball.

  9. dgm says:

    Better stream tomm –

    Faria vs Toronto or Mahle vs Miami

  10. Jim says:

    I’ll let you know how streaming Mengden goes…

  11. Jim says:

    Nick, I’m confident in your pick… mostly because I have to be after facing Severino and Paxton the other day, need to make up some ground!

  12. Tim Rhodes says:

    Domingo German or Lirano for short term and long term?

  13. johnpes says:

    At what point should Price be dropped for a guy like Ross, Buehler, Soroka, etc.? How patient should an owner be with him before pulling the plug?

  14. Larry says:

    Would you use Skaggs @ Sea tomorrow

  15. Let's Play Two says:

    Any insights on Boston’s Jalen Beeks?

  16. JonesNose says:

    Castillo or Gohara in a points league?

    I’m sure i’ve asked this already, but Castillo has gotten better, while Gohara has gotten shelled and passed up by Soroka.

  17. Let's Play Two says:

    Thor or Cole ROS in a standard, season long roto league?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Account / Login