Breaking The Wheel

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

It’s been a roller coaster of a year as a Zack Wheeler. We’ve gone through it all of “he’s back! He’s whack!” and now we’re just going to acknowledge that fine, he’s Zack. Yesterday’s 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 10 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. Was super frustrating given he was tossing 100mph heaters, but he had nothing to show for it. Seriously, not a single whiff on fastballs with just 5/63 CSW between his four-seamer and sinker. That’s just not right for Wheeler as he averaged over 97 mph with the pitch. Thing is, without a strong slider – 0/8 CSW – or splitter – 4/16 CSW – batters are going to go hacking away at fastballs. He really needs a pitch to take a step forward and keep batters on their toes. 97 mph is a prerequisite for success and it’s a good foundation, now just figure out that dang slide piece. PLEASE. He’s gotten there before – he was there the entire second half last year with all three secondary pitches – and don’t ignore the chance he gets there again this year. Wheeler gets the Cubs next and that is all kinds of a stressful outing on Saturday. Play it based on your week, but recognize that it isn’t a death sentence.

Let’s see how every other SP did Monday:

Mike Fiers6.2 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. Fiers hasn’t allowed more than 3 ER since April 20th, holding a 2.70 ERA with a 5.14 SIERA in those ten games. What a TEEs, but Vargas Rule this all you want.

Derek Law1.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks. Jackson followed the Law and the Law won. Seriously, it wasn’t even close as EJax allowed 7 ER in just two outs.

Joey Lucchesi7.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks. Solid stuff from Lucchesi who will have these starts from time to time, ensuring that you don’t let him loose. I don’t see a fast track to the top of the ranks, but you’ll be fine with him through the year.

Miles Mikolas6.0 IP, 0 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks. So I believed that Mikolas could do well against the Marlins after he didn’t pitch so poorly last time out, but not this well. His slider was back up a little to 87 mph – we want 88 mph eventually – and 27% CSW is a little lacking, but this is…better. I’m not back on the train just yet, play it start by start. It’s another gamble next time out against the Angels.

Rick Porcello7.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks. Porcello faced the mighty Twins lineup and returned a strong outing via…24/94 CSW. The Thief is at again, this time stealing championships from unsuspecting owners. But on the real, he’s a Toby and while I don’t think this will spark a fantastic stretch ahead, you’ll like continue owning him just for the Win value.

Masahiro Tanaka9.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 10 Ks. This was the night of some exciting performances (and a few duds, of course), with Tanaka have a career game against the Rays. 23 whiffs for a gallows Pole as his splitter was much better than we’ve seen. Meanwhile, 18/43 CSW on sliders is gorgeous and 37% CSW is just…divine. This is why you stuck with Tanaka over the last few weeks, here’s to believing he figured something out with his splitter that will stick.

Tyler Beede6.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 5 BBs, 7 Ks. Nice going kid, don’t get cocky. Beede earned his first win – against the Dodgers, no less – though I’m not really sold as a strong add moving forward. Only 9 whiffs via a good curveball and his changeup is…fine. I’d consider him during good matchups, but this isn’t a must-add in all formats kind of arm. He gets the Diamondbacks in Arizona next and I guess that’s okay as they rank 21st in home wOBA in the majors.

Jose Berrios8.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 10 Ks. Aces gonna ace. The dude is back. HE’S BACK. Curveball returned 18/22 strikes, changeups were in full force and gave Berrios 15/19 strikes and the total was 38/105 CSW with 19 whiffs. AGAINST THE SAWX. It’s the closest I’ve seen to a Blake Snell Blueprint from Berrios as well and it’s going to be a fun ride as we’re likely at the start of one of his hot streaks.

Andrew Cashner6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks. Sure, whatever Cashner.

Luis Garcia1.0 IP, 1 ER, 1 Hits, 0 BBs, 1 Ks. Garcia was the opener for Felix Pena who provided owners with 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks. Okay, provided was a bit harsh. That’s two straight games of disappointment from Pena and those that really need his 25% strikeout rate should take inventory. This was the Jays, after all.

Elieser Hernandez6.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks. Another strong performance from Elieser, here with 34% CSW as his slider went 14/31 CSW and was featured heavily in the zone. His changeup needs plenty of work and his fastball command is…okay, which makes me a bit hesitant to trust him against the Phils next week. I don’t think this is the young sneaky play that will keep your team afloat.

Lance Lynn7.0 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 9 Ks. It’s unreal. LYNN CANNOT BE STOPPED. I had to make him Top 50 this week – Lance Lynn, Top 50! – and at this rate, he’ll be Top 30 in a few weeks. Absurd. Hold on tight, I guess. I really expected this to fizzle out by now but how could we say no?

Luis Castillo6.0 IP, 2 ER, 2 Hits, 6 BBs, 7 Ks. Aces gonna walk a lot of batters and stress me out against the Astros. There are clear regression signs for Castillo over the summer – .235 BABIP, 12%+ walk rate!, 85% LOB rate – but let’s say his 2.26 ERA settles at 3.00 with his 29% strikeout rate and 1.15 WHIP. That’s still Top 10 in this climate, no? I do wonder if other arms inside that second tier truly take a step forward to rid themselves of their warts as well to force me to lower Castillo. Yes, I know, y’all want Ryu at #7. Sorry, he’s going to get hurt and there’s nothing that can remove that paranoia :(

Jhoulys Chacin4.2 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks. Remember kids, Chacin will do well when Jhoulyst expect it. 

Kenta Maeda5.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. It’s super boring, but it helps. You can do better than four strikeouts next time, right Maeda? PLEASE?!

Taylor Scott0.2 IP, 2 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks. Scotty, beam me up Tommy Milone’s line that followed you. 6.1 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks. That’s what’s up. Thanks Scotty. Streaming Record: 50-27. That’s five of his six games with at least six strikeouts for Milone and while we all want to ignore the fella, it’s time to make that pickup as he gets the Orioles next.

Yonny Chirinos6.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. I think I’ll take the PQS with a 1.00 WHIP and a strikeout per inning. I’m not anticipating a Top 30 surge for Chirinos – he doesn’t use the top of the zone enough + his splitter is a bit inconsistent – and performances like this are very welcome.

Wade Miley4.1 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 6 Ks. Nooooo, Miley finally hit a wall against the Reds, returning his worst start since April 12th. I don’t think it marks the end of us rolling with Miley – six strikeouts, after all – and he’s been solid for so long that you just have to hope he gets it back. 22/88 CSW is super blegh, though.

Mike Soroka6.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks. A PQS with just two strikeouts is awfully mediocre and I wonder if we’re going to be served starts like this constantly from Soroka. A commenter on Reddit made the comp of Dallas Keuchel and while I think Soroka has a slightly better strikeout ceiling, prime Keuchel = prime Soroka. Great way for people to understand my hesitation with Soroka, especially when some sort of innings limitation is on the horizon.

Danny Duffy5.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks. Velocity was still relatively up at 92.8 mph, but I need more. MOAR.Solid 36/105 CSW as he deftly found strikes with sliders, by the way. Nothing else was all that good, but at least that was.

Mike Clevinger4.2 IP, 5 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks. I was so amped watching the opening frames of this one. Clevinger was pumping CHED with some filthy sliders to boot and it was just so exciting. Then a two-run shot…then a rough fifth…and that was that. Whatever, you start him next time, you start him always. You’ve waited two months for this and it is worth it, trust me.


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.


Adrian Sampson vs. Cleveland Indians – I’ll take a shot on Sampson’s slider against the struggling Indians lineup.


Tomorrow’s Streamer


Daniel Poncedeleon vs. Miami MarlinsI stared at this day’s slate for ages before settling on Poncedeleon as he gets the Marlins. There’s just nothing else.


Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer


Jose Suarez vs. Toronto Blue Jays – I think Suarez has decent stuff and could run away with a solid outing against a meh Jays lineup, Vlad Jr. + Cavan n all.


Game of the Day 


Logan Allen vs. Brandon Woodruff – Often times during MLB Debuts I get bored when the opposing pitcher is going. But we have Woodruff! So this should be a blast and a half.


(Photo by David Dennis/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.

16 responses to “Breaking The Wheel”

  1. CJ says:

    Severino is available in my 10 team H2H, is now the time to swap him and a guy like Mikolas, if we assume Severino is returning in July? I’ve also got Taillon, Glasnow, Hendricks, and Caleb Smith on the DL though… :( This is a rough year

  2. Philip Sperling says:

    I really thought Wheeler was gonna be one of the guys we didn’t have to worry about start to start. What a minefield pitching has been this year. Man.


  3. Justin says:

    Soroka had his start shortened by a rain delay. He was at 68 pitches through 6 innings. He could have gone 7 or 8 without the weather.

  4. Frank says:

    Crazy that I almost expect Wheeler to give up a few Runs in the 1st inning now. It’s become pretty common to be disappointed by him. To the point that I don’t expect anything but a QS at best. Sadly, the pitching landscape is filled with guys just like Wheeler that we had very high hopes for but can’t seem to find their groove this year.

    Then there’s Frankie Montas making us all feel better. ;)

  5. sturock says:

    I write as a Met fan and a Wheeler owner. I’m concerned that this just might be what he is, an erratic thrower (not pitcher) who has tantalizing stretches of high-quality innings but can’t get the so-called “big outs.” Sorta like his buddy Thor. If Zack can’t find his secondary pitches by now, when will he?

  6. Brian says:

    Clev rolled his ankle in the 2nd inning and that likely affected his performance. He lost a couple MPH’s and started hanging the deuce. I almost threw the remote through my TV when he went down, it looked catastrophic at first. Thank the baseball gods he’s ok!

  7. Dave Cherman says:

    For what it’s worth, Mikolas averaged 27% CSW all last season. So maybe that shows last season as more of a fluke, or maybe it shows someone who can operate at a lower CSW

  8. David says:

    Check out Mikolas home vs away…hesitated to start him yesterday til I saw that. Be interesting to see if the trend holds.

  9. rainmaker says:

    I am sure it’s too late this year but I for next year, I would be curious to see an aggregate stat line by your streamers. A 50-27 record is very nice but what sort of pitcher does that equate to?

  10. theKraken says:

    I feel like teams use an opener to hide the fact that they are running out Edwin Jackson – that’s the trend at least. There are a lot of people that just want to see tradition burn and they are not so concerned about what is actually happening on the field. I wish fans held teams to a higher standard.

  11. theKraken says:

    I watched a little Berrios yesterday – I agree the deuce was loose. Berrios is not streaky IMO. He is almost always good, he just is never clear of a blowup. He has to pitch in front of one of the most screwed up infield defenses in baseball which can really hurt him on some days – combine that with his tendency to make a bad mistake or two and that is Berrios in a nutshell… but he is always really good even if the line doesn’t show it. How many other pitchers is his tier have much variety to their game? For most it is just throw more sliders.

  12. theKraken says:

    Re Castillo: No, I don’ think 3.00, 1.15 is top 10. Maybe it is close, but save that top 10 for a player that has done it before. Obviously everyone who goes 3.00 1.15 isn’t top 10. I am a bit curious why you even use ERA – isn’t that the worst of the worst metrics save for wins. I do like traditional stats as they actually have a defined context, but if you throw that out, then you have a 1.15 WHIP and that isn’t top 10. CIN is a good place to hit in the summer and CIN stinks – for me that tempers a lot of my enthusiasm. You asked!

    Re Lynn: He was great two years ago. He has done this before, it isn’t that hard to believe for me at least. He is one of my favorites to watch as he just tries to compete with his FB all night long…. which has great velocity this year. By any measure Lynn is throwing harder than he has at any point in his career – which is nothing by itself, but when you consider that all he does is mix FBs that extra tick or two makes his arsenal a bit deeper. He is still Lance Lynn, but he lost too much shine last year.

  13. WheelhouseWreck says:

    I don’t see Mitch Keller in the Start/Sit piece this week. Think he can handle DET for his first home start or go w Plesac @TEX. Thx Nick

    • WheelhouseWreck says:

      ah, it’s Keller. Just saw today’s start rankings. This site is a well-oiled machine, must say.

  14. Perfect Game says:

    Nick, how many more innings does Ryu throw in your opinion – even if healthy. He’s past last years’ total. Hasn’t thrown more than 120 in a handful of years. Asking to see if he’s who I might offer for him in a trade.

Leave a Reply

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

Account / Login