Cool Means

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

I’ve been joking about who in Baltimore will be the most fantasy relevant starting pitcher in 2019 and a new contender has entered the mix after John Means went 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks against the White Sox last night. What is the low-down on this guy? He’s been jumping between the rotation and pen, with last night marking just his third start of the year, collecting just 13 frames across them. Strike one. His mechanics remind me a little of both Joey Lucchesi and Derek Hollandwhich isn’t an innately terrible thing, but I’m just trying to paint a picture of the southpaw for you. His schtick is a middling fastball around 92 mph and a solid changeup that he’s depending on nearly double this year (20% –> 34% usage), with the occasional slider or curveball mixed early in counts. I don’t really love it. I don’t think his command is very special, though his changeup is very deceptive and could make those 7 Ks somewhat legit – 9/27 whiffs just last night and 17 whiffs overall. AL-Only leagues, I’m down for this. 12-teamers, I don’t think he’ll demand ownership over the full year – for whatever reason he’s not even locked into the Baltimore rotation right now – but I’d consider him as a streamer against poor teams. Keep in mind, he’s still bouncing between the rotation and bullpen, so he won’t be stretched out long enough for a while if he were to become a regular spot in the Baltimore rotation. It lowers his floor and ceiling for now, but we’ll be monitoring this through the year. There could be something here and he’s avoiding the loathsome Cup of Schmo label.

Let’s see how every other SP did Wednesday:

Cam Bedrosian1.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks. Cam got a taste of being an opener today, with Felix Pena earning 8 Ks with just 1 ER in five innings to follow. That’s the ceiling of Pena, but sadly we don’t see it too often. Maybe a desperate stream, but that’s about it for Felix.

Chris Paddack7.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks. Mmmmm Paddack flexed his ceiling in this one, keeping heaters up and doing a phenomenal job keeping his split-change down, with 7 whiffs and 20/24 strikes on the slow ball. Yes, his innings will be limited by some degree, but why would you ever turn away his quality frames when he’s on the mound? Don’t overthink this, just keep starting him and be happy.

Drew Pomeranz6.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. It wasn’t an overly impressive start against the Jays, but it’s not a 3.65 ERA for The Dirty Cheerleader. He’s an occasional streamer and if we accept him for what he is, that’s an okay thing. 

Vince Velasquez5.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks. Just 21% CSW for Velasquez here as – you guessed it – his four-seamer did most of the work. This one worked out for you if you trusted it, but this is going to hit a wall sooner or later. Vargas Rule it if you like, I think it’ll end in the next week or two.

Sandy Alcantara5.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 2 Ks. Nothing screams rolled eyes like a 1.60 WHIP with a 1.80 ERA and just two Ks. NOTHING. The man isn’t polished, don’t let the lucky ERA seduce you.

Felix Hernandez7.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks. That brings Felix’s ERA south of 4.00, which would be the first time since 2016. Felix cruised in this one, carving up seven frames in just 75 pitches, boasting an unreal 41% CSW along the way. The big hero was his curveball – 17/29 CSW – and while I love to see this, I just can’t buy into this as anything more than just one good outing. Sorry Felix, it’s just not how it used to be. The past is passed and the future is futuring.

Jake Junis5.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. I know I said not to trust Junis again in 12-teamers after his last start. And I stand by it….but I have to say, 4/10 whiffs on changeups is awfully surprising and his slider was as good as it gets with 14/23 CSW. He even went 5/7 on curveballs for strikes! This isn’t normal and while it could be a shift for Junis, I’m willing to wager it doesn’t stick next time out in a repeat matchup against the Rays.

Tanner Roark5.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks. Do you want to trust Roark moving forward? Why? It’s a 4.74 SIERA with a near 10% walk rate and 6.5% swinging-strike rate so far this year. Shudders.

Eduardo Rodriguez6.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 8 Ks. Great separation of fastballs and sliders/changeups in this one from The Uni, leading to a Gallows Pole at 18 whiffs. The Tigers make it a bit easier to dominate with 93 mph heat, but to see Eduardo take advantage is a wonderful thing. He’s in a good place right now, let’s hope it lasts.

Jefry Rodriguez7.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. Look at this little gem of an outing from Jefry. Blame it on the Marlins. Yep, nothing to see here folks.

Mike Soroka5.2 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks. Another solid outing from Soroka, but those eight baserunners are a bit frustrating, especially with three walks to his name. His slider wasn’t as sharp as we saw in his first start of the year, but the heater is still strong. Keep on keeping on.

Jason Vargas5.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. Are we Vargas Ruling the Vargas? Well, are we Chasing the Chase? Are we Bundling the Bundy? Please make it stop. Exactly.

Justin Verlander8.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 9 Ks. Aces gonna ace. It’s so wonderful to see an ace being a legit ace.

Adam Wainwright6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. Sure, whatever Wainright.

Merrill Kelly7.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. What a weird start from Kelly. Fastball was down to sub 91 mph levels, but the Pirates had no desire to jump on the pitch, electing to bring patience as they allow Kelly to pump 27 called strikes. That’s so high. Can I help you with anything today? NOPE JUST BROWSING. *Shuts down Chrome*. Seriously, Kelly didn’t have his best stuff, but the Pirates’ attitude to say “please, after you” boggles me. His curveball was good, not great like in Boston, but good, his changeup was a mix of good and bad, and he barely touched his slider. It’s a weird start and given the low velocity, Pittsburgh’s lineup, and lack of strong secondary pitch, I’m out. But it’s the Yanks next! Oh. Hmmm. Yeah, I still think I’m out for that.

Blake Snell3.1 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. It’s far from the start you wanted, but I think this is just the Rays being cautious after getting his previous start skipped with his toe injury. Mild shock. You already knew that and there’s nothing to worry about here.

Aaron Brooks5.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks. 14 whiffs is cool, 25% CSW is not. Brooks has a solid slider piece, but that’s about it here. It’ll create some nights like this one, but without a strong third option and a middling pair of fastballs, I think his best comp is Jakob Junis and that’s not a good thing.

Walker Buehler5.2 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks. 22% CSW as Buehler just couldn’t figure it out. Breakers weren’t doing much to help, his fastball was up, down, middle, hanging its feet up on the desk like it didn’t have a serious job to do. The result is a HAISTFMFWT?! and you’re getting a bit restless as an owner. That’s just two starts under 3 ER thus far and one game above 5 Ks. I suggest patience still here, though I don’t have as much confidence in Buehler to make a massive recovery as I do Nola or Thor, for what I think are obvious reasons. I wonder if we see some Dodgeritis manipulation to give Buehler a brief break if this keeps up, but for now I’d continue to throw him out there.

Kyle Dowdy3.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks. Whoa, and here I thought KD was going to be the talk of the town this summer. For real though, Dowdy is a Cup of Schmo, which means I won’t frequently get a chance to say Howdy Dowdy following a strong start. It’s sad, I know.

Cole Hamels5.1 IP, 3 ER, 3 Hits, 6 BBs, 7 Ks. Solid 30%+ CSW from Hamels here against the Dodgers…except that it took him 112 pitches to get kicked out of the sixth as his heaters and cutters were far from sharp. 11/23 whiffs on his changeup is stupid good, though, and I have no hesitations letting this ride for the foreseeable future.

German Marquez7.0 IP, 3 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks. Another start in Coors, another slight disappointment, though Marquez was certainly better here than prior. It was shaky early on, but he settled in, earning 35% CSW and 14 whiffs during the afternoon. Better sliders and curveballs this time round and it should give you more confidence to start Marquez in Coors as he handled the Nats well here. Well of course we’re starting Marquez every night. I know, I know, but more confidence is always a cool thing, you know?

Clay Buchholz5.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks. Bleeeegh. Maybe Bucky is a Toby at heart. I’m not going to wait and find out.

Jhoulys Chacin4.0 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. Yet another start against the Cardinals and you got a whole lot of blegh. Chacin will do well when Jhoulyst expect it. I know what you’re thinking – I expected this! – but that’s when he gets you. You expected that, but he does the unexpected…which means you expected a good outing ultimately. That crafty Chacin…

Jordan Lyles4.1 IP, 4 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks. The magic is starting to fade a bit, with Lyles unable to handle the visiting Dbacks. Just six overall whiffs, 19/81 CSW (blegh) and a curveball that wasn’t what was promised. Bad nights are things and this could easily have been one of those, yet he goes into Arlington next time and I’d be a little hesitant to trust him there. Streaming Record: 15-11.

Tyson Ross5.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 4 BBs, 5 Ks. Remember when Ross hinted at a no-hitter last year but was over 120 pitches in the 8th? I miss that drama from Tyson. I miss it badly.

CC Sabathia5.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks. Bleeeeegh. I don’t expect to see many starts about five frames from CC, but 4 ER in those innings is all kinds of disappointing against a meh Angels offense. At least the WHIP ain’t so bad?

Ervin Santana4.2 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks. Yep, that’s the Santana we all know and hate.

Kohl Stewart6.0 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 3 BBs, 1 Ks. It’s the wrong Kohl! Wait, that doesn’t really work as well. I’ll be honest, this is the only reason I miss Clayton Richards, horrid mechanics n all. But seriously Nick, should we care about Stewart? Nah, the guy is a Cup of Schmo and I wouldn’t consider him for a moment. It’s pretty easy to avoid him given how he gave us just one strikeout? One strikeout? HAISTFMFWT?!

Anibal Sanchez5.0 IP, 6 ER, 9 Hits, 5 BBs, 3 Ks. Anibal went into Coors and some days the universe just makes sense. Exestenial crisis averted. Today…


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.


Caleb Smith vs. Philadelphia Phillies – His ownage rate is at 10%. Still. I know, I don’t get it at all. On the real, CC Sabathia vs. Los Angeles Angels is the real stream as I just can’t believe Smith is still this unowned. All of this is wrong. Smith is owned near 50%, CC is above 20% and pitching tomorrow instead of today. Blegh. Looks like I have to go…either Trevor Cahill against the Yankees or Anthony DeSclafani against the Braves. Nevermind, Tony Disco is going Friday now. Cahill it is and I hate everything.


Tomorrow’s Streamer


Jerad Eickhoff vs. Miami Marlins – That curveball is legit and the Miami offense is not.


Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer


Derek Holland vs. New York Yankees – They don’t even have Clint Fraizer anymore. Fraizer! And Holland is in Oracle Park and currently sitting at a 13% ownage rate. Wild.


Game of the Day


Trevor Bauer vs. Gerrit Cole – There are a trio of fantastic matchups today – Greinke vs. Taillon, Nola vs. Smith – but Bauer vs. Cole is legit and legit gets. Leg it out and watch this one.


(Photo by Mark LoMoglio/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.

19 responses to “Cool Means”

  1. Tony says:

    Can you please suggest some more streamers for Saturday? Holland is owned.

  2. John E. says:

    I was happy with the results for Kelly’s start but it didn’t pass the eye ball test and it seems you agree with me Nick.

    In a 16 team league I may be forced to hold but don’t feel good about it.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      He has fluctuated before, so definitely hold in 16-teamer.

      But yeah, not as encouraging as the line suggests.

  3. Laura says:

    Who is the better pick up: erod or Soroka?

  4. Perfect Game says:

    What are the “obvious reasons” you don’t think Buehler recovers as massively as Nola? I was offered Nola for Buehler.

  5. MaxRo says:

    Hey Nick thanks for writing this piece everyday. I have McHugh, Boyd & D.German. I see Ray on the wire and he’s upper in your list. What’s your take on dropping any to get Ray? Any preference?


  6. Mike P says:

    Why do you say you have more confidence that Nola is more likely to get back to his old self rather than Buehler?

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Simply a longer track history of better command from Nola suggest just a bad blip rather than full slump.

  7. Brandon Heikoop says:

    I can’t make up my mind because between Holland and Pomeranz as a 5th starter on my 13-team league. I’d like to speculate on saves/add a solid ratio middle reliever.

  8. Christian says:

    Trade away Pham Wheeler and Ryu and get Springer Syndergaard and Jansen

  9. theKraken says:

    I watched two games yesterday – Buehler and Snell.
    Snell was very lucky that the game didn’t go worse. The Royals ran into 3 outs on the bases – that is a full inning worth of outs coming from guys that were already on base. Stuff-wise, I didn’t think it looked bad. I am no Snell expert though. I think the Royals just had a good day.
    WB – I thought he looked really good. That start looks a lot worse than it was. He handled the Cubs quite easily until the 6th, when it all culminated in 3 R. Some people call that sequencing, but I think the heart of the Cubs order deserves some credit for executing – that is a formidable group when they are hitting. I think he was overthrowing his FB a bit and it was really straight and everything was a tiny bit off, but it wasn’t far from what it would require for complete ownage either. Through 5 he allowed 3 runners.

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