Crumbling Cookie

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

(Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire)

I mentioned in yesterday’s morning podcast that Carlos Carrasco has the third least induced soft contact of any qualified pitcher in the majors (now fourth after this game), a shocking stat from a Top 15 starter, and he went on to go 5.2 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks against the Astros. I’m phrasing this poorly as I would have 100% started Carrasco here even in this matchup, but I think it’s time for us to reconsider what the expect from Cookie. He’s holding a 3.98 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 24.4% K rate, and 1.24 HR/9, and I can feel the quivering boots from here. There are good things, though. 65% F-Strike rate and 13.0% whiff rates are excellent, meaning the WHIP should stay low and the Ks should rise, while his 3.51 SIERA hints at better days ahead with a slight regression in HRs and his 72.1% LOB rate. But really, the point here is to not forget the upside of Carrasco spinning a pair of 8 IP gems that will drag these elevated numbers back to expected levels in a blink of an eye. Those will come this year and if you have a worried owner, I’d be buying low. He will take a small dip tomorrow, but he’s still Top 20 moving forward as this ace is gonna ace.

Let’s see how every other SP did Saturday:

Daniel Mengden – 9.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks. Mengden, this is getting stupid. People are going to believe that you’re a Top 40 starter the rest of the year and I guess that’s something we can take advantage of, but it’s stupid. Wait, why not? Because he doesn’t’ strike out batters – 16.2% K rate! – and he’s not a master of inducing poor contact like these numbers suggest, meaning that his 2.85 ERA is massively dependent on a low .246 BABIP this is going to rise. A lot. His SIERA is 4.18 for a reason. His last five starts have returned a .172 BABIP and 100% LOB rate with just a 5.08 K/9. When has that ever lasted even close to that? All this aside, I think I can finally set the bar for Minimalist Score of the year with a score of 7 here for Mengden. Solid stuff, Vargas Rule this one all you like if you can’t find a buyer, and I’m glad to take my win. Streaming Record: 31-17.

Ryne Stanek – 1.2 IP, 0 ER, 0 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks. Ryne just doesn’t have the Heart, you know? He isn’t the big body you can get behind to trust on your team. He is the Rays’ opener, after all. Anyway, this means I have to talk about the real starter, Anthony Banda who went 6.1 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BB, 7 Ks. This was super impressive, with his fastball getting seven of his 12 whiffs. I don’t think he has the full repertoire to make this work – just four curveballs in 81 pitches – but his changeup was solid and it’s not out of the question he can turn into a decent streamer. I’m not ready to believe in it, but it’s there. I should note, though, that Banda was sent to Triple-A after this start, but he’ll be before too long and this blurb still applies.

Clay Buchholz – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks. Clay is back and didn’t suck today. I’m happy for him. Not happy for the owner that sees this and sudden turns into Ollivander. I wonder…

Wei-Yin Chen – 7.1 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. Chen has a 5.22 ERA, 10.9% BB rate, 15.6% K rate, and has needed a .233 BABIP to prevent his 6.38 FIP. Carry on.

Jack Flaherty – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. Flaherty got the benefit of balls finding gloves in this one, but we’ll take it as he’s done nothing to make us think he’s getting ousted from the rotation just yet. I know there are a ton of questions about it, but at this moment we hold and don’t act until we get more news. There’s a lot that can happen between now and whenever the Cardinals need to make a formal decision.

Jaime Garcia – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks. Today was another battle of the Jaimes as Garcia outperformed Barria with this gorgeous line against the Phils. It’s a One Night Bland, but at least he’s got that feather in his cap. Yay.

Aaron Nola – 6.2 IP, 1 ER, 1 Hits, 3 BBs, 10 Ks. Aces gonna ace. Happy freakin’ Nola day.

Tanner Roark – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. Soft contact is still way up, though I’m very skeptical that his .229 BABIP can last. Still, a .260/.270 mark seems possible with the way Roark is pitching, meaning a 3.60 ERA with a 22% K rate is possible. There’s obviously value in that.

Ian Kennedy – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks. You own Kennedy for the Ks, and he gave you four. That’s not gonna cut it Kennedy, that’s just not going to cut it.

Wade LeBlanc – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. You’re looking at LeBlanc’s 3.45 FIP and thinking, Why can’t his 2.70 ERA and 1.10 WHIP be real? Because his 7.3% HR/FB is stupid, even for a flyball pitcher, and he throws 86.3mph on his fastball. By all means, go and Vargas Rule this all you want, I have no objections there – just 5 ER total in his last five starts! – but this isn’t your 2018 gamechanger.

Hector Santiago – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. I can’t believe that I actually needed to dive deep in Santiago today to make sure I’m not missing a massive resurgence. His last three starts have returned a 3.94 ERA with a 7.88 K/9 and 3.38 BB/9. This is Hector at his best and it’s a three-start sample that you’d be putting faith in. Don’t. Just don’t.

Tyler Anderson – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks. It’s a VPQS with two strikeouts. We’re done with Tyler, ya’ll.

Bartolo Colon – 7.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. The Groan Ranger is as locked in as we’ve ever seen him. So I ask you, how is he being successful? He’s great at weak contact. Nope. 14.1% soft, 40.2% hard. He’s not walking anyone! That’s a decent point, but a .210 BABIP is way too stupid to continue. He’s not allowing Home Runs Ummmm 1.86 HR/9 and 20.6% HR/FB rate that may come down a little but not enough to move the needle. So what you’re saying is… He’s a TEEs, of course.

Sean Newcomb – 3.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 4 BBs, 4 Ks. Okay, you’re probably expecting me to say “I told you so.” I won’t do that. I’m going to say “Okay, this may be the expected regression or just one quick stumble on the road.” Don’t be super hasty to jump ship – this was the Sawx! – and let’s see if he can handle the Nats next. And even after that, honestly, he gets the Padres and Mets and Padres again after, so would you really want to skip out on those?

Jake Odorizzi – 5.1 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. Odorizzi is silently producing, even if this one is as blegh as they come. Unfortunately, it’s the Indians next, but I’m all for owning him against the ChiSox after.

Chris Stratton – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks. Stratton has the least induced soft contact of any qualified starter in the majors. Yhunnng. Yes, I have no idea what the onomatopoeia is for that sound. I tried.

Jaime Barria – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. Hot take: Barria isn’t that great. Two HRs led off this game, then a two-run shot in the second, but to his credit, he did settle down in the following three frames and this was the Yankees. Blegh, I just don’t see a dependable guy here.

Tyler Mahle – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 4 BBs, 4 Ks. This is the typical Mahle experience. It’s great in the short term, but eventually you realize that you’re standing in the forest and you’re completely lost. Just like Tyler’s command. :(

Jose Quintana – 4.1 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. Nick, how much longer can we endure Quintana’s slow start? That’s completely up to you. I don’t think many of y’all will disagree that the season is long and full of terrors and that we’ve seen Quintana rebound mightily in the past. I personally wouldn’t drop him, but if you’re in a league where our favorite names like Heaney, Pivetta, Erod, Ross, etc. are all hanging out, I’d make the swap.

Trevor Williams – 4.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks. Williams is a TEEs and prime for a Grave Mistake every time he starts. Don’t forget it.

Chase Anderson – 3.2 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks. Do it. That’s what you’re here for, I’m telling you to cut the cord. It’s okay, you’ll most likely be able to get him back if he indicates a step forward across future starts, but the upside here isn’t worth the undulating performances right now.

Andrew Cashner – 5.0 IP, 5 ER, 11 Hits, 4 BBs, 4 Ks. I feel weird saying Cashed Out as there really wasn’t anything to get back. A penny? Is that even worth anything anymore? Yes, one cent. Because it’s a penny. THEY SHOULDN’T EXIST.

Sonny Gray – 3.2 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks. I understand why you haven’t dropped Gray yet, but do yourself a favor and just rip the band-aid off. Yes, you could be missing a turnaround later in the year, but you’re better off chasing other options right now.

Francisco Liriano – 5.0 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 8 Ks. 8 Ks and a terrible WHIP/ERA. That’s classic Liriano.

Jordan Lyles – 4.2 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 4 BBs, 4 Ks. Pack it up boys, we’re moving. Just eight whiffs overall and Lyles struggled in his feel of…everything. Sure, maybe a “Hail Mary” play in future matchups, but not worth the roster spot now.

Drew Pomeranz – 3.1 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks. The Dirty Cheerleader is looking at a framed photo from college, a distant memory of wonderful times, now sipping on rosé and wondering where it all went wrong. Wait, that’s me, which makes sense because I’d be pitching terribly too if they threw me on the field.

Jason Vargas – 3.0 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. I love that Jason’s legacy will be a wonderful rule, not actually, you know, being good.

Alex Wood – 5.1 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks. I recently wrote about Wood’s 2018 success, focusing mainly that his elevated fastball velocity from 2017 wasn’t entirely necessary for continued success. This game can be summed up by “don’t allow HRs on decent pitches.” He allowed three here and I don’t think he deserved a trio of longballs. Wood was under 80 pitches when pulled in the sixth and with seven Ks, that should give you the right idea of how this night was going save for those tates. That’s baseball, Suzyn.

Lance McCullers – 4.1 IP, 7 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks. I’m seeing a lot of talk about owners hating on McCullers now, wanting to trade him or incredibly frustrated at this start, and honestly, it’s surprising me a bit. Sure, no one should be happy with this, but this is what you signed up for. I’m fine with it and so should you. Between his last blowup and this one, McCullers carried a 1.80 ERA with a 0.87 WHIP, 25.6% K rate, and 7.7% BB rate in seven starts and marvelous 6.4 IPS. You’re going to get a lot more good than bad, so take a deep breath and keep the faith.

Today’s Streamer

German Marquez vs. Cincinnati Reds – It’s the Rocky Mountain Way to let Marquez roll against the Reds – even at home.

Tomorrow’s Streamer

Brandon McCarthy vs. New York Mets – Not many good choices here, so I’ll bank on the Mets against a guy that has had his moments.

Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer

Dan Straily vs. San Diego Padres – Am I petrified by the hard/soft contact splits? Definitely. But it is enough to deny a rolling Straily a start against the Padres? Probably not. Nick Tropeano against the Tigers ins another option, and so is Jeremy Hellickson against the Orioles if you’re into those kinds of deals.

Game of the Day

Trevor Bauer vs. Gerrit Cole – Plenty of fun starts today (MATT STRAHM IS DOING IT), yet not only is this entertaining from two great pitchers but the whole “Bauer vs. Astros” element as well.

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.

15 responses to “Crumbling Cookie”

  1. Vinny says:

    Hey Nick,
    Have to drop one to activate Reyes: Erod or Weaver.
    While I’ve missed out on a few guys to hold Erod – his inconsistency drives me crazy but he has been solid- i’m leaning towards keeping Weaver for the upside.

    Since Reyes will free up a spot on my DL, who would you stash between: Stroman, Rodon, Sheby

    Thanks in advance!

    • Nick Pollack says:

      I still believe in Erod more than Weaver, but they are incredibly close and if you’re leaning Weaver, I don’t think you’re setting yourself up for massive regret. Go with your gut there.

      Stroman for floor, Rodon for upside.

  2. Bob says:

    You’d choose McCarthy over Caleb Smith? Also you see a lot of potential in Matt Strahm?

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Nope! Definitely Smith, just much more wildly owned.

      Ha, I labeled Strahm as a dark horse sleeper to start 2017, and it’s been a bit of a joke since, including me devoting a Bold Prediction on him this year. I do think he could have the stuff to make it work given development in the rotation, but there’s no reason to invest in that save for NL Dynasty leagues.

  3. Play Ball says:

    I traded Heaney and Reyes for Kershaw…good deal? I thought there was some risk in trading for Kershaw with his injury history, Heaney pitching well and Reyes’ potential. Should I be concerned about Kershaw’s dip in velo and bicep tendon for production (K, QS, ERA, WHIP) ROS? I’m loaded in top arms and may flip him and wanted your opinion before I consider it.

  4. Brett says:

    I have owned McCullers jr in my keeper points leauge for a few years now. For some reason this year I am one of those people who has been questioning him. Recently I got offered Moncada for McCullers straight up. Seeing as how 2nd base has been a black hole for me all year, and I have other very quality pitchers (Severino, Syndergaard, Paxton, Manaea) I took the deal. What are your thoughts Nick?

    • Nick Pollack says:

      I think I would have held onto McCullers as Moncada’s price has been falling a little bit.

      Still, not a bad deal as you do have the rotation to help and needed help at the 2B position.

      • Brett says:

        Agree I may have paid a little too much but I have always been high on Moncada, I think he will put it together and become one of the best 2nd baseman in the leauge. I hope!

  5. Ryan says:

    Which one would you pick up of Kingham, Musgrove, Gohara.

    • David C. says:

      I asked the same question yesterday! Lol exact same 3 + Sokora! Nick is a beast, we need his voice of reason before proceeding!

      Soroka, Gohara, Kingham or Musgrove?

      • Nick Pollack says:

        Ha! Thanks David.

        I’m going Kingham right now as he has the start on Tuesday and could have it for longer. Considering all are available, you’re given that luxury to play the super short term game.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Kingham. Keep playing hot potato until something sticks if all of these are available.

      Kingham gets the start on Tuesday, so go with him.

  6. ThisGuy says:

    Cahill or Caleb Smith? Currently rostering Smith, wondering if I should drop for Cahill?

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