Cutting My Comb

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

(Photo by Russell Lansford/Icon Sportswire)

Have I been too harsh on Sean Newcomb? After going 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks last night against the Mets, he’s now sporting a 3.38 ERA, 29.0% K rate, and 1.27 WHIP, with a solid 3.57 SIERA to his name. I’m impressed by his 64.8% F-Strike rate (though the 10.3% BB rate is still elevated) and a massive bump in soft contact from 17.5% to 26.1% this season. My concerns have always been rooted in that high walk rate stemming from a near-exclusive two-pitch mix. His curveball has always been a money maker, but it can’t be effective without heat batters respect and 2017 showed off a mediocre fastball. 2018 has been a bit different, reducing its line drive from 32.0% to just 15.0% thus far, holding batters to just a .222 average. The sample size is still small with just six starts thus far, though with Newcomb’s ability to rack up strikeouts and improved batted ball numbers, I need to give him a sizeable jump on Monday. Nothing too crazy, but 50-60s should suit him well.

Let’s see how every other SP did Wednesday:

Jacob deGrom – 4.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks. deGrom was removed from this one after hyperextending his elbow while striking out at the plate. #AddTheDH. This sucks for plenty of reasons, especially since he’s been pitching as well as ever. The good news here is that this could be a relatively swift recovery, but we won’t know until he’s given the time to heal over the next few days. I can feel the sweat and piercing gazes at the clock.

Aaron Nola – 7.1 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks. Aces gonna ace. I love Nola day.

James Paxton – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 16 Ks. Whooooaaaa. Big Maple had himself a day and what you don’t see here is that he had 31 whiffs – THIRTY FREAKIN’ ONE – including 24 just with four-seamers. In fact, he threw the pitch nearly 80% of the time, spotting it so well up-and-in to right-handers as the A’s could do absolutely nothing with the 97mph heat. Yes, he earns a Gallows Pole – I wonder if I should give a title for the Gallows of Gallows Poles – and any questions you had about Paxton starting off slowly in April should be purged.

Fernando Romero – 5.2 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks. Yesterday was a great day on the site as we had not one but two of my favorite articles – GIF Breakdowns of MLB debuts. Andy Patton gave his two cents on Romero’s start here and I agree with his overall sentiment. The stuff is a bit raw at the moment from Romero, featuring a hard mid-to-upper 90s four-seamer he can spot well and a two-seamer that has great movement but questionable command. His secondary pitches lack polish as well, with a changeup that could turn into a deadly weapon and a slider that rotates between weak cutting action and vicious sweeping bend. It’s easy to spot the allure of Romero, though in re-draft leagues I have to express caution as he looks very susceptible to a blow-up given his lack of polish. I’ll be watching this one closely.

Hyun-Jin Ryu – 1.1 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks. I joke about Ryu getting hurt all the time and BAM he left this one with a strained groin. Ouch, that sounds so painful. Sorry fella. He’ll be out for some time, making Walker Buehler’s status inside the rotation awfully secure. Grab him over the other recent call-ups as his spot looks plenty more secure.

Luis Severino – 9.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 10 Ks. Aces gonna ace. Welp, looks like I can’t give Verlander the #5 spot just yet.

Zack Godley – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks. I’m totally cool with this, but is it wrong that I wanted a slightly lower WHIP and maybe one or two more Ks? I feel like I haven’t been able to really buy into my #21 ranking of Godley from the preseason just yet and that makes me uncomfortable. I want to keep the faith, just give me a miracle, Zack.

Andrew Heaney – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks. This was…surprisingly from Heaney after fanning 9 Yankee batters but then the free-swinging Orioles only whiffed seven times. You can go ahead and drop Heaney now as he gets Coors + Astros next, but make a note to pick him up around May 20th after that whole ordeal. Streaming Record: 18-11.

Carlos Martinez – 7.1 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. Aces gonna ace. Seriously, we have to jot this down for next year when CarMart struggles in his first start of the season.

Wade Miley – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks. If you trust Miley after this, he’s going to demolish your team like a wrecking ball. Let me get that one out of my system so we’ll never see it again.

Jose Urena – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. This is back-to-back 7 IP, 1 ER starts from Urena and you’re thinking about picking him up. Don’t. Seriously. Don’t. (Should I call that DSD?) 40% and 50% hard contact in each of these “good” starts, 43.1% hard and just 13.8% soft for the year, a 4.18 SIERA, and a sub 20% K rate. This is Urena. This is disappointment. This is CNN.

Brett Anderson – 6.1 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. Awwww, after 5 years of being apart, Anderson finally returned to Oakland. And he didn’t suck in his first start. This is a lovely honeymoon, but they will royally hate each other soon.

Tyler Anderson – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks. This is getting kinda nuts. Anderson was removed during the previous start due to a “heartbeat issue” and I didn’t even include him in The List on Monday as it seemed like he wouldn’t make this outing. Then he crushed it against the Cubs, bumping his K% to a whopping 26.4% mark and earning a 2.03 ERA in his last six starts. I don’t believe that Anderson is a Top 50 arm. I looked into his pitches to find the anomaly this year – it’s his cutter being used as a strike-getting and changeup getting more whiffs – and while it’s working now, I’m not sold it will stay this way. Coors does things as well – 4/6 of these starts were on the road – so we have to play this on a start-by-start basis. He hosts the Angels next before heading to Sans of Diego and Fran, and I’d be hesitant to let him loose against Trout & friends. Totally down for the two starts after, though.

Luis Castillo – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 9 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks. Okay this is better. I’m still waiting, of course, and his fastball velocity was still not where it was last year, but seeing 21 whiffs overall with better fastball command is certainly encouraging. Still proceed with caution here.

Michael Fulmer – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. After his monstrous whiff game against the Pirates, he only registered 9 in 108 pitches here, with just 4 on 37 slide pieces and 4 on fastballs. Blegh. However, he still gave you a good outing because Fulmer is a legit pitcher and you should still want to own him.

Blake Snell – 6.2 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. Snell, I’m cool with this start n all but your breaking ball count was comfortably under 30% as you turned to changeups again and it’s part of the reason you only had four Ks. You do you, I guess, but for the rest of us we’d all love you to keep doing what you did before this one, you know?

Stephen Strasburg – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 11 Ks. Aces gonna ace. His fastball is still the pitch in question, but 23 whiffs on 104 pitches is crazy. Bad news here is that it wasn’t enough to win a Gallows Pole with Mr. Paxton going nuts with 30+. First Harper, then Scherzer, and now Paxton. Always getting overshadowed, you know?

Marcus Stroman – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. You will take this from Stroman any day of the week – even Mondays! – and I’m still a believer that he can be more beneficial than destructive. I’m not taking off his mini-TIARA just yet, though.

Lucas Giolito – 6.1 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks. Hey! There goes Giolito having a solid outing! His slider worked plenty well in this one… Why did you slow down. I want to hear more nice things about Gioltio. WHAT AREN’T YOU SAYING. His fastball velocity was still under 92mph. NOOOOOOOO.

Derek Holland – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. I hope you were killed by The Dutch Invasion, but for those in super deep leagues should be happy with Johnny Cueto’s injury that preserves Holland’s spot in the rotation. For now because let me tell you, reinforcements are coming and the people want their land back. YOU SHALL NOT PASS THE DUTCHIE!

Dallas Keuchel – 7.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks. I’m cool with this from Keuchel, whose only blemish was a pair of swats from Giancarlo Stanton. I think he gets better and more consistent over the year, stay with this.

Corey Kluber – 7.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks. Aces kinda gonna ace. Kluber, buddy, pal, I want to be convinced that you deserve the #3 spot, but you’re not giving me what I want.

Drew Pomeranz – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. It’s a VVPQS from The Dirty Cheerleader…without the strikeouts you pay him for. This is poor all around save for the “W” that acts as a participant trophy and I’d rather go after Spice Girls like Soroka, Kingham, Ross, etc. than roster Pomeranz.

Dylan Bundy – 4.1 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. After averaging over 92mph in this first six starts, Bundy hovered 90.5mph in this one and it showed. Not only was the velocity down, but his fastball command was also terrible and suddenly, after five starts of keeping it together with his heater, he’s lost it for two straight. It’s not the end of the world – he’s been known to go through phases with his heater – and it could easily come back next time or the one after, but I was hoping that these blips were becoming more of a thing of the past and I have to bake in these valleys with the total package.

Yu Darvish – 4.1 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 8 Ks. I wonder if there has been a more frustrating pitcher to own this year than Darvish. There was no time for us to even consider Darvish spinning a solid one here, allowing four runs in the first three innings and forcing us to down two Asprin for the pain. He’s now allowed 19 ER total in four of his six starts, though his 26.4% K rate and 4.06 SIERA make us think that better times are ahead. Okay, that’s a little bit of an exaggeration, but the point is he hasn’t been as bad as the numbers tell you, while you can fathom that Darvish would make an adjustment and suddenly provide legit Top 25 value again. I’ll say this. There will be a time when Darvish clicks and goes on a beautiful run this season. That’s going to happen. Is that stretch worth those nights stressing about each outing hoping that he doesn’t kill your week? For your sanity, no. Play the market, see if you can get a decent return back and be free. If not, just hold and wait to sell another day.

Danny Duffy – 6.2 IP, 5 ER, 10 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. This one actually started out well with Duffy cruising through three innings…then Mookie Betts happened, slugging three solo shots over the next four innings. There’s more to this one going south than just Mookie, but it was a pretty easy sit for Duffy given his struggles + the Sawx n all. I’m okay starting his against the Orioles and I think Duffy does turn into a decent arm later in the year, but right now I have zero qualms with anyone dropping him…if you haven’t already.

Ivan Nova – 4.2 IP, 5 ER, 11 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. Yeah this is bad and it’s the risk you run with Nova. On the other hand, the Nats might be the toughest matchup Nova gets for a bit, slated to face the ChiSox twice and Padres next. I think you’re okay streaming through that and now you may get that chance if his current owner dropped him following this Marv. A Marv? You know, a brick to the face. A clunker. A massive red spot on your head. A headache. Oh a Maaaaarv.

Clayton Richard – 4.0 IP, 6 ER, 8 Hits, 4 BBs, 6 Ks. It’s the wrong Clayton!

Matt Moore – 4.0 IP, 10 ER, 11 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks. Congratulations Moore, you’re officially The WHERST of the 2018 season, earning a score 23 for this sparkling performance. I guess we should call you Matt Moor given how we don’t want to spend a single moment around you.

Today’s Streamer

None – Seriously, I stared at this horrid short slate of pitchers and I can’t in good faith suggest someone. Just skip it.

Tomorrow’s Streamer

Nick Kingham vs. Milwaukee Brewers Why not, right? He’s getting the start and while I could go Ian Kennedy against the Tigers, Daniel Mengden against the Orioles, or Zack Wheeler hosting the Rockies, I’m going with the fun one here.

Day After 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.

Game of the Day

Masahiro Tanaka vs. Lance McCullers – These games have been incredibly competitive and it’s another great matchup again today.

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.

44 responses to “Cutting My Comb”

  1. Fletch.F.Fletch says:

    Selling Low while Buying Low: Just traded Yu for Archer. I just think there is something wrong – medically or mechanically with Yu and am a little more comfortable with Archer and his 4ish ERA and 200+ strikeouts. Your thoughts? (Love how your site has grown into something huge. Keep it up)

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Thanks Fletch! Good to see you again.

      I understand that rationale and I’m not against it. I need to take more time to really dive into Darvish soon.

  2. larry womack says:

    Need to pickup two streamers for the weekend.
    Junis vs Det,
    Erod@ Tex
    C. Smith @ Cin or Mahle vs Mia-same game
    Cahill vs Balt.
    Ross vs Was
    Weaver vs Cubs
    Faria vs Tor

    Could you put in order which three you would go with

  3. An Avid Reader says:

    Snell vs Fulmer was yesterdays game of the day, who you got today?

  4. EV says:

    Hey Nick, Any additional explanation on Castillo? He is 2 Start next week and is on WW…after I drop him for Mikolas… But I can sleep well after that, just thinking about the posible turnaround at the corner… and being 2 start just make things worse given that he could be picked any time soon… My options to drop are Mikolas/Weaver/Fulmer … but is not a easy call. Thanks!

    • Nick Pollack says:

      I’m okay dropping Weaver for Castillo, but that’s more of a long term play than short term. I’m okay starting Castillo against the Mets, but I’d sit for the Dodgers next week. Then Cubs the following outing makes me scared as well.

  5. John says:

    Hey Nick! Walker Buehler!!!!!!!!!!!! That is All…

  6. Jake says:

    Newcomb 82 is kinda nuts. Castillo, Mikolas, Pivetta etc way ahead of him? Guess we are watching different Baseball games. Kershaw is also no longer #1, Mad Max is.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      I mean, this roundup was me saying “yeah, I was bit harsh on that 82 ranking”, though it’s not like there is much separating 65 from 82, honestly.

      The biggest concern has been his ratios given his walk rates and lack of third option. So far that hasn’t been a major problem with his fastball working a ton, but it’s still a concern and one that has made me wonder if Newcomb does more harm than good.

      The Kershaw/Scherzer thing has been talked about plenty, I have no problem if you want to slot Scherzer ahead of Kershaw, but I don’t think it’s a line in the sand that means we are vastly different in our views.

  7. Alex says:

    So Gohara had a rough showing in his AAA game yesterday…at the moment what order would you rank: Gohara, Soroka, Kingham and Buehler? Thanks Nick awesome work as always!

  8. Jimmie says:

    With a thin SP waiver wire, do you think Cobb or Straily could be worth a stash for when they stabilize? Thanks!

    • Nick Pollack says:

      I can see Straily providing more value later in the year, so not the worst idea. I’d hope that there is a better option than those two, though.

  9. PitcherList Superfan says:

    I was so disappointed that Bundy had another rough outing last night. I thought I found a gem scooping him off the waiver wire in my 8 teamer two starts ago and he’s done nothing but blow up my ratios. Where do you think he’ll sit on The List come Monday?

    • Nick Pollack says:

      He’ll probably fall to the end of the 20s or so as I was too optimistic that he erased his biggest flaw – his heater. You still did find a gem, it’s just that his fastball comes and goes in waves. He’s at a valley now and he’ll peak again shortly.

  10. Mike says:


    Thoughts on Minor today? Boston lineup is brutal, but they are terrible vs lefties. Which side wins out today?

  11. Let’s Play Two says:

    I may have asked this before, but if I packaged two starting pitchers for Scherzer, who would you include? I can’t continie to carry eight starters.

    My starters are Kluber, Severino, Syndergaard, Pax, Corbin, Godley, Bauer, Tanaka.

    Standard, season-Long roto league…QS/K/ERA/WHIP.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      That’s a fantastic rotation, you sure you need to change it?

      Thor + Tanaka I guess would do it.

      Godley + Tanaka would be ideal but you can’t have everything.

      • Let's Play Two says:

        Unfortunately, I do. I have players coming off the DL soon in Schoop and Knebel and need to do a 2 for 1 to make room.

      • Let's Play Two says:

        Godley and Tanaka would be idea. Interesting…you would rather trade Thor than Paxton?

    • Jake says:

      What kind of league allows you to have a rotation like that? Is it a 6 team mixed with 2nd graders?

  12. Barry says:

    I grabbed Heaney and profited yesterday. I’ll drop him now as Buehler and Smith are both available. I’m assuming Buehler is better for the long run in your opinion?

  13. Jeremy says:

    This was already Godley’s 3rd start of the year against the Dodgers so I wouldn’t worry much yet. Let’s see what happens when he starts lining up against teams who haven’t seen him as much this year.

  14. Matt says:

    “I wonder if there has been a more frustrating pitcher to own this year than Darvish. ”

    Have you met Chris Archer?

  15. Matt says:

    Is godley and Nola to much for kershaw? 12tn points league. My other pitchers are severino clevinger Castillo Berrios erod Gohara stashed

  16. Beauford says:

    I watched the whole NYM-ATL game last night. I’d still be weary of Newcomb’s BBs going forward. 70 of 97 pitches for strikes is an outlier… the Mets broadcast played a clip of at least 8 blatant 4” outside pitches called strikes on righties. Just my $.02

  17. TG says:

    Hey Nick!

    Would you deal $8 Fulmer for Nelson Cruz in a QS/OPS 5×5 H2H (keep-12) and pick up Pivetta on the wire? Fulmer could be a keeper but I’ve got quite a few young arms that are keeper worthy. Feel like I could use some power, but at the same time I’m kind of relying on arms that might be playing a little above their game. Would you do it?

    bats are: Yadi, Rhys, JoRam, Rendon, Lindor, Blackmon, Acuna, Pollock, Inciarte, Edwin
    arms are: Greinke, Paxton, Godley, Corbin, Manaea, Snell, Fulmer, Mikolas, Castillo

  18. Andy says:

    Buehler or Cahill?

  19. Steve says:

    Damn, was really looking forward to reading an in depth analysis of Paxton’s start. Was sure he’d get the lead!

  20. Brandon Tully says:

    Hey Nick! Loving all the content and thanks for all the in-depth coverage. Really loved the fireside chat on Castillo (hasn’t gone our way this year so far.) Quick question on a spot start. Would you go Mahle or Marco Gonzales? Thanks in advance and Pitcher List continues to be one of the better part of my day.

  21. Mike says:

    I’m started to lose faith in Minor. I’ve hung onto him all year with less than impressive results. What am I missing?

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