Dancing In The Dark

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

I can’t say I expected to be talking about Anthony DeSclafani a whole lot this year, but after last night’s 5.2 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks against the Mets, Tony Disco is going to be on a lot of people’s radars. Not only is his ERA sitting pretty at 3.48 with a 1.16 WHIP, he’s suddenly earning strikeouts at a 28% clip, backed by an increased swinging-strike rate of 10.4% – still a little low for that K rate, but the first time in his career above double digits. There’s a decent amount of good fortune for that ERA – .253 BABIP and 84% LOB Rate in your standard HOTEL – and maybe his 3.95 SIERA is what we should expect as the strikeouts likely fall…or will they?

The main shift for Disco is a sudden reliance on curveballs, adding 13 points of usage to 16.5% as he pulled back his slider. The hook is doing fairly well, earning a 20% swinging-strike rate, acting as his first choice in two-strike counts (57% K rate!). Thing is, it’s a small sample of just 57 pitches, its .154 BAA will surely rise and I’m not buying that his four-seamer is going to be this big whiff pitch through the year (9% swinging-strike rate is a big jump from previous years). It speaks to a nice stretch more than a sweeping evolution that will stick all year…but that doesn’t mean you can’t take a gamble. He hosts the Giants next and I’d say go for it. 34% CSW with 13 whiffs here against the Mets, he can do that against the worse Giants, right? Side note, we’re back on the winning side of streams so let’s be happy about that as well. Streaming Record: 18-15.

Let’s see how every other SP did Wednesday:

Luke Bard1.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks. This was an Opener for False Starter Felix Pena, who earned a Win with five Ks…but killed your ERA with 3 ER in 4.1 frames. The things we do for love dubs.

Jacob deGrom7.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. FINALLY. Four-seamer destroyed the Reds…while his slider did not – 4/19 CSW with just 3 whiffs. UGH. Yeah, but 13/19 for strikes! Sure, but I want whiffs. I WANT DOMINANCE. He’s not fully back yet.

Jon Lester7.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks. Did you realize Lester has a 1.73 ERA now? With a .231 BABIP and 96% LOB rate that equates to a 3.72 SIERA? Yeah, it’s 2018 all over again. But at least that cutter is doing good things again.

Martin Perez8.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks. Perez had himself a night with 25/100 called strikes alone, though he struggles to get whiffs on anything. The velocity is still up around 95 mph and that will keep him in contention as a streamer, but I’m not seeing enough here from this start – even against the Astros! – to make me consider owning him flat out. I’m fine starting him against the Jays, but that could turn sour as there isn’t a ton in his repertoire that I like.

Glenn Sparkman7.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. What. Hey Nick is– No. No no no. He’s the Sparkman that’ll destroy forests, not the one that will keep you warm at night.

Madison Bumgarner6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks. Really nice start here from Bumgarner hosting the Dodgers, keeping cutters low and heading upstairs with heat. This is exactly what we’ve been waiting for from the southpaw, even if he needed 114 pitches to get there as he missed away to lefties frequently. That’s fine, if I see this plot again next time, it’ll give me the confidence to boost him up the ranks. It’s the first real start we’ve seen from Bummy in a while – even neglecting his curveball because THE PITCH ISN’T GOOD.

Max Fried7.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks. Another strong outing from Fried as he cruised along with 12/25 CSW on his curveball. He even added more sliders in this one, throwing 11/14 strikes on them with three whiffs. Not overwhelming, but he’s not the two-pitch guy you thought he was. Meanwhile, his heater was sitting 95 mph before falling off a little by the end. A little worrisome as he only threw 85 pitches, but nothing to act on. Keep riding him for as long as you can.

David Hess4.1 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. For disappointment this year, the Hess Truck’s here!

Merrill Kelly5.1 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks. I guess this is fine. I’m happy that he didn’t blow in the faces of those that trusted him 

Miles Mikolas6.0 IP, 1 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. Whoa, 11/99 whiffs today! Whoa, his slider is still struggling! We’re still seeing the 2 mph drop from last year on the pitch and I think we won’t see true Mikolas until that pitch gets to at least 87 mph with a tighter break. Until then, he’s going to have to rely a ton on his hook (sub 10% whiff rate overall), which worked today but I wouldn’t bank on being his savior through the year.

Aaron Nola5.2 IP, 1 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks. That WHIP hurts, but let’s be happy he’s getting a bit better with whiffs, earning 11/102 overall and 6/23 on his changeup. This is a step in the right direction, though 4/37 on curveballs isn’t quite right. It’ll come, keep buying low here.

Daniel Norris5.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. Oh hey, it’s Norris again. That’s cool, I guess.

Hyun-Jin Ryu8.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks. It’s getting nuts just how productive Ryu has been on the hill since the start of 2018. Seriously. Don’t trade for him because you’ll hate yourself if he gets hurt next week and if you own him, I think you’ll be happiest just starting him until that happens instead of cashing out.

Caleb Smith7.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks. Y’all want me to give an AGA label, which I’m sure not going to do unless he’s still doing this in June, not to mention we need to be a little careful getting too hyped after a start in Miami against the Indians. Still, the man is on FIRE, earning a Gallows Pole with 21 whiffs and collecting a 38% CSW here. All of his pitches – heater, slider, changeup – are on point and earning swings-and-misses and it’s a beautiful thing.

Hector Velazquez2.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks. I really hope Hector’s name isn’t Paul or Phillip or Irvin or I’m going to stop right now and say that this is more time than I should be giving Velazquez right now.

Jake Junis6.1 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks. Yeah, this is fine Junis. I ain’t trusting you at all, but this is fine.

Cal Quantrill5.2 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. I watched some of this and I liked his changeup…sometimes. Not as consistent as I’d like, which can be said for his heat and definitely curveball. Good sliders down in the zone, but it’s not going to be the big breaker we want it to be. I’m not sure he sticks around and if he does, I’d be hesitant to grab him.

Antonio Senzatela4.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks. If you’re studying under Senz-A you’ve come to the wrong dojo. 

Jacob Barnes1.0 IP, 3 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks. With Chase Anderson out with a finger injury, Barnes took his spot and did the best he could.

Mike Fiers5.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. Fiers could have been a lot worse against the Sawx, but this is ultimately super boring and we’re going to move on.

Marco Gonzales1.2 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks. You want to know what’s wild? Even when everything went south – 3 extra unearned runs here and 49 pitches for just five outs – Marco still maintained his “3 ER or fewer” streak in 2019. That’s our Spider-Man. Expect a rebound.

Corey Kluber4.2 IP, 3 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks. The year of Acey Deucy continues as Kluber took a liner to the forearm, resulting in a non-displaced fracture of his R ulna. What does that mean. It means he’s going to be on your IL for a while.

Carlos Rodon3.2 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. It took Rodon 89 pitches to get here. Ouch. He’s going to have his highs when everything points to deserving his success, then he’s going to have starts like this where you go “oh, he’s not nearly consistent enough.” It’s maddening. 

Max Scherzer7.0 IP, 3 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks. Should we be accepting this? It’s fine but this is the #1 SP! It’s like he’s asking us to put Verlander at #1, especially after Bauer faltered against the Marlins and Snell did whatever that was today. Well maybe deGrom moves back up? Maybe. Show me again, deGrom.

Ryne Stanek1.0 IP, 3 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 0 Ks. Today really wasn’t the day for openers. Jalen Beeks was phenomenal, though, with just one hit and two walks with 6 Ks across 6.2 frames. That’s a 2.45 ERA and there may be something there along with Chirinos. 24% K rate backed by a near 12% swinging-strike rate…but I don’t love his repertoire. His changeup is good but not great and there isn’t another asset that’s dominating batters. I’m leaning toward caution more than definitive pickup here.

Jameson Taillon6.1 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. Another start where we say “okay, that’s not that bad” but fail to get pumped about Taillon. At least his LOB rate rose from 49.7% to 52.1% this time. PROGRESS.

Masahiro Tanaka4.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. Being a Tanaka owner is as frustrating as they come. Another longball here and only four frames to his name is disappointing and it’s simply not enough. I think he will turn it around in some fashion, but he’ll take a hit in Monday’s ranks as he’s not even getting the whiffs like he used to – a sub 10% mark despite a 13% career clip is wild.

Andrew Cashner4.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks. Hey 8 Ks! Hey, we don’t care!

Collin McHugh6.0 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks. A rough third frame did McHugh in here, though it’s not like he was particularly sharp throughout with just 23% CSW and six whiffs. Ouch. He really has to figure out his heater, which is now sitting closer to 89 mph than 90. That’s a problem.

Shelby Miller3.1 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. Is Shelby suddenly at the top of the Anti-List ? It’s a 7.99 ERA with a 7.12 SIERA right now. Unreal.

Marcus Stroman3.1 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. Nooooooo, even with 37 sliders thrown, it wasn’t enough to leave unscathed against the Angels, earning just six whiffs on 91 pitches. Yikes. Sure, the slider is great, but if there isn’t anything else helping out, you’re gonna have a bad time. I think you’re still safe starting him against the Twins next, though.

Ivan Nova5.2 IP, 5 ER, 9 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. I feel like it’s real life where we have to wait millions of years for another Super Nova.

Blake Snell3.0 IP, 7 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks. THIS YEAR IS THE WORST.


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.


Freddy Peralta vs. Colorado RockiesIt’s this or Tyler Mahle against the Mets and I’ll take a stab at the Rockies on the road. Update: Woodruff is getting skipped or pushed back or I don’t know. Just not starting anymore.


Tomorrow’s Streamer


Jerad Eickhoff vs. Washington Nationals – I’d consider Tyler Beede as well or even Jorge Lopez for the desperate, but I like Eickhoff’s skill set the most.


Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer


Chris Bassitt vs. Pittsburgh Pirates – I know, it’s kinda nuts, but Bassitt has looked solid in his first two starts and it’s the Pirates.


Game of the Day


Noah Syndergaard vs. Cincinnati Reds – Maybe today is the day? Maybe?


(Photo by Andrew Dieb/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.

21 responses to “Dancing In The Dark”

  1. J says:

    Lester’s been a lot sharper since coming back from the DL. In that very limited two start sample that’s just 1 walk, 13 Ks, 1 HR, a 1.2 FIP and a 2.82 SIERA against two very potent offenses in the Dodgers and Seattle. Obviously that home run rate is going to tick up and it’s only 12 innings, but I do think this seems at least much more legit than the smoke and mirrors of first half 2018.

  2. Wlai says:

    Hi. Look at that first inning of Max v Cards, 3 ER but the fielding was terrible and the bad luck maddening. Robles in RF and Kieboom at SS, that’s Max’s problem sadly. I’m a Scherzer owner but not panicking (that much) because of lack of help from the Nats… agree?

    • theKraken says:

      I thought Robles was supposed to be a defensive wizard. I have not seen him. Is he a butcher?

  3. JB says:

    Does anything look different with Scherzer? You’d think the .377 BABIP and 65.5 LOB% would normalize. His SIERA is almost exactly what it was last year. But he is giving up more hard contact this year, which could explain some of this.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      He’s throwing fewer sliders for strikes, which may be leading to meatier fastballs and explain the .378 BABIP on four-seamers. Meanwhile, his changeup’s .391 BABIP is stupid high as well (even a 75% GB rate should induce *that* high of a BABIP!).

      He’ll be just fine.

  4. JRS says:

    Hey, I just have some context for Max Fried getting pulled with 85 pitches. There was a runner on third with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning, and they pinch hit for him with Acuña who knocked in the run. Dansby Swanson homered later in the inning, so disappointing for Fried owners, but understandable and not cause for concern. This was a gem.

    • theKraken says:

      I would expect anyone experiencing any level of struggles to be allowing hard contact. It doesn’t mean it won’t stop tomorrow. He is getting up there in age – you never know when his HOF career will start its downturn. Sorry for the insightful reply, but there are not answers to many difficult questions. Given that I haven’t read any panic articles, I assume there are no major red flags. In my cursory look, the velocity is fine – the problem is the CH… which is the last thing I would expect to lose with age. There is a lot that goes into hard contact – heck it is an arbitrary bin in the first place. We don’t know that he didn’t allow a ton of balls that fell into the band right below hard last year… or that this years hard hit balls are not over the arbitrary threshold by .1 MPH.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      With his velocity falling in the 6th/7th, I’m not upset at all. Glad to cash in seven frames despite the 85 pitches.

      Also saves bullets down the road. If it means he eases into the workload easier, I’m all for the hook.

  5. theKraken says:

    When I browse the pitching lines at the end of the day, it really is remarkable how many of the match-ups are against non-competitive teams. The entire landscape of the league is so bad that even bad teams have winning records, but at the end of the day more match-ups are extremely favorable than not – its weird. For example, I don’t think SD had a starter yesterday with an AVG above .250, their staff is trash and they have a winning record. You might think that this would lead to a lot of dominant performances, but that clearly isn’t the way it is playing out. I worry that the lack of top-level competition is ultimately leading to worse baseball around the league. The only way to be the best is to compete against the best… When the lineups and rosters are more based on simulations and potentially flawed metrics (and tanking), the potential exists that the skill of the game could be eroding in front of our eyes. The NFL went this route a decade ago. You can see it when the rookies are able to step right in and produce. For a short period you can pretend that the rookie class is special, but a few years later when they prove that they are not you can see what happened. It tells you that what is happening at the highest level is either stagnant or regressive. Unfortunately, by the time these generalizations have any evidence to support them it is too late. It is more profitable to market the next crop of underpaid employees anyways… may as well re-engineer metrics for success to support what you are currently doing while you are at it.

  6. shuddles says:

    I didn’t watch the Cards/Nats game, but their beat writer said Max got five outs in the first inning since the defense behind him was bad. Robles misread a liner to right, and Kieboom took a weird route to a grounder because of a runner. For what it’s worth…

  7. Array says:

    hi Nick – Caleb Smith or Boyd?

  8. Alex S says:

    Noah!!! Today WAS the day!!!

  9. Edwin says:

    Corbin and German for Scherzer, would u accept?

  10. Chelsa says:

    Hi Nick! Another good, article! Need a boost in Ks and Wins and a decrease in ERA. 1 owner in my 10 team keeper league has both L. Weaver and Glasnow. I want to trade for ONLY 1 of them but not sure whom I should offer from my team. Please advise. My current squad consists of: C – Alfaro
    1B – Rizzo
    2B – Murphy
    SS – Kieboom
    3B- Machado
    CI – Voit
    MI – McNeil
    OF – Acuna, Dahl, Pederson Trout
    U – Shaw & H. Dozier
    IL – Andujar, Tatis & Eloy
    SP – Bassitt, Bieber, Boyd, Eickhoff, Lucchesi, Musgrove & Soroka
    RP – Colome, Neris, Pressly, Smith & Treinen
    NA – F. Whitley
    My team is in 7th place due to poor starts from SPs (some of whom I’ve dropped…i.e. Mikolas & Burnes). I didn’t have any “real aces,” so that’s fine. Just wanna upgrade my SPs. VERY concerned about my team’s standings. Don’t want to spend another month bottom feeding. Please advise.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Looks to me like you can deal away an outfielder and a closer.

      Maybe Dahl + Treinen can be return a major SP for you?

  11. Harry Lime says:

    Nick, “it’s not outlandish to suggest Perez has passed all tests to become a solidified member of your pitching staff” verses “but I’m not seeing enough here from this start – even against the Astros! – to make me consider owning him flat out”. Which is it?

    Love yours and Paul’s Podcasts.

    • Nick says:

      Good question!

      That FanGraphs article is for deeper leagues. These roundups are for 12-teamers.

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