Dancing To Chen Music

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

(Photo by Juan Salas/Icon Sportswire)

I like talking about surprising things and Wei-Yin Chen certainly did that with a 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 10 Ks performance against the Braves on Saturday. I often write off Chen, but that’s four starts of 1.54 ERA, 4 ER, 23 Ks, and 6 Walks in 23.1 frames and I was overlooking a mini-trend in these outings. After featuring about 19% sliders prior, Chen turned it on with the pitch back on July 2nd, ramping is usage closer to 25% in the month, though its command was still a little off. In these four August starts, usage is up to 27% and helped him hint a 10% whiff rate in that time. I’m not saying he’s suddenly a rosterable entity in 12-teamers, but I will suggest that he’s not ignored as a streaming option. This run has been on the back of good fortune – HOTEL shows .210 BABIP, 90% LOB rate, 10.3% HR/FB leading to 3.78 SIERA – but it’s not enough to make me grimace. Play the matchups and this could work.

Let’s see how every other SP did Saturday:

Sonny Gray6.1 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks. The Yanks had a double-header and gave Gray a chance against the lowly Orioles. He killed it. Really nice to see his slider back in the mix (21.5% usage), and it worked. He won’t get many more times in the short term, but he may have earned another shot at some point this year, especially if some injury concerns arise. I think we count him out for 2018 still, but I’m not ruling him out for a 2019 resurgence.

German Marquez7.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks. You missed the boat on Marquez and it’s starting to hurt. Here’s to hoping he can keep it up the rest of the way.

Andrew Suarez7.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks. For those thinking that his value has returned, note this is fresh off a 5 ER 2.2 IP game and 75% of his last eight starts have come with 3+ ER. Nope.

Zach Wheeler7.0 IP, 0 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks. Good on Wheeler to squeeze out of jams without any blemish on his record, though I want to see more than 9 whiffs in 109 pitches. He wasn’t elevating heat like he normally does while splitters/sliders were rarely at the bottom or under the zone. I get the feeling some people are going to proclaim 2019 the year of Wheeler turning into a legit stud and I have my hesitations until I see that slide piece take the step forward. It’s not a money pitch yet and I wonder if it ever will.

Mike Fiers5.2 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks. There’s no use arguing about starting Fiers or not these days, y’all know I would be looking elsewhere if we drafted for 2019 today, but it’s 2018 and he’s on a roll. Just do it and don’t think twice until he gives us a big reason not to.

Heath Fillmyer6.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. That’s nice Heath, you’re not getting my Norris Light. You used that joke yesterday. Can’t I use it again? NO. Fine. You’re not getting my Heath bar. Much better. But who seriously has a Heath bar?

John Gant7.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 5 BBs, 6 Ks. Hey Gant had a decent start! Weird to see him survive into the seventh with five walks to his name, but it just one of the nights. I’m still iffy on trusting him as a streamer, but I can see myself on a desperate day going for it. Generally, I think he just isn’t going to go all that deep in the game without carrying enough upside.

Lucas Giolito7.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. Our call Boy had arguably his best start of the season against the Tigers. 16 Curveballs is cool – 10/16 for strikes! (but a little too much of the plate. I’ll take that over missing it terribly over and over, though) – and he was locating his changeup fantastically at the bottom of the zone or below it (8/19 CSW). The whole thing added up to 34/106 CSW with a 95.5mph heater (according to Brooks). That’s his hardest fastball of the season as he’s been ramping up all year. I’m starting to think we’re getting much closer the man we were hoping for out of Spring Training, but there are still some kinks to work out with command of his breaking stuff. Definitely a sleeper for 2019. Streaming Record: 81-40.

Wade LeBlanc6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. We’re off the LeBlanc boat but now it’s 3 of four starts with 4 ER total. Not enough to for me to really trust this is a thing, though.

Robbie Ray5.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 4 BBs, 7 Ks. That WHIP is blegh but the rest helps and you’re happy with this as he earned 16 whiffs. 9/23 whiffs on curveballs are the big story, though 8/28 CSW on sliders needs to be a bit better for his best pitch. The Ks are always there so obviously keep rolling here.

Tanner Roark6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks. Roark keeps rolling, which can be easier when in the NL Easy and pitching against the Mets. Still, he’s improved drastically from his horrific June and there’s no reason to stop starting him.

Anibal Sanchez5.2 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks. I wouldn’t call myself a huge Sanchez believer for the long haul, but I don’t see why he can’t succeed through your playoffs.

Jameson Taillon6.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 8 Ks. Mmmmmmmm that’s just so good as he earned the Gallows Pole with 17 whiffs. Where should Taillon go next year in drafts? Theoretically, there is a ceiling he still hasn’t reached regarding consistency, right?

Ryan Yarbrough5.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks. Today was a special day as the Rays elected to let Yarbrough loose from the beginning against the Sawx and it worked. In the best way that two strikeouts works of course, with that solid ERA/WHIP and a Win. I know, I’ve been a bit harsh on Yarbrough all year and he doesn’t really deserve it, but given the limited ceiling and the whole haze surrounding it, I don’t have much of a choice.

J. A. Happ6.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks. You guys all love Happ too now, right? The dude is killing it.

Clayton Kershaw8.0 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 9 Ks. A lovely start from TATIAGA. That’s more like it Kershaw, just do it with 0 or 1 ER to really make us feel awesome. Yes I’m greedy when it’s Kershaw, sue me.

Jose Quintana5.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks. Super boring start from Quintana as he continues to give us no reason to reconsider his bleghness.

Andrew Cashner7.0 IP, 3 ER, 9 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. We Cashed out a long time ago and even with seven frames, it still makes me roll my eyes. Even when I have nothing to do with you, you still hurt me. It’s not fair.

Jhoulys Chacin6.0 IP, 3 ER, 8 Hits, 4 BBs, 7 Ks. A VVVVPQS from Chacin with seven strikeouts. I really wish he’d make it easier for us as he’s as extreme of a Toby as you’ll ever find. I just can’t…let…go…If only I could be Jack once in my life. ONE TIME.

Brett Kennedy5.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks.  It’s the latest CoS from the Padres and I’ve already written too many words about BK2. You think these words grow on trees? ARE YOU CALLING ME A TREE?

Rick Porcello5.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks. There’s a reason why Porcello is far from the Top 20 and it’s that his stuff just isn’t good enough to get past mistakes. He’s a great command guy, but it falters a little too often, making him susceptible to ERAs like this. Those 8 Ks are the other side of it though and you best keep starting him.

Justin Verlander6.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. A PQS with six Ks and 1.33 WHIP? Ehhh I want more from Verlander, especially against the Angels. So it goes.

Jaime Barria3.0 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks. I’m not used to Barria giving us a HAISTFMFWT?! then again, we didn’t want any part of him against the Astros. Still consider him if the matchups go his way.

Stephen Gonsalves5.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 4 BBs, 2 Ks. Yeah, Gonsalves just isn’t that good and earns the dreaded Cup of Schmo label. 

Martin Perez5.0 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. Sure, whatever Perez.

Luis Castillo3.1 IP, 5 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks. On one hand, he earned 30% whiffs on changeups and tossed 97mph on his heater. On the other, his command was terrible – 9/42 CSW on four-seamers and sliders – and Casty was simply too hittable. The Cubs are no joke and this could be something that happens for one start and returns, so don’t count him out just yet. Really nice to see that velocity up, even with just 64 pitches thrown.

Corey Kluber5.1 IP, 5 ER, 9 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. That’s three of Kluber’s last four with 3+ ER and you’re starting to worry a bit. We waited after the Sawx last time (Sawx!) but this was the Royals and it was the Twins back on the 9th. The biggest issue I’m seeing is his fastball getting hammered in each of these starts as his cutter isn’t the nullifier it normally is. It’s returns a -2.7 pVAL in these four starts – super bad for a pitch with an 18.1 mark in the 23 starts prior. I wouldn’t imagine this is a “new normal” and more of a rough patch, so you have my sympathy as you tough this one out.

Nick Pivetta6.2 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks. Uggggggh Pivetta STOP. I watched a good amount of this one and I was actually pretty impressed to see harder sliders and 97 on his heater. However, he left the pitch thigh high instead of up near the letters and it hurt. Meanwhile, his 40 breaking balls only returned six whiffs and it wasn’t prime Pivetta. That’s two straight starts of blegh from Pivetta – against the Mets and Blue Jays! – and like you I’m getting frustrated with it. Do I just call him a Cherry Bomb and call it day or do I put stock in a young pitcher developing that consistency over time? The upside here is a Top 20 starter through 2019 and beyond, the downside is Michael Pineda 2.0. Hoooo boy.

Ryan Carpenter4.1 IP, 6 ER, 9 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. You wanted the carpenter to rise to the occasion but instead he removed your spirts. That’s kinda the opposite of what he’s supposed to do. Wait, like Ryan is good? Oh, no. Definitely not.

Aaron Sanchez4.0 IP, 6 ER, 10 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks. It was a clear DLH but I was interested to see if Sanchez could give us any sort of hope from this outing. No. The answer is no.

Jimmy Yacabonis3.1 IP, 6 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. As much as Jimmy’s last name sounds like an inviting night from two individuals, spending an evening with him is a terrible idea.

Today’s Streamer

Derek Holland vs. Texas Rangers – He’s right at the 20% mark, allowing me to take this one. The only other play I see is Chase Anderson against the Pirates if he’s around. And a desperate play with Pablo Lopez against the Braves if you really need the volume.

Tomorrow’s Streamer

Sam Gaviglio vs. Baltimore Orioles – Looks like he’s getting the two-start week, which means he gets the Orioles again and could have another field day.

Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer

Jakob Junis vs. Detroit Tigers – As long as he faces weak teams, I’m fine taking a chance on Junis’ slider.

Game of the Day

Michael Kopech vs. Detroit Tigers – We only got two frames last time, here’s to a full start.

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.

4 responses to “Dancing To Chen Music”

  1. jeff says:

    How do you rank Pivetta, Rodon, or J. Gray for ROS and for future?

    Pivetta has the K advantage but he’s killing me lately. And his peripheral are massively better than his results but his 3.61 FIP isn’t anything special.

    Rodon has 1.75 ERA and 3.61 FIP in his last 8 starts (since July) w/ an unimpressive 7.5 K/9

    Gray has had a 2.6 ERA & 3.5 FIP in his 7 starts since getting called back up (7/14/18) and an 8 K/9. Only one of his 6 starts weren’t good (rest were QS & sub-1.0 WHIP).

  2. Frankie says:

    Rose tinted glasses are off on Pivetta now. He joins Heaney as a free agent in my league as I try and make up the drop in Standings these two guys cost me in August. Oh boy is riiiiight.

  3. KingsFullOfAces says:

    German marquez last 10 starts:
    9 out of last 10 QS. 2.52 ERA. 10.6 K/9!
    AZ x2, LAD, ATL, HOU, OAK, MIL, PIT, SEA, StL. Not one of those ten games was a below .500 team when he played them. 4 of those in coors and all QS’s. So is he legit and ready to be depended on for every start?

  4. David C. says:

    Any of these stand out to you as must play? B. Johnson vs. Mia, Gomber vs. Cin, Poncedeleon vs. Cin, Senzatela @ SD . I already took for tomorrow. Wondering if any or all of these are good to go for you.

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