Don’t look now, but Chris Tillman only has one start this year above 3 ER, while he’s holding a 9.33 K/9 and a SIERA + xFIP – gasp – under 4.00 after going 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks last night. The main reason for his improved performance is a greater reliance on his Slider, doubling in usage from 7.2% to 15.6%. But the crazier jump is the pitch’s whiff rate, which has climbed from 7.1% to 19.5%. That’s an absurd boost, and one that I’m not sure I buy yet. The pitch is being thrown with the same velocity and nearly identical movement. The biggest change is the location: Here’s a heatmap of his Sliders from 2015, and here’s Slider locations in 2016. So Tillman is effectively getting the pitch down and away from right-handers, but still well over the plate. Batters aren’t chasing it out of the zone, and I’m leaning to believe the higher whiff rate is more of an unexpected approach than an overpowering dominance. Hitters aren’t anticipating this frequency of Sliders, nor their locations down and away from Tillman. Once the league addresses it, I think we’ll be seeing the Tillman of old. There is a chance the ride keeps going, and if you need a SP with Tillman on the wire, by all means see how it plays out. I’d sell high if I have a craving owner, though.
Let’s see what every other SP did yesterday:
R.A. Dickey – 8.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. Guys, did you see what Wright did tonight? Don’t trust a knuckleballer.
Chris Sale – 9.0 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks. Aces gonna ace. I can understand the arguement for Sale to be #2, but remember he will have his share of bumps in the road like he does every season. Besides, this was the Yankees after all.
Justin Verlander – 8.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks. The new face of the Cherry Bomb is Verlander who has been sterling in his last two starts after blowing up against the Indians. I don’t see this being in any way consistent moving forward, but I think he’ll help you more than hurt. Yes, he’s a risk every time you throw him out there, but over the long haul I see Justin being a good friend.
Jeremy Hellickson – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks. Stay away guys, this line looks super sexy then the following morning you notice you’re tied to the bed and Hellickson is leaving with your wallet in hand. That sounds really anecdotal. Just a story…from a buddy of mine.
Luis Severino – 2.2 IP, 7 ER, 7 Hits, 4 BBs, 2 Ks. Sigh. Severino is more droppable than SQL tables with the right command.
Junior Guerra – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. This is what we call a One Night Bland.
Jon Gray – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks. Gray is making me reconsider the typical Colorado blurb, and he did this at home against the Mets. I’ll hold back on it today, but I want y’all to recognize that this is a small sample size and rostering a pitcher who plays half his games in Coors is a very risky proposition.
Julio Teheran – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks. That’s his fourth straight start of 1 ER or fewer. Am I starting to believe? Well, his BB/9 is 3.12 and xFIP is 3.89 across that span and this is still Teheran we’re talking about here. I’ll give him a bump on Monday because you can’t deny he’s hot right now like Hansel, but I don’t see him becoming Top 50 at any point.
Jeff Samardzija – 8.0 IP, 1 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks. Uh oh. I’m actually starting to buy in Samardzija a little. This is a really bad feeling. I guess he’ll be Top 40 on Monday. I feel like that kid who’s being sent off to camp when he just wants to stay home, but I don’t have a choice. Hopefully they’ll have S’mores?
Edinson Volquez – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks. That xFIP is still above 4.00 and his K/9 is hovering around career norms at 7.00. Can’t say I’m a big fan.
Jason Hammel – 6.2 IP, 1 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks. Solid stuff Hammel despite the high WHIP. I’ll take it against the Pirates.
Christian Friedrich – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 6 BBs, 4 Ks. He’s a Cup of Schmo. Move along.
Martin Perez – 6.1 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks. Bleeeggggggh. Pop quiz, which is higher: Perez’s xFIP or his BB/9? Hint: It doesn’t matter since they are both above 4.75. But…which one is it? Fine, it’s his 4.94 BB/9, okay?
Gio Gonzalez – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks. Nice rebound from Gio who allowed 5 ER last time out. Yes I know his ERA is under 2.00, but both his SIERA and xFIP are over 4.00 and his strikeouts are well below 8.00 K/9. He’s a solid member of the squad, but doesn’t have the upside to soar.
Rich Hill – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 7 Ks. The strikeouts are still alive for Hill, though he’s walked 11 in his last three games now, and has allowed at least 3 walks in five of his last six starts. I’d still keep him around though, that K rate is too good and he’s preventing those free baserunners from scoring.
Josh Tomlin – 6.1 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. Blegh. Tomlin has his moments, but you want better than this against the Twins.
Tom Koehler – 5.2 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 5 BBs, 4 Ks. Nah, I don’t see a time when I’m endorsing you Tom.
Nate Karns – 6.1 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks. Our Call Boy was looking great until allowing three singles to load the bases, when he was pulled in the seventh. Of course the Mariners pen allowed two of those runs. Duh, they’re Karnivores. Moving past that horrible pun, we still have Karns who is providing a decent amount of value at the back end of deeper 12 teamer staffs. I wouldn’t go after him in shallower, though.
Nick Tropeano – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks. Trop is a decent streaming option here and there. Nothing more.
Ricky Nolasco – 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks. No one actually invested in Nolasco’s early success, right?
Shelby Miller – 5.2 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks. Ahhh the smell of great disappointment. Well, only if you actually drafted Miller, which I don’t think many of you did.
Brandon Finnegan – 4.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 5 BBs, 4 Ks. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. There’s a lot of work left for Finnegan to do and I wouldn’t be trusting him regardless of the matchup for a while.
Ross Stripling – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 8 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks. I finally got the A-ok from the higher ups to fire this Toby. Feels good man.
Matt Harvey – 5.2 IP, 5 ER, 11 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks. I know I keep saying he’ll figure it out, but this one was in Coors and he was – once again – cruising until the later innings.
Lance McCullers – 4.2 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks. He was an easy bench given the fact that I hate starting guys off the DL and that the Red Sox are a wrecking crew as of late. Try to buy low if an owner sees this and wants to jump ship. That would be foolish after holding him for so long, but hey, you never know.
Michael Wacha – 4.0 IP, 2 ER, 8 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks. 11 baserunners in just 12 outs and only 2 ER? That’s some magic right there. The wrong kind of magic you’re looking for – more like that stupid flower/wand magic that you have to endure as a middle aged parent just trying to encourage his kid – but it’s still magic.
Jake Odorizzi – 4.0 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks. Yeah you want this to be a lot better from Odorizzi against the A’s, but it just didn’t go that way. Hold the course, it happens.
Francisco Liriano – 4.2 IP, 8 ER, 9 Hits, 4 BBs, 7 Ks. Liriano’s walk rate + the Cubs affinity for walks = you’re gonna have a bad time.
Mike Foltynewicz vs. Kansas City Royals – Unfortunately, the pickings are ultra slim for Sunday’s projected matchups. If I had to pick one to save your week, I’d go with Foltynewicz against the Royals and only as a major desperation move. Don’t take this as me loving Folty again. Key word there was desperation.
Tyler Duffey vs. Cleveland Indians – Yes he is a two-pitch pitcher and that is a little scary, but when you have a deuce this good you can get away with it against teams like the Indians.
Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer
John Lamb vs. Cleveland Indians – This is more of a deeper play than in shallow leagues – in those go with Adam Conley vs. the Phils – but I think Lamb provides sneaky value through the year and he’s owned in just 2.3% of ESPN Leagues.