Draggin’ Master Lance

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

(Photo by Juan DeLeon/Icon Sportswire)

I dropped Lance McCullers on The List on Monday and after his 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks line from last night, we should talk about why. What do you expect from McCullers this season? Is it a 25-30% K rate? Well now it’s just 13 Ks across his last four starts, with over 33% of his starts coming with 4 Ks or fewer. What about a good ERA? Well, yes and no. H2H, you’re going to get burned a few times – 7/8 ER games already – though mostly you’ll be satisfied with 10/14 games coming with 2 ER or fewer. That’s great. Is it a lot of innings? Probably not as he’s never exceeded 22 starts in the bigs and it would be foolish to think he’s suddenly gotten over his injury problems. What about a great WHIP? Ehhh, it’s a 9.5% walk rate thus far and I don’t think his 1.19 mark is going to last. 1.25-1.30 seems likely as his .274 BABIP rises close to his .315 career mark. The point I’m trying to make is that it seems as though McCullers is sacrificing strikeouts for a better ERA (and going a little deeper in games with a 5.9 IPS this year) and that’s not really a great thing. You want strikeouts. You own McCullers to catch up on Ks and you’re not really getting that, while he’s a ticking time-bomb for a DL stint. I still like him – Top 25 – but without that huge upside showing itself much, he’s shouldn’t be as coveted as the other options, especially with that horrid floor still hanging around.

Let’s see how every other SP did Tuesday:

Chase Anderson – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. Um guys. Chase Anderson is throwing 94mph again. Too bad it came with 26 CSW in 107 and just nine whiffs but, well, it’s curious. Seriously though, just one whiff one 29 curveballs? How does that happen?

Mike Foltynewicz – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks. This is great! *Suit man whispers in my ear* Folty was pulled early with “Triceps tightness?!” Well that’s terrible. Apparently it’s “minor”, which is also bad because Minor had TJS. Okay jokes aside, I’m worried that it isn’t minor as it may feel like nothing, but it’s an indication of a larger thing. This isn’t good and I’m afraid and that sucks because I was just starting to come around on Folty. NO.

Ian Kennedy – 8.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks. If this is real, so was my girlfriend in 8th grade who didn’t go to this school.

CC Sabathia – 5.2 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks. Did you realize Sabathia has a 3.27 ERA and 1.18 WHIP this year? With 27.7% soft contact?! I’d own him in 12-teamers as a Toby, though it’s too bad his 17.4% K rate isn’t going to change much. Nick, it’s a 4.66 FIP and 4.51 SIERA. Very good point, I expect some regression here, but a sub 4.00 ERA is well possible considering how good he has been inducing poor contact.

Ryne Stanek – 2.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks. Pruitt barely lasted as long as the opener with just 2.2 frames here. Don’t bother.

Matt Strahm – 3.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks. So. Um. Matt Strahm could be good when he gets his innings. They limited him to under 40 pitches here so that will be a bit and I don’t see Top 30 upside, but I like watching him pitch and so should you.

Mike Leake – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks. So that’s five straight starts of 2 ER or fewer – 7 ER total – but four starts accounted for just 12 total Ks. You’re setting yourself up for a Grave Mistake, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Aaron Nola – 6.2 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 10 Ks. Aces gonna ace. This is why we need to live every day like it’s Nola day.

Trevor Richards – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks. Just look at that line and feel the boredom oozing in. Forget what it’s like to own Scherzer or Snell or deGrom for just a moment…without the bad, we can’t appreciate the good. Nick, this was a sub 1.00 WHIP and 1 ER You’re telling me you didn’t roll your eyes reading this line? GUILTY.

Sal Romano – 8.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks. Look at Romano, earning himself a consideration for a Minimalist Score as he netted an MS score of 8. That’s the most exciting thing about Romano all year, which should tell you everything.

James Shields – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks. Nice rebound for Jimmy Bucklers after his 7 ER bomb last time out. VPR love him in his last 6 starts considering 5 have tallied 10 ER total…and then, you know, that 7 ER game. It’s weird that this comes off as an endorsement for Shields in any way – it really isn’t, I’m just marveling that he hasn’t been the worst guy out there.

Jaime Barria – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks. Barria was called up as expected to face the Mariners and was able to endure their bats for a line that is all kinds of mediocre. I actually don’t think Barria is all too bad and I can see him as a Toby now that he’ll likely get a good amount of chances in the rotation with Ohtani’s injury n all.

Caleb Ferguson – 4.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. Caleb is Belac backwards. Why are you telling me this. Because if you’re starting Ferguson, you’ll looking at things backwards. Ha. Ha. Ha. Yep.

Blaine Hardy – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. That’s a wonderful line from Hardy, but there’s no way I’m trusting this sub 88mph fella from pulling it off again. And I’m not saying that just because of the velocity, it’s his overall stuff. It’s not what you want to chase.

Jake Odorizzi – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 4 Ks. If Odorizzi can’t produce against the Tigers, what can Rizzi do for you?

Eduardo Rodriguez – 5.2 IP, 2 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. 16 whiffs for Erod – surprisingly 9 on 33 two-seamers thrown – but he’s struggling to get six clean innings. It’s frustrating if you’re in a QS league, but for the rest of us, as long as the whiffs are around, the strikeouts will mostly be there (just 4 here? Blegh) and we should be happy. Speaking of which, enjoy the co-Gallows Pole today.

Tyler Chatwood – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. I’m proud of Chatwood as he had more strikeouts than walks – and just two free passes! Incredible. Simply, incredible.

Miles Mikolas – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks. For those that watched it, Mikolas had himself a super frustrating fourth frame and killed it otherwise. I love 8Miles and I’m ready to lose myself in his next start.

Tanner Roark – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. It’s a PQS against the Yankees and you should be happy with this if you took the risk. Okay, only if you’re in a QS league as it’s a 4.50 WHIP and 1.33 WHIP. But there’s something to be said about not killing your week with a start against the Yankees, right?

Chris Stratton – 7.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks. Blegh. I mean, sure, whatever. It’s a quality start with a meh ERA and 1.00 WHIP and 3 Ks. It exists.

Trevor Williams – 3.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks. Remember when he had a 2.72 ERA through his first nine starts? Five games later, that’s now a 4.38. Yikes. Don’t be seduced by the TEEs, y’all.

Jaime Garcia – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 4 Ks. Garcia lost the battle of the Jaimes again, which like acting surprised that the Harlem Globetrotters won. IT’S RIGGED, GARCIA.

Jon Gray – 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 3 Hits, 4 BBs, 10 Ks. This started off terribly. It ended…surprisingly beneficial. Sure, the headache of 4 ER against the Phils is still there, but 10 Ks! That’s a product of 16 whiffs (co-Gallows Pole) and a fantastic 38 CSW in 108 pitches. His Cherry Bomb nature isn’t disappearing and you’ll still shake your fist in the air plenty as a Gray owner, though if you’re lacking heavily in the strikeout department, you may just have to don the Jon.

Clay Buchholz – 4.0 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks. Our Call Boy was a bit disappointing here as, well Buchholz wasn’t nearly as precise as he was in his first four starts. Welp, so it goes. Sure, it’s possible he rebounds but the hope for 12-team relevancy is pretty much burnt out now. Streaming Record: 36-25.

David Hess – 3.1 IP, 5 ER, 5 Hits, 4 BBs, 2 Ks. For disappointment this year, the Hess truck’s here!

Adam Plutko – 4.2 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks. Oh yay. So happy to see Plutko instead of Shane Bieber. THRILLED.

Daniel Mengden – 4.2 IP, 6 ER, 8 Hits, 4 BBs, 1 Ks. Mengden got the Astros and it was a Vargas Rule situation prior to his blowup last time out, so there’s really no reason to have chased this. You may wonder if it’s worth it to continue rostering Mengden and I’ll tell you not to. Four walks here, no strikeouts, and the hot streak is over. Let it go.

Zach Wheeler – 5.2 IP, 6 ER, 8 Hits, 4 BBs, 2 Ks. I was curious how Wheeler would perform as he faced a tough opponent in the Braves. Curiosity killed the cat, you know? Poor cat, why doesn’t anyone think of the cat?

Bartolo Colon – 3.1 IP, 8 ER, 9 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. The Groan Ranger was a TEEs to start the year, now his 4.94 ERA is above his 4.24 SIERA. That’s what a 2.29 HR/9 will do. Ouch.

Today’s Streamer

Tyler Mahle vs. Kansas City Royals – His fastball heavy approach may work well against the Royals, who like to be aggressive and could turn this into a quick 6.0+ start.

Tomorrow’s Streamer

Dereck Rodriguez vs. Miami Marlins – Call me crazy, but I like his stuff and I think facing the Marlins instead of the Nats will make a large difference.

Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer

Mike Minor vs. Colorado Rockies – There are a decent amount of blegh options here – Urena against the Orioles, Lugo against the Diamondbacks, Kuhl against the Reds – but I’m going Minor as the Rockies are really bad on the road.

Game of the Day

Jacob deGrom vs. Mike Soroka – He’s back and deGrom is dope. Yes please.

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.

31 responses to “Draggin’ Master Lance”

  1. Vinny says:

    Hey Nick, forgive me for the copy&paste move here, your podcsst yesterday brought up a question.

    I know you’re a big fan of Heaney, I just dropped him for soroka because I feel like my league mates will be afraid to grab heaney with this past -9 game against Seattle and soroka has me intrigued.

    Do you think soroka over Heaney is going to be a decision I regret later? Should I drop soroka after his start and try to get Heaney back ASAP or roll with it as is?

    My only other drop would be Castillo and I think you and I agree it’s best to wait and see if he can hit that ceiling.

    Even if you dont get to this, thanks as always for all you do!

    • Frankie says:

      If Heaney and L Castillo were your only drops for Soroka, I feel you probably don’t need to add Soroka at this moment. Too bad you couldn’t bench Castillo for a bit and drop a bench hitter for Soroka, or perhaps a MR. Just my 2 cents.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      I prefer Heaney over Soroka by a decent amount, honestly.

      I’d want to own all three if possible, but Soroka is the odd one out.

  2. ESB says:

    Nick, I know based on Mondays rankings you’re still high on Pivetta, my league is a 10 team, HTH QS league. Best teams roll with 4 closers, Britton coming back gives me 4 now. But I’m struggling with whether to add Pivetta or not, and at whose expense. Here is my current staff, really would appreciate any advice you have to give:
    SP Carlos Martinez
    SP Mike Clevinger
    RP Brad Boxberger
    SP Carlos Carrasco
    SP E-Rod
    RP Kenley Jansen
    RP Craig Kimbrel
    SP SP Flaherty
    Bench SP L.Castillo
    Bench SP Sean Manaea
    Bench SP Milokas
    Bench RP Britton
    DL SP YU Darvish

  3. Rob says:

    12T H2H Points. Would you be willing to move Weaver or Roark or Ross for Merrifield? I could use the OF depth and backup 1B since apparently Greg Bird sucks. My pitching isn’t impressive but it’s a decent mix of high floor (Roark/Happ) and Cherry Bombs (Castillo/Ross). Thanks for your help!

  4. Mike says:

    Hey Nick, my team is in desperate need of pitching in H2H points league. Should I trade Altuve for Trea Turner and Lance McCullers?

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Is it possible to get a better SP than McCullers? I question if McCullers is the one you want to bank on to move the needle.

  5. David C. says:

    Mahle over Montgomery today?

    I can’t decide!

  6. Frankie says:

    Nick, I just realized I have G Richards, Heaney, and now J Barria in a H2H Categories league. How do you feel about owning 3 starters on the same team? Their home park is pretty neutral, ranking 19th in Runs & 16th in HR allowed. The division isn’t all that scary. Team ERA is respectable. But still, something feels DANGEROUS about this.. How do u view owning 3+ players from the same team, specifically SPs?

  7. Evan says:

    8 team, H2H points. Pitching and strikeouts are pretty valued. My Tommy Pham for his Charlie Morton. Thoughts?

  8. Jimmy Two-times says:

    Hey Nick, would you drop Kopech to activate Soroka? I’m in a pretty aggressive 10-teamer keeper league and I just don’t want to lose out. Or maybe Tepura? You think he will see a lot of SV opps?

    • Nick Pollack says:

      I’d be fine dropping Kopech. How many keepers are kept? Unless it’s over 12, I’d imagine Kopech wouldn’t be included.

  9. jon says:

    hey would you be interested in a fantasy game where you could invest in players as stocks?

  10. Mike says:

    Re: McCullers: How do you “sacrifice K’s for a better ERA?” Makes no sense.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      It’s another way of saying “pitching to contact.”

      Happens all the time. Look at Chris Sale’s 2016 season (at least, that’s what he was trying to do). Normally doesn’t last too long, though.

  11. Southern Marylander says:

    Talk to me about Forrest Whitley. He was fantastic in his first start this season at AA. He was fantastic at three different levels last year. He has pedigree and results. He has nowhere to pitch in Houston for the foreseeable future. Is he trade bait at this point to acquire them a productive OF? Would they give him the Hader treatment?

    I can’t imagine that Houston let’s Keuchel and Morton walk after this year to clear a space for him. I can stash him over a backup bat on my roster in a keeper league (and assuming he doesn’t lose rookie eligibility this year, he’d be $2 to keep… if he does, he’s probably worth the $6 cost to keep), but if his ETA is more like… 2020, that’s a tough sell. None of the other prospect hound managers in my league seem overly interested in him, so trading him for help this year has been a no-go so far.

  12. David C. says:

    For tomorrow, Marquez, McCarthy, D Rod or D. German?

    Not an easy choice!

    Great call on Soroka, he looks for real!

  13. Eric says:

    Is MadBum and Carlos Martinez too much to give up for Justin Verlander?

  14. Jack says:

    Ok Nick, it’s decision time for my roster. I came in hitting-heavy and moved Bryant for Sale, and now I’m looking at moving Albies and ReyLo for an elite SP. I can pick from Mikolas, Greinke, probably McCullers as well.

    Please explain briefly why I should be going after Greinke (#11 on the List) despite his being the worst of these 3 on paper and having fastball velocity 1mph+ down from 2017.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Greinke because the HRs will come down while he’ll give you Mikolas’ ratios with better strikeouts.

      McCullers is way too risky.

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