Finally Fried

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

Can’t say I expected to be leading with Max Fried tonight, but after he dazzled the Cubs with a 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks line, I wanted to jump all of the waiver wire questions. In short, he’s good, but Coors is next and not worth the roster spot now. I’d describe Fried not as a great command pitcher, but “not wild.” He hovered the zone plenty with both his heater and curveball, rarely missing by a sizeable amount and truly wasting a pitch. He had some 96mph paint with his fastball and some stunning deuces, though there were some hittable fastballs that found gloves as well. He toyed with a changeup and slider as well, though I’d be surprised if either really turned into a proper third option. And that’s okay, his fastball/curveball can make him a contender to out-survive Kyle Wright once Folty returns to the rotation. I foresee a bit of a Cherry Bomb nature from him moving forward and someone to own when not facing tough opponents. There’s a small chance at a legit breakout, but he’s still behind the other popular Spice Girl options that are either on your roster or staring at you on the wire. Remember, Coors next. Sit on your hands.

Let’s see how every other SP did Thursday:

Trevor Bauer7.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 Hits, 6 BBs, 8 Ks. Aces gonna ace. We all got him as our SP #1, right?

Jordan Lyles5.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks. Sure, whatever Lyles. I’m just glad to be here. Yeah, we know.

Tyler Mahle6.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks. So Baseball Savant has Mahle’s breaker as a slider, though coming in at 80mph, I’m wondering if it as an adapted curveball. Either way, the pitch was super meh and his fastball did all the work – per usual. If only he had a decent secondary pitch…But Nick! This was a great start and he didn’t have it! Sure, and Lyles matched him for five innings. Baseball is a weird, weird game. I’m not investing in Mahle and I suggest you don’t either.

Stephen Strasburg6.2 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks. Aces gonna ace. Don’t forget these days when he allows another 4 ER in a start.

Alex Cobb5.2 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. Cobb, buddy, pal, stop wasting our time.

Aaron Sanchez6.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. Hey, this is what we were looking for our of Sanchez. Nothing spectacular, but serviceable. Is he worth the pickup? Well, I don’t like that his increased velocity disappeared in this one, actually dropping below last year’s mark while earning just 9 total whiffs and 21/89 CSW. These aren’t good things. He got the Tribe here and gets the Sawx next. No thanks, not on my watch. Streaming Record: 4-3.

Noah Syndergaard6.0 IP, 2 ER, 1 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. Aces gonna ace. Look at this strikezone plot. See how few red dots are at the bottom half of the zone? IT’S WHAT YOU WANT.

Spencer Turnbull6.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 10 Ks. His first start of the year certainly slowed down the hype train, but this outing against the Royals is going to put a ton of coal back into the furnace. 33/91 CSW is lovely with 15 whiffs, featuring at-bats where his cutting fastball ate up left-handers, a big curveball that fell under the zone, and a shockingly hard slider that induced a 29% swinging-strike rate. He has the tools to succeed, though there is a touch of polish missing from the entire repertoire to truly hint at a Top 25 SP season like Buehler/Wheeler/Flaherty/etc. from last year. I’m intrigued and would love to roster him for his next start against Cleveland at the very least. Yes, over Fried.

Edinson Volquez3.2 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 3 Ks. Fans will forever be disappointed in Volquez, despite Nintendo’s best cheerleading efforts with Let’s Go EV.

Brett Anderson5.1 IP, 3 ER, 8 Hits, 4 BBs, 3 Ks. Yep, that’s the Anderson we all know and hate.

Yu Darvish4.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 4 BBs, 2 Ks. I watched this one as I was incredibly curious to see where Darvish would be in his second outing. Like you and you, and definitely Yu, I was disappointed but I’m not out. Good velocity and a filthy breaking ball, Darvish never really got settled in with his changeup or curveball, utilizing a mix of sliders and cutters to pair with his heater. The fastball command wasn’t like it has been in the past and the whole start felt shaky. There is very much of a Top 25 starter in here, though, and I think this is a perfect buy-low opportunity for worried owners. I see someone not hurt but shaking off rust and while the Cubs may limit him a little in the next start or two, you have a fantastic opportunity to get a strong starter for cheap. Go and get him as the low cost should make it worth the risk.

Jake Junis6.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 8 Ks. A VPQS with 8 strikeouts from Junis? I’ll take that any day. Even on a Thursday! How about Monday? Yep! On a Monday. Tuesday? Sure. Wednes– Please stop.

James Paxton5.1 IP, 4 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 9 Ks. It’s pretty disappointing to see Paxton with these ratios, especially against the Orioles, but hey at least you salvaged nine strikeouts right? Kinda? I’m not worried as he’s still missing bats regularly – 20 whiffs here, good for the Gallows Pole – and I feel your frustration.

Matt Harvey4.0 IP, 8 ER, 10 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. Uh oh. Hey Harvey, do you mind not allowing a pair of longballs for 5 ER? I like that you’re missing bats across your repertoire – 16 whiffs! – but the inconsistency is keeping you on the wire. I could see him going on a stretch during the year and I don’t mean touching his toes. I am jealous that he can do that, though.

Eduardo Rodriguez3.2 IP, 6 ER, 8 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks. I considered leading with The Uni (Edu) because he’s acting a whole like a bomber. Just five swings and misses across 84 pitches as he had zero feel for his changeup. Seriously, 0/16 on whiffs with the slow ball is atrocious for Erod, amplifying how his cutter just isn’t where we want it to be despite the spring hype. I’m not saying flat-out drop the man – he still deserves to be owned in 12-teamers – but if there is a phenomenal option on the wire and Edu is the clear outlier on your staff, I think you’re okay making the swap. Sure, he could recover and make you a very happy owner before the inevitable injury, but boy is he far from his ceiling right now. 

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.

Trent Thornton vs. Cleveland Indians – Sure, why not. It’s Cleveland.


Tomorrow’s Streamer


Lucas Giolito vs. Seattle Mariners – Very few options here and I’ll go with Giolito after he excelled in the zone with his secondary pitches and featured improved velocity.


Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer


Domingo German vs. Baltimore Orioles – The O’s are not that good, right? If you’re looking for a Sunday Win to put you over the edge for the week, consider Brad Keller against the Tigers or Wade LeBlanc against the ChiSox as well.


Game of the Day


Shane Bieber vs. Toronto Blues – Oh yeah! He’s a guy too!


(Photo by David J. Griffin/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.

31 responses to “Finally Fried”

  1. Steven says:

    Thoughts on Dereck Rodriguez and Samardzija @ TB today and tomorrow as streamers?

  2. Korey says:

    So Nick, we need to talk about this Yu Darvish fetish you have…

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Do we? What do you disagree with about my assessment?

      I’m trying to keep it as objective as possible.

  3. Joel says:

    Owner of Yu and ERod here. Considering cutting ties with the latter for either Corbin Burnes or Matt Boyd. Thoughts?

  4. Ionescorhino says:

    Hey, Nick: What order would you place these arms: Merrill, Giolito, Montas, Turnbull, Disco, Reynaldo, Cobbler, Holland? I have a thing for Giolito, but just not sure given last year’s blowups. 12-team H2H QS. Anyways, incredible work. Read and listen daily.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Hey Ionesco!

      If that is your wire, I’d honestly go matchup to matchup and make sure you’re not doing the circus of picking up guys *after* starts only to pick up someone else and never truly getting any production out of them.

      Target the matchups for now and go from there.

  5. EB says:

    Hey Nick, really enjoy your work, would like to get your take on E-Rod and whether or not theres a better fit for my rotation. My staff is as follows 10 team ESPN 5X5 QS:
    SP Kluber
    SP Mike Clevinger
    RP E.Diaz
    SP Buehler
    SP Flaherty
    RP Iglesias
    RP Leclerc
    SP Jon Gray
    Bench SP Musgrove
    Bench SP E-Rod
    Bench SP Woodruff

    Available on the wire are a lot of guys just a tier or so below in your rankings Urias, Skaggs, Pablo, Burnes, Boyd, and Alcantara. Would you dump E-Rod for any of those guys, if so is there a guy or two out of those you would you recommend?

  6. nick g says:

    i definitely recognize bauer as someone who deserves his AGA but no mention of the 6 walks..?

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Great point, my mind went to the lack of hits and seeing 1.00 WHIP.

      Not concerned about it, but I should have at least brought it up.

  7. Manley Ramirez says:

    Curious as to why You cited Yu’s velo as “good”. Good for a pitcher coming back from injury? He was at 92 compared to 94+ in years past.

    Most of his swinging strikes seemed to have been off the opposing pitcher. Kind of shocked by your optimistic outlook.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Darvish sat at 93.5mph last night, which is actually higher than his 93.2mph career mark. Slightly behind 2017, but it qualifies for “good” for a guy I still see shaking off rust.

      I understand the pushback on my optimism. I still see the talent in there and two starts into a year + an atypical spring training makes me hesitant to jump off yet.

  8. Paul McKinley says:

    I got it going pretty fast so here’s the totals for streamers from last year (have win totals as well but left them out):


    IP 157.2
    ERA 3.664
    WHIP 1.215
    K/9 7.385

    IP 154.4
    ERA 3.905
    WHIP 1.224
    K/9 7.869


    IP 157.4
    ERA 3.488
    WHIP 1.226
    K/9 8.06


    IP 150
    ERA 4.32
    WHIP 1.253
    K/9 6.96


    IP 167.1
    ERA 2.800
    WHIP 1.149
    K/9 8.671


    IP 145.4
    ERA 4.023
    WHIP 1.306
    K/9 8.975


    IP 931.5
    ERA 3.613
    WHIP 1.227
    K/9 7.990

    Dunno if this convinces you April is any better (right in the middle results wise & only one year; prob some errors in my results); overall makes you wonder if you could only draft closers and just use your streamers.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Hmmmm, I’ll think about this. I wonder if I was simply more conservative with my streams last year in April.

      Thanks Paul!

  9. Steve says:

    Who would you rather add Turnbull, C.Smith, or P.Lopez? Would you drop Skaggs or Boyd for any of them?

    • Nick Pollack says:

      If all 3 are still on the wire, might as well go with Smith for the Braves start, then Turnbull for the Indians.

      I’m okay letting go Skaggs, definitely not Boyd.

  10. John Connors says:

    You talked about Turnbull maybe having top 25 upside like Flaherty Buehler etc..what pitcher in the early going shows you most possibility of turned into top 25-30 arm? Burnes? P Lo..Caleb? Boyd?

    • theKraken says:

      He said Turnbull doesn’t have that upside from my reading. Not Nick, but people don’t turn into 25 arms very often. Most likely none of those guys are.

  11. Sam says:

    There’s a big misconception on Erod that he’s injury prone, and it’s no longer accurate. He had knee injuries that were permanently corrected by surgery last offseason, and he got hurt last year in a freak collision at first base. Barring something similar there’s no reason to expect an injury-hampered pitcher going forward.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      You could be right about that, we’ve seen guys in the past get surgeries for their injury woes and still have it affect their career path.

      I hope I’m wrong!

    • theKraken says:

      It doesn’t have to be the arm. If you have aged to a certain point, then you know friends and colleagues that are always dinged up… like me! You never know that anything is permanently corrected.

  12. Slowmez says:

    Which of these guys has the highest ceiling and how high is that ceiling? Top 30? Top 20??

    P Lopez, C Smith, Burnes, Alcantara, Boyd, F Peralta

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Hoooo boy, I can’t really answer that. We just don’t know right now!

      Highest realistic ceiling for this year? Smith/Boyd/Burnes are a touch higher than the other three.

      That ceiling would be Top 30 SP.

  13. Steve says:

    Didn’t catch the DreamTheater reference at first, but heart the mention on the First Pitch Podcast…..awesome band. Well done!

  14. Andrew Goldhor says:

    Nick, love your work man (my staff is led by Bauer, Cole, Wheeler, Yu) but I’m surprised that you are so …. sober? about the possibilities for Fried? His fastball control is not always sterling, but he pumps it up to 97 and seems to get away with mistakes at times because of that. The curve has potential, and the change looked solid to me last night. I dropped him last Sunday for Montas and held B. Wilson and I’m in a dark mental place today b/c of that. You would put more FAAB on the Red Bull in DET than Fried this weekend??

  15. Play Ball says:

    Sit Buehler in Colorado?

    • theKraken says:

      I am sitting him, but that depends on format. He was going to be limited in his previous start. I think there is a good chance he doesn’t get through 5. I am not petrified of the ratios, but W and QS are not the best bets.

  16. Dom Trankillo says:

    Is it time to panic on Eovaldi? Considering dropping for Caleb Smith. What more do we need to see out of each to make that move?

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