Getting Into Boyd Watching

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

(Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire)

There are times I write roundups and I the whole thing takes me for a loop. After Matt Boyd’s line of 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks tonight, I had to look deeper and, well, it gets fun. Boyd has steadily gotten more whiffs overall with his slider this season, going from a season-high of just 4 in 2017 to 26 in his previous four games. And here? 12 whiffs with his slide piece in 42 thrown. Wait, 42 thrown?! Oh yeah, he’s now throwing the pitch over 30% of the time after holding 11% rates the previous two seasons. Now what’s odd is that his whiff rates and strikeout rates prior to this one were identical to previous years at pedestrian 10% and 18% marks, respectively. Wanna know why? Boyd is throwing three ticks slower on his fastball and a whole six ticks on his slider. The result is more movement on his main breaking pitch, leading to a paltry .143 BAA (.379 last year!) and 8.0 pVal entering this game, but his fastball has all the flashing signs of imminent disaster. It’s rare to see a pitcher get significantly worse in a major part of their game, while also amplifying a massive hole in their arsenal. Do I think that this new slider can help maintain Boyd’s 3.19 ERA despite the sub 90mph velocity? Sadly…no. A .261 BABIP and 4.6% HR/FB rate are going to climb quickly and I don’t want to roll the dice. I’ll call him a Chicken Stock for now (what’s that? You’ll see) and look elsewhere.

Let’s see how every other SP did Thursday:

Chris Archer – 6.2 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 4 BBs, 5 Ks. The good news: Archer was able to locate his slider at the bottom and under the zone effectively in this one. The bad news: He recorded just nine whiffs across 104 pitches and his fastball still seems a bit hittable. I’m a bit skeptical still.

Doug Fister – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks. Fister now holds a 3.43 ERA, which is currently beating Zack Greinke, Garrett Richards, and James Paxton. I hate everything. Fortunately you’re smart – you took the time to read these rambles – so you know not to put any chicken stock into this…huh, is that a new term? Chicken Stock would be investing in a player that could implode at a given moment but you’re tempted to get value out of him in the meantime. Kinda like the Vargas Rule, kinda Cherry Bomb. I’ll think about it. Oh, and don’t pick up Fister.

Marco Gonzales – 5.2 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. Marco had great command in this one, focusing four-seamers inside to RHB, changeups down-and-away and two-seamers inside to lefties. He only recorded four whiffs though and it’s hard for me to think that he can do this sort of thing often enough for me to believe that he’s worth a 12-teamer spot. Oh and remember that cutter? Yeah, not a single one thrown in this one.

Kenta Maeda – 8.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 8 Ks. There’s a thing called Dodgeritis and it’s made me hesitant to get on the Maeda bandwagon. Entering today, his IPS was a horrid 5.14, yet he still found a way to earn 6.6 Ks per game. That kinda of efficiency is super rare, but in the situation that he could last at least six innings, it was recognized he could do well. He did just that today against the Fish with 19 whiffs to earn a Gallows Pole and a remarkable 42 CSW across 96 pitches – one of the highest I’ve seen all year. This was dominance getting swings, called strikes, and poor contact pretty much with just two pitches. Problem here is that it’s such a rarity to see Maeda go this deep in a game, and it may be the easy 7-0 score that let him loose. I can’t raise him a whole lot on The List because of that, and it’s a case where if you own him, you best be starting him, but I’m not seeking him out or expecting to sell high. Just let it ride and hope for the best.

Vince Velasquez – 6.1 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. After I go ahead and say that Eflin is better than VV, he pulls a Rumple and spins gold. Can I say blame it on the Cardinals? Yeah I think that’s about right.

James Shields – 7.1 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 8 Ks. Did you know that Shields held a 13.5% k rate entering this start? That’s lower than my confidence after my uncle confused me on the phone for my niece. Not my sister, my niece.

Tyler Skaggs – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks. Skaggs is on a mission to make me look dumb, recording 31 CSW in 95 pitches, even four whiffs on 12 changeups thrown. And as much as I want to throw my papers in the air and jump on the bandwagon like I’m playing hooky for the day, I just can’t do it. There just isn’t enough here for me to think “oh, it makes a lot of sense that Skaggs should have a 2.88 ERA, 3.34 FIP, and 9.54 K/9 with a 2.88 BB/9.” I know that sounds ridiculous, but it still seems like smoke-and-mirrors instead of a legit transformation. I’m willing to lose on this one over the year, I just can’t betray this gut that has done so much for me.

Andrew Triggs – 2.1 IP, 1 ER, 1 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks. If this looks weird it’s probably because it looks like an indecisive person deciding if I’m holding a 1 or a 2 behind my back. Well, which one was it?! A three because I hate you. Anyway, Triggs left with a forearm strain and that’s terrible news. Just like you’re a Visine spokesman, you can say “I dropped.”

Luke Weaver – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. I’d go into more detail here on Weaver, but I’ll save my deep dive for him tomorrow as I compare his poor starts against these last two solid outings. 35 CSW here on 97 pitches and his changeup was working but there’s more to the story here. Can we throw him into the sea of upside around the 50s again? Sure. Do I believe he’s fully turned that corner? Not entirely, but I’m willing to bet on it in a 12-teamer.

David Price – 9.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 8 Ks. His cutter was so good it hurts. Look at this chart. It’s a thing of beauty as he lined the inside corner with the pitch, making it so hard for right-handers to get comfortable and often popping balls up for quick outs. He was one strike away from a CGSHO on 93 pitches, but Manny Machado pulled a MVC2 menu theme to drive us all crazy and we had to settle for 2 ER on 95 pitches instead. It doesn’t mean he’s back to preseason hype levels, but seeing Price get so many pitches over the plate is a great sign after his control issues outside his first two starts. He has just one tough start for the next month and change (Astros) and I’m pumped.

Chad Bettis – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. A PQS with 6 Ks and a 1.17 WHIP? Yeah I’ll take it Bettis. Colorado me crazy, I’m digging this “on the road against average teams” rule of Rockies starters.

Jeff Samardzija – 6.2 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks. This is as mediocre as a slice of pizza from a Chinese restaurant in Iowa. Sure, it has elements you’re familiar with and you’re not hungry anymore, but are you satisfied at all? Would you go back there? Why are you only throwing eight splitters in 103 pitches?! I’m not ready to get back on the bandwagon here, but at least he gave us a solid shrug.

Chad Kuhl – 4.1 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. Chad, this isn’t a Kuhl story. The one time I pick you as a streamer – ONE TIME – I regret everything. Okay, at least five Ks BUT STILL. Streaming Record: 23-15.

Eric Lauer – 4.2 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks. I’m making myself laugh with Lauer’s newest nickname, E.L. Only Loses. Are you actually laughing? Is anyone really laughing when they type that? Good point.

Aaron Sanchez – 4.0 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 4 BBs, 8 Ks. The Feral (TM) command of Sanchez returned in full force, earning him eight strikeouts, but forcing nine baserunners and getting him pulled after four innings. Leave it to Sanchez to tally 97 pitches well before qualifying for a win. 18 Whiffs ain’t nothing to laugh at, though, nearly earning him the coveted GP. Maybe one day.

Caleb Smith – 3.0 IP, 4 ER, 2 Hits, 4 BBs, 4 Ks. Okay so his fastball command is still kinda whack. And I say kinda because he still earned 10 whiffs on 46 four-seamers…the pitch just left him during at-bats and that’s not cool. He couldn’t shut the door on some guys it caught up to him here, but I’m still buying. I really do think that it’s a matter of time before we start to realize that the bad starts are totally worth the studly ones.

Kevin Gausman – 4.2 IP, 6 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. Don’t judge Gausman too harshly, this was the Sawx, you know the pristine ones out of the pack. Next up are the raggedy ChiSox that really should have been thrown in the laundry before you wore them another five times. Rays after and I feel good for both of those. Too bad he gets the Yanks, Jays (this is okay) and…ugh again? Sawx after.

Today’s Streamer

Nick Tropeano vs. Tampa Bay Rays – I think he can be a Toby this year and the Rays don’t scare me, so I’m giving Trop (not in Trop) the nod.

Tomorrow’s Streamer

Andrew Heaney vs. Tampa Bay Rays – He’s still owned in just 17% of leagues and that’s wonderful for you. I’d go with Freddy Peralta or Nick Kingham as well, but they’re more owned, if you can believe it.

Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer

Daniel Mengden vs. Toronto Blue Jays – The Jays aren’t scary and Mengden just ran through the Sawx and Astros.

Game of the Day

Zack Godley vs. Jacob deGrom – I want the injury talk to stop regarding deGrom, while I think this start from Godley can silence the critics.

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.

24 responses to “Getting Into Boyd Watching”

  1. Shark says:

    Your pal Sporer just updated his rankings today and has Skaggs at 43, in his Usually Start tier. Maybe you guys can go in depth on Skaggs?

    • Shark says:

      (More Skaggs)…and unless I’m mis-interpreting his xStats #s, Skaggs “deserves” his results so far, your dismay notwithstanding LOL.

      • Nick Pollack says:

        We were actually talking with Sporer in the community chat last night, I meant to bring up Skaggs.

        I expect to be wildly different in my views in him as the only real reason you’d discount it is what I’m seeing personally from him. There isn’t something that I can say “okay, yeah that’s it”, whether it’s top notch command or a massive whiff pitch that’s getting it done or a shift to elevated four-seamers, etc. It’s like he’s treading water with this weird amalgamation, but in reality, he can’t swim.

  2. D says:

    Better DL stash? Ervin Santana or rodon ?

  3. JerryOnDrums says:

    My man. I’m not from Iowa, but let me tell ya something: a slice of Crab Rangoon Pizza from Fong’s Pizza in downtown Des Moines will change your LIFE. This is not a joke. Btw, as I type this, it dawns on me that I may be “whooshing” myself. If not, though- Fong’s.

    Also, sad StL fan here. The Cards’ offense might as well be the Fish. :-(

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Ahhh I knew I forgot to edit something! Thanks for that.

      But yeah, Cardinals offense is super bad right now. Sorry :(

      And seriously? There’s legit pizza in Iowa?! I should have chosen another random state in the US…

      • Michael says:

        I’ll second the vote for Fong’s. Des Moines has some good pizza joints, and the best one is in a Chinese restaurant. I guess this means you are low key endorsing Samardzija by this logic.

  4. Akshay Sachdev says:

    well I certainly did not expect to see an MVC2 reference on pitcherlist today. deep cut!

  5. Bob says:

    Caleb Smith or Jack Flaherty ROS? Would you assume Flaherty has the higher floor with Caleb having the higher ceiling?

    • Nick Pollack says:

      I still prefer Smith. Flaherty’s playing time is still muddied even with the Wainwright news.

      If Flaherty were starting the full year, I’d favor him over Smith.

  6. David C. says:

    Nick, what do you think about the following short-term strategy: see how Freddie Peralta performs against the Twins. If it’s bad (say 4.2 IP, 5 ER, 5 K), drop him for either Jordan Lyles or Hellickson?
    Thanks, it’s a NL-only league.

  7. Charles says:

    Hey Nick!!
    Who do you think are the top 3 best SP streaming options until the end of the week? I’ve only got 1 move remaining and desperately need Ws and Ks.
    Have a great weekend!

  8. Bartolo says:

    At this point, add Lance Lynn or continue to stash Y. Chirinos (throwing a bullpen session this weekend) and D. Salazar (who knows, but hate to let go of the upside)? This is a 6×6 AL Only with IP and K-BB instead of K. Have way too many injuries and could use the innings, but Lynn has been so bad.

    • Bartolo says:

      Also have Kopech stashed if that factors into the analysis.

    • theKraken says:

      I bought lots of Lynn shares this year as a source of innings… it has been terrible. He can’t continue to walk this many guys… can he? I am thinking there is no way he doesn’t right the ship at some point, but I wouldn’t have thought he could get this far either. I think his track record is worth more than a scummy streamer.

  9. Play Ball says:

    What can we expect out of Reyes when he comes off the DL?

  10. Bump Wills says:

    Would u consider swapping Erod or CalebSmith for TCahill or Weaver? They are both available.

  11. theKraken says:

    That was a huge step forward for Shark. I think we should probably be looking more at the path ahead than judging him start to start. A little pitch efficiency and a QS is better than what he has done so far. I didn’t watch nor do I have any insight, but the statline looks encouraging. I think he really rushed back to try to rescue the Giants staff… to his own detriment.

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