Golden Archers

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

I often say that I’ll be the first person to tell you I was wrong and I can’t help but get a little enamored with Chris Archer’s outing last night against the Nationals7.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 9 Ks. I’m the guy that asked where Archer takes a step forward in the pre-season, yet Archer has earned 24 strikeouts in 18 frames thus far, earning a 2.00 ERA against the Cards, Reds, and Nats – all the red! Okay, he didn’t deserve that late 50s ranking, he deserved to be around #40 or so. but why not #30? Because I’m still a little confused. Archer isn’t throwing the heat of old – 93.5mph yesterday with zero whiffs on 31 four-seamers – and his changeup, while being thrown a decent amount now around 10-15%, isn’t the nullifying strong third option that we want it to be. I could very well be wrong there, but it’s not overwhelming enough for me to consider that the gamechanger. Archer pounded the middle of the zone with fastballs…that were taken, allowing him to get bad swings on sliders in the zone and out. Just look at the strikezone plot, this isn’t a masterful Snell outline and you can’t figure out the gameplan. Really, you can’t. The best I have is changeups trying to go arm-side and sliders not elevated, but it’s mostly a blob of color. I want to be more sold here and quickly hand myself an L and move forward…but I’m not there quite yet. There’s even a part of me that wants you to sell Archer now. I don’t think you can given the horrid SP landscape at the moment but you get what I’m saying. I hope. Writing is hard. Archer gets the Giants at home next time out anyway, so this should be more of the same and that’s a lovely thing.

Let’s see how every other SP did Saturday:

Homer Bailey7.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. It’s getting really comical just how bad the Indians offense is. This is Homer Bale. He just threw seven shutout frames against this offense. Yep. Blame it on the Indians.

CC Sabathia5.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks. Sabathia made his first start of the season and carved up the ChiSox lineup, pounding cutters up-and-in to left-handers and getting ahead often. He hosts the Royals next and I’m all for rostering CC for that one. It may be another five-inning game as he threw just 62 pitches here, but it could be more of the same.

Caleb Smith6.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks. Following this lovely line, that’s a 2.65 ERA, 32% strikeout rate, 0.88 WHIP, and 14.5% swinging strike rate through three starts. Worried about his schedule in the NL East? Yesterday was the Phils and he’s already faced the Mets and Braves. He’ll get no Wins! That’s one tonight and if he keeps excelling, why can’t he get some? Jameson Taillon had 14 Wins on the Pirates last year, after all. Yes, there are concerns with his 9% walk rate and still difficult schedule, but it’s nice to see one of the Spice Girls actually take off like Boyd, Musgrove, and Richards (you know who you disappointments are). Keep holding and let’s ride this one out together.

Blake Snell6.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks. Aces gonna ace. I’m going to have to raise Snell, aren’t I. Oh look, another Gallows Pole for Snell with 19 whiffs. What do you know.

Matt Strahm5.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks. So that’s just 1 ER in 10 frames since the horrid opening start to the year. That’s good! His velocity was only a hair over 91mph. That’s bad. He was able to throw both his slider and changeup consistently for strikes. That’s good! He only earned 7 whiffs on 89 pitches with a 25% CSW. GET TO THE POINT. Strahm isn’t where I want him to be yet and he’s still not the guy we saw in his few starts last year and during spring training. There’s another gear to hit and I’m going to temper expectations until we see it. Yes I want to be all kinds of excited about this, but I’m not foolish. If you’re hurting for arms, I’m okay holding Strahm and hoping it arrives next time, but otherwise I’m doing a wait and see. I think he’ll get there by May, FWIW.

Clay Buchholz6.0 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks. Okay, so Buchholz survived six frames with just 69 pitches to his name. That’s ridiculous. His cutter – the pitch that made him legit last year – earned 33% whiffs – while his solid changeup earned outs in the field, going 10/13 for strikes. I’m definitely buying as a streamer, a little hesitant as a roster spot. If you’re searching for something, he gets the Twins next and I could fathom that going well. Typical 12-teamers, I think I’d wait another outing.

Zach Davies7.0 IP, 1 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks. Welcome to Davies’ upside, the man that comes to a few parties once a year and you think “huh, that guy is pretty chill.” You want to be his friend. You want to host board game night and have him bring his spouse and a six-pack. But he’s always busy. I wish I could! Yeah, so do we.

Caleb Ferguson2.2 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks. So we didn’t really expect Ferguson to get a proper start, but it was still cool to see him take the hill. Ignore this start in its entirety – it didn’t happen, okay? – but note that one day Caleb 2 will be a starter and we’ll be talking about him like a Spice Girl.

Ivan Nova6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. Nova pounded the zone and cruised through the Yankee lineup. Still a sneaky play for deep QS leagues, but he will ruin weeks for you. I should mention, this was six shutout frames until a single led off the seventh and of course scored because this is the ChiSox pen n all.

Tanner Roark5.1 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. Ha, sure Roark, you go ahead and do that. And make some consider you when we all know you’re a Panda. A lovely, cuddly Panda – they all are! – but best left out in the wilderness and not hanging with you all the time.

Justin Verlander6.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 11 Ks. Aces gonna ace. It is so good to see you back in your groove. But he’s old! This is the beginning of the end for Verlander! Riiiiiiiiiiight.

Madison Bumgarner7.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks. I have Bumgarner at #29 right now. This start is right in line with a pitcher at that mark, and with Darvish struggling and Severino out for a long time (he’ll be taken off The List entirely now), Bumgarner will be closer to #25. I still don’t love him, but I’m not a blind man, ya’ll.

Kyle Hendricks5.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks. Are you disappointed with this? I am a little bit. I want slightly better, maybe a few more Ks, maybe a few more outs, but hey, he’s close! And we’re taking a step forward from the poor early starts. Like Arya with a lisp after she serves the faceless god, keep the faith.

Jefry Rodriguez5.2 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks. For those saying “who?” I’ll say the same thing right back at you. I DON’T KNOW YOU. Okay, maybe I do, but only if you’re cool n stuff. ANYWAY, Jefry is a Cup of Schmo and far from worth your time. Like the anti-Nike – Schmike – Just Don’t.

Anibal Sanchez7.0 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks. I feel like I’m on a Game Show – say it with me, everyone! “HOW. WAS. THE. CUTTER!”  It was fine. Nothing special, but he threw it for 50% strikes and it earned outs. More interesting is how he just earned 1 whiff on twenty splitters. I don’t think this spells an arm to trust against teams not named the Pirates or Marlins, does it? What about the Indians? Yes, the Indians too BUT YOU GET THE POINT.

Chris Stratton4.2 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 4 BBs, 5 Ks. You know those times when you hear someone’s voice on the radio and when you finally see a pitch of them, they look exactly like you pictured? That’s me looking at Stratton’s line every time he pitches.

Adam Wainwright6.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. Do you want to trust Waino? Nope. Exactly. Let’s move on.

Andrew Cashner5.0 IP, 3 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks. When I said move on, I mean to something that actually matters. Cashner, can you stop, just, being, I don’t know, you?

Kyle Freeland5.0 IP, 3 ER, 9 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. It’s weird to see Freeland not as sharp as we’ve seen, maybe a product of his blister, maybe not (the man said it didn’t affect him, but that’s what good players do. They don’t make excuses, we can for them though!). He’s been all kinds of disappointing thus far, but I’m not selling quite yet. We might have to wait until the 25th until we’re okay with him again – the Phils in Coors next is not a happy time – but if he’s on your wire, you may want to snatch him up and stash through that outing. This should be a helpful arm throughout the year.

Felix Hernandez6.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. A PQS from Felix with a decent WHIP and five Ks? Sure, I’ll take that, especially if I had the brass to start him against the Astros. You went with it, you survived, now don’t put yourself through that gauntlet again.

Michael Pineda6.0 IP, 3 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks. Hmmmmm, let’s set a rule today. If it’s a Quality Start with a meh WHIP (1.33 here) and middling Ks, the determining factor for the Streaming Record is if he earned a win or not. Pineda earned it here, I’ll take it today but maybe not tomorrow…Streaming Record: 9-7. Okay, on the to the actual important stuff. Pineda had trouble putting guys away in this one – 29 fouls and only 23 CSW in 96 pitches! – though he did get a little unlucky with the BABIP here. The way I see it, keep owning Pineda as he gets the Jays next, but the man isn’t dominating lineups like we want him to.

Rick Porcello4.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 5 BBs, 2 Ks. If you own The Thief, I have one question for you. DON’T. That’s not a question. Fine. DON’T…? 

Merrill Kelly5.0 IP, 4 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. Hmmmmmm. What I loved last time against the Sawx was his curveball usage. He earned a ton of strikes, went in-and-out with heat, and saved his changeup for outs. It was lovely and we didn’t even care that his slider shifted into a cutter. In this one, well his curveball wasn’t that great and it wasn’t smooth sailing. I want to see that cutter do more damage moving forward as clearly the deuce isn’t the consistent complement we want it to be. I’m still a fan of Kelly, though, and would still consider him in Wrigley later this week.

Sean Newcomb1.1 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 0 Ks. I’m beginning to wonder if Newcomb will get the ax and Touki + Fried are going to stick in the rotation when Folty returns. He’s just not the arm you’re looking for.

Tyson Ross6.0 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 4 BBs, 3 Ks. Ross is a guy that you can send out there on your desperate weekends. Sometimes it’ll fail – Mild Shock – and sometimes you’ll feel like a genius. Sometimes.

Jason Vargas0.1 IP, 4 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 0 Ks. Oh my, Vargas is looking shaky. The Mets really need something at the back end of this rotation and if any of their studs fall to injury – on the Mets? No way! – all their improvements to their offense will be for naught. Naught!

Zach Eflin4.0 IP, 6 ER, 10 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks. Welp, this is all kinds of disappointing. Eflin was marching along and a start against the Fish was bound to maintain his early momentum, right? Well, despite having a fantastic slider on the day -17/39 CSW! – his heater was laced, landing in the bottom half of the zone often. His changeup didn’t do a whole lot either and he just couldn’t get it done with just sliders. I really think the Phils as an organization need to focus on improving their eye-levels during at-bats (mainly Pivetta and Eflin). There is so much of the zone they are ignoring and not playing into their strengths. Eflin throws 94mph! Throw that gas up and shock them with a slider down. That’s such a hard adjustment to make quickly and I don’t know why it’s not taken advantage of. But, hey, I’m just a dude in his bedroom writing things as I sip coffee out of my Cup of Schmo mug

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.

Derek Holland vs. Colorado Rockies – The Rockies are away and without David Dahl while Holland is locked in. I’d also consider Jakob Junis as he faces the Indians, and Kyle Gibson matched up against the Tigers.


Tomorrow’s Streamer


Mike Minor vs. Los Angeles Angels – There are terrible options today, I’ll go with the hot hand against a hurt lineup. The rainout pushed back Minor another day. I hate all the options and can’t even take Trevor Richards as he’s above the 20% threshold, so let’s say Martin Perez vs. Toronto Blue Jays because I have to do this and be sad about it.


Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer


Mike Minor vs. Los Angeles Angels – There are terrible options today, I’ll go with the hot hand against a hurt lineup. I prefer Max Fried against the Diamondbacks if that option is out there.


Game of the Day


Max Scherzer vs. Jameson Taillon – I’d so love Taillon to kill it even when facing a strong Nats offense.


(Photo by Lawrence Iles/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.

11 responses to “Golden Archers”

  1. larry says:

    I asked this on the other page so since you just posted this I will ask again.

    Now that Cahill has been moved to the start in Tex. would you stream him there?

    • Nick says:

      Hey Larry!

      I think I’d hold off. Arlington is a scary place and we’re not quite sure to make of Cahill yet.

  2. Christian says:

    Do you still like kelly and eflin more than guys like Urias and Skaggs?

  3. Ionescorhino says:

    What are your thoughts about Touki? Pick him up in 12-team?

    • Nick says:

      I’m cool with a speculative add since Newcombe could lose the spot to him moving forward.

      If there are a lot of names fighting for that roster spot, I think I’d hold off for now.

    • theKraken says:

      I would not unless it is streaming for a given matchup. It is hard for me to see him ever being a relevant starter in a 12 teamer. He has always had bullpen written all over him. He has reached his peak of overratedness this offseason. I don’t see the upside being high enough to accept the floor. There are much better options on your waivers, unless your minors are 20+ deep.

  4. Scott says:

    Strahm or pineda? I can only keep one on my team. This is a qs league. I am looking at rest of season. Thx

    • theKraken says:

      I don’t see how you don’t go with Pineda, although I think Nick will disagree. Strahm has never demonstrated that he can give you a QS… let alone hold up over the course of a season. Pineda has the potential to be a quality source of QS. Most importantly, keep you eyes and ears open for a better roster option over the course of the season. I think Strahm’s only appeal is Ks and ratios, but even that is a bit of a dream.

  5. theKraken says:

    I don’t think anyone should be sweating the NL East. Not that long ago it was the NL easy and that has not changed a whole lot. Last year a couple of mediocre teams got to pose as contenders, but that was the byproduct of a bad division. ATL had the worst record of every playoff team in a bad division – not impressive. Sure, PHI made some huge upgrades, but the rest of the division is not particularly strong. I don’t know that PHI is an offense that you need to avoid although they are not nearly as flawed as they were a year ago. They are one of those teams that is pretty feast or famine that looks a lot better the further you zoom out and just look at total bases… That division gets a lot of press, but it isn’t too strong IMO.

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