High On Mahle

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

(Photo by Tim Spyers/Icon Sportswire)

During the first week or two of the season, there are always pitchers that have a great outing and they are the talk of the town. Last year there was Brandon Finnegann and I have a feeling his teammate Tyler Mahle is going to get that massive spotlight after today’s 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks line. I watched all of this and what I saw was a guy who was commanding his fastball very well around the plate and earned him plenty of awkward at-bats. I also saw questionable secondary pitches that induced hard hit balls right at fielders and missed their spots by a good amount. I don’t think Mahle is the answer. His fastball could give him a decent start like this one here and there, but I wouldn’t be shocked if this was his best start of the season. Sorry to kill your buzz, feel free to still pick him up and see what happens, I just don’t believe in his slider and changeup to pull their weight, especially on a day when his fastball command is off. This just seems destined to be a Double Bubble as opposed to the “big thing” you can’t believe you missed when looking back in August.

Let’s see how every other SP did Monday:

Mike Clevinger – 5.1 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. Mmmmmm that’s what I’m talking about Clev! While he threw well over 50% fastballs and earned just 6 whiffs on 42 secondary pitches (10 total), Clev was Livin’ on the Edge like Steve Tyler as he nibbled around the edges and induced bad swings. It did prevent him from going through the sixth frame – I was surprised to even see him in for the first out after exiting the fifth with over 90 pitches to his name – and there is still some worry about getting into deep counts too often, but you have to be a little excited if you own him.

Reynaldo Lopez – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. Speaking of satisfying outings, Lopez looked great in this one against the Jays, featuring a strong fastball/changeup approach and mixing in breaking balls in between. The one blemish was an oppo Josh Donaldson solo shot – it’s always HRs these days – and it should make you feel confident as a Lopez owner moving forward. Get pumped. Also it’s my first legit win of the year PHEW. That could have been embarrassing. Streaming Record: 1-2.

Charlie Morton – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. This is beautiful Morton, and I almost want to look over the fact that I know we’ll be lucky to get more than 25 starts from you this year. But hey, enjoy your Gallow’s Pole with 17 whiffs – not one pitch earned more than 4 whiffs, that’s a nice diversified portfolio! – and let’s take this start by start.

Jaime Garcia – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks. Wait, what? Yeah this is like Facebook the way I’m not putting stock into this.

Tyler Chatwood – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 6 BBs, 4 Ks. I’ve been fielding plenty of questions as to why I’m still so low on Chatwood and I think this line sums it up well. Low strikeouts, high walks, and needed plenty of luck to maintain that sub 3.50 ERA on the road last year. Enjoy the 1.67 WHIP with that 1.50 ERA.

Bartolo Colon – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. Y’all know I have a new nickname for Colon each time he changes teams. With the Mets, he was The Big Apple. The Braves? The Giant Peach. The Twins took a moment, but he became Paul Funyun. Now with Texas, I asked the staff and riffing on an idea from Batter’s Box writer Jon Metzelaar, I’m going with The Groan Ranger. And look at him go, allowing just 1 ER in six frames. Feel good for him, just not enough to actually roster him.

Brian Johnson – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. Trust me, it’s a long way to the top if you believe in Johnson. It’s going to be a highway to hell for the entire year.

Francisco Liriano – 6.2 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. Seeing this stat line is like reading Liriano’s resume during an interview and not believing a single word of it. Come on Liraino, I know you didn’t work five years as a product manager if you’re showing up to this interview wearing cargo pants and an Affliction T-shirt.

Tanner Roark – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. Hoooo boy. Roark is going to do this then walk 4 en route to a 1.70 WHIP and 3/4 ER next time out. I just don’t trust him and I get the feeling he’s always being mischevious. You know, Tanner and his Roark plots. I don’t get it, what am I supposed to see? I’m not supposed to tell you, that’s the whole point.

Andrew Triggs – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks. He wasn’t the Call Boy, but he was the reluctant Call Boy in my mind as I actually labeled him as a controversial “Start” in the Sit/Start on Sunday. It really should have been labeled a “Maybe” if I had any wits about me, but instead I went with my gut and BOOM, Triggs was exactly what I remembered from last year – 12 whiffs and decent at hard contact mitigation. I don’t think Triggs is destined for the Top 50, but I do think against weaker teams he’s a good stream, becoming a borderline add for deeper 12 teamers. That’s not hard, it’s basic Trigg.

Chad Bettis – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 4 BBs, 5 Ks. With Gray kinda being on my “ignore” list, I’m super tempted to bring back the old days of using the same blurb for every Colorado Rockies starter. In the meantime, while I do my best to resist temptation, I’m going to tell you how this risk of trusting in Freeland is not worth the reward. Bettis… Ah ah ah, no buts.

Jameson Taillon – 5.1 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 9 Ks. Taillon had allowed 0 ER through 5.1 IP in this game, then allowed a solo shot to Brian Dozier on an 0-2 pitch that hit the glove at Dozier’s shoulders. Then allowed a single to left to Mauer and was pulled. Of course Mauer scored later in the inning. DUH. But hey, nine Ks and just 4 baserunners is excellent and you have to be thrilled about this. I’m a little hesitant to buy into the Ks given just 13 whiffs – I’d expect 18-20 with that many strikeouts – and his changeup still needs some work. Fastball command is great though and his curveball is a big hook that will always be effective. You should feel safe with Taillon for a while.

Hyun-Jin Ryu – 3.2 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 5 BBs, 2 Ks. I give Ryu another two weeks before he hits the DL after straining his neck looking at a cloud for too long.

Taijuan Walker – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. To Taijuan’s credit here, he allowed a quick 3 ER before completing the first frame, then almost lasted until the end of the fifth unscathed. Not to Taijuan’s credit here, that’s still WHIP over 2.00 and just 3 Ks. I don’t see the path to upside that others claim is there. He has another level. How? I just don’t see what changes in his repertoire or approach could turn Walker into a Top 40 arm.

Miles Mikolas – 5.2 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks. I know this looks bad but I actually really dug Mikolas in this start. I KNOW! It was painful to see him one strike away from escaping the 6th with just 2 ER to his name, then hang a changeup off the plate away to Shaw for a single, followed by a two-run blast from Thames. Three HRs total for Mikolas on the day did all of the damage, which hides the fact that the fella was painting 97mph while showcasing a plus curveball. There’s work to be done nailing down the consistency of both his changeup and slider, but both have potential and aren’t “throw em in” options like a Dell sticker to smack on your new laptop. I saw a pitcher today that very well could be in the Top 40 by the end of the year and if he’s getting dropped, I’m all over it.

J. C. Ramirez – 4.2 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. Whoa, is JC going to give us that super weird strikeout stretch that he had last year? I can’t wait to try to fan out the flames of that hype train again. Please don’t chase this.

Chris Tillman – 4.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 4 BBs, 0 Ks. Well well well. It looks like You Can’t Spell Win With Tillman after all. Wait, are you legit shocked? I’m legit wearing the shirt right in front of you. Okay okay, sorry…

Jason Hammel – 5.0 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks. Yep, that’s Hammel alright.

Lance Lynn – 4.0 IP, 5 ER, 3 Hits, 6 BBs, 3 Ks. Just minutes after I released The List today, Lynn allows 5 ER in the first inning prompting many people wondering if I made the update knowing what havoc Lynn brought to the table. Funny enough, even with this outing I’m not going to drop him that much. Of course he takes a stumble of some kind – six walks? Really dude? – but it’s one start and he’s obviously better than this.

Bryan Mitchell – 5.0 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 3 BBs, 1 Ks. I’ve been seeing Mitchell’s name a decent amount as a deep sleeper. I only realized now that they meant he needs like five alarms to get up. Congrats, you’ve made the worst joke of the entire 2018 season in just five days. YOU UNDERESTIMATE ME.

Sean Newcomb – 4.1 IP, 5 ER, 5 Hits, 4 BBs, 6 Ks. The value of owning Newcomb lies in his strikeout ability as his ratios are going to be bad. This is an extreme example but kinda what you should expect. Get used to feeling really dirty if you’re sticking with this.

Trevor Richards – 4.1 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. This is as Cup of Schmo as you’ll find. Don’t waste your time here.

Zach Davies – 5.2 IP, 6 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks. This wasn’t Davies day as his command abandoned him like an RC car after you spilled coke on the controller. I could see it getting better in the future, but the upside here is limited and you’re better off chasing other options instead of waiting for Davies to get it together.

Today’s Streamer

Jake Junis vs. Detroit Tigers I’m curious to see his new curveball, but even without it, Junis’ slider could do enough work to make this a beneficial outing.

Tomorrow’s Streamer

Nick Pivetta vs. New York Mets – I thought suggesting Jake Odorrizi would work, but he’s owned in a ton of leagues now (and so is Sean Manaea), so I’m stuck with Pivetta. I don’t love his overall approach, but he has solid breaking balls that can make this work. Nope, Pivetta has been moved to Thursday so this is going to super reluctantly be Doug Fister against the A’s. No I do not expect good things.

Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer

Caleb Smith vs. Philadelphia Phillies – This is a crazy one and I know I really should be picking Kyle Gibson against the Mariners, but after getting 15 whiffs against the Cubs last week, I get the feeling that Smith could pull this off and I want to have fun with this. I know I just said Gibson is the real one, but the real real choice is Homer Bailey against the Pirates. But for the record it’s Smith against the Phillies. This is confusing. Yeah, I know. It’s Smith, okay?

Game of the Day

Clayton Kershaw vs. Zack Godley – I’m excited to see Godley back in action + I also get to see the best pitcher on the planet. That’s my kind of game.

You Are The WHERST

Mike Wright Jr. vs. Houston Astros – I wanted to add a little more fun to these roundups because they were so clearly lacking, and I’m adding this section that will try to predict The WORST start of the day. If you’re wondering about the spelling, The WHERST is a competition I have each year, identifiying which start has the highest combined total of Walks, Hits, and ERs allowed in a STart. Last year’s champions were Christian Bergman and Jeff Locke with scores of a 26. Here’s to hoping I can pick it out 2018’s champ before it happens.

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.

17 responses to “High On Mahle”

  1. Joshiah says:

    I am pretty excited for the Godley-Kershaw matchup as well, but I can’t wait for the Anderson-Flaherty game as it’s not as late at night lol. Love to see how Anderson performs after the 6 inning no-run ball he had last outing, as well, as pretty excited to see if Flaherty can capitalize on his rotation call-up too. I’ll def try to catch both games to their fullest

  2. Chad says:

    Disappointed to hear you’re not too encouraged by Mahle’s start. Is there a parallel universe where Mahle proves you wrong and wins Rookie of the Year?

    • Chad says:

      A bit of sarcasm over my tendency to overreact to an April start, but I have read Mahle’s greatest skill is his command and control, that it’s quite underrated. Maybe his stuff won’t get him by but I like the comments Billy Hamilton and Tucker Barnhart made about him. Teammates are always going to be supportive but it seems like they were very impressed.

      • Nick Pollack says:

        I could be wrong! It doesn’t hurt to take a flier on Mahle right now and I’m all for it if you have the spot.

        I just hate banking on command being the answer to a successful season, especially having to bank on that after just one outing. His secondary pitches didn’t impress and he still got smacked a little (into gloves, though) that this doesn’t look like a Hendricks/Keuchel situation.

  3. Neal says:

    Walker completed 5 innings, not 4.2.

  4. Paul says:

    Miles Mikolas gave up a lot of hard contact yesterday–3 HRs & 5 barrels. While he had a few GIFable breaking pitches, he only had 8 SwStr out of 91 pitches (8.8%), which isn’t great. You’ve downgraded other pitchers for lack of swinging strikes and hard contact but you want to rush to pick up Mikolas anywhere he was dropped. Care to explain?

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Well, as mentioned in the blurb I see a guy with better stuff that the results detailed. I don’t think Mikolas is going to be a 12%+ whiff rate guy, but I can see him getting 2 more and sitting around 10-11%, which is definitely fathomable if you want to talk about the sample of just one game.

      I give others a harder time because I want to see a change from what we’ve seen in the past. This is mostly a blank slate from Mikolas and considering I don’t have an extended history telling me that he always gets his mistakes punished, I’m believing in the talent I saw yesterday as opposed to the 3 HRs.

      I mean, 5 barrels doesn’t equate to a guy being terrible. That’s such a small sample, especially for someone in his first start back in the majors after a long hiatus. The stuff itself shows a ton of promise and I’m excited.

  5. Matt says:

    I was pretty stoked about the Mikolas start as well. Throwing a bit of fire with a beautiful curve gets me excited regardless of his result. I was selfishly rooting for him to give up a few more runs to lower his stock, because I’d love to buy in at some point! As Paul mentioned, the hard contact certainly isn’t the most encouraging, but I’m definitely excited for his next start. Is it too aggressive to try and move Faria for Mikolas? Faria really bummed me out this week, as he seemed to lack any real command against the Red Sox.

    In terms of Jaime Garcia, I don’t think he should be rocketing up your list, but after watching the Jays v. Sox game last night (Reynaldo Lopez is the next Luis Severino :O), I’m intrigued to at least check in on his next start. Anytime Russell Martin starts to develop a game plan with a pitcher, I’m hopeful!

    Thanks for the daily summaries Nick!

    • Nick Pollack says:

      I think that’s a little too much. I know Faria wasn’t on the top of his game, but we have to give him a little more time. The season ends all the way in September, after all.

      I totally get what you mean about Garcia, but he’s had a history of having brief moments of bliss paired with a ton of destructive outings.

  6. Scott says:

    Hey Nick, do you prefer Mikolas or Reynaldo going forward?

    (And for the record, I LOL’ed at the Bryan Mitchell joke.)

  7. Steve says:

    Hey Nick,

    Don’t mean to be overly pedantic, but I’m a bit confused because in your weekly start/sit post, you have Caleb Smith as a SIT, and Kyle Gibson as a MAYBE. From that I would deduce that you think Gibson is the better play. Yet on this post, you are saying Caleb Smith is the start of the day, ahead of Gibson. Am I missing something here or has your opinion just changed in between the two posts?

    Thanks again for all your work.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Sorry for the confusion!

      Gibson is the better play. I want to have a little fun with my picks and I’m going a little bolder picking Caleb Smith instead to earn my streaming victory for the day.

  8. J.C. Mosier says:

    Lacking? “SP ROUNDUP” is daily required reading for me. (I, too, laughed at the “deep sleeper.”)

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