How Did This Happen

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

I liked J. A. Happ entering this year and made him a target in drafts, falling toward the 14th round and becoming a solid 4th SP. Or so I thought. Last nights 4.0 IP, 6 ER, 9 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks was the fourth of four highly disappointing outings for the Yankee southpaw and it’s time to make a decision. Hold him. What?! I know, I know. I was actually expecting to tell you to drop him and send him through the moon door, but hear me out. He gets the Angels, Royals, and Giants next, his near .400 BABIP and 20%+ HR/FB rates will come down (14 hit per nine?!), he’s still getting a good amount of whiffs on his four-seamer, and I just don’t think he’s close to this bad. But Nick! He faced the Orioles twice, and now the ChiSox! How can we bank on him against bad opponents? Great question, that second start wasn’t so bad and I’m okay if you don’t buy what I’m selling. I guess I see an arm that had a few bad starts. Fine. The skills are still there and he has a good chance to recover against middling offenses. That’s a lot better than a good amount that’s on your wire and I’m going to tough it out, throwing a three-start sample to the wind.

Let’s see how every other SP did Friday:

Ryne Stanek2.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks. Chirinos came in and allowed 6 ER in 2.1 innings. Stay away from the openers/false starters in Tampa. Please.

Jake Arrieta7.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks. 38/108 CSW for Arrieta, pounding the zone often and effectively with his sinker. That pitch will do damage if he can zoom it into the zone often – especially when his changeup is thrown for 19/20 strikes. YOU READ THAT RIGHT. Unreal. I guess the Marlins bring out the best in you, you know? I’m kinda buying into Arrieta here as this was the best feel I’ve seen from him for a long time

Chad Bettis4.2 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. Bettis is the worst starter in Coors. Think about that.

Patrick Corbin7.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 11 Ks. Aces gonna ace. Corbin has the AGA label, right? He should be given how he’s been solid as nearly every other starter has fallen to some degree. He’s rising a bit this week, yes ahead of Taillon.

Cole Hamels8.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks. On one hand, 36/106 CSW is wonderful and things are great. On the other, there were so many hittable pitches here against a Trout-and-Upton-less lineup and I just can’t take it seriously. And he gets the Marlins next, so I guess we’re just being silly for another week.

Brad Keller6.2 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 5 BBs, 10 Ks. I think it’s time to acknowledge something that’s legit happening right now. The opposing team matters a whole lot more than in previous seasons. I’m not joking about this, some offenses are stupid good – Brewers, Dodgers, A’s, Astros, Cubs, Phils, Rays, Nats, Braves – and some are so overwhelmingly bad – Giants, Tigers, Indians, Marlins, Jays, Orioles, Angels, Pirates, Royals. We should be focusing on those matchups as much as possible in the next month and recalibrate the pitchers with the real skills in a few weeks. Okay, about Keller now, this start…this really impressed me. Look his strikezone plot. Yes, this is EXACTLY what I want from, well, everyone. Heat up, breakers low. Props to Keller for executing this despite lacking electric stuff, less props for doing it against the Indians. It might get a little tougher now against the ChiSox (they aren’t that bad of an offense!) and the Rays, and I’m a little interested to sell high as the games against the Indians and Tigers are in the far distance now. Still, I was wrong about Keller’s impact early and if he keeps pitching like this, he should still have success.

Chris Paddack5.1 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. 12 whiffs are solid here, but Paddack is struggling to put guys away still – 25 fouls in 88 pitches is on the higher end – and I’m with Fast here, I think Paddack is going to be a 25% strikeout rate at best. He’ll induce weak contact and make lives hard for batters, but he’s not going to become that Top 15 arm ever without that ridiculous breaker. Maybe if he actually puts heat above the zone he could squeeze out a bit more and I’m not complaining – I like Paddack! – just temper expectations.

Drew Pomeranz5.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. Ehhhhh, he’s not throwing cutters like the old days and earned just 23/83 CSW. That’s not great. The Rockies are struggling on the road again – Rocky Road from last year! – and The Dirty Cheerleader took advantage of it. Not something I’d really buy into.

Wade LeBlanc4.2 IP, 2 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. If you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention.

Eduardo Rodriguez6.2 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 8 Ks. This is what happens when The Uni has a great feel for his changeup. Seriously, look at this and notice how perfectly placed the green dots are at the low-and-away corner of the strikezone. It’s unreal. That’s his best pitch and even when that cutter/slider isn’t developing like we want it to and his fastball command isn’t pristine, if he does that, he’ll take advantage of a team like the O’s. That’s the thing, though. If that changeup isn’t demolishing, it’s a bad day. I’m still leaning out on Edu, but I understand taking your chances against the Rays to get the Tigers after as well. This isn’t the “turning point” start, though, as his changeup has always been the money pitch. It’s about the heater and slutter and those aren’t here yet. Enjoy the Gallows Pole with 21 whiffs, by the way.

Luke Weaver6.1 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 8 Ks. Sigourney!!! Weaver!!! Finally the man has himself a game we’ve been holding out for since the off-season. So what was it Nick? Cutters working? Great fastball/changeup command? Well, none of that, honestly. Okay fine, good changeups – 7/23 whiffs – but not a whole lot of dominance here. Things worked a bit better and a few things went his way. He put himself in a position where things could go well, and they did. I wouldn’t bank on it against the Braves next time out, but the Pirates is worth the pickup.

Zack Wheeler6.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 8 Ks. Okay, we can all BREATHE now. It still wasn’t pristine fastball command from Wheeler – he struggled to hit arm-side a good amount, but he found the zone a ton and his stuff is good enough to survive while doing so. Sure, a 1.50 WHIP isn’t what we’re searching for – there’s another gear left to go – but we needed this in a big way after what we saw last weekend. If the window hasn’t closed yet to buy-low, I’d be chasing it still.

Trevor Williams6.1 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks. And Williams continues defying all odds. Vargas Rule it to death, he’s a Grave Mistake waiting to happen, but sure, just go with it til he asks why you’re following him and you mutter back like a confused Homer Simpson “I don’t know…”

David Hess5.2 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks. David handed you a Philly and you were disappointed even when you expected nothing against the Red Sox. He survived this time, but remember kids, for disappointment this year, the Hess truck’s here!

Wade Miley4.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks. You own Miley because he could pitch through five frames at decent ratios and possibly earn a Win. So what in the lord’s name is this?

Lucas Giolito5.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 4 BBs, 6 Ks. 28/102 CSW with just 5 whiffs on secondary pitches. Meh. Only 3/11 curveballs earned a strike, and while his fastball is actually doing good work + a little bad luck in the first, the polish isn’t there to buy that Giolito has completely figured it out. Yes, he’s made a step forward, but there’s more work to be done. Here’s to hoping he gets there and can take advantage of the weak AL Central division.

Tyler Skaggs4.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks. Blegh. He started going up with heaters a little bit like last year – that’s where the 7 Ks are coming from! – but he’s also landing too far in the middle of the zone was too often, leading to the three longballs in this one. I do believe it’s a step in the right direction with the approach, just a little more execution to follow. He heads to Texas next that might amplify these HRs, but hosting the Yanks and heading to KC after might work out well.

Drew Smyly5.0 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. Scrunch your face a lot as if you’re disappointed and don’t want to be here anymore. Congrats, you’ve just made a Smyly face.

Corbin Burnes4.1 IP, 5 ER, 9 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. Fine y’all YOU WIN. It’s not easy to give up on a guy you see legit talent in, but Burnes isn’t there yet. So let him sit on the wire, pass by his Dodgers start (why are they facing the Dodgers twice in two weeks?!) and maybe return for two starts against the Mets. But dang, there are too many good teams on the future schedule for the Brew Crew, I really didn’t pick up on that before. That’s on me. As far as his actual stuff, the heater was low, and he watched it go. Just do the Keller, Burnes!

Trent Thornton3.0 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. Womp womp. A dark horse sleeper with decent breakers got hammered in this one. His fastball command is far from what you’re looking for and while I can see him as a decent stream option moving forward, nights like this one against good offenses – the Rays here – are going to be a whole lot of roses in your side. Think like a ton of thorns painful. No idea why that’s the image I’m giving you. Not a clue. 

Julio Urias5.0 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. Blegh. I absolutely love Urias the season he gets at least 150 frames, but right now, he’s facing some tough teams and not figuring it out. So I’m conflicted that he gets the Brewers again. I think you have to sit it out right now.

Sandy Alcantara5.0 IP, 6 ER, 11 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. Yep, that’s the Cherry Bomb nature of Alcantara. It really shows how doing incredibly well in your first start of the season really doesn’t mean much, does it.

Carlos Carrasco0.2 IP, 6 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks. It was freezing in Kansas City and Carrasco just couldn’t handle it. Carry on, but hot dang, NO ONE IS SAFE.

Mike Fiers5.0 IP, 6 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. Where there’s Smoak there’s Fiers. Smoak wasn’t in this game. Well neither was Fiers because he was LOST. Ayyyy—What was that loud noise? That was me. Dropping the Mike. AYYYYYYY.

Kyle Wright3.2 IP, 6 ER, 8 Hits, 4 BBs, 3 Ks. This kills the Wright. Fire up your Max Friedbecause I imagine Fried will look great against the Diamondbacks and push Wright out of the rotation when Mike Foltynewicz returns over the weekend. That means we have about one more start left for Wright – it should be decent, FWIW against the Diamondbacks. Streaming Record: 8-7.

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.

Merrill Kelly vs. San Diego Padres – I could also go with Caleb Smithbut he faces the Phils in a harder matchup, making Kelly the safer play. Those that are searching for strikeouts should favor Smith, though. With Friday’s rainout, Michael Pineda was moved to Saturday and becomes my favorite streaming option against the Tigers. Still like Kelly, just want Pineda a little more.


Tomorrow’s Streamer


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.


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.


Game of the Day


Matt Strahm vs. Merrill Kelly – Please please please. Also, hey! It’s Caleb Ferguson starting!


(Photo by Nick Wosika/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 “How Did This Happen”

  1. Bartolo says:

    Nick, who do you think takes LeBlanc’s spot in the rotation if he’s out for a while?

  2. AbnerLofton says:

    Would you drop Stripling with next two matchups scheduled against Brewers, to stream a Kelly or German today?

  3. John E. says:

    Made a Burnes for Kelly swap this morning. Dropping Pablo and Burnes in the same week has a tear down my cheek.

  4. Chris says:

    Wright’s command is so tough to watch, but I can see the potential in the pitches if he ever locates them. Is he worth holding in a 12 team keeper league or dropping for someone pitching now like Mahle or Roark?

  5. Greasy says:

    Hey Nick. Im trying to decide who to drop in my 12 team H2H league to pick up a streamer. Pivetta and Eovaldi have been straight up garbage so far. I also have German who has been great but is already being skipped this turn. What do you think?

  6. theKraken says:

    Yeah, man. The bottom dwellers are worse than they have ever been. I can’t imagine how bad some of these teams are going to be once the hot starts fade and a few injuries exploit the lack of talent and commitment to winning. Its a problem that we should all acknowledge – there isn’t going to be a productive rebuild for most of these teams. It is scary to think that there are several bad teams playing over their heads right now – the group of bad teams will grow by season’s end. The more you think about it (not recommended), the worse it all is. When a significant chunk of the teams are not trying to win or build, but run a team as profitable as possible, then the mediocre (bad) teams are going to win games. This is truly an era where all you have to do is try and you have a good shot at going .500 – see TB. It really illustrates how bad the bottom is if you think about it like that.

    If this were a dynasty league I think we would need to kick out some owners. If this were a dynasty league we might let the teams that are not competing or rebuilding stay with the rationale that they are paying and we will take their money…. the problem is that we are paying for their buy-in! They are winning at their real goal which is making money. We could try to hold them accountable or not. This is where things like Statcast actually make the problem worse as teams can pretend that there is more going on than playing baseball games – its a convenient smokescreen for those teams interested in nothing more than stuffing their pockets full of cash. We even applaud them for doing so using terms like “smart” and buying into every gimmick that they deploy. Think about how easy it would be to appease the growing saber-inclined crowd… one 5 minute phone interview with a few terms like analytics, EV, LA and barrels is really all it would take to put a positive spin on anything. Heck you could just hire a known writer for an undetermined purpose… The upside is that our fantasy SP get some good match-ups! MLB is heading down a bad path, we don’t have to celebrate it.

  7. Scott says:

    It is hard to hold happ, but I am with you. My question is how long of a leash do we give him? 1 or 2 more starts? The issues go back to the spring for happ too. Last year sonny gray stayed on teams too long too. Is this a another gray situation?

  8. Ionescorhino says:

    Drop Turnbull for Weaver?

  9. Mike says:

    Arrieta had ZERO swinging strikes in seven innings against the Twins last start. I really wouldn’t buy into a night against the Marlins until he can repeat it at least once.

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