Is Brandon Good or Rough?

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

I was a bit in on Brandon Woodruff in the pre-season – I chose Corbin Burnes over him – then the season started and I was out on Woodruff. Now he’s stabilized over his last four starts, including last night’s 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 5 BBs, 5 Ks against the Phils and I guess I’m back in? Kinda? I mean, how could I not in this landscape? He’s boasting a fantastic 29% strikeout rate, 3.64 SIERA, and a digestible 8% walk rate. So here’s the thing about Woodruff that still makes me hesitate. He has a .352 BABIP and a 10% HR/FB rate, explaining the 3.72 ERA/2.98 FIP gap a bit and I’m not entirely sure how we should think about that. His repertoire consists of a good heater that has its days…and others where its command is far from pristine. His slider is good, but not great, and his changeup has had some whiff success, but I don’t believe will be a consistent offering. It makes me wonder if that high BABIP is something that will stick around – his four-seamer finds the zone nearly 63% of the time and batters can sit dead-red on the pitch often…which means that 0.74 HR/9 just doesn’t seem realistic inside Miller Park. I’m a bit lost here. I want to so badly be all over a major strikeout threat and rejoin this bandwagon in full. The metrics suggest it Nick! I also think this is a bit like a Nick Pivetta case of being too hittable where he flashes the ceiling but will be a Cherry Bomb when all is said and done. I guess keep rolling for now and cross our fingers everything works out.

Let’s see how every other SP did Tuesday:

Carlos Carrasco7.0 IP, 0 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks. Aces gonna ace. Those wondering why Cookie was still Top 15 after his ~5.50 ERA two weeks ago should understand that he’s now hovering a 4.00 ERA and will likely be around 3.75 in a few weeks. This is what Carrasco does, allow 4 HRs one game, then goose eggs for a stretch.

Charlie Morton6.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks. I haven’t heard much talk about Morton this season but that 2.32 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, and 30% strikeout rate deserves a lot more attention. Sure, I expect that to be around a 3.00+ ERA or so as he pitches fewer than 25 games, but still! He’s winning weeks for many and is the silent killer with the highest CB usage of his career at 35% (29% last year) while featuring a decent slider 10% of the time out of nowhere. Wonderful stuff.

Joe Musgrove7.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. Phew. I know it was a hard sell last week that Musgrove was going to be fine and this was one of the smoother starts you’ll see, needing just 75 pitches to get through seven frames. It’s like the BABIP Gods looked down and threw Musgrove a freakin’ bone here. 31% CSW is all good, fewer sliders but well-placed four-seamers at 92/93 (good velocity!) and we’re back on track.

Cam Bedrosian1.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 0 Ks. Cam opened for Felix Pena, who went 5 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. Meh, he didn’t get a Win given that Cam blew this one and you feel like Pena was just a waste of a roster spot this week. It’s gonna happen a lot.

Kyle Hendricks8.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks. The Prof is so legit right now. 1 ER allowed total in four of his last five starts. He’s not even blowing guys away, just nimbly putting pitches where he wants to. Keep on keepin’ on.

Mike Leake6.2 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. Hey, I’m proud of Leake from having the worst Hr/9 among starters to just the 6th worst now. Atta boy. Don’t do anything silly, y’all.

Chris Sale7.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 17 Ks. Hahahahaha. What. Aces gonna ace. Who cares about velocity and approach, right? To the Top 5 you go, I guess. What should that Top 5 look like anyway? It’s a mix of Scherzer, Sale, deGrom, Verlander, Bauer, Snell, Cole and honestly in whatever order you want at this point. We can debate it a ton, Sale is obviously up there and life is good for those that stuck with it. I’m so happy this coin flip landed on this side because it’s clearly the most entertaining one. Enjoy that Gallows Pole with a 24 whiffs you filthy animal (50/108 CSW! FIFTY!).

Caleb Smith5.1 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks. THE MAN CAN’T BE STOPPED. Aces gonna ace. You know, it’s kinda weird. I’ve fallen for a lot of arms in my day and Smith, well, he doesn’t pass the eye test as convincingly as others. Yet there he is, earning 18 whiffs on 106 pitches, good for a 16.5% overall swinging-strike rate (that’s stupid high) and a 35% K rate, fanning at least eight batters in his fifth straight game. So who cares, the man is clearly killing it.

Noah Syndergaard8.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. This is getting WILD. How many sliders do you think Thor threw in this game? As you mull on that, I’ll note he had just 7 whiffs on 102 pitches, with no pitch exceeding two on its own. He continued his changeup heavy approach, throwing the pitch 75% of the time for a strike and his overall 31/102 CSW is fine. Okay ready? He threw just one slider all game. This is crazy. Ridiculous. Paired with his deuce, that’s 2/15 CSW for breakers. Yeaaaaaah. You guys know me. I don’t blindly jump on good lines, nor do I universally hate on poor lines. I want to be thrilled for Thor, I really do, but this isn’t the guy we’ve been waiting for. The swings-and-misses aren’t there, his unreal slider is gone, and he’s still not jamming batters on either side of the plate. Things went his way here against the Nationals and I’m seeing what I can get on the market.

Trent Thornton5.2 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 5 BBs, 7 Ks. Our Call Boy served us a Philly, but we’ll take the Win and seven Ks, easily. Streaming Record: 26-18. You know what’s wild? Thornton through just 30 four-seamers in 102 pitches, with 36 curveballs, 24 sliders, and 12 changeups. LOVE IT.

Jack Flaherty6.0 IP, 3 ER, 3 Hits, 5 BBs, 6 Ks. Are we okay with a PQS from Flaherty? I guess so? His slider is just a bit off at the moment, close to the zone, but not close enough. Meanwhile, he doesn’t have a third pitch to save him in those times he doesn’t have that slide piece and I think we might see some more struggles. Not a death sentence and Flaherty could awaken in a heartbeat like he did last year, but there’s a reason for these meh starts.

Kyle Freeland6.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks. Hey, we’ll take seven strikeouts and a PQS from Freeland, especially in Beantown. He leaned heavily into his slider – 45/104 sliders thrown! – and it returned 11 whiffs along the way, helping him boast an impressive 18 spot for the night. Much better job jamming fastballs inside to RHB as well and maybe this is a turning point for Freeland. I’m monitoring closely again.

Kyle Gibson5.2 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. Just a Philly and one out from a near VPQS? Ehhhhh, I want a little better to help keep me on the Gibson train, especially when he earned just six whiffs in this start, zero on his changeup. It was nine on his changeup alone last time out! He’ll get another shot at the Halos next time, I’d spin the wheel again.

Clayton Kershaw7.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. Aces gonna ace. I love how Kershaw showed up today to put the young Sherriff in his place. Kinda, that sounds harsh, I just like the idea of Kershaw stepping up to keep his crown in this era of youngin’s taking all the fame. Anyway, it’s not a ridiculous TATIAGA start, but we’ll take this.

Chris Paddack4.2 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. Womp womp. Paddack has been pointing to some regression and while I completely understand all the hype from last week’s outing against the Mets, the Dodgers are, like, actually legit. Just the second game of the year allowing a HR (two again!), and what might surprise y’all is that he actually held a low .200 BABIP here. There’s more regression to come. Seriously, that .179 BABIP is hilarious. Anyway, I still put Paddack inside the Top 25 and don’t plan to move him. He’s just not a Top 10 stud, that’s all. If you didn’t sell last week, probably hold for his next one and sell then. The hype will rise again, I’m sure.

Tanner Roark5.0 IP, 3 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. 30% CSW with 15/86 whiffs is a wonderful thing from Roark against the Cubs, can’t say I really expect him to live this well off his heaters and slider a ton more, though. And yes, “live this well” includes that horrible 1.80 WHIP and 5.40 ERA.

Nick Vincent1.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 0 Ks. The Giants elected to open for Tyler Beede and it kinda worked? Beede only tossed 2.1 frames, so it doesn’t really matter. Well, at least Holland got a clean frame for the top half of the ninth in a 7-3 game. Way to go bud.

Luke Weaver6.0 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. I’ve been a bit hyped on Weaver lately and a VPQS isn’t exactly what we wanted, but his approach was still there. Changeups low, heaters up, cutters for strikes. Trust the process, you want Weaver.

Brett Anderson6.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. Sure, whatever Brett.

Danny Duffy5.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. That ERA is terrible and a 19/107 CSW is an atrocity as he hosted the Rangers in KC. Sorry Duffy, we’re going to have to wait longer for us to get on board. Not the worst AL-Only lottery pick, though.

Wade Miley6.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. Here’s the thing. He still got the Win. It’s why you own Miley and sure, he’s going to give you a VPPS (that works, right?) because we knew this wouldn’t be a completely smooth road.

Manny Banuelos4.0 IP, 5 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks. I can see art appraisers looking at this line centuries later. “Is this work of Manny Banny?” “Yes, it’s uncanny. See the torture in the ratios?” “Ah yes, and I see the planny falling apart here…and here.” “Outstanny work.”

Jerad Eickhoff4.0 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks. Bleeeeeggggggh. He really didn’t have fastball command in this one and it went south in a hurry, beginning with a three-run tate to Yasmani GrandalI don’t expect Eickhoff to live down here often, but this is the floor. It’s not a fun place. Hold, don’t drop.

Jeremy Hellickson5.0 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 4 BBs, 3 Ks.  Did you bring The Devil into your village and let him burn it down? WHY?!

Ryan Carpenter4.0 IP, 7 ER, 9 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks. As it was foretold, the Carpenter’s ratios have risen once again.

Mike Foltynewicz4.2 IP, 8 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks. The fastball is not touching upper 90s like it should and his slider is far from saving him like it used to. It added up to a paltry 22/99 CSW and you’re wondering if you should drop. Probably not? Yes, he’s struggling a ton now, but this shouldn’t be a lost season for Folty. Hold if you can as I’m giving him a TIARA. Be warned, it might not come til June, though. 

Shelby Miller1.2 IP, 8 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks. I’m beginning to wonder if Bud Light is thrilled to know that everyone collectively groans when they hear “It’s Miller Time!” The dude can’t even avoid a HAISTFMFWT?! anymore.


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.


Gio Gonzalez vs. Philadelphia Phillies – I’d bet “the field” if I could here as I hate the options today. But here’s Gio and I guess there’s a chance he pulls it off again. Yay.


Tomorrow’s Streamer


Lance Lynn vs. Kansas City Royals – There are few games and a lot of bleeeeeegh. So I’ll take Lynn’s strikeout upside against the lowly Royals.


Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer


Merrill Kelly vs. San Francisco Giants We’re running low on streaming options these days and we’ve seen Kelly do well as he gets the poor Giants. Hooo boy.


Game of the Day


Yu Darvish vs. Sonny Gray – Can either of these starters figure it out?


(Photo by Gavin Baker/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.

18 responses to “Is Brandon Good or Rough?”

  1. Andrew Wass says:

    Great write-up! Someone dropped Severino in a very shallow points league, wondering if I snag him. Not sure how late after All Star break he returns but I assume he’s a top 15 pitcher when he’s back. I have Glasnow in the IL right now (not sure what’s going on with that forearm) so I could drop him or stash Severino on the bench. I have a 2SP that’s currently occupied by Turnbull so that’s what I’d have to drop. Thoughts>

    • Doug B. says:

      Severino has BOTH a lat strain AND rotator cuff “inflammation.” First point – inflammation is a symptom, not an injury, so the cause of that inflammation is either not known or not being shared. Second, lat strains are serious issues for pitchers, lats are a HUGE muscle that is crucial for generating velo, and they take FOREVER to heal.

      read this on lat strains – https://ericcressey(dot)com/pitching-injuries-lat-strains

      I’d leave Sevy out there on the wire if I were you, he might not be back for a long, long time, and when he does return, he might not be the guy you’re expecting.

      BTW, Glasnow just has a mild forearm strain, he should be fine pretty soon.

  2. Greg says:

    Need more on Syndergaard. Why is his slider gone?

    • Nick Pollack says:

      He hasn’t had a good feel for it this year. Says the baseball “feels like an ice cube”.

      • Doug B says:

        Not disagreeing, but that was weeks ago, and the weather has been shit for his starts so far… Do you see any reason to hope for more with better weather?

  3. Vinny aka PitcherList_SuperFan says:

    Hey Nick!

    Do you lean Darvish tonight or Canning on Saturday against the royals? (12 team points)

  4. JerryOnDrums says:

    Yo Nick! Sit one of these guys for the rest of the week: Nola, Bieber, or Soroka. Thx man as usual!

    • Nick Pollack says:

      I think Nola despite the solid matchup. Love Soroka and Bieber for their next starts (even against STL for Soroka!).

  5. Andrew S says:

    Easy to dismiss Flaherty just looking at the numbers but he wasn’t hit hard and all runs were allowed in the 5th following a 6 run inning by the Cardinals. Outside of that inning where he was out of the groove after a long time off the mound he was really solid. I think he’s a buy low and could TIARA quickly

  6. theKraken says:

    Is the AGA on Smith serious? I get that this has been a rough year for SP, but that shuoldn’t lower the bar for ace-hood. Remember that the reason the peanut gallery exists is because of your judgement. Being overly reactive is a bad idea as I am sure you know based on years of work. As your readership grows, you are going to get more transient fans. Transient fans have one thing in common – a lack of perspective. They champion for every idea they have because they have not been around long enough to know that flashes in the pan happen all the time and frankly they don’t know what they are looking at – they did read a very convincing article at Fangraphs or Fantrax though! The transient fan doesn’t understand the big picture… but they love their guy or their team. I am glad they are reading and I hope that they stuck around and learn, but I have noticed that the vocal ones don’t – they tend to move on to the next fad. Is this a rant about Smith or the comment section? I’m not sure!

    • Lion says:

      I somewhat agree On Smith. Ive own smith last two years. Not arguing really what he is doing right now, and not wanting to chase a fad. but the AGA label being given quickly to some and wait and see for others. Ex: caleb smith vs german marquez. Not saying either one is ranked or deserving over the other. Just pointing out that what marquez did to end last year was 5x longer and more impressive than caleb smith this year. So I would assume the same risk and argument should be made with Smith? Still needs to prove over time? Am I missing something with Smith? Need more explanation to know where his value is, on trade market. I figured he is a perfect trade high, but now is he a top 15 for the rest of the year?

      • theKraken says:

        Trade him high I’d say!. When you see someone over-ranked, you can’t ask for a better time to sell.

  7. Soxy Thing says:

    I wouldn’t overthink things with Woodruff. Look at this schedule leading up to the All Star Break: @Atl, Phil, @Pit, Pit, @SF, @SD, Sea, Pit, @Pit. Then, Brewers first series out of the break is at home against SF. I wan’t that everywhere.

  8. d says:

    RE: Thor’s Slider

    Also Re Thor… do you trade him for Moncada straight up in a 10 team 5×5 redraft?

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