It’s Not Black And White

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

I’ve been incredibly reluctant to give favor to owning Jon Gray this season, putting him far down the initial List since I didn’t believe I could get to a point where I trusted him. Well, after today’s 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 4 BBs, 5 Ks against the Phils (in Coors!), I’m going to at least talk it out. Does this mean…no, well a little, well read the rest. So here’s the thing. He’s had five starts so far – three away against meh offenses and capitalized on all of those (Fish, Padres, Giants), while getting hit hard in Coors against the Dodgers. But this start changes things! Does it? His breakers were excellent – 13 whiffs on 50 thrown between them (26% swinging-strike rate!) – and I was actually impressed with his 96 mph heater today. He avoided the middle of the zone a good amount with it, nailing the glove-side edge a decent amount. So alright, I’m okay with Gray right now. It’s something. A small step forward. The 9% walk rate isn’t ideal, nor is the .231 BABIP and 86% LOB rates that are clearly due for regression, but so is the 19% HR/FB rate. Probably. Maybe it’s a 3.80 ERA with a 25% K rate and 1.20 WHIP at the end of the day. That’s okay, right? I still don’t flat out trust him and suggest caution moving forward, but let’s take this slow and see how it goes. He heads to Atlanta next and…yeah okay. Go for it. Small steps, right?

Let’s see how every other SP did Sunday:

Tyler Chatwood6.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. This is one of those lines that helps me remember one crucial part of baseball: everyone can be amazing if things go right. Each one of the pitchers in the majors is there for a specific reason. Chatwood had one of those days where he hit his spots, some luck went his way, and balls stayed in the yard. This can happen to anyone. You can make a case for any – yes any – pitcher to have a great game on a given night, or even season for that matter. We’re all about figuring out what the best chances to take are and which ones seem like a harder hill to climb. Anyway, Chatwood is bad and this is dumb.

Max Fried6.1 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks. Both runs came in the 7th – Careful Icarus – with baserunners coming on 92 mph heaters, slightly lower than the 93-94 he showcased through the night. Fried scares me a little as he relies a little too heavily on BIP – 29/101 CSW here – but when his tunneling works with heaters up and that massive deuce low, he can make for some stupid at-bats. Not to mention, he got a bit squeezed in this one. I don’t see Fried as a Top 30 asset this year – probably not even Top 40 – but keep riding him as he faces the Rockies in Atlanta next.

Daniel Norris5.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. You want me to be excited about Norris. Maybe this is the sleeper play that will save my team! No. Just six whiffs on 79 pitches as his fastball hovered 91 mph. There isn’t enough here to say this was a corner turned. Just an old fashioned One Night Bland. Isn’t that for dope pitchers who have one night of doing poorly? Oh, that might make a lot of sense. It was this definition of “a bad pitcher doing well for one night” then went to that one, then now back to this. I’m lost. So am I. Just don’t add Norris, k? cool.

James Paxton6.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 12 Ks. That’s two in a row from Big Maple, who clearly has figured out his command problems and gotten over the mental aspect of pitching in NYC. They really aren’t paying that sports psychologist enough. One more dominant start and I’ll give you your AGA label back.

Hansel Robles1.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 Hits, 0 BBs, 1 Ks. The Angels went the Opener route, naming Jaime Barria as today’s False Starter against the Mariners.  And it worked. Really well. 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 3Ks for Barria as you think, maybe, just maybe, there’s something here. There really isn’t but those needing innings from an RP slot could consider Barria as I expect the Angels to do this again.

Stephen Strasburg8.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 11 Ks. Ahhhhhh this is one of those times where you’re listening to a song you used to love and it just doesn’t click right away. The first 30 seconds are there, you know the words, but it’s just not hitting you like it used to. Then all of a sudden, This is what yoouuuu get. When you meeeessssss with usssssss. It’s nice to see you again, Stras. Seriously, 43/104 CSW?! Yeesh.

Joey Lucchesi5.2 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks. Lucchesi did a much better job in this outing in getting his Churve under the zone instead of down the middle and it earned him 11/37 whiffs with the pitch. That’s what’s up. I still don’t love his heater, but he took advantage of a struggling Reds offense and I think he should be fine against the Nats next.

Robbie Ray6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. It’s a bit subtle for Ray, but we’ll take a little change of pace once in a while from Ray after enduring the massive waves. His slider was way better today, earning 21/28 strikes with the pitch. Yes a lot of balls in play, but the slider is good enough that BIP generally mean outs off the pitch + the pitch was rarely hung here. Fastballs up as well, though still refinement needed on the curve. So don’t run away from the low strikeouts and 24/92 CSW, this is a swing in right direction that I think will be balanced into the strikeouts you want without the middling ratios moving forward.

Aaron Sanchez4.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks. Sanchez left this one with a “fingernail issue”, and in all honesty, this is fine. I guess. 

Brett Anderson2.2 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks. Oakland was a bad place to be for everyone as Anderson also left early, here dealing with an ankle injury. I know, your team is ruined.

Dylan Bundy6.0 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. The day after I wonder who would get the MFRBSPA, Bundy steps up to become the front-runner. The front-runner we all expected to be the front-runner, yet also expect to fall flat on his face this year. This is good, but we’re still oh-so-far away from trusting you.

Kyle Gibson6.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks. Solid rebound from Gibson, collecting his first strong start of the season…even if it was against the Orioles. He gets them again this week and I’ll start him again this week. 

Tyler Glasnow5.1 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks. Sure, not to ultra-dynamo-extreme-to-the-max outing, but a date with the Sawx often goes worse and this certainly helped. I’ll take it.

Clayton Kershaw6.0 IP, 2 ER, 2 Hits, 4 BBs, 7 Ks. I want to give praise to Kershaw here – 7 Ks, 1.00 WHIP, 3.00 ERA does nicely – but his 90 mph velocity and kinda shaky command don’t make me super confident in a full recovery. I really do miss those games that just blow you away. Yes, I did just look up his no-hitter. 40/107 CSW with a 93 mph heater, 73 mph curveball, and 86-87 slider. 22 Whiffs as well, the dude was good. Sigh.

Reynaldo Lopez6.0 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 8 Ks. Alright Nick, hit me. How was his slider/changeup? Solid! Ish! The breaker worked well – 20/34 for strikes, 11/34 CSW is just fine. Changeup…eh. 3/15 CSW, and only 7/15 for strikes. A little on the meh end. Fastball was phenomenal, though, and the Tigers don’t require your best to result in the best. I think this could have been bad against a good team, though, and I’m still shaky on ReyLo. Womp womp.

David Price5.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 10 Ks. The ratios are a bit higher than you like, but hot dang, that’s his third game with 7+ Ks in four thus far. It’s a stupid 11.25 K/9 & 1.88 BB/9 with a 2.85 FIP and you have to be happy with this pick.

Dereck Rodriguez5.2 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. Sure, that works. It’s not sparkling, but this certainly helps. Streaming Record: 14-9. You can’t really expect much more from D-Rod. You can D-Rop him now.

Chris Archer5.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks. Buster Posey messed up this outing, but it’s not like Archer and his 19/83 CSW was all that great otherwise. Fastball was over the middle plenty more than normal, changeups up, sliders up, RATIOS UP. Shrug it off, keep starting the man. Here’s to hoping that command returns.

Dakota Hudson5.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. Sure, the five Ks are cool and the WHIP is almost serviceable, but I feel like this is what we should expect most of the time. He’s just not that good.

Shelby Miller5.1 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. We want Miller to return in full form. Maybe one day.

Trevor Richards6.1 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks. Man, a slightly better PQS from Richards with 7 Ks isn’t so bad – he did get the Nats overall – but what astounds me is the 22 whiffs (Gallows Pole!) that included 5/20 whiffs on his curveball.

Jerad Eickhoff6.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 4 BBs, 8 Ks. I watched this one and while Eickhoff wasn’t polished, there’s hope in that deuce. I expect him to improve with more innings and gaining stamina for the later innings, turning into a sneaky play for 12-teamers. I wouldn’t be shocked if that K rate stays elevated, hovering 25% this year if you can believe it.

Mike Leake6.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. Well, yeah, this is Leake. He’s not named “stable piping” after all.

Jorge Lopez7.0 IP, 4 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. Cool to see some of the strikeouts, but the rest…yeah. I just don’t buy JorLo being the stable arm you want him to be. Not the worst deep league play, but I’m not touching it in 12-teamers. This was the Judge-less Yankees here.

Tyler Mahle6.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 9 Ks. Mahle understands pitching upstairs. The problem is he doesn’t have a breaker to complement it well. Don’t let the nine strikeouts fool you, Mahle earned just four whiffs on 28 secondary pitches. Yeah. I really want to buy into Mahle, I truly do, but I need more than the heater and he’s simply not there.

Noah Syndergaard5.0 IP, 4 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. Nothing like a 5.90 ERA from your #1 pitcher through his first five starts, amiright? Seriously, this BABIP and LOB problem is getting out of hand – .346 BABIP (hey, that’s like the .334 mark I talked about last year!) and 50% LOB clip are not right) – and on the positive side, he’s throwing four-seamers a ton more than sinkers now. He’s just not locating them up…and that’s a problem. He also struggled a bit with his slider today, though changeups and curveballs were solid. It just all seems off for whatever reason and as a fantasy owner not owning him, I’d love to jump in and steal him from a worried owner. This is going to normalize a bit. Maybe not all the way, but we’re still talking a Top ~10 arm. Maybe Corbin deserves the bump ahead, but that’s about it, honestly. It’s hard to hear “keep the faith” but it’s the best thing you can do right now.

Shane Bieber2.1 IP, 5 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. I felt bad for Bieber here as he got burned on some poor sequencing. Josh Donaldson knocked in four of these runs on two longballs, the first coming on the third straight slider…while the second at-bat off a high-heater that was clearly coming after a previous slider (Bieber tossed one slider, got a whiff from Donaldson, and had the mentality to “hey, I got burned before on doubling-up sliders, I’m going back to high heat.”). It didn’t start well in the third, leading to an early hook and a massive hit of “regression” – yes in quotes – in one outing. I still love the guy and don’t judge him too harshly for this one.

Brandon Woodruff5.2 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks. I mean, we’ve all given up on Woodruff, right? Yes, he was the wrong horse to bet on early, sorry, I hoped it would work out. It didn’t, we moved on last week or even earlier. You know the rules and so do I.

Collin McHugh3.1 IP, 9 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks. Jeeeeeeez I was just loving McHugh a ton and then THIS?! A moment of silence for all those that lost their weeks on this outing. McHugh’s fastball was terrible, resulting in an increased focus on his slider…which got way too much of the plate way too often. It was terrible, it was bad, it was a no good day in Arlington and it’s going to lead to a lot of drops. Good, go get him after. This outing is going to make all his ratio stats inflated for a good while and you take advantage of it. He hosts the Indians next and I’d start him there. It’s not easy to do, I get it, but everyone has these days. Everyone. Oh, almost forgot! Just one strikeout?! HAISTFMFWT?!

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.

Mike Minor vs. Oakland Athletics – I’m not a fan of the options here and Minor’s scaling up.


Tomorrow’s Streamer


Luke Weaver vs. Pittsburgh Pirates – I think he should be owned in 12-teamers at this point, so grab and hold here.


Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer


Jordan Lyles vs. Arizona Diamondbacks – This isn’t me being a massive Lyles fan, but he should be able to handle the snakes, right?


Game of the Day


Matt Boyd vs. Chris Sale – Sale’s velocity returned, will his command follow? And Boyd got bumped to the tough Sawx offense, will he step up? FIND OUT AT 7:00.


(Photo by Kevin Abele/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 “It’s Not Black And White”

  1. Kyeonghan says:

    Hey Nick! I love this article and waiting every days.
    There is a typo error “w ER” at the Fried paragraph.

  2. Manley Ramirez says:

    Woah, major Woodruff backlash. He faced a top offense and didn’t’ get annihilated and still got you those Ks. His periphs are quite good. Meanwhile Woodruff’s older, broken version, Pineda, gets shelled by the Blue Jays and you preach patience.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Huh, I’m a little surprised that you disagree about Woodruff. We’ve been off this train for a bit now, no?

      This is the third in four games for Woodruff. A little different situation from Pineda’s. I wouldn’t say they are *so* far off, though.

  3. Clayton says:

    Hello, Nick! Reading your post over breakfast in Roma and loving everything (except that McHugh start. Woof.)
    Curious regarding who you’d prefer ROS: Eflin or Eickoff? And your thoughts behind that consideration.
    Thanks brother!

    • Nick Pollack says:

      I think I’m leaning Eickhoff at this point, but they are definitely close.

      Eickhoff seems a little riskier but has a stronger K upside with his curveball. I’d rather chase that than what Eflin brings to the table.

  4. Jason says:

    Montas or soroka?

  5. Jason says:

    Sorry, pick 2 of 3. Montas, fried, or soroka. Thanks.

  6. Tal says:

    Playing in a 12 teams 7*7 (ip , qs, k, k9, whip, era, svhd) 40 man roster dynasty league. Nick pivetta just got dumped. Would you drop Aaron Sanchez to pick him up or just drop them both for an open spot to pick someone with a good match up or a random svhd guy (Kela just got dumped to the waivers as well)

    • Nick Pollack says:

      I’d do the latter. No need to pick up Pivetta right now and Sanchez can be replaced with a streamer.

  7. Aaron Hadley says:

    +1 for the Radiohead reference

  8. Chucky says:

    Thoughts on a rage trade? Subscribing to the Branch Rickey theory of trading a player a year too early vs a year too late…..Scherzer, Keller and Renato for Bieber, Ray and Matt Chapman

    • Nick Pollack says:

      If you need the depth, that’s a fair deal. In multi-player deals, I often want the best player, though, and would hold Scherzer.

  9. bp says:

    Nola for Syndergaard swap…who would you rather have ROS?

  10. Perfect Game says:

    Hey Nick. I have a trade offer where I get Nola in return for Glasnow and Clint Frazier. I’m leery about Nola and don’t think he’s right. His strand rate is low and BABIP a little high, but there’s a little dip in velo; HR/9; BB/9, hard hit balls, FIP; xFIP and SIERRA don’t look good. Is he a top 10 SP?

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