Jake It Til You Make It

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

(Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

I don’t talk about Jake Arrieta all too much these days, but after last night’s 7.1 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks we need to take a moment to consider his actual value. With a name like Arrieta – strong Basque ancestry – coming with a 2.59 ERA and 1.06 WHIP, you’d think the market is booming for the fella. Thing is, his 16.5% K rate means Arrieta has averaged under four strikeouts per game. That’s rough. His whiffs have declined once again as six whiffs here from Arrieta in 101 pitches creates a 6.3% whiff rate overall for 2018. It’s not like he’s getting so many called strikes to counteract this either, as his CSW was just 25 here and you have to consider that this is the perfect time to sell high. I don’t rank Arrieta too highly because of the Ks (and secondary pitches are just not what they used to be making me think they won’t return), but I think this one of those occasions where I differ plenty from the perception among the common league. Take advantage of it.

Let’s see how every other SP did Friday:

Cole Hamels – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks. This is all kinds of impressive against the Astros, relying heavily on his curveball to do the dirty work and gave you a beautiful QS with 5 Ks. It’s been nine starts now and Hamels hasn’t slowed down, with a 3.48 ERA, 25.1% K rate (12.0% whiff rate!), and digestible 1.28 WHIP. He has to purge a career high 9.3% BB rate and induce better contact – 43.7% hard, 14.8% soft – for me to really get on board, but I think you Vargas Rule this and that’s cool.

Matt Harvey – 4.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks. Clearly the Mets didn’t have a Harvey problem, but Harvey had a Mets problem. Mr. Dent flipped sides and the BABIP gods shone from the heavens, allowing just 1 hit on 11 balls in play. Don’t buy into this unless you enjoy pain.

Jameson Taillon – 3.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. So Taillon was having one his best starts and suddenly his middle finger started bleeding. Just wonderful. I imagine he starts again next time and while I’m not nearly as high on Taillon as I used to be – his curveball isn’t being used as a K weapon and he isn’t developing a third option like I anticipated he would – he’s still in the Top 55 for a reason. Keep rolling with him.

Luke Weaver – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. I’m a bit hesitant to buy into this rebound as his curveball was pretty blegh and he relied a bit on solid BABIP to squeeze out five innings – 92 pitches in 18 outs shows off the lack of dominance despite a 0 ER mark and 1.00 WHIP. I want a little better against the Pads, though I think you’re okay starting him against the Phils if you need the start next week. It’s a step forward today, but there should still be some concern.

Kendall Graveman – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. I’m pretty impressed with Graveman pulling this off against the Yankees. It’s a One Night Bland, though and if you expect him to do it again, you’ll be making a Grave Mistake.

Steven Matz – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 4 BBs, 3 Ks. Huh. Well this is something interesting. Matz’s curveball is still super meh, his changeup took the reigns in this one and pushed him to earn a solid 34 CSW over 95 pitches – 25 called strikes being the biggest push. I’m still not a believer in his 25%+ K rate when he holds a sub 8% whiff rate (I know, the high called strikes rate, but I don’t totally buy that argument), while the .238 BABIP with just 11.5% soft contact induced is outright stupid. Expect the 7.16 H/9 to rise as his 3.86 ERA turns more into his 5.51 FIP/4.19 SIERA as the strikeouts fall, especially considering the 4.7 IPS that is as bad you’ll see anywhere. That doesn’t make for a guy I want to roll with in a 12-teamer, sadly.

Max Scherzer – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 11 Ks. Aces gonna ace. I’m at peace with Scherzer at #1 and it feels weird, not gonna lie.

Justin Verlander – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks. Aces gonna ace. You’re so lovely when you don’t struggle early in the year.

Tyler Chatwood – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 5 BBs, 6 Ks. Nothing screams TEEs like a sub 5.4 IPS, 5.65 SIERA, 19.3% walk rate, and 14.9% soft contact. But his 3.35 ERA! Right. That’s the whole point.

Kevin Gausman – 7.1 IP, 2 ER, 11 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks. Did you notice that Gausman has a 2.30 ERA and 1.11 WHIP on the year if we axe his first start of the season? Sure, this seven-start run comes with a sub 20% K rate, but hot damn I’ll take this from Gausman. Too bad I have to bench him against the Sawx next though, totally game after that.

Aaron Sanchez – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks. Good to see near 2/3 strikes from Sanchez while throwing over 50% curveballs for strikes as well. Still not fully there, but it’s a step in the right direction, especially against the Sawx.

Tyler Skaggs – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks. Skaggs just can’t stop. Wanna know the real reason for his success this year? A sinker that he’s suddenly throwing 15% of the time and has already earned a 2.5 pVal. Well that and a changeup that is suddenly not sucking. Thing is, 10.5% soft contact is incredibly troubling and I don’t innately believe that those pitches have gotten a whole lot better. I know, I know, I sound like a hater and I can’t admit when I’m wrong etc. Y’all know I’d jump on this hype train in a second if I believed it – look at Gerrit Cole’s ranking now! – I just…I just can’t do it yet.

Dan Straily – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks. Alright alright, Straily had a DLH last time, now he did some work against the Braves. Still not buying but I can understand this chase in an NL-Only league.

Matt Koch – 8.0 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. This production is as boring as the production line of a cracker factory. Yeah, I’m looking at you, Mr. Van Houten.

Chris Sale – 9.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 15 Ks. Aces gonna ace as Sale earned another Gallows Pole with 26 whiffs to his name. Nothing like throwing 53 sliders in 116 pitches with a 47 CSW overall.

Trevor Bauer – 4.2 IP, 4 ER, 11 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. Bauer still had 15 whiffs in this one, but he got Singled Out a bit and his slider wasn’t nearly as good as we’ve seen. So it goes, keep the faith with Bauer and I’d buy low.

Lance Lynn – 4.2 IP, 4 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. Yep, this is what Lynn has turned into. Don’t expect this to get better.

Carson Fulmer – 1.2 IP, 5 ER, 3 Hits, 4 BBs, 3 Ks. This is annoying CF. This joke sounded a lot better in my head. Just let me move on and don’t touch Fulmer unless it’s because you meant to own Michael.

Sonny Gray – 5.0 IP, 5 ER, 9 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks. At the very least, I hope this rules out the concept that Gray needed Romine as his personal catcher. His breaking stuff wasn’t nearly as good as it’s been in the past, while he left some pitches over the plate for Matt Chapman and Khris Davis to do their things. There’s a lot of work left to do here.

Kenta Maeda – 4.2 IP, 5 ER, 9 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. I still like Maeda n all, though this is a bit sobering given the talk of “I don’t care if it’s just five innings, those are five stud innings!”

Andrew Suarez – 4.0 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. I made a bet with Alex Fast on the OTC podcast this week that Suarez would allow 3 ER or fewer. Womp womp. At least we can get off this mini hype train – think your Thomas the Tank engine set – before we did anything stupid. Streaming Record: 23-13.

Eric Lauer – 2.1 IP, 6 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 0 Ks. Lauer had just one swing and miss in this start and of course I had to go and find it. Here it is, a lovely 88 mph fastball that Marcell Ozuna should have crushed and somehow didn’t because he’s disappointing everyone including his barber (okay fine, he had a good game yesterday). That’s the only positive in this outing.

Brandon McCarthy – 5.0 IP, 6 ER, 11 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. I never wish ill upon a pitcher (save for Josh Tomlin blocking Clevinger last season…) but this is the second straight clunker from McCarthy and you have to wonder what the leash is before Gohara gets his spot in the rotation. Remember, these Braves are heavily competing and can’t just let this happen over and over.

Chad Bettis – 5.0 IP, 7 ER, 10 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks. Was it out of Coors and against a weak opponent? No? Then don’t start Bettis.

Jacob Faria – 6.0 IP, 7 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. I feel bad for Faria in this one as it was a clear Careful Icarus. He allowed a 2-run shot in the first but still held a QS after six, then allowed a solo shot, then three base runners that all scored on a grand slam. His splitter was better in this one – slider still lacking – and I’m still teetering here. He didn’t pitch so badly, but he also didn’t pitch the way that we’ve been waiting for him to pitch since July 2017. Blegh.

Brandon Woodruff – 3.0 IP, 7 ER, 9 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks. I won’t tell you that Woodruff will do this always. I will tell you that I’m not touching him for a good while unless I see something super impressive in his next two starts. There is a tinge of upside here, just nothing to act on for a bit.

Jason Hammel – 3.2 IP, 9 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 1 Ks. This is what we call Dropping The Hammel.

Today’s Streamer

Zach Eflin vs. New York Mets – He’s had an extra two points of velocity in his last two starts, I’ll wager he keeps it again as he faces a weak offense.

Tomorrow’s Streamer

Ivan Nova vs. San Francisco Giants – It’s ace day, leaving me only a handful of options. He’s right at the cusp of being called a streamer, but it’s Nova or nothing as I detest the other options.

Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer

Tyler Anderson vs. San Diego Padres – It’s out of Coors and against the Padres. Yes please.

Game of the Day

Mike Soroka vs. Miami Marlins – I’m hoping for a solid rebound against the Fish as Soroka etches his name in the Braves rotation.

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.

6 responses to “Jake It Til You Make It”

  1. Drew says:

    Did you change the formatting for these articles? The lead is now a picture caption and the new text doesn’t read as well.

    I love to content but whatever happened is hurting the readability a bit.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Huh, that’s weird! I haven’t changed anything with the formatting, can you send me an image of what you see?

      Are you on mobile or desktop?

      • Mallex P. Keaton says:

        This has been happening for me using the latest version of Firefox. No issue on mobile (iOS)

      • Drew says:

        Sorry about the delay but whatever it was is all fixed now. I’m using chrome and iOS mobile browsing.

  2. Name says:

    Would you drop weaver or Flaherty for shark or let him sit on the wire for a bit? If so, would you drop weaver for reynaldo?

  3. Mallex P. Keaton says:

    Nick, any risk of a DLH with deGrom on Sunday? Thanks!

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