Jason, the Vargonaught

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

Why does Jason Vargas does this to us. The man begins the season with a 14.21 ERA in three starts, and has since spun a 1.85 ERA and 1.10 WHIP across his last seven including last night’s spectacular 9.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks. What does it mean Nick? WHAT SHOULD WE DO?! I mean, it’s the most straight-forward opener I’ve had all year. This might shock some, but you should Vargas Rule him. Mild shock. It’s that simple. No, he’s not this good. No this isn’t going to last. No you don’t need to drop that arm that has legit upside for him unless you’re dying for production to start your next week. If you own Vargas, cool, start him until he hits the wall, then move along as he will. That’s it. I’m going to stop typing now.

Let’s see how every other SP did Wednesday:

Cam Bedrosian1.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks. Well this looks okay, I wonder how Felix Pena did aft—WHAT DID YOU DO!? 1.2 IP, 7 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks?! The game after I finally say “hey, it’s cool grabbing this False Starter?!” It just doesn’t seem fair. At all. Dodgers are next and I’m noping like a Leslie.

Mike Minor5.2 IP, 0 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks. Good, here’s something to calm me down as Minor lowered his ERA to 2.55 with a 26% K rate. WHIP is still a problem with his .313 BABIP, though I’m not sure that will stick for a while. I think he’s more of a 3.25 ERA guy with a 24% K rate in the end, but hey, that’s not droppable and I doubt you’ll be able to sell Minor for something legit on the market. So let’s just enjoy this ride together.

Charlie Morton7.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 8 Ks. Aces gonna ace. The quiet ace now holds a 2.30 ERA with a 1.06 WHIP and 30.5% strikeout rate. Please don’t get hurt, please don’t get hurt, PLEASE.

Chris Sale9.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 12 Ks. Aces gonna ace. This was ridiculous, once again, as Sale pitched an immaculate inning, earned a 41/102 CSW, and acted like it was easy as listing the numbers of pie. You’ve got that phrase wrong. Sure did and I’d do it again if it meant we got the last six weeks of Sale for the rest of the year.

Sandy Alcantara7.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. Sandy, stop this madness. You’re trapping those that don’t know better, “boasting” a 25/95 CSW with just 8 whiffs as you somehow evaded the Brewers’ dangerous lineup. Even that first inning was a joke of striking out a batter on ball five, a Yelich single removed as he failed to extend it to a double, and Cain getting robbed of a possible HR. As our former president once said, you can’t fool me again.

Mike Leake9.0 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. Nah. That’s it? That’s it.

Kenta Maeda5.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks. It’s easy to sit in the hammock and enjoy the good times as a Maeda owner, ignoring the brutal April we endured to get to this point. Sips lemonade loudly. Ahhhhhhh that’s the good stuff.

John Means 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. I had a back-and-forth on Monday about Means and why I just don’t buy what he’s selling. He probably deserved a spot on The List as a possible streamer, but I just don’t see Means overall being helpful to your 12-teamer and I’m amazed he survived Arlington here. 25/108 CSW with a 9% whiff rate doesn’t breed confidence moving forward and I don’t think there’s enough here for you to be a satisfied owner through June. Not the worst desperate play, but I have to preach caution.

Anibal Sanchez5.1 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks. A commenter pointed out Anibal’s low ownership and asked why he wasn’t the streaming option last night. It’s because I simply didn’t realize he was under 20% – I had him ranked above the rained out Mahle in the daily ranks, after all. Yeah, my bad y’all, good on you commenter. really solid 27/80 CSW (34%) as his cutter continued to earn a ton of strikes with 6/16 whiffs on splitters. That’s the ideal Sanchez, and while I’m skeptical the cutter will perform this well in the future, Anibal gets the ChiSox again next week and I’d consider another spin of the wheel there.

Joakim Soria1.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks. The A’s and Angels threw openers at each other and both False Starters crushed the dreams of GMs everywhere as Mengden followed suit with 2.1 IP, 6 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 0 Ks. HAISTFMFWT?! Maybe one day he’ll follow the Blake Snell Blueprint of high fastballs and low breakers and he’ll perform at the level his mustache deserves. One day.

Dylan Covey5.0 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. Sure, it’s a sub 4.00 ERA, but a 1.60 WHIP and just four strikeouts? Is it worth it? No. No it’s not. Don’t Covey Thy Dylan.

Yu Darvish5.1 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks. So his slider returned a little bit here – 4/11 whiffs – and he coasted to a Gallows Pole at 18 whiffs overall, but it’s as if every start Darvish leans more and more on his cutter, now sitting at 50% usage. Maybe that’s a good thing and his four-seamer was used pretty well going upstairs a decent amount, but seeing so few called strikes from Darvish – which normally come from painted fastballs or solid breakers early in counts – without that slider being a major focus is still making me uneasy. Give me that one start Darvish, we’re in purgatory right now and I just one outing of dominance across your repertoire to fully take that TIARA off.

Jon Duplantier5.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks. Alright, here’s the upside from Duplantier that is going to have people jumping to grab him after last week’s blegh outing. 28/71 CSW against the Dodgers is stupid good as well (nearly 40%!) and you’re just waiting for me to give you the thumbs up. By all Johns, go ahead. It’s risky as I don’t trust his 92 mph fastball to return 14/27 CSW again with his meh mechanics that don’t preach good command, but hey, you can do a whole lot worse in a standard 12-teamer wire. I’m personally letting it go as he gets the Phils next and I’d imagine this is a Cherry Bomb at best.

Brad Peacock5.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. Solid outing here from Peacock with 31/87 CSW as he continued to play with the bottom of zone, zooming sliders away from right-handers and heaters darting away from lefties. I think you’re fine starting him, I still wonder if he can go deep into games with this two-pitch mix and how much you’re going to regret owning him in the longhaul. It’s like he’s the Toby version of a strikeout arm. It’s weird, but we don’t need another term, do we? Nah.

Martin Perez4.2 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks. I know what you’re thinking. Is it time to drop Perez? It might be…it might not. On one hand, he earned just four whiffs with 20/92 CSW. Yikes. On the other, he was sitting 94/95+ in this one, up from the 93 and change we’ve seen. Yeah, yeah, HAISFTMFWT?! but I’m not quite ready to jump ship with his velocity coming back up, even if this was the Indians. I’m sticking with it one more against the Mariners first.

Cal Quantrill5.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks. Hey, another impressive start from Quantrill! It’s a product of his fastball not being a detrimental pitch, allowing his slider to breathe with 9/19 CSW. I don’t think we’re at the point of must add for Quantrill as I don’t really love his stuff that much, but he’ll be on The List next week and he’s worth consideration if he gets the Giants next. It could be Coors, though, and that’s a clear avoid.

Tyler Clippard1.1 IP, 3 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 0 Ks. Poor Carlos Carrasco is dealing with a blood issue and is indefinitely out of the game until he’s healthy. It’s horrible news and meant the Indians had a bullpen game last minute. I hope Cookie is okay.

Joe Musgrove8.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. Musgrove went four-seamer heavy – YES – and sat 92.5 mph with the pitch – YES – as he earned 26/99 CSW – YE–wait that’s not good. Well, he survived eight frames, typically we see a lower CSW on longer starts for guys that aren’t aces as they need aggressive batters hitting into outs to get there. Anyway, just 10 whiffs is a little disappointing – a product of Musgrove featuring just 8 sliders. So while we finally got the switch to four-seamers and higher velocity, we also got a depreciation in sliders and changeups (2/14 whiffs combined) in favor of curveballs. They weren’t bad (9/17 CSW), but it’s not really the solution you’d think he’d have. Either way, the change to four-seamers with this velocity is very welcome and we may be seeing the corner turned. Looking forward to his next game against the Braves with the Marlins after. Jump back on now.

James Paxton4.2 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks. Paxton, dude, this was the Jays and you cruised through the Padres last time! 28/83 CSW is a nice reminder that everything is okay, it’s just…blegh. 2/21 CSW cutters is all you need to know. Start him with confidence, don’t worry.

Spencer Turnbull5.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks. Noooo Turnbull! The big problem here was his inability to nip the inside corner with four-seamers to left-handers, falling too far inside. It set everything off and prevented him from finding the groove with breaking stuff and this was super bleeeeegh. The ceiling is still there and I’m not dropping at all, but this wasn’t the step forward we want.

Jimmy Nelson3.0 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks. Nothing like Brian Anderson to smoke a grand slam to ruin a wonderful parade. But seriously, this wasn’t the Nelson we remember. 93.9 mph fastball? Nah, we had 92.4 mph. Was his curveball back to its fantastic self? Does 1/28 whiffs sound fantastic to you? Against the Marlins? Bleeeegh. I’m not saying that Nelson is a flat out drop, but he’s taking a step back on my ranks as the two elements that elevated Nelson to be that stud in 2017 simply weren’t there. Maybe he needs more time. Maybe life just isn’t what we want it to be. Stupid life n stuff.

Trent Thornton5.0 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks. Thornton was doing just fine the first time through the lineup, then a solo shot from The Kraken + a tough fifth ruined the day. He’s a strikeout upside play against below average teams, nothing more.

Jake Arrieta4.2 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 5 BBs, 3 Ks. Yeaaaaah you can let Arrieta go if you haven’t yet. There’s just not enough of a ceiling to endure the floor when Arrieta doesn’t have his feel on a given day. Isn’t that the standard for a Toby? I guess so, I just have to think you can either stream or chase something else instead at this point.

Tyler Beede5.0 IP, 5 ER, 5 Hits, 4 BBs, 5 Ks. Yep, Beede is a Cup of Schmo to me until he does something wildly different. 

Jake Junis4.2 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks. Oh Junis, we’ve been waiting for you to add something to your repertoire for two years now. It just isn’t going to happen, is it.

Kevin Gausman5.0 IP, 7 ER, 12 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks. Okay, Gaus now has blown up twice and you’re scared. So am I as the Pirates, once again, damaged what should have been a decent day. Thing is, he gets the Pirates again next time and I just can’t buy that Gausman has lost his Toby tag after two starts. I just can’t. I think I’m still starting him there, but I completely understand if you’re done with this. As always, it depends on your waiver wire.

German Marquez5.1 IP, 8 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. Marquez wasn’t even in Coors and he served you a healthy dosage of his floor. He’s a supreme Cherry Bomb and you’re going to continue riding it, it’s just…disappointing, you know? This isn’t a Jon Gray level of being a Rockies pitcher, but he needs to get his slider back on track and make his fastball a little less hittable. They are hosting the Cubs now in Coors next and that’s a no from me.


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.


Dakota Hudson vs. Cincinnati Reds – There aren’t many streaming options here, so I’ll go with Hudson pulling off his sinkerball ways against the Reds offense away from GABP.


Tomorrow’s Streamer


Erik Fedde vs. San Diego Padres – I don’t trust the Feddes but the options are thin and the Padres strikeout more than anyone out there. Tyler Mahle vs. Philadelphia Phillies – Not much of a choice here as there are few good strong matchups to choose otherwise and Mahle was pushed back due to Wednesday’s rainout.


Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer


Trevor Richards vs. Atlanta Braves – It’s not the best matchup, but Richards’ changeup has been solid lately.


Game of the Day 


Trevor Bauer vs. Jose Berrios – We want both arms to kill it. Here’s to a wonderful duel.


(Photo by Adam Bow/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 “Jason, the Vargonaught”

  1. John says:

    Is Isnt Hudson pitching today and Mahle tomorrow?

  2. MaxRo says:

    Hey Nick, thanks for your everyday columns. It really helps cutting the time spent on SP management.

    Quick question: Clev is coming back and I need to open a spot for him. I have Domingo German, Heaney and Woodruff to drop. What’s your take on how to rank them to drop?.

    My guts (and your list) say Woodruff, but German is looking some (expected?) regression and I question her total innings, and Heaney, I know you love him.


  3. Philip Sperling says:

    Hey Nick.

    I traded LaStella for Nelson a few days ago and everything sucks and I’m sad.

  4. Adrian says:

    I saw at least three fastballs from Darvish last night paint the edges of the strike zones but they were called a ball. Those calls could’ve easily led to strikeouts. Do you think that close calls don’t go his way because of his propensity for walking hitters?

  5. Purple Rattle says:

    Hey Nick, in a points keeper. My hitting is stacked, looking to upgrade my pitching as it been wildly inconsistent, like everyone elses. Would you trade Vlad jr (keeper) for Sale (non keeper)?

    Also does Paddack for Marquez make sense?

    Thanks Nick!

  6. Jack says:

    Nick, you rule as always. 2 things:
    1) I most assuredly did drop Perez, between his recent precipitous drop on The List and the fact that Eovaldi comes back soon (that and I’m facing a closer-heavy team next week, so I know Ks/Ws/QSs are in the bag already).
    2) Maeda got neither a W nor a QS. Dodgeritis makes me want to throw my lemonade against a wall.

  7. theKraken says:

    It is frustrating that somebody made up their mind before Maeda’s start that he wouldn’t face the lineup a third time. There really is not any possible logical decision that was made as he hit for himself the last time through and Urias hit for himself too – literally nothing defensible about any of it… better yet zero accountability for whomever makes the real decision. Somebody thought it was really important to burn up Maeda and Urias in the same game and they got a loss to boot. I don’t believe that Dave Roberts made that call – its not a decision that someone on the field would make. Roberts looks like a broken man in the dugout just getting told what to do and having to answer for it – simply a pawn. That is the look that most of the inexperienced, young, ex-player managers have. Dave Roberts real job is to handle the post-game press conferences which he is good at.

  8. Jimmy Suitcase says:

    Hey Nick! I need to lose one of the following: Bassitt, Gausman, or Plesac… Which are you dropping? Standard 14 teamer 5×5 roto league

  9. Dan Venables says:

    Please rank these arms ROS:
    Marquez, Bum, Sevy, Clev.
    I still prefer last 2 the most but risk with them on shelf. Marquez seems unreliable though and Bum looks fairly average now (esp if moves parks soon, yuck).

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