Losing Our Hair Over Sampson

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

I think it’s time we come to an agreement about what to do with Adrian Sampson. He had a tough matchup last night against the Twins, returning a week-killing 3.1 IP, 7 ER, 11 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks line and the possible excitement we had for the surprise Rangers starter is fading and rightly so. Save for a two-start stretch to begin his time as a starter, It’s a 7.40 ERA with a sub 5 IPS. That’s…not going to cut it. Yes, the strikeouts are still alive as a product of his great slider – about a strikeout per inning – but that slide piece isn’t enough. Batters hold a .342 batting average on his fastball this year (ouch) while his changeup relies on a .222 BABIP to be effective. And while I would still consider Sampson as a stream against teams like the Tigers and Royals, he’s best left on the wire until those rare matchups come along. This isn’t your second half savior.

Let’s see how every other SP did Friday:

Zach Davies5.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. Oh cool, now it’s just 2.21 points separating his ERA (3.07) and SIERA (5.28). Cool cool cool, no doubt no doubt no doubt.

Zack Greinke7.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 9 Ks. Aces gonna ace. Yes, he’s everything you wanted out of Greinke this year. It’s lovely.

Clayton Kershaw7.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks. Aces gonna ace. I keep saying Greinke and Kershaw are the same and I kinda love how much they’ve been mimicking their starts as of late.

Noe Ramirez1.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 Hits, 0 BBs, 0 Ks. Noe, No, you didn’t really start this one. Felix Pena followed for 4.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks as Felix only holds value as a reliever in max-start weekly leagues.

Julio Teheran6.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. He got the Marlins and returned under 9% whiffs. Just saying.

Jordan Yamamoto6.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks. Just when we were leaning on Elieser to survive the Smithening, Yamamoto has himself a field day against the Braves. 32% CSW As he went pretty heavy on fastball/sliders here, with the addition of the rare curveball for a strike. I’m not really buying what he’s selling and I think Elieser brings more to the table and let’s see if the Marlins demote him now and keep him there.

Steven Brault4.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. Brault left this one with shoulder discomfort and you have to think Mitch Keller is getting another shot in the rotation. Yes, I’d pick him up.

Dylan Bundy6.2 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. I got a little excited seeing this line and went digging, hoping to see Bundy turning a corner to point out. Velocity? Nah, still under 92 mph. Increased slider usage? Nope, 25% is right in line, with just four whiffs too. Yeah, okay, how about changeups? 16% usage with just 25% CSW. So you’re telling me he somehow just didn’t allow a HR. Wrong! He allowed one. A solo shot. Ah. Yep.

Brad Keller5.2 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 5 BBs, 2 Ks. Sure, whatever Keller. Enjoy your Birthday Party, and thanks for inviting none of us.

Eric Lauer6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. The Lauer ride continues as he’s returned exactly 1 ER in seven of his last nine games. That’s a 2.66 ERA with a 4.65 SIERA needing a 4.2% HR/FB (in this climate?!) to get there. Vargas Rule it if you want, I don’t want to be there when this bubble bursts.

Eduardo Rodriguez5.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. Edu did a great job as his start was limited by the rain. Why do I suddenly want there to always be rain when Edu starts.

Brett Anderson6.1 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks. Branderson is just so boring and I’m already bored writing this. But he’s been somewhat good this year! And we all rejoiced. I get the feeling the second you put faith in him, he’ll return a clunker, like finally meeting that celebrity and she’s the worst person ever.

Jacob deGrom7.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 10 Ks. Aces gonna ace. It’s like it’s 2018 again with his production and lack of Wins.

Yusei Kikuchi7.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. So here’s something interesting that Fast pointed out to me. Kikuchi is leaning on his changeup more heavily as of late, here going 6/15 on whiffs with the pitch. If he’s feeling that pitch, it might be a good way to nullify the dip in velocity on Kikuchi’s heater, as he’s sitting 92/93 these days as opposed to 93-95. It helped lead to a 33/95 CSW against the A’s and there may be something to it. Not enough for me to chase yet, but I’m curious.

Aaron Sanchez5.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 4 BBs, 5 Ks. Whoa, Sanchez wasn’t so bad! I mean, he still had four walks, and that’s a 1.40 WHIP, but hey! This isn’t cataclysmic!

Vince Velasquez5.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks. If you started VV, you should be cool with this. You may have done it for the strikeouts – whoops, sorry – but the ratios are fine. I don’t think you can hope for much better from Velasquez these days.

Ryan Carpenter5.0 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. As prophesied, the Carpenter’s ratios have risen once again.

Dakota Hudson5.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks. Ehhhhh if you’re going to go the 3 ER and 9 baserunners route, at least give us a VPQS along the way, you know? The six strikeouts are a surprise, though. I don’t expect that to stick around for Hudson.

Brendan McKay5.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks. It wasn’t as sterling as his debut but I still like what McKay brings to the table. I didn’t expect him to feature so many curveballs – 0/24 whiffs there – and put his cutter on the backburner, a cutter that was well commanded throughout the game. I think some are going to see the back-to-back three K games and think he’s not a strikeout arm, but there’s a ton of upside in that deuce and ability to elevate with heat. Stick with him, this can be a special second-half run. But he just got demoted! That ole thing? Nah, with the ASB, the Rays can get a few innings out of a reliever or add extra depth for the few games in between his next starts and still have McKay back up on schedule. He’s coming back right away.

Martin Perez6.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. Perez’s velocity was still up at 94+, but the cutter wasn’t as good and there really isn’t anything else inside of Perez’s repertoire. Blegh. So close to a VPQS. So close. Nick, a VPQS is still poor ratios. I know, I know. It’s why it’s “Very Poor” after all. Streaming Record: 54-38

Drew Pomeranz4.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 4 BBs, 3 Ks. Ahhhh, after a few starts we finally get to see the Pomeranz we all know and hate.

Masahiro Tanaka6.1 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. Blegh. After a stupid good start against the Rays, Tanaka went to London and broke our hearts, now he faced the Rays again and served us a Careful Icarus, getting kicked out of the game after a double and a walk, with both runners coming home in the seventh. This was actually a solid game through six – 1.00 WHIP, 3.00 ERA, and 5 Ks. He just had to fly too close to the sun. He just had to. You’ll be fine with Tanaka in the second half.

Justin Verlander7.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. Verlander, my dude, please stop with allowing homers. Maybe throw a few more sliders to help. Maybe incorporate a few more changeups, whatever it is, just stop. It’s killing us all.

Austin Voth4.1 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks. After pumping 94 mph in his first start, Voth has now sat 92.5 mph in two straight. Womp womp. You don’t want any of this.

Antonio Senzatela4.1 IP, 7 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks. None of you actually signed up for this, right? It’s a 5.32 ERA and 12.3% K rate. This isn’t something that says “mmmm, I’ll have one of those please.” Instead it makes us say 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.


Anthony DeSclafani vs. Cleveland Indians – He had a strong performance last time out and I think he can take on a middling Cleveland lineup.


Tomorrow’s Streamer


Tyler Mahle vs. Cleveland Indians – I’m amazed I can still pick him, you should ride his strikeout rate against the Tribe as we head into the break.


Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer


None – It’s the ASB, y’all. Let’s watch some dingers and filthy pitches this week.


Game of the Day 


Gerrit Cole vs. Andrew Heaney – I’m going taking the over on 19.5 strikeouts between the two of them.


(Photo by Juan DeLeon/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.

3 responses to “Losing Our Hair Over Sampson”

  1. BBHHI says:

    With McKay, I watched most the game – to me he was clearly nervous on the front end and tightened up, causing early game wildness.

    • theKraken says:

      I watched the late game – that is where it came apart IMO – he was rattled for sure. I’m not sure what I thought of it all. That cutter could really be a carrying pitch but nothing else was overwhelming. The worst case with him is that he is around the plate too much and gets hit around with a lack of Ks. My gut tells me that he is might be pretty hittable as I don’t think there is much deception and his release point looks pretty easy to see – I’m not great at predicting pitching though. His best-case is S Bieber, but that isn’t a given. I very much dislike that they have not abandoned hitting – that can’t help with his preparation and maintenance at all. That is TB in a nutshell – do enough to keep people interested at the expense of the players health. Its the way most businesses are run… just not the good ones to work for. Perhaps that is the most profitable way to run an organization in a league of tankers that will just give you bodies for nothing. The way I see it, they are not really building a future and they don’t have enough to go head to head with a team spending money currently so they are just blowing smoke and cashing checks. They are a very short-sighted organization, which makes a lot of sense from afar. I really wonder what McKay is to them – is he a part of their future or a sideshow? I think if they liked what he did on the mound they would have dropped hitting years ago, so I remain confused. I was not disappointed by what I saw out of him yesterday, but who knows what they will do with him…

  2. theKraken says:

    DeGrom has not enjoyed the same HR aversion as 2018. He is not having the same good fortune and he is giving up the runs he probably deserved last year. 2018 was his lucky year. I think it is weird that he got so much credit for some pretty unsustainable skills and now that they are regressing and we just skip right on over it. There are lessons to be learned from this for those paying attention. The Sabermetrics crowd isn’t terribly interested in critical analysis that is probably the explanation for it being how it is. The FG crowd just put their stamp on JD last year despite what was at least a very close race with Scherzer and that was basically the end of it. I think they got it wrong as Scherzer has/d the better skills and results – this year certainly seems to be backing that idea up but I haven’t read anything about the luck that helped JD last year. You can see luck in the HR rates, BABIP and strand rates if you want. Yes, I am saying that HR rate is just as uncontrollable as BABIP and strand rates – which is to say that some players are elite and poor at it, but most of it is just luck. What is wrong with pitcher WAR to give JD that huge edge last year? The answer is simple, too much weight into HR aversion. HR rates should probably be regressed just like other rates but I don’t think they are. I wonder if the statistic (pWAR) was revised simply to make a better case for JD because when you look at their lines side by side for 2018, one wasn’t 18% better than the other…unless it was Scherzer and his IP and K edges. If anyone is actually interested in analyzing anything, a part of the edge probably comes from regressing Scherzer’s BABIP towards the mean – I think that is also over-weighted in pitcher metrics. That is the biggest problem in a nutshell, someone somewhere arbitrarily decides that some real outcomes don’t carry weight (hit aversion) and others do (HR aversion) and applies arbitrary weights and adjustments to those values. Personally, I would put my stock into hits allowed (huge sample) versus HR allowed – the only worse approach you could employ would be to place a bunch of weight into 3B allowed as that is an even smaller sample. I don’t think many people actually care to fix anything though. The real currency to be made is in blind progress and keeping the target moving so nobody can ever critique it. Well, by the time they do it has come and gone such as this.

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