Losing The Hammer

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

We’ve been very patient with Noah Syndergaard. He had four out of five 4+ ER games entering last night and we were holding our breath for better. A glimpse of the past. Nope, we were served 5.0 IP, 5 ER, 10 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks and we just don’t know what to do. It’s a really weird scenario that we don’t see too often. This isn’t your standard “6.35 ERA? Nah, that’s a 3.68 SIERA! This is clearly going to come down” scenario. Maybe a little – 56.8% LOB rate is a joke, right? – and in many ways, yes I need to preach patience. But there is a bigger issue here that we’ve all been hoping isn’t the case but the more and more he crumbles on the hill, the more we have to wonder its reality. Syndergaard isn’t a guy that carves through lineups with precision and the standard philosophies of pitching. He doesn’t go “okay, fastball in, slider away, changeup down, slider away, fastball up.” He’s very much of a “here’s my fastball. Here’s my slider.” pitcher. It hasn’t mattered all too much before since his stuff is just oh-so-good, but now, well, now for whatever reason it’s catching up to him.

It’s wild because he still induces so much weak contact – 30% soft contact rate! – yet his .376 BABIP is elevated once again, he holds a 10.6 hits per nine that is an atrocity (think around 8 as the norm), and he can’t keep the ball in the yard anymore. My gut says that this is a moment and not a cataclysmic cliff, but is he a Top 15 arm? Top 20? I’ve been holding out on The List giving him a TIARA, but still seeing his slider go 0/11 on whiffs and struggling this much to put batters away is frightening. I’d love to buy low against a terrified owner if it doesn’t cost much, and as an owner I think you have to hold tight unless you’re getting a tough return. It’s scary, it’s a time of turmoil for Thor, but after all is said and done with looking at the numbers and what he’s done thus far, we have to fall back on the idea that this is a guy going through a bad moment and most likely will find a way out. Maybe take a start off, but it will come around, just like me finally adding a second paragraph to these opening blurbs when I go off the deep-end.

Let’s see how every other SP did Saturday:

Cam Bedrosian1.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 Hits, 1 BBs, 0 Ks. This was an opener for False Starter Jaime Barria, who was terrible with 7 ER in 1.2 frames. Don’t chase False Starters y’all.

J. A. Happ7.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks. Another strong outing from Happ, but I’m really missing the Ks. It’s not like he’s changed his approach – still four-seamers up – but he’s getting a ton of contact on everything before two strikes and fortunately the Giants are a terrible offense. I still have some reservations here given the dip in whiff rate – 6/92 whiffs here and zero on four-seamers –  but if you own him, you start him.

Charlie Morton6.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 4 BBs, 5 Ks. Morton got the Sawx and gave you some hesitation. You toughed it out and got rewarded and life is wonderful. I don’t think I’m going to get to a point where I truly buy into Morton, but as long as he’s starting, he’s a Top 35 SP if not a little higher. And that’s all nice and wonderful.

Aaron Sanchez5.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 4 BBs, 4 Ks. The whiffs are still meh – 8/84 – with his changeup and curveball still far behind. I think Sanchez is more of a streaming guy than a legit rostered guy.

Dan Straily4.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. I realized today that I haven’t handed out our first TEEs yet and after this Straily start, I wondered if we had it. A 6.75 ERA says that statement is false. 

Yu Darvish6.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 4 BBs, 8 Ks. 39/110 CSW (35.5%) is wonderful and as Darvish did work with his slider and cutter to carve out a solid performance. Still a touch more polish is needed with the heater to prevent the four walks – it’s like at times he just loses himself – but 93-94 on fastballs with 19 whiffs overall is the man we’ve been waiting for. That buy low moon is starting to wane and you want to be howling at it.

Clayton Kershaw7.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 8 Ks. Kershaw was solid. I’m still sad about the velocity, but this was the best command we’ve seen all year as his slider did some wonderful work paired with high heaters. So good to see TATIAGA doing his thing.

Mike Minor7.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 13 Ks. This is NUTS. Crazy. WHAT. I really didn’t expect this one. Minor’s changeup is filthy – 16/29 CSW – as he’s found his legit whiff pitch, but the main spotlight should be on his slider than earned 15/24 strikes in this one. Seeing him have that strong third option allowed him to carve up the Mariners with the changeup, and not get burned on his fastball…which was sitting at a pretty 93 mph. Look, I don’t really buy a massive breakout in 2019 from Minor, but there’s no way I’m going to tell you to slow down on running with him for now.

Brad Peacock6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks. We were disappointed last time but Peacock got the Indians here and took full advantage. Do I think he’s a must-own arm? In 12-teamers, sure, you let him ride. But I don’t think he’s going to be starting for a long while with Forrest Whitely inching closer to the rotation and this start looks more like an exception than a casual understanding. He’s not overwhelming batters like others and a 27/91 CSW is good, but not incredible. He gets the Twins next, which is a start in my book, but if things go south here and against the Royals after, I’d consider moving on.

Brandon Woodruff5.0 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. Whoa, he was good! Fastball was better, slider was decent and things went his way. Not enough of a separation in location from slider/fastball to get me amped, but at least it’s a step in the right direction. I’m not jumping to the wire to pick him up, yet, though, even against Rocky Road next.

Jose Berrios6.0 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 8 Ks. 23 changeups in this one! And just 3/23 CSW on them! He’s getting close with the pitch but it’s still not quite there, while his curveball was thrown for 4/17 CSW. Crazy, I know, given how good this line is. Blame it on the Orioles. That’s blasphemy for Berrios, I get it, though I really believe that his four-seamer wouldn’t have done so well if it weren’t against such a bad offense. His curveball is gone at the moment and his changeup isn’t what it needs to be. It’ll come back and this isn’t particularly a sell high, but I’m not seeing Top 10 SP here.

Eric Lauer5.2 IP, 2 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks. If you’re looking for mediocrity, you’ve come to the right place. Maybe an outside streamer at times – sorry for those upset about the Philly here – but so not worth your roster spot.

David Price6.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks. 18 Whiffs here is certainly impressive, getting a ton of them via the changeup. He was able to hit the edges well, though odd to see few curveballs and hesitation for elevated heat. He’s been cruising as of late, though, and I’d feel great as a Price owner.

Stephen Strasburg7.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks. Our Gallows Pole winner with 21 whiffs, earning a fantastic 37% CSW for the day. Much better heaters this time around, aided by a strong changeup down & curveballs in the zone that allowed Strasburg to keep batters off-balance constantly. It’s the Stras you were promised and let’s all be happy he righted the ship…unlike the aforementioned Thor. That guy man…

Shane Bieber6.0 IP, 3 ER, 3 Hits, 4 BBs, 9 Ks. This looks meh with a PQS, but hot dang those nine strikeouts and a 1.17 WHIP is all good with me. His fastball command wasn’t as solid as we’ve seen and he did get a little burned by it, while his changeup was lost…but his curveball made up for it. I don’t think he’s destined for a Top 15/20 SP spot, but I think a spot inside the Top 30 sounds right for a good while.

Dakota Hudson5.2 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks. This is why we don’t like sinkerballers. We don’t want to sink our fantasy teams, we want to float. GIVE US THE FLOATBALLERS. Seriously, 17 outs and just one strikeout? HAISTFMFWT?!

Joe Musgrove6.2 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. Musgrove pulled back on the slider usage in favor of more changeups as he faced a good amount of left-handers. Unfortunately, his changeup isn’t as good as the slide piece, which just 2/18 CSW on the night. He got a bit burned for a Careful Icarus in the seventh as well, and at the end of the day, I’m still all good with Musgrove. 92 mph on his Four-Seamer is also a positive sight!

Mike Foltynewicz6.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. Folty has returned! It was a Still ILL and kinda wild as he didn’t throw a single pitch in the top half of the zone. Tons of fastballs and sliders at the bottom, which is a bit standard for someone coming back from an extended IL stint – get your foundation in place first, then work on the 3rd/4th pitches. I’m cool with this and would feel great about San Diego next time out.

Jorge Lopez3.2 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks. Some people consider Jorge a good deep add. I just don’t understand why, honestly. His secondary stuff is middling and while he throws 93 mph, he doesn’t locate it well. It just doesn’t speak to a guy that will be a stable producer. It’s a no-go for JorLo.

Jake Arrieta5.0 IP, 5 ER, 9 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. Arrieta, come on man. I know you’re a feel pitcher and all that, but you had the feel for your changeup prior and leaned on it for success. Now you do it again and return…9/21 strikes and just three whiffs on the pitch. NOT COOL. This was the Marlins, shooting fish in a barrel over here. Be better.

Zack Godley2.2 IP, 5 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 3 Ks. The False God strikes again. Do not follow this heathen.

Jon Gray4.2 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks. Bleeeeegh. He pitched decently well, but got lit up on his mistakes down the heart of the plate…and there were a good amount of them, with fastballs, sliders, curveballs, ALL OF EM. This isn’t a droppable offense, but it burns to see it, like a piece of certified mail. OH WHAT DID I DO NOW.

Mike Leake5.0 IP, 5 ER, 10 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. It’s almost like – and hear me out on this one – Leake isn’t worth your time. At all.

Tyler Mahle5.0 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks. Just three whiffs on 84 pitches isn’t the name of the game. Maybe it’s a Young Gun where I’m not investing in Mahle until he gets the breaker he needs so badly and it won’t show up until next year. At the same time, he’ll get his chances now with a setback in Alex Wood’s recovery, which means he still has some deep league value. No way I’m risking him in 12-teamers though.

Trevor Richards4.0 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. One look at Richards’ strikezone plot should say everything. Look at all of this green up in the zone. You don’t want that. At all. He lives and dies by the pitch and if you don’t win, you die. Or something like that, I don’t know Richards is a bit of a Cherry Bomb because of it and while I think he’s more on the Cherry side than Bomb, keep this in mind.

Brett Anderson4.1 IP, 6 ER, 10 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks. Ah yes, Anderson was a TEEs before this one, raising his ERA from a 3.04 to 4.35. Glad that’s over.

Derek Holland5.0 IP, 6 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks. Well this sucks., sorry y’all Holland’s ERA has soared to 4.34 with this start, with his near 2.0 HR/9 destroying him (well, the 4.50 BB/9 isn’t pretty either…). A bad pitch to Gary Sanchez turned this from 2 ER to 6 ER in a heartbeat and it’s hard to keep making excuses for Holland. Still, it’s a 30% strikeout rate with an above-average swinging strike rate, but it may just be a Cherry bomb scenario. I don’t expect his HR problem to stick through the year and I think those that are able to put aside this terrible April will be rewarded in 12-teamers. Still, I have no qualms with moving on to other options if there’s anything decent on the wire. He isn’t this bad. Streaming Record: 16-13.


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.


Wade Miley vs. Cleveland Indians – I’d consider Pablo Lopez against the Phils, Kyle Gibson against the Orioles (is he an option in your league?), and even Dereck Rodriguez against the Yanks for those searching for more Sunday options. Why not, toss Zach Davies against the Mets in the pile too if you’re desperate for another.


Tomorrow’s Streamer


Tanner Roark vs. New York Mets – Don’t do this. Please don’t do this. I hate all the options today so I’ll go with the one not named Nova or Cashner. John Means is now going against the Chicago White Sox and that’s what I want. So much better.


Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer


Clay Buchholz vs. Los Angeles Angels – The other side is more interesting with Griffin Canningwho I expect is already picked up in your league (I’d go for it if he isn’t there!). Bucky could have the better outing though, as he faces a weak Angels lineup.


Game of the Day


Tyler Glasnow vs Chris Sale – It already started but this is obviously the game to watch.

(Photo by Bennett Cohen/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.

14 responses to “Losing The Hammer”

  1. Greg says:

    Thor was complaining he has no feel for his off speed stuff. Blame the cold?

    • Nick Pollack says:

      That’s happened a good amount thus far.

      Maybe it is something that changes with warmer weather. It wasn’t a major problem in the past, I’m not sure if that’s the solution to it all.

  2. Matt says:

    Need a new game of the day here nick ;)

  3. Bob Sacamano says:

    Game of the day needs to be updated to Glasnow/Sale

  4. Bubba Gump says:

    Hi Nick- would u drop Mikolas for Caleb Smith, Boyd or Musgrove?

  5. Brett says:

    Would you rather Yu and an outfielder either G. Polanco or Mazara or Thor? Quality Start league.


  6. Billy says:

    Drop madbum, kikuchi, Weaver, or arrieta? 10 tm

  7. theKraken says:

    I don’t think Berrios was throwing a 4 seamer. I watched most of it – there were a lot of FB right around 90 with excellent arm-side run and sink. He was throwing a ton of those along with a change that had similar movement. He was trying something new yesterday. I have seen him work like that before, but he changes his mix up a lot. It is what prevents him from being super consistent, but I’ll take a K an inning and a WHIP around 1.00 which is what he provides more often than not. This is what a young pitcher honing his craft looks like.

    Re: Arrieta – He limited them to 1 through 5 which is good. The 6th inning was 4 straight singles – that gets dismissed as bad luck if you like the guy – not by me as I think your job is to keep guys off base. The bullpen allowed three inherited runners to score, which is a worst case scenario. Not saying he was great, but he didn’t blow it.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      What up Kraken!

      Berrios does indeed throw four-seamers, his pronated release point from across his body creates the arm-side run on it.

  8. Rob says:

    Great stuff as usual Nick.

    I have Snell coming off the DL next week, who would you drop?


    Also would you drop any of these for Canning?

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