Maddening Max

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

I think we’ve all be avoiding the topic of Max Scherzer this year and I think it can be a fun one. After last night’s 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 4 BBs, 8 Ks, Scherzer has a 3.72 ERA for the year with a 1.19 WHIP. Aces gonna not really ace. Should he still be #1? If not, who is? The skills are all still there – 36/112 CSW with a Gallows Pole at 22 whiffs – but the ball isn’t bouncing his way. Seriously, it’s a .363 BABIP thus far. That’s weird. Sure, the hard contact is stupid high for him – 39% despite career 28.5% mark! – but even so, he doesn’t deserve this. There’s clearly something to tweak – BABIP is elevated across the board – and maybe it’s his slider, which is suddenly finding the zone over 10 points less than last year, boasting a .406 BABIP following last year’s .273 mark. I don’t think he’s dramatically different and if we had one of the studs sporting a sub 2.00 ERA or something along those lines, then I think I’d make the swap. For now, he stays.

Let’s see how every other SP did Friday:

Miles Mikolas1.1 IP, 7 ER, 9 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks. You thought I’d lead with Mikolas, didn’t you. Subverting expectations. Like Mikolas just did. This start hurt. Two starts of showcasing his fixed slider, there was obvious worry heading into HR heavy Texas for a pitcher who has had problems limiting the longball, but seriously this is just…UGGGGGH. While he did allow just one tate, his slider was a bit slower again, his fastball was super hittable, changeup and curveball hung for hits, and he got bounced in a hurry. Do you drop Mikolas? Maybe, it’s close. He gets the Braves next and a lot of you want to avoid it like the plague, but you guys know me. I have to remind everyone that this is a sunk cost/loss/whatever it’s in the past. Sure, he could implode against the Braves in St. Louis next time, he could also get back on track like he did in the two starts prior. I’m leaning the latter personally, which is honestly the hard thing to say. I could just jump ship and call it day and no one would question me for it. The hardest choices take the strongest wills. Ehhhh I don’t want to die on the Mikolas hill so go ahead if you want to pull the trigger and there’s something good on the wire. I’m holding where I own him personally.

Dylan Bundy5.2 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks. Because I’m an emotional man but not a blind man, I’m aware Buy has allowed just 3 ER in his last three starts now while averaging over a strikeout per inning. He also hosts a 2.14 HR/9 that just isn’t going to disappear, no matter how much he listens to the Mission: Impossible 2 soundtrack. This isn’t the start of Bundy fixing things, we can all root for him, but do it through texts. Keep your distance. Update: Fast pointed out to me the increased changeup usage (30%!) and that’s wonderful, but it’s not enough. Sorry. It’s great it showed up today and maybe it becomes a consistent option, but this is just such a small sample with one of the worst floors out there. We need more.

Gerrit Cole5.0 IP, 0 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks. Aces gonna ace. Among the aces today, Cole had the toughest matchup against the Sawx and he didn’t care. His ERA is now at 3.56 for the year as his 18.4% HR/FB has messed him up a little, but that 38% K rate and 1.04 WHIP are steering a lovely ship. A championship.

Max Fried6.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. So he got hit in the hand and then didn’t have his best stuff against the snakes, then got settled in nicely here against the Brew Crew. Keep believing in Fried, y’all.

Rich Hill6.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 10 Ks. See? This is why we endure the wild rollercoaster of Hill. Sure it will have its ups and downs – HIS NAME IS RICH AFTER ALL – and you just let it ride, let it ride. The valleys aren’t terrible like a Cherry Bomb, either. Here’s to hoping you don’t have to deal with #Dodgeritis soon.

Merrill Kelly5.1 IP, 0 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. Wait, this worked? Kelly had just 20/89 CSW and was able to get a bit lucky with his heater to make it through five and change unscathed. I’ll take it and hoping to avoid taking this chance any time soon. Streaming Record: 29-18.

Jose Leclerc1.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks. Hey, it’s the concierge! Oh right, he just opened for Adrian Sampson who somehow allowed just 1 ER in 5.1 IP and gave us a HAISTFMFWT?! with just one K. It’s Sampson though, he brings the water, not the protein.

Jordan Lyles7.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 12 Ks. Hot dang Lyles! One off from a share of the Gallows Pole – 21 whiffs – as his curveball was ridiculous. 39/104 CSW overall as the Padres just couldn’t handle it, even throwing in 19 sliders for 30% CSW and 17/19 strikes. Hard in any way to suggest not rolling with Lyles at this point. I don’t expect this to be a crazy good breakout year or anything, but given the state of the wire, be happy about owning Lyles and having something fun to chase.

Martin Perez6.2 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 4 BBs, 7 Ks. Glad to see Perez pitching and avoiding the IL and while the walks are a bit high, cutters were up and jamming right-handers while fading changeups away and his velocity was 94+ again. Things are good as a Perez owner who will feast on the AL Central all year.

CC Sabathia6.0 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. Whoa, the Yanks let him go six frames! You own Sabathia for the chance at a Win and he didn’t give you that, but you’ll take this, even with the 1.33 WHIP.

Ryne Stanek2.0 IP, 1 ER, 1 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks. As expected Yonny Chirinos followed with a line of 4.2 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks. That’s fine, it could be plenty worse and helps your ERA, it feels a bit empty with just two Ks and no dub. Was this worth the gamble?

Cole Hamels5.0 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks. Jeeeeeeeez, 18/101 CSW?! I mean, a 10% whiff rate is fine but this should have been plenty worse than 2 ER. You got lucky, Cole. But I wanted an actual gift, not Cole! You’re lucky you got something. Hopefully we apply enough pressure to Hamels to get it together and he produces a gem next time out.

Matt Harvey5.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 6 Ks. I’m happy and sad about this. Happy that he’s not the worst thing ever anymore, but sad since if he were terrible, maybe he could move out of the rotation to ensure Griffin Canning sticks through the year. A 1.60 WHIP and 3.60 ERA isn’t amazing though! This is true. We’ll see what happens.

Joey Lucchesi7.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks. Lucchesi elected to not be a Fugghesi for his second straight start, now holding a 3.67 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 22% K rate, and 5% walk rate in his last five starts. Yep, that sounds like the hope for Lucchesi over the year as he’s really just a Toby. Do what you want with that.

Frankie Montas8.2 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 10 Ks. 18 whiffs for Montas! That’s his third 14%+ swinging-strike rate game in his last five as his slider has developed into a strong offering + his splitter did some work today going 6/17 on swings-and-misses. Gooood stuff Montas! I really wish he could have finished the night, but he allowed an RBI double to Miggy and got the hook one out short. Womp womp. Sure, the Tigers are bad n all, but it’s good to see Montas take advantage. Speaking of which, the Tribe are next. PRAISE BE.

Rick Porcello7.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. The Thief did well as he continues to make a case for the title of Spider-Man that I really don’t expect him to get. But hey, this was the Astros and he produced for you. Be happy.

Aaron Sanchez3.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. Sanchez left this one with – you guessed it – a blister. I remember when I ranked Sanchez inside the Top 30 in the 2017 pre-season. Hoooo boy what was I thinking. Times were different, y’all. You can go ahead and drop if you were holding onto this still. 

Jhoulys Chacin5.0 IP, 3 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. Remember kids, Chacin will do well when Jhoulyst expect it. I know some of you probably want more analysis here for Chacin, but it’s seriously the case for Chacin. the man is so unpredictable and not worth your emotions.

Cole Irvin6.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks. Remember Irvin? The guy I labeled a Cup of Schmo with a sub 89 mph heater? No? Well guess what, he has a sub 89 mph heater and a 6% swinging-strike rate in two starts. Yeah.

Trevor Richards6.1 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks. A not-VPQS-but-might-as-well-be-a-VPQS for Richards is okay, I guess. He’s become a Cherry Bomb and his changeup isn’t doing enough to pull him out of it. The seducing whispers of Hellickson are getting louder and louder…

Jeff Samardzija5.1 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 0 Ks. It’s funny, I was into Loose Lips as a discount grab at the end of drafts, then jumped off early in the year, only to be surprised that he had a sub 3.00 ERA around the time the month turned over. It didn’t make sense given his skill set and what do you know! It’s a 6.28 ERA in his last three games, here with a legit HAISTFMFWT?! Don’t do this to yourself, this isn’t the man of old that I hoped he could return to. 

Anthony DeSclafani4.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks. Yeaaaaaah. The Tony Disco isn’t the answer and it’s too bad. I, like many of you, really wanted to believe his new curveball and approach would unlock the skills within – and he may still have those games ahead! – but his schedule pitching for the Reds is not in his favor + there’s just too much bomb in his cherry. That sounds wrong. It does, right? Well it isn’t, just so we’re clear.

Brad Keller5.2 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 5 BBs, 3 Ks. Yep, that’s the Keller we’ve been served this year and it’s like his manager revied his 2018 season and said “wait, no, this is all wrong. Why are you paying you this much?” Poor guy, he just couldn’t maintain his old lifestyle.

Jefry Rodriguez6.2 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. Ahhhhh and all was right in the world of baseball. I really shouldn’t have stuck him on The List last week and those that Vargas Rule’d him can move on.

Marco Gonzales5.0 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. His changeup was working, but not much else as his fastball command was off and he hung curveballs and cutters. Blegh. I guess this is what it’s like to be Spider-Man?

Jon Gray4.2 IP, 5 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 8 Ks. This is Gray’s third 5 ER game in his last four…all on the road. Wild. I remember during his breakout year there was a lot of talk about him being better inside of Coors, but it didn’t take into account the strength of teams faced. Here? These poor road games came against the Braves, Brewers, and Phils. Yep, still true. The Ks are still flowing – 25 in his last three – so if that what’s you need, let it fly, but man I’d hate having to endure this anxiety all year. I ranked him stupid low in the pre-season because of that experience as a potential owner and I just didn’t want anything to do with it. It’s your health. 

Jacob deGrom5.0 IP, 6 ER, 9 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks. Oh come on deGrom, you demolished the Marlins last week, you’re pitching in Marlins Park against the team far-and-away worst at HRs and you still allow a longball while returning just three strikeouts. I just don’t get how you can have 21/103 CSW against the Marlins. Maybe there is a legit elbow injury here that they were able to stave off before but it has returned as his command wasn’t nearly as good as we’ve seen before…but this still wasn’t a Pollock as fastballs were up, sliders were glove-side and changeups – for the most part – were down. Sure, a lot of heaters down the pipe too but it wasn’t this chaos of fireworks of a strikezone plot. I feel like I’m in a National Treasure movie as someone confused with me Mr. Cage. It doesn’t make sense. If you own him, keep starting him, I’m sure something will show up giving an excuse for this game and here’s to hoping we forget it all next time out.

Daniel Norris5.1 IP, 6 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks. Yeaaaaah, Norris really isn’t anything to talk about these days. Womp womp.

Ivan Nova3.0 IP, 8 ER, 8 Hits, 4 BBs, 1 Ks. We know Super Novas are rare, y’all. Don’t get into a habit of looking up at the sky and expecting a new one, you’ll get served a HAISTFMFWT?! and leave disappointed.


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.


John Means vs. Cleveland Indians – I don’t love Means (he should probably be at like #99 on The List, though) but he has the best matchup here.


Tomorrow’s Streamer


Reynaldo Lopez vs. Toronto Blue Jays – I’m tempted to go with his counterpart Trent Thornton on the other side, but I’ll go with the guy facing the worse offense.


Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer


Brett Anderson vs. Cleveland Indians – I don’t have a choice. Well, I do, but it’s EJax against the Sawx, Hess against the Yanks, Leake in Arlington, or Font against the Nats. Soooooo yeah.


Game of the Day


Pablo Lopez vs. Steven Matz – There are a lot of single pitchers + a repeat of the Tanaka/Snell game, but I just want to know if PabLo is any different from his cataclysmic game last week. I NEED TO KNOW.


(Photo by Russell Lansford/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.

19 responses to “Maddening Max”

  1. Perfect Game says:

    Martin Perez or Lyles in a QS league without hurting ratios?

  2. David Dodge says:

    I’ve been on your Mikolas train since last season, but would you drop him for Kyle Gibson moving forward? I really want to keep the faith but he hurt me.

  3. Joe says:

    Nick would you drop Mikolas for Eickhoff?

  4. Kyle says:

    So you’re tell me I should drop Mikolas for Musgrove, Montas, Eikhoff, or Gibson? It’s been such a roller coaster!

  5. Kevin says:

    Chris Archer is in free agency. Do I drop anyone to pick him up?

    My team is:
    Berrios, Castillo, Maeda, Musgrove, Paddack, C. Smith, Soroka, Ryu, Boyd, Ray, Taillon, and Kluber (IL).

    I’m torn on this one. Maybe drop Taillon for Archer since I only have 1 IL spot? But I feel more confident that Taillon will help more during playoffs. Thanks for the help!

  6. Frankie says:

    You blew it!! You had the greatest chance at a legendary headline in, “Mik-No-Mas!”
    There’s always next week I guess.

  7. Leon says:

    Nick, is Degrom worth trading paddack and Caleb smith for? I can’t tell if this is going to be a train wreck or a buying opportunity for the ROS.

  8. VB says:

    Which side would you rather have ROS?

    A) deGrom, Strahm, Folty
    B) Snell, Morton, Weaver

  9. OldMilwaukeePounders says:

    Hey Nick,

    Are you dropping any of these guys:

    Weaver, Darvish, Boyd

    To get any of these guys:

    Montas, M Perez, Montas, Eflin, Musgrove, Eickhoff, Giolito

    Thanks man!

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