Meatball Hiro

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

I can see you staring at the waiver wire, wondering who you’re going to get as you drop Masahiro Tanaka from your squad. After his horrid London start, we thought it couldn’t get worse this year, until he put up yesterday’s 3.1 IP, 12 ER, 12 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks line against the Red Sox. Again. The start made Tanaka’s ERA rise about 0.75 points alone and seeing his strikeout rate drop to 20% is all kinds of shocking. I watched this one live with friends, having fun predicting each pitch out of his hand and you could feel the insecurity. The struggle with each pitch as he tried to get a strike, preventing Boston batters from making good contact and finding a way back to the dugout. It wasn’t there. Will it be there again? It should…but it’s hard to really advocate for Tanaka above upside arms at this point. His splitter is gone (juiced ball?), his swinging-strike rate is down to sub 11% levels now, his fastball is not a strong offering, and everything relies on the O-Swing on his slider. He’s a Cherry Bomb in the truest sense and it’s just not something you want to trust during a one-week playoff. Tanaka will be moved down to the late 50s or so on Monday and obviously check if someone wants to buy low here, but I’d heavily consider streaming or chasing an upside play instead at this point. 

Let’s see how every other SP did Thursday:

Jacob deGrom7.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks. Aces gonna ace with another Gallows Pole at 20 whiffs and 35/105 CSW (55 sliders!). Believe it or not, the PL staff just did a 2020 mock first two rounds with the staff and I took deGrom at #22. Save for some dramatically different final weeks, deGrom’s next year assessment should be the same as labeled him entering 2019, and I got him about 10 picks later…in a harsher SP landscape. I’ll talk more about this in the article next week, it will be a fun one. This staff is the best.

Wade LeBlanc – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. He was the False Starter and returned 2 ER or fewer for the sixth time in seven games. That’s a 3.11 ERA in that span (dang Angels and their 6 ER clunker! It was the only one without an opener, so maybe there’s something to that…) with a 1.19 WHIP, 19% K rate, and 4.42 SIERA. Awwww, you had me going until the end. What did you expect? LeBlanc to actually be a strong add? I mean maybe he does deserve a spot on The List given his 27% hard contact allowed, but it is a .252 BABIP and 88% LOB rate during this stretch. You know that ain’t lasting and his strikeouts are bad. So good luck, I hope you can ride this for a few starts and squeeze some value out of it.

Jimmy Yacabonis2.0 IP, 1 ER, 1 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks. The Yak that did stuff to us opened for Tom Eschelman, who I didn’t even bother to replace as the true line of this game. Why not? Because you forgot that Eschelman was a pitcher in the majors. And that’s kinda how it should be. Sorry, Tommy. 

Jose Berrios7.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks. Aces gonna ace. he hasn’t fanned more than six since June 17th, so this was a welcome sight for many reasons.

Jose Suarez4.1 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. On one hand, seven of Suarez’s starts have been 3 ER or fewer this season, while fanning at least six in 5/8. On the downside, he has yet to go six full frames, with this 4.1 IP start capping his last four starts. That’s a whole lot of stats, Nick. GIVE IT TO ME STRAIGHT. Ah, so you’re a serif kind of guy. Me too. I wouldn’t go after Suarez as his ceiling is capped by lack of volume and the floor is too low with ratios. The strikeouts are cool, though, and maybe one day he’ll put it all together. 

Jeff Hoffman5.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 4 Ks. Yeaaaaah and this one was outside Coors! Imagine what it’ll be like when he’s home sour home.

Ariel Jurado7.0 IP, 3 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. I know I should have gone here for the stream n all, but I’m sorry Ariel, I still don’t want to be Part of this World. Why are you breaking into dance. THIS IS WHO I AM.

Miles Mikolas6.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. Is this a disappointing Mikolas season? Across the entire four months thus far, yes. For the last seven starts and beyond? Maybe not. He’s holding a 3.00 ERA with a 1.21 WHIP across his last seven games, averaging 6 IPS in that time…okay I just can’t do this anymore. Those numbers? Yeah, he needed a CGSHO to make them pretty. Even cherry-picking this stretch, Mikolas has still allowed 3/4 ER in four of these seven games. He’s fanned more than four just twice – 5 and 6 – and returned a 4.17 SIERA in these games. His season-long ERA? 4.19. His slider was in sub 86mph levels yesterday and I just can’t buy this for the final two months. He’s a Toby and should be treated as such.

Adam Plutko5.1 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks. This start gave you nothing but pain. PAIN. Seriously, just one strikeout? HAISTFMFWT?! And the ratios are bad and no QS and no win and WHY DID I GO WITH PLUTKO. Streaming Record: 65-43.

Rick Porcello6.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. If you had the brass to start Porcello, congrats, you got yourself a PQS and a Win. You should be very happy with yourself. We all sure are proud of you.

Max Scherzer5.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks. Aces gonna return from the IL and not be a DLH but slightly act like one with that ERA. That was long-winded. YOU’RE LONG-WINDED. He’s still number one and it’s good to have you back, bucko.

Eric Lauer2.1 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 1 Ks. Ah yes, the return of El. O. L. I wonder if Lauer is the first one out if the Padres land a starter next week. I hope so, I’ve been typing HAISTFMFWT?! so often these days.

Mike Montgomery5.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 0 Ks. HAISTFMFWT?! See what I mean? This isn’t a bad start from Monty, I’m just amazed that he went 0/20 getting strikeouts. It’s just so…not something I want gamble on in the future.

Brett Anderson4.2 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks. Yep, there’s the Anderson we all know and hate.

Joe Musgrove5.0 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks. Ugh, Musgrove, you’re killing us. Just 3/89 whiffs? 18% CSW?! You’re underperforming like Halle Berry in Catwoman when she knew it would be a failure. Nothing seemed to allow Musgrove to get into a grove in this start, with Cardinals bats properly laying off his slider and getting aggressive on his heaters. Maybe it’s just not in him to put it all together. Maybe he just needs to get out of Pittsburgh. He heads to Cincy next (not what I meant) and I’m on the fence. If there’s something strong out there, I don’t think you’ll be kicking yourself over Musgrove in the final two months. Maybe a start here and there, but not a stupid good run.

Drew VerHagen4.0 IP, 6 ER, 6 Hits, 4 BBs, 4 Ks. Drew finally got his first start and he allowed 6 ER for his second straight game. Poor guy, this isn’t how he drew it up in his mind.

Lucas Giolito5.0 IP, 7 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks. We thought we may be out of the woods with Giolito after his previous start, but his tough schedule continued as he got a date with Twins…and they let him have it. Four home runs swatted here (thanks, Nelson Cruz), and I’m sure some owners are feeling nervous. While I don’t think Giolito will be the same Top 15 SP he was in the spring, I’d buy low if that’s an option as he should be a stable arm the rest of the way. Things are fine.


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.


Asher Wojciechowski vs. Los Angeles Angels – I could go with Jose Urquidy against the Cardinals, but I think Woj’s curveball is the best pitch here and could carry him through another fantastic day.


Tomorrow’s Streamer


Anthony DeSclafani vs. Colorado Rockies – It’s not in Coors and Tony Disco has been on a nice little roll.


Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer


Danny Duffy vs. Cleveland Indians – I’m not in love with this, but I could see Duffy continuing his current ride against the Tribe. Pedro Payano could also be a sneaky play against the Athletics.


Game of the Day 


Asher Wojciechowski vs. Griffin Canning – You guys know I’m into both of these arms, let’s see some strikeouts galore.


(Photo by Juan Salas/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.

7 responses to “Meatball Hiro”

  1. Yanked says:

    Would you deal Tanaka for R.Ray??

  2. Popeye Doyle says:

    Hey Nick– I have Soroka, feeling antsy about him..
    Available on wire – Darvish, Sonny Gray, Reynaldo Lopez, Chiniros, Mikolas, M. Kelly
    Would you make a move or stand pat for now? Tx…

  3. hscer says:

    Canning is no longer starting tonight after a disaster last night: 2 IP (innings 15 and 16), 5 ER, 10/42 CSW in relief against BAL.

  4. Chelsa says:

    Great article!! LOVE the title!! I benched Giolito vs the Twins in my 12 teamer. Gonna keep him down the stretch, but will likely bench him for certain starts. Am afraid to start Urquidy vs the Cards too! Especially with the way they’ve been hitting lately. Any thoughts on Danny Salazar for the ROS?

  5. Mike says:

    Drop Musgrove for Wood, Woj, Gausman, Payano, Eaton or K. Calhoun? Is it worth it or hold? I have Ryu, Degrom & Buehler so I can just always stream a fourth starter. Let me know your thoughts.

  6. Jonny Johnson says:

    Nicholas- you around today?
    Would you start Soroka tonite?

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