Merrill’s Steep Decline

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

Last week I made Merrill Kelly the cover image of The List given his continued success over nine straight starts. Then he blew up in his 10th start, but surely he’d recover against the Marlins, right? Nope, 6.0 IP, 7 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks as he allowed a pair of homers and collected just 24/94 CSW and six whiffs. His curveball wasn’t enough, his cutter…was thrown just once and he suddenly relied on heaters again. I bought into Kelly’s summer surge based on his curveball and cutter usage jumping up and to see him look elsewhere against the MARLINS is sure to make me shudder. Now I’m not ruling out a rebound against the Nationals – how will there team even look on August 4th? Is Rendon getting dealt now that Scherzer is missing more time and they are…claiming the #1 wild card spot at the moment. Hooo boy, I wonder if it may be best pushing the trade deadline to August 15th now that we only have one for the season. It may be a quiet Wednesday Livestream tomorrow with Sporer. ANYWAY, with Kelly, I’d be okay moving on to other options if you need streams right now, but still keep an eye on him. It could just be a pothole on the road, not a large valley.

Let’s see how every other SP did Monday:

Jon Gray8.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks. Gray can’t handle hosting the Giants, but the Dodgers in Coors? Yeah, no problem. 29% CSW with 11/112 whiffs is kinda meh as his slider did all of the work without a single whiff on heaters. I’m still really cautious about Jonny G and his 1.36 WHIP & 24% strikeout rate (not as elite as you’d think) and while he should still be owned, I’d love to not have to deal with this.

Chris Paddack5.1 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. This is obviously a good start and we’re pretty much blindly starting Paddack whenever the Padres give us legit information on when he’s actually starting, but I can’t be the only one that wanted more against the Orioles, right? It just seems a little sparse on the meat. WHERE’S THE BEEF?

Jaime Barria5.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks. Barria’s last six games: 1 ER, 1 ER, 2 ER, 10 ER, 1 ER, 2 ER. Each of those non-blowup games are a cool five frames, averaging close to six strikeouts each. I’m not saying he’s a pickup, but I clearly should have gone with this stream over Keller. I let you all down. Keep him in mind as a streaming option, nothing more.

Patrick Corbin6.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks. Aces gonna ace. 34/107 CSW with 22 whiffs – Gallows Pole, duh – as his slider held a 38% swinging-strike rate across 50 thrown. Yep, this is Corbin.

Thomas Pannone6.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. Hey, we’ll certainly take a PQS from Pannone. It has the makings of a Birthday Party so let’s act like it never happened.

Jordan Zimmermann5.1 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks. Whoa, I didn’t know that July 29th was Jay-Z’s birthday! Huh, learn something new every day.

Sonny Gray5.1 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. Bleegggggh. Let’s reverse the Gray starts and everything is wonderful today. Sonny endured the Cubs and Brewers but struggled against the ghastly Pirates, struggling to find a rhythm with either his slider or curveball. That’s the key for Sonny, if one of those is working, he’s golden. Neither was quite there and he labored through. 23/89 CSW just isn’t what we want. Braves are next and I’m still starting there.

Brad Keller7.0 IP, 4 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks. So I’m dumb and assumed Keller wasn’t owned in 20% of leagues when he clearly was, giving me an instant Loss. Streaming Record 67-45. Not to mention, 4 ER is a little too much to allow…though Keller kept up the velocity once again at 95.5 mph (two ticks above season average!), but his slider was hung a good amount, preventing the two-pitch arm from taking off against the Jays. And now it’s the Twins – terrible timing – and I’m out. For now.

Dallas Keuchel5.1 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 4 BBs, 4 Ks. Blegh. After his 12-strikeout game, Keuchel regressed back into being the Toby we know he is. He’s been…fine thus far and we’re going to see a mix of it all that will return middling numbers overall. And that’s fine, just not exceptional.

Caleb Smith7.0 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks. Man, HRs are a stupid killer, causing three of his ER in one Ketel Marte blast. Fast made the point that he lowered his slider usage to a low 15% rate, electing to go with high heat instead that did burn him, and maybe it is something to monitor moving forward – his fastball is the weakest link in the chain as it doesn’t have elite velocity and doesn’t come with Tier 1 command. It’s not enough for me to reconsider rolling with Kaleb and his 31% strikeout rate + sub 3.50 ERA, though.

David Hess4.2 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks. For disappointment this year, the Hess Truck’s here! Seriously, any hope you had was erased two batters in after allowing longballs to Fernando Tatis Jr. and Franmil Reyes

Kenta Maeda4.0 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. Ugggggh. That’s just 10.1 IP across Maeda’s last three starts as one game was rained out and his last two haven’t escaped the fifth. At the same time, this was Coors and that’s dumb. The Dodgers aren’t going to bounce Maeda so let’s just play it cool, boys. Reaaaaaal cool.

Alex McRae1.1 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 0 Ks. Yeaaaah, McRae made his first career “start” and it was a bad as you’d expect from this arm you’ve never heard of before. Cup of Schmo all the way.


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.


Tyler Beede vs. Philadelphia Phillies A bit of a risk here, but I liked what Beede brought to the Cubs last time out and could improve against the Phils. Both Reynaldo Lopez and Griffin Canning are better options…but have 21% owned rates. Pick them up where you can.


Tomorrow’s Streamer


Jakob Junis vs. Detroit Tigers – Ugh, I guess I’m going with this as Jose Urquidy has been picked up in about 30% of leagues. Risky given he wasn’t sharp last time out, but there isn’t much else.


Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer


Dylan Cease vs. New York Mets Owners are jumping ship while Cease could rebound in a heartbeat with his 97+ heat. I’d take the chance here.


Game of the Day 


Reynaldo Lopez vs. Noah Syndergaard – Plenty of good games today – Verlander vs. Bieber, Price vs. Morton, Gallen vs. Odorizzi – but I’m really curious how this one ends up as both pitchers should dominate.


(Photo by Will Powers/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.

6 responses to “Merrill’s Steep Decline”

  1. Johnson says:

    Thoughts on streaming Aaron Sanchez Fri vs BAL?

  2. Tyler says:

    Brad Keller had a QS through 7 with ~90 pitches, but then the Royals let him start the 8th and he instantly gave up a HR and a triple. It was his 4th time through the order.. probably should have pulled him after 7 but what do I know? I’m no MLB Manager.

  3. Donk says:

    Stream Woj home against the Blue Jays on Thursday?

  4. Perfect Game says:

    How many more IP or starts does Buehler have left this year knowing how the Dodger play with SP and they are assured a playoff spot to rest them?

  5. Nels J. says:

    Where’s the beef with Paddock? He was given an early lead and got batters out. Plus the Orioles’ offense has not been that bad lately. I guess the Russian judge didn’t think he held his elbow up high enough on a triple toe loop.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Ha! I just wanted six frames and if not that then more than five strikeouts.

      But no real complaints, this is just me being spoiled n all :)

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