Nick’s Schtick

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

Nothing has changed. Okay maybe a little but I just can’t treat Nick Pivetta massively different after his 9.0 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks performance against the Reds yesterday. But Nick, save for his first inning in his first start back, he’s had three straight great outings! It’s awesome! Wonderful! Fantastic! And still a super small sample. Let’s see, he had a stretch of 19 innings of 1 ER and 25 Ks across three starts in May last year, another of 3 ER and 19 Ks in three starts, etc. This is what Pivetta is – a Cherry Bomb in its truest sense. Does it mean that he has to fail next time now? No. Does it mean that there isn’t a chance he continues this awesome stretch and that you should drop him? Definitely not. But when you see Pivetta’s name on The List tomorrow hovering #50 and not higher, I hope you understand why. You’re not going to talk about the actual start, are you. I could, but it honestly doesn’t serve a purpose. You know it doesn’t. SEARCH YOUR FEELINGS.

Let’s see how every other SP did Saturday:

Lucas Giolito7.2 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 11 Ks. With all that out of the way – I’ve never done a long blurb like that without talking about the start itself but WHATEVER – let’s talk about the other guy y’all will want me to give a ton of praise to. And I will, of course, as Giolito continues acting like an ace. No AGA label here as he feasted on the Royals and this start was a bit weird. I was talking about this start live inside the Discord, focusing on Giolito’s fastball command not being nearly as pristine as we’ve seen before. Everything was good, but I wasn’t blown away with pitches like I normally am, with Giolito getting behind a decent amount and being fine with breaking pitches. His changeup came into form, slider stole strikes, etc. but this wasn’t a guy that put the ball where he wanted all the time, while I still don’t really understand how Giolito’s slider holds a .061 BAA and 24% swinging-strike rate. It’s not even a money pitch with a 36.4% O-Swing. Maybe it’s the .125 BABIP talking, I’m not really sure. It all seems a little…off. But hey, he’ll be Top 25 tomorrow and we’re all starting him and hoping it rides. It just doesn’t fit like the breakout of Matt Boyd, for example. I should mention the 23 whiffs earned a Gallows Pole, too. That’s pretty cool.

Zack Greinke6.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks. Aces gonna ace. Okay, back to normal happy things. Did you realize it was a 2.87 ERA with a 24% K rate and 0.94 WHIP? Super weird seeing this from Greinke’s lowest swinging-strike rate since 2012 at just 9.3%. But hey, who cares, this is great.

Noe Ramirez1.1 IP, 0 ER, 0 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks. Noe opened for Dillon Peters who was fine at 5.2 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks. Like the player who won player of the week on May 1st, you’ve already forgotten Peters.

Max Scherzer7.0 IP, 0 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks. Aces gonna ace. I just can’t quit you at #1, you won’t let me.

Ryne Stanek1.1 IP, 0 ER, 0 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks. Stanek opened for Austin Pruit and…hey wait! Come back! Okay fine, you’re right. It doesn’t matter what Pruitt and his 6.39 ERA did. 

Julio Teheran6.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. The Teheran cruise is in full steam still, now allowing just 3 ER total in seven starts. Wild. It’s a 0.70 ERA with a 5.37 SIERA. Van WILDER. No reason not to Vargas Rule this, maybe even Vargas Rule plus after the first blowup. It is coming though, without a doubt.

Andrew Cashner6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. Don’t you just love a good Birthday Party? I heard this one even had a magician. A magician!

Buck Farmer2.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. Barmer was fine is his role as the opener for Nick Ramirez who is exactly the man you remember from years ago. In other words, we’re moving on.

David Price6.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 10 Ks. Aces gonna ace. That’s a 2.70 ERA with a 1.05 WHIP and near 29.4% strikeout rate. Lovely.

Trevor Richards7.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks. Richards, you spoil me. Streaming Record: 44-25. So was his changeup good? Was it good? Well, it must have been as he threw changeups 61% of the time. Yeah. Unreal. 

Adrian Sampson9.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks. Oh snap. We need to have a serious conversation about Sampson now, don’t we? If it weren’t for Pivetta, I’d have likely led with Adrian, who earned 33/109 CSW – middling – and 11% whiffs. It’s…weird. I’m not seeing a whole lot different in these outings to propel his overall swinging-strike rate from consistently under 10% to three straight outings of 11%+. Slightly fewer fastballs in favor of a touch more changeups and sliders, fine, but the real difference is that these secondary pitches were actually good. Sampson could throw his slide piece for a strike over the plate or dance the pitch low and away to right-handers easily. His changeup…well that actually wasn’t great but it didn’t hurt him. Is the dude a pickup? Sadly, not as he gets the Sawx next. Will he be on The List? Sure, why not. Maybe he survives that one and it becomes more apparent how he fixed his slider or turned away from heaters, we’ll see.

Framber Valdez7.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks. Whoa whoa whoa. This wasn’t supposed to happen. I thought we’d get five frames, six if we were lucky, sprinkled with a chance of Josh James getting multiple innings as he stretches to become the true fifth starter for the Astros. But nah, Framber went out and carved up seven frames against the Orioles with 30% CSW in 84 pitches. Oh right, yeah this was the Orioles. And his fastballs is fine with a good curveball. And he doesn’t have anything else in his repertoire. And he gets Toronto next. Wait. Oh snap, you’re right. Fine, grab him for Toronto. Yay! Yeah yeah yeah.

Ryan Yarbrough7.2 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks. Well this is unexpected. Yarbrough flat out started and cruised through 7.2 frames as he was let loose for 110 pitches in the double-header. This wasn’t a cheap win, he earned this one with 35/110 CSW, surprisingly good curveballs (9/19 CSW) and strong changeups and cutters to mask the meh heater. Oddly enough, Yarbrough has legit started three games and hit seven frames in all of them. Huh. Just the first time all year getting seven Ks, though, and I’m not necessarily buying, but if he starts next time against the Angels, that’s not so bad.

Rich Hill5.0 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks. Ehhhh, you want more from Hill who had been killing it lately. 2.00 WHIP and just five frames ain’t gonna cut it.

Brad Keller8.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. Impressive performance here from Keller that got outshined by Giolito’s gem. 

Steven Matz6.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 10 Ks. Hot dang Matz! Exactly 30% CSW as you threw 120 pitches, earning a whopping 10/26 on curveballs – probably the most I’ve seen with the pitch thus far. It’s good to see sliders returning as well…though 2/15 CSW means he’s still far away from getting it back into form. It’s weird. I don’t love Matz, but he’s going to get some love tomorrow with curveball whiffs and keeping sinkers up. We’ll see how long it takes before he hits the IL again, but this is nice.

Adam Plutko6.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks. It’s boring, it’s good, and it’s not something to chase. Sorry Plutko, all you do is make me think of Plinko. That’s the closest to money you’ll be.

Chris Bassitt5.2 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. Okay, this is a step in the right direction for us to be Bassitt Hounds again and Arlington is a hard place to be successful. I think he’s worth the pickup against the Mariners next time out. 

Zach Davies5.0 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. It’s boring and exactly what Davies should have been doing over the past month or so. I love it when things are back to normal.

Eric Lauer7.0 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks. When will Lauer get the respect that he deserves?! Maybe when he does better than a 24% CSW? During his recent “hot” streak of five games, it’s a 2.03 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 18% K rate, and 4.53 SIERA, needing a .244 BABIP, 80% LOB rate, and 6.5% HR/FB to do it. In other words, this just isn’t a guy that screams consistent production. What is his best pitch? Seriously, I don’t know. I guess it’s a curveball that holds a .156 BAA thus far (.184 BABIP needed), but its 8.2% swinging-strike rate is just so eye-roll inducing. 15% strikeout rate on that pitch. It’s not going to last y’all.

Jordan Lyles3.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 4 BBs, 5 Ks. Lyles needed 92 pitches here and you’re wondering if you can drop him. Sure, it depends on what you’re getting but I don’t think Lyles is a guy you’ll be regretting skipping on in September. So go ahead if you have something that helps now. 

Jeff Samardzija5.1 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. Blegh. That’s Loose Lips’ new nickname. Blegh. (It’s not, please don’t send me comments about this.)

Jack Flaherty3.2 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 0 Ks. Flaherty nooooooooo. I understand you have one of the toughest schedules out there and the Cubs are good n all, but you have to be better than 2/20 CSW on sliders. Seriously. Please, for everyone.

Jon Gray5.2 IP, 4 ER, 8 Hits, 3 BBs, 8 Ks. One of those strikeouts was not deserved in the slightest as Gray showcased his ceiling and floor in one start on the road. Without a clear path to dependable production, he’s just not the kind of arm I like chasing.

Jon Lester6.0 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. Ehhhhh that fourth ER hurts but the man is a Toby and this is what you have to deal with.

Joe Palumbo4.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks. I watched this one in full as I danced between Palumbo and Giolito yesterday afternoon. What I love: his ability to go up-and-in to both lefties and righties without hesitation. What I don’t like: his curveball is middling and he doesn’t have a third pitch. There will be games where the fastball dominates and the deuce is good enough to make it work, but I’m not sold that this is the next breakout stud or anything like that. I think you can hold off on grabbing him unless he has a streamable matchup. Maybe wait a few starts first as well given he only tossed 66 yesterday.

Tanner Roark5.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. Awww, I was hoping Roark could continue his little hot streak against the Phils, but this wasn’t meant to be. Not that I really like Roark – I reluctantly put him on The List last week – but I always root for the sneaky plays to pan out, you know?

CC Sabathia5.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. Yep, that’s the floor you’re dealing with owning CC and the sad news is that the ceiling just isn’t worth it.

Josh Smith4.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. J-Smith is not the answer. J-Smith is never the answer. 

Paul Blackburn3.0 IP, 5 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks. If you started Blackburn, I’m aPauled at your actions. Oh lord, you spent ages coming up with that, didn’t you. I HAD NOTHING.

Kyle Gibson5.0 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks. Awww, a three-run shot in the second ruined this one early, though the strikeouts are still there via 18 whiffs. Not the same whiff rate on changeups that we’ve seen this year – just 2/18 here – but still, good arms give you something to salvage each game.

Aaron Sanchez6.0 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 4 BBs, 3 Ks. I remember the hype for Aaron a few years ago. It was a fun time. This is not a fun time.

Yusei Kikuchi3.1 IP, 6 ER, 9 Hits, 3 BBs, 1 Ks. Ohhhh boy, Kikuchi, buddy, this just isn’t your year. I can fathom him putting it together later in the season but there’s no reason to chase this one for a bit now. Just let it go.


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.


Pablo Lopez vs. Atlanta Braves PabLo does well at home and I’ll take the gamble here.


Tomorrow’s Streamer


Anibal Sanchez vs. Chicago White Sox – Easy choice here, hopefully you can snag him early for his two-start week.


Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer


Dakota Hudson vs. Miami Marlins – Let’s let this ride again as he faces a weak offense in Miami.


Game of the Day 


Aaron Nola vs. Sonny Gray – I want both of these guys to do so well today. Everyone is a winner!


(Photo by Kyle Ross/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.

11 responses to “Nick’s Schtick”

  1. Adam says:

    We sure Gibson is a good arm? I have the urge to drop him

  2. k says:

    So you trust Giolito to have made the changes to go from arguably one of the worst starters in the MLB last year to a top 25? But you don’t give credit due to the changes that Pivetta made since his return and refer to his past as the reason he’s not above 50?

    • Nick Pollack says:


      There’s more to it, and in short, 2.5 starts from Pivetta is a much smaller sample than Giolito’s.

      • DonJuan says:

        I love your stuff and almost often agree, but I have watched them both a few times now, and Giolito is better than Boyd, and it’s not particularly close. Giolito is a solid ace. Boyd is more of a #2 in my opinion, just from watching them.

        Pivetta didn’t come out of nowhere, he had a k/9 over 10 last year, figured things out in AAA (while getting a 14k game), and has absolutely dominated since his recall, as many (not me) thought he would this year. He’s pretty legit. This is a buy-high situation.

  3. Dave says:


    I watched much of Giolito’s game yesterday and it seemed like he was getting a tremendous amount of called strikes 3″ – 6″ off the left side of the plate. Would you agree with that assessment?


    • rainmaker says:

      Yes, I watched the game and I noticed the same thing but Keller was getting the same calls. The ump just had a wide strike zone.

  4. Nathan says:

    I own Flaherty in a dynasty league and I’m worried about him. Do you think he will return to ace level eventually in the future outside of this year?

  5. Mallex P. Keaton says:

    Dump Domingo German (to the IL for a left hip flexor strain) for Pivetta, Heaney or Chirinos in a 12 team H2H? Or just sit tight on German? I don’t like the sound of German’s injury so I’m inclined to abandon ship… IL all maxed out so stashing not an option. Thanks Nick!

  6. max says:

    Hey Nick, I get that Pivetta burned us. So did Castillo last year and Snell the year before that. Would you agree that Pivetta is young enough and has the stuff to be a top of the rotation guy like Castillo/Snell, or do you think they were always working with more/better stuff? Asking b/c I’m in a keeper rebuild and have Pivetta on the cheap. Willing to take my lumps but curious what you expect from him next season and beyond?

  7. Zach Lowry says:

    Could it be? Are we really gonna “talk to Sampson” now? I’m sad that someone else grabbed him off the wire last night…

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