No Longer The Mander

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

I feel like there isn’t enough talk about Justin Verlander’s recent struggles, exacerbated by yesterday’s 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 4 BBs, 5 Ks as he’s allowed 17 ER in five games now. What has gotten into Verlander? This was only his second start of the season under 6.0 frames and the first with four walks. That’s also nine HRs in four games now (yeesh) and something seems to be up. Velocity? Nah. Don’t tell me it’s…yep. It’s the slide piece. NO. We’ve been talking about Verlander having the #1 slider in the game for a few weeks. It still is by pVal, but here’s the thing. It’s returned negative values in three straight games. Uh oh. Why? What’s going on with it? Well, in this game he threw 22 sliders, resulting in zero CSW. That’s right, not a single whiff or called strike on what we could call the best pitch in the majors. That’s just wrong. WRONG. The good news is that previous starts weren’t close to this, with just a few mistakes that burned him with the pitch. I have to imagine he fixes it up or at the very least leans a bit more on his curveball and changeup in the meantime to get there. Buy low where you can.

Let’s see how every other SP did Saturday:

Brendan McKay6.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. Y’all thought I was going to lead with McKay, but there isn’t a whole lot to say. He’s great. Love his low-to-mid 90s heater from the “left side” (he sits on the extreme right side of the rubber), with a stellar cutter that he commands effectively inside to right-handers and is sure to get whiffs away to lefties. Meanwhile, his hook is a big one and will get whiffs over time. You see those three strikeouts – all after the fourth inning – and want more. I get it. But the man induced a ton of weak contact and earned outs the right way – he was perfect until the sixth, after all. We could say this was a BABIP start – it won’t be this good – but he’s so much more than that. Legit Top 30 upside here, it’s just a question of his usage in 2019. Next year, I’m all over this. He’s legit.

Brett Anderson7.2 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. Just one out away from an MS Score of 7, I’m ready to forget about Brett once again, even if he holds a 3.42 ERA in his last eight starts. With a 5.26 SIERA but that’s obvious, right? This was his second highest velocity of the year, by the way, with 91.4 mph on the gun vs. the 90.5 average. Good for him.

Andrew Cashner7.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. Ugh, thanks Cashner. You actually forced me to look up more on you to make sure I’m not missing anything. *Looks down at clipboard* Let’s see…just four earned runs in your last four innings – looks up – that’s great! I really enjoy seeing a 1.44 ERA with a 4.96 SIERA, you know? And the six strikeouts here? Came with a 28% CSW and just nine whiffs. That feels like you’re doing great – for you – here’s to hoping to get to face the Cleveland offense often. You don’t? Oh. That’s too bad.

Zack Greinke7.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks. Aces gonna ace. You start Greinke. Always.

Drew Pomeranz5.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks. I led with Pomeranz last time suggesting a bench here against the Diamondbacks and while it was just five frames and 25% CSW, he still brought back the strikeouts. That’s cool, I really don’t buy this but it’s a fun little run.

Jose Quintana6.0 IP, 0 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks. Good to see Quintana pull the pendulum back to the cool side for a start, it’s going to be swinging all year. That’s what Tobys do.

Luis Castillo7.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks. Aces gonna ace. I lowered Castillo a bit as we’re in some ways wondering if the pin is going to drop, but that changeup is just too good. 21 whiffs for a Gallows Pole here with 19 whiffs on 56 changeups + sliders. He’s just so dang fun to watch. Seriously.

Dakota Hudson1.2 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks. This doesn’t look bad, but a second-inning error extended the frame as the Padres tacked on six runs with two outs. Ouch. Fortunately, there’s no medicine quite like facing the Giants in Oracle Park, so expect Hudson to recover next time out.

Chris Paddack6.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks. Ahhhhh the Sherriff is back in town. FINALLY. You’ve waited a month for this. 40/97 CSW is STUPID good as his fastball was as elite as advertised paired with some good changeups down in the zone – and you even had 4/7 CSW on curveballs. You have to be amped about this. Prime Paddack is a wonderful thing. So do I sell now? If it’s something like Paddack for Snell then it’s a resounding YES. Of course.

Michael Pineda6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks. What is going on with Minnesota SP velocity? First Perez fell down two ticks to have his velocity rebound the following start, now Pineda recovers from sub 92 mph to 94 mph here against the ChiSox. It resulted in 15/47 CSW on his four-seamer (nice!), setting up his slider well as it was located effectively down and away. Are we back in on Pineda? He hosts the Rangers next time out and I’m a little cautious there. Not a bad strikeout upside play if you need it on Saturday.

Brandon Woodruff7.2 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks. It may surprise you that Woodruff held just 27/108 CSW in this one, though he wouldn’t have been able to go so deep into the game with some outs coming early in counts (i.e. not a called strike or a whiff). It’s his third game in four going at least seven frames and despite the high ER tally across the previous five games, it’s been a feeling of bad luck that was rectified a bit here against the Pirates. It’s hard not to be on this train.

Jon Gray6.2 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks. Whoa. Because of his recent run of 3 ER in three starts, Gray has managed to lower his ERA to just 3.84 this year. WHAT. With a 9.70 K/9…and awww come on SIERA, don’t be like that. Don’t give me a 4.16 mark. This one was particularly impressive, limiting the Dodgers to just 2 ER inside Coors but here’s the thing. What do you think his CSW was? Eight strikeouts, over six frames, you have to think solid, right? 21%. Ouch. This doesn’t seem like prime Gray – as we like to call him, Jonny Silver. This is Jonny Bronze a bit and while I’m sure his sub 4.00 ERA with that lovely strikeout rate will get a lot of attention, I think it’s a bit of a trap.

Tyler Skaggs4.1 IP, 2 ER, 2 Hits, 4 BBs, 5 Ks. Blegh. That’s the perfect word, everything was super blegh here from the 25/91 CSW to one whiff on 39 four-seamers and failing to escape the fifth frame. The ratios don’t kill you, it’s just disappointing, A’s offense or not. He heads to Arlington next and I’m scared.

Julio Teheran3.1 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks. There was a long rain delay during the third frame that Teheran was able to pitch through, lasting 84 pitches in total. Yeah, 84 pitches for 10 outs. Why do you still own Teheran?

Steven Matz2.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks. The Mets didn’t let Matz survive the rain delay, though, so there goes this start.

Zach Eflin6.0 IP, 3 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. A VPQS from Eflin? Yeah okay. The three strikeouts may be surprising to some, but honestly, it’s a bit expected since he doesn’t have a real whiff pitch and he pounds the zone with hard fastballs and sliders. But against the Marlins? Yeah, okay. Good point. BE BETTER EFLIN. With Hamels going down, maybe Eflin has a chance to win Spider-Man this year. We’ll see. I’ll probably do a “2019 fantasy awards” article at the end of the year announcing the winner. That should be fun.

Yusei Kikuchi5.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks. Until I see close to 94 mph against from Kikuchi, I’m like the anti-Jack and letting go. *Suit man whispers in my ear* 91.9 mph? ROSE?! WHO’S ROSE?

Jordan Lyles6.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. Lyles returned from the IL and had to face the Brewers. In other words, this was a clear DLH that served you a PQS if you were so bold. Actually isn’t a terrible line, good on you Lyles. Now go face the Cubs. Good luck. (I’m not down for that.)

Adrian Sampson6.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks. I caught a decent amount of this as I was hyped for McKay and save for a tough second frame that included a two-run shot, Sampson pitched well, surprising batters with that filthy slider. It really is nasty. Next he’s hosting the Angels and that could go either way. I’m leaning no, but I can see people leaning on it.

Gregory Soto3.2 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks. Well, yeah, he was the Mystery Starter until the day of and it’s better when he stayed behind the curtain. I mean, just one strikeout? HAISTFMFWT?!

Marcus Stroman4.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. This…this isn’t cool Stroman. There are a lot of teams that need your near 3.00 ERA and you’re just letting em down. But he had a cramp and was pulled early! Cramp Schmamp. But he had 8/28 slider whiffs! Slider Scmhlid–okay that’s good to see. It’s like Berrios’ curveball where the pitch goes in and out and seeing a lot of slider whiffs is the good thing you want to see from Stroman. Still, a bit upset and skeptical of Stroman moving forward, especially when he can’t handle a team like these Royals.

Austin Voth4.1 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. I was stoked to see 94 mph in his first start of the year across 60+ heaters. In this one? 92.6 mph. Oh. Yeah. I FEEL BAMBOOZLED. Streaming Record: 53-33.

Clayton Kershaw7.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks. The man did his best to survive Coors and he would have gotten away with it too if it weren’t for getting Singled Out in the sixth frame, with an error messing things up. He’s lasted six frames in every start this season and while he’s not TATIAGA nor the best pitcher on the planet anymore, you can’t help but love the guy.

Ivan Nova6.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. No Super Nova today, kids. Put the special glasses away. 

Jordan Yamamoto4.0 IP, 4 ER, 3 Hits, 4 BBs, 4 Ks. This is the real Fair Jordan. I wonder if this single start is the one that forces him back to the minor with Elieser Hernandez surviving past the Caleb Smith return. Sporer called Yamamoto a “kitchen sink” type of arm during our Fireside Chat and it’s exactly right as there’s nothing in his repertoire that really sticks out, throwing six different pitches in an effort to make things work. And hey, it kinda did here with 32% CSW, the pitches that didn’t work didn’t work as the Phils took advantage. I’m honestly 100% fine dropping him for something else on the wire if there’s a solid stream or two to pick up instead this week.

Homer Bailey5.0 IP, 5 ER, 5 Hits, 4 BBs, 6 Ks. Awwwww, there was an idea that Bailey was on a hot streak and facing the Jays could continue that trend. Guess not. Womp womp. BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD.

Rick Porcello0.1 IP, 6 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 0 Ks. This game was unreal. Nothing like both starters getting pulled in the first and each allowing their share of six earned runs.

Masahiro Tanaka0.2 IP, 6 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 0 Ks. Nothing like it. This is something to note moving forward, though. Games like this often have other elements going on that reduce the chances they’ll do well. Red Sox vs. Yankees = extra emotion, pitching in London, weird stadium, etc. Unless they are legit aces, avoid these kinds of starts in the future.

Zach Plesac3.2 IP, 7 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks. First Clevinger, now Plesac? WHAT HAS GOTTEN INTO THESE O’S? That fourth inning was a disaster featuring a pair of longballs, another pair of doubles, and even hitting a batter with a poor curveball. Uggggh. Plesac, you’re better than this. I’m still throwing him out there against the Royals next time out, so please, get it together.


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.


Brad Keller vs. Toronto Blue JaysThere’s zilch out there for Sunday, so here’s your best chance for a decent outing. Yep.


Tomorrow’s Streamer


Logan Allen vs. San Francisco Giants – On a day with just six games, I’m happy to have Allen to pick.


Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer


Matt Strahm vs. San Francisco Giants – Strahm is back on the menu and his velocity was a little up with more whiffs with curveballs and sliders last time out. Now it’s the Giants? Yeah, I’m in.


Game of the Day 


Blake Snell vs. Texas Rangers – Will the freefall continue or will the ace return?


(Photo by Brian Rothmuller/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 “No Longer The Mander”

  1. Brett says:

    Sure I’m not the only one wondering where you see him ranked on the list tomorrow? Thanks

  2. Jimbo says:

    D. German or C. Smith for a IL stash?

  3. WheelhouseWreck says:

    What do you think of acquiring Flaherty for Plesac and J. Turner ?

  4. Doug says:

    Time for some serious talk: You use the term “Spider-Man” ALL THE TIME, yet don’t include it in the glossary. Remedy this.

  5. someone says:

    Kinda eerie to look back and see the comment on Skaggs. “Heads to Arlington next, and I’m scared.” R.I.P

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