Not Coarse and Gotten Everywhere

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

We talked a lot this offseason about the sneaky Marlins pitching staff, highlighting PabLo, Smith, and Richards and leaving Sandy Alcantara out of most discussions, partly because we didn’t expect him to be granted a rotation spot and partly because we saw him as rawer than the trio. Well, today’s 8.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks sure seems a bit polished, doesn’t it? It’s weird. I loved his heater, averaging a whopping 96 mph here and often finding the top of the zone. I don’t love his breaking pitches, though, which floated up and into the zone too frequently, with both his slider and curveball. Not to say he didn’t execute them well during the start—it just didn’t impress me like other secondary pitches we’ve seen from young arms. It might sound weird, but I think Alcantara could be a bit of a trap, with a clunker creeping close by and well hidden by this gorgeous line. Proceed a bit with caution, but I’m all for snatching him up and playing it out.

Let’s see how every other SP did Sunday:

Matt Moore7.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. WHAT YEAR IS IT? Ohhhh, right, the one where the Jays are an atrocity of an offense that even Moore can look like an ace. I don’t believe (I want to, though), and we’re going to move on.

Michael Pineda4.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. The plan was to limit Pineda, and four strong frames with five strikeouts is everything we could have hoped for. There may be something here or, like the Tiger pitchers, we could be seeing the effects of a terrible offense making decent arms look studly. I’d be careful with Pineda, considering he’s not fully stretched out.

Jeff Samardzija5.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 4 BBs, 2 Ks. Hey, OK. I watched this one because, duh, and I wasn’t in love with Loose Lips. Just six whiffs and 19/86 CSW is flat-out bad as his breaking stuff was anything but deceptive. He sat 92-93 as well and…I don’t know. I wasn’t impressed. This could have been a lot worse, and while I want to be happy to cash in on free production, I’m worried enough to speak caution for his next start against the Rays. You can drop him for other exciting guys off the wire; don’t worry. I imagine he’ll still be there in a week or two. Streaming Record: 1-2.

Trent Thornton5.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 8 Ks. This Jays/Tigers series is ridiculous, creating an “everyone is bad so the pitchers win” environment that makes me feel uncomfortable. I just can’t take these pitching performances seriously! Thornton does have a good deuce with 93-94 velocity from his heater, but that’s pretty much it. Not the tree I’d be barking at like a fool.

Trevor Williams6.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. I don’t think I’ll ever understand Williams. Truly. I watched some of this one as well, and I see a lot of heaters that found the middle of the zone at 91-92. He does get a good amount of whiffs on his four-seamer, though, as he elevated it well at times, but the whole thing just seems so smoke-and-mirrors. It irks me. I guess you can own him, sure, fine, whatever. I just can’t do it. It goes too far against everything for me.

Jake Arrieta6.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 6 BBs, 6 Ks. We don’t have Tyler Chatwood anymore, so why not Jake Arrieta to take his place and hold an even K/BB ratio? Just eight whiffs on 104 pitches should tell you everything.

Yonny Chirinos6.2 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks. Whoa, the Rays let him legit start again! And he didn’t mess it up! Against the Astros! I’m exclaiming! A few things went his way here, but he threw some solid splitters and pounded the zone often via 94-95 with life. It can work out, and it’s lovely it did today. He’s not a “you must do this” arm, and he may have started due to the pen needing a rest, so plan accordingly.

Frankie Montas6.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks. I’d say that Montas is the closest to actually being a sleeper of guys out there, with little talk on him and not much encouragement overall for shallower leagues. I’ve been worried given that he goes sinker-heavy without a strong secondary pitch to back it up, but what’s this? Seventeen splitters and 22 sliders? Good for…oh, 13/39 CSW. A rate of 33% isn’t bad, but it’s below-average for secondary pitches. Womp womp. Still, I think Montas can have starts like these as his power sinker (96.6 mph today!) could churn outs in a hurry…or push him into a hole early if BABIP doesn’t go his way. A great play for AL-only, but still a questionable Spice Girl for us in 12-teamers.

Chris Paddack5.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks. PADDACK HAS ARRIVED! And it was wonderful, and we all had a party with hats and rejoiced. His fastball command is phenomenal, and while his curveball still needs work, his changeup missed bats and found the zone. It worked. I still have a bit of skepticism about that changeup/curveball secondary repertoire, and when paired with his inevitable innings shutdown, I’d consider cashing in on his hype if there’s a strong market for him. Otherwise, just keep on rolling rolling rolling.

Michael Wacha6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 7 Ks. It’s kinda weird to see none of Wacha’s pitches earn more than three whiffs on its own, but I do like to see his cutter being effective inside the zone, while the Brewers are no joke. Still a little reserved, but definitely should be owned and started in 12-teamers. His ceiling seems a bit low to me to escalate him much on The List, but he’s a slightly better Toby. Slightly.

Patrick Corbin6.0 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. Corbin was one earned run from a VPQS, and I guess that’s fine. He wasn’t nearly as sharp as we saw last year, with his slider not acting as that ultimate devastator it should be. Meanwhile, he was rarely mixing in 68 mph curveballs, and it was weird. I don’t want that, maybe some changeups, which were fine, but not that deuce. Just great sliders, k thx.

Lucas Giolito6.2 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks. Giolito was having himself a day, tossing six no-hit frames before it fell apart in the seventh. He landed curveballs for strikes and a fantastic 16/30 CSW on changeups + sliders, adding up to a 36/99 CSW with fastballs hovering 93-94. These are all great things—great things that happened against a terrible Royals lineup. I’m a little excited and can fathom it sticking; I just need to convey the tone of “this could get bad fast” for those that are blindly chasing it. 

Sonny Gray2.2 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 4 BBs, 0 Ks. Welp, that was a fun idea. PACK IT UP BOYS! At least for now. It’s not even April yet—OK it is, but it wasn’t so there. I can fathom Sonny improving, and we’ll monitor it, but don’t head onto the stage before the opening band is done. Is that a thing people say? Definitely not.

Tyler Skaggs4.2 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks. Ehhhhhhhh. He did go upstairs with four-seamers but was 0-for-44 on whiffs with the pitch. Just four whiffs overall. That’s bad. Like really bad. He had 20/86 CSW for the start, and I wonder if Skaggs just needs more time to shake off rust or if he’s lost what made him great last year. Probably the former. Probably.

Dylan Bundy3.2 IP, 3 ER, 2 Hits, 5 BBs, 7 Ks. Bundy’s strike zone plot is hilarious, as it’s just dots everywhere. You can’t pinpoint an approach or plan of attack with it in any sense. You see seven Ks and think “oh right, he can do that!” but then just nine whiffs overall with just three from his slider is highly suspect. I know it was the Yanks today (and will be again next time out), and against worse teams this could work, but I really don’t want to be forced to trust this.

Jon Gray6.2 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 10 Ks. Sweet! Do you trust Jonny Gray yet? Of course not, this was in Miami. Right. And I’d be surprised if I did anytime soon. Great start, though, even with the three earned runs.

Wade Miley6.0 IP, 3 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks. I’m happy to see the full six frames, but the rest is a little too meh. Unless I were desperate for wins, I’d chase something else.

Kyle Wright4.1 IP, 3 ER, 2 Hits, 5 BBs, 4 Ks. Blegh. He has electric stuff, but he just can’t get comfortable with his heater, and it all crumbles after. I can fathom him getting there, but I can see us sitting on Wright for a bit too long as other arms come and leave the wire first. He is the right right Wright (get out of here Steven!), but the timing isn’t right.

Corbin Burnes5.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 12 Ks. Man, I was in love watching this start. I didn’t realize Burnes got that much cut on his fastball, pumping it at 95 mph and shocking right-handers as the ball curled back over the plate at the last moment. Pair that with a sharp slider in the upper 80s and Burnes was carving up a ton of Cardinals batters. Unfortunately, three home runs came his way and ruined his line for the night, but hot dang I expect good things ahead. He’s officially my favorite of the Spice Girl tier. Seriously, that cut fastball is AMAZING. He also earned his first Gallows Pole, the first of many that are sure to come.

J. A. Happ4.0 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. Ummm what? Happy, this was the Orioles. You’re better than this. Fortunately, you get a rematch next time out so you can prove all the haters that you’re more like J.A. Rule and not J.A. Bad. 

Wade LeBlanc5.1 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 1 Ks. LeBlanc got the Sawx and understood his fate. It wasn’t meant to be.

Jorge Lopez5.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. At least it’s not three home runs in just three outs, amirite?

Rick Porcello2.2 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 4 BBs, 3 Ks. You should expect no less from the man we call The Thief. Don’t let him steal your season, too.

Luke Weaver4.1 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. Awww, I was hoping Weaver could make this work, but 23/97 CSW is terrible, as his changeup returned 3/19 CSW on its own. Bleeeegh. The Dodgers are super hot offensively out of the gate, but this outing gives me enough pause to look elsewhere in the opening weeks of April. Maybe we’ll cross paths again later, but not right now.

Zack Wheeler5.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks. Three of those runs came off the bat of Trea Turner sitting heat as Wheeler actually executed a good fastball on the inside corner. It did represent Wheeler’s lack of polish, though, as I didn’t see as many sliders as I’d expect. Everything else was there, but he needs that 90 mph slide piece to keep guys honest when just sitting heat. It was there last year, and I expect him to rely on it a bit more moving forward.

Walker Buehler3.0 IP, 5 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 0 Ks. Yikes. Buehler was cruising until the fourth showed up and knocked him out in a hurry. He wasn’t pitching so terribly, but his breaking stuff wasn’t there to support him a whole lot when it was going south. The Dodgers are also being a little cautious, so don’t expect a seven-inning game next time out. Don’t sound the alarms, either, and I’d buy if someone is selling at a discount for whatever reactionary reason. You don’t actually play in those kinds of leagues…right?

Cole Hamels5.0 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks. Ugh, I thought we could trust Hamels, even back at his old stomping grounds, but I was very very wrong. I’d have some caution with Hamels in Milwaukee next, but I understand if you need to throw him out there.

Carlos Carrasco4.1 IP, 6 ER, 10 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. This is…kinda what Carrasco does. He’ll have something like a 4.20 ERA exiting April, then have two or three excellent starts to bring it close to 3.50 and we forget this ever happened. He’s the elite Cherry Bomb.

Lance Lynn5.2 IP, 7 ER, 10 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks. There’s a reason his initials are LL. You doubly lose starting Lynn.


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.

Caleb Smith vs. New York Mets – Not a whole lot of choices here, and while I did consider Ivan Nova spinning a decent outing against the Indians, go for the home run and hope Smith’s hot spring can return at least seven K’s against the Mets.


Tomorrow’s Streamer


Eric Lauer vs. Arizona Diamondbacks – I have to choose someone, and I’ll take the blegh arm against the blegher (that’s a word) offense.


Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer


Matt Shoemaker vs. Baltimore Orioles – There are only three or so people I can even select here, and The Cobbler off his great first start against the weak Orioles sounds about right.


Game of the Day


Matt Strahm vs. Merrill Kelly – IT’S FINALLY HERE. Oh and Kelly too, I guess.

(Photo by Doug Murray/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.

16 responses to “Not Coarse and Gotten Everywhere”

  1. Steven Corrado says:

    Great work as always man!

    btw, Miley had a QS today, I know that bc I’m playing against him.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Hey thanks! That’s the second time our source has missed an out already this year. I’ll look into this.

  2. Derek says:

    It looks like Giolito shortened his arm circle, and it’s hard not to think that it could’ve helped him find some velocity and consistency. I thought he had a very encouraging start.

  3. Zach says:

    Do you like Domingo at all today?

  4. Jakesteens says:

    As a burnes owner, excited to see you’re also on board. Are you worried about his lack of a third pitch at all? I know there’s been talk of him using a curveball but he seemed pretty two pitch that outing and was hurt the third time through yesterday.

    Also, great title, lol

  5. PitcherGIFs4Lyfe says:

    Hey Nick,

    In regards to your opener on Alcantra, would you rather have Caleb Smith or take the flier on Alcantra (I guess both would be fliers but I just wanted to see which you feel more comfortable going with). I’m stoked to have the SP round-ups back, thanks again for taking out the time for all the clutch advice!

  6. Zach says:

    Any concern with Musgroves velocity yesterday?

  7. Timewill says:

    SP Breakdown spot on as always, Nick! Just thinking you should point out that Paddack faced the Giants offense. Matt Moore, Trent Thornton and Lucas Giolito all got disclaimers about their opponents so I’m thinking Paddack should get one too.

  8. Perfect Game says:

    I was looking forward to Buehler and Flaherty’s first starts since I own they both. Both crashed. Hoping for better next time out.

    The Dodgers over do it the way they manage their pitchers with kid gloves, which is irritating for those of us in a QS league. How many do you see Buehler conservatively getting?

    • theKraken says:

      I watch the Dodgers a lot. I don’t actually think they are that frustrating in the way they handle their pitchers. Put another way, I am not sure most MLB teams wouldn’t handle them the same – they are young and injury-prone. They also have a knack for getting into trouble in the middle innings. I would say 150 IP is reasonable on WB.

  9. theKraken says:

    Holy smokes MLB is trash this year. There really are so many teams not trying that it is officially an observable problem. If we bitch enough, then maybe people might start to care… the worst thing we can do is get distracted by Amazon commercials (Statcast) and pat all these management groups on the back for being mindlessly progressive. Its a facade – look this direction while we take this money out of yer pockets… I heard that Kenley is very interested in spin rate this year – I guess that means he will be better than ever! We should be concerned with the quality of the product on the field, not the opaque processes that we blindly put our faith in. Its a great scam for the people who want to profit off the idea of baseball – Amazon, “analysts” and the ownership groups profit when we pat teams on the back for not competing, but the rest of us lose – its not that complicated, but it is best for the parasites if we pretend that it is…

  10. ESB says:

    Buehler was actually dropped in my 10 team 5 X 5 QS/OBP league. Thinking of dropping Strahm for him after tonight, Burnes, and Lopez are out there too, already own Urias and Woodruff. But based on your rankings I’d assume you’d take Buehler over Strahm?

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