Semi-Pro Nate

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

Has the time come for us to consider dropping Nathan Eovaldi After tonight’s disastrous 5.0 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 4 BBs, 4 Ks against the Jays, Eovaldi is holding an 8.40 ERA (9.17 FIP?!), a 1:1 K per BB ratio at just six Ks & BBs per nine, and a 1.87 WHIP over 15 frames. I’m amazed he doesn’t pitch for the Orioles with stats like that. Cheap shots aside, I’ve been preaching patience through all the tough performances out of the gate and I’m conflicted here. Eovaldi’s poor performances are rooted in distance from the approach that made him so effective last year – cutters for strikes and four-seamers at the top or above the strike zone. This year, I’ve barely seen Eovaldi play with high four-seamers and it’s making his cutter less effective as a result. It seems like an easy fix, meaning I could give Eovaldi a TIARA, yet through three games, he hasn’t done it yet. Why would he suddenly start tomorrow? Keep in mind, if this 1/2 punch isn’t there, don’t expect his curveball or splitter to cover for him – those pitches are far from dependable. The good news here is that his velocity is still impressive as always, it’s just about the pitch mix. If you can afford a “wait and see” in his start next time out against the Yankees, I’d love to do that. Otherwise, those in 12-teamers can make the swap if there’s an exciting arm that can help right now.

Let’s see how every other SP did Thursday:

Walker Buehler4.0 IP, 5 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. I was tempted to lead with Buehler instead as I’m sure plenty of you are suffering as Buehler owners. Sidenote: I feel like every owner is suffering thus far, unless you snagged Kluber/Snell/Carrasco/Bieber/Musgrove/Castillo. With Buehler, you’re tempted to sell and run, but I have to urge you to have patience. Velocity is still there, whiffs are actually there – 13/84 today! – and these opening weeks are the hardest to endure than any other in the season. It’s three starts out of 25-30 for Buehler this year, with up to 90% of his starts remaining. Don’t do anything foolish.

Shane Bieber7.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. So Bieber has pitched against the Jays and Tigers and done his part to look all kinds of dope. These two weeks have been as tumultuous for SP as I’ve ever seen, with all-star pitchers faltering left and right, while names you cannot trust for any lengthy time seducing owners with solid outings. I was not high on Bieber entering the year and while I’m obviously encouraged by these two strong starts out of the gate, I can’t give Bieber a massive jump on Monday. He’ll get one, just not too far. After all, this was 33/105 CSW here, good, but not studly. But the line is! It sure is.

Sonny Gray4.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks. Hey, that’s two straight solid outings from Sonny, too bad he had a calf contusion from a comebacker earlier in the game that resulted in an early hook out of precaution. I can imagine this being a TIARA situation where we can fathom Sonny being solid more often than bad moving forward, but this was the Marlins in just four frames and just 6/60 whiffs – fine but not overwhelming. The big question is if he’s worth it for the pickup and with the Dodgers and Braves next, I’m leaving him out there.

Joe Musgrove6.1 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. Mmmmm another excellent start from Musgrove and you have to feel good. With a ton of high upside arms not coming close to what we expected, watching Musgrove produce two straight 0 ER starts is exactly what we wanted. Almost. I can’t help but be a little concerned at the drop in velocity – under 92 mph once again – even if he is combating it with 50% secondary pitches and 33% sliders. Whatever, it’s the Tigers next, so man forget it, yo homes, to Detroit!

Jose Quintana7.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 11 Ks. This is exactly what I expected – Said no one. 37% CSW with 15 whiffs is crazy good from Quintana, especially the 11/22 on his curveball that has been missing for over two seasons. I brought Quintana near the brink of exiting The List last week and while I obviously need to raise him a bit now, I still don’t love owning him. I see this line and I see a trap. Maybe Quintana did fix his command not just tonight, but for the next few starts and beyond. Or maybe the Pirates are a poor offense and Quintana had himself a day. In other words, I’m not denying that Quintana did well here, but do you really want to bank on something close to this for weeks to come? Probably not…but he does get the Marlins next so fine. Chill with Quintana at least for that and we’ll take it from there.

Jeff Samardzija7.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks. Whoa, he did it! The start we were waiting for! 13 whiffs and 33/90 overall CSW is phenomenal as his slider command was plenty better. The major downside is the low 91.6 mph heater, a pitch that was averaging above 94 mph during his 200+ frame seasons. There’s something still missing here to consider him making a major leap this year, but at least we’ve seen him do well and can add him to the decent streamer list. Give me that velocity back and I’m all for rostering him again, but with Washington ahead, there’s no reason to do so now.

Pedro Avila5.1 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. The Pads wanted Chris Paddack to get an extra day of rest, so Avila came up in his place for a spot start. Our first Cup of Schmo of the year as everything he threw was kinda meh. 91-93 mph heater, a big loopy curveball, and a not-so-tight slider. Meh. Just move on and let’s collectively forget this happened.

Jon Gray7.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks. Are we trusting Gray again? Well, if he keeps pitching in Oracle Part, I sure am. Against any decent offense in Coors or a top 10 offense on the road, I’m out. It’s a Gray area. That means a lot of skipped starts as he sits on your bench and that’s just not how I want to live my life.

Aaron Sanchez5.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 4 BBs, 5 Ks. Ehhhhhh, I want to be excited about Sanchez and this was against the Red Sox and he did get five Ks and it’s just one ER and the velocity was good and an error made him pitch than he should have and STOP. Just 8 whiffs overall and 24% CSW isn’t the overwhelming starter I want him to be and those four walks…it makes it hard to fully endorse. The next test is Oakland and I’m a bit iffy on it.

Jorge Lopez6.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. In an age where aces fail, JorLo is here to save the day with a Quality Start against the Mariners. Enjoy the One Night Bland and I’m not touching Lopez.

Steven Matz6.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks. Are you amazed at this? I sure am. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen fewer whiffs than strikeouts in a given start, but here we are as Matz earned just 7 whiffs and 29% CSW across 102 pitches. 0/15 on whiffs on sliders and curveballs, 2/22 on his changeup. Does that scream dominance to you? But 22 Called Strikes! He pounded the zone and the Braves were forced to make contact on pitches they didn’t want to hit. Kinda. Matz did pitch up in the zone tonight, but I didn’t see anything that makes me believe he really earned this one. I’m well aware of the 1.65 ERA and 10.5 K/9 he now boasts after three starts, but I think those that are trusting those numbers against the Phillies next time out are just setting themselves up for sadness.

Aaron Brooks6.0 IP, 3 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks. This is kinda okay. Sure, you want better thana 4.50 ERA against the O’s, but a 1.00 WHIP is a lot better than expected for Brooks. The three strikeouts? Well, yeah. This isn’t super sweet caramel Brooks, this is Aaron. Good ole, basic, first one announced Aaron.

Spencer Turnbull4.0 IP, 3 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. Ugggggh. While Turnbull was served a decent amount of poor luck on bloop hits in this one, he sure threw some meatball two-seamers that the Indians were able to handle. What’s nuts to me is how good his four-seamer is – with cut action! – and he elects to throw two-seamers inside to left-handers that he doesn’t command well, leading to peeled pitches toward the middle of the zone. Not to mention, he didn’t throw his slider or curveball often enough and I’m just frustrated. I really do feel the skills are in there, but this one might take a while. Streaming Record: 8-6.

Kevin Gausman5.2 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks. Blegh. Gaus looked mighty fine in his Still ILL outing and mighty mediocre against the Mets. He’s a Toby at heart and I hope he finds a new heart.

Mike Leake5.0 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. Yep, that’s the Leake we all know and hate. The one that drips and drips and drips

Pablo Lopez4.2 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. Nick, you have to be out on PabLo after this. Sadly, yes, I am. For now. I’m not blind to his fastball command not shaping up to what it was last year or how his curveball is more hittable than I’d like (though, he does exhibit its ceiling a decent amount!). But seriously, 21/84 CSW is not going to cut it, and while I love seeing his four-seamer sit at 94.6 mph, it’s about how you use it. Throw it up, throw it off the plate, throw it edge to edge, any of those will work. Not this “low but middle” compromise that allows the pitch to get smothered and covered like my Waffle House hashbrowns. I’m favoring Caleb Smith and Trevor Richards in Miami until I see more fastball polish. Yes, that polish could arrive next week and we get back on the train, but fortunately, you can hop on and off with ease.

Dylan Bundy5.0 IP, 6 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 8 Ks. Man, Bundy was looking great through the first three frames. Then he allowed 3 HR and we nod our heads in silence. He is who he is, there’s no escaping it. We all get it. It’s a hard truth, but a true truth. Shhhhh, that definitely makes sense.

Zack Godley6.0 IP, 6 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 8 Ks. And we’re back to the Godley that drove us mad in 2018. The False God, n all. Godley was actually killing it until the sixth where it all fell apart in one fell swoop. Seriously, he earned a Gallows Pole with 21 whiffs in this one and it doesn’t even matter. Even if he does well next time out, are you going to trust that he can do it again the following week? It’s just not a life you want to live. Drip…Drip…GET OUT OF HERE LEAKE.

Michael Wacha3.2 IP, 7 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. Talk about a Wacha Shame. Sure, the Dodgers are a fantastic offense, but this kinda ridiculous. I was liking what I saw out of Wacha prior, but with a date against the Brew Crew ahead, I think I need to bow out.

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.

Michael Pineda vs. Detroit TigersStill at just 18% owned, Pineda deserves to be owned in your 12-teamer, especially against the Tigers. Kyle Wright vs. New York Mets – Pineda’s start has been postponed and it looks like Wright – not Sean Newcomb – is getting the ball against the Mets. I don’t love it, but I do prefer it slightly to Corbin Burnes against the Dodgers, so this is what we’re going with.


Tomorrow’s Streamer


Merrill Kelly vs. San Diego Padres – I could also go with Caleb Smithbut he faces the Phils in a harder matchup, making Kelly the safer play. Those that are searching for strikeouts should favor Smith, though. With Friday’s rainout, Michael Pineda was moved to Saturday and becomes my favorite streaming option against the Tigers. Still like Kelly, just want Pineda a little more.


Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer


Derek Holland vs. Colorado Rockies – The Rockies are away and without David Dahl while Holland is locked in. I’d also consider Jakob Junis as he faces the Indians, and Kyle Gibson matched up against the Tigers.


Game of the Day


Zack Wheeler vs. Kyle Wright – I want both of these youngins to do well. Please.


(Photo by Gregory Fisher/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.

23 responses to “Semi-Pro Nate”

  1. dragnalus says:

    that Pineda start is Postponed, not sure it that changes the choice

  2. James Connor Ross says:

    I don’t think Bieber pitched against the Indians this year!

  3. John says:

    I really wanted to hold on to Pablo but with Merrill Kelly available I had to make that switch. Pablo has some talent but hasn’t all come together.

  4. Jack says:

    Bad news: someone scooped Merrill Kelly yesterday, so I have to consider dropping Urias for Holland.

    Good news: someone else dropped Aaron Frickin’ Nola the day before, so buh-bye Strahm!

    • Nick Pollack says:


      Wow, that’s…wow.

      I’d rather start Holland over the weekend than Urias, so I’d make that swap.

  5. Christian says:

    Trying to get McHugh on the squad. You like him over Skaggs, Eflin, or Kelly? Aside from Skaggs today they all have good upcoming matchups, so I might drop Schoop or Voit for him. P.S. here’s hoping Wheeler pulls it through!

    • Jason says:

      McHugh is a better bet than any of the three. I probably would cut Kelly or Eflin.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      I think I’d drop Kelly for McHugh, but I would like cash in on their starts in the short term (please Skaggs, don’t falter against the Cubs!).

      I’d prefer to drop Schoop personally if he’s just on the bench. You can get him back quickly if he gets hot.

  6. John E. says:

    Pablo isn’t walking guys and his FIP & XFIP are solid. I will definitely keep tabs on him in case he gets it together.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Yep, that’s the plan. I’d be surprised if he’s this way through the full year, we just don’t need to hold him as he figures it out.

  7. Chucky says:

    Got offered Kluber for my Sale in a keep forever, no contracts. I gotta do that, no?

  8. Craig says:

    Thanks Nick! Just a heads up on Gray, the calf tightness was due to getting hit with a comebacker in the calf. He pitched two more innings (good innings) before it started tightening up. They’re calling it a calf contusion (external variable) as opposed to the dreaded soft tissue tightness (internal).

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Thanks Craig! I actually crafted that sentence to say “calf tightness from [a comebacker] earlier in the game…” and 1am Nick does what he wants.

      Great point about it being a contusion and not tightness! I’ll update it.

  9. Craig says:

    Also, regarding Matz. I watched that game. The strike zone HP ump Dan Bellino was calling was ridiculous. High, low, left & right… the zone was massive! It explains a lot of what you sited with Matz.

  10. Saint says:

    Drop Eovaldi or Pivetta for any of the following:

    Holland, Shark, P. Lopez, Anibal, Miley or Turnbull?

    Thanks in advance for your feedback

    • Nick Pollack says:

      I’d love to wait and see with both Eovaldi and Pivetta if you’re not hurting right now for help.

      Otherwise, I’d drop Eovaldi for Holland.

  11. theKraken says:

    Eovaldi looks a lot like… Nate Eovaldi. Sure the command has been terrrible, but he was always the guy that never matched the talent level. Ks have never been his strong suit.

    I watched a lot of the Shark start yesterday and it was… weird. I wonder if he is adjusting to no longer being a hard thrower, but I am not sure he didn’t get lucky either. He was masterful yesterday with excellent command of a deep arsenal but he is going to have to prove to me that he can make it work consistently. That might have been the impossible to replicate best-case scenario. I worry that teams will be able to wait him out and not chase as his FB was always pretty hittable even with mid 90s velo. I just checked the pitch values and his 2 seam variants have been great this year. Maybe a few ticks less make the sink play up even more… maybe one great start skews the numbers to the point of worthlessness. He’s not dong much with the splitter, which is weird.

  12. bp says:

    Nick, you made me laugh a couple times. Great stuff. That’s why I come back daily.

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