Sonny Side Up

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

Monday was a pretty mundane day for pitching, though it included Sonny Gray going 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 2 Hits, 5 BBs, 6 Ks against the Marlins (aces gonna mostly ace) and I figure, why not, let’s talk about the hypocritical weatherman for a moment. Not about the rest of the season, really, as he should be started the rest of the way and I’d be surprised if he took a massive downturn where we can definitively say “don’t start him, even in these decent matchups.” We’re in for the long haul at this point.

Instead, where should he be ranked for 2020? His 2.92 ERA has been a wonderful surprise after the disaster of NYC, boosting his strikeout rate to a ridiculous 29% rate, but his transformation really kicked into gear at the end of June, as he holds a 1.70 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, and 32% strikeout rate in eleven starts. Crazy. It marked an important day for Gray – the day he started pulling back from his changeup in favor of more sliders and curveballs. He threw the slow ball roughly 10% of the time prior and has since featured it just 2% of the time. Meanwhile, his deuce has greatly benefited from the increased usage, return a 10+ pVal in these eleven starts vs. the sub 2 mark in the 15 starts prior. It bumped his swinging-strike rate nearly three points and he truly found his rhythm.

Thing is, I’m not sure how much I want to bank on that rhythm sticking for 2020. If he carries this through the end of the year, I guarantee you there will be pundits pushing Gray as a Top 20 arm. I’m on the other side of it, seeing more of a ~25% strikeout arm with a 3.50+ ERA and 1.20 WHIP over another full year as I do expect some tumultuous stretches. Maybe that does push him close to Top 20, but I’m likely going to settle with Gray around 30 or so and be happy if he does fall to me as a sturdy #3 SP. That sounds great to me.

Let’s see how every other SP did Monday:

Tim Melville5.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks. We went over Melville last time as I made every Moby Dick joke I could think of. I’m not tossing my harpoon at it one more time to tell you that this is a horrible investment. He pitches in Coors, y’all. His stuff isn’t like Gray or Marquez, even if he did earn a gallows Pole with 16 whiffs, on the back of throwing his slider 62% of the time. Yeesh. Maybe use this TM once against the Padres or Giants on the road and let it be gone forever.

Julio Teheran6.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks. I’m shocked as anything that Teheran survived Coors and now you’re rewarded with a start against the White Sox. Enjoy it, it could be a rough three-game stretch after (Nats, Phils x2).

Tyler Beede5.2 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks. I’m still hoping to see a start where Beede flexes his muscles with curveballs and sliders properly again. This ain’t it. 27/88 CSW is nice (serving you a Philly is not) as his fastball earned plenty of called strikes against the Diamondbacks, it’s just not the kind of start that will make me mark Beede on the calendar as a pickup later in the week.

Alex Young5.1 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. Sure, Young is a Toby and given a matchup against the Giants, he should perform like this. Now it’s the Dodgers and I’m out. However, his ROS schedule is lovely with the Reds/Mets/Marlins/Cards/Padres in his sights. He’s not going to be sexy through it, but it’s a good roto play.

Dustin May5.1 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks. I’m glad we got to see May in the sixth frame, which shockingly didn’t get him a dub against the Padres as he allowed two unearned runs as well. He did so tossing 81 pitches and now gets another start against the Diamondbacks over the weekend. Those in QS leagues, I’d be surprised if May lasts through a full six frames, though I think he has a good shot at helping with ratios, with a decent amount of strikeouts. Let’s say five frames of four Ks and a 2 ER. Essentially more of the same. It’s up to you if you want to hold through the week for that as he heads to the bullpen after that.

Joe Musgrove6.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks. The endless back-and-forth of Musgrove continues, here having a lovely evening against the Phillies. 33% CSW as his curveball was as good as we’ve seen, even featuring breakers 38% of the time and pushing his heaters above the 93 mph mark. Those are good signs, his track record of inconsistency is not. Coors is next with a string of decent matchups after (STL, @SFG, SEA), but you don’t need me to preach caution there.

Adam Wainwright3.2 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks. While his curveball was solid, his cutter was not and Waino needs both of those pitches working to keep batters off his horrible heaters. He gets the Reds and Giants next and while there is some temptation there, I think the ceiling doesn’t justify the horrid floor.

Homer Bailey6.0 IP, 3 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks. It’s not pretty as we want, but it’s a PQS with a Win. That works for me. Streaming Record: 86-55. Now it’s the Yanks and you can throw him back into the pool, even if he did well against them last time. Homer Bale did not have his good stuff here, don’t expect it to come back soon.

J. A. Happ5.0 IP, 3 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks. It’s a bit of Dusty Donut as he got the Win and 7 Ks, but hurt your ERA a little. Whatever, we’ll take this and seven strikeouts from Happ given the season we’ve endured. I don’t think I’m taking the leap against the A’s next, and definitely not the Sawx after.

Eric Lauer6.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 4 BBs, 8 Ks. Whoa, a VVPQS with 8 Ks? Huh. Really weird to see those strikeouts with just 23/110 CSW (21% is super blegh) and I’m not sure what voodoo magic Eric used here, but he silenced Ariel the Dodgers enough to give you some production here.

Pablo Lopez5.0 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. It was a DLH proper here as PabLo made his return against the Reds. It wasn’t an impressive effort with just 18/86 CSW and only 6/31 across his curveball and changeup. It may take a few starts for him to get the feel back on his secondary stuff and I’d sit him out against the Nationals next. If the stuff returns there, I’m jumping back on board against the Royals and possibly the Brewers after.

Jason Vargas6.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. There are no rules to save you now, Vargas. Your time has come.

Brad Keller1.1 IP, 5 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 1 Ks. The day after Yost announces that they won’t be pushing Keller past 100 pitches in any future starts of 2019, Keller elected to toss 43 in just four outs. Just 7/43 CSW as his fastball not only came in at just 92.4 mph – we’ve been seeing 94/95! – but had horrific command as well and has plenty of indications of a hidden injury. I hope not, but I’m now hesitant to throw Keller out there for the Orioles next. His added velocity has gotten me interested lately and a near three tick drop is scary. It’s more of a risk than the matchup would suggest.

Tommy Milone – 5.0 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks. Milone Schmilone. I’ll never forget your opening seven games this year. It was a wild time of value, like an Amazon pricing error. And they didn’t even cancel orders.

Gio Gonzalez5.0 IP, 7 ER, 9 Hits, 4 BBs, 5 Ks. Ouch, this seemed like an okay for a Toby like Gio to let him fly, but the Cardinals had other plans. Now with the Cubs twice, I’m moving on to other options.


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.


Taylor Clarke vs. San Francisco Giants It’s between Clarke and Adam Plutko against the Tigers and while Plutko may be safer, I’ll go with the upside of Clarke’s slider. Mike Leake is going instead of Clarke and I guess I’m going with him instead. Hoooo boy.


Tomorrow’s Streamer


Anthony DeSclafani vs. Miami Marlins – He’s still 19% owned as of writing the Monday article, get him now for this start.


Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer


Felix Hernandez vs. Texas RangersThis is the worst. All streaming options are either arms I don’t want to chase at all or have horrific matchups. So fine, I guess I have to dine with questionable royalty for an evening. Please figure out how to get a win here. Please.


Game of the Day


Mike Minor vs. Andrew Heaney – Two sterling southpaws set for a great duel that I imagine most of the casual baseball community isn’t too aware of. TAKE NOTE Y’ALL.


(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.

7 responses to “Sonny Side Up”

  1. Jim says:

    I feel Dustin May will get his Starts in September. He looked great last night even in the 6th he was poised minus the error. The two hits that did dMage were outs on other nights; a bloop to shallow left and a hit to a shifted SS. Too bad for May, as he had only 60 pitches after 5 IP.
    No way he stays in the bullpen ROS.
    Whatever the Dodgers say, plan for the opposite to occur.

  2. Eric says:

    Updated The List this week?

  3. Highheat says:

    I have to pick 1 of the following:

    Montgomery vs Oak
    Wheeler @ Philly
    C Smith @ Was
    E-rod @ Col

    Don’t feel great about any choice really

  4. John Wertz says:

    Not looking to argue or anything, as I very well could end up being wrong (wouldn’t be the first time this season by any means), but not sure why Gray would only be a Top 30 SP in your opinion next season. I think where he is now on The List is quite reasonable, as there’s not a single pitcher behind him right now that is any more reliable than he has been this season or has given any reason to think they will be more reliable than him next season. It’s possible the K-rate dips a bit, and his walk rate is a bit too high even for him in the past, but I still don’t think that should keep him out of the Top 20. We’ll see of course.

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