Stuck With Paxton’s Bill

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Sunday.

This is going to be a pretty short spotlight today, but you need to hear it. In 12-teamers, I think you need to just let go of James Paxton. He featured declined velocity in his first start of the season against the Nationals and it came back yesterday with just 91.5 mph on his heater after being an arm that goes 95+. It resulted in 3.0 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks and I would be shocked if he didn’t hit the IL soon. Something is very wrong.

It’s one of the hardest decisions to make in fantasy – do I hold this struggling arm as an investment for the future weeks or do I drop now and let it be someone else’s problem? The answer is about 90% of the time the latter. I understand you’re hoping he hits the IL in the near future to avoid a full-on drop, but if there’s something out there now, just make the swap. It’s a really short season, there’s no time to lose.

Let’s see how every other SP did Sunday:

Trevor Bauer @ DET (W) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 25% CSW. Aces gonna ace. I’m surprised to see just a 25% CSW but Bauer went the distance – remember, double-headers are just seven frames this season – and you should be thrilled owning Bauer right now. He has faced only weak lineups thus far in the Tigers and…the Tigers and there may be a few bumps in the road when he isn’t facing these offenses. Still, you start him against the Brewers next because duh.

Aaron Civale @ MIN (L) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 9 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 37% CSW. After holding back on fastballs last time out, Civale upped their usage to 32% this time around (still well under average!) and had a great day with the pitch, stealing a ton of front-door strikes to left-handers and earning 35% CSW on fastballs. Keep in mind, we normally see an average of around 25% for fastballs.  The cutter was still fantastic, his curveball earned strikes, and even his changeup had its moments. This was certainly a test as he faced the Twins and he passed in flying colors despite the PQSbarely missing the King Cole along the way. Get. Him. Everywhere.

Antonio Senzatela vs SD (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 35% CSW. In a twist that no one saw coming, Senz-A earned himself a Gallows Pole inside Coors against the Padres. Unreal. His fastball was located in the top half of the zone often, while spotting some sliders and curveballs down along the way. Changeup earned a 44% CSW across 9 thrown, but those four were very questionable. Does this mean we want Senzatela? No, it does not. This is a Birthday Party and nothing more. It’s not like Freeland’s improved command, Kikuchi’s increased velocity and new cutter, or Chatwood’s shift in approach. This is a day.

David Peterson @ ATL (L) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 29% CSWI’m pretty impressed with his sinker inducing plenty of swings out of the zone while peppering them inside to left-handers, helping earn that PQS against the Braves. I still don’t think his overall command is all too great, though, with some floated changeups (2/21 CSW?!) and too many pitches in the heart of the plate. His slider is a decent whiff pitch that’ll help, I just don’t see enough right now for me to go after him, making him a TobySo maybe for some streams, that’s it.

Jon Lester vs PIT (ND) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 26% CSW. Well look at that, Lester was a streaming pick for Saturday until Chatwood replaced him and I like Bassitt more in his pushed back start but WHAM! Lester did what we wanted him to against a poor Pirates lineup…except for the whole earning a Win part. He’s at best a Toby and at most often the reason you constantly doubt yourself so let’s just be safe here and keep him on the wire.

Merrill Kelly vs LAD (L) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 9 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 24% CSWIt’s the first VPQS of the season – I can’t wait to keep adding all the extra Vs later if we ever get so lucky – and I think y’all would take that in this start against the Dodgers. Kelly looked solid last week and not so much here against the Dodgers, sitting 92/93 with only five whiffs to his name. I think he’s okay as a streamer, but nothing more.

Dylan Cease @ KC (W) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 25% CSWHis control was better with a good amount of sliders and changeups over the plate, but his fastball was still a bit erratic, sliders slipped out of his hand a good amount, and his changeups all landed in the top half of the zone. So he’s not ready yet. Nope. Not at all. If you see this line and think he’s figuring it out, you’re going to have a bad time.

Clayton Kershaw @ ARI (W) – 5.2 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 37% CSWAces gonna ace. I am so happy not only to have TATIAGA back, but to see the return of his fastball as it sat 92 mph yesterday – nearly two ticks higher than last year. YES. The world needs more good Kershaw. His slider was stupid good as well earning 11/34 whiffs, helping him earn his first King Cole, barely edging out Civale. You love to see it.

Chris Bassitt @ SEA (W) – 5.2 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 30% CSW. Sure, Bassitt served you a Philly but that’s a win with seven Ks and lovely rations. Streaming Record: 4-6. Is Bassitt more than just a streamer now? Maybe, but let’s talk about his start against the Astros later this week. I don’t want him there. It is great seeing him go 34% CSW on sinkers in this one, though. That’s lovely.

Jeff Samardzija vs TEX (ND) – 5.2 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 25% CSWOh Loose Lips, there was a touch of hope you could be a Toby way back when, but we knew that was fleeting. And look at this. One strikeout. HAISTFMFWT?! He’s barely averaging over 90 mph on his fastball now, too. Yikes.

Tommy Milone vs TB (ND) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 8 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 31% CSW. His changeup was there with a 25% SwStr rate and 34% CSW, while his 86 mph heater somehow earned 36% CSW on its own. You love to see it from Milone, but no one went with this unless those playing Worstball. You know who you are. Milone is worthy of a deep AL-Only look for those that simply need innings as that slow ball is legit. But that 12-teamer and 15-teamer? Nah.

Anthony DeSclafani @ DET (ND) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 27% CSWIt’s cool seeing Tony Disco back and he made the most of a limited pitch count (just 64 pitches) to survive a full five frames. His four-seamer was at 95 mph and we’re very cool with that, and a 36% CSW on sliders, albeit with just 14 thrown, is right in line with what we want from the man. I’m not jumping over hurdles to grab him for the Brewers over the weekend given his lack of stamina, but I’m willing to dive in after that.

Zach Davies @ COL (L) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 29% CSWDavies went to Coors and y’all appropriately ignored this one. Everything was kinda meh and I don’t really think I need to spend much time here. Consider Davies as a sneaky guy for Wins if he gets a lovely matchup, otherwise move on.

Kendall Graveman vs OAK (L) – 4.2 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 22% CSW. We’re back down to 92/93 mph velocity from Graveman and that’s not what we want. At all. Can we use the old phrase then? I get so, fella. Starting Kendall would be a Grave Mistake 

Yonny Chirinos @ BAL (ND) – 4.2 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 22% CSWWhy does Nick hate splitters? Because they are inconsistent. Chirinos had just a 12% CSW on this pitch in this game, something you just don’t see with sliders or curveballs unless you’re Tyler Glasnow on a Saturday. Still, I don’t mind them as your third offering…which wasn’t the case here as Chirinos favored the splitty over his slider and didn’t have a great outing because of it. He was a bit all over the place in general – just look at that 22% CSW! – and it’s a bit frustrating. He’s up to 72 pitches now, which is great, but getting the Yankees next is not. We’re under eight weeks to go now, and I’d consider making a swap if there’s something solid out there.

Jakob Junis vs CWS (ND) – 4.1 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 27% CSWJunis has a phenomenal breaking ball that sometimes doesn’t show up. Sunday, it didn’t show up. And sometimes, even when it does, things don’t go well. Sorry Junis, I really wish I could get behind more of this, but there just isn’t enough here.

Kolby Allard @ SF (ND) – 4.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 32% CSW. I know this is dumb, but I see Kolby’s name and all I think is that his name is “Dracula” backward. It’s not and I’m so sorry for making you say “Dralla” in your head. So anyway, Dralla has taken the role of Corey Kluber in the Rangers rotation and he did well with cutters across the zone, but I don’t really see enough here to make me consider him.

Kyle Wright vs NYM (ND) – 3.1 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 4 BBs, 5 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 24% CSWIt’s the wrong Wright! We thought he could be the right Wright a while ago, but that was wrong. His command is still so iffy and you don’t have any reason to put your trust in him at the moment. Hopefully I can do a roundup telling you how he made a major change n all that at some point. That would be cool.

Josh James @ LAA (ND) – 3.0 IP, 4 ER, 1 Hits, 6 BBs, 4 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 28% CSWSo this was kinda better, but his changeup wasn’t there and his couldn’t throw his slider for a strike, leading to nearly 70% four-seamers…which weren’t well commanded either. Drop James if you haven’t yet, I know we all want to chase upside, but guys like Yusei Kikuchi are showcasing the upside you’re chasing and it doesn’t make sense to hold James instead.

Steven Brault @ CHC (ND) – 3.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 46% CSWWhoa, this is kinda cool from Brault. We may see him go more than three frames moving forward as Mitch Keller hit the IL and Chad Kuhl leaving yesterday’s game with a finger injury (blister?) that made me incredibly sad. Do I think Brault is worth an add if he can go over 70 pitches? Eh, not really, nor do I expect him to do so very soon as he tossed just 35 here. He has upped his velocity a full tick to 93+ mph this year, which is great but still not quite doing it for me.

Tyler Clippard vs CLE (ND) – 2.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 Hits, 0 BBs, 1 Ks – 2 Whiffs, 24% CSW. We saw our first true openers of the year on Sunday, with Clippard filling in for the now IL-bound Homer BaileyMan, I really liked Bailey and he was somehow available everywhere. Hope he’s alright.

Shohei Ohtani vs HOU (ND) – 1.2 IP, 2 ER, 0 Hits, 5 BBs, 3 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 32% CSWI am so sad about this. Ohtani had an MRI after the game as his elbow was in pain, which isn’t much of a surprise with his massive velocity dip this year & poor command. All we want is the true two-way player we know he can be. We want to watch Ohtani shine. Maybe we’ll get it one day. Maybe. If you own Ohtani the SP, like Paxton, you can let him go.

Daniel Norris vs CIN (L) – 1.2 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 0 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 24% CSWThere were rumblings of Casey Mize getting the call with the double-header, but more was on the horizon, added confusion, and prevented the call-up. There were two games in the end, Norris got the ball in one, and Norris was. He was what? He existed. Oh. Yeah. Oh yeaaaaah? No random person, no.

Rony Garcia vs CIN (ND) – 2.0 IP, 3 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 27% CSW. Another opener here but you don’t care. It wasn’t Mize. And everyone was sad. Sorry, Rony. Tyler Alexander came in relief and somehow fanned nine straight. Wild, I know.

Austin Brice @ NYY (ND) – 1.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 38% CSWThe Red Sox needed a new Rice man with David gone, so fortunately there’s Austin showing up as the False Starter for the day as Matt Hall followed and you’ve already stopped reading. Smart.


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.


Alec Mills vs. Kansas City Royals – I also considered Josh Lindblom against the White Sox, but I wonder if they’ll be a little cautious given his back cramps last time out. There’s also Daniel Mengden against the Mariners as a decent Toby play, but I’ll go with Mills instead. The Twins have shifted things around, lining up Homer Bailey vs. Pittsburgh Pirates and I want that. A lot. Just kidding! We’re back with Mills after Bailey got hurt. Sorry to play with your emotions.


Tomorrow’s Streamer


Tyler Mahle vs. Cleveland Indians – I don’t have a lot here so it’s Mahle, even if he’s against Bieber. Blegh. I would rather go Adam Wainwright against the Tigers, but it’s not confirmed quite yet.


Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer


Marco Gonzales vs. Los Angeles Angels – The only other real option is Kris Bubic against the Cubs and I don’t think he’s polished yet or ready to give you a solid 5+ frames. So we land on Marco again, even with Mike Trout returning to the squad. Shohei Ohtani won’t be there, though, so maybe this will work…?


Game of the Day


Walker Buehler vs. Chris Paddack – Two excellent fastballs hitting their spots constantly. It’s like watching the smoothest of butter. Who doesn’t like smooth butter? What kind of demon enjoys chunky butter?!


(Photo by Cody Glenn/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.

12 responses to “Stuck With Paxton’s Bill”

  1. Perfect Game says:

    For QS, K’s, ratios….and trust factor… do I want Maeda, Civale, Plesac or Chatwood in what order?

    • Perfect Game says:

      Or Woodruff?

      • theKrak says:

        I imagine the answer lies in the opponent. There are some absolute squads of stiffs this year. Woodruff is the best name followed by Maeda, then nobody.

        • Perfect Game says:

          Agree Woodruff is the best name with the best stuff, but the Twins face the easier lineups over the course of their schedule and I feel Maeda may have an edge here in this truncates season.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      I’m going with Maeda, just ranked him highest on today’s List update.

  2. Derek says:

    It looks like the Marlins are facing the Os Tues-Thurs, not the Phillies

  3. theKraken says:

    I haven’t been around much this year but are you recognizing that these is the easiest Ks and generally most non-competitive lineups in history? You don’t even have to be good at Ks to get them this year. This isn’t a real season and the players are pretty clearly playing like it. The hitters look like all they have done is batting practice and they seem like this is the first live pitching they have seen in months. To add further fuel to the fire, half of these guys are not MLB starters. On an average day a team isn’t even getting looks at MLB pitching. I have no clue how to evaluate SP this year.

    What is with the public obsession for a two-way player? It isn’t going to happen and the proof is right there. Ohtani pretty clearly prefers hitting. At the point he came to the US, his future has always been as a position player, not a DH or an SP. Baseball people that don’t understand actual baseball can come up with a lot of crazy ideas and create metric to justify them, but they can’t fake a two-way player. We are at peak realization of an epic failure in progressive baseball ideals. Both Ohtani and McKay look like one-way players along with all of the low level hopefuls. You can’t prepare and maintain two careers at the same time. Even if you could, the wear and tear would be excessive.. but you can’t so they don’t.

    • Derek Nolan says:

      That is one of the oddest takes I’ve ever seen. Why do you think Ohtani prefers hitting? He decided to sign with the Angels specifically because they wanted him to be a two way player. He was the one who came up with the crazy idea that he was actually excelling at in Japan. How can you say that Ohtani, who had a 3.3 ERA and 11K/9 in 2018, is a one way player? And McKay hasn’t been successful in the MLB at hitting or pitching, but it’s only been 13 games — which way do you think his one-way talent is? And lastly, the wear and tear of pitching and the wear and tear of hitting are entirely different. I don’t think Ohtani’s elbow/shoulder/forearm whatever is going to be overworked because he took too many swings…???

    • Rocket says:

      I think Ohtani has demonstrated that he can hit MLB pitching and looked pretty good on the hill in 2018 prior to his injury. When he was signed by the Angels he revealed a partial tear in his UCL. Then he eventually required surgery. So I do not believe we have seen the kid at 100%. The other thing to consider is that he is one of the fastest players on the team which adds to his unique skill set as an offensive player. He just turned 26 last month so there is plenty of time for growth as a player.

      My point is we have not seen him fully healthy yet which makes it difficult to gauge what he can do when he plays both offense and SP. Maybe it will contribute to multiple injuries and prove you right but, the guy has enough talent in both capabilities to give it a chance. I do not think he is in the same category with McKay because McKay has yet to demonstrate to can hit MLB pitching or work effectively as an SP for the Rays.

      Playing both ways is a difficult undertaking. Ohtani is still a work and progress and no where near full health. I think if it can be done he is the closest player we have seen in a long time that has the skillset to accomplish it. Time will tell.

  4. Rocket says:

    Paxton has some history where he has some funky outings that make you wonder if there is an injury and typically comes out of the gate slow. Then “The Big Maple” finds his groove and is lights out. The drop in velo is concerning. I think he has lost at least 5mph on his heater. We have seen it before though. I think a few years back he experienced some issues then ended up throwing a no no in Canada. Any chance his mechanics after the back surgery need some refinement? I think I give him 1 more outing at least to see some improvement. I need him for the end of season to win my leagues. Think this is a decent plan, I have plenty of other good arms to start for now?

  5. Gene says:

    Clevinger with one start or either Montas, Soroka or Hendricks and two starts? Deciding when a two start pitcher trumps a one start pitcher who is better drives me crazy.

  6. Barry says:

    Hello Nick,

    12 Team Roto 6×6 OPS QS Daily

    I currently roster Castillo, Darvish, Lynn, Gallen, Ray, Canning, Burnes, Montgomery, Melancon, Jimenez, Drake, and Kintzler.

    Probably will be benching Ray vs HOU and @COL and see if he figures out his new arm circle. (Or I could drop)

    I’m looking to grab Kikuchi. Who is the drop here?

    Thanks in advance for your thoughts,

    Subscriber Barry

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