Suddenly Mortoff

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

For a pitcher I’ve named the “Quiet Ace,” Charlie Morton isn’t acting like one as of late, allowing a line of 4.0 IP, 6 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. Blegh. Morton hasn’t been as sharp post ASB, as this was his fourth 4+ ER game in eight starts. His past two have returned just seven strikeouts as well, and among a ton of pitchers who are letting us down lately, we need Morton to be a sturdy arm through September. So what’s going on?

First of all, the Astros are stupid good offensively. That aside, his curveball hasn’t been as strong lately. Just 1/30 whiffs here as he hung a good amount of them and just two whiffs in 39 thrown against the Mariners, with the pitch returning a -2.5 pVal across his past four starts. Prior to that? A 23.2 mark. Something is up there, but it’s not a case where it’s over and done. Velocity is still in line with his season’s levels, and I think it’s just a brief blip. Start him with confidence in September, though I’d expect the Rays will look to rest him in the final week of the year if they have a clear lead on the Wild Card – they need him for that game.

Let’s see how every other SP did Tuesday:

Aaron Brooks6.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. What. No. Not only is this Brooks, but he did this against the Nationals. Sliders and changeups earned 16/48 CSW on their own and steered him through six frames. This isn’t gonna last, those pitches are not that good, and his fastball is a legit liability.

Walker Buehler6.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 11 Ks. Aces Gonna Ace. The Dodgers’ schedule is all out of whack, but he should have five more starts now and all the matchups are lovely. I wonder if he makes all five, though, as the Dodgers could give him a rest before an expectedly busy October ahead.

Wilmer Font2.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks. In the ROS expected schedule article yesterday, I wrote “I have no idea” for who would follow Font in this game. The answer? Three frames from Zack GodleyNope, that’s not an answer. BE BETTER JAYS.

Andrew Heaney6.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 10 Ks. Mmmmm, Heaney, you’re so good. Heaters up, curveballs down, and changeups were good enough. 23/57 CSW just on sinkers is lovely, and it’s hard not to be enamored right now (18 whiffs for a co-share of the Gallows Pole as well!). Don’t go nuts, though, he’s currently in line for a pair of Houston outings to end the year, and that’s very sad. I’m starting him against Oakland/ChiSox/Rays next, though.

Masahiro Tanaka7.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks. It’s slider haven for Tanaka here, tossing 20/42 CSW with the pitch alone against the Mariners. Splitters went 5/32 CSW but earned plenty of outs down in the zone, and he elevated heaters well here. I’m liking this, it may also be because of the Mariners, but this works for me. Save for the Boston start in two weeks, we should feel good about owning Tanaka the rest of the way.

Justin Verlander5.1 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks. Aces Gonna Ace and get tossed out of a 9-0 game for arguing balls and strikes. Not to say that he should have been, but come on Verlander, I know you want that Cy Young over your teammate, but you gotta keep it together. For us, the kids. Do it for them.

Yu Darvish8.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks. Atta boy Darvish. 30/104 CSW as he threw seven different pitches according to Baseball Savant. Cutters still thrown about 40% of the time, though, but whatever, his fastball command is great and he’s carving up lineups left-and-right. He has a great schedule the rest of the way as well and I wouldn’t be surprised if his 4.25 ERA is well under 4.00 by season’s end.

Mike Fiers5.1 IP, 1 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. Not a Quality Start once again for Fiers, and that WHIP kills you. Still, good to see just 1 ER, and those five strikeouts aren’t bad. The A’s as a whole get a generally lax schedule, so I’m fine holding him through the end. He’s still a Toby, though.

Adrian Houser5.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks. A bit underwhelming from Houser, though he left this one early with a hip injury. There’s some concern here that he won’t make his next start – it would be against the Astros, so we’re OK with that. I’d hold through it, though, as he could be worthwhile for a nice stretch against the Cards, Padres, and Reds in the middle of September.

Miles Mikolas6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 10 Ks. HOT DANG MIKOLAS. We legit cannot predict you. 34/95 CSW is the highest he’s had and the big winner here was 15/28 on his curveball. Not the slider, the deuce did the work. Huh. I’m not sure I can buy into that shift being a regular occurrence – it’s almost as if he suddenly felt it and ran with it – but now with the Reds and Pirates next, you’re thinking about it. I understand, it’s still a coin flip, you know.

Mike Montgomery6.1 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks. With this Oakland start behind him, he now gets the Orioles and Marlins, which could help plenty as his cutter was plenty better in this one. I’m holding on here.

Michael Pineda5.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks. Really great to see Pineda take full advantage of a start against the White Sox. And now it’s the Tigers? Sign me up!

Adam Plutko5.2 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 9 Ks. Whoaaaa, I labeled him the backup Call Boy, but he clearly heard me and wanted the love as he took down the Detroit offense, even earning a co-share of the Gallows Pole at 18 whiffs. His slider was great here, and I really don’t expect that heater to go 19/59 CSW again in the future. Now he gets the Rays then Twins, and that’s an easy no. Maybe a rare stream later. Maybe.

Jeff Samardzija5.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks. Loose Lips continues on, surviving the Diamondbacks and now getting the Cardinals. I’m cool with that, then letting him go as he gets the Dodgers, Pirates, and Red Sox. That’s not for me.

Patrick Corbin7.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 9 Ks. Aces Gonna Ace. His current 3.15 ERA is exactly the same as 2018’s mark. Go figure.

Lucas Giolito6.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 9 Ks. Aces Gonna Ace with a co-share of the Gallows Pole at 18 whiffs. Great to see Giolito still feeling not only his heater but also changeups enough to go 7/32 whiffs with the pitch. There’s still room to grow with the slider, but he threw it for 12/18 strikes and that works for me.

Mike Leake7.1 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks. Leake got the call and gave us one of his best starts of the season. Thanks, bud. Streaming Record: 87-55. My quest for a 100-win season is inching closer, though it may get hard to find decent sub-20% owned arms as the playoffs hit. We can do this. Not with Leake, though. He’ll be an obstacle so back to the wire you go.

Rick Porcello5.0 IP, 2 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks. I’m impressed that Porcello was able to not fall to his knees and beg for the mercy of Coors. He’s already done that to all his owners this year, after all. This start changes nothing.

Mike Soroka6.0 IP, 2 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 1 Ks. So many HAISTFMFWT?! today, though Soroka seems to be used to it by now. He’s really forming into the new Dallas Keuchel, and while that opens to door for a possible 2015 run, it’s not the arm I need to chase for next year. As my SP3? Sure, that’s fine. I think people are going to get a little too hyped about his possible development, though, and that’s where I take a small backstep. Anyway, just start him down the stretch and don’t look back. Keep in mind: He may miss a start or two as the Braves prepare him for the playoffs.

Steven Brault5.0 IP, 3 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks. Look at this line. It gave you nothing but pain. A bad ERA. A worse WHIP. Just one strikeout. HAISTFMFWT?! Steven, if this is your way of getting even, I prefer you when you were odd.

Mike Minor6.2 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks. Five of Minor’s seven baserunners came in the seventh frame, with four scoring as I sat in terror. Careful Icarus. I had 12 shutout frames between Minor and Heaney before this frame. It was a lovely day. LOVELY. Keep riding Minor, of course.

Drew Smyly5.2 IP, 4 ER, 9 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks. This was the “good” matchup left for Smyly. That Johns… Yes. There’s no hope left.

Marcus Stroman6.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks. It’s good to see Stroman’s strikeouts stay up, but the ratios continue to disappoint and I don’t see that changing as a Met. Don’t overvalue him based on his fame. Name. Fame name.

Spencer Turnbull5.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. He’s a Young Gun. I really wouldn’t be looking to Turnbull down the stretch.

Luis Castillo6.0 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 11 Ks. Castillo struggled early, settled down, then allowed a 2-run shot in the sixth to deny us all a PQS and make us sad inside as he faced the Marlins. But at least the strikeouts were there as expected. Can’t take that away from us.

Yusei Kikuchi4.0 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 3 BBs, 1 Ks. Blegh. We saw Kikuchi elevate effectively in his last start (he was skipped once for rest) and while he tried to do it again here, it just wasn’t enough against the Yankee offense. I’m not ruling out that he could do it against weaker teams, but I’m sure not taking that dive without serious consideration. I mean, just one strikeout? HAISTFMFWT?!

Caleb Smith4.2 IP, 5 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks. Caleb, stop. What is it with all these aces collapsing after their fantastic first halves? I understand hesitation tossing him out there for the Nationals next, but even with this disappointment against the Reds, I’m still going to start Smith every start after the next. He’s better than this line.

Rico Garcia5.0 IP, 6 ER, 7 Hits, 5 BBs, 2 Ks. Rico came up to fill in for German Marquez and was not only faced with Coors but also the Red Sox lineup. Yikes. It doesn’t help when you throw 90 mph without great command. Rico … not suave.

Cal Quantrill4.1 IP, 8 ER, 8 Hits, 3 BBs, 1 Ks. This was a popular topic yesterday as people debated starting the hot Quantrill against the “cold” Dodgers offense. Just one strikeout – HAISTFMWT?! – as now you’re in a tougher hole than you anticipated. He was So-So Cal for the night but that’s OK! Now he gets the Diamondbacks and could work for your team, especially if this start forces people to push him to the wire. That would be cool.


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.


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


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.


Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer


Kolby Allard vs. Seattle Mariners – He did well going fastball/cutter last time out, and it could carry over here.


Game of the Day


Mitch Keller vs. Philadelphia Phillies – I’m so curious how Keller performs here – if he does well, he has a good schedule ahead and could be a must-add.


(Photo by Frank Jansky/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 “Suddenly Mortoff”

  1. Kyle says:

    Plutko faces Charlie Morton and the Rays next not the Twins. Would you still start him?

  2. kleborp says:

    I like how the Porcello section is just blank. That’s how I feel about him too, Nick.

  3. rainmaker says:

    Should we be worried about fatigue with Morton and Caleb Smith?

  4. Derek says:

    Giolito got a lot of his Ks on change ups down… Even when he has been good, sometimes he has left them up. A positive devolopment even if the result wasn’t as good as his CGSO

  5. RT says:

    You would take Felix Hernandez over Bassitt vs KC tomorrow? Or do you not consider Bassitt a streamer?

  6. theKraken says:

    With Soroka, don’t forget about the arm injuries. Maybe they are behind him but his profile worries me a bit. The best predictor of future injuries is past injuries and he has had a velocity spike this year as well. I wish I had him on some teams, but there are things to not love.

    Good news is that Morton will set a new career high for IP. I wouldn’t have bet on that.

    Smith was never an ace…

  7. Orange WHIPs says:

    I don’t think Caleb Smith was ever an ace.

  8. Jim says:

    I’m out on Caleb Smith. Owning him all year has been like sitting at the blackjack table an hour too long. I am grateful for drafting him no doubt. But with the playoffs starting, owners just can’t risk these blowups (not too mention the possible shutdown looming in a few weeks.)
    Wheeler is the next to drop. I have found these two equally frustrating to own second half.

  9. Ryan DC says:

    You starting Fratty Pirate against the Astros tonight? How about Galen against Dodgers on Friday?

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