Take The Bauer Back

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

Okay, you can stop now, Trevor Bauer. Your start last night of 5.0 IP, 7 ER, 5 Hits, 4 BBs, 3 Ks has inflated your ERA to 3.76 with a 1.16 WHIP and it’s driving us owners crazy. Moving away from the second person, Bauer has allowed a pair of 7 ER games in his last three – against the ChiSox and Orioles – and we’re all left scratching our heads. The one consistency I’m seeing is how his fastball was hammered in both starts, while his slider didn’t do enough to nullify the offering – just six thrown in this outing! – while his F-Strike rate has plummeted from a 64% to just a 55% clip as the longball has returned from its sub 0.50 HR/9 to a 1.11 HR/9 this year…and those walks. Man, those walks. 11.7% this year is horrible after years hovering 8.0%.

How does he fix this? Actually, I think it’s pretty easy. More breaking pitches. He’s gone from 40%+ sliders and curveballs to 25-30% this year in favor of more cutters, fastballs, and changeups and I don’t really understand why. The breakers combined for 14.5 pVal in 2018 (i.e. they were dope) but maybe the slightly lower velocity on his slide piece (82 mph to 80.5 mph) is making him less confident in the pitch, while the four-seamer’s lost tick of velocity isn’t really the big deal to me. I’m not sure. What I’ll say is this. Bauer doesn’t have outings like this and do the same thing again. I have to think he makes adjustments and figures it out. He was so locked in last year and I’d be buying low if someone wanted to get rid of him. This is a Top 10 – if not Top 5 – arm the rest of the way.

Let’s see how every other SP did Thursday:

Zack Wheeler6.0 IP, 6 ER, 11 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. And then there’s Wheeler, who is dancing between the ultra-dominance of 2018’s second half and…whatever this abomination this is. His splitter was fine save for a 2-1 pitch that got a bit too much of the zone, his curveball was solid at finding strikes, and his slider was…okay. 3/19 CSW and not the reliant pitch he needed to pair with his heater. Wheeler sat 96mph today – not the 97/98 we want to see – and while I don’t think he pitched incredibly poorly in this one, things didn’t go his way and he didn’t have anything to turn to that would pull him out of it. Normally that’s jammed heaters at 98 or a killer secondary pitch, but he just didn’t have that in a troublesome first inning. For the record, Wheeler did pitch well after that opening frame, but it doesn’t really matter here, does it. Anyway, it’s really disappointing and I think we have to tough this one out. You’re losing patience, I get that, but I’m not seeing a guy that’s suddenly Erik SwansonI’m holding tight.

Chris Bassitt8.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks. You know, if these two schmucks above didn’t disappoint so much, Bassitt would have been the lead as he’s sporting a 1.93 ERA with a ridiculous 30% K rate and 0.92 WHIP through five starts. Where are those Ks coming from? It’s not his breakers – just 4/26 CSW yesterday with two whiffs – but elevating four-seamers. The pitch has a 55% K rate, 13% swinging-strike rate, and just a 0.53 BAA allowed (.125 BABIP) thus far, returning a – get this – -37 wRC+ thus far. Super small sample, but there’s your answer. I can’t say I expect this success to last here – this isn’t a Marquez/Buehler/Flaherty/etc. situation from last year – but I’m in no way saying for you to sell him for peanuts. Ride this out because it cost you nothing and we have nothing to lose here. 

Anibal Sanchez1.1 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks. Anibal ani-falls in the ranks with a hamstring injury. That was your worst yet. Challenge accepted.

Julio Teheran5.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 4 BBs, 4 Ks. Teheran tastes exactly like the cereal Hooli would put out if they believed their image could make an easy buck selling terrible food. Good old Hooli-Os. Okay fine, you win. IF YOU COME AT THE KING YOU BEST NOT MISS. But seriously, just 1 ER in three starts is eye-raising, lowering his ERA to just 3.88 for the year. It’s super blegh for me with that, ahem, 4.20 BB/9 and 4.56 SIERA, but I understand if you can’t find better.

Dylan Covey5.2 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks. Just one strikeout as Covey did his best to shoot for a Minimalist Score and came just seven outs short. But in seriousness, HASITFMFWT?! He’s a sinkerballer with no clear path to a consistent ceiling, so remember kids, Don’t Covey Thy Dylan.

Zach Davies6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. It’s a Vargas Rule alright and we haven’t hit that wall yet. If you’re looking for the explanation for his 1.54 ERA that well overperforms the 4.88 SIERA (TEEs!), it’s most likely just a massive changeup usage increase that is returning a .193 BAA, 0 Hrs, 48% O-Swing, and 18% swinging-strike rate. It’s a lovely run with the slow ball, one I don’t really think is going to last when the rest of his stuff is super blegh. Wait, it’s the Jeremy Hellickson Trevor Richards situation again! On the real, you might as well see this to its conclusion, but I’d say June will be a rough one for Davies.

Eric Lauer5.2 IP, 1 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks. Big props to Lauer. I’m so proud that he was able to lower his ERA to 5.24 after this start. In all seriousness, it’s 2 ER or fewer in four of his last five games, though he has just two games at 6 IP this year. Maybe something to take into consideration for desperate streamers.

Lance Lynn7.0 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. Since the PabLo stream (hooo boy), it’s been a good week of streams. Streaming Record: 28-18. Always shocked when Lynn does well, moreso when he does well and I pick him. Crazy. Lynning! Only touch him in deep leagues if you’re desperate for K upside. Don’t touch this atom bomb otherwise.

Marcus Stroman6.0 IP, 1 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. Sooooo how was that slider? Solid – 21/28 strikes – but not overpowering – 4/28 whiffs and 25% CSW. Still, I’ll take this from Stroman and he’s in the purgatory of a Toby where he’s undroppable but you’re uneasy with every start. Here’s to hoping the slide piece dominates for a while now.

Spencer Turnbull4.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. An error led to five more runs scoring and pushing Turnbull’s pitch count way up in a heartbeat, including a grand-slam that doesn’t matter save for the added WHIP. And guess what! 35% CSW here…though his breakers were horrific – 1/17 CSW. YIKES. Really glad to see him ditch the sinker for four-seamers (which were fantastic), now just get the breakers and a little luck in the field and everything is peachy.

Trevor Williams3.2 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. Williams left this game with soreness in his side…which generally means oblique injury but we’re still in the dark here. 

Luis Castillo5.1 IP, 2 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. Aces gonna ace. You want the full six frames, but that WHIP is so beautiful. Stupid 33.3% LOB rate. 9 of his 10 starts this year have come with 2 Er or fewer now as his ERA sits at 1.90. Yep.

Michael Pineda7.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks. That’s three straight starts where Pineda’s slider has showed up, averaging just over 6 Ks per game in that stretch. The Mariners can do some damage as well and with the Angels next, I’d consider a possible pickup

Jose Quintana5.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. Quintana had him ridiculous three-game stretch and has since allowed 11 ER in four starts. It’s not bad, it just leads to our acceptance that he’s a Toby. And a lovely Toby at that, but still a Toby.

Zach Eflin5.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks. We’re upset with that WHIP and ERA, but 7 Ks! 18 whiffs for a Gallows Pole! Kinda wild. I wouldn’t judge Eflin harshly here – baseball rarely goes all according to plan – and keep rolling with Eflin.

Dan Straily3.1 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks. Well, yeah, it’s Straily. Serving up HAISTFMWT?! like it’s his J-O-B.

Homer Bailey4.1 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 4 BBs, 4 Ks. Remember when Bailey had that lovely mini-stretch that made us question everything? It’s lovely when our existential thoughts are quelled by the universe. Are you calling Homer Bale “the universe”? Okay I know how this sounds but…yes.

Adam Wainwright4.0 IP, 5 ER, 5 Hits, 5 BBs, 2 Ks. Ahhhhh yes. The Wainwright we all know and hate.

Erik Swanson3.0 IP, 8 ER, 9 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks. He played his Swansong a long time ago. Now it’s that awkward moment when you say your goodbyes but need to go in the same direction. Ouch.


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.


Merrill Kelly vs. San Francisco Giants We’re running low on streaming options these days and we’ve seen Kelly do well as he gets the poor Giants. Hooo boy.


Tomorrow’s Streamer


John Means vs. Cleveland Indians – I don’t love Means (he should probably be at like #99 on The List, though) but he has the best matchup here.


Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer


Reynaldo Lopez vs. Toronto Blue Jays – I’m tempted to go with his counterpart Trent Thornton on the other side, but I’ll go with the guy facing the worse offense.


Game of the Day


Miles Mikolas @ Texas Rangers – It’s ace day and I’m focused on Mikolas’ recent growth. Please tell me his slider is still good. Please.


(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.

19 responses to “Take The Bauer Back”

  1. Manny DGM says:

    hey nick – i gotta pick 2 and i’m pretty set on Skaggs being one of them:

    Merrill Kelly, Nick Margevicus or Jhoulyst Expect it

  2. Kyle says:

    Just FYI, Castillo only went 5.1 because there was a 2 hour rain delay in the 6th. He was only at 76 pitches and he’d retired 14 straight batters since the 2 RBI double in the first. Pretty good chance he’d have gone 7 without the rain.

    • Joe says:

      On top of that, the two run double in the first was flukey as hell, Contreras hit a ball off of third base that careened into left, that Suarez would have made a play on otherwise to end the inning.

      • Lion says:

        Not to mention the other controversially called double that was also “over” the third base bag by baez that put two men in scoring position and left announcers confused how it was called fair. Ignore the line, he was cy young material yet again.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Great point! Didn’t spend much time on Castillo given the AGA label.

  3. Rob says:

    I kept Wheeler over Castillo this year at the last minute cause all of the pre-season ranks had Wheeler ranked higher. feelsbadman.

    • Dub says:

      I kept Flaherty over Castillo. But fortunately for me everyone else was down on Castillo too so I was able to get him back in the draft.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Sorry Rob, what I do is far from a perfect science.

      Hope you find another pitcher to make up for it this year + I’m sure Wheeler will improve as we continue through the year.

  4. Vinny aka PitcherList_SuperFan says:

    Hey Nick,

    Please tell me the title is a play on the rage against the machine song? I have no questions or hypothetical scenarios today, just a daily reminder that you’re the hero that Gotham needs right now!

  5. AH says:

    Worth nothing with Turnbull: yes, he could use some luck in the field, but the Tigers’ defense is real bad.

  6. Frankie says:

    Zack Wheeler lowered his season ERA against the Nationals from 10.24 to 9.77.

    Is there a metric for why some pitchers just flat out suck against one team?

    • MookieBestt says:

      I saw the same stat. And guess who his next start is against.

      • Frankie says:

        At least it should be a 2 start week. Gotta be safe and bench his start against the Nats. ugh. He’ll toss a SO, I know it.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      It’s wild, isn’t it?

      I haven’t looked into that personally and I generally don’t account for it save for extreme examples. Maybe I should start for Wheeler and the Nats…

  7. Wes says:

    Mitch Keller worth an add? What do you think of his stuff/make-up?

    • Nick Pollack says:

      I don’t know a ton about what stuff he’s carrying this year, though I hate his consistent 9%+ walk rates and lack of overwhelming whiffs.

      Worth a speculative add if you have the roster spot, but I’m not as sold from before the first pitch as much as I have been with others.

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