Taking The Wind Out Of Your Sales

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

We had plenty of debates about where to rank Chris Sale in the preseason. He’s healthy! He’s not healthy but he will be healthy! What if he’s not actually healthy and won’t get healthy? A lot of us are asking that after tonight’s atrocious 3.0 IP, 7 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks line against the Mariners, a product of Sale hover 92/93mph with his fastball. This is a bad thing. A very bad thing. I don’t expect Sale to suddenly be okay next time out. I’m not really sure why he isn’t healthy right now. He had the full off-season to rest and heal after last year’s injury, yet somehow he’s not sailing toward victory, but sailing away, searching for tomorrow on every shore. Maybe he just needs to ramp up. The last time I said that was about Michael Fulmer – I told you I’d be the first to say I was wrong, get used to it – and I don’t know, I’m scared. I think we’re going to find out more in the next few days, honestly. It could be nothing and I wouldn’t be selling now unless it was an even price, but my gut says this is a problem that won’t go away. If you can break pretty even, I’d make the deal and rid yourself of the worry.

Oh, and it’s so good to be back for a full day of pitching. I’ve missed all of you. Yes, you too (the sequel).

Let’s see how every other SP did Thursday:

Jose Berrios7.2 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 10 Ks. Well hot dang. I was a little on the lower side regarding Berrios this off-season and he shows up on opening day to shut me up. Kinda. A few things 1) The Indians without Lindor is a horrid lineup (and does Lindor really save it?) and 2) Berrios’ changeup wasn’t all that great. Sure, his curveball was on point for 20/37 CSW (so good!) but I worry about the times when the deuce isn’t carving everyone up on a given day. That’s when we see stretches of 4 ER apiece. So enjoy these games, I won’t properly celebrate until I see that slow ball do wonderful things.

Jacob deGrom6.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 10 Ks. Aces gonna ace. And he got 2 ER of support! What a wonderful day.

Mike Fiers6.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks. He struggled in the Japan game but was able to handle the Upton-less Angels. Wow, much impressed. Wait, really? No, jeez, definitely not. Fiers may fit a bit in O.Co given his flyball tendencies, but if you’re chasing Fiers ratios you’re setting yourself up for a Grave Mistake and that’s clearly not smart. It’s not called a Super-duper Mistake for cryin’ out loud. Yeah, but I’d roster a guy named Kendall SuperDuperman. That sounds like the worst superhero alter-ego ever. I THOUGHT OF IT FIRST!

Brad Keller7.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. I didn’t start the streaming streak before today – I didn’t have a roundup to claim it! – but if you listened to the First Pitch Podcast, you’d have caught me stating Keller as my streaming pick if I had to. So there’s that little piece of insignificance. BK is not what you crave, but when he faces teams like the ChiSox, he might be what you scrounge up at 11:00 pm not wanting to order takeout.

Eric Lauer6.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. I was surprised by the amount of questions I received about starting Lauer today and I’ll admit, I’m impressed he succeeded. On the other hand, the man had just 23% CSW in this outing, which is suggestive of dominance in the same way that the lack of rain suggests I’ll eat a tuna sandwich today – It doesn’t. Arizona is next and maybe he pulls it off again. I hate streaming early and there is such a low ceiling here that it isn’t worth the risk.

Marcus Stroman7.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 4 BBs, 7 Ks. I don’t like Stroman. I didn’t put him in the Top 100 because I worry about his groundball tendencies and lack of whiffs. Thing is, Stroman earned 16 whiffs today – going 33% on his slider alone. That’s…pretty nice. So maybe I wa—*Suit Man whispers in my ear* oh is that right? Ah. Blame it on the Tigers. Seriously, that is such an awful offense. I just can’t buy this in full just yet.

Jordan Zimmermann7.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks. On the other side was no-hit-flirtin’ Jay-Z and somewhere Joe Pisapia is laughing his head off. Yeah, that’s a deep cut PL reference, we’re going to move past it now. Just like this Zimmermann start. Sorry, the Jays are bad and feel bad and there’s no way I’m starting Jordan with confidence in 50% of his outings. 

Luis Castillo5.2 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 8 Ks. The changeup was dope and the fastball didn’t get lit up. His slider was fine – that’s all it needs to be – and life was good. Fastball velocity was at 95.5mph, which is awfully similar to this time last year. Let’s hope he gears up a little through April.

Kyle Freeland7.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. Freeland was in Miami and did everything he was supposed to do…but it came with just 19 CSW on 93 pitches. I wanted more with his cutter (2 CSW on 22 thrown! JEEEEEEZ), but he’s a guy known for inducing weak contact and that clearly happened. I just want both from Freeland, especially in Miami, you know?

Aaron Nola6.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 5 BBs, 8 Ks. Aces gonna ace as I write this still wearing my Live Every Day Like It’s Nola Day shirt. (Check out the Pitcher List store if you haven’t yet!) Nola wasn’t as pristine as we’ve seen in the past, but 37% CSW should erase any fear you have looking at those five walks.

Hyun-Jin Ryu6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 8 Ks. Whaaaaaaaaaa. 8 Ks on just 8 whiffs! His changeup – the pitch that elevated him last year wasn’t that good with just nine thrown here, albeit it 8/9 for strikes. Ryu pumped the zone with heaters and curves, the Diamondbacks didn’t swing, and they never got comfortable. I’m leaning a little Blame it on the Diamondbacks here but just keep rolling with Ryu until you’re given a good reason not to.

Masahiro Tanaka5.2 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks. Tanaka got served a Philly with just 83 pitches and it’s dumb, but you got a dub with five Ks and a near 1.00 WHIP and everything is lovely.

Justin Verlander7.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks. Aces gonna ace as Verlander earned the first Gallows Pole of the year with 21 whiffs. He’s good, y’all.

Madison Bumgarner6.2 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks. Hot dang, 9 Ks! 16 whiffs overall and a 91mph fastball work, especially when he was able to keep that cutter down in the zone. I’ve talked about being out on Bumgarner given his lower arm angle and how his feel for command could have waned through injuries, but this isn’t that. Maybe that is this later, but that ain’t this now. That’s what’s up.

Marco Gonzales5.1 IP, 2 ER, 9 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. I wasn’t too impressed with his start last week and this one wasn’t all that great either. He did allow just 2 ER to the Sawx, but with a near 2.00 WHIP and just four Ks. Meh. I think he’s a Toby moving forward and that can be fine, just not what I want.

Corey Kluber7.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. Aces gonna ace as Kluber reminded people he’s kinda dope too despite Berrios showing him up. Youts these days.

Jon Lester6.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. Yeah, I’d take this if I owned Lester. It’s not sexy, but you didn’t draft Lester out of seduction. Steady Eddy over here doing some work is all.

Carlos Rodon5.1 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. Hey, pretty good Rodon. Sure, you were supposed to against the Royals and you only had five whiffs on 33 sliders, but you kept your heaters up and your slow stuff down. It works. No, I’m not running out there to grab him, but at least we got a glimpse of what Rodon could be if everything goes right for a full season. Spoiler alert: it won’t.

Max Scherzer7.2 IP, 2 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 12 Ks. Aces gonna ace. Sure, he got a taste of deGrom’s 2018 medicine, but this is lovely. As expected.

Jhoulys Chacin5.1 IP, 3 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks. Just three whiffs on 44 sliders despite the seven Ks. It’s a weird world that Chacin lives in, after all, he’ll do well when Jhoulyst expect it. It really does feel good to be back.

Julio Teheran5.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks. Teheran’s slider is still good, but the “improved” heater sat at just 91.3mph today. Womp womp. I’m so out like Pujols hitting a grounder to first.

Trevor Cahill5.2 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. Blegh. I was hesitant to consider Cahill in the pre-season as he’s one of those “ride while hot” arms. He’s not hot. No riding will be had.

Jameson Taillon6.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. This one had a bit of Careful Icarus as Taillon allowed three baserunners in the seventh without recording an out – including a solo shot – and of course all three scored. This was a QS with a sub 1.00 WHIP until the seventh. Blegh. His slider wasn’t as impressive as we saw most of last year, and between his slide piece and curveball, Taillon saw just 5 whiffs in 40 breakers thrown. That should change next time out. 

Jose Urena4.2 IP, 4 ER, 9 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks. Remember kids, if you roster Jose, Urena boatload of trouble. YES I’M BRINGING IT BACK.

Miles Mikolas5.0 IP, 5 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. Mikolas looked good at first, then a solo shot to Moose, then a three-run shot to Yelich(terrible heater), and then the dreaded FTDH via Chacin made this a sour afternoon. Yet he only killed you in ERA while the 1.20 WHIP is actually okay. Huh. I don’t expect the longball trend to stick and everything will be fine.

Blake Snell6.0 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. I was making a cut of all the filthy Snell pitches through the first two innings when he allowed the first HR of the day and it all went to the wayside. He’s still filthy, he’s still going to be your ace, but it just wasn’t there today against a strong Astros lineup. Don’t freak out here, unless you expected a sub 2.00 ERA season. That’s probably out the window now, as crazy as that sounds.

Andrew Cashner4.0 IP, 6 ER, 6 Hits, 4 BBs, 3 Ks. Mo cash, mo problems, that’s what they always say.

Mike Minor4.2 IP, 6 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. I don’t think Minor is this bad and he ran into a couple problems today against the Cubs, but I wouldn’t be depending on him for now in 12-teamers. Chase other arms with higher upside and similar floor in the short term.

Zack Greinke3.2 IP, 7 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. Greinke, buddy, pal, no. His slider didn’t earn a single whiff, his heater sat under 89mph, and the Dodgers launched four longballs. Yikes. The Padres are next and you’re safe, but…yikes.


Today’s Streamer


For those unaware, I’m forced to make my Streamer picks under the condition of sub 20% owned in Yahoo! leagues.

Derek Holland vs. San Diego Padres The Padres aren’t a weak offense, but Holland is the best pitcher here without the strongest lineup to face.


Tomorrow’s Streamer


Reynaldo Lopez vs. Kansas City Royals – There are a decent amount of options here – Jakob Junis on the other side, Pablo Lopez even if he is hosting the Rockies, and even Spencer Turnbull against the Jays for the desperate – but I’ll go with Lopez as the Royals offense is atrocious and ReyLo has a history of going deep into games.


Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer


Jeff Samardzija vs. San Diego Padres – I considered Corbin Burnes against the Cardinals, but there’s a risk of blowup there + Samardzija has more potential to go deeper into his game.


Game of the Day


Gerrit Cole vs. Charlie Morton – The former teammates are squaring off. This is cute. It will also feature plenty of filthy breakers. I like this.

(Photo by Mark LoMoglio/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 “Taking The Wind Out Of Your Sales”

  1. Takomi Treba says:

    Castillo was 97 at the moments.

  2. Jaybird934 says:

    Laughed a lil too hard at “no riding will be had”. The top tier pitching got stupid expensive in my auction league, leaving me with Taillon and Miko types. Yesterday wasn’t the opening day droid I’m looking for.

  3. J.C. Mosier says:


  4. zach cross says:

    Matt Boyd or Derek Holland?

  5. MookieBestt says:

    Only because the Rays bullpen/rotation is so fluid, did you see anything from Beeks yesterday? He’s obviously not fantasy relevant yet, but his line was pretty solid in relief of Snell vs the Astros for a guy with crazy minor league Ks.

  6. Jimmy Spiffs says:

    I’m not in Panic mode on Sale, his flat arm does concern me a bit. But i was offered Cole and Jose Ramirez for Sale, Flaherty and Andujar…. too much?

  7. Jordan says:

    Weird, fangraphs had ryu with 7.3% swinging strikes, but he had 8 whiffs on 82 pitches, or 9.8% swinging strikes (his contact rate is also off on fangraphs–82% on fg vs. 77% on ESPN’s box score, 27 times making contact / 35 swings). Not a big deal either way obviously, he was pounding the zone last night as you highlighted: 41% looking strikes (compared to 17% league average, baseball reference metric, looking strikes / all strikes

  8. Chucky says:

    Hope I don’t regret dropping Berrios instead of Sale. Castillo too. I have to guess the Red Sox did their due diligence on Sale, his arm and his mechanics, before bestowing on him the equivalent of a small country’s GDP.

  9. Paul McKinley says:

    Do you keep track of your streamer pick’s numbers? I want to use your own picks against you in that April is a good month to stream.

    • Paul McKinley says:

      To clarify – you previously said you do not like streaming in April

      • Nick Pollack says:


        It may work out, but it’s a worse probability than other months IMO.

        I don’t have a link on the site hosting the picks, though I keep track of the Win/Loss record in each Roundup.

  10. Paul says:

    I’m seeing Scherzer with 24 SwStr yesterday and Verlander with 23. Wouldn’t that give Scherzer the Gallows Poll for today?

    • Nick Pollack says:

      It would! My source has 21 vs 20 in favor of Verlander.

      Weird how they don’t always match up! I’ll look into it.

  11. Dock Ellis says:

    Gotta say, Stroman passed the eye test yesterday, yes it was the Tigers but he looked sharp.

  12. Perfect Game says:

    Hey Nick.

    Would you give up both Freeland and Strahm to get Taillon in a trade or is it too much? I’m in a shallow 10- team standard roto using QS instead of W. Current rotation includes Buehler, Clevinger, Marquez, Flaherty, Freeland and Strahm.

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