The Cole Truth

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

This one won’t be long and is only to make sure that those worried about Gerrit Cole don’t do anything silly. The likely ace of your staff had a disappointing 5.0 IP, 6 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks outing against the White Sox, inflating his ERA well north of 4.00 and frustrating those that looked to him to preserve their ratios. Well, it’s still a 1.08 WHIP on the year and a 38% strikeout rate…and a 2.58 SIERA because that 21% HR/FB isn’t going to last (1.51 HR/9? It wasn’t even close to that high during his “HR problem” year in Pittsburgh!), while the 67% LOB rate will fall as well. Not to mention, his near 16% overall swinging-strike rate is among the best in the majors and really, this is a buy low situation. I’m not talking about his repertoire since I don’t see anything outside of a few mistake pitches (like yesterday’s hung slider to Eloy) that is swaying everything in this small sample. Just blindly start him and buy him if someone is selling him on the relatively cheap.

Let’s see how every other SP did Wednesday:

Jesse Chavez1.2 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 0 BBs, 0 Ks. Chavez opened for Adrian Sampsonwho I guess grew back his hair for a 5.1 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks line. This is not going to last a bowl of my famous guac. There’s just never enough.

Frankie Montas6.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 9 Ks. It’s wild to see Montas climb the swinging-strike ladder, boasting his best mark of the year yesterday at 17%, raising his season-long swinging-strike clip to 12%. Yes, the Indians are far from the best test of an offense, but he’s taken advantage of every poor team, and has yet to allow more than 3 ER in a single start. With his strong heater and a pair of secondary pitches that are working with his slider and splitter, I’m buying here. His sub 3.00 ERA won’t last (the split will disappear through the year, they always do), he’s still a solid #3/4.

Jeff Samardzija6.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks. Well this is weird since Samardzija had six unearned runs to his name in a wild second frame. I really wouldn’t put much stock in the whiffs and while this was his far-and-away best outing (which is weird considering the six runs on the board), it’s still not enough for me to consider a pickup.

Max Scherzer6.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 9 Ks. Aces gonna ace. 40/109 CSW with a Gallows Pole at 24 whiffs and all this talk of ousting the #1 SP has been silenced.

Ryne Stanek1.2 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks. Stanek opened for Yonny Chirinoswho did fine with a 3.2 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks line. Is this worth your roster spot?

Jacob deGrom6.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 8 Ks. Aces gonna ace. Marlins? STAY AWAY. Nationals? No problem. Yep, makes total sense.

Marco Gonzales7.0 IP, 1 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. I took away his Spider-Man label and now he performs exactly like the best Toby. He doesn’t get it back so easily, but this is good to see.

Rich Hill6.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks. It was three meh starts that made owners a bit restless and now you see where Hill gets his strong numbers from in two starts of 1 ER and 17 Ks total. That’s what’s up. As long as he’s starting, you’ll be happy.

Eric Lauer7.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks. Even with this marvelous start, Lauer has a 7.2% swinging strike rate, keeping a sub 20% K rate and 4.73 ERA. But fine, back-to-back 1 ER games with 2 ER or fewer in five of his last six and just a start in Coors to set him back. Don’t care, this is a trap save for deep streaming.

Rick Porcello6.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks. The Thief now has 5 ER total in four of his last five games, here taking advantage of a poor Jays offense. He’s fine, really a Toby at heart for a winning team and that’s cool. I can see owners letting him go in 12-teamers if it’s a shallow waiver wire, but for the most part, he’ll be owned through the year.

Max Fried6.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. Slider usage is falling back down with his first start under 10% thrown, but it didn’t matter as the Giants are the Giants. Soroka gets the attention, but Fried’s 2.88 ERA and 1.12 WHIP is more than appreciated and I don’t think he’s worse than a 3.50 ERA arm, while he will likely get more frames than Soroka over the year. Don’t sell since I don’t anticipate that you’ll get enough back.

Brad Keller7.0 IP, 2 ER, 2 Hits, 4 BBs, 3 Ks. Finally, a start from Keller that isn’t 4+ ER. It’s been a rough year and this start isn’t a suggestion that he’s out of the woods. BK, it’s not what you crave.

Daniel Norris6.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks. Nice rebound from his 6 ER clunker last time, especially with his hardest heater of the season at 91.7 mph – we saw a lot of 90 and 89 mph earlier in the year. Maybe there’s something to that, with his changeup usage peaking above 16%. That slow ball is a very inconsistent pitch, but its 16% swinging-strike rate could suggest a shift for Norris in the right direction. Improved velocity and a change in approach that worked? I’m listening. Not doing anything now, but I’m listening.

Aaron Sanchez6.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. Good to see Sanchez on the hill after getting more blister problems last start and 15%+ whiffs ain’t so bad! He had his highest First Pitch Strike (F-Strike) rate of the year as well at 68% and good for him, especially against a strong Sawx team. The man is the poster child for Feral Command, though, which means we have no idea if this will stick or not. We’ll see.

Jose Urena6.0 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. That 1.50 WHIP is meh, but we’ll take the rest without a doubt. Streaming Record: 33-19. Please throw him back into the free agent pool now, because if you roster Jose, Urena boatload of trouble.

Montana DuRapau0.2 IP, 3 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks. I get irrationally upset when a pitcher with a fantastic name struggles. I just want him to become a household name, you know? IS THAT SO MUCH TO ASK?!

Jon Gray7.0 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks. You never really know what to do with Gray, but if you couldn’t start him in Pittsburgh, you didn’t deserve to own him. Let’s be happy we have this and worry next week about the headache of hosting the Snakes in Coors.

Cole Hamels4.0 IP, 3 ER, 9 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. Bleeegh. He’s supposed to be the new Spider-Man and I guess you have to have some bad with the good to truly earn the title, right? DOn’t overthink it and keep rolling him out there.

Ivan Nova7.0 IP, 3 ER, 10 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. It takes a long time for us to witness a Super Nova. He’s like the Cherry Bomb of stars.

Adam Wainwright5.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 4 BBs, 2 Ks. Here’s a fun fact that isn’t actually fun but whatever: Wainwright has fanned exactly two batters in three of his last four starts. SO FUN. It’s going to be a wild ride in the Cardinals rotation in June as guys will get hurt or demoted and we’ll see a lot of shifting around, Waino included.

Luis Castillo2.2 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks. Wait, no. Casty needed 75 pitches to get through just eight outs and everything is stupid again. Well obviously not – it’s just a bad day – but last year was traumatic, okay?

Merrill Kelly1.2 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 4 BBs, 0 Ks. Ahhhh yes, there’s the Kelly that I still can’t believe I avoided last week as a I streamed him. It’s been one of those crazy streaming runs (I think it’s 14-3 in the last 17 picks?). Back to Kelly, which is super on point as we turned around and walked away a long time ago.

Jefry Rodriguez4.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 4 BBs, 3 Ks. Is it bad that I see Jefry’s name and I just think of that character from Rocko’s Modern Life? His line is just as bloated, too.

CC Sabathia5.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks. The strikeouts are surprising, the ratios were unexpected against the Orioles, and the news was sad as he was placed on the IL for a “barking” knee. I’m not sure who the Yanks will find to make these starts – James Paxton will return soon, but there’s currently two open spots for now – but no one you should be running to the wire for.

Homer Bailey1.2 IP, 5 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks. Ah yes, the Homer Bale we all know and hate.

Zach Davies3.0 IP, 6 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks. The man was a TEEs and he raised his ERA nearly a full tick to…2.43 in this one. So he’s still a TEEs (4.93 SIERA!) as his strikeout rate sits at just 16.7% with a 7.6% swinging strike rate. That’s to make sure y’all don’t think it was just “one start”. THE WALL HAS BEEN HIT.

Dan Straily4.0 IP, 6 ER, 8 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks. Well, yeah, it’s Straily.

Michael Wacha4.2 IP, 6 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks. It was a doubleheader for the Cards and Wacha got an extra day of rest that clearly helped. I wouldn’t be touching Wacha for a while as I need to see something encouraging over a stretch to be convinced he’s worth a start.

Cole Irvin4.2 IP, 7 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks. That’s what happens when a Cup of Schmo faces a strong offense. I hope you didn’t have to see this.


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.


Trevor Richards vs. Detroit Tigers – Few options here and I’ll go for the strikeout upside inside Richards’ changeup against the weak Tigers. It’s a rocky week of streams.


Tomorrow’s Streamer


Trent Thornton vs. San Diego Padres – Thornton has strikeout upside and the Padres are the #1 strikeout-prone offense in the majors.


Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer


Tyler Mahle vs. Chicago Cubs – I’m actually not in love with this matchup for Mahle, though he’s far-and-away the best pitcher under 20% available and the other matchups are not good in their own rights.


Game of the Day


Lucas Giolito vs. Corbin Martin – Will Martin recover? Can Giolito’s hot streak keep up against a strong Houston offense?


(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.

26 responses to “The Cole Truth”

  1. Jack says:

    You had me at guac. Shoot me those ingredients; I was redpilled recently on citrus-free being the authentic way to go. It messed me up good.

    Also, as a Castillo and Merrill Kelly owner, I’d prefer not to talk baseball this morning anyway, unless it’s to discuss the Astros’ plans to promote Yordan Alvarez immediately upon the arrival of his Super 2 date.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Keep it simple and cilantro-free because cilantro is the bane of humanity:

      Avocados (duh)
      Cayenne Pepper
      Hint of lime

      Mash together and taste as you go.

      • Jack says:

        ah, so you’re one of those to whom cilantro tastes like soap. I always include cilantro because I’m not one of you.

        and now that I have kids, no jalapenos/serranos or very little, but I used to put them in there every time. also used to go with garlic but not onion; sometimes I still do that. I like a dish that can take some freestyling, ya know?

        gracias para…sharing!

        • Levi says:

          Is it weird if I think cilantro tastes like soap but I still like it? Either way I agree, you gotta spice up that guac with a little fresh garlic.

      • Josh A. says:

        Agree on the cilantro. Instead of salt and pepper, Lawry’s seasoning salt makes it even tastier.

      • TomaNoes says:

        noooooo! Tomatoes!! Damn I really liked this website until now.

  2. Manny DGM says:

    Nick, would u drop eickhoff to pick up Eduardo Rodriguez?

  3. robert danzig says:

    what do you think? am I crazy to start Giolito today? lol

  4. Slowmez says:

    Archer and Musgrove out on our wire (10 team categories) and it feels wrong. Worth dropping a bench bat (A Rosario) in hopes they return to form or hold?

  5. Wheelhouse says:

    So with Heaney coming back, drop Mahle, Minor, or Giolito in a keeper league. Prolly Mahle, right?

  6. David says:

    Of these names, any of them you stashing, rostering, speculative top 30-40 ROS? You know what I mean…

    Mahle, Gallen, Pivetta (I know), Luzardo, Whitley, Stripling, Urias, Skaggs? Any name there you are super anxious to re-add before someone else does. I already grabbed Jimmy Nelson. Thanks!

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Skaggs is the most likely one to hit Top 40.

      I’m not against stashing Pivetta with the recent news that he’s considered for Tuesday.

      Whitley has been bad, Gallen seems farther away than we’d like, and luzardo has a few weeks or so…?

      Stripling isn’t going to be used as a SP anytime soon, Urias is the same.

  7. Gina says:

    Hi Nick! I have an empty slot in my 10 team, roto, keeper league. Thinking about using it for an SP. I am 2nd to last in Ks, but doing fine in the other pitching categories. Which of the available SPs would you recommend adding for the ROS… Bassitt, Mahle, Eickhoff, Musgrove, ERod, Heaney, S. Gray, Gibson, J. Nelson or Lucchesi? Or would you recommend streaming SPs to get caught up in Ks?

    • Nick Pollack says:

      I’d stream!

      With so many good options, try to play the matchups as best as you can. As long as it’s against a weak opponent, feel confident with all of those…save for Lucchesi, Nelson, and Gray.

  8. Seth says:

    What do you mean by splitters disappearing? Are they a gimmick that fades away after time or are they just hard to command consistently? Thanks

    • Nick Pollack says:

      “Disappearing” means that it’s the most inconsistent pitch in baseball. Feel of the pitch can go in-and-out from start-to-start.

      Pitchers lose their feel of splitters more than any other pitch in repertoires.

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