The Devil’s Ray

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

It’s time we really talked about Robbie Ray. He left his previous start with a blister and Fast and I did discuss if this would affect him in New York. It clearly did – 0.2 IP, 5 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 1 Ks – having no feel for his slider, then turning to a hung curveball that was blasted out of the yard. You’ve been owning Ray all season and have endured starts like these and I know this one is really pushing the limit. Still, I have to encourage patience. He gets the Marlins next followed by back-to-back starts against San Diego. This burns a lot and it will pass while he’s expected to make that next start against Miami. I’d still trust him there and if he’s looking A-Okay, then we’re golden for San Diego. Next year? Yeah, I’m likely out on this one for a good amount of reasons…but we’ll talk about that over the long winter months.

Let’s see how every other SP did Wednesday:

Zach Eflin3.2 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks. Eflin tossed 91 pitches here as he also allowed three unearned runs against the Braves. He pounds strikes constantly and doesn’t have a third pitch to truly rely on – 1/13 CSW on changeups here – making him very susceptible to a lava floor in a home with low ceilings. I hate those homes. Now with Boston and Cleveland and Washington to end his season, this is a very clear drop.

Trent Thornton – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks. Look at this. Double-Tee went five no-hit frames following Wilmer Font so the no-no wasn’t in play, but he pitched the best we’ve seen all year against the Red Sox. Fastballs elevated with a purpose + sliders returning 11/24 CSW is excellent (27/75 for 36% CSW is beautiful as well!) and everything we’ve wanted to see this year from Thornton. Now with the Orioles ahead, it does present a very sneaky play in AL-Only leagues, but it’s sure risky. He did this for one start and it was just five frames. The lack of volume + natural volatility baked in means the ceiling will be hard to reach, even against a weaker opponent.

Steven Matz6.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks. We really are in “just start Matz” territory, aren’t we. Not to say he’s close to an AGA tag or anything like that, but if you own him, you start him. Like Keuchel, for example.

Chris Paddack6.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks. Really good to see Paddack take this start against the Cubs and return one of his better starts of the second half. He earned a Gallows Pole at 20 whiffs (31/93 CSW) and featured gorgeous separation of his fastball up and changeups down. We’ll see if the Padres stick to the six-man, but he’s avoiding Coors either way and that’s lovely. Enjoy Milwaukee.

Bobby Poyner2.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks. The Red Sox went full bullpen and Bobby here went first. It’s his world, we’re just living in it.

Cole Hamels4.1 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 6 Ks. Velocity is starting to creep back up, but he needed 91 pitches to get ousted in the fifth. Yikes. That’s two starts combining for just 7.2 frames and you’re starting to wonder if Hamels should be held onto moving forward. I think you’re still okay against the Reds next time out. He’s still missing bats – 15 whiffs here – and his changeup/cutter are still effective. I’d take the gamble.

Dallas Keuchel6.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 8 Ks. Like I mentioned with Matz, we’re starting Keuchel here on out. He’s a Toby who has really come into his own with keeping the ball consistently down as of late and I’m sure we’ll hear a ton about it when the Braves are in the playoffs. I think I’ll be out on Keuchel for the most part next year, unless you can get him as #5 SP or so. Then I’m fine with his stability.

Ross Stripling3.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks. As expected Stripling pitched three frames followed by a pair from Dustin MayDon’t anticipate this changing soon and it’s not worth your time.

Antonio Senzatela6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. As not expected, Senz-a came through in Coors against the Cardinals. Enjoy the Birthday Party, I’m not hurt I wasn’t invited. I mean, why would I.

Jose Urquidy5.0 IP, 1 ER, 1 Hits, 1 BBs, 10 Ks. Well hot dang, it’s good to see JU too! 34/82 CSW is crazy good (over 41%!) as Urquidy’s slider dominated for whiffs and changeups earned strikes galore. It’s the Urquidy I enjoyed a fair amount in the summer and taking over for Framber Valdez presents an interesting pickup as he gets the Rangers and Mariners next. Yes, I’m in.

Dario Agrazal4.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks. Sure, whatever Dario.

Brett Anderson5.0 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks. Leave it to Brett to earn a 2.00 WHIP across five frames but allow just two runs. Baseball is weird, y’all.

Marco Gonzales7.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks. Nice stuff here Marco, now you get the Pirates and Orioles next. I think you’re fine with him as a Toby for those two games, but not the A’s outing that follows.

Dakota Hudson6.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 5 BBs, 7 Ks. Hudson went into Coors and was able to fan seven while producing a solid QS for you. Hats off to you Hudson for surviving, I’m not sold you’ll be able to pull it off a second time against the Nationals, then a third and fourth time against the Cubs to end the year.

John Means 6.1 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. Whoa, look at that. Means survived the Dodgers and now has given us peace of mind as he faces the Tigers and Mariners next. That’s lovely, Means. Thanks for being you.

Adam Plutko4.1 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. Plutko really isn’t a great arm to trust. Maybe a Toby, but that’s wishful thinking. And I know Trout was out of the lineup, but still. We have questions if he’s good enough to take advantage of the Tigers and ChiSox next and I’m leaning yes, but it’s not an instant add. 

Stephen Strasburg6.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks. Aces gonna ace. Strasburg has quietly put up a productive season for those drafting him as their #2 SP, with a 3.49 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and 30% strikeout rate. It’ll likely be the second season of 200 IP as well, and here he settled in nicely against the mighty Twins. Nice work bud.

Zach Davies4.1 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. He got the Marlins and gave us the short start we’ve been fearing from the Brewers rotation. Seriously, they are terrified of the third turn of the lineup. Oh, and it’s not like Davies was killing it either. Give em a reason to keep you in, you know?

Sonny Gray6.1 IP, 3 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 9 Ks. Aces gonna ace. They let Gray pitch with a no-hitter into the seventh…even though his pitch count was way too high for him to survive the full nine frames. It turned into a Careful Icarus as he allowed all three runs in the seventh via a three-run bomb and we’re all a little upset about it. At least this may keep his stock slightly lower for next year…? Are you on board with Gray for 2020? It depends on the price, honestly. I think some will spot him around #20 and I’m hesitant to jump for him there. For example, Zac Gallen will likely go many rounds later and I don’t think they are far off. Gray isn’t going to repeat this career season.

Andrew Kittredge0.0 IP, 3 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 0 Ks. Andrew was a glitch in the matrix, followed by Jalen Beeks who couldn’t escape the inning himself for another four runs on the board (two earned). Then Austin Pruitt was summoned for one baserunner in ten outs. This is the risk of the opener but at least we all know it’s rarer than a typical starter.

Glenn Sparkman5.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. Well yeah, he’s a man in the wrong profession. Clearly meant to be a plumber. Isn’t that Leake? What? Nah, he’s the cable guy.

Dillon Peters3.0 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 1 Ks. You want nothing to do with Peters the rest of the way? Not even Alonso? Why are you the way that you are.

Logan Webb4.2 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. Blegh. I was hoping Webb would be a little better facing the Pirates after disappointing against the Cardinals prior but he still doesn’t have that fastball command on lockdown and it went south. Just ignore his Webb of lies.

Pablo Lopez5.0 IP, 5 ER, 5 Hits, 4 BBs, 2 Ks. Noooooo, I didn’t start him against the Brewers, but man I’m disappointed. His curveball and changeup were so good last time and here…here they weren’t. Just 19/84 CSW on the day and there’s no reason to chase the Diamondbacks, Nationals, and Phillies matchups ahead. Til next year, bud.

Martin Perez5.0 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks. An outing against the Nationals isn’t what you start Perez for, but now with CHW + KCx2, you should be back on board.

Ariel Jurado1.2 IP, 6 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks. I don’t want to be a part of this world. Look as these ratios, aren’t they bad? I wonder how many owners are incredibly sad? 

Reynaldo Lopez4.2 IP, 6 ER, 9 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. Uggggggh this is a frustrating one. Streaming Record: 94-61. I know it sounds weird and I could just say blegh and move on, but ReyLo had his velocity back – 97 mph! – and good sliders as well. The damage done was via the longball alone (four HRs! Four!) but that’s necessarily a justification. If I saw his velocity down or constant labor on the hill, I would so quickly turn around and cut our losses. He didn’t even have a poor CSW (28/88 = 32%!), though, and I wonder if he’s actually a sneaky play for his next three starts @MIN, @DET, DET. Yes, even considering the Twins. If you’re conflicted, just don’t take the chance, I’m not calling this a must play or anything, I simply find this fascinating and believe that it could work out more than some random Cup of Schmo on the wire. Go with your gut here, I’m going sit in this chair rubbing the three hairs I have on my chin trying to figure this one out.


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.


Tyler Mahle vs. Seattle Mariners – Don’t forget, this is an arm that hovers a 25% strikeout rate.


Tomorrow’s Streamer


Sandy Alcantara vs. San Francisco Giants – He looked good against the Royals and with two-seamers inside + sliders and changeups for strikes, Sandy could cruise in Oracle Park.


Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer


Dylan Cease vs. Seattle Mariners – I wrestled with this one. He’s a volatile arm, but the upside should outweigh the floor here. Robert Dugger against the Giants could be a safer ratio floor and I’m avoiding Jordan Lyles since I question how deep the Brewers will actually let him pitch in this game.


Game of the Day


Yu Darvish vs. Dinelson Lamet – Strikeouts. Lots of strikeouts.


(Photo by Adam Bow/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.

13 responses to “The Devil’s Ray”

  1. Jim says:

    I feel as if Dakota Hudson reads the SP Roundup and and is fueled by your constant disbelief in him. At some point we have to start looking at results and not underlying stats, right? Sure his peripherals are saying one thing, but nobody can argue with what’s actually happening on the field. This is one of those guys that you just ride til the wheels fall off (ala Trevor Williams 2018.) I’m glad I have done exactly that. If he blows up next week, so be it.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Ha! I love the idea that a pitcher reads this and goes “I’ll show Nick…”

      Honestly, it’s not about the peripherals regarding Hudson. His general sinkerballer + slider approach doesn’t outline someone performing as well as he is now.

      Just like Trevor Williams’ skillset doesn’t dictate prolonged success. That stretch last year was an outlier.

      For all the times a guy like Hudson or T-ells keeps this up, there are ten like Leake, Young, Means, Agrazal, etc. that don’t keep it going. I’ll always bet the under.

      By the way, you’re essentially doing The Vargas Rule with Hudson and there is nothing wrong with that.

  2. Sam says:

    I am curious why you are so sure Gray cannot repeat this level of performance next year? His xFIP is close enough to his ERA to suggest little future regression

    • J says:

      Huh? His xFIP is a full .84 runs higher than his ERA and his Siera is over a full run higher than his ERA. There is nothing indicating that he can repeat this level of performance. Even if he has some skill at beating his xFIP, it’s extremely likely it’s anywhere near to this extent.

      • Sam says:

        .84 runs higher is still only 3.64 which is perfectly respectable. He’s got a career 3.53 ERA, in 4 of his 6 last seasons he’s ended 3.55 or better, and this will be his 3rd season going 180+ IP. His numbers this season are almost identical to Castillo’s who will likely be a top 12-15 pitcher off the board.

        • J says:

          It’s definitely still respectable, but you said that his numbers suggest little regression. Nearly a full run higher ERA is a huge amount of regression.

    • theKraken says:

      I don’t think any of those fancy ERA estimators hold any truth. If you like his stuff and poise then jump on, but don’t do it based on ERA estimators. If there were one worth a $!^& then there wouldn’t be 50 of them undergoing constant revision.

  3. Manny DGM says:

    Hey Nick,

    Cease over Merrill Kelly on Saturday? How about Sheffield or Nova on Sunday? Debating who i want to add as a last ditch “break in case of emergency” add. 99% sure my opponent will take the other guy

    • Nick Pollack says:

      I’d say Sheffield is your strikeout “emergency play” for Sunday – Nova for the other side of it.

      I generally prefer to target the Sunday games vs. Saturday for things like this, but Cease = Sheff and Kelly = Nova (same idea of Ks vs. Ratios).

  4. Gary says:

    Reylo hit 98 a couple times. He just grooved a few.

  5. Chris Bridges says:

    Trent Thornton not Tyler!

  6. theKraken says:

    The Cubs without Javy Baez are not the Cubs. He completely carried them this year and they really miss his bat when he is not in the lineup. Its always good to note the teams missing significant pieces. MIN is also missing a lot right now.

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