The Dog Days of Caleb

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

You’re terrified of what’s going on with Caleb Smith. Let’s be real, he allowed four earned runs on July 29, gave us a questionable outing last time, and then blew up for 4.2 IP, 6 ER, 10 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks yesterday against the Braves and we’re questioning if this 20th-round pick is finally living up to his price. Just 17-of-87 CSW is horrid, as his changeup did little to help, fastballs weren’t elevated quite right, and his slider earned just 4-of-36 whiffs. That ain’t right. His fastball velocity was closer to 92 mph this time around, but he couldn’t make the big pitch here. Everything seemed…off. So off, there was a questionable balk call in his fifth and final frame that definitely wasn’t a balk. Because baseball tortures us, now we have to make the decision of starting him against the Dodgers next, and I’m inclined to still let him fly. I know, I know: Baseball doesn’t work in the way that makes sense and you’ll kick yourself more for benching Smith than if he burns you. Do I really think this is the massive decline of Smith? Unless there is an injury not yet announced, I’m sticking with Caleb through these annoying days. Maybe he’ll be a few ranks lower on Monday, but he’ll help plenty more than hurt.

Let’s see how every other starter did Friday:

Walker Buehler6.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 8 Ks. Aces gonna ace. Yep, it’s prime Buehler time. The Dodgers may hold him out of one start down the stretch to conserve him for the playoffs—maybe a week of rest at the end of September?—but I wouldn’t make any moves to predict exactly when that would theoretically happen. Just enjoy life.

Mike Fiers7.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 8 Ks. Speaking of enjoying life, hats off to everyone who went with Fiers and celebrated like a cowboy on a nuke during this entire streak. Seriously, it’s blowing my mind. 

Cal Quantrill7.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks. Our backup Call Boy was the only one that worked today, and I feel blegh that I went with Devin Smeltzer. The Indians are a strong offense now! I know, I know. Anyway, Quantrill’s secondary stuff wasn’t all that great, but he was able to induce a ton of outs with great sinkers down-and-arm side, getting poor swings at borderline strikes. It’s the Rays and Reds next, and I’m iffy about it. He doesn’t overpower, but he could keep rolling as well. Consider all options.

Trevor Bauer7.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 11 Ks. Aces gonna ace. See? Everything is fine with 20 whiffs, 35% CSW and a Gallows Pole. Juuuuuust fine.

Jalen Beeks3.2 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. Huh, Beeks was given a rare true start and wasn’t so bad. I mean, that WHIP sure is, but maybe one day he escapes Tampa Bay and becomes productive? Maybe?

Gio Gonzalez5.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks. Some wanted Gio instead of Smeltzer, and hey, y’all got this one. At the same time, you might feel a little dirty enjoying that 2:3 K to BB ratio with just 21-of-90 CSW. Yeah, that’s a lot of pitches for just five frames. You escaped this one Gio…

Edwin Jackson6.1 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. Oh come off it, EJax, you’re the off-brand AJax that makes us question why someone would bother to save the penny to purchase the discount AJax. If you see that, help a buddy out.

Wade Miley5.2 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. Another start, another cheap win without a massively sexy line. It’s a sub-3.00 ERA with a 1.13 WHIP and 11 wins for Miley. What a wonderful late-round pick.

Sean Reid-Foley5.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. I see a line like this from SRF against the Yankees and I’m thinking good things away. But no. Just 26-of-95 CSW. His slider was solid, but nothing else really did much. I’m glad the breaker is acting like it does in his double-digit strikeout games, but I need a little more than a 92 mph heater and a 3-of-16 CSW changeup, you know? 

Julio Teheran7.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks. Teheran was served an evening with the Marlins and enjoyed his meal as he dabbed his mouth with a napkin after. I haven’t felt that good with my slider in ages. Well, the pitch was great—9-of-16 CSW—but it was really endless heaters that did the job, as he went 35% CSW overall. Wonderful work; I’m happy for you. Good luck quelling the Mets next time. I think you still roll Teheran out there, just not a repeat of this is all.

Kolby Allard4.1 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks. Hey, so funny story. Someone asked yesterday: “Can Allard be fantasy-viable?” and I replied, “Only if he’s suddenly throwing harder on his fastball after hovering 90 mph last year.” Guess what: He averaged 91.7 mph yesterday. Huh. It’s not the electric heat that you’d really want from a 21-year-old to wow you, but it allowed Allard to throw 33-of-93 CSW and 29-of-74 on just four-seamers alone. Yeah, funny story. The bad news here is that his secondary stuff is heavily lacking and it’s still sub-92 mph, but at least I’m curious now. At least it’s not 90 mph. At least there’s something to get me to inch up in my seat. Thanks for this, Nick. Allard a lot today. You gotta add an accent to that one; I’m moving past that joke now.

Chris Archer6.0 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 9 Ks. Archer got the Cardinals, and it was feasting time. Thirty-four% CSW is lovely, as he essentially was his classic four-seamer/slider self. This is why you endure those 5 IP, 3 ER, 4 BBs, 4 Ks starts.

Shane Bieber7.0 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 11 Ks. Aces gonna ace. What an amazing ride this has been as the Biebs holds a 2.51 ERA and 0.86 WHIP with a 32% strikeout rate across his last 11 starts. CRAZY.

Dylan Bundy6.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. Bundy had a date with the Astros, which had all the makings of being one of his standard disasters in Camden, yet he produced 31-of-102 CSW with a 92 mph heater and a wonderful slider. We know it’s in there. One day he’ll put on the stretch of a lifetime. One day.

Ross Detwiler5.1 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 4 Ks. That’s more fours than the last Star Wars movie. Funny enough, four is probably the number I want to see least when looking at pitching lines—too few Ks, too many walks, too many ER, too few IP…I guess hits are cool, but that’s the clear stat we care least about. Duh. Annnnnyway, Detwiler is far from what you want on your squads. After all, a rolling team carries no Ross.

Marco Gonzales6.1 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 9 Ks. Ugh, we can never fully quit Marco, can we? His velocity hasn’t returned, but the feel for his curveball and changeup sure have as he went full-on BSB here with heaters up and slow stuff down. Cutter was…all right, but to see the slowball and deuce work well was a nice surprise. Not something I’m necessarily banking on for next time, but it was nice to see.

Dakota Hudson4.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 0 Ks. Just 49 pitches, zero strikeouts, and nothing to help you. Seriously. Nothing. HAISTFMFWT?! 

Robbie Ray6.0 IP, 2 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks. Yep, that’s Ray all right. Always teetering the line of “this is wonderful” and “uggggh, WHY.” Thanks for the nice evening.

Kyle Freeland6.0 IP, 3 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. A VVPQS from Freeland is surprisingly acceptable. That’s where we’re at with the Land o’ the free.

Brian Johnson2.2 IP, 3 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks. The Angels Walked All Over the southpaw as Johnson filled in for the injured David Price. This is a waste of our precious, precious time.

Stephen Strasburg7.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. Aces gonna be fine. It doesn’t win your week, but all right, Stras. I’ll take it.

Yu Darvish6.0 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 9 Ks. I feel like this is standard now. Darvish dominates but his mistakes turn into long balls—three of them here. At least it’s efficient and that WHIP is stellar? Cool to see him mix in a splitter strikeout in the first, and 40% CSW says it all as he threw just 78 pitches. Dude was dominant, save for the guys who guessed right and took him yard. 

Drew Smyly5.2 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks. Awww, it may be time to move on from Smyly. The wall has been hit as his cutter was blegh and curveballs weren’t good enough to cruise through a night in Oracle Park. Now with the Cubs ahead, I’m out.

Marcus Stroman6.0 IP, 4 ER, 9 Hits, 3 BBs, 9 Ks. We talk about wanting Stroman to be slider-heavy, and here he is getting nine strikeouts with 40/108 sliders. Unfortunately, his heaters didn’t fare too well and the ratios killed you, and I wonder if the Mets defense is going to perpetuate the disappointments, inflating both his ERA and WHIP. But hey, nine strikeouts!

Jaime Barria5.0 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks. It’s super boring and mediocre and you’ve already forgotten who Jaime Barrea is. So much so that you didn’t realize I misspelled his name. Oh snap. YEP.

Tyler Beede5.0 IP, 5 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks. We’re off the Beede train as we transferred to the F as we got cool things to do in the LES. But seriously, his secondary stuff isn’t doing enough to win me over—just two sliders here, womp womp—and I’m out save for the rare stream (i.e. not Arizona next), seven Ks be damned. 

Brad Keller6.0 IP, 5 ER, 10 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks. Bleeeggggh. Against the Tigers too! His velocity wasn’t 95.5 mph, but it was still above 94.5—a tick higher than his previous season average. I think you still need to hold for the Mets next; just fix that slider already, OK?

J.A. Happ5.0 IP, 6 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks. Ugggggh, you’re way better off streaming than holding Happ, who can’t even handle the Jays. That’s not a Toby, that’s a Panda. Do you want to be a Panda? No. No you don’t.

Devin Smeltzer4.1 IP, 6 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks. Nooooooo, Smeltz! He got knocked around by the Indians as I take an L. Streaming Record: 74-51. His changeup was horrid and hung up in the zone often, while his curveball just didn’t do what he wanted it to. That left his fastball that…sat thigh high and hittable. It was just everything you don’t want. Thing is, he heads to Arlington next, and I’m kinda OK with that one. The Indians are a strong offense now and Smeltzer had a bad day. Both can flip next time, so don’t rule out the stream.


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.


Vince Velasquez vs. San Francisco Giants He’s performed well and displayed a good slider last time in Arizona. Among a sea of meh options, VV is the clear choice. Aaron Sanchez vs. Baltimore Orioles – Not that I dislike VV, but I didn’t realize Aaron holds an 18% ownage rate for some reason. So yeah, he gets the nod above VV—I’m fine starting both!


Tomorrow’s Streamer


Dinelson Lamet vs. Colorado RockiesThis is in San Diego, and I don’t quite understand why people are jumping over Lamet yet, but go for it as he was as dominant as we’ve ever seen last time out. Jordan Lyles hosting the Rangers could be a cheap stream if you need one for a Sunday, while Jakob Junis‘ slider could return to form and get back on the right track against a poor Detroit lineup.


Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer


Erick Fedde vs. Cincinnati Reds – I have little faith in this one, and I’m still waiting on a few starters to get announced who will hopefully be decent Monday options. I’m not doing this one.


Game of the Day 


Patrick Corbin vs. Noah Syndergaard – Alex Fast and I are LIVE STREAMING this game today! Join us as we do our own broadcast of the game live on our YouTube channel. Hope to see you all there :)


(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.

6 responses to “The Dog Days of Caleb”

  1. Alex says:

    Nick, I love the daily writeups! I have a tiny, quality-of-life question. Have you considered throwing the matchup in next to the pitcher? It could provide some valuable context for pitchers that you don’t go on to mention the matchup for.

  2. Vinny says:

    Hey Nick,

    Just wanted to say I appreciate the opening write up on Caleb. That’s what I needed to hear right now and feel a lot better ROS.

  3. Alowishus Devadander Abercrombie says:

    You’d have to be as crazy as Major “King” Kong – but, hell, it’s worked. Would be interesting to hear a deep-dive Fiers-ide chat if you can identify anything other than luck that has propelled this streak.

  4. OG PitcherList Superfan says:

    Hi Nick,

    It seems like you don’t respond to these comments anymore, but I’m really hoping you can help me here. Surprisingly, someone in my 8 teamer dropped Bauer and I’m praying that my waiver priority is high enough to scoop him up. I’m just not sure who to drop out of Caleb, Boyd or Giolito.

    Your rankings on Monday say that Giolito is technically the drop, but I’m actually leaning towards Boyd as his numbers are the worst and it doesn’t look like his HR problem is going away any time soon. Thoughts?

    • Michael Ajeto says:

      I am decidedly not Nick, but I think I’d go Giolito. If not, then Smith. Smith worries me since he’s returned from the IL, and if we see Boyd’s HR/FB go down, he’ll be fine.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Hey man!

      Generally, over the weekends I’m a bit more removed from the site save for the daily roundup + SP ranks. Sorry about that!

      It’ll be Boyd today in The List.

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