The Kelly Of The Beast

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

What a roller coaster it’s been about Merrill Kelly and we’re only two starts deep. His velocity was way down in his final spring tune-up, he performed decently well against the Padres in the season debut, then carved up the Red Sox last night with a 8.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 9 Ks line. So here’s the thing. I loved this start. Why? It’s what I was hoping for in the off-season reading the reports on Kelly and I got scared in the first two games I watched. But this one, this one was a locked-in arm. His fastball was 92mph on both sides of the plate (93 or so early, then declining to 90mph in the later innings, definitely something that can improve over the season), setting up tons of curveballs falling in for strikes and generate outs, changeups getting rolled over for grounders, and even sliders to surprise. This is the man I wanted, the man that could go 200 frames. I’m legit impressed and I really hate being the “I want him! I don’t want him! I want him!” guy because that just makes you confused and does more harm often than good. I’ll say this. I was hoping to see what I saw here previously, I didn’t see it then, and I’m seeing it now. I didn’t expect to after the previous two weeks, but here we are, and it would be silly to ignore it for emotional reasons. Now, this could die away next time out – if the fastball command isn’t there, he doesn’t throw his curveball nearly with as much confidence – though we’re all trying to find value at the end of our rosters and Kelly could fit the bill. I’d roll him out there against the Pads next time out and go from there.

Let’s see how every other SP did Sunday:

Yonny Chirinos5.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. Take this with a grain of Enayseelle as Chirinos earned 27% CSW inside Oracle Park across just 67 frames, but I’m happy the Rays are open to the idea of letting Chirinos start games and not get limited by the False Starter label. He’ll need to be more consistent with his slider moving forward, though he lines up to face the Jays next and I think I’m for that.

Mike Clevinger5.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 1 BBs, 10 Ks. Aces gonna ace. Aces also going to leave the game under 80 pitches with lower back tightness and make all of us hug our loved ones closely. Word is he can still make his next start, just monitor it closely. Meanwhile, let’s celebrate the Gallows Pole via 20 swings-and-misses.

Zach Davies5.2 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks. It’s incredibly boring, but that’s what you hope from Davies, the Toby that will serve a Philly plenty more than what’s acceptable.

Hector Velazquez3.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks. It was a dullpen game – no typo – and HV got the first go of it. Carry on.

Zach Eflin7.0 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks. Wild to see 40 sliders thrown by Eflin as he’s really going all-in on the pitch. No reason not to, but this isn’t a ridiculous money pitch at the same time. Either way, I’m all for adding Eflin in 12-teamers as his velocity is still up and even 16 changeups that returned 11 strikes is going to help him be at the very least a Toby. Just don’t be dumb against legit offenses.

Tyson Ross7.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks. This is bringing flashbacks of last season, inducing me to write this piece about Ross’ upside. He did a great job of heat up and sliders down, though it gets hard to trust it repeating against better teams with he barely touches 90mph, even if that slide piece had a 33% whiff rate. He needs to be this perfect with location against better offenses than the Royals. That doesn’t add up to me.

Matt Strahm5.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks. Seeing Strahm hit 94mph in the first inning was a great sign- it did decline during the outing, though, ending at 91.5mph. Slider command was better, finding the zone on 25/37 pitches, but there’s still another gear missing here as his changeup and curveball weren’t making batters squirm…slider included with just 4/37 whiffs. It was better than the first game and the Cardinals are a solid lineup, but it’s still not the man we saw in the spring. I think his next start against the Diamondbacks will be a major determinate of Strahm, I suggest holding through then and making your decision after.

Adam Wainwright6.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 9 Ks. Wait, what? 30% CSW with 14 whiffs definitely wasn’t expected, especially when a lot of his curveballs were hung up in the zone. Cutters too. This cannot be trusted in the slightest.

Jose Berrios6.0 IP, 2 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks. The deuce worked, the changeup is still so far behind. But it’s the Phils! Definitely! When Berrios’ curveball is on, it doesn’t really matter who it is. The problem is when it’s not. I want to see a game where Berrios struggles with his curveball and he survives using his changeup. Or does this for another month and change with just the hook. If you can sell high, I’m in.

Domingo German6.0 IP, 2 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. It’s not the strikeout production we asked form, but I’ll definitely take these ratios from Domingo, especially as the game pulled a Man in the High Castle, earning a dub for the German. Streaming Record: 7-3.

Wade LeBlanc6.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. The White Sox aren’t a strong offense and LeBlanc can do this from time to time. That’s all this is, don’t overthink it. The man is a Toby at best. More like a Wizard of OS (Occasional Streamer).

Sean Newcomb7.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks. I like that he kept his heater up. I hate how nothing else worked. 24/98 CSW ain’t gonna cut it against teams that don’t rhyme with Schiami Schmarlins. Sell sell sell.

Drew Pomeranz4.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks. We’re not at the point where we’re adding The Dirty Cheerleader, but I definitely see it happening at some point this season. Velocity is back up, it’s just about getting the feel back for the cutter and deuce now.

Chris Stratton4.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 1 Ks. I don’t think there’s a box where I’d roster Chris. Maybe there’s a Stratton sphere out there, but definitely not a box.

Chris Archer6.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks. 27/100 CSW, and 1/10 on changeups. That’s not the Archer you’re looking for…but a QS with 7 Ks an a 1.17 WHIP will do. I am concerned about the future, still. I want to be won over here. I WANT IT.

Brad Keller6.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks. A near PQS from Keller with just three Ks? You know what you got yourself into, the man is a Toby at best and sets you up for a Grave Mistake against any decent team.

Caleb Smith6.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks. It wasn’t the same domination we saw last time from Smith – his changeups were a bit inconsistent, and just 4/43 whiffs on fastballs – but he still missed a good amount of bats and got the job done. I’m buying into Smith, who is surprisingly available in over 90% of leagues. Grab him now and smile later.

Marcus Stroman6.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. I’ll take this any day from Stroman, 4.50 ERA begone. Just 10% whiffs despite the six Ks (5/47 on sliders?!) and I’m not convinced this sticks against good teams.

Julio Urias3.2 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 2 Ks. Urias went into Coors and left battered and bruised. I still like Urias a good amount and it’s possible he handles Coors this year, just be a little conservative moving forward.

Kyle Hendricks4.0 IP, 4 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. Blegh. I liked Hendricks as a value arm well past pick #100 this year and I’m not liking his early start. He recovered last season with his sinker failing him and here’s to hoping he pulls a Foley and gets back on the right track quickly.

David Hess5.0 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks. Alberto was the opener for the False Starter David Hess, with Hess allowing 4 ER in five frames. This shouldn’t surprise anyone, after all, for disappointment this year, the Hess truck’s here!

Shelby Miller2.0 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 1 Ks. Don’t forget Miller, but go a little lite on him until he becomes satisfying.

Max Scherzer6.1 IP, 4 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks. Two of these ER came after exiting in the seventh and it wasn’t fair. At the same time, Scherzer did hang some pitches that deserved to get smacked, so I won’t sit here like this was completely unjust. I simply feel bad for those that needed a stellar ERA on the final day of the week.

Chad Bettis2.2 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 4 BBs, 0 Ks. Bettis, in Coors, against the Dodgers. It makes me want to do the old blurb. Sigh…

Brad Peacock5.0 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. Here’s the floor for Peacock that I’ve been worried about. His slider is good, but it’s not overwhelming like other breakers we’ve seen and there was nothing else to help him get through this one. I still think he’s worth a 12-teamer roster spot, but if there’s a solid wire option – Caleb! – go and make the swap.

Anthony DeSclafani4.1 IP, 6 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. Well, if your breaking balls are going to 2/28 whiffs in a game, you’re gonna have a bad time. tony Disco needs those pitches badly and it just wasn’t there against the Pirates. The Pirates. Hard to trust him at all moving forward.

Mike Fiers1.2 IP, 6 ER, 7 Hits, 4 BBs, 2 Ks. Well, yeah. It was Houston. And this is Fiers. It’s like imagining a dinner date between Dwayne Johnson and a Jackie Paper. Only one side will love it.

Ivan Nova2.1 IP, 7 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks. Is Seattle week enough to stream Nova? Guess not. Save Ivan the Wonkerer for the clearly bad offenses.

Zack Wheeler4.2 IP, 7 ER, 4 Hits, 7 BBs, 2 Ks. Jeeeeeeeeez Wheeleer. I know he wasn’t incredible in his first start, but this one was ridiculous. He had a horrible second frame, but the entire start didn’t have the fastball command that made me love Wheeler so much. It’s his entire foundation and it was just…off. Buy low here if there’s a worried owner and expect Zack to rebound.

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.

Marco Estrada vs. Baltimore OriolesIt’s this or Lauer against the Giants. Shudders. I have to choose one, but you don’t.


Tomorrow’s Streamer


Jordan Zimmermann vs. Cleveland Indians – He’s hot out of the gate and the Indians are not.


Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer


Frankie Montas vs. Baltimore Orioles – Just 5% owned in leagues and armed with a new splitter. Paired with a data against the O’s, this looks like the safest stream.


Game of the Day


Justin Verlander vs. Masahiro Tanaka – I love watching Verlander and maybe Tanaka can hold off the Astros offense.


(Photo by Will Powers/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.

10 responses to “The Kelly Of The Beast”

  1. Kevin says:

    Nick, can you give more detail as to why you’re still high on Urias? Isn’t he about to lose his starting role in about a week? I dropped him in my league, but no one picked him up. Should I be looking to add him back?

    • Tony the Pony says:

      probably because it’s the dodgers? the human blister isn’t coming off the IL; he’s being temporarily removed from it… kershaw’s back issues seem chronic… long-term, maeda will be pushed to the bullpen as he approaches his contract’s GS and IP incentive threshholds. any or all of these, nick?

  2. Frankie says:

    Are we okay moving on from Julio Urias this soon? Not being reactionary but Dodgeritis is real, and he will be on a pitch count all year for the most part. More importantly, he will be pushed out of the rotation as early as next week. If Holland or Turnbull is avail, do we make the swap this week? Urias v Mil doesn’t make me wanna hold ‘one more start.’ Ty!

  3. David says:

    Nick, you do a fantastic job, as do all the other writers on here.

    This year, reading your SP roundups, it feels like there isn’t the depth there once was with the arms… I am getting the feeling that this was the year to maybe grab that ace right away… I used to always go 3-4 batters heavy and then load up on your favorite arms and it seems that the top 15-20 starters are in a league of their own and the rest is just a gamble. Last year, I remember all the way to the top 40, there was very good arms… I went hitter heavy again this year and ended up with Buehler, Taillon & Wheeler as my top 3 & I don’t feel good about it! LOL, esp. that my other starters are Yu, Pivetta, Stripling, Strahm & Musgrove. I don’t feel confident like in years past.

    • Jim says:

      Your rotation looks like a lot of our staffs. We believe in the PL! That said, we cannot panic after two starts! The only guy I own that worries me is Pivetta. Strahm was a fringe own for me to start with, last pick and all. If Strahm doesn’t work out, no big deal. I’ve already grabbed Turnbull, Montas and Holland from free agency. Going to roll with the hot hand.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Thanks David!

      It’s early :) Remember all the arms that showed up through the year last season? We have plenty more than before with a lot of opportunity for them to rise.

      It’s just 10 days, Buehler/Taillon/Wheeler will suit you well!

  4. theKraken says:

    Re Berrios – he was filthy yesterday. His CB was really on and I don’t think I saw him throw a single change. He also tinkers with his FB – I think some variant of a 2 seamer could end up being his second best pitch. He can really run and sink it under the hands of righties but he doesn’t stick with it. Hoskins benefited from pure luck on that HR which was the only damage Berrios allowed. He basically neutered a pretty tough lineup yesterday. Berrios is one of the best starters in MLB, you can mark it down barring injury.

  5. Dan says:

    Merrill Kelly kind of looks like Woogie from There’s Something About Mary. Oh, and I was impressed as well by that start. Nice writeup.

  6. Turp says:

    How would you rank Yonny, German, Kelly going forward in standard 5×5?

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