The Lito Prince

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

It’s wonderful how much value Lucas Giolito has brought owners this year after literally holding the worst qualified ERA in the majors last season. Last night’s 9.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 12 Ks brought his season mark down to 3.20 with a 1.09 WHIP, 32% K rate, and all of our hearts. Particularly impressive is how Giolito has dealt with two different stretches of tough matchups and has overcome both, save for roughly three games across his incredible 20-game stretch starting on May 7 against the Indians. But how much are we believing in his repertoire?

His fastball has taken the massive leap into stardom, holding a 19+ pVal in this glorious stretch, though his slider and curveball have each been negative pitches. The slow ball has been the most consistent of the off-speed stuff, and it certainly was his favorite pitch here, returning 14/32 CSW, but those truly wanting Giolito to be a Top 15 SP in 2020 may be disappointed if he doesn’t nail down his slider or deuce. His fastball is excellent; don’t get me wrong. He went 26/63 CSW with the four-seamer here against the Twins, but Giolito needs more than a good-but-not-great changeup to save him on the bad days. He’s felt his heater a ton this year, and it may not stick as firmly next year. Keep an eye out for the breakers in September to see if we should spend that high pick in next year’s drafts.


Let’s see how every other SP did Wednesday:


Walker Buehler7.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 8 Ks. Aces gonna ace. The Marlins? Scary. The Jays? Not scary…no win here but all is well with the seven-hour marathon man.

Patrick Corbin8.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. Aces gonna ace. The slider was good, the BABIP was better, and the matchup against the Pirates was perfect.

Wilmer Font2.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. Leave it to Font, Godley, Giles, and Boshers (yeah, that guy) to allow just one earned run collectively against the Dodgers and prevent Buehler from scoring a dub. 

Daniel Norris3.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks. Norris isn’t allowed to go deep into games any longer, but hey, he made those two guys collectively lose $118K. So at least he’s got that going for him.

Matt Strahm2.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks. Back to the opener days of Strahm (well, this was a bullpen game), where he teases us with his comfort and upside. 92/93 mph velocity with 40% CSW…sigh. 

Julio Teheran7.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 9 Ks. It’s so nice when you have the Marlins on either side of your worst start of the season. It’s okay Teheran, we’re here for you. Yes, you are. You always have been. Welp, okay, off to have a date with Coors! But they’ll treat you poorly! Only one way to find out. If only you and I would be together forever. We all want that, Miami. We all do, but this is baseball and we have to take Teheran with all the bad. Well, on the bench, fortunately.

Aaron Brooks5.0 IP, 1 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. Don’t go chasing Brooks. Stick to the rivers and streams that you’re used to.

Luis Castillo6.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks. Aces gonna ace. I broke down a ridiculous three-pitch sequence of his last night. You should watch it. Forget about the previous start from Castillo—everything is wonderful.

Adrian Houser5.1 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. You can’t bring this house down! But he only had five whiffs and 27% CSW against the Cardinals. Okay, maybe a little! The lack of a strong secondary pitch is certainly showing itself, going 0/27 on whiffs with curveballs, sliders, and changeups, but with another date against the Cards on the horizon, I’m rolling with Adrian again.

Tim Melville7.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. Tim isn’t the White Whale you’re searching for to save your fantasy teams. The guy throws sub-90 mph and pitches for the Rockies. Sure, it’s a good slider that he threw half the time last night, but come on. Tim is going to be standing next to your ex as you get a little excited and nudge your friend. Who’s that? It’s Her-man. Are you jealous? Absolutely not. Absolutely not…

Marcus Stroman4.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks. Stroman left this one with a hamstring injury, and it’s still unclear if he’s hitting the IL or not. It’s bad news, though at the same time, that WHIP is exactly in line with what we’ve seen from Marcus on the Mets. You’re not missing a whole lot with Stroman on the IL in 12-teamers, but hey, let’s hope he’s okay.

Mike Fiers5.1 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks. After 13 straight quality starts, Fiers has failed to collect one in three of his last four games. It’s almost like a Vargas Rule is fading…though I have to mention that he did face the Astros and Yankees in his last two games, with the Royals next. So fine, keep holding him for that.

Adam Plutko6.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. Plutko is getting more starts as Kluber has been delayed from returning, and now that’s three straight six-inning games, with 11 strikeouts total and nine earned runs. I don’t suggest this at all, but good for him, you know?

Drew Smyly3.2 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks. And more sadness from Smyly as 84 pitches didn’t even return 12 outs. He’s not commanding nearly like he did in the first few starts as a Phillie, and I highly recommend seeing what else is out there on your wire.

Justin Verlander9.0 IP, 2 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 11 Ks. Aces gonna ace. Verlander ran away with another Gallows Pole at 26 whiffs, going extreme up/down with heat and off-speed, allowing just two solo shots as the only baserunners. Not a single pitch was thrown from the stretch. And he lost. Baseball just isn’t fair sometimes.

Charlie Morton5.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. Aces gonna…disappoint? It was a laborious fourth frame, and Morton saw his pitch count climb to 99 for the early hook. Don’t overthink this, keep starting Morton. Duh.

Jake Odorizzi5.0 IP, 3 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. Those Ks are fine, but the rest is not. His cutter was kinda whack, and he elected to go splitter-heavy instead of the brute-force heater at the top of the zone we’ve become so accustomed to. A weird start. Not necessarily a bad approach, but prime Odorizzi is throwing around 60/70% fastballs at the top of the zone, not 35%. Stop tweaking, Jake. Do your thang and it will be great.

Rick Porcello5.0 IP, 3 ER, 3 Hits, 4 BBs, 3 Ks. The Thief couldn’t steal himself relevancy this year. Just a massive serving of mediocrity. It tastes like plastic wrap.

Wade LeBlanc – 4.1 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks. Ah yes, the ultimate sorrow that is Wade. Just commit already. Jump in or get out, none if this middle-ground wading. Oh, I’m definitely out. Smart move.

Patrick Sandoval3.1 IP, 4 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks. We’ve seen a ton of pitchers this year, and while some have been clear writeoffs, the Irish Panda isn’t necessarily one of them. Okay, he is in the sense that 12-teamers need not apply, but I do wonder if there are better days ahead for him in 2020. He’s a Young Gun alright, though I’m going to be that guy with shifty eyes in a terrible summer thriller who disappears into the shadows during an early scene of a movie. I’ll probably return later, but will it be for good or bad? YOU NEVER KNOW.

Mike Leake5.0 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 1 Ks. Look at this start. Now look at me. I AM NOT FEEDING MY FAMILY. Back at the line. Now at your heart. It’s crying. Cold. Sad. There’s no hope, no gain, only despair. Emptiness. Now back at the line. Hate the line. Hate the owner. Remove the Leake.

Mike Montgomery5.0 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks. We had a decent amount of stud arms falter today, but I may be most disappointed with this performance from Monty against the Orioles. Streaming Record: 82-54. His cutter wasn’t as sharp, curveballs were fine, and his changeups weren’t getting the same bites as previously. Now it’s the A’s, and while I could still see that working, I’m fine throwing him back for another arm as Monty didn’t have the same stuff. It could return, and he’s not off The List now. It’s up to you to take that risk or not.

J. A. Happ4.0 IP, 5 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. Remember when I thought that Happ could continue excelling at the top of the zone with four-seamers like last year? Oh the things we believe as kids. That was five months ago. PEOPLE GROW UP FAST.

Joe Musgrove5.0 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks. Musgrove, how many people did you pull the D.E.N.N.I.S. system on this time? It’s getting unbelievably tiring. Do yourself a favor and let him go like a balloon you never really wanted anyway.

Caleb Smith6.0 IP, 5 ER, 3 Hits, 4 BBs, 7 Ks. Uggggggh, on the plus side, at least he’s lowering his 2020 draft stock? Another pair of longballs did damage here—a problem that he likely won’t avoid with his low-90s heater—but he still carried 18 whiffs against the Braves, and that should help y’all keep the faith. Strange to see him throw only three changeups in this one, though. Expect that to return along with the improved ratios.

Adam Wainwright5.0 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 4 BBs, 2 Ks. We had been seeing Waino hint at better command lately, but this relapse against the Brewers is enough for us to hold off during the playoffs.

Yu Darvish5.1 IP, 6 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 8 Ks. The K/BB is still massively intact, and Darvish surprisingly went into the well in this one, featuring sliders, curveballs, and splitters for 33/89 of his pitches. It’s a product of losing his fastball command a bit in this one, and we’ve taken a small step back. Let’s hope his fastball returns next time out—it should.

Mike Minor5.2 IP, 6 ER, 10 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks. Minor had a bit of trouble locating under the zone and became a little too hittable here against the Angels, allowing batters to get comfortable in the box and take their hacks. Too many breakers over the plate and this is what you get. I don’t think this is the start of the decline. He should adjust for next time.

Dereck Rodriguez4.0 IP, 6 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks. There’s a reason I call him D-Rop. Because you make a lot of typos? Okay, hey now.


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.


Asher Wojciechowski vs. Tampa Bay Rays – Civale and Anibal are both over 20%, and there’s nothing else to chase here save for Sandy Alcantara against the Braves. I’ll chase Woj’s curveball instead of Sandy’s command. Only because I have to.


Tomorrow’s Streamer


Anthony DeSclafani vs. Pittsburgh Pirates – He gets the Pirates and still holds near a 25% strikeout rate. Sign me up!


Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer


Zach Eflin vs. Miami Marlins – I think people are forgetting that Eflin is a strike-thrower and could overwhelm the Marlins with his transition from the pen to rotation in the past.


Game of the Day


Max Scherzer vs. Pittsburgh Pirates – He’s back <3.


(Photo by Quinn Harris/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.

8 responses to “The Lito Prince”

  1. Brent says:

    Are we worried about Houser’s innings – either shutdown, skipped starts, or performance decline? 17 innings in 2017; 91 in 2018; 103 already this year.

    Cus in a Head-to-Head league…

    • Nick Pollack says:

      I wouldn’t be. He’s 26-years-old and often there aren’t innings caps below 150 IP for pitchers above 25 years of age.

  2. Tor says:

    Any other Saturday suggestions? Eflin is owned.

  3. AJ says:

    Dennis Reynolds/Musgrove has taken advantage of me too many times. I am finally ready to cut him except…. I’m in the playoffs, secured the bye, and his mid-September matchups include @SF and vsSEA. Is he too risky even for those matchups?

    • rainmaker says:

      Musgrove is one of those guys whom the match-ups don’t mean much. He’ll dominate teams like Houston and Philadelphia and then get killed by the Mets and Cardinals. Anyways, Nick will tell you that it depends on who you would be dropping him for.

      • Nick Pollack says:

        You’re right, it definitely depends on who Musgrove is getting dropped for! Always an important part of the equation :)

    • Nick Pollack says:

      I wouldn’t try to snipe matchups this far out, instead I’d see who else is on the wire that could gain momentum through September if I were considering dropping Musgrove.

      He’s definitely “dropable”, FWIW. Even against those teams, it’s no lock he does well.

  4. AJ says:

    Thanks. You have Musgrove at the bottom of Tier 7, and most of Tier 7 is available, so I guess that’s a good place to start! Maybe Eli, Ya’mama, or Junis.

    The only thing worse than Musgrove blowing up on me in September is when my opponent picks him up and he goes back to Ace mode. Which will happen.

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