The Marcus of a New ERA

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

I’ve been skeptical of Marcus Stroman for a while. After loving him during his first few years, I labeled him as a PEAS, believing his heavy sinker usage and lack of reliance on a swing-and-miss secondary pitch would prevent him from escalating. So then we have last night’s 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks and it puts his season marks at 1.43 REA, 24% strikeout rate, 11.3% swinging-strike rate, and a 1.09 WHIP. Well I’ll be a monkey’s friend because my sister doesn’t do that. My boy Fast mentioned Stroman’s trend toward more secondary pitches on the First Pitch Podcast this morning and it’s very much the case – 41 sliders and 19 cutters making up about two-thirds of all his pitches is kinda awesome, considering 11/41 whiffs on sliders. Mmmmm that’s good. Thing is, we’ve seen Stroman undulate before – this is only the second game of the year comfortably above a 10% swinging-strike rate and I want to believe that his slider can act like this often. The reduction in sinkers is inherently a good thing, though, especially when his slide piece has returned a 7.8 pVal and 19% swinging-strike rate this year, just missing the full on Money Pitch label. So what do you do? You own Stroman and ride him. Don’t drop it for something sexier, see it through against the Angels next week and take it from there. I’m down to get Stroman as a throw-in as well as he’s clearly experimenting to make this work. I really hope it does. Truly.

Let’s see how every other SP did Friday:

Anthony DeSclafani6.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks. Dang, this is pretty start from Tony Disco, though the 26/91 CSW isn’t the most encouraging. I want to say it was his breakers taking a step forward…but it wasn’t the case. Kinda nuts to see Mr. 40% sliders throw just 12 of them here and have success. I see this as a trap, sadly, and I wouldn’t jump to get him in 12-teamers.

Jerad Eickhoff7.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. Awwwww yis. The Marlins are bad n all, etc., but Eickhoff is also kinda dope and to see close to a 20% whiff rate across sliders and curveballs is bliss. Yes, I’m starting him against the Nats next week. Streaming Record: 16-12.

Yusei Kikuchi1.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks. This was the scheduled Opener start for Kikuchi as Justus Sheffield was called up to follow. The lefty didn’t have his best stuff – he pitched on just three days rest! – but his slider was working wel. Too bad just four changes up in 74 pitches as we all got very excited about it during the spring. He’ll most likely head back to the minors now, but expect Sheff to return in May.

Tyler Skaggs5.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks. It’s nice to have you back Skaggs! Fastballs up, breakers down…but just 22/92 CSW with five whiffs. Ugh. Against the Royals! I can imagine more polish coming from more time to shake off the rust and with Toronto next, I’m game.

Martin Perez6.0 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks. Velocity was still good, secondary stuff was fine, the Orioles are bad and gave us a great line. Don’t think of Perez more than a streamer.

Chase Anderson4.2 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks. We’re still far away from his fantastic 2017 campaign, and this is far from something that makes me say “hey, things are good now.” They aren’t.

Mike Fiers7.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks. We all wanted Vlad Jr. to hit a bomb of Fiers, but it just wasn’t meant to be. Moving forward, we need to treat the Jays with a little more esteem given his presence in the lineup, but regarding Fiers, I don’t care about this start. He’s still a Panda and I hate Pandas. I’m a monster.

Hyun-Jin Ryu7.0 IP, 2 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 10 Ks. Hot dang, Ryu is completely blowing past all the hate I threw at him this off-season. Just start him until he gets hurt again, that’s it. Here’s to hoping for 170 frames.

Max Scherzer7.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 10 Ks. Aces gonna ace. It’s nice to feel good about the #1 SP, right?

Matt Strahm6.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 8 Ks. Oh how badly I want to get hyped about Strahm. He survived the Nationals! After his horrible first outing, it’s a 1.50 ERA, a 19/2 K per BB, and 0.71 WHIP! And a .197 BABIP, and a 6.7% HR/FB, and 4.04 SIERA. Yeah. Lots o’ numbers, but here’s the schtick. I like that Strahm is throwing better quality strikes, leading to a great 36% CSW last night. I don’t like that it was just 3/31 whiffs on his slider and just six swings-and-misses overall. His fastball is coming in under 91 mph and I just can’t get pumped about it all. Do we start Strahm? Sure! He’s doing well without his best stuff and there is still room to grow. It could hurt a little against the Mets, but it’s above the “don’t start” threshold.

Jose Urena7.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks. We know Urena can do this from time to time – his stuff is innately good enough – it’s just that he’s not a consistent arm. So remember kids, if you roster Jose, Urena boatload of trouble.

Danny Duffy5.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 1 Ks. Duffy returned in a Still ILL situation and stole the spotlight from no one. That’s the duff man, who can only give us one strikeout. HAISTFMFWT?!

Corey Kluber5.0 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks. A 2.00 WHIP?! Klubs, buddy, pal, FRIEND. I know the April narrative n all and we’re out of the woods now, I guess, but this hurts. A lot. I think I need to see one more poor outing for me to dramatically lower him, but I’m a little scared. I can’t just cough this up completely to “Kluber is known for bad starts.” It gets harder to do so every year.

Collin McHugh5.2 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 9 Ks. And this is why you didn’t drop McHugh after his last start…you didn’t drop him, right? It was for another good pitcher! Okay, okay, that’s fine. 

James Paxton5.2 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks. I wanted a little better than a Philly with 3 ER from Pax in lovely Oracle park, but the WHIP and 8 Ks make me okay with it. No AGA label, though. Womp womp.

Robbie Ray5.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks. I know you’re not loving this ride from Ray, but you do see how close he is to demolishing through a schedule, right? Not to mention, the 1.24 WHIP and 27% strikeout rate are still helping, while I expect that 4.18 ERA to settle closer to a 3.60 when all is said and done. Just keep throwing him out there. 

Antonio Senzatela5.2 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks. If you’re studying under Senz-A, you need to find a new dojo. He teaches the art of sliders in an apron. And don’t get me started about his “curve” balls. Is it mystery meat? It’s mystery meat.

Alex Cobb4.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks. Despite the catchy rhyme, Cobb isn’t the mob. You can leave any time. Just go. Like now. Please. GO.

Max Fried5.1 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 8 Ks. Huh, it’s the opposite of what we’ve seen thus far from Fried – low Ks and good ratios. He featured his slide piece a bit more in this one – about 15% usage – and threw 85% for strikes. Solid stuff. The hook wasn’t as devastating though, maybe that’s why he went with the slider, but I’m not worried as an owner. Hope the strikeouts helped.

Miles Mikolas5.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. Bleeeeeegh. If I’m not getting the strikeout growth I expected, at least give me the ratios I want! I need to lower Mikolas a decent amount as he’s turning into a standard Toby. I don’t really have a choice at this point. Still own him n all, but he definitely doesn’t deserve the Top 35 rank.

Shelby Miller5.0 IP, 4 ER, 3 Hits, 5 BBs, 4 Ks. Erica stood atop a security tower. It’s a hot day, it’s only an hour into her shift and she’s already staring at her half-empty 16-ounce water bottle with disdain. The horizon stretched for miles ahead, hot seemingly tesselated wasteland stretches in every direction, pulsating loneliness and discomfort onto her camouflage uniform. “Spark!” some called below. I always hated that nickname, Erica muttered. She looked down below the bar in front of her, noticing her commander glaring back up her way. “Spark! Any sign of Miller’s success ahead?” Ericka squints across the miraged horizon. Not a thing, sir!” Erica hollered back. Another day lost in the emptiness, she thought.

Daniel Norris5.0 IP, 4 ER, 10 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. I have an instinct to call him Daniel Borris and I kinda hate how much I want to do it. 

Madison Bumgarner5.2 IP, 5 ER, 11 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks. It’s almost as if he’s just not that good anymore. 21/102 CSW as he curveball and changeup combined went 3/30 CSW. Yikes. I think his feel is off and I’d be selling based on the name value. Not as stark as Mikolas’ descent, but I’d rather have Musgrove and Boyd at this point.

Jacob deGrom4.0 IP, 5 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks. DeGrom had elbow problems. Or he didn’t. But he clearly does. #lolMets. Yes, it’s scary. This isn’t the #2 SP pick you made and there is a common theme with deGrom’s struggles – his slider. Just 1 whiff on 18 thrown last night and the pitch has performed poorly in each of his last three starts now. Maybe this is due to the elbow problems and I have to think there is something else bothering him. Does it mean sell now? I’m actually okay with that if it returns Bauer or Verlander – I do think there is something inherently wrong now and I’m all for making a lateral move to not have to deal with it – but otherwise I think you have to hold. Give this some time.

Chris Archer4.0 IP, 6 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks. Right after we start wondering if Archer has turned a corner, he puts up a meh start followed by this stinker. Fastballs were plenty worse than we’ve been seeing and while this was the Dodgers, the skills weren’t there like we’ve seen. I think this is going to be a constant give-and-take through the year, so you’ll get the good back, but a Top 30 pitcher doesn’t seem to be in the Cards. What, they have Flaherty and Mikolas! Sorry, cards. Didn’t mean to Shift the conversation.

Kyle Hendricks5.0 IP, 7 ER, 10 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. Ugggggggggh. Hendricks was looking to be in full control after his previous start and now he takes another step back. We’ve talked about Hendricks’ small margin for error over the years and it’s possible it’s finally starting to fade. I’m still holding but if you have strong options out there, I think you’re okay to drop. This isn’t him, the start last week isn’t him either.

Carlos Rodon3.0 IP, 8 ER, 9 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks. Well this is a slap in the face. How quickly we were disgraced. Are you thinking of me when you…drop him? Ehhh don’t drop Rodon. It’s the O’s next and I’m still going with him there. But this was the Tigers! Yes, this was terrible and against the lowly Detroit offense, with poorly located heaters and just 4/21 CSW on his slide piece, but that’s the nature of Rodon. We had get that ERA back up, you know? But seriously, one bad game doesn’t mean it’s over for Rodon. Start him against Baltimore.


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.


Derek Holland vs. New York Yankees – They don’t even have Clint Frazier anymore. Frazier! And Holland is in Oracle Park and currently sitting at a 13% ownage rate. Wild.


Tomorrow’s Streamer


Wade Miley vs. Cleveland Indians – I’d consider Pablo Lopez against the Phils, Kyle Gibson against the Orioles (is he an option in your league?), and even Dereck Rodriguez against the Yanks for those searching for more Sunday options. Why not, toss Zach Davies against the Mets in the pile too if you’re desperate for another.


Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer


Tanner Roark vs. New York Mets – Don’t do this. Please don’t do this. I hate all the options today so I’ll go with the one not named Nova or Cashner.


Game of the Day


Joe Musgrove vs. Clayton Kershaw – I just want more velocity all around. GIVE ME THE HEAT.


(Photo by Gerry Angus/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 Marcus of a New ERA”

  1. Francis says:

    I was offered Rodon for Maeda immediately following this start. I am pretty low on Maeda, considering his stuff this year and Roberts with one hand on the Dogeritis lever at all times. But no way I do this, right? RIGHT?!

  2. Ish Kabibble says:

    hey Nick- would you drop Mikolas for Caleb Smith or Boyd?

  3. Dan says:

    ROS- urena, stroman or eickhoff? Thanks for the advice.

  4. theKraken says:

    My favorite FanGraphs piece ever was the one about Stroman basically having the best pitch of like 4 separate HOFers. Its a classic.

  5. theKraken says:

    It really does tell you a lot about the decision making processes in MLB to see other teams than TB haphazardly deploying openers. I think people have a lot of ideas, but I don’t think there is much of a plan or analysis. That seems like the method for deploying shifts as well – just a handful of ideas that probably look smart when you see nothing other than a spray chart with no actual analysis of how it works out or actual coordination on the field. Its crazy when you see 3 infielders on one side of the field and then every pitch of the AB working the side of the plate that will beat the alignment… or when you see two guys basically aligned to field the same set of balls. Let’s throw an opener out there – I am sure its a good idea, I read a headline about it! Its the future!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Account / Login