The McCulling Blade

Okay, we need to talk about Lance McCullers who went 4.2 IP, 6 ER, 9 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks on Sunday and now has just 11 Ks in his last three starts...

Okay, we need to talk about Lance McCullers who went 4.2 IP, 6 ER, 9 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks on Sunday and now has just 11 Ks in his last three starts with 15 ER to his name. It’s been six starts since he’s pitched through six frames and there’s clearly something wrong. Here’s the biggest issue I’m seeing: After holding a questionable 46.6% rate through his first 12 starts, McCullers has since held a horrendous 37.5% zone rate on his pitches. Surprisingly, it hasn’t led to a massive walk rate – 3.19 BB/9 is bad but not monstrous – and even more shocking are his batted ball numbers. In the last four games, which we can all agree are the worst of the lot, McCullers had allowed more than 20% hard contact just once, holding a 3.25 FIP, .448 BABIP, and 52.4% LOB rate. That doesn’t spell a guy who is falling off a cliff, but rather one who is getting some terrible luck his way, as he’s holding a 63.6% GB rate and hasn’t allowed a single HR in that time. Combining these two elements of fewer strikes and bad luck has led to this scenario, and I’d take this is as a bad stretch instead of a consistent trend.

Let’s see how every other SP did yesterday:

Clayton Kershaw – 2.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks. Well he’s hurt and it’s his back again. Good news is that it’s not nearly as bad as last year’s situation and he’s expected to miss one start as he hits the 10-day DL. I don’t think he gets removed from the top spot since it’s just one start and he’s clearly pitching better than Scherzer.

Stephen Strasburg – 2.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks. While Strasburg’s pull was as a “precaution” and he’s not expected to hit the DL, I may have a little more worry with Stras than Kershaw. He said he felt “stiff” and struggled to get loose before he started. I have a bad feeling this isn’t the end of Strasburg’s 2017 as two aces got SPOIL’D yesterday.

Corey Kluber – 7.2 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 14 Ks. Aces gonna ace. It’s like clockwork every year. Never give up on Kluber after April. NEVER. Also, the obvious Gallows Pole of the day with 22 whiffs to his name.

Adalberto Mejia – 4.1 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. You may be wanting to own Mejia. 2.56 ERA in his last seven starts Nick! Which is paired with a sub 7 K/9, 3.49 BB/9, 4.80 SIERA, sub 6 IPS. That’s bad. This is a TEEs through and through.

Sal Romano – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks. I elected to watch a good amount of this game from Romano and I wasn’t that impressed. Mechanics are not ideal as he speeds up from opening his hips through release in a way that makes it tough to be consistent. It does create a bit of deception, but I prefer hitting his spots more consistently instead. Fastball was coming in around 95-97, but kinda flat, and his Slider is good but not great. Then of course he doesn’t really have a third pitch. This is an outing that can happen given the velocity and decent deception, but I don’t see him avoiding walks and I question if he can really be a strikeout machine and survive through six often. Not the worst 12-teamer flier but not a true Spice Girl like his teammate Castillo or Morton, Cahil, Peacock, etc.

Parker Bridwell – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. I led with Parker last time he pitched telling you not chase this fella. I’m impressed with this line against the Red Sox, though the strikeouts are gone and he had a 5.02 xFIP for the outing. Don’t buy into this TEEs.

Jerad Eickhoff – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. After a 5 ER disaster in Miami (still 8 Ks!) Eickhoff got back on track against the Brewers. I’m kinda believing that he needed the rest during his DL stint and we can actually rely on Eickhoff as a Toby the rest of the way. Beautiful schedule as well in the NL Easy.

Kyle Freeland – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. Nope, still not buying Freeland and his 5.57 K/9 and 3.40 BB/9. Who pitches in Coors. And has a 4.71 FIP.

Daniel Gossett – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. Just once can you allow 0 ER? Just once? Gossett is surprisingly decent and can be a decent streamer against weak teams – like the Mets (though their wOBA lately has been surprisingly good) – but overall I wouldn’t want to own him.

Dinelson Lamet – 6.2 IP, 2 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. The easy choice for Call Boy came through as he dominated the Giants. I still can’t call myself a Lamet fan long term, but he’s worth the roster spot in most 12-teamers. Just pick your spots and you’ll be fine. Streamer Record 50-36-12. Fun fact, my streaming record compared to the rest of the MLB would be fourth best in the majors behind the Nats, Astros and Dodgers. Which is utterly pointless but I felt I needed to do something for win #50.

Matt Boyd – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 8 Ks. It’s a PQS with 8 Ks. Be happy, though I’m still Boyd Watching.

Yovani Gallardo – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks. Let’s be honest, the only reason you’re doing YoGa on a Sunday is a last-ditch effort to win her over. It never works out.

Derek Holland – 4.2 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 1 Ks. I feel bad calling this The Dutch Invasion as it’s been happening so long that it’s insulting the Dutch’s ability to invade with any sort efficiency. Excuse me for a moment but for whatever reason this stayed with me and makes a decent point about how we act in April/May. I remember someone said at the end of May that I wasn’t “reaping the rewards” of Holland during his hot start to the season and didn’t know why I wasn’t getting on board. Funny enough, since that comment Holland has held a 9.15 ERA. Don’t be seduced by the TEEs.

Rafael Montero – 7.0 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. Nothing to see here, Montero is a Cup of Schmo.

Sean Newcomb – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 3 Hits, 5 BBs, 9 Ks. I want to be excited about this as he also had 19 whiffs, but it came with five walks and now that’s 12 in his last three starts. He’s also faced the Astros, Nationals, Cubs, and Dodgers in his last four…Up next are Phils (woot!), Dodgers (womp womp), Phils (woot!), Coors (womp womp). Be smart about this.

Jake Odorizzi – 4.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks. Is Odorizzi still on your team? Why?

Rick Porcello – 8.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. You might think Porcello is turning it around allowing 5 ER in his last three games. Nope, his Hard Contact is at 37.3% with just 13.4% soft in that time. Make like Roger and Pete and don’t get fooled again.

Jose Quintana – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks. Yeah I’ll take this. I know it’s a PQS but seeing Quintana continue racking them up with over a K per inning is solid in my book.

Robbie Ray – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. Ehhhh Ray pitched against the Nats so I can’t hate this too much. At the same time, you’d really want to be able to give him bonus points for succeeding against a strong opponent, which does hold me back from ranking him well. Here’s some fun stuff: After his excellent stretch through May/June against poor teams when I was screaming “Sell”, Ray holds a 4.41 ERA, 5.72 FIP, 5.71 BB/9, sub 6.0 IPS, and 41.8% hard contact through his last six starts. Ouch.

Tyson Ross – 3.2 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 5 Ks. It’s really really tough to believe Ross is going to get it together in time for your playoffs. He’s just not the man he used to be.

Caleb Smith – 3.2 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks. What I do like is that he has three pitches he trusts. What I don’t like is that none of them are all that great. He got the call for the Yanks as Luis Cessa was a late scratch for Sunday’s start. It’s unclear if he gets another shot in the rotation, but with the Rays ahead, I don’t see a reason to own Smith.

Travis Wood – 4.2 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. It’s the wrong Wood! I’m trying to see how that could be applied as an innuendo, but I come up with it.

Ty Blach – 7.0 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks. Blach. Actually, I’m a bit surprised he whipped out 7 Ks like I do to relax in my down time since this is the highest total he’s amassed in 16 starts. Here’s a fun question: Which is higher? Blach’s ERA or his K/9? Answer: They are both exactly 4.50. That’s not good.

Junior Guerra – 4.0 IP, 5 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks. I haven’t gotten a Guerra question in a long time, which means you guys have seen the red light. I haven’t seen the red light. Maybe I should put it on. ROOXXXXXXANNNE.

Tom Koehler – 5.2 IP, 5 ER, 9 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks. Yep, that’s Koehler alright.

Michael Wacha – 6.0 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks. Womp womp. It was a fun run but the Cubs were too much for Wacha. I’m not saying give up – two HRs did him in – but let’s be honest, no one wanted to see that 4-start streak of production come to an end. I stand by my opinion that Wacha won’t be the savior of your playoff run.

Dylan Bundy – 5.1 IP, 7 ER, 8 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks. Man, it’s really painful to see everything that could go wrong with Bundy – save for injury – go wrong. Can I call him a Young Gun? Yeah, I think so. There’s still potential to be tapped here and it’s possible with more experience he can make the needed changes.

J.A. Happ – 6.0 IP, 7 ER, 9 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks. Yeah, this is pretty disappointing. Happ had a tough first inning and never got into a strong groove for the game. I don’t think this is the start that spells the end, but I can’t say that I’m thrilled with 10 Ks total in four of last five games. At the same time, facing the Astros, Red Sox, Indians in three straight doesn’t do him any favors. He’s taking a hit today in The List, but not a major one.

Ivan Nova – 5.0 IP, 7 ER, 9 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. Nova pitched in Coors and you didn’t start him because you’re smart or you did because you had no other options. Regardless, we can’t hold this against him, even if his stuff “plays in Coors.”

Today’s Streamer

Tim Adleman vs. Cleveland Indians – This is a complete crapshoot with Gausman vs. TBR, Conley vs. TEX, and Senzatela vs. STL. I’m going with Adleman just because he has some believable K upside.

Tomorrow’s Streamer

Seth Lugo vs. San Diego Padres – This is assuming that Luis Castillo is gone in your league as I don’t believe the sub 20% in ESPN right now. Lugo isn’t my favorite arm but he could be beneficial against a weak offense in the Padres.

Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer

Alex Meyer vs Cleveland Indians – Once again, I have little to no options as it’s Ace Day, and I’m not going to tell you to chase Paul Blackburn against the Jays or Homer Bailey against the Yankees. Trevor Williams against the Giants? No way. Not even Jeff Hoffman against the Cardinals as he’s been on a nose dive. The best choice is Meyer, who just tossed his best outing of the year. I hate it as I don’t trust he’s going to be that good with his Fastball again, but it’s the best you’ve got.

Game of the Day

James Paxton vs. Eduardo Rodriguez – This is a fun matchup of left-handers and I’m curious if E-Rod can take another step forward in his second start back. Oh, and it’s Paxton.

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.

11 responses to “The McCulling Blade”

  1. Andy says:

    What happened to Manaea’s Ks?

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Just looked deeper into this. The starts in the last five with low strikeouts have come paired with less vertical drop on his Slider. Looks like a feel thing he’s going through at the moment. I think he can get it back.

  2. Mas says:

    Love the site dudes.

    pick one this week, H2H points league : McCullers @ DET, Manaea @ TOR, Nola vs. HOU. recent form points to Nola, but HOU scares me. thanks.

  3. KingKongBundy says:

    It has been two weeks and I’m literally shaking right now as I go through withdrawal waiting for a new “List”.

  4. tiwaniuk says:

    It was just announced that Kershaw will miss 4-6 weeks.

  5. Jakesteens says:

    I’m seeing some reports that Kershaw could be put up to 6 weeks- you think that’s an overreaction or legit? If so, how far could he drop?

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Yeah, I’m figuring that out right now. Not sure just yet, but my instinct is down to 25-30. If he comes back in time for the start of September, it might not matter a whole lot in H2H leagues…

      Tough to tell, I’ll have it out later this afternoon with an explanation.

Leave a Reply

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

Account / Login