The Sketchy B&B in the Middle of Nowhere

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

Today is a joint lead, if you can believe it, as two arms we’ve endured through the season as true Cherry Bombs possibly ruined weeks for many readers. There was Trevor Bauer and his 3.0 IP, 7 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks against the Pirates, as well as a serving of sadness with Matt Boyd’s 6.0 IP, 7 ER, 4 Hits, 5 BBs, 7 Ks against the Twins. The latter is a little more understandable – a tougher offense, more innings, more strikeouts – but they both come with the same sentiment that I felt the need to wrap them in one.

They are liabilities. They are risks. And they can also win you your league.

At this point in the year, it’s harder to suggest pitchers are truly changing their approaches to a level that we can suggest a drastic improvement in the short term. They exist, definitely, but with guys such as Bauer and Boyd, it’s difficult to say after their next start if what they improve upon will stick through September. They’ve undulated all year, the odds are it’s just who they are right now. Across the full year, these two pitchers have been as frustrating as they come. The ultimate Cherry Bombs and if you own them right now, I can’t tell you they will be fixed. I can tell you that I’d be starting them over some random stream in the middle of your fantasy week. Understand your opponent’s arms, see if you need to take the risks, and cross your fingers with the rest of us. I feel your struggle as much as anyone here, and I wish I had more to tell you here. We’ll get through this together.

And yes, as of now, they are both out of my Top 20 for 2020.


Let’s see how every other SP did Sunday:


Dallas Keuchel7.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks. I absolutely love seeing Keuchel use the bottom third of the zone here – one of the few arms that I’m OK seeing such an extreme affinity for low pitches. He did use four-seamers exclusively up as well, and effectively did so. I’m really down with this start, very well earned and was prime Keuchel in many ways. Does this mean it’ll stick around? Likely not, but hey, keep riding this Toby vying for Spider-Man as he faces the ChiSox next.

Reynaldo Lopez5.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. You rush to grab that morning paper. WAS HIS VELOCITY STILL UP? Yes, calm down. 96.2 mph – not 97+ like before but still up – and he demolished with fastballs, earning 26/65 CSW. Thing is, the velocity could have been higher as he was pulled early with dehydration/flu-like symptoms. Slider and changeup were still lacking, but it’s hard not to be holding on to ReyLo right now. 

Robbie Ray5.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 4 BBs, 6 Ks. Ray returned and was a slight DLH, but given the lack of strong options on Sunday, I understand still running him out there. Last year, we saw Ray struggle to find his deuce after his IL stint, but here he used it right away and it worked well. Slider wasn’t exactly right though, and it led to the walks. I’d be satisfied here, and it’s up to you if need to gamble against the Dodgers on Saturday. That’s a coin flip.

Brock Burke6.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks. I gave Burke the full-on Cup of Schmo label last time out, and I’m leaning that way once again, even if it’s 28/94 CSW here. It’s still ultra-reliant on his 92 mph heater, and I just don’t think the pitch is that great. It did do well, and he commanded it better here against the White Sox than last time but still not so much that I’d trust outings like this. Maybe worth the stream on Saturday, but that’s a risky proposition, even if it is the Mariners. There just isn’t enough to support that fastball.

Domingo German6.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. Did you realize that German has a 17-3 record? I don’t talk about Wins a lot because in general good pitchers earn wins and poor ones don’t (save for extreme team examples), but hot dang German. HOT DANG. Solid rebound here against the Dodgers, and we’re obviously riding this through the end of the year. I am a little surprised to see the 4.00+ ERA – a product of his near 20% HR/FB rate – and I wonder what it means for his 2020 draft stock.

Marco Gonzales7.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. I feel weird telling you it’s a 3.53 ERA across his past 14 starts. The 4.59 SIERA seems more accurate to me as he’s failing to be outstanding in much of his approach, save for a changeup that’s taken a massive step forward overall, but earning a decent – not great – 6/19 CSW yesterday. It’s all so middling, but hey, it’s the Rangers next and fine. Go with him if you need it.

Joey Lucchesi5.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. I’m impressed with Lucchesi here as he survived a date with the Red Sox, though pulled with fewer than 80 pitches in just five is a little unjust. He’s a Toby for the most part and with this tough outing behind him, feel great about his next date with the Giants.

Steven Matz6.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. Really like seeing 31/102 CSW from Matz as he continued to keep heaters up in the zone. Interesting to see him dial back the changeup in favor of sliders and curveballs – 14/43 CSW between the two is fine, I guess – and that’s eight of nine straight with 2 ER or fewer. Now he’s on the road against the Phils, but I’m cool with it. Keep those heaters up and he should be OK.

Framber Valdez6.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 5 BBs, 8 Ks. Valdez won the rose of the Astros F.O. to get another shot at starting, and those who watched may have fallen for his deuce once again, as it does look lovely with the Houston camera angle. Don’t forget the floor with Valdez, but don’t grab him now as with the days off ahead, it’s possible Houston skips his turn twice over and goes four-man. Keep an eye on it – he’d get the Jays next otherwise.

Jaime Barria5.1 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks. This is fine, but if this is your best, then I’m not going to put up with your worst, contrary to that horrible phrase that people love to say for some reason. That’s not a healthy relationship, you don’t get an excuse to be a poor spouse. And now, back to baseball.

Shane Bieber7.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks. Aces Gonna Ace. Not the overwhelming dominance with the deuce as we’ve seen, but we’ll take 30% CSW and everything that looks oh-so-pretty here. Not only is that a 2.12 ERA and 26% K-BB rate across his past seven starts, but all have been at least six innings, averaging over seven frames per start. Wild.

Clay Buchholz6.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks. Whoa, Bucky is back! And looking serviceable! But that’s a trap. Maybe not, but it’s way too risky and we need to see more first. We need more.

Dylan Bundy5.0 IP, 2 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks. You start Bundy for his strikeouts and pray the ratios don’t kill you. He gave you a 2.00 WHIP and just two punchouts. Yeah, no.

Cole Hamels5.0 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. We’re not out of the woods yet. Hamels’ velocity was still down, his changeup returned just 6/23 CSW and cutters were meh as well. I’d be a little scared holding Hamels through my playoffs, but I understand if you want to wait to see it falter first as he could recover the underlying ability.

Elieser Hernandez6.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks. 33% CSW while struggling to find his changeup is all kinds of impressive against the Phillies, a team that elected to be patient and allow Elie to pound 15/47 called four-seamers. He’s had to endure a rough schedule, and it doesn’t get easier with the Nationals next, leading me to sit this one out still. Not the worst Friday stream if you need it.

Martin Perez6.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. So that’s 4 ER total across his past four outings, here taking advantage of a date with the Tigers. Velocity was a little lower, but cutters were super good here and his changeup was solid as well. Sure, I’m in for a repeat date with the Tigers next time if you need it over the weekend.

Eric Skoglund5.0 IP, 2 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 0 Ks. Oh hey, it’s Skoglund. The man who gave us nothing and then disappeared without a trace … Seriously, not a single strikeout? HAISTFMFWT?!

Stephen Strasburg6.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 10 Ks. Aces Gonna Ace. I talked about Strasburg with Sporer in our Fireside Chat on Friday, and he made a good argument that Strasburg has yet to legit hurt your team after drafting him, presenting a floor that dictates a Top 10 SP pick. The other side of that is even with this start, Stras holds a 3.60+ ERA in three of his past four years, with the season looking like the only one with 180+ frames. It’s fantastic for an SP2, but your ace? I think you’re better off spending elsewhere. ANYWAY it’s great to see Strasburg earn 22 whiffs and a Gallows Pole as he felt both his changeup and curve in this one. Keep on keepin’ on.

Brett Anderson6.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks. A full-on VPQS with just two strikeouts. If you’re not in a quality start league, this hurts. A lot.

Brian Johnson3.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 1 Ks. Remember kids, It’s A Long Way To The Top if you roster Johnson.

Clayton Kershaw7.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 12 Ks. Aces Gonna Ace. Three long balls – two off curveballs?! – against the Yanks was essentially everything against TATIAGA as he continued his phenomenal 100% 6+ IP streak for the year. Please tell me he keeps it. WE NEED THIS.

Aaron Nola7.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks. Aces Gonna Ace. That’s a 2.27 ERA since June 21 with a 0.95 WHIP and 28% K rate. .234 BABIP, 84% LOB rate as well, but that’s alright. Fastball command is better than during the spring (spring on the nose, for that matter), and it’s nice to see the Nola we were promised.

Michael Wacha4.2 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks. Look at Wacha, earning seven strikeouts. The ratios are terrible so we don’t really care, but hey, at least you have that going for you. For one start. 

Dario Agrazal5.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. Ohhhhh Dariiiioooo. Please believe me, you’ll never do me harm. Because I won’t own you.

Zach Davies4.0 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. Davies has allowed at least 4 ER in four of his past five games. Yep. This just won’t do.

Logan Webb4.2 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks. I don’t like Webb’s fastball. He doesn’t harness its movement well, and his secondary stuff, while having moments, just isn’t enough, sadly. I can see days where this works, and among a sea of blegh options, I chased one of those days against the A’s offense. I shouldn’t have.  Streaming Record: 85-55. It’s not the worst chance to take against the Padres next, but I’d love not to rely on it.

Antonio Senzatela1.2 IP, 6 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks. The grasshopper has become the master. No, Senz-A, you were the grasshopper all along. Whaaaaaat. Directed by M. Night ShamWow.

Jalen Beeks – 5.0 IP, 7 ER, 11 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. We’ve wanted Beeks to turn into guys like Boyd or Bauer, but not like this. Not like this.


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.


Homer Bailey vs. Kansas City Royals – He’s going against his old team with a good splitter in his back pocket. Considering the lack of games Monday, I feel lucky to have this play available.


Tomorrow’s Streamer


Taylor Clarke vs. San Francisco Giants It’s between Clarke and Adam Plutko against the Tigers and while Plutko may be safer, I’ll go with the upside of Clarke’s slider.


Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer


Anthony DeSclafani vs. Miami Marlins – He’s still 19% owned as of writing the Monday article, get him now for this start.


Game of the Day


Sonny Gray vs. Pablo Lopez – Gray can be a legit ace today against the Marlins and hey! PabLo is back!


(Photo by Mark Goldman/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.

9 responses to “The Sketchy B&B in the Middle of Nowhere”

  1. theKraken says:

    I think it is a bit odd to put Boyd and Bauer in the same tier going forward – I get it right now though. Bauer has the better track record, pedigree and general stuff. Bauer was drafted as an ace this year, where this is Boyd’s first year even on the periphery of the conversation – he basically had a great first half and couldn’t pull it off for a full year… which is something that guys do every year. I get that they are similar right now in outcomes but going forward I see no reason to link them. The fewer linked players the better! It is odd how some players get coupled, but I do the same thing so I get it.

    I picked up Framber just in the case that he doesn’t get skipped – he has some really potentially soft matchups upcoming. He walked 5 and hit 2 yesterday – amazing that he allowed 1 R on 7 free passes. Even if he gets skipped he would be one of those long relievers which are not a 0 in value. Wouldn’t it make sense for HOU to maybe rest some SP down the stretch? Trust me, I don’t love him but I could see trying to rest that staff. I have never even seen him pitch, but I did a bit of research last night and I am just sharing.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Hey Kraken!

      Yep! If this were a full season, I wouldn’t put them in the same tier.

      In the short term as they both exhibit Cherry Bomb tendencies, they are essentially treated the same.

      I do believe that Boyd’s falter in the second half is more of the anamoly than the first half. Relative to previous years, velocity is up, fastball/slider separation in the zone is better, and his slider is missing 33% more bats.

      I’m with you that playing it safe may be what Houston does, though even if Framber does get that start, he’s blown up against weak teams in the past.

  2. Bad Orange Hair says:

    Ugh- Bauer did his best to blow up my pitching stats for the week. Hard to trust, but no choice. Sad!

  3. Gus says:


  4. Stephen says:

    Wait, why didn’t we get some more joint love for those of us who had Paddack and Ryu on the same night the other day? :-)

  5. James says:

    Boyd is garbage. People are biased by his great start to the season.
    Since 6/1, he has the 5th worst ERA (5.8) and 5th worst FIP (5.2) of all 71 eligible starters (per fangraphs). He is 1-6 in that time.
    He is unplayable.

  6. Frankie says:

    Lost my head to head matchup to Tristan Cockroft in the Vampire League by 9 points. Bauer was a -18 Sunday. My season is over.
    I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to draft Bauer any more!

  7. WheelhouseWreck says:

    Hey Nick. So who do you like better ROS in a QS, Burke or Webb? Thanks!

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