The Sparkman of Life

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

Do we have to take Glenn Sparkman seriously now? He threw a marvelous 9.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks last night against the White Sox and there was a good amount to like. A Gallows Pole at 18 whiffs with a 34% CSW across 116 pitches, dominating with low changeups, a strong breaker, and hounding the ChiSox batters with heaters in the zone. Is there something that he did differently here that suggests a mini-breakout? Maybe? The most interesting trend is his curveball shifting to a slider in this and his previous start according to Pitch Info – a product of a slight uptick in velocity to low 80s from high 70s. He also turned to the pitch dramatically more often in these two starts and I’m kinda buying. Slightly. I am really worried that this is only the second start in ten games above three strikeouts for Sparkman. I’m also worried that he needed a .217 BABIP to survive this. And I’m worried that his name sounds like an off-brand Superhero villain. The SP landscape is bad and makes us feel bad, so I’m cool taking the chance here on the new breaker. We’ll see.

Let’s see how every other SP did Tuesday:

Zach Plesac3.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks. Poor Plesac, he got burned by a rainout as he was looking strong in this one. At least this keeps his price low on the wire if you were on the fence. I’d pick him up.

Dario Agrazal6.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 0 Ks. Dario, buddy. I don’t know what you paid the BABIP lords above, but we all know you won’t be able to afford 0 strikeouts on a consistent basis. Seriously, HAISTFMFWT!?

Jack Flaherty7.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 8 Ks. Flaherty didn’t mess around here against the Pirates, just went pure four-seamer/slider this time around and gave us another solid start. Kinda wild to see him really stick to those guns and put the development of a third pitch to the wayside. Just 26% CSW isn’t super encouraging, but we’re in a state of “start Flaherty” and that’s a good thing. Sidenote: Are the Pirates no longer a “Top 10 offense?”

Daniel Mengden7.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks. Here I was shifting my streamer picks yesterday morning and clearly I should have stuck with my gut as Mengden cruised through the Mariners’ lineup. Take a wild guess. How many whiffs do you think Mengden earned on 96 pitches? Hint: He had 21 called strikes. Spoiler: He had between three and five whiffs. That’s not a spoiler. That’s an answer. WELL AREN’T YOU SMART. But seriously, this was a BABIP start where he pounded the start and the Mariners weren’t able to take advantage of the constant strikes. Mengden will have these games where he’ll feel confident and carve up lineups without strikeouts, but it’s not something to bank on unless you need a streamer and there isn’t much else on the table.

Michael Pineda6.0 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks. The low strikeout tally is a bit surprising, but otherwise, I’ll take this outing. Especially when two runs are wiped away due to an error. Streaming Record: 58-41. He left after just 76 pitches with a 20% CSW – blegh – as his heater was a pedestrian 93 mph. Sure, the line is fine, but it’s not super encouraging moving forward. 

Drew Pomeranz5.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. Pomeranz survived Coors and I’m a little surprised that it’s 3 ER total in three of his last four…without pitching more than five frames. There ain’t enough meat on the stick to waste your appetite. Feel me?

Ryne Stanek2.0 IP, 1 ER, 1 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. Sure, whatever Stanek. Jalen Beeks followed for 3.1 strong frames and you really shouldn’t consider him. Yes even if was 1 ER and 5 Ks, it’s just not enough.

Austin Voth6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. Hey, Voth did well! Hey, it was against the Orioles with a 92 mph heater! Hey, this is a trap!

Brandon Woodruff6.2 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks. Another strong start from Woodruff as he makes his case to be Top 20. It’s a dense crop of Top 25 starters at the moment and without strong #2 and #3 pitches, I still have my hesitations. Seriously, he threw 80% heaters here. I’m not sure how sustainable that is.

Alex Young5.1 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. Okay, we’ve reached the point in Young’s…short career that y’all start getting upset at me for not being more favorable of his success. It’s 18.2 IP (three starts, one in relief) of a 0.96 ERA, 0.48 WHIP, and 14%+ swinging-strike rate. HOW CAN YOU NOT LIKE THIS?! Because so many things. A HOTEL of .087 BABIP, 100% LOB rate, 10.5% HR/FB that adds up to a 4.41 SIERA. A repertoire that consistents of a sub 90mph fastball. A strikeout rate of just 20% (though if he maintains the whiff rates…which he might not…it should rise). Sure, make an add and see how it goes. I think we’re all dropping again next week.

Walker Buehler6.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks. Aces gonna ace. 35% CSW is a lovely thing and it’s wonderful to see stud Buehler do his thing.

Andrew Heaney4.1 IP, 2 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. There was a lot of back-and-forth about this one. Are we starting Heaney? Are we not? In the end, this was a Singled Out start where Heaney wasn’t at his best. The ERA is fine, five strikeouts are fine, that WHIP is horrible. Does Heaney deserve the Top 40 rank? Maybe not and I went over why he’s there in last night’s OTC Podcast with Fast, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he blows us away in the final two months. Stick with this.

Peter Lambert6.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks. This is fine, Lambert, but you’re not going to survive Coors often. I wish I could bring back the classic “Rockies” blurb from 2015…

Steven Matz4.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks. Matz was on the road and that’s a clear sit. Isn’t every start from Matz a clear sit? Okay that’s not true, but kinda close to true. A little. He gets the Giants next – but it’s on the road – but I don’t care, that’s too good of a matchup to overlook if you can get him as a stream.

Jordan Yamamoto5.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. This is…fine. Bad in the sense that it likely keeps Yamamoto in the rotation over Elieser, but good if you are still holding onto Fair Jordan. I’m sticking with that nickname as I think he’s middling and okay for fantasy teams, but will likely be back to the wire in a few weeks or so. I think his ceiling is too low.

Anthony DeSclafani5.2 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. So this kinda worked! He served us a Philly with a sub 1.00 WHIP and that’s kinda cool against the Cubs. Sure, the ERA is high and it’s only four strikeouts, but a deep league needing Tony Disco to give you something should leave satisfied.

Alec Mills6.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. A PQS with a 1.00 WHIP and a strikeout per inning is lovely from Mills. There was some hype about him last year after an impressive first start last August, but it faded fast as he was sent back to the pen. Now back up from the minors, I’m sad to say that I suggest tempering expectations, but not the worst flier to take off the wire as he replaces Cole Hamels in the rotation for the foreseeable future (maybe just the trade deadline as the Cubs get another starter?). 

CC Sabathia6.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks. That’s four straight six-inning starts from CC after just two in his first eleven starts of the year. He’s in a groove and let’s ride this one out together. I expect it to come down a bit in the final months, but here’s to some cheap wins along the way.

Asher Wojciechowski5.1 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks. Fast and I talked about the Woj Bomb on the cast and how Asher has some solid stuff in his repertoire – the problem is just consistency. We see it here with those seven Ks – 15/95 whiffs but 28% CSW – and there may be something long term if he can nail down his mechanics to pump that slider and curveball effectively. Probably a Young Gun when all is said and done.

Dylan Cease6.0 IP, 4 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks. We saw a much better slider in this one from Cease – nice! – but there’s work to be done on the curveball and his fastball command is still a little spotty. I’m encouraged, though. Keep at it, Cease. It might be a 2020 play instead of this second half, but there are things to like.

Vince Velasquez4.2 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks. The strikeouts are there, the innings and ratios are not. #WelcomeToVV. Enjoy your time but not really.

Jacob Waguespack4.2 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks. This isn’t the callup that you’re looking for. 

Bryse Wilson4.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 1 Ks. Wilson had a 9 ER start in Triple-A last week and it was more of the blegh as he returned to the majors. It’s too bad that I have to label him a Young Gun where I think he’ll eventually become a solid asset for fantasy squads, but right now you don’t want to touch this.

Andrew Cashner5.0 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks. Hey Boston, look at who you got. A 2.00 WHIP and 9.00 ERA. It was a nice Vargas Rule while it lasted and maybe he turns into a Toby for those needing cheap wins, but I’d hate to have my weeks determined by Cashner.

Lance Lynn6.0 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. Wait, Lynn isn’t a lock? HOW DARE YOU LYNN. Brush it off, we shouldn’t consider this the beginning of the end. It could be, but that would be a silly assumption to make right now.

Marco Gonzales6.0 IP, 6 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. Velocity is still under 90 mph and while his changeup was good, his cutter wasn’t. Marco needs his cutter. Marco needs his velocity. Marco needs to–POLO! NOT NOW! Ahem. Marco needs to be better.

Hector Rondon0.2 IP, 6 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks. The whole Opener strat doesn’t really work when this happens. Rogelio Armenteros followed for four frames and we can move.

Logan Allen2.1 IP, 7 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 0 Ks. I wanted this to work. I really did. Allen pitched horribly against the Marlins and even with decent stuff in his repertoire, if you can’t trust him against Miami, who can you throw him against?

Ryan Carpenter3.0 IP, 7 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 0 Ks. As prophesied, The Carpenter’s ratios have risen.


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.


Spencer Turnbull vs. Cleveland Indians – There are some interesting options here, and I’m taking a bit of a chance that Turnbull’s last outing was DLH based.


Tomorrow’s Streamer


Tanner Roark vs. St. Louis Cardinals – Roark is fresh off Coors and a date with the Cardinals should be a good transition into production.


Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer


Tyler Beede vs. New York Mets – I loved his new slider and improved curveball last time. As long as his fastball doesn’t burn him, this should work out well. Tyler Mahle against the Cardinals is another strong play, maybe a little safer.


Game of the Day 


Yu Darvish vs. Sonny Gray It doesn’t matter who wins or loses, I just want both of you to have a fun time.


(Photo by Keith Gillett/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.

7 responses to “The Sparkman of Life”

  1. theKraken says:

    Re: HOU: Are they done with the opener yet? If two embarrassing attempts doesn’t move the needle for them, then they just are not analyzing the results at all…. which I think is entirely possible. That is the rub with progressive sabermetric ideas – the group coming up with the kookery is also the group assessing it. Its a very simple conflict of interests. The laughable thing is that they do have the starters to avoid openers. TB does it because they don’t have SP, which is a pretty good reason. It sucks to watch professional baseball swirl the drain.
    Re: Sidenote – PIT was never a top 10 offense. Never mind select metrics. They have like 3 guys at best. You can have the composite stats, it matters who is in the lineup. Think about how much a 20 run game in Coors pulls up stats – is SF really a better offense today than they were at the break?
    Re: JF – I am always surprised when people talk about his arsenal. All I have ever seen him do consistently and well is the FB/SL mix. I have seen him dabble with other pitches, but I feel like I have seen a lot of good JF and it is a two pitch mix.

  2. NickFolesMVP says:

    Is Woj really a “Young Gun” when he’s 30 years old?

  3. MaxRo says:

    Hey Nick,

    Buehler allowed 3Hr, 6 Runs total. Would that change his today’s AGA tag?

  4. A says:

    In this year, of all years, how high up the Hitter List should I be aiming in shopping Soroka (redraft H2H)? No specific category or position need, just looking for a good hitter with balanced stats.

  5. Ham & Mayo Smith says:


    As a die hard Rockies fan, the classic blurb you want to reference predates 2015. For example, it applies to Marquez’s start the other day vs. Giants: “Rockies Horror Pitcher Show”. Cheers.

  6. Jim Diffley says:

    Come on now……
    Love Buehler but he gave up three homers and wasn’t exactly “acing” it last night!!

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