The Strahman Fallacy

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

Hey everyone. It’s me, Nick. The man who has waited years to celebrate the coming of Matt Strahm firmly inside a team’s rotation and couldn’t hold back his excitement when he got the chance. What we saw tonight…wasn’t the same man. 2.2 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks tells part of the story, with the other chapters written in a massively declined fastball velocity (90.9mph?! He’s supposed to be 93/94 and push 96!), while he struggled to find strikes with any of his secondary stuff – 8/33 CSW across the slider/curveball/changeup trio. It was horrible. I feel cheated and I feel terrible to have pushed him so hard this preseason for such a disappointment. It just seems so wrong, though. This wasn’t the man we saw last year or in the spring and after one start – the first real start of his career that’s sure to have come with jitters and anxiety – I can’t give up on him. You can, go ahead. Chase your Calebs, Burnes, PaBlos, whatever you want. I have to believe that the Strahm you saw tonight isn’t the one that will be here all season and I know how frustrating it might be to hear that. We saw fewer than three frames, it’s too soon to give up. He gets the Cardinals next and while that’s not a start I advocate after this, I wonder if the inherent skills will return. If they do, let’s get back on the saddle and enjoy the year. This isn’t over, we’ve only just begun.

Let’s see how every other SP did Monday:

Chris Archer5.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 8 Ks. I’m impressed with Archer here and I was definitely not a fan of his this off-season. He threw 18 changeups in this one…yet didn’t register a single whiff with any. Archer is known to have starts like these followed by 4 ER in as many innings the following game as the changeup isn’t the great nullifier you want it to be. I want to be wrong here, PLEASE CONVINCE ME ARCHER.

Aaron Brooks6.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. Well what is this. Brooks isn’t supposed to be this effective yet his fastball ate up left-handers and forced righties to lean out over the plate to roll over grounders. Batters on the Red Sox. Huh. I don’t buy it for 12-teamers and I’m willing to call this a One Night Bland. Sorry Brooks, you ain’t my brother.

Mike Clevinger7.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 3 BBs, 12 Ks. Aces gonna ace. Velocity was 95/96 today as well, especially before it tapered off in the final two frames. He’s really really good y’all.

Domingo German5.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 5 BBs, 7 Ks. Those walks look ugly, but a 1.20 WHIP, 0.00 ERA, and 7 Ks? Um, yes please. Changeup wasn’t there – womp womp, but 7 whiffs each on his deuce and fastball make me a happy man. Hopefully he can go past the 80 pitch mark next time around.

David Hess6.1 IP, 0 ER, 0 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks. For disappointment this year, the Hess— Wait I can’t say that tonight, this was a no-hitter and they pulled the kid. If you want the low down on Hess, there’s a reason I have that slogan from last year. He’s not terrible – possibly the best arm on the Baltimore squad if Nate Karns doesn’t stay healthy and Dylan Bundy still befriends longballs because reasons – but he’s certainly not the talent this line suggests. Baseball is weird, y’all. Baseball is weird.

Sean Newcomb4.0 IP, 0 ER, 6 Hits, 4 BBs, 3 Ks. Leave it to Newcomb to allow 10 runners on in just four frames and somehow prevent a man from crossing the plate. Where there’s a WHIP, there’s a way!

Ryne Stanek1.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks. Stanek is your opener for the False Starter we call The Fratty Pirate (Ryan Yarbrough), who sealed the win like it was 2018 all over again. Go for TFP if you’re desperate for sneaky wins, the lack of volume and small margin of error make me stay away.

Julio Urias5.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks. Man, if Urias were locked for 180 frames, I’d consider him Top 30 at least. I’m not kidding, I think his skills are legit. The problem is #Dodgeritis exists and we’re hoping for 150 frames given his lack of workload in the past two frames due to injury. When he’s in the rotation, you start him. Just don’t overpay if you’re on the outside looking in as we just don’t know how much of Urias we’re going to get.

Felix Hernandez5.1 IP, 1 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks. Oh lord, we know this isn’t going to work, right? He had 4 whiffs today on 92 pitches. COME ON.

Steven Matz5.1 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks. When Matz throws his slider, he can be a legit 12-teamer option, even if it means he hits the IL early because of it. He only threw the pitch twice in this one and Matz returned just 3 Ks as a result. If he’s not featuring the pitch, I just can’t buy in. But this was a good start! Against the Marlins. It’s Toby-esque and you don’t want that.

Ivan Nova7.0 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. This just in: The Indians are a terrible offense. It’s pretty stupid that Nova can just waltz in and go seven strong, but this is the world we live in.

Brad Peacock6.2 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks. Wow Peacock, I didn’t think you’d show off your colors so quickly. Just 26% CSW makes me a bit skeptical, though, especially as his slider was just 4/27 earning whiffs. He gets the A’s next and I’d proceed with a little bit of caution.

Drew Smyly3.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks. He threw 73 pitches in the affair and wasn’t super sharp, but his fastball was at 91 and I imagine he’ll need some time to get into the groove again. Don’t forget him, but don’t invest just yet.

Zach Davies5.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 6 Ks. So this start looks kinda ugly, but the 1.60 WHIP is masked by a serviceable 3.60 ERA and six strikeouts. So that’s cool, I guess. Nothing that I’m chasing, but cool. Ish.

Kyle Hendricks4.1 IP, 2 ER, 10 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks. This is was some poor luck for Hendricks was on the bad side of errors that extended his pitch count and hit totals a bit. Not so much that we can ignore it all, but it isn’t a fair line. 5 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks would have been a lot more accurate…and that’s not that great either. Whatever, still start him n all.

Drew Pomeranz5.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. Huh. Back when I initially put The Dirty Cheerleader as the 100th SP in February, this is what I had in mind. It’s not perfect, but it helps. Great to see him at 92mph, though we need more than just 4 whiffs on 41 curveballs moving forward.

Tyson Ross5.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 4 Ks. Ehhhhh this just doesn’t do enough. Do you really need that 3.60 ERA? Really?

Caleb Smith5.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks. I was asking for seven strikeouts and he gave me eight. The Marlins staff is all kinds of enticing and add Smith to the list of PabLo, Sandy, and Richards. 21 whiffs en route to a Gallows Pole – 10 coming on his heater and 11 more on sliders and changeups. That’s. What’s. Up. He gets the Braves next and I’m for it. Streaming Record: 2-2

Merrill Kelly6.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. The number of tweets I received about Kelly vs. Strahm was absurd, you’d think they’d have more than 2 ER separating them by the end of it. Complete disclosure: Kelly allowed all 3 ER in the sixth, the final two off a Tatis bomb with 2 outs. I was thrilled to see Kelly’s velocity back up to 93/94 and last week’s scare, though just 8 whiffs and 3 Ks leave a bit to be desired. He looked great relative to Strahm, but this wasn’t an ace on the hill. Still, at the very least, I’m okay going after him again. Phew, that was a fun ride of emotions over the past week. Not in love, but I’m fine with it.

Sean Reid-Foley2.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. I was hoping for a decent game here from RF given his strikeout upside and the O’s being the O’s, but they jumped on him quickly and we’re back to hoping for better days in AL-Only leagues. So it goes, don’t overlook the upside that’s still here.

Tanner Roark4.1 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks. You don’t own Tanner for the Ks, you own him for the ratios. 

David Price6.0 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 10 Ks. It was a night of frustrating lines and while 10 Ks with a 1.17 WHIP shouldn’t make me upset, three home runs tallying 4 ER is not what we were looking for. So close to dominance, yet so far. Keep starting him with confidence, of course.

Chris Stratton4.1 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks. I forgot this was a thing. Why is this a thing?

Adam Wainwright4.0 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 3 Ks. The fact that the entirety of twitter reacted asking why Waino was pitching should tell you everything. He looked worse than Raul Ibanez in left field. So like Strahm? Sigh, like Strahm. :(

Chad Bettis5.2 IP, 6 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. Oh hey, it’s Chad. *Looks at line*. Oh right, it’s Chad.


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.

Eric Lauer vs. Arizona Diamondbacks – I have to choose someone, and I’ll take the blegh arm against the blegher (that’s a word) offense.


Tomorrow’s Streamer


Matt Shoemaker vs. Baltimore Orioles – There are only three or so people I can even select here, and The Cobbler off his great first start against the weak Orioles sounds about right.


Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer


Aaron Sanchez vs. Cleveland Indians – The Tribe are bad and Sanchez is showcasing solid velocity.


Game of the Day


Kyle Freeland vs. Blake Snell – Should be a fun duel as Snell gets back into his groove.

(Photo by K.C. Alfred/Zuma Press/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.

23 responses to “The Strahman Fallacy”

  1. Scott says:

    I remember drafting strahm in 2017 as a middle reliever. His first appearance in April was a disaster. 1/3 of anning 4 runs. I watched his start tonight and the velocity wasn’t there was the first sign. He couldn’t locate anything. Hung some sliders too which is probably his best pitch. I hope it was nerves because I was looking forward to watching him face a sub par offense. I can chalk up “nerves” for the location issue but the velocity dip was troubling. I hope he isn’t hurt. I am all in but I am very concerned.

  2. Walt C. says:

    Cheer up, Buttercup. You may need to pet a puppy, or have a good cry. It’s ok, Nick. I appreciate you.
    Your quality breakdowns and analysis continue to allow me to make informed decisions, or not.
    You do you, and I’m grateful.

  3. Tom says:

    Would appreciate if you put pitchers’ team and opponent next to their name and stat line, e.g:
    Ivan Nova (CHW @ CLE) – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks.
    It’s just tough for a pleb like me to remember all the matchups every day and what teams all the scrub pitchers play for.

    Fingers crossed for Strahm.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Hey Tom!

      I’m with you, it’s something that we want to improve and is on the list.

      I appreciate the feedback, keep em coming :)

  4. bp says:

    The expanding and contracting ads in the middle of the page are trash

    • Kris says:

      It’s how they keep this site free for you dude…but I’m sure they’d gladly charge you and remove the ads so you’re not inconvenienced.

      • theKraken says:

        Its feedback from a reader – people pay for that. Don’t turn this into Fangraphs where we try to smash down dissenting opinions. FG is dying and PL is flourishing because it isn’t a cauldron of negativity – lets try to keep it that way.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Thanks for letting me know bp, I appreciate the feedback, especially with ads that I don’t get to always experience myself. I’ll look into preventing those from happening.

      • bp says:

        Thank you! I’m fine with ads. Just found it quite annoying having the text move up and down as I am trying to read.

        • Nick Pollack says:


          Is it that the ad changed to a new one or was it one that danced around the page?

  5. Jack says:

    Would you trade either Bieber or Urias for Peacock + Mchugh?

  6. Matt says:

    Any chance you can list out the streaming options w/ your pick for the day so we have an idea how they compare? Or perhaps even rank all options? That’d be cool. Appreciate what you do!

  7. Jim says:

    Oddly enough, when watching this pitching performance unfold at first I felt bad for my team. But then, I felt sorry for Nick. I knew Strahm was your boy. We love the positivity here! Never give up.

  8. Jack says:

    But there’s an upside! I just dropped Merrill Kelly for Strahm because someone got antsy.

  9. AW says:

    Ceiling and stuff wise, would you put Urias in the samen league as guys like Buehler, Reyes, Whitley, etc? Like, does he have top 5 SP upside?

    • theKraken says:

      Lots of health questions to answer before you start to think about that. At one point he was a top prospect like those guys, then he lost a few years to shoulder injury. I put him with Reyes, but at least Reyes never dealt with a shoulder. Nobody really belong in the top 5 conversation without durability.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      He does! It’s just about him getting the frames to exercise it…which may take a bit with #Dodgeritis n all + his injury history.

  10. theKraken says:

    This sounds like the same Strahm that I have been following for years… stuff looks good, then people clamor for a bigger role, then he falls apart once given the role for whatever reason.
    Re: Urias – I don’t think 150 IP is realistic and I don’t think it has anything to do with the Dodgers. No team would push him past 150 IP as it would be highly irresponsible. Just 1 year ago there were many real questions about him having any future. Very few pitchers have ever recovered from a serious shoulder injury – if Urias does I think he will be the first to make it fully back and have a long productive career. Many pitchers have shoulder injuries but not serious ones where they lose that much time.

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