Tricky Nicky

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

I don’t expect this to be shocking, but even with Nick Pivetta going 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 9 Ks against the Dodgers last night, I’m still not buying in. Yes, I know that he struggled in his first inning last time out – the first inning in the majors for over a month – and has since been unreal in the 10 innings after, but this changes nothing. Pivetta is the pinnacle of a Cherry Bomb and if you search your heart, you know it to be true. It’s one start and change. I’m thrilled his curveball worked and his fastball wasn’t laced today, who knows what it will be like the next time. If you’re a gambling man and have nothing else to chase on the wire, by all means, go for Pivetta and his 40% CSW. Don’t turn away more consistent options flying too close to the sun here.

Let’s see how every other SP did Sunday:

Lucas Giolito7.1 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 9 Ks. Giolito. Dude. This is getting nuts. Fine, you got the Indians and you dominated like you should dominate the Indians lineup, but still. 39/103 CSW even with just 4/14 on breaking balls as this was heavily focused on fastball/changeup. And I didn’t even love his changeup locations! He’s overpowering with heat at 95 mph consistently and that’s everything. I don’t see Top 20 and an AGA coming without that phenomenal secondary stuff, but hot dang I love owning him right now.

Cole Hamels7.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. See? No problems with Hamels after last weeks mishap. Am I the only one that pronounces that my-shap? Yes. Yes you are. Oh Mishap’tin, mishap’tin!

Rich Hill7.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 9 Ks. 38/103 CSW as you’re like me and can’t believe Hill gets 13/63 whiffs on a 90.3 mph heater. The man has been locked in, which means a blister will appear in one or two starts. DON’T PUT THAT JUJU ON US! Sorry, sorry, just under promising, over-performing n all.

Jake Odorizzi6.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks. The Odorizzi train continues to chug along at full steam as Odorizzi threw…no way this can’t be real…81% four-seamers in this game. Whoa. Here is what his strikeout plot looked like, depicting the bloodbath of a start in full force. And what’s crazier is the heater earned 20 whiffs along the way. Absurd, the Rays just couldn’t handle his heater in the slightest. You’re not going to stop starting Odorizzi and while I doubt he’s this good through the year, I’ll keep creeping him up The List until he gives me a reason to stop.

Trevor Richards5.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks. I love when Richards’ changeup dominates like it should, though this game felt like a product of the Padres affinity for strikeouts and less about Richards’ deserving hitters to bend the knee. Just 25% CSW is a bit disappointing as he allowed 37 foul balls. I don’t think I’ve seen a higher mark all year. No wonder he was bounced after five.

Julio Teheran5.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks. The Tigers are bad, but I won’t judge Teheran harshly there as he’s been rolling. I won’t be the guy that tells you to run away from a decent Vargas Rule – 19 Whiffs are super impressive, after all – but at least keep him on a short leash, okay?

Adam Wainwright8.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 7 BBs, 8 Ks. It’s weird how easy we can brush aside a seven-walk start when he holds a 1.13 WHIP at the end of the day. I’m a bit surprised to see Waino collect 18 Ks across his last two starts, featuring two of his three starts above an 11% swinging-strike rate. No, I don’t think it’s a turned corner, just weird things.

Merrill Kelly7.2 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 10 Ks. Kelly went off against the Mets in the same way he did against the Red Sox – comfort with his curveball for strikes as he went 15/25 strikes on hooks. This isn’t the start that makes me reconsider Kelly, but at least I’ll stick him in the 90s today and go from there. I don’t believe this is the Kelly ship leaving for a massive resurgence. 

Zach Plesac7.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks. Ayyyy Plesac worked! Streaming Record: 41-23. I don’t really like the kid, though, with a 23/96 CSW, zero whiffs on his changeup – his second-best pitch – and a wild fastball. He’ll have a more starts like this one and even more where he gets burned for it, likely as soon as next time against the Yankees. You can let him go now.

Jeff Samardzija6.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks. Nothing like Loose Lips holding this line with a 25% CSW. Good to see him go 5/17 whiffs on splitters though. Sure ain’t trust this.

Adrian Sampson7.0 IP, 1 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 11 Ks. Sampson, what. His slider was as good as we’ve seen it, earning 12/29 whiffs. Nothing else was all that good, but the Royals just couldn’t touch the breaker. Oh hey, the Royals allowing a massive K game again! Blame it on the Royals. Now this makes sense(r).

Max Scherzer8.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 15 Ks. Aces. Gonna. ACE. It’s like Scherzer is doing everything he can to hold onto that #1 spot. Fine, fine, we can go get ice cream after the dentist. Yeesh. Enjoy the Gallows Pole at 26 whiffs because duh.

Antonio Senzatela6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks. Sure, whatever Senz-A. I still don’t believe you have your license to run this dojo. *Inspects the mats.* Why do all of these say “Welcome” on it?

Gerrit Cole6.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. Aces gonna ace. Cole, didn’t you just see what Scherzer did? Weren’t you like that at some point?

Zach Davies8.0 IP, 2 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. And here I was thinking that Davies’ 6 ER game on the 22nd would be the beginning of the end. Nope, that’s 2 ER total in two starts since and he’s still a massive TEEs. Can you guess what his SIERA is despite the 2.20 ERA? 4.00? 4.50? Nope. 5.07. Be careful, y’all.

Sonny Gray5.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. Yep, I’d have full confidence starting Sonny moving forward until he does something to legit scare us.

David Price6.1 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. Really nice to see Price continue in stride despite heading to the Bronx. Easily Top 20 at this point.

Gabriel Ynoa5.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. Ynoa, what? I’m not going to hate on Gabriel today. REALLY?! Nah, just kidding. Ynoa nothing, Jon Snow.

Chris Bassitt6.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks. It’s weird to see Bassitt striking out just one – HAISTFMFWT?! – but at least you got a VPQS and decent WHIP to help us endure the time of Bassitt failing to get whiffs again. It should come back as his curveball improves and the four-seamers get elevated, and now that the Astros are behind him, it’s time to pick up Bassitt again…I think. Arlington is next and that could be a bit of trouble. Fine. Wait one more start.

Matt Boyd5.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 9 Ks. I’m still very much a Boyd Boy as he holds a 3.01 ERA, 31% K rate and 1.02 WHIP through 13 starts. Life is good.

Brad Keller7.0 IP, 3 ER, 9 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks. Hey, Keller wasn’t so bad today! Hey, I don’t care! BK, it’s not what you crave.

CC Sabathia6.0 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 8 Ks. I’m surprised that CC was able to go six frames full, especially against the Sawx, and he was able to fan eight along the way. Wild. This may be one of his more productive starts of the year for those in QS leagues, don’t get used to it.

Jose Suarez5.2 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks. Yeah, I’m not a big fan of what Suarez brings to the table. It’s a great changeup – 11/32 whiffs! – but it’s all middling outside of it and we’re not talking a Trevor Richards slow ball here. Unsure if he’ll get another start in the next rotation pass (it would be the Mariners again, though they could easily skip him) and I’d be looking elsewhere.

Jordan Lyles6.0 IP, 4 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. I don’t think Lyles pitched poorly here at all and if Thames doesn’t launch a two-run shot, we’re pretty happy with this. The Brew Crew are no joke. Keep on holding.

Aaron Sanchez6.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks. Sanchez went into Coors. Sanchez did exactly what we expected.

Steven Matz6.0 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. Honestly, this is Matz. He didn’t do much differently here save for incorporating more sliders suddenly…which weren’t the pitch of old. He’s a Toby and that’s fine.

Matt Strahm4.1 IP, 7 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks. Strahm noooooooo. Just one whiff on 25 sliders is terrible, his fastball was just 90.6 mph, and everything is sad. I was really hoping he figured it out with his slider and was taking a step forward, but now we’re realizing the floor that I was surprised hadn’t shown up earlier. Baseball really knows how to mess with you. At this point, I have no idea which Strahm we’ll see next time. I’m imagining more of a Toby and that the high slider-whiff game was the exception, not the new trend, and I’m sad. Hold for one more and see what we get against the Nationals.

Ryan Yarbrough7.0 IP, 7 ER, 10 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. The Fratty Pirate gave us a healthy reminder of the floor that comes with False Starters. Womp womp.

Marco Gonzales4.2 IP, 10 ER, 9 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks. His cutter was gone and his fastball velocity was sub 89 mph. If you haven’t moved on yet, it’s time. There just isn’t enough upside here.


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.


Corbin Martin vs. Seattle Mariners – There are just four games on Monday and I’ll go with Martin’s strikeout upside instead of Lauer, Cahill, and LeBlanc against tough opponents.


Tomorrow’s Streamer


Devin Smeltzer vs. Cleveland Indians – I didn’t expect Smeltzer to get this start – I thought the Twins would skip him! – and now slated against the Indians, I’m game.


Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer


Dakota Hudson vs. Cincinnati Reds – There aren’t many streaming options here, so I’ll go with Hudson pulling off his sinkerball ways against the Reds offense away from GABP. Also stoked for Jimmy Nelson to finally return.


Game of the Day


Aaron Nola vs. San Diego Padres – Please have your fastball back. PLEASE.


(Photo by Kyle Ross/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.

29 responses to “Tricky Nicky”

  1. Doc says:

    Do you like Beede against NYM?

  2. Dgm says:

    Hey nick – confused on your write up for giolito.

    His fastball and slider both have a pVal around 5.0. Are u saying he doesn’t have excellent secondary stuff?

    He seemed to leverage the curveball early in the count yesterday as a way to set guys up for the fastball/changeup combo.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Hey DGM!

      Giolito was primarily Fastball/changeup yesterday and I question if his changeup/slider/curveball are good enough to keep him consistent through the year. His fastball is going to disappear at times – it happens to everyone – and I’m skeptical those pitches can be there.

      He doesn’t have that legit secondary pitch like Bieber, Glasnow, Boyd, etc. have.

    • Vlad says:

      Pitch values (like the ones found on Fangraphs) are basically ERA for individual pitches–there’s a lot that goes into it including luck since all outcomes are factored in. It’s much better to look at pitch movement, spin, velo differential between pitches, and other factors if you want an objective way of analyzing “stuff”

  3. Greg says:

    Yeah but you’d take him over Darvish at this point right?

  4. robert danzig says:

    you think Smeltzer gets 2 starts this week? think it’s worth the gamble

    • Nick Pollack says:

      He might, I’m a little surprised the Twins didn’t skip him for the first turn.

      I’d pick him up for the two-starts.

    • Doug says:

      I grabbed him in a points league because if he does get 2, he’ll be facing CLE and DET. If he fares well enough in those two, I’ll keep him because he plays on the good team in the garbage division and he’ll still have that novelty “first time they’ve seen him” thing going on for those in other divisions for a while.

  5. Jason says:

    When is the new pitcher report coming out today?

  6. Jon says:

    Hey Nick – great writeup as always.

    Question on a player not on this list… Ross Stripling. I’m waiting for a Dodgers starter to go down but becoming impatient. Is he worth to hold for now? I’m looking at Kevin Gausmen on the waiver…

  7. Ron Frappier says:

    Streemed in Pivetta yesterday and got lucky. Is it worth keeping one more vs Cinci or possible cherry bomb there also?

  8. theKraken says:

    I watched an inning of the Suarez start. I guess it was a CH, but I thought it was a SL. It does what a a slider does and it looked like one of those SL that guys have a hard time picking up. I wouldn’t be too surprised if he can live off of that mix – it reminded me of Gohara and Jack F in that hitters didn’t seem to be able to identify it at all. That said, he does need something to keep righties honest as the CH doesnt move away from righties so that could be his downfall. That said (again), maybe the pitch classification was off, maybe it wasn’t his typical change or maybe the league just needs a few looks at him to figure him out, but I thought it was OK. He is very young so he could certainly learn some new tricks.

  9. Tal Sercarz says:

    Love the site and everything you are doing. Somebody just dropped Luke weaver in a dynasty league I am playing in. Would you drop Zach plasec for him or would you rather just use the spot for a streamer?

    • Nick Pollack says:

      I wonder if Weaver is inevitably going to get TJS now and unless you have a spare IL spot, I think I’d use the spot to help this year.

  10. ToughDecisions says:

    Gausman or Hudson wednesday?

    • John says:

      Check recent games. Gausman just laid an egg. Hudson has been rolling and is at home. I actually expect Gausman to bounce back in Pittsburg and go deep with a fresh arm and a fire in his belly from last time out, but Hudson is the safer play.

      • ToughDecisions says:

        Yeah but you can’t just check recent games. It has to be a combination of recency, overall skill, and opponent-specific matchup factors. Otherwise I would be starting Samardzija over Patrick Corbin this week…which would not be smart.

  11. John says:

    I understand the lack of whiffles against the White Sox is concerning, but Plesac had a decent start after being loosely labeled #63 after his first start. He is on a good team, that despite the Twins, has a 1/4 chance to make the postseason according to fangraphs. I understand that the Yanks are next, but what if you’re in a deep twelver? Ask my friends, I’m always deep in twelvers.

    • Doug says:

      Just my 2 cents – The Indians AREN’T a good team. The offense just isn’t there, Carrasco’s been bad, and the Clevinger and Kluber injuries were big blows. They’re almost certainly sellers at the deadline. Even if they have an (extremely) unlikely shot at the playoffs right now, the reason they have that is because the twins could implode, not because they have a legit shot at a wild-card, and that’s what would keep them from selling. Think about it: Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, Twins, White Sox, Astros, Rangers, A’s, Angels… Do you really think there’s a legit chance CLE outplays 5 of those teams strongly enough before trade season? Sure, maybe 2 or 3, but 5? More importantly, (especially after remembering they were seriously entertaining trade offers on their SPs in the offseason/ST,) do you think their front office thinks they will?

      • John says:

        The White Sox and Angels? One of the Yanks, BoSox, and Rays will win their division. My guess in the Red Sox take one wild card spot. If I’m right, that leaves the Indians, A’s, and Rays for one spot. I could see the Rangers climbing into the race maybe, and I definitely see the Indians selling some players, maybe Trevor Bauer and some bench pieces or something. I don’t anticipate a teardown, and the Indians are still decent without Bauer.

      • John says:

        Sorry for the add-on, but I actually predict it comes down to the Rays and Indians, and both will strangely be both buyers and sellers at the deadline. Maybe even the A’s too, small markets right. You realize to win season-long fantasy leagues you need pitchers competing in September and not necessarily October, right? Also, it’s because of the injuries to Klube and Clev that he has a shot, and Clev is back soon. Only my take and anything happens. Good luck.

  12. theKraken says:

    I wonder if Yarbrough’s outing was him just eating innings as they need to rest the bullpen. Its not like they got to him in the 7th or a bunch of inherited runners scored. I wonder if that is part of the plan in TB. Some days a guy is just going to need to go out there and take one for the team – it would be smart.

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