Working With Clay

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

(Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)

There are certain pitchers that I don’t expect to lead with much if at all during the course of the season, and their names are few. Why? Because guys like Clayton Kershaw rarely perform in a manner that deserves more than a quick brush of the hand. However, after tonight’s 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 6 BBs, 8 Ks line against the Marlins, you better believe I have to talk about it. There will be a plenty more in-depth piece about Kershaw coming out from me tomorrow, but for now, I have to believe something is wrong. Even the outs Kershaw induced came with mistake pitches as his mechanics weren’t as consistent as we’ve seen. This is a guy that is a machine. Someone who has the gears of stainless steel, glistening as you appear under-the-hood and blinding you with their “fresh out of the box” shine. To see these gears grinding and covered in grease is just wrong. These mechanics are never supposed to be inconsistent. Fastballs leaking to the middle of the plate? Bouncing sliders? WHAT IS THIS. I haven’t fully decided just yet, but I’m wondering if it’s time to remove him from the top. I’m not saying I will, I’m just in a position where I have to consider it heavily and that says a lot. That slip in command was there for a moment last game as well against the Nats and maybe – just maybe – this won’t just go away. We’ll see.

Let’s see how every other SP did Wednesday:

Jon Gray – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 11 Ks. Oh hey, looks like Gray decided to show up. Against the Padres, yes, but he also earned his first Gallows Pole with 23 whiffs, 13 coming from curveballs and sliders. I’m not sold that it will carry from here and that start against the Cubs next in Wrigley is a bit questionable, but at least we’re talking about it again.

Trevor Richards – 4.2 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 3 BBs, 10 Ks. What is it with Marlins pitchers have stupid good starts against decent offenses? Keep in mind, Richards had 14 Ks in four starts combined before this one. No I don’t believe it and you should look elsewhere. Sorry.

Jake Arrieta – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks. Ehhhhh fine. The ratios are good enough and he allowed a decent amount of weak contact, but I don’t think you want to be trusting in Arrieta the BABIP lover. Just 3 whiffs on 34 secondary pitches here should tell you plenty about the room to grow here. His sinker was the king of his previous outing and while it worked fine here, it wasn’t nearly as dominating as before. Don’t expect consistent performances here but I think he’ll be plenty more often good than kill your week.

Trevor Bauer – 6.2 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 8 Ks. Glad to see Bauer back on the right foot (well, he lands on his left) as he trounced the Cubs. He’s at #24 on The List and honestly, that might be low. He’s kinda killing it.

Michael Wacha – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks. Whooooaaaaa Wacha! 4 whiffs on 19 cutters! 5 whiffs on 17 changeups! 8 whiffs on 43 four-seamers! Everything worked here and suddenly you found a rhythm. I need to see that rhythm again for me to have any faith in you but this is a wonderful start.

Jhoulys Chacin – 5.2 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. Chacin will do well when Jhoulyst expect it.

Brandon Finnegan – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. Yeah, no. Sorry Finnegan, I just don’t trust you to have any sort of consistency. I also enjoyed your “OH COME ON” reaction to Ozzie Albies towering homerun down the line. That was cool. Your future starts? Not so much.

Doug Fister – 4.2 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks. Oh hey it’s Fister so I can make amazing jokes again. So…um…F is for Fister? Oh and D is for Doug. As in grades. Because he’s bad. You’re killing it. Thanks man. No, like you’re killing it as in killing the vibe. Oh. No thanks man.

Aaron Sanchez – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks. This is what it looks like when Sanchez can actually throw his fastball for strikes on a given day. It’s a wonderful thing and he didn’t even try to convince himself that his curveball should exist – just three of them thrown and two were to steal a strike. Just throw changeups and fastballs for strikes and he should be golden. That’s a hard thing to ask, unfortunately, but let’s hope he can do it again.

Max Scherzer – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 10 Ks. Aces gonna ace. I think I have to do it guys. I don’t have a choice.

Justin Verlander – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 9 Ks. Aces gonna ace. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. It’s so refreshing to see Verlander actually pick up where he left off to start a season again. It’s been ages.

Kendall Graveman – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 4 BBs, 7 Ks. Oddly enough, this PQS wasn’t a Grave Mistake as Kendall also gave you seven Ks. But if you trust him to do it again – Aha! – Now that would be a Grave Mistake. Nailed it.

Sonny Gray – 4.2 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 5 BBs, 4 Ks. Blegh, you can drop Sonny if you haven’t yet. We should call him Gilligan he’s so lost.

Jason Hammel – 6.2 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks. Sure, whatever Hammel.

Felix Hernandez – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. Nothing screams like being the middling version of yourself like a good ole VPQS. And hey, you got six Ks too! Atta boy Prince Felix. Atta boy.

Chad Kuhl – 5.1 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks. Kuhl threw 25% sliders and what do you know, it returned 7 whiffs and a 7 K night. If only that could turn into 30% on a regular basis. If only…

Jon Lester – 7.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. Yeah, I’ll take this as a Lester owner. It’s not going to wow me, but with a few of his starts alright making us worry, this is a welcome sight.

Steven Matz – 3.1 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. Blegh. This is what happens Matzy. This is what happens when you get just six whiffs on 88 pitches. That wasn’t even close to the real quote. Sure wasn’t….sure wasn’t.

Eduardo Rodriguez – 6.2 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. Weird to see just 3 Ks on 13 whiffs, but he also earned just nine called strikes on 106 pitches. His cutter wasn’t nearly as effective in this one and it hurt the strikeout production, but I’ll still take that QS and a near 1.00 WHIP. I guess. It’s pretty meh.

Jordan Zimmermann – 3.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. JZ has a new nickname, Reasonable Doubt. I’m not sure what took me so long to call him that.

Matt Boyd – 3.2 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks. It’s almost like a 98.2% LOB rate, .132 BABIP and 15.5% K rate don’t speak to longterm success. At least now I’ll have a lot of company Boyd Watching.

Jacob Faria – 4.1 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks. Well this is bad. I had some concerns that Faria wasn’t fully back yet after his last outing, but I still wanted to roll with Faria here against the O’s. More like the Uh-O’s, feel me? Why do I even let you stay here. Faria did earn 14 whiffs in this one, so not all is lost, but there’s so much left to be desired. Chase other upside plays for now.

Tyson Ross – 4.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks. Ross was in Coors the start after throwing 127 pitches. Yes, this wasn’t going to go well. Hey look 7 Ks! At least that’s cool. I’m okay adding him back to your squad now. I still have my reservations about the impact of that 127 pitch start, but for now I think you’re okay starting him against the Giants next.

James Shields – 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 4 BBs, 4 Ks. I guess I can’t be shocked that a man named JS has lines that looked scripted. It’s the same disappointment every time.

Nick Tropeano – 5.1 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks. Tropeano was looking gorgeous through his first three frames, striking out his six batters in the first nine outs, then it fell apart a bit in the second time through the order. I don’t think starting Trop against a team like the Astros is how to best use him, but he can be a 2016 Jerad Eickhoff type if you start him against weaker opponents. I guess that makes him a Toby, just avoid the better offenses and he’ll get the job done with sneaky strikeout upside.

Matt Wisler – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 9 Hits, 3 BBs, 0 Ks. Welp, I elected to run with Wisler against the Reds gambling with the chance he could repeat the same command he had in his first start. He didn’t. Streaming Record: 16-8

Alex Cobb – 4.2 IP, 5 ER, 10 Hits, 1 BBs, 0 Ks. I thought maybe, just maybe Cobb could feature a glimmer of hope as he faced the Rays. A shimmer of light to suggest better days ahead. Pffft nope. Get all of that human emotion out of here like a Monty Python foot stomping us all.

Zack Greinke – 6.0 IP, 5 ER, 9 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks. On one hand, it’s 9 Ks and just one walk. On the other, it’s a 1.67 WHIP and 5 ER. It was 35 CSW (Called Strikes + Whiffs) on 99 pitches, which is wonderful, but allowing a three-run shot in the sixth kinda messed everything up. And getting Singled Out, that hurt too. I’m sure you guys have concerns with his 4.80 ERA, but I don’t think his 71.4% LOB rate and .313 BABIP will last, while he’s sporting a near 20% HR/FB rate as well. That points to a near 3.20 ERA instead, which turns lovely paired with his 9.60 K/9 and 0.90 BB/9 thus far. Don’t sell him, hold tight, and he’ll be providing Top 15 SP value still.

Lance Lynn – 3.2 IP, 6 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks. Lynn looks more off than a hanging lightbulb in an abandoned basement. Why do they always act surprised when it doesn’t work?

Jeff Samardzija – 3.2 IP, 6 ER, 8 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks. And here I thought that you might be “ready to go” after spitting all over our DLH rule last time out. Well who’s laughing now? No one. No one is laughing because this start is bad and everyone is upset. As annoying as it might sound, I think Loose Lips just had that rust to knock off and you should trust him against the Padres next.

Jameson Taillon – 3.2 IP, 7 ER, 10 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks. This line is terrible. Taillon himself, though, wasn’t. I know, it sounds like I’m being a sympathizer but I watched all 75 of his pitches and he had some horrid luck. He threw a solid 3-2 pitch to open the game that went out of the park, plenty of hits he allowed were on solid offerings, and it just didn’t go his way. Sure, there was a longball on a meh changeup (the pitch really hasn’t taken off) and the double to Miggy was a fastball in the heart of the plate, but this should have been more of a 3 ER outing, not a 7 ER clunker that got him tossed in the fourth. Yes, his lack of changeup has an effect, but he’s still a Top 40 starter with just his fastballs and curveball. I think this makes for a decent buy-low here.

Today’s Streamer

Homer Bailey vs. Atlanta Braves – There are about four options to choose from here and I guess I’m going Homer Bale again. Make me proud.

Tomorrow’s Streamer

Tyler Anderson vs. Miami Marlins – I debated heavily between this or Mike Minor against the Jays, but I’ll go with Anderson as the Fish are floundering as much as anyone.

Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer

Chris Stratton vs. Los Angeles Dodgers Either guys are well above the 20% threshold or they are facing tough teams, so I’m going with Stratton as he has three 6.0+ IP starts under his belt and could pull it off against a Dodger offense that has been feast or famine.

Game of the Day

James Paxton vs. Mike Clevinger – So many good games today, but I want to watch Paxton get it together + Clevinger continue his momentum after a CGSHO.

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.

17 responses to “Working With Clay”

  1. Horseradish says:

    Hey nick, if you were me, would you drop junis for shark (who is in my DL spot still and is preventing me from making moves). The only other potential drop I have would be Erod

    • Nick Pollack says:

      I’d wait until Junis’ start tonight to reassess, but I’d imagine you’ll be dropping him after.

      • David says:

        Is Junis definitely falling off a cliff or is there still upside there?

        • Nick Pollack says:

          In that case of Shark vs Erod vs Junis, I want Junis the least longterm.

          Nevertheless, I want to own him. He hasn’t put it all together yet, but it’s possible his slider becomes more consistent and is the massive weapon it should be, his sinker induces weak contact often and he finds a proper third pitch he trusts from strikes.

          So yeah, there is definitely upside there. His hot start, though, isn’t that legit, though.

      • Vinny (my name isn't Horseradish) says:

        Thanks a lot for the response and for the great work as always! Let us know if you plan on doing another Pitcher List meetup in Brooklyn at some point!

  2. BigTuna says:

    What do you see the issue with Sonny Gray is?

    • Steve says:

      K rate down (23% to 17%), Walk rate up (8% to 15%). Clearly losing some command. Looks like he’s been throwing the curveball way too much (up from 18% to 26%) and it’s not working out for him. All in all to me it seems like a case of a pitcher losing some confidence in his fastballs (especially his cutter which went from 15% to 6% usage) and his ability to locate them. He’s getting punished for it.

      • Steve says:

        Also dropped his sinker usage from 34% to 23%, just another indication he’s lost confidence in his trio of fastballs. Throwing too many breaking balls.

  3. DGM says:

    I’ve been in a 2 week long negotiation with a guy desperate for pitching in my league who is willing to move Goldy. He’s considering an offer of my Ohtani, Weaver & Jmart for him (his best pitcher is mccullers and hte rest of waiver wire fodder). I’m going to assume he ultimately passes – would you add godley and remove weaver to up the offer?

    C Realmuto
    1 Rizzo
    2 Kinsler
    3 Frazier
    SS Seager
    OF Betts, Rosario, Marte
    Util Jmart & Lowrie
    BN (DL) Rendon
    DL Eaton
    DL Murphy

    SP Verlander, Price, Berrios, Ohtani, Godley, Castillo, Weaver, Shark, Lopez

  4. Sam says:

    Edrod had worse luck than Taillon yesterday, 3 errors from Devers/Nunez and two more poor defensive plays that should have been outs but were treated as hits. It’s honestly semi-miraculous he made it as deep into the game as he did.

  5. Jimmie says:

    Lance Lynn – is he gonna fix this or do I drop him for whatever garbage is on the wire?

  6. Sippinbeer says:

    Hey nick quick questions,

    who do you value more going forward, Corbin or Godley?

    And would you do either in a trade for JUpton, Junis, Clevinger for Corbin/Godley and Jmart.
    League is 6×6 h2h cats with OPS and QS.

    Thanks! need help on this haha

  7. Calipers says:

    Dying to know what yer gonna write about Ivan Nova tomorrow morning about today’s play. I nervously started him in his first 4 out of desperation but benched him this week because I thought I had pushed my luck. Who woulda thunk it?!

  8. Tony says:

    Castillo or Snell tomorrow night? Thanks man. These articles and post analysis is amazing.

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