Zack In A Box

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

I’ve been pretty mum about Zach Eflin since we last saw him on the hill and he did all kinds of wonderful things tonight via 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks against the strong Nationals lineup. He changed velocities on his slider to form a hard cutter and loopier breaker to confuse batters, the few changeups he threw were very effective, and his overall fastball command was impressive. This could be something solid through the year…but I think we simply saw a great night and not one indicative of a breakout. Eflin isn’t a “must-add” ala Caleb Smith or Corbin Burnesbut I’m all for riding him against the Twins next time out and going from there. He really needs to favor that changeup more often and execute it like he did tonight if he were to have that breakout…which is a major hypothetical. Keep that in mind moving forward and let’s cross our fingers against Minnesota.

Let’s see how every other SP did Tuesday:

Madison Bumgarner6.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. This was the product of one terrible inning, but Bumgarner still didn’t look sharp tonight. Poorly placed cutters and heaters as my trust in him took another step away. I won’t move him on The List yet since this was the Dodgers and he cruised through the Padres last week, but tonight was exactly the kind of night I was afraid of. But it was still a good WHIP! True, he didn’t kill you, I just don’t like where he’s at. In San Fran? But I love that city! No, his performance level. Sheesh. UPDATE: Okay, so I watched this game and it was labeled as 4 ER for a while…which has now disappeared to 0 ER. It makes this blurb sound really weird now, and this is wonderful line, save for the Ks. Still, I didn’t like the man I saw on the hill and I have my concerns. I want to be wrong here, I just don’t see a man looking dominant on the hill, more of one “getting by”.

Andrew Cashner6.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks. Look at Cashner go, taking down a strong Jays line– pffffft, sorry. I just couldn’t go through with it. Blame it on the Jays.

Mike Fiers6.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks. The Mariners? Wow, such offense. The Red Sawx? Psssh no problem. I can hear him wanting me to join his party in the woods, but I just can’t join your camp, Fiers.

Blake Snell7.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 13 Ks. Aces gonna ace. Fastballs up, breakers down, and even a good amount of changeups away. He is just so filthy when he’s on. 40% CSW and an easy Gallows Pole at 24 whiffs. Hot. Dang.

Trevor Cahill6.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks. On one hand, 12 whiffs on 83 pitches is solid. On the other, it was just 25% CSW. My stance on Cahill is to ride him when it’s working early and give up quickly, but after last week’s start and this low CSW, I want to see another before feeling decent about streaming him.

Anthony DeSclafani5.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 8 Ks. I’m a bit amazed Tony Disco threw 13 curveballs and double the number of whiffs earned over his 26 sliders. Remember, his slide piece is the pitch we want him to throw 40% of the time as it’s clearly his best offering. Well, normally. This Brewers lineup is excellent as well, so there may be something here. Not enough for me to group him in with the other Spice Girls n all, but I’m aware of what you’re up to, Tony.

Marco Gonzales8.1 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. He almost went the distance but got into a jam in the 9th and Swarzak closed it out, unscathed. Wild to see just two whiffs but twenty-six called strikes in a game, and I can’t say that I’m all too encouraged by that. I can say I am encouraged by a date with the Royals next, though.

Chris Sale6.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks. This is going to be a topic of discussion for a while as Sale was hitting 88mph often in this game, averaging just under 90mph across all his heaters. He focused plenty less on the pitch than normal, throwing an abnormal amount of changeups to make up for it. The result was this line and I guess it worked but it’s not the man you paid for. His velocity looks to be a product of low exertion, which I have to imagine stems from a conversation in the clubhouse. “We could just push you back a month of the year and start you up later, or just go out there and throw at 85% exertion. You at 85% is still better than whatever else we have at 100%.” I’m not kidding, I genuinely believe that. So when does Sale start ramping it up again? Maybe in two weeks, maybe in May, I’m not sure. I will say that I’d hold on to him through it all as I’m moving away from the idea of injury. Just saved bullets.

Max Scherzer5.0 IP, 1 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks. Aces gonna ace…ish. Five frames and a 1.60 WHIP just doesn’t feel right as Scherzer handed us a Dusty Donut. How dare he.

Masahiro Tanaka6.2 IP, 1 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks. Lovely performance from Tanaka, putting on an exhibition for the importance of walking few – even with eight hits, that’s still a WHIP we can endure. And, as always, the whiffs came En Mas helping to knocka seven batters out. That was so terrible. I must be in prime form, then.

Jordan Zimmermann6.2 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. You know, I was tempted to lead with Jay-Z after another stellar performance out of the gate. A solid 33/94 CSW here with 11 whiffs across his breakers is solid, though the Yankee offense is all kinds of hurting and the Jays last week weren’t tough. But then again, he gets the Tribe next time out and that could return some cheap value. Don’t ignore it.

Jhoulys Chacin5.1 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks. Sure, I’ll take this from Chacin. I’m never going to love owning the Toby, but we’re kinda in a Vargas Rule with him and that’s fine by me.

Kyle Freeland4.2 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 4 BBs, 10 Ks. Whoa! I expected a strikeout increase from Freeland this year, but ten Ks?! 16 swinging strikes in total as both his slider and heater missed plenty of bats. It took a lot out of him to fan so many batters, though, nibbling the inside corner to right-handers often. Still, he barely touched the heart of the zone and seeing this kind of deception from Freeland has to make you excited.

Shelby Miller3.2 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 5 BBs, 2 Ks. We’ve all been curious what we’d see out of Shelby this year, and I can’t say I expected 75% heaters and five total whiffs on 88 pitches. Maybe a little in a season debut against the Astros. There’s still a distant shot at better down the road, but we’re squinting at the horizon to see it.

Hyun-Jin Ryu7.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks. If Ryu is healthy, you start Ryu. That simple. NEXT!

Marcus Stroman5.2 IP, 2 ER, 9 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. I was happy to see a lot of whiffs on sliders last time out from Stroman, but just 5/37 here and I’m a bit discouraged. He still lives in the worst place to be an elite groundball and this was the high-flying O’s we’re talking about here. 10 Baserunners is just a little too much. At the same time, he heads to Cleveland next and that just seems like easy money at this point.

Jason Vargas5.0 IP, 2 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks. Not even Vargas can take part in the Vargas rule. I can see him at the edge of a cliff now, letting it be free to disperse among the world. It no longer belongs to me…

Jose Berrios7.0 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks. I talk about Berrios’ changeup as the biggest influencer of my love for the Minnesota ace, and it was solid in this one. Not incredible, but solid. Sure, it wasn’t the sparkling outing like last time, but the five Ks, 1.00 WHIP, and improved changeup should make you nod your head like a Nick Swisher bobblehead of satisfaction.

Zack Greinke6.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 9 Ks. Greinke earned more RBI through 2 HRs here than he allowed in six frames. It doesn’t count and that’s dumb, but the 9 Ks and 1.00 WHIP should qualm any questions you had about Greinke following his first start.

Brad Keller6.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 4 BBs, 5 Ks. Ah yes, the good ole VPQS from Keller. You don’t want those ratios, you really don’t.

Eric Lauer5.0 IP, 4 ER, 9 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks. Our Call Boy ran into a tough fourth inning that included Greinke taking him deep to straight-away center. Ouch. I had very little to choose from here and certainly didn’t expect Tony Disco or Fiers to massively outperform him. Blegh, El. O. L. – Eric lauer Only Losses – is back. Streaming Record: 2-3.

Justin Verlander4.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks. Yeaaaaah this was the biggest disappointment of the day as Verlander was in a funk. His secondary stuff wasn’t sharp, his fastball locations were meh, he really labored on the hill. This is clearly why I didn’t put him above Sale last week. Clearly.

Jose Urena4.0 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. Remember kids, if you roster Jose, Urena boatload of trouble. I have to keep you safe.


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.

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. Jonathan Loaisiga is getting the start for the Yanks, but I prefer Shoemaker slightly more as The Cobbler has the potential to go deeper into the game.


Tomorrow’s Streamer


Aaron Sanchez vs. Cleveland Indians – The Tribe are bad and Sanchez is showcasing solid velocity. And still under 15% owned! Not after this game.


Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer


Trent Thornton vs. Cleveland Indians – Sure, why not. It’s Cleveland.


Game of the Day


Miles Mikolas vs. Jameson Taillon – Both are similar arms looking for redemption after a disappointing debut to the season. Here’s to hoping for a fun pitchers’ duel.


(Photo by Gavin Baker/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.

13 responses to “Zack In A Box”

  1. LadyScorpio says:

    Great article, Nick! I’m new to Pitcherlist.com, but have been playing fantasy baseball for 11 years now. Have won 4 times, but haven’t won in recent years. Looking to reclaim my crown and need help with my team. I’m currently in 4th place, need to drop a SP to add a Util player. Current options for Util are: C. Frazier, Pederson, C. Stewart, C. Walker, Healy, A. Jones, Schoop, A. Frazier, Bruce & DeShields. Whom would you recommend that I add and drop? Please note that I’m in a 10 team, roto, 6×6, keeper league with Runs, RBIs, HRs, AVG, OPS, SBs, Wins, Ks, ERA, WHIP, K/BB & Saves+Holds. My keepers are: Acuna, Andujar, Treinen & Trout.

    C – Mejia
    1B – Rizzo
    2B – McNeil
    SS – Tatis
    3B – Machado
    CI – Y. Diaz
    MI – K. Marte
    OF – Trout, Acuna, Dahl & Eloy
    U – Shaw & ???
    DL – Murphy, Wendle & Andujar
    SP – Bieber, Burnes, Lucchesi, Mikolas, Strahm, Stripling & Woodruff
    RP – Colome, Pressly, J.James, W. Smith, Stammen & Treinen
    NA – F. Whitley

    Any advice that you provide will be MUCH appreciated!

    Many thanks,

    P.S. I’m the ONLY female in my league!

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Hey there! Welcome to the site!

      In a 10-team league, you can go heavy with chasing upside a ton as the wire will always have other options.

      I’d go for Bruce in the short term and then reassess once the hot streak ends, dropping Strahm for now.

      You’re going to need a better rotation this season, so you may have to drop one of those holds guys at some point to keep chasing lottery tickets off the wire.

  2. John Connors says:

    I know it’s very early, but how would you rank these spice girls as it stands today. Corbin Burnes Pablo Lopez, Caleb Smith, Sandy Alcantara, Zach elfin? Thanks!

    • Nick Pollack says:

      So close between Burnes/PabLo/Smith.

      Eflin and Sandy are pretty even, but behind them.

      That’s the best I’ve got.

  3. Joe says:

    Bum didn’t give up any earned runs. throwing error to lead off the big inning did some damage control for the overall numbers.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Thanks Joe! It was labeled as 4 ER for a bit, looks like it got fully reduced.

      I just added an update to the blurb to help y’all out.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Nick. Great work. You are a treasure. But if you say ‘San Fran’ again, we’re gonna be forced to disown you.

  5. Perfect Game says:

    Hey Nick! Do you have any concerns about Buehler due to no real spring training and his awful outing? Do you see him realistically going 160-180 IP this year? I’m a little concerned with my rotation, because I went with two young arms in Buehler and Flaherty who both may not rack up the counting stats, including QS.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      I can’t be that concerned after just one start from Buehler.

      He went 6-7 deep often last year, don’t see why 160-180 isn’t attainable after his volume through the postseason last year.

  6. Perfect Game says:

    I thought Freeland had 10K’s not 11 last night? Anyway, as a Freeland owner (at your recommendation) I’m happy with his first couple starts. The control was an issue for Freeland last night with 4BB, but just 7 baserunners that included those walks.

  7. Jazzy J says:

    Quick note: typo on Berrios. He had 5 K’s. Anything in particular that you like about what you are seeing from his change?

    How would you rank Caleb Smith, Paddack, Frankie Montas, and Matt Strahm?

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Nothing yet on Berrios – we’ve seen him like this only to fall down a few starts later.

      Paddack, Smith, Strahm, Montas.

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