Not a Cueto Pie Anymore
There are a handful of pitchers inside the Top 20 that don’t bring the elite strikeout upside like their peers, but they have a higher expectation to go deeper into games and stabilize your ratios week-to-week. Johnny Cueto was supposed to be one of those guys this year, but after last night’s 6.0 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks he’s now holding a 4.50 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP while killing your soul. The K/BB numbers seem fine – though he is carrying a 2.48 BB/9 that is his highest mark since 2013 but still super good – and the problem seems to be hinged on his Four-Seamer, which holds a -0.5 pVal after a trio of double digit marks in the last three seasons. Its whiff rate is down from 9.7% to just 5.6% this year, with an eight point increase in Z-Contact (contact on pitches inside the zone), while allowing a monstrous ISO of .262 off the pitch, which explains the massive hard contact jump from 27.2% in 2016 to 35.8% this season (and a drop in soft contact from 19.4% to just 14.2% so far!). For a finesse guy like Cueto, seeing his Fastball command dip is a bit concerning as it is typically the rock that allows him to build the rest of his arsenal. His xFIP of 3.78 isn’t too far off from last year’s 3.42 mark, so there’s a chance this is just that LOB rate doing annoying things, but that bump in hard contact is making me really scared right now. I wouldn’t be buying Cueto right now unless I’m selling an expendable piece.
Let’s see how every other SP did yesterday:
Christian Bergman – 7.1 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 9 Ks. This was the first win as a starter for Bregman since 2014. I’m happy the Mariners could find something to be happy about. They need it. And no, this isn’t the next Godley, Cahill, etc.
Clayton Kershaw – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks. Aces gonna ace. How surprised you are Kershaw performed his well is exactly why he’s still #1.
Jhoulys Chacin – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks. Chacin will do well when Jhoulyst expect it.
Gerrit Cole – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. I’ll take it Cole, though I feel like a broken record when I say I want to get super pumped about you and then I see three Ks and I struggle to get that hype.
Lance McCullers – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. Even with the low strikeout total, I’m totally happy here with superb ERA/WHIP numbers. Just stay healthy McCullers, don’t get SPOIL’D like the rest of em.
Matt Garza – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. Um…Garza has a 2.43 ERA now with a 6.67 K/9 and 1.82 BB/9 across his first five starts. Okay, they were against the Padres, Mets, Pirates, Reds, and Braves, but I sure don’t want to even consider Garza as a streamer. I think there’s too much risk here overall – only one game above 4 Ks, 3/5 starts with a 4.00+ xFIP, etc. so don’t chase this one.
Mike Leake – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks. That’s a 2.03 ERA now with a 3.61 xFIP. The .244 BABIP will rise, the 86.5% is stupid high, and he’s only striking out 6.24 per nine. So you’re making a Three-Fists Compromise each start for someone that I don’t think will be able to keep it up anywhere close to what he’s doing now. Keep riding him until it stops, but don’t be shocked when he hits the wall.
Alex Cobb – 7.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks. Remember that super good Changeup Cobb used to throw? Yeah, that’s not around anymore. What, like a new grip? No, I mean he’s completely stopped throwing his Changeup over the last two starts. Okay that’s not true, PitchF/x is now labeling it as a Splitter – which is good since that’s what his old Changeup acted like – but he’s thrown it a combined 3.6% over the last two starts, which is essentially abandoning it all together for more Fastballs and a touch more breaking balls. I think it was the way to go given how poor his Changeup has been and it’s possible this can spell better times ahead. Not my favorite flier out there, but I’m okay throwing him out there against the Angels next time out.
Andrew Cashner – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks. Meh, I need more if I’m suddenly going to start rostering Cashner.
Kyle Hendricks – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. Another pedestrian outing from Hendricks. It’s not a stud outing, it’s not a bad outing, it’s just there. And that’s kinda how I feel about Hendricks this year in one sentence.
Jose Urena – 5.2 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. Jose, not for me, by the dawn’s Buehrle light. That’s pushing it Nick. You’re pushing it if you’re starting Urena.
Matt Shoemaker – 6.1 IP, 3 ER, 9 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks. The strikeouts are all part of the Shoemaker plan, the WHIP and ERA are not. Keep rolling with this one.
Michael Pineda – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. So it’s not amazing but it isn’t a major blowup either? Just trying to stay positive as Pineda holds an ERA under 3.50 this year.
Mike Foltynewicz – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks. Getting just one strikeout from Folty is like going to Six Flags and not riding a roller coaster.
Michael Fulmer – 7.0 IP, 3 ER, 10 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks. Yet another Quality Start from Fulmer as he’s earned one in every start this year. Yeah, the K rate isn’t nearly where you want it to be at the ERA/WHIP aren’t all too good from this outing, but this is Fulmer at his worst for the most part and he’s dang good at his best. Still underrated in my book.
Jesse Hahn – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. I think his command isn’t at the point it needs to for you to trust Hahn enough for a roster spot. Not to mention, that A’s outfield is doing him zero favors and certainly dented this stat line.
Jacob Turner – 5.1 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 1 Ks. Nothing says future success quite like a 0.25 K/BB, you know?
Matt Harvey – 5.1 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 4 BBs, 5 Ks. I don’t think you should be expecting Harvey to turn this around anytime soon.
Patrick Corbin – 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 9 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. I wanted to buy into a Corbin resurgence, but this sure isn’t helping. They’re the Mets for heaven’s sake!
Rick Porcello – 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 9 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks. Come on Porcello, I know you had a rocky start in this game then settled down, but next time can we do it without the 2.00 WHIP? k thx.
Joe Biagini – 4.0 IP, 5 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. We talked about Biagini in the podcast and how we were reacting so strongly after 9.0 innings as a starter. It wasn’t a bad flier to take, but we knew this didn’t have the same weight as someone like Karns, Wood, etc. You can drop him now. Streamer Record 17.5-15-6.
Miguel Gonzalez – 5.2 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 5 BBs, 2 Ks. Miguel…no.
Ubaldo Jimenez – 5.0 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks. Like you expected anything different from Ubaldo.
Jason Vargas – 4.0 IP, 6 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. Ahhhh, there’s the Vargas we know and hate. It took a while for the regression goons to find Vargas’ place, but they gave him some good ole rhetoric to make Vargas reconsider the start he’s had. This outing was against the Yankees, the hottest offense in the game right now, and his next start is…against the Yankees. Womp womp.
Scott Feldman – 2.2 IP, 5 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks. Feldman Schmeldman. I labeled him as a TEEs and while pitching against the Cubs will often inflate ERAs, it was bound to happen anyway. Just stay away here.
Josh Tomlin – 2.1 IP, 6 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks. When Tomlin had a 3.02 ERA in 2015, it came with a 4.43 FIP. Now he has a 6.86 ERA with a 3.33 xFIP. WHO IS THE REAL TOMLIN? Somewhere in the middle. I think he’s a 4.00+ ERA guy with a 6.50 K/9 and elite walk rate. Meh.
Zach Eflin – 4.0 IP, 7 ER, 11 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks. Any hope we had of Eflin being a streamer is pretty much out the window now as he got lit up by the Rangers.
Nate Karns vs Minnesota Twins – Because he’s somehow still owned in just 25% of leagues, I’m allowed to call Karns a streamer. Probably the last time I will, but here we are. If you need another option, I’d consider Eddie Butler against the but I’m not loving that.