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A Ray of Hope

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

(Photo by Adam Bow/Icon Sportswire)

I figured you’d want to hear about Robbie Ray’s first start back after going 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks against the Marlins and I’ve got you covered. It was a clear DLH here despite the Fish and Ray’s upside and if you benched him, don’t be sad. Feel happy that you can start him with confidence against the Cardinals, Padres, and Braves moving forward. He was limited to 83 pitches here – 33% CSW – and while he didn’t overpower with anything in particular, he showed off each of his pitches effectively, with four-seamers up and sliders/curveballs hugging the low and outside corner to left-handers. Great job avoiding the heart of the plate and things are looking up Ray. There may be a small window to deal for him now if an owner was looking for one good start (hey, the Marlins!) to sell, but I’m buying. Expect him easily Top 30 come Monday.

Let’s see how every other SP did Wednesday:

Chris Bassitt – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 5 BBs, 5 Ks. This is as clear of a Birthday Party as you’ll come across, with balloons, banners, and streamers littering the once beautiful green grass. Yeah, I love my parks, don’t ruin em with your parties. Jokes aside, please don’t be tempted in any way here.

Madison Bumgarner – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks. I’ve been questioning how to feel about Bumgarner this year and he’s shut me up a bit as he ate up his serving of Rockie Road. A standard 30 CSW as none of his pitches really shone in this one, so I’ll reserve any major appraisals until future starts. For now, clearly keep going.

Zach Eflin – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. There’s a lot of talk about Eflin now and it’s well deserved after handing the Yankees a goose egg and battling his way through the Cubs, Brewers twice, and Nationals prior. That’s a 1.76 ERA and 0.98 WHIP against legit teams, even with a 23% K rate to boot. The pitch that has surprised me in that time is his slide piece, which had 12/25 CSW here and pushed his overall whiff rate near 12% over this fine stretch. The increased velocity is still here – even hinting 95mph instead of 94mph in this stretch! – and with the Orioles, Mets, and Marlins ahead, you best believe I’m all for this. I originally questioned if he’d have a secondary pitch to carry him with the velocity and that slider is all I need to see to tell you to pick him up ASAP in 12-teamers.

Kyle Freeland – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. We talked about Freeland on the OTC last night (it’ll be up around noon today) and over the weekend in the Fireside and I still feel the same way. He’s a guy to confidently stream against average teams on the road and against below average at home – the Rocky Mountain Way. This one is a little surprising given the strength of the Giants offense and if you want to extend those teams a little to effectively turn him into a Toby, go ahead. I think you have a Grave Mistake in the making if you take it too far, though.

Mike Minor – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks. He was the new Call Boy and cruised against the Padres. There is a problem though, as my excitement for the stream was behind a jump in velocity in his previous two starts to 93-94 from 92mph. Last night’s mark? 92.8mph. Ehhhh. He also gets the Astros and Sawx next so I’m out already. Thanks for the lovely evening, maybe I’ll text you in July for the Orioles. Streaming Record: 48-26.

James Shields – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. Jimmy Bucklers is a true Werewolf as the moon was out last night against the Twins. That’s nice, hope he didn’t hurt anyone.

Zach Wheeler – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks. WHEELER! Whoa dude, that’s a 39/105 CSW as he threw a whopping 34 slide pieces in this one. It actually didn’t dominate batters (10/34 CSW!) but it set up his fastballs, which combined for 13 whiffs on 51 pitches. Velocity was back up to 96mph again and I’m a little excited. I’m still questioning if he’s found his proper secondary stuff yet – it’s more like he’s having success with his heater and the secondary stuff is good enough to make it all work instead of the 1-2-or-even-3 punches we normally see. Nevertheless, this incredible GIF from our very own Michael Augustine should show off how good Wheeler looked last night. It’s the Jays + Phils next and I’m totally game.

Shane Bieber – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. Bieber keeps cruising and I have only good things to say. Well, outside that Carrasco is most likely returning next week and the Indians haven’t decided if Bieber is sticking around yet. At the very least, Bieber should get his next start against the Royals and y’all know I’m all for that. 36 CSW with a 33% whiff rate on his slider, by the way.

Wei-Yin Chen – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. That’s some lovely Chen music, some of the best I’ve heard all year. Too bad this vinyl is going to be sold out next week. That…kinda works. Yeah, I know. I know.

Danny Duffy – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks. Come on Duffy, I just needed one start under 3 ER not back-to-back! You’re spoiling me. On the real, it was 36/95 CSW and that’s incredible as he dominated with four-seamers. Not elevated, but he owned the inside corner to right-handers, which is what I ask southpaws for all the time (it works the other way as well, you know). Does this demand a pickup? Definitely not as he gets the Tribe next. Maybe for the Twins + ChiSox after though. Maybe.

Mike Fiers – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. I’m amazed that Fiers is holding a 3.03 ERA in his last six starts. Sure, it’s a 4.20 SIERA as well and 41.3% hard contact, but that’s still amazing, right?

Luis Cessa – 3.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks. The Yanks elected to move Sabathia to Friday for the Sawx, meaning they called up Cessa to start poorly and throw him back to the minors. That went just about as expected for this Cup of Schmo.

Marco Estrada – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks. I didn’t expect Estrada to do much of anything against the Astros and this…isn’t much of anything. Just one strikeout? HAISTFMFWT?!

Wade LeBlanc – 5.2 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks. LeBlanc with the Philly against the Orioles is a little disappointing – especially with just 2 Ks as well. He was the prototypical Vargas Rule and it’s looking a lot like that moving forward. I’d avoid wherever possible.

Sean Newcomb – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. A VPQS with 6 Ks? Yeah okay Duke, I’ll take it.

Ivan Nova – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks. Our backup Call Boy gave you a PQS with a sub 1.00 WHIP. Of course just 2 Ks that make this close to a Grave Mistake, and in standard 5×5, this is kinda bad, but you’re only really chasing Nova in QS leagues, right?

Alex Wood – 7.0 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks. 30/93 CSW as Wood’s curveball worked well against the Cubs. Nothing spectacular, but I’ll certainly take this.

Luis Castillo – 4.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. Bleeeeegh. Just make it stop. Not that I expected great things against the Braves, but he’s moving to the 70s next week as his velocity never hit 97mph in this one. 15 CSW with 25 fouls in 76 pitches is exactly the kind of “hittable” that you don’t want. Maybe there’s a tweak he makes later in the year and it’s not out of the question. But if there’s something to help on the wire, you’re better off chasing that instead for now.

Jack Flaherty – 4.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. Huh. Flaherty had a misstep and we got a little too comfortable with his small sample of 8 starts since his return on May 15th. Brush it off, I don’t expect him to allow a pair of HRs each outing and we’ll be cool.

Rick Porcello – 5.2 IP, 4 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. You want better from Porcello and even with 33 CSW in 104, he got 1 whiff across 24 curveballs and sliders. That’s just not going to cut it. After his horrid four start stretch in May, he’s boasting a 3.35 ERA with a 1.12 WHIP, 21% K rate, 8% BB rate and that seems somewhat right. I’d put him closer to 3.60 and a 1.20 WHIP with that 21% K rate and voila, that’s Porcello. That’s close to Spiderman…

Clayton Richard – 7.0 IP, 4 ER, 10 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. I got a good amount of comments asking why I left the wrong Clayton off The List on Monday. This. This is why he doesn’t get my love. There just isn’t enough upside here.

Brent Suter – 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. On one hand, you have a 1.17 WHIP and six Ks. That works. 4 ER against the Royals? Yeah…not so much. This is kinda who Suter is, though, and he’ll be hanging around the 2-4 ER scene like it’s where he thinks the cool kids chill. Why doesn’t he just do what he wants to do? I don’t know man. I don’t know.

Alex Cobb – 4.2 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 3 BBs, 1 Ks. Normally I like roasted Cobb. Now I just feel sad about it.

Kyle Gibson – 7.0 IP, 5 ER, 11 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks. Come on Gibson, this was against the ChiSox. Yes I’m happy I’m able to salvage this start with seven strikeouts, but getting Singled Out while allowing two solo shots is really killing us. He gets the Brewers, Orioles, and Rays next and I’m all for it, just…don’t do this.

Andrew Heaney – 3.1 IP, 6 ER, 8 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks. Let’s talk. On one hand, I don’t think I’d be starting guys outside of the Top 20 against the Red Sox – maybe 25 – at the moment, but Heaney is at #26 and that will change. I’ve described my love for Heaney simply: “He’s a command guy that is now getting whiffs.” The problem with this is that, well, he’s not getting whiffs lately. Each of his last four starts have come with a sub 10% whiff rate after boasting a 12% mark across his first ten starts – those opponents included NYY twice, Coors, and Astros as well. What I’m seeing is his changeup falter plenty, getting shoved out of his arsenal for overall ineffectiveness. Just six thrown last night making for his second in three games with a sub 10% mark – over 20% in the previous 11 starts. He gets the Mariners + Dodgers twice to end the first half and while I’m not saying he’ll falter all the way through and I can’t put too much stock in a terrible night against the Sawx, I can say you’re going to see Heaney possibly in the mid-40s next week. My instinct is this is a rough patch, not a calibration. Expect much better in the second half.

Kyle Hendricks – 2.2 IP, 6 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks. Hooo boy. Today was a tough roundup to write. Too many things to talk about and I know I’m going to be ranting a lot on the First Pitch Podcast later. With Hendricks, yes he’s droppable, but you might want to wait a start as he gets the ChiSox next. We’ve talked about the inevitable collapse with his ridiculously low fastball velocity and now that his feel is diminishing even slightly, he gets punished more than others. It’s too bad, but he has to take a tumble on Monday, even with a solid ChiSox matchup.

Dallas Keuchel – 5.1 IP, 6 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks. Keuchel, dude. Should I be giving him the TIARA? I have to think so and unless he hits the DL I can’t tell you to flat out drop him. It’s weird, I know, but with these tried-and-true veteran types, you have to give them a little extra wiggle room for them to make the adjustment and fix their flaws as the season progresses. Remember, we still have half the season to go. He’s at #44 now, I imagine something hovering 50 sounds about right.

Today’s Streamer

Chris Stratton vs. Colorado Rockies – I’m limited to four choices – Lucas Giolito vs. Twins (nope), Trevor Richards vs. Diamondbacks (ya right), and Anthony Desclafani vs. Brewers (maybe). I’m going with the best matchup as the Rockies are poor on the road over Disco, but it’s close.

Tomorrow’s Streamer

Felix Pena vs. Baltimore Orioles – I kinda dug his shtick last time out, this is the Orioles, and I don’t love the other options. It’s between Pena and Tyler Anderson against the Dodgers, and I don’t blame you for rolling with Anderson instead.

Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer

Matt Boyd vs. Toronto Blue Jays – Nothing is jumping out at me – Dereck Rodriguez gets the Diamondbacks, blegh – so I’ll go with Boyd and hate myself.

Game of the Day

Sean Manaea vs. Michael Fulmer – It’s Nola Day (HND!) but you know there’s a little more intrigue from me with these two guys.

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.

  • Max says:

    Is Castillo keepable in a 10 team keep 12 league? Beginning to wonder if the payoff is worth the investment.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Unless he has a fantastic second half (unlikely), Castillo is not a Top 120 pick entering 2019.

      • Jim says:

        I’m keeping Castillo in my 12 team keeper league (we can keep 15) on a 32 player roster. My love for him from last year is too strong. (Nick shared the love but perhaps its fading…) I am also a Reds fan sooooo, maybe I’m a bit off?

  • Robert says:

    please put eflin in your top 80

  • JohnnyRyall says:

    Any idea when Kingham can expect to come up? Kuhl’s arm didnt’ look good

    • Nick Pollack says:

      My guess is for Kuhl’s next start. Won’t get the call until that day as I’m sure if they are moving Kuhl to the DL, they’ll get IF or RP help first.

      This is all assuming Kuhl is destined for an extended DL stint.

  • J says:

    Why do you keep referring to the Giants as such a strong offense? They are 20th in runs, 14th in OBP, 14th in SLG, 14th in wRC+ and 17th in wOBA.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Interesting, I hadn’t done a re-calibration of them in the past week or so and they’ve fallen to 15th in wOBA in the last 30 days as it’s been a horrid two-weeks for the offense.

      Thanks! I’ll stop doing it.

  • Brandon says:

    Nick, Love the write up on Ray as I have been very excited since last night to read it! And I don’t feel bad about benching him….

    Of these guys available on my wire, would you drop Castillo for any of them?

    Jonathan Loaisiga, Joe Musgrove, Marco Estrada, or Trevor Cahill (have a DL spot open)

    Current rotation for reference: Castillo, Ray, Nola, deGrom, Paxton, Price, Mikolas, and Kingham (NA spot).

    I’ve also had some issues with hitting the past couple of weeks so not sure if its worth chasing arms or dropping some of my bats.

    Bats: Altuve, Stanton, Carpenter, Kris Bryant, Mazara, Smoak, Dickerson, Frazier, Semien, Cron, Teoscar, Zunino

    Thanks as always and looking forward to your thoughts.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      I don’t think those waiver wire options help much in the short term – Loaisiga gets the Braves next and I’m questionable there – so I’d hold Castillo regarding arms.

      For bats…I can understand grabbing a solid flier on the wire instead of Castillo.

  • Kyle says:

    Eflin or Skaggs

  • Rick says:

    Junis has had 4 bad starts in a row (despite K’s). Would you swap him for Eovaldi in a 12 teamer at this point or is it a bit. A wash still? Thanks!

  • Erik Estrada says:

    Flaherty, Heaney Godley, Bundy
    I have to drop one– which one?
    thx…………..

  • Taylor says:

    Pick two ROS:

    E.Santana, Eovaldi, Wheeler, Duffy, S.Gray, Estrada, Matz, Musgrove

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Wheeler and Eovaldi.

      Gotta go short term with these names, great short term schedule for Eovaldi.

  • Paul says:

    If you had to choose one:
    Pivetta v. WSH
    or
    Mikolas v. ATL

    Thanks, Nick!

  • Vinny says:

    Hey Nick,

    I’m dying for your input on this one. For the back-end of my rotation do I hold stroman or grab loaisiga?

  • Effem says:

    Who would take Keuchel’s spot if he hit the DL?

  • Sam says:

    Would u trade springer and r Lopez for ed Rosario and fulmer ?

  • ScubaSteve says:

    Finally dropping Castillo. Looking at either Arrieta who was recently dropped or riding the Elfin hot streak. Both are available as FA. Who would you choose? I’m in a good spot in my league to hopefully make playoffs so I’m looking more long term.

  • Brandon says:

    Nick, Alcantara getting the call tomorrow. I know you aren’t crazy about debuts. What do you think here? Even worth adding and and not starting?

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