Back To Hibernation

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Monday.

Y’all know how I can get at times. I see potential in an arm and I get excited when they get a chance for an opportunity. In this shortened season, that plan is fragile with less time for pitchers to spread their wings, get their footing, and return value with enough runway. Pitchers with this label include Mike Clevinger in his early years and John Means this season, and today we’re talking about another recent example in Jordan Montgomery, who returned another questionable and short outing with 3.1 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 21% CSW against the Blue Jays. Blegh.

I’ve always had a soft spot for The BearHe has an array of secondary pitches that have previously missed bats each over 15% of the time and while his changeup is doing that – nearly 25%! – his slider and curveball haven’t been what we hoped for. Meanwhile, the excitement I got from a full tick jump in velocity hasn’t matched with strong command. He really does need those breakers to come back into play as his changeup can only do so much heavy lifting.

On one hand, I do think Montgomery does shape into a mid 3s ERA pitcher that hints a 25% strikeout rate, but with such a short season left, I wonder if enduring a HAISTFMFWT?! start or two will be worth it. There’s a part of me that wants to still start him over the weekend against Baltimore, but given a decent amount of streaming options, you should heavily consider sending him back to the wire. We’ll meet again in 2021.

 

Let’s see how every other SP did Monday:

 

Dinelson Lamet vs COL (ND) – 7.2 IP, 0 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 11 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 36% CSW. Aces gonna ace and earn a King Cole59% sliders in this one for 38% CSW is hilarious in the best way, with the pitch scattered all across the strike zone because of course it is, he’s Professor Chaos. His fastball avoided the center of the plate incredibly well and he was served a lovely helping of Rockie Road and engulfed it with a smile on his face. Let’s hope he keeps it up against the Giants next.

Max Scherzer vs TB (W) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 33% CSW. Aces gonna ace. It was nice to see some solid changeups here, even if he only featured it 13% of the time. His cutter got a ton of strikes, his fastball wasn’t so hittable, and the secondary stuff did the rest with 10/38 whiffs between them. I still have the feeling that Scherzer is a step down from the current trio in Tier 1, though, and I can see all of the debates this winter about Scherzer’s spot in SP rankings. I hate to say it, but I think I’m going to be on the lower end – his fastball is simply not as overpowering as the others, nor does he have that one singular pitch that flat out destroys. Yes, his slider is returning a stupid high SwStr rate, but he threw it just 10 times in this one. That’s not quite right. How can you be so negative after such a great start? Because you know me, I want that feeling where my infatuation is too much to handle. Where I sing their name to the clouds above. I can sense the tension around Scherzer and I know I’m not the only one.

Chris Bassitt vs HOU (W) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 24% CSW. His sinker is still the #1 CSW sinker out there with a 35% mark here, and it always comes down to his secondary stuff. Today, his cutter earned outs as it landed glove-side plenty, while his curveball earned some needed strikes. I’m not sure it’ll happen often, though, and Bassitt is a straight-up Toby these days. Be careful and take calculated risks. I think he got a bit lucky here against the Astros.

Kyle Freeland @ SD (ND) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 29% CSW. Hey, solid stuff Freeland! He was sitting 92/93 mph here – great! – while his slider and curveball did most of the secondary work. His changeup was surprisingly distant with just five thrown, but it’s good to see his slider working well enough to make it work. This wasn’t one of those “oh snap, he’s dope” kind of starts and it’s not enough for me to take a change hosting the Angels next in Coors.

Kyle Hendricks vs STL (W) – 8.0 IP, 1 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 34% CSW. Atta boy Hendricks. It didn’t come with the strikeouts you’d want, but it’s good to see him give you the ratio floor you rostered him for. A bit surprising to see the low punchout count with 15 whiffs and 34% CSW, but whatever, it’s Odenkirk all good man.

Zach Plesac vs KC (W) – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 27% CSW. I wonder how people will treat Plesac this off-season. Me? I’m all for it. His slider has taken the step forward with a near seven-point jump in SwStr rate to 24%, his changeup is stupid good inside the zone and he even has his curveball finding the zone often for free strikes. Not to mention, the Indians are famous for letting their starters go long, including Plesac tossing 96 pitches and seven frames here. Sign. Me. Up. It all depends on his ADP, of course, but I get a feeling people will call it small sample size, quote his small drop in velocity, and let him fall to ~#40th SP. That works for me.

Kevin Gausman vs ARI (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 9 Ks – 20 Whiffs, 33% CSW. Oh Gausman, look at you. After a gauntlet of opponents, you were finally served the Diamondbacks and what do you do? Casually earned a Gallows Pole and dominate. Not his best fastball game we’ve seen, featuring just 94 mph velocity and not a ton of fastballs finding the top of the zone, but his splitter did wonderful things – 14/51 whiffs – and he powered through six strong innings. Back to the gauntlet now with the Padres next and I’m inclined to let him fly. I just love where he’s at.

Ian Anderson vs MIA (ND) – 3.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 4 BBs, 4 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 27% CSW. This wasn’t Anderson’s day. Very disappointing coming against the Marlins, but he needed 83 pitches for just nine outs as his fastball sat thigh-high and he couldn’t find the release point for both his curveball and changeup, leading to both pitches frequently floating high or getting spiked in the dirt. I see it as more of a blip than a new standard and keep Anderson in your lineup over the weekend against the Nationals.

Marco Gonzales vs TEX (W) – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 32% CSW. So we’re just a few weeks from the end of the year and Gonzales has a 3.02 ERA with a 0.87 WHIP, 24% strikeout rate, 2% walk rate, and five Wins. What. I’m in shock that he earned seven whiffs on his 88 mph sinker in this one, but then again, the Rangers are not the prized offense of the league. He gets the Athletics next and I know he’s been cruising, but y’all know you have reservations there. This may just be a season-long Vargas Rule ultimately and I’ll tell you now that you won’t see Gonzo inside many Top 50 SP for 2021, if any.

Michael Pineda vs DET (W) – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 20% CSW. Look at this. 20% CSW as he earned just 7/104 called strikes. He did the BSB super well here with high heaters and low sliders as the Tigers just couldn’t handle his fastball like you think they would at 90/91 mph. Pineda gets the Indians next and that’s another start I’d take, but remember, he’s volatile. There’s more risk there than it would seem.

Cristian Javier @ OAK (L) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 24% CSW. I feel like I’m waiting for that one start where Javier actually holds a 93/94 mph fastball the entire way while earning double-digit whiffs with his excellent breaker. Here? 91/92 mph with 2/29 whiffs on his slider. Now with the Dodgers next, I’m not holding on here.

Zack Wheeler @ NYM (ND) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 29% CSW. It’s good to see 5/15 whiffs on his slider, but it’s still the east-west approach that makes me think there’s more to untap. Wheeler’s been remarkably solid through the year, though, and I’ll take 7 Ks from a guy that flirts with HAISTFMFWT?! way too often. It really is a fantastic four-seamer.

Jose Urena @ ATL (ND) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 23% CSW. Hey, Urena’s back! And it’s…something. He peppered sinkers arm-side and it didn’t get the fouls he wanted nor the outs. His slider earned 2/34 whiffs and yeah, if you trust Jose, Urena boatload of trouble. Man, that’s been a while.

Charlie Morton @ WSH (L) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 26% CSW. We’re up to 57 pitches now and I’m amazed Morton was able to turn that into five frames. A 5.40 ERA, sure, but a 1.00 WHIP is cool. It’s 93/94 mph on heaters and what you’re really doing is holding him for a few starts down the road, not the next one as that’s ~65/70 pitches, and you’ll be lucky to get five innings again, and what’s the point? Consider Morton as an option to swap with something else if you need it.

Johan Oviedo @ CHC (L) – 4.2 IP, 3 ER, 8 Hits, 3 BBs, 1 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 21% CSW. Blegh. Not that I expected much of anything from Oviedo, I just want him to do better, you know? He has a decent repertoire, but there’s a lot left to harness to prevent a HAISTFMFWT?! on a given night.

Brad Keller @ CLE (L) – 6.2 IP, 4 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 19% CSW. Keller, what is this? Your breaker isn’t as good, your fastball velocity has continued to fall – now just 92.2 mph! – and you fanned just one batter. HAISTFMFWT?! We’re out. So very out.

Zac Gallen @ SF (L) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 35% CSW. Noooooo. He was looking like the ace we love through the first five frames, then allowed six straight base-runners via two walks and four singles and he’s lucky to have just 4 ER to his name. Yes, he had one baserunner through five frames. So it’s a bit of Singled Out here and this start should do nothing toward your future assessment toward Gallen. He’s still dope.

Michael Fulmer @ MIN (L) – 2.1 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 0 Ks – 0 Whiffs, 15% CSW. It’s painful every time I see Fulmer inside these roundups. Pain. He’s not close to the man I feel for years ago.

Hyun Jin Ryu vs NYY (ND) – 5.0 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 28% CSW. Oh no. His changeup did the normal elite things, but his curveball failed to earn strikes while his four-seamer earned just 1/19 CSW. Yikes. I think it was one of those days and not a death sentence, especially considering he avoided the middle of the zone often and that changeup was still fantastic. Brush it off.

David Peterson vs PHI (ND) – 2.0 IP, 5 ER, 3 Hits, 4 BBs, 3 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 31% CSW. Blegh. Peterson was a decent streamer earlier on, but after his shoulder injury, he just hasn’t been the same. You could say he Petered out. Please leave. Already got my hat.

Kolby Allard @ SEA (L) – 3.2 IP, 8 ER, 5 Hits, 4 BBs, 5 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 26% CSW. Oh Dralla, you flipped everything upside down from your last start. I feel for the rare few that trusted this against the Mariners, just don’t fall for it again.

 

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.

 

 

Tyler Mahle vs. Chicago Cubs – I like where he’s at and would be running this wherever I could.

 

Tomorrow’s Streamer

 

Deivi Garcia vs. Toronto Blue Jays – He’s better than his last start and deserves your love.

 

Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer

 

Brady Singer vs. Cleveland Indians – So it’s really only Singer or Skubal vs. the Cardinals (no way I’m trusting Arrieta vs. Miami) and I guess I’ll go with Singer’s stuff messing around with the Indians after five straight tough matchups against the Twins and White Sox.

 

Game of the Day

 

 

Lance Lynn vs. Andrew Heaney – Can Heaney continue in a great Rangers matchup? Can Lynn pound six quality frames once again?

 

(Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire)

Nick Pollack

Founder of Pitcher List. Worked with MSG, FanGraphs, CBS Sports, and Washington Post. Former pitching coach and Brandeis alum. Wants every pitcher to be dope.

3 responses to “Back To Hibernation”

  1. Avatar Josh says:

    I was looking at Lamet’s game log from yesterday on bbref and saw that he had 27 called strikes. That seems insanely high — do you know how often pitchers get a number like that? Thanks!

    • Avatar theKraken says:

      Strikes are weird thing. It takes a hitter no not swing at a strike. It takes an umpire to call a strike. It also takes a hitter not to put a strike in play. I am sure that swings and strikes hold some useful information but a weird number was probably accompanied by many weird factors.

  2. Avatar theKraken says:

    Unfortunately Scherzer’s best days are behind him. He had one of the best SP careers of all-time although it flies under the radar. He’s still an ace, but not like he was. You know I say this all the time, but those years that should have separated him toward the top of the HOF pitchers were overlooked trying to find the next new guy.

    The way they kept running Peterson out there was just reckless. He was struggling the whole way in his first start following a demotion to the pen, following a shutdown due to a throwing shoulder injury.

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