It’s Time To Be Frankie

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Saturday.

Frankie Montas. This isn’t what I hoped for you. In his third start after getting skipped with back tightness, he went 3.1 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 29% CSW including a frustrating first frame bomb to Kyle TuckerThis isn’t what we want. Like at all.

I’ll say this. There’s clearly something wrong. Maybe it is that injury after all, I had it chalked up to being out of rhythm but the most obvious answer is a lingering injury at play. His velocity fell to 95/96 mph here – 96/97 last year – though that first start after the injury was closer to 97 mph than we’d seen all year. Weird.

The major issue is command, as his splitter was gone in this one, while his four-seamer struggled to hit spots across this one. It adds up to an arm you just can’t risk starting at this point and one I imagine the A’s will consider putting on the IL to figure out the issue. I wouldn’t say he’s a flat out drop as the ceiling is massive, but if you can’t wait two weeks or so for Montas to recover – there are only four weeks left! – then yeah, if there’s something else that helps you on the wire, I understand the move.

 

Let’s see how every other SP did Saturday:

 

J.A. Happ vs NYM (ND) – 7.1 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 30% CSW. Look at Happ go! After being all kinds of disappointing to start the year, he’s returned 13 IP of just 1 ER in his last two starts against the Sawx and Mets. He established high four-seamers, got his changeup and sinker down, and avoided the heart of the plate. He gets the Orioles next and it’s still risky but hey, this could be a Vargas Rule

Antonio Senzatela vs SD (ND) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 33% CSW. No way, it’s back?! This was inside of Coors against the hot Padres offense and his slider was unreal. Like 54% CSW across 28 thrown. He did a fantastic job keeping the pitch low and even elevated a bunch of four-seamers along the way. Now, he did get a fair amount of luck to go seven frames with 0 ER and just three punchouts and now he has to get the Dodgers next. I’d call it a Birthday Party if he hadn’t done this a few times already, but it really does have that feel, you know? Even with the dopest of dope sliders, he still just got three strikeouts. Let that sink in.

Yu Darvish @ CIN (W) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 34% CSW. Aces gonna ace. He throws everything all of it works. Sliders are may back on the menu with 26 thrown here and mixed with cutters, it was 2/3 of everything he threw, saving nasty sinkers and four-seamers when he needed them. You have to be a Darvish fan now.

Carlos Carrasco @ STL (ND) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 32% CSW. Ayyy there we go! His slider was way better in this one and a 94.2 mph is the hardest we’ve seen him throw all year. Everything is just fine as we take the TIARA off and bow, whispering under our breath please can your changeup in order though. Start him without fear.

Taijuan Walker vs BAL (W) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 22% CSW. It was his first start for the Jays and he certainly made their front office look smart with that goose egg in the ER column. I’m still not loving his secondary stuff a whole lot, but he was embracing elevation on his four-seamer a decent amount, leading to 33% CSW. He’s just a streamer to me and I think I sit out his next start against the Red Sox.

Josh Fleming @ MIA (W) – 5.1 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 22% CSW. Whoa. Look at Fleming’s plot from yesterday. That’s some unreal pitch separation…one you’d expect the opposite of with fastballs normally up and sliders normally down. So wild. With this precision of both pitches, it makes me wonder if there’s more to unlock from Fleming as he could make adjustments to truly squeeze out the most of his pitches. Likely not, though, and I think this is a deep streaming play as he can now go 80+ pitches and less of legit 12-teamer consideration.

Matt Wisler @ DET (ND) – 1.2 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 32% CSW. I can’t help but smile each time as I see Wisler throw just five fastballs in 41 pitches, but yeah, he’s just a reliever that happens to get starts these days.

Zach Eflin vs ATL (W) – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 8 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 33% CSW. So this is weird. Eflin, the guy who has been a sinker/slider arm through the year, featured 19/83 curveballs that carried a 53% CSW. HOT DANG. He’s been working on the pitch for a while and it finally clicked yesterday, throwing it more aggressively than as a “show-me” offering. There could be something there and it certainly changes my view of Eflin as that fastball/sweeper approach just wasn’t enough for me to think of him as a legit 12-teamer arm. I’m not sure this will stick, though. He’s been trying to get his curveball going for a bit and it finally worked in this one. Doesn’t mean it’ll be there next time. He’s worth the gamble against the Nationals, though, as it’s really just Turner and Soto to be afraid of there. Let me see that dope curveball again!

Lance McCullers vs OAK (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 34% CSW. This is a wonderful line, though, I’d love for McCullers to do more at the top of the zone and when I mean more I mean anything. He avoided the top third of the strikezone completely. Changeups were a bit sporadic as well, with his curveball doing everything and sinkers hitting the edges. I’ll take it, certainly, I do wonder if there’s more development, though, or if we’ll have to consider McCullers a Cherry Bomb because of everything hinging on his curveball carrying the weight.

Matthew Boyd vs MIN (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 34% CSW. I know what you’re thinking. Nick, he just earned a King Cole! Surely he’s fixed now! I really wish I could be a full on Boyd Boy again, I really do. Boyd was able to keep his four-seamer upstairs at 91/92, but he got his success from changeups again, earning 41% CSW across 17 thrown. His slider? 1/18 whiffs. Sure, four called strikes too, but if you want me to get excited for Boyd, it’s his slider being dope and leaning on that changeup. I need both in order to be confident this is anything more than a Cherry BombAnd guess what, he gets the Twins next. I’m not buying in there.

Dylan Bundy vs SEA (W) – 5.1 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 29% CSW. Soooo Bundy was averaging under 90 mph in this one, dropping to 86-88 mph in his final frame. Not what you want to see in the slightest. His changeup was excellent, his slider was not – 14% CSW?! Seriously?! – and he got more called strikes with curveballs. So yeah, this was weird. It felt a little like the wheels were coming off, but as long as the changeup is solid and he has at least one breaker working without relying 50% on fastballs, we’re fine. Let’s hope that velocity drop isn’t back next time (for the Angels? Maybe someone else?) and that slider does its magical stuff again.

Jack Flaherty vs CLE (ND) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 34% CSW. Okay, we’re up to 84 pitches now and that returned five frames. Hopefully he’s all good to go now and we should be happy with that. His slider returned 52% CSW in 21 thrown (hot dang!) and his heater pounded the zone effectively. We’re good.

Dylan Cease vs KC (ND) – 4.1 IP, 1 ER, 1 Hits, 6 BBs, 5 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 31% CSW. His slider was excellent in this one with a 42% CSW and he got his four-seamer up, but man was he wild glove-side. He barely went arm-side and that kind of command is what separates the stuff guys from the elite guys. I just can’t see it happening soon enough for me to really jump back on Cease.

Robert Gsellman @ NYY (ND) – 4.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 28% CSW. He made the most of a 60 pitch limit as he cruised through four frames. I think some will see the IP and think 5-6 are attainable as soon as next time and that doesn’t sit right with me. It’s a tarp! I’m dyslexic, sue me. Anyway, I’m still on the outside with Gsellman as I don’t think there’s quite enough in that repertoire to get me hyped even when he is throwing 85+ pitches.

Michel Baez @ COL (ND) – 2.1 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 29% CSW. This was a bullpen game for the Padres with Adrian Morejon heading to the IL. We did get to see 35 pitches of Patino, though, that was cool.

Pablo Lopez vs TB (L) – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 24% CSW. I know it’s not the CSW you want, but he was earning grounders galore with his changeup and sinker, leading to many quick outs and the ability to go seven strong. He had a wonderful moment shaking off four pitch calls to land on his curveball – his clear fifth pitch – for a surprise 0-2 pitch to Joey Wendle that fell in for strike three. So satisfying. Once again, his changeup didn’t get the whiffs we saw early on, though, with just 3/32 on the pitch, bringing the once 30% SwStr slow ball down to 20% now for the season. It’s still great and paired with a well-commanded fastball + a new cutter, PabLo is very much worth your starts.

JT Brubaker @ MIL (ND) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 27% CSW. Hey, it worked! Streaming Record: 19-18. It’s not ultra sexy, but Brubaker threw solid sinkers and good sliders and that’s all he needed to against the Brewers. However, don’t get cocky kid. I’m not sure he can do this against the Cubs next.

Tarik Skubal vs MIN (W) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 23% CSWSo five frames is cool and he got the Twins so I won’t be harsh or anything, but if you’re wondering if this looked like the Skubal we’re dreaming of, it wasn’t. Lots of middle-high heaters, a slider that was decent but not well commanded, and that curveball just isn’t the major pitch I want it to be. We’re still far away here.

Trevor Cahill @ ARI (ND) – 3.1 IP, 2 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 36% CSW. Look at that CSW! He only lasted 64 pitches though, leaving the game with hip discomfort. Womp womp. I hope he’s alright, but that likely closes the book on us considering Cahill for the season.

Lance Lynn vs LAD (L) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks – 19 Whiffs, 32% CSW. Aces gonna ace. Lynn is unreal. 110 pitches in this one as one of the few true workhorses left, earning 16 whiffs on incessant four-seamers, helping him earn a Gallows Pole. Sure, 1/3 of his pitches came from cutters or curveballs, but those were just to keep them somewhat honest. It’s an annoying PQS but it’s the Dodgers and you got a Quality Start + six strikeouts. Don’t you lose faith in Lynn, now.

Trevor Bauer vs CHC (L) – 5.1 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 29% CSW. He needed 112 pitches to get pulled in the sixth and we’re seeing a bit of that Cherry Bomb nature we talked about before. His slider and curve aren’t get the bites his wants on the pitch (4/27 SwStr) but I think you shouldn’t worry in the slightest about Bauer. He’s still a must start, of course.

Brady Singer @ CWS (ND) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 33% CSW. Singer finally had a break from the Twins and was served a helping of the lumberbats of the ChiSox. He did fine, but until that schedule eases up – it’s like the ChiSox again this week – I have no interest.

Zack Greinke vs OAK (W) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 31% CSW. Aces gonna ace. Fine, it’s a blegh ERA, but you got everything else you wanted. Be happy that you can trust Greinke to provide each week and move on with life. There’s so much out there to take advantage of, don’t let one earned run take you down.

Josh Tomlin @ PHI (L) – 4.1 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 20% CSW. Oh hey, it’s Tomlin. Hey Nick! Just look down….just look down….NICK! HI. Ohhhh, Tomlin! How are….things? Great, I was actually just…why are you walking so fast? I’m sorry, I’m just so busy, hey, is that a strikeout over there? WHAT WHERE?! Hey Nick, you’ve walked so far away, okay, I guess I’ll see you later! “HAISFMFWT?!” I mutter, confident he can’t hear me anymore.

Ross Stripling @ TEX (ND) – 4.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 33% CSW. Sigh. I wonder if Walker Buehler hadn’t hit the IL, we’d have seen Gonsolin start this game instead of Stripling. There’s a chance the Dodgers make a move at the deadline and move Stripling to the pen as it’s just not going his way. 0/27 whiffs on curveballs isn’t the Stripling we dream of.

Tejay Antone vs CHC (ND) – 4.0 IP, 3 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 30% CSW. He was pumping 96 mph sinkers with a solid slider and curveball and you’re wondering if there’s something legit here. Kinda? I think that sinker is pretty meh despite the velocity – 14% CSW! – but I liked the curveball for a strike and his slider did a ton of work here for 37% CSW. I wonder how much the Reds will actually use him, though, and for now, we need to sit this one out. Someone to keep an eye on, though.

Chris Mazza vs WSH (ND) – 2.1 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 23% CSW. I’m sure there’s someone out there who wanted to be Mazza-ratified for believing in Chris, but that day ain’t coming for a long time, if ever. Sorry, he’s a Cup of Schmo.

Brett Anderson vs PIT (ND) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 9 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 19% CSWYeaaaah, the ceiling is always capped with Anderson as you’re aiming for decent ratios, but even against the Pirates Anderson just couldn’t muster it. Sometimes that changeup isn’t great (17% CSW…oh no) and there’s nothing else to like.

Alex Cobb @ TOR (L) – 4.0 IP, 4 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 25% CSW. Blegh. The Thing wasn’t nearly as good as it can be – 19% CSW! – and if that’s not there, it’s hard to think the rest will save him. Still a weaker Toby option.

Luke Weaver vs SF (L) – 3.0 IP, 4 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 34% CSW. Man, Weaver can’t catch a break. His changeup was excellent with 7/15 whiffs but his cutter kept falling too far off the plate, preventing batters from staying honest on his heater. His curveball got smacked around as well and ugh, he got the hook at 70 pitches and only nine outs. This may be a 2021 thing at this point.

Chris Bassitt @ HOU (L) – 3.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 27% CSW. Noooo Bassitt! It’s wild, every start feels like the same as his sinker continues to earn ridiculous CSW marks – 37% here – but everything else is just…meh. Not a single CSW on nine sliders/curveballs/changeups. Not one! The Astros are solid and I still consider Bassitt an arm to trust, especially against the Mariners next, and I imagine you grasp that his ceiling is capped until something else emerges in that arsenal.

Alec Mills @ CIN (ND) – 3.0 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 25% CSW. Bleeeggggh. Mills doesn’t pay the bills with these skills. No thrills, no nils, no more chills. No more hanging with Nash like Stills. Okay you’re done. Is that you talking to me or Alec? Both. Fair.

Anibal Sanchez @ BOS (L) – 5.0 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 21% CSW. Welp, it was a fun few starts while it lasted. The cutter and splitter aren’t back and there’s no way I’m believing in a four-seamer/curveball combo from Anibal. AS if.

Justus Sheffield @ LAA (L) – 4.2 IP, 6 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 6 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 30% CSW. Oh no. I’m not a fan of Sheffield’s sinker, but clearly the Angels are! Ba dum psh. His slider was legit here, but the great changeup we saw last time wasn’t here and that aforementioned sinker isn’t a good enough complement. I don’t think I can buy into Sheffield until I see a fastball I can get behind.

Randy Dobnak @ DET (L) – 4.1 IP, 6 ER, 12 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 19% CSWDobby nooooooo. Sure, we were waiting for the pin to drop on his crazy lucky BABIP and LOB rate n whatnot, but he still did a good job of avoiding the heart of the plate and this was the Tigers. You’re okay still starting him, I don’t expect these blowups to be consistent. Maybe this was just a Vargas Rulethough. Maybe.

 

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.

 

 

Alex Young vs. San Francisco Giants – It’s in Arizona, Young has a great changeup and curveball that could show up, and there isn’t another clear choice. Let’s roll the die again. Young was pushed back so today it’s Dane Dunning getting the call up for the White Sox. Solid stuff in his debut and I’m hoping it can continue against the Royals.

 

Tomorrow’s Streamer

 

Brad Keller vs. Cleveland Indians – This didn’t work last time, but it doesn’t mean it can’t here.

 

Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer

 

Chad Kuhl vs. Chicago  Cubs – I don’t have much of a choice here with Asher Wojciechowski as the only other upside arm getting a middling matchup (vs. Mets). I wouldn’t do this but let’s hope his slider is on point.

 

Game of the Day

 

Deivi Garcia vs. New York Mets – I don’t think he gets a second start and this could be somewhat short, but I’m excited to see Deivi in the majors. Yes, he’s getting a GIF Breakdown, of course.

 

 

(Photo by Cody Glenn/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.

8 responses to “It’s Time To Be Frankie”

  1. Avatar Elliot says:

    Hey Nick, would you:
    A. Try to trade Cease,
    B. Drop him for Montgomery/Mize, or
    C. Try to ride that easy schedule and pray his underlying metrics don’t finally come back to bite (bit of a Vargas rule, if you will)?

    QS league if that’s relevant. Thanks for any reply!

  2. Avatar Rocket says:

    On Zach Greinke’s short outing, it should be pointed out he had some neck/back tightness while getting ready for his start yesterday. The Astro’s were considering making him a scratch before the game. He was able to work through it and pick up the W for his team. That is what Aces do.

  3. Avatar Mike Honcho says:

    Would you drop Dobnak for either Montas, Kikuchi, or Stripling?

  4. Avatar Grammar police says:

    I don’t think that “cough it up to” is a real expression; shouldn’t it be “chalk it up to”?

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