Jay-Z’s Blueprint For Success

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

(Photo by Quinn Harris/Icon Sportswire)

Here’s something wild. Jordan Zimmermann went 8.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 11 Ks last night and now has recorded just 5 ER across his last six starts. It’s kinda crazy, especially when he missed over a month in the middle of it (and allowed 3 ER in his return!) and we have to go deeper. He’s thrown over 20% curveballs in each of his last two starts now and it was great for 13/23 CSW last night, with a slider that went 13/32 CSW as well, helping in an overall 36/96 mark. Now, he’s facing terrible teams – Rays, Royals, ChiSox, A’s, Jays, Rangers in this stretch – and I’m just not going to ignore the horrifically bad heater in his arsenal. At the same time, I’m super happy to see sub 40% fastball rates in his last three starts and maybe, just maybe, there’s something here. It could fizzle out quickly against the Rays next time and we all had a wonderful day, but if you know me, I love seeing guys make an adjustment with their pitch mix and have instant results. He has a new blueprint for success and who knows, maybe it will stick. Maybe.

Let’s see how every other SP did Friday:

Tyler Mahle 6.2 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. Mahle had himself a date with the mighty Cubs and didn’t care, posting a solid line in one of the more impressive starts of the night. Suddenly Mahle has a 2.04 ERA with a 24% K rate in his last seven games and we’re wondering if this can keep up. I looked into this and I’m pretty shocked to see that his slider and changeup have been worse in this time, with his fastball simply overpowering plenty of batters, including an unreal outing against the Royals on the 13th that returned a stupid good 3.0 pVal just in that start. It’s a 4.24 SIERA in these seven games with an 11.2% BB rate and I’m not buying it. I wanted to see his changeup or slider making strides and it’s just not there. Sorry bub.

Ryne Stanek – 2.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. Yarbrough followed for two frames. This is just annoying now.

Jacob deGrom – 8.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks. Aces gonna ace. 38/106 CSW, no biggie.

Sam Gaviglio – 4.1 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks. Here’s something I didn’t realize. Gaviglio’s slider is currently holding a 22.0% whiff rate across 218 thrown. That’s really good. Too bad his sinker is pretty blegh coming in at 88.5mph and his changeup/curveball are as mediocre as they come. In short, it’s not out of the question he can do this kind of “oh hey, six Ks!” outing, but we’re going to see a lot of blegh along the way. Sounds like a best-case scenario of a Toby.

Zack Godley – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks. I gave up on Godley so of course he goes and has his best start since the beginning of April against the Padres (Blame it on the Padres). What’s wild here is his pitch selection. He elected to throw just 10 fastballs the entire night. Instead, it was 44 Curveballs (23/44 CSW! 11 Called!) and 21 Cutters to carve through six frames. His cutter got outs, his curveball got strikes and it worked. I don’t expect this formula to stick as Godley needs his sinker to be his effective self against good hitters, but I really do love how much confidence he had in his deuce as it is his best offering. My eyebrow is raised, but I’m a bit skeptical.

Lance Lynn – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. Lynn got the Orioles and praised the baseball gods for the good fortune. I still don’t see a 12-team rosterable arm here.

Kenta Maeda – 5.2 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 9 Ks. Leave it to Maeda to take full advantage of just 5.2 innings as he was handed a Philly. Man that slider is so good.

German Marquez – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks. This wasn’t the Rocky Mountain Way – the Mariners are super good y’all – and Marquez didn’t care. 28% CSW is fine, 7/17 whiffs on sliders and 30 foul balls are ridiculous. I wouldn’t put stock in this.

Lance McCullers – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 12 Ks. Aces gonna ace as McCullers absolutely dominated the ChiSox and saw the lamentations of their women. An unreal 40/93 CSW (43%!), earning another Gallows Pole with 23 whiffs, with 16/58 whiffs on his curveball, of course. Here’s to being healthy through 2018.

Freddy Peralta – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks. Peralta feeds on aggressive hitters and returned 14 whiffs on 99 pitches here (33 CSW), though I’m a little concerned that his breaker didn’t record a single whiff in 17 thrown. There’s still a floor that will show up often but as long as he’s getting starts, I’d let him ride. He does get bonus points here fending off the Braves, too.

Nick Pivetta – 2.2 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks. This is just the week of Nicks getting burned. It’s hard to go 2.2 frames of 1 ER ball and throw over 70 pitches, but the Phils defense let Pivetta down, mixed with a dropped third strike and booted double-play ball. Now, I won’t tell you Pivetta was on top of his game – he walked the opposing pitcher, he hit Josh Harrison, and his slider wasn’t there, but with balls finding holes and a 12-pitch at-bat to Corey Dickerson that resulted in a grounder that beat the shift, it just wasn’t meant to be. I currently have Pivetta at #31 and I’m probably going to lower him to the back end of the 30s. This is still a guy I 100% want and things didn’t go his way here, but this wasn’t meant to be a 6.0 Ip 7 K start, more like 5.1 IP, 2 ER and 5 Ks. It’s not knocking on all cylinders and he deserves a small drop.

Chris Sale – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 12 Ks. Aces gonna ace. 38/99 CSW because that’s what Sale does. It’s stupid.

John Gant – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks. Excellent 35/96 CSW here as his changeup confounded the Giants, though I still have trouble buying the whole package for consistency from Gant. Not the worst streamer, but I think there are other horses I’d rather bet on for my roster spot.

Gio Gonzalez – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 8 Hits, 4 BBs, 4 Ks. Nothing like a 2.40 WHIP to destroy any sort of happiness in your heart. How Gio managed to hold it to 2 ER for the night is beyond me and I wouldn’t expect him to rebound next time. Move on if there is something that will help on the wire or streaming is an option.

Joey Lucchesi – 5.1 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. He got the Diamondbacks and surprised me with a decent start across the board. The Churve was working – 14/31 CSW – and that’s the catalyst for Joey to be a Lucchesi, not a Fugghesi.

Felix Pena – 5.1 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks. Pena pounded the zone with sliders and fastballs and had yet another solid outing as he faced the Dodgers. His strikeout rate is at 28% and I’m wondering how sustainable this is for a guy that only has four starts under his belt. It’s a 13% whiff rate fueled by that slider – 27.5% whiff rate in 131 pitches – and I’m debating if I want to start him against the Mariners next time. He may be ousted soon with Tropeano filling his spot and Shoemaker also hinting at a return, but considering this is the Angels, there’s always going to be an opportunity for Pena to sneak back in. An intriguing flier, we’ll see how this continues.

Dereck Rodriguez – 6.2 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks. It’s far from sexy given just one strikeout (HAISTFMFWT?!) but he helped across the board. Streaming Record: 52-29. He gets the Cubs next and that’s a no-go.

Dan Straily – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 1 Ks. Sure, whatever Straily. Definitely hate trusting you on any given night.

Carlos Carrasco – 5.1 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks. This was a DLH and the ratios hurt you a decent amount, but hey 7 Ks are cool too. Have no fear moving forward.

Bartolo Colon – 8.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks. The Groan Ranger had batted balls go his way for the most part and punched his ticket for eight frames. That’s cool n all, I’d really hate to force myself to make my sacrificial offerings to the BABIP lords every five days. I ain’t got enough stuff for that.

Felix Hernandez – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks. Prince Felix gave you absolutely nothing in this one. Zip. Zilch. NADA. Your people need their King.

Reynaldo Lopez – 4.2 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 5 BBs, 2 Ks. ReyLo faced the Astros and it went pretty much as expected. We saw curveballs last time over changeups, and while he didn’t feel good with the slow ball, his deuce was thrown just twice in 97 pitches. So there’s that. I’m still waiting for the start that will let me get pumped for Lopez – it will include dominance with both his slider and changeup – and until then, I’m sitting out.

Mike Montgomery – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks. This is pretty middling and kinda typical from Monty. Get used to it.

Paul Blackburn – 4.0 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. Think deeply about rolling with Blackburn because at the end of the day, the only song you can sing is Nobody’s Pault But Mine. Yes I’m still rolling with this one and I don’t know why.

Dylan Bundy – 3.1 IP, 5 ER, 9 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks. This was a semi-DLH. I felt okay going with him though and while his fastball velocity was fine (91.5), his slider wasn’t there at all at it cost him. Expect him to find it between now and his next one.

Mike Foltynewicz – 6.0 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks. Two terrible pitches – a hung slider and fastball down the middle – resulted in a pair of homers in the third, recording all 5 of his earned runs. Don’t lose the faith.

Sonny Gray – 2.0 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. Look, if you’re wondering how Sonny turns into a fantasy relevant arm again, it will be when he’s throwing a ton of sliders and curveballs for whiffs and strikes, reserving his fastball to 30-40% of the time. It may take some time as he’s lost his feel for the hook, but that’s what we’re waiting for. Here were 39 heaters in 62 pitches and we’re all sad. One day he’ll return, just don’t feel obligated to be the one sheltering him as he figures it out.

Trevor Williams – 2.1 IP, 5 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 0 Ks. Yep, that’s the Williams we know and hate.

Jason Hammel – 2.0 IP, 8 ER, 9 Hits, 1 BBs, 0 Ks. I have The WHERST and haven’t actually been able to reference it for a while, and I know some of you want me to include an innings variable to it. It could have possibly been involved here with 18 ER + Hits + BBs in just six outs, but he’s falling short in my metrics. Sorry Jason, be worse.

Today’s Streamer

Anibal Sanchez vs. Milwaukee Brewers – There are about five choices available, most carrying poor matchups. The other one to consider is Mike Fiers against the Rangers and I’ll go with Sanchez’s recent upside + chance for a win.

Tomorrow’s Streamer

Nick Kingham vs. Philadelphia Phillies – I feel like Aladdin the way I’m saying “Do you trust me?” about Kingham and I totally get it. That’s cool if you disagree, I’m going for this and we can talk later.

Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer

Zack Wheeler vs. Philadelphia Phillies – He’s still owned in under 20% of leagues and that’s simply not just.

Game of the Day

Robbie Ray vs. Tyson Ross – I’m curious if Ray is back in the state where he can get a date against the Padres and take full advantage.

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.

6 responses to “Jay-Z’s Blueprint For Success”

  1. Frankie says:

    There are times when numbers support the thesis, and other times nothing can explain success. In the case of Pivetta vs Mahle, I’m sorry but numbers DO lie on occasion. And if owners have been using Pivetta over the past month and ignoring Mahle, their team has suffered because of it. At worst, Pivetta and Mahle need to be more evenly ranked because Pivetta has been absolutely unplayable lately, and Mahle has been well… surprisingly good to say the least.

  2. Taylor says:

    Padres had 5 lefties (including 1 switch hitter) to start the game. Could be the reason cutter was so high and sinker was so low. Just a thought.

  3. theKraken says:

    Pivetta’s numbers are pretty ugly – especially for a non-contender with a dysfunctional manager and all that implies. Honestly, I was surprised at how not great they are. I figured that he must me putting up shiny numbers given the rankings and the love for him among the fantasy community. It looks to me like he is one of those hittable guys, whose stuff looks a lot better on paper than it actually plays out. Advanced ERA estimators always regress hits back to some mean and that is one place they fail. I could see Pivetta joining the high babip club like Pineda and company. I am no Pivetta expert, but he looks like one of those false positives that modern metrics might overvalue.

  4. Xav says:

    Yes theKraken, a thousand times yes.

  5. Rob says:

    Got offered eflin for my hicks … both been really good lately and I need help in pitching and bats … which more likely to keep it up all season ? Thanks

  6. Richardo says:

    Regarding Pivetta, the pitch mix over the last 4 starts is worrisome. Descreased Slider/CB usage and increased FB usage has not been a good combo. 3 starts vs the Nats is not ideal, but I want to see the pitch mix switch back to the heavy slider/CB usage that fueled his early success.

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