(Photo by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire)
There’s been plenty of talk of Jake Junis in the opening weeks of the season, and I’m sure there will be plenty more after tonight’s horrid line of 5.2 IP, 6 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. 5 HRs! Man that’s brutal. I talked about this a bit in the Slack channel today, as this start doesn’t really change a whole lot. We all expected regression with everything pointing more to a 4.00 ERA instead of 2.00 for his previous four starts, but honestly that didn’t matter a whole lot to me. Junis is a prime example of a guy who I’m focusing more on where the quality of his pitches are. Regardless of this start, the situation of Junis remains the same – there’s plenty of upside that he’s yet to reach, but we may be waiting a bit before it all connects, leading to a sin wave of performances. Here’s the ceiling of his repertoire: His slider has plus plus potential, his two-seamer can be a pitch that gets strikes and pound the zone, while the oft-mentioned curveball from the spring turning into a solid pitch to steal strikes. The current state is his slider showing brief flashes while floating into the zone in others, his two-seamer not hitting the zone nearly enough for him to abandon him four-seamer, and his changeup – a pitch reserved for the rare mix-up to lefties – is getting more love than his curveball. It’s a sad state, the ceiling is still intact, but clearly this is a step back toward that goal. Hopefully he can get there before too long. He gets the Sawx next so you’re fine dropping him for now.
Let’s see how every other SP did Thursday:
Michael Fulmer – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks. Guys. GUYS. Fulmer had 14 whiffs on his first 45 pitches and ended this one with 24 in 98 pitches. IT’S ABOUT DAMN TIME. I’ve talked about his slider being a pitch that should miss more bats and BAM 10-for-30 whiffs here. The biggest shock was 11 courtesy of four-seamers and sinkers and while I don’t think that will stick around, seeing his slider take a more pronounced role is a beautiful thing. Here’s to hoping he can come anywhere close to this again next time against the Rays. Just give me 15 whiffs. You don’t even need to win another Gallows Pole, just give me 15. Please.
Kyle Gibson – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 3 BBs, 10 Ks. If it weren’t for Fulmer, I’d be focusing a bit more on Gibson, who not only earned 10 Ks, but did so going 11-for-26 on whiffs with his slide piece. Check out their locations and if you remember the piece I wrote on him way back in the winter, you’ll recognize it’s nearly identical to the locations we saw during his end-of-season stretch last year that was so lovely. It’s amazing he did this against the hot Yankee offense, but I’m skeptical he can repeat it in his tantalizing two-start week. I’d roll with it if he’s there, but there’s still plenty of concern.
Kyle Hendricks – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks. Am I being too harsh on Hendricks again? 3.10 ERA now with a….259 BABIP, 89.7% LOB rate, and just a 7.45 K/9. Velocity around 87mph today. Okay, maybe not.
Ivan Nova – 8.0 IP, 0 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks. Another Super Nova from Ivan, following a 6.0 IP, 1 ER start last time out. Suddenly it’s not a 3.32 ERA with a 3.45 FIP, 7.11 K/9 and 0.95 BB/9 and I’m expecting comments asking if he’s worth the pickup. Not when he gets the Nationals next. I’m okay rolling with him against the Chi Sox twice in a row + Padres + Reds after, though. Which is kinda weird because this is Nova n all.
Chase Anderson – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks. Alright, do we have a good name for a good start with few Ks? I know I have Grave Mistake, but that’s more for when it goes poorly…I’m thinking a Blach Party as Ty Blach holds the lowest K/9 for both 2017 and so far in 2018. Anyway, it was a tough move to throw Anderson out there in Wrigley, but he got the job done as he’s 4-for-6 getting you Quality Starts thus far. For all the hoopla about his velocity – 92.5mph in this one, still a little behind – he’s still pitching decently well. Stick with him as I think he should get better as the season develops.
Carlos Martinez – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks. Aces gonna ace…ish. If you’re going to have just 3 Ks, can we get a little more ratio expression than six frames? No? Okay.
Noah Syndergaard – 7.1 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks. Aces gonna ace. He allowed an unearned run in the eighth, ruining his chance for a Win, but whatever, this start is studly regardless.
Lucas Giolito – 5.2 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks. Velocity was around 92mph – a small improvement but an improvement nonetheless, but his curveball render 0 whiffs and 1 called strike on 11 thrown. Not what we want. The idea of pitching backward with his slider wasn’t here either with just 9 thrown in 93 pitches. That’s under a 10% rate. Let him stay out on your waiver wire for now.
Matt Koch – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. I wonder if Matt will ever be a coach. Coach Koch, put me in. Does wonders teaching kids to be sensitive to those with a stutter. No, this isn’t a man you want to roll with.
Jordan Montgomery – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks. Ehhhh I’ll take it but 98 pitches in just five frames express how much his labored to get it. This isn’t The Bear that I was expecting this season. He isn’t hitting spots with his fastball, his breaking pitches ending at-bats early, and he finds himself in too many deep counts. I think he can get there, but it’s not here yet. I’ll just sit here, waiting til then. Feel free to chase other Spice Girls in the meantime.
James Paxton – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 10 Ks. 16 whiffs here, as he averaged near 96mph. Yeah, Paxton is totally fine y’all. Juuust fine.
Chris Sale – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. Aces gonna…wait, this is a PQS. Aces don’t PQS. Whatever, he’s boasting a 2.31 ERA, sub 1.00 WHIP and ~35% K rate still. So it goes.
Chris Archer – 5.1 IP, 4 ER, 11 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks. Yes this is disappointing. Yes you’re frustrated and you have every right to be. What I’ll tell you is that you can’t forget the tales of Jose Quintana, Masahiro Tanaka, Justin Verlander, and many others that struggled in the early goings of 2017 only to kill it as the season progressed. I won’t tell you that Archer is going to follow the same blueprint, but you have to believe there are better times ahead. His still has that lovely TIARA on his head and I’m not taking it off yet.
Homer Bailey – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks. Homer Bale was pulled with just 50 pitches before his final act as the Reds wanted a pinch hitter in an effort to spark a rally. This is reason #14 why the DH should exist. It’s not like Bailey could do much to salvage this start anyway, but still, that’s not right. Streaming Record: 16-8.
Mike Clevinger – 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. Blegh. It was a tough third inning for Clev that lead to plenty of a good contact and 3 ER and while I still feel he’s close to taking that step forward to being a Top 25 starter, he’s not there yet with his secondary stuff. We’re not seeing the 20% whiff rates yet with his curveball/changeup/slider and that’s the last piece to this puzzle. His fastball is actually performing better than expected as well, which makes it hurt a little more – he’s so close! I’m starting him next time out against the Rangers.
Sean Newcomb – 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks. You own Newcomb for the strikeouts, not the ratios. If this lost you a few teeth and you’re not happy with it, then get a new comb. Wait, get Newcomb? No, a new comb. Totally different.
Marco Estrada – 5.0 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. After a poor outing against the Yankees, Estrada was given no time to lick his wounds, thrust back into the ring to throw down against the Sawx. And it went just as badly. I still feel better days are ahead for Estrada, so keep an eye out over the next month to see if he starts trending up, but he’s a questionable play for next week’s two starts.
Dylan Bundy – 4.2 IP, 7 ER, 11 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. Um, no. No no no no. Against the Rays?! I watched most of this, what’s weird here is that the two HRs in the first/second frames were actually good pitches. He hit the glove up-and-in to Ramos, and the fastball to Cron was a decent pitch knee high. However, Bundy was so off in this one. A ton of terrible pitches, rarely hitting spots, nor setting up his fantastic slide piece. This was an off day like it’s following the All-Star game and you have to hope that he gets it back next time out. If it’s 80% studly through the year, that’s still Top 25 SP, so hopefully that’s all this is.
Ben Lively – 2.1 IP, 7 ER, 7 Hits, 4 BBs, 1 Ks. Oh Raggedy Anne, you’ll never be a lively one. Not like that Pinocchio fella.
Chris Stratton vs. Los Angeles Dodgers – Either guys are well above the 20% threshold or they are facing tough teams, so I’m going with Stratton as he has three 6.0+ IP starts under his belt and could pull it off against a Dodger offense that has been feast or famine.
Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer
Zack Wheeler vs. San Diego Padres – He hasn’t looked great since the Marlins, but the Padres are the Padres. That’s a surprisingly decent argument.
Game of the Day
Sean Manaea vs. Dallas Keuchel – The man is pitching against the Astros following a no-hitter against the Sawx. Yes I want to see what happens + Keuchel is also there. It’s also Aaron Nola day and obviously I’ll be catching Luis Castillo against the Twins as well.