Leblancing The Sawx
(Photograph by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire)
I can hear the voices now. Nick, Wade LeBlanc went 7.2 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 9 Ks, how can you possibly not like him now? He’s had nine starts now, adding up to a 2.06 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, and 21% K rate, helping your team dramatically while absolutely dominating the Sawx last night. Two baserunners! Nine Ks! Nearly eight frames! That’s incredibly impressive. He’s needed a .244 BABIP and 93.6% LOB rate to do this, adding up to a 4.01 SIERA (about two points difference!) and it’s pretty apparent what’s going on. We have a pitcher who is on a hot run with a sub 87mph fastball, a changeup he adores, and a cutter that is effective. It’s the TRUE poster child of the Vargas Rule this season and that means you should be running with it until it slows down. It’s that simple. Don’t trade for him, don’t overvalue if you own him, don’t let a nine game sample make you believe he has three months left of great production. Just roll with it and hope it continues.
Let’s see how every other SP did Saturday:
Marco Estrada – 6.2 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. Guys, this is three straight stellar starts from Estrada, with this one coming against the Nationals. 34 CSW in 108 thrown with changeups down and heaters up. It’s the Estrada formula and I’m a believer. Great pickup in deep 12-teamers, not necessary for shallower leagues, with Angels next (go for it), Astros (nope), and Mets (yes!) next. Two-for-three is solid.
Dallas Keuchel – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. You guys remember that strikezone plot from last time where there was a ton elevated and little down, right? Well this start was…better. Not stellar, though it was in the bottom half of the zone instead of the top and I think we’ll start to see that shift lower and lower with each start. Good step forward, not ready to fully invest – Royals n all – but encouraging.
Sean Newcomb – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks. Solid rebound from Newcomb after his disappointment against the Dodgers. I wish I could put more stock in this one though – Blame it on the Padres. At least he took advantage of the matchup, right?
Luis Severino – 8.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 9 Ks. Aces gonna ace. I’m sorry for moving you down, I wanted to give the Verlander/deGrom people some love, okay? They are equally dope and it doesn’t matter what their rankings are.
Ryne Stanek – 1.1 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 0 BBs, 1 Ks. Haha Stanek, let’s just ignore you. Ryan Yarbrough was the real started here and needed 97 pitches to get through 3.2 frames as he allowed 9 baserunners and 4 ER. Yep, I don’t want anything to do with any of this.
Zach Eflin – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. He was pulled with just 77 pitches for a pinch-hitter – ENFORCE THE DH – as everything was working for Eflin. Nothing too remarkable, 11 whiffs, 22 CSW in 73 pitches, and I still see Eflin as a possible back-end starter but mostly a streamer. He gets the Nats and Yanks next, so I’m sitting out, even if this was against the Brew Crew.
Jordan Lyles – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks. I’m pretty impressed that Lyles was able to do this against the Braves, though a 26 CSW is pretty meh and just 9 whiffs overall. Sometimes it’s just like that. Don’t invest.
Steven Matz – 6.2 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. It’s so like Matz these days to work in 6.2 frames of 1 ER ball while earning just 3 strikeouts. A solid 25% PH rate for the year may be part of it, though it is 7.0% VH as well, which is a bit higher than we like. I think that .244 BABIP will rise, and when paired with a 10.3% walk rate, his 1.24 WHIP will turn into 1.30+ soon while his strikeout rate will hover 20% (sub 8% whiff rate!). It’s a 3.31 ERA with a 4.37 SIERA and I’m scared.
Alex Wood – 5.2 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks. Wood stayed low unless trying to elevate and it’s pretty wonderful. It led to 11 whiffs on 85 pitches and a lot of weak contact. Low 24 CSW, but I’m buying this for the most part. He’s out of the Top 30 but should still be a sturdy arm as long as he’s on the hill.
Steven Wright – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. Hoooo boy. That’s three straight dope starts from Wright as he’s returned to the Sawx rotation leading to a 1.23 ERA and you’re really thinking about this. Because that .202 BABIP, 4.91 H/9, and 90.4% LOB rate are totally legit. But Nick, Knuckleballers are a different breed! Yes they are and guess what we can’t do? No, please, don’t do it. He’s diff- DON’T TRUST A KNUCKLEBALLER. I’m serious though, this will hurt you. Yes, there’s a chance it’s Dickey 2.0 or you he repeats the 2016 first half but that’s a random roll of the dice. Don’t think there’s a major science behind it, you’re spinning the wheel. I hate doing that, I think you can make better calculated plays instead.
Kyle Freeland – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. It’s the Rocky Mountain Way as Freeland was in Texas. That’s it. Seriously, don’t overthink this. Mets next (Yay!), Giants (Nay!), Giants against (Naay!), and Seattle (Neigh!) follow. Did someone open the stable doors?
John Lamb – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. Wait, he’s back?! Man, this is wild. I was a big fan of Lamb as a Young Gun back in 2015 and was ultimately so disappointed with his 2016 season. Now after back surgery and a 50-game suspension he’s an Angel and killed it in his first start as Ohtani, Richards, and Tropeano all hit the DL. The bad news here is that he’s throwing under 90mph and earned just 7 whiffs. That’s not the man I once knew. I hope for his sake he’s not another Lamb for the slaughter, and I see some baaad starts ahead.
Mike Minor – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. Minor hosted the Rockies and took full advantage of a bad road squad. Totally hate his 20 CSW and how he hovered the middle of the zone, but good slider action and location was enough to get through seven frames of production. I wouldn’t put much stock in this. Streaming Record: 40-24
Max Scherzer – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 10 Ks. Aces gonna ace. That’s how it’s done.
Madison Bumgarner – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 4 BBs, 3 Ks. Oh Bumgarner, you’re not supposed to have VPQS outings, let alone those with 3 Ks. Just 26 CSW in 112 thrown (23%!) as he can’t get into a groove. I think he does deserve a TIARA a bit, but I question if he’ll be in the Top 10 this year, if not Top 15.
Luis Castillo – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks. Five whiffs and zero coming from his change piece against the Pirates. What. This was incredibly confusing so I watched it…man the pitch was bad. Terrible depth, he tugged it often, and he turned to more sliders because it was just so bad. Castillo, buddy, we need you to figure this out. This is your asset. THE asset of your arsenal. You can’t lose this too. There’s no way I’m starting him against the Cubs after this atrocity.
Junior Guerra – 5.1 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks. Ehhhh I hate that ERA and WHIP, but 7 Ks from Guerra! And guess what happened. Guerra found his splitter – 23 in 82 pitches – with six whiffs, good for a ~25% rate. Heeeeeyyyyyy buddy. That was the pitch that brought the strikeouts in his heyday and has been gone all year. Disregard the other stuff, if that Splitter is there and we accept this as a bump in the road for his slider/heater combo, I can see Guerra moving up the ranks.
Kyle Hendricks – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 4 BBs, 3 Ks. Four walks from Hendricks should tell you enough that this is going south. Fast.
Sean Manaea – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. A PQS with a sub 1.00 WHIP? Yeah I’m okay with that from Manaea. He threw more changeups than heaters in this one – 40 of 88 pitches! – and did a solid job of staying at the bottom of the zone, while hitting the inside corner a good amount with his heater. I was definitely too aggressive early in the year in believing that Manaea had solved the batted ball + whiff conundrum, but I feel comfortable slotting Manaea around 40 or so moving forward. Think like a solid Keuchel arm with flashes of strikeout upside.
Carlos Martinez – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 6 BBs, 5 Ks. Hey Nick, where is this rebound you keep talking about from CarMart? That’s 18 walks in three starts! This is a great question. Don’t panic, velocity was up to 96mph in this one and it’s just a matter of time here. Give him the TIARA, buy low, hold tight, and we’ll get through this.
Fernando Romero – 4.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks. Kinda weird to see just 2 total K+BBs from Romero as the Indians had their way with him (two HRs in the first!). That’s two poor outings in four starts and you’re wondering if you should let him go. I wouldn’t as he gets the Rangers + White Sox next.
Carlos Carrasco – 1.1 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks. Carrasco was added injury to insult as he took a liner to his forearm, sending him to the hospital for an MRI – negative – and promptly hitting the DL. Shane Bieber will get a start today because of it (he may be going right when this article comes out), and I’m okay with it for those that are in dire need of help in a H2H league. I think Bieber is a streamer that could turn into a Toby given the starts, but he most likely won’t get a locked rotation spot for a while.
Jordan Zimmermann – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks. Yay, Zimmermann started yesterday! – Said no one.
Alex Cobb – 7.0 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. Come on Cobb, you got the Marlins and still allowed 5 ER. It’s not like this was a Careful Icarus either, allowing at least 1 ER in each of the first three frames. You don’t deserve our attention.
Patrick Corbin – 6.0 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks. That’s back-to-back 5 ER games, this time against the Mets. The Ks were still there – Mets lol – but I’m wondering if we really are seeing the repercussions of his lower velocity as this is three of his four games of 5+ ER. I’m not saying it will stay like this, but that market has cratered…unless you’re getting a solid return, you might as well just hold for the long haul now. After all, he still win the Gallows Pole with 16 whiffs as his slider is dope – 34% whiff rate here.
Lucas Giolito – 5.1 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. Hey, a 6/2 K per BB! Still struggling with his curveball though. This is better, though, and maybe, just maybe, there’s something to pull out of this with 26/88 CSW. Probably not.
Danny Duffy – 6.0 IP, 6 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks. This was Houston, it would be wrong to trust him to make this work. But his changeup is still up to 30%! But he gets Houston again! Ugh. He gets a start against the Brewers after that, then the Indians, so there’s little reason to chase this, but I wonder if he’s a massive second-half sleeper. I wonder…
Blaine Hardy vs. Chicago White Sox – This is dumb and I know it’s dumb, but I have few options and he gets the White Sox. It’s not out of the question he twirls his sub 88mph magic for another start.
Andrew Suarez vs. Miami Marlins – It’s the Fish and Suarez could pull this off.
Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer
Dereck Rodriguez vs. Miami Marlins – He did it last time, he can do it again.
Game of the Day
Shanbe Bieber vs. Minnesota Twins – Can Bieber take a step forward from his MLB debut?