Luis, Please K

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

(Photo by Jimmy Simmons/Icon Sportswire)

Fantasy baseball is all about the hype. The fun when you see a guy perform to his best ability when you know he has it inside himself. You have your guys and you just want them to do their best. Entering 2018, I saw Luis Castillo as a budding star, ready to showcase his 97mph heaters, unreal changeup, and solid slider paired with fantastic command on both sides of the plates. However, 2018 has had different plans and after last night’s 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 4 BBs, 3 Ks line against the Cardinals, I’m forced to take a step back and firmly reassess what to expect. After a promising outing against the Brewers, Castillo’s velocity dipped once again, this time to just 94.1 on his two-seamer. His command itself wasn’t so detrimental, but being unable to blow pitches by batters confidently is a major concern and a huge part of what made him successful in 2017. I have to question if there is some injury involved and I have no choice but to drop Castillo significantly today. A DL stint may be a good thing – it would at least be an explanation for his struggles – but for now, we have to sit-and-wait. I wouldn’t flat out drop as I can see the velocity ramping up over time, but he’s far from the auto-start he used to be. Bummer.

Let’s see how every other SP did Sunday:

Johnny Cueto – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks. Is Cueto back? Like back back to the point of sounding like Chris Berman? The good news is his changeup is moving just like the old days and missing bats once again. The bad news is that I have little faith in his health. Still, I feel like that with about 25% of starters and if you own Cueto, you may as way hold with this one. He’s currently at #46 and will get more love as he’s produced two great starts back from the DL – probably around the mid-30s – but if you’re getting legit value back from someone that thinks he can be a Top 20-25 arm the rest of the way, you take that and run. There’s still too much haze hanging over him. Maybe that’s because of Friday. No, definitely not.

Junior Guerra – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. Well look at that, one of the two shutout performances came from our Call Boy as Guerra produced across the board in five frames. Sadly, he gets the Cubs next and I have no faith in that one, so it’s back to the wire but that’s what the salmon life is all about – riding the stream. Streaming Record: 14-7.

Reynaldo Lopez – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 2 Ks. I benched Lopez against the Astros and he returned a pretty meh outing, giving us some help only in the ER department while a 1.60 WHIP and just 2 Ks do more harm than good. That’s fine, I still love the kid and see great things ahead against the Royals, Twins, and Pirates. Let’s do this.

Lance McCullers – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. McCullers got Singled Out, giving you a 1.50 WHIP and…three strikeouts? Seriously? Isn’t that the only reason I have you on my team? I guess we have to brush this off like eraser dust and do it all over again.

Daniel Mengden – 6.1 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks. I know I know, Ben Palmer had a great piece out about Mengden on Saturday and you’re inclined to believe in this. I’m not saying don’t – Vargas Rule this all you want – but I for one am not confident against the Astros next time and after a possible blegh outing, will you want to start him against the O’s? Maybe? I think save the pickup now and see how the chips fall after the Astros start.

Miles Mikolas – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks. Are you a Mikolas believer now? Sure, this was the Reds, but he was pumping 94 up to 97 paired with a curveball he confidently threw for strikes – 10 of 19 were called strikes! – and a slider piece to keep hitters off-balance. He’ll be inside the Top 50 on The List and I don’t think he’s going to leave it through the season.

Luis Severino – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. Aces gonna ace. He cruised through this one and only had a pair of strikeouts in his final five frames. Dude is dope.

Jaime Barria – 2.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks. This man threw 49 pitches in the first inning without surrendering a run. Thanks for nothing Brandon Belt! Yes, he’s a Cup of Schmo and that’s okay.

Yonny Chirinos – 4.2 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. Look at Yonny, rebounding against the Twins after he Monday start decimated your weeks. While he officially has the #4 SP spot on the Rays, he’s still getting capped pitch count wise, accruing just 83 in this one. He’s not worth your time in QS leagues and worth a pass everywhere this week as he faces the Sawx. I’m cool with the Jays, O’s, and Royals after, though.

Patrick Corbin – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 11 Ks. This is getting stupid and it’s hard not to love it. He’s faced some easy opponents – Padres here – but it’s a 39.3% K rate and just 4.9% BB rate thus far – good for a 1.87 SIERA – boasting an 18.1% whiff rate and 53.7% GB rate. Just a 4.32 H/9 and that’s dumb. His slider’s whiff rate (32.3%) is higher than its zone rate (29.0%). I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before. These next few weeks are the true litmus test, though, as he faces tough offenses in the Nationals, Dodgers twice, and Brewers. My gut says you’ll want to buy when he stumbles then and hold through it if you own him, and I think we can truly assess his talent when the gauntlet is over. And yes, those 19 whiffs earned yet another Gallows Pole.

Phil Hughes – 3.1 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks. Hey, Hughes is back! Hey, you don’t care! Good. I’m glad you don’t care.

Caleb Smith – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 10 Ks. This is a fun one. No, I would not have told anyone to start Smith here. Yes, I’ve been saying something like this could happen, while I realize that has absolutely zero value whatsoever. Sorry. It’s interesting to see Smith actually showcase that ceiling for once, though, especially when he earned 30 Called Strikes + Whiffs on just 76 pitches. That’s lovely. He’s way too volatile for you to go after this, but if you’re in a deep league and have nothing to lose it’s possible he turned a massive corner with locating his heater – 20 CS + W on 44 thrown! – but for 12-14 teamers, I’m not taking the chance.

Martin Perez – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. Sure, whatever Perez. Enjoy your throne in the town of Whocaresville.

Nick Pivetta – 6.1 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks. Over 30% breakings balls as Pivetta earned a 29% whiff with them. That’s the Pivetta we know and love. He’s moving up plenty today, even with the Braves and Nationals ahead.

Trevor Williams – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 1 Hits, 5 BBs, 7 Ks. You probably want me to endorse Williams, but everything screams trap. 12.9% walk rate. 5.18 SIERA. .228 BABIP, 82.8% LOB rate, 6.3% whiff rate, it’s all signs of a guy that is a TEEs. AHA! I haven’t been able to use that one yet this year, thanks Trevor.

Alex Wood – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. I’m pretty impressed that Wood is able to still be productive without the velocity – 89.3mph in this one. I do feel it’s a ticking time bomb, though.

Jeremy Hellickson – 5.1 IP, 3 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. At least I don’t have to call him The Devil anymore because y’all know that he isn’t worth the add…right? Please tell me you know that.

Corey Kluber – 7.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks. Aces gonna ace. Kinda. Not really. Well a great WHIP and a QS but the ERA is meh and just 4 Ks from Kluber against the O’s is weird. I actually saw some of this and his breaking stuff didn’t have the same pizzaz as we’ve seen in the past. The jazz hands equivalent of filth. And he still didn’t kill your ratios. Atta boy Kluber.

Francisco Liriano – 5.1 IP, 3 ER, 2 Hits, 4 BBs, 6 Ks. Liriano has been so as absolutely horrible as expected, but those walks are creeping in like a toxic gas after you swore you used enough duct tape. There’s never enough duct tape.

Andrew Cashner – 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks. Nothing like 7 Ks on 6 whiffs. That’s sustainable alright.

Jaime Garcia – 5.1 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks. Well yeah, what did you expect?

Joey Lucchesi – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 4 BBs, 4 Ks. It was bound to happen as Lucchesi became a Fugehzi, serving up a longball to Nick Ahmed and even allowing Patrick Corbin to lace an RBI single. His Churve – yes I’m doing it – floated in the zone a little and his command wasn’t as solid as previous outings. Without that third pitch to help when the others aren’t working, he is prone to this, especially the 2nd and 3rd times through the lineup. I still want to own him and see if works out moving forward, but this should bring him back down to Earth a bit.

David Price – 7.2 IP, 4 ER, 9 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. The true definition of Careful Icarus as Price returned not only a beautiful six frames, but even a clean seventh on top, then was just one out away of getting out of a double single (one infield!) before allowing a Khris Davis bomb. It was a 7 frame, 5 K, 1 BB, 1 ER, 6 Hit game before this. He’s still dope, y’all.

Jose Quintana – 5.1 IP, 4 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks. This was Coors. Coors does things. You benched him anyway – it was an easy one! – and now we get to make the tough choice. His next three starts are against Milwaukee, St. Louis, and Miami. This could be where he turns the corner, I think we still need to wait for that one start where he showcases higher than a 91mph heater consistently. Not saying it won’t happen, just wait one more start.

Eric Skoglund – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. Not that you had him rostered but Eric is now someone I used to Sko. That’s the best you’ve got? It gets tough trying to tell you this guy isn’t worth your time every evening he starts.

Erasmo Ramirez – 4.2 IP, 5 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks. This is why you don’t start Erasmo to chase his middling 5.1 IP 1 ER starts. It’s just not worth it.

German Marquez – 3.1 IP, 6 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. What is a German? A miserable pile of secrets! Actually, I’m pretty sure it’s no secret that Marquez shouldn’t be owned. I have no idea what you’re doing. Just recognize it’s a reference and nod your head in understanding. Done.

Today’s Streamer

Trevor Cahill vs. Texas Rangers – It’s not the ideal matchup, but Cahill looked solid in his firsts start back and he could rack up the strikeouts again.

Tomorrow’s Streamer

CC Sabathia vs. Minnesota Twins – I’d like to hold off on Triggs for one start, I don’t trust Boyd, and Davies is owned in over 20% of leagues. Let’s do this again CC.

Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer

Matt Wisler vs. Cincinnati Reds – The Reds aren’t scaring anyone and Wisler could return another positive performance.

Game of the Day

Walker Buehler vs. Miami Marlins – I’m super tempted to give this the GIF Breakdown treatment as Buehler makes his 2018 debut. We’ll see…

Nick Pollack

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

  • Avatar Chucky says:

    @ Luis Castillo…if you watched the game, he couldn’t even throw a strike to Mikolas who was attempting to lay down a sac bunt, and subsequently walked him on either 4 or 5 pitches. Absolutely, positively, zero command once that baseball left his hand. I’m surprised he’s even rated in your top 100. WW fodder is being generous. To those of us who bought into the Castillo BS and kept him as the next best thing…shame on us. Which is why you never keep pitchers. And to think I let Didi go at the expense of Castillo.

    • Nick Pollack Nick Pollack says:

      I did watch this game and while his command was off at some points – that at-bat was so painful – it wasn’t just one sea of horrendous command. His inability to dominate Cardinals hitters early definitely had an effect in the later innings.

      And I know you know better than to take this one situation and turn it into a hindsight one is a bit silly. We’re all emotional, but let’s not turn blind.

  • Avatar Pat says:

    A+ for the Castlevania reference, A++ for the rest of the article

  • Avatar Bob says:

    I asked you in your start/sit article because I couldn’t wait until today. I’m not sure if you saw it or not. But as you mentioned in your writeup this is not he Luis Castillo of 2017. That a lot of us (myself) included reached for because we thought he has top 10 starting potential. As you also pointed out, I think he’s hurt. I cannot come up with any other explanation for that. It’s not like he’s 36 and people lose Velo as they age. He’s 25! Not really even in his prime yet. To go from 97-98 to 94-95 and I saw some 92-93’s (the home run by Wong), there has to be something wrong. You don’t just lose 3-4 MPH on your fastball in the span of 6 months. And people saying the weather don’t know what they are talking about. That’s just wishful thinking in my opinion. Very sad stuff. I hope he rebounds but I am not confident in that at all.

    • Nick Pollack Nick Pollack says:

      Hey Bob, just did a bigger rant on it for the morning cast. I’m with you that something has to be wrong. It sucks and you have to move on if there are better options. I’m hoping for a DL stint so it’s easier to hold onto him, but for now if there’s something on the wire that will help, you have to cut bait.

      So it goes. There’s one every year :-/

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Hey Nick – I have really enjoyed the site in the few weeks that I have been on it. I am a little perplexed by your complete 180 on Castillo though. After his previous start last week against Milwaukee you ended your roundup on him with “I’m all in” and now you are advising people to “cut bait”. These statements are extremely contradictory. I think if I average out the all ins and cut baits it ends up being a cautiously hold?

        • Nick Pollack Nick Pollack says:

          Hey Chris!

          Yeah that makes sense – it’s because he did a 180 on us!

          Seeing him labor so heavily with his fastball has me plenty scared that there is something underlying wrong with Castillo. 3 ticks off – not just 1 or 1.5 – with his fastball velocity is super alarming. He took a big step forward last time then two huge steps back here.

          I will mention again, though, it’s a situation where I ideally want to wait and see. However, I recognize that the majority of people don’t have that option and will have starters on the wire that can help now instead of Castillo. In those situations, it’s better to get the talent instead of investing for the future.

          I believe in June+ Castillo, not in the upcoming weeks Castillo.

  • Avatar Manny DGM says:

    Im as disappointed as anyone about Luis but even more disappointed that I drafted him knowing now that I could have bought super low on him. I know this is a COMPLETELY different pitcher and situation but I stuck with Verlander last year and he repaid me handsomely. The stuff is there…not sure how much the cold weather is playing a part in this but I’m gonna ride him out as long as it takes.

    FWIW after the game he said he was uncomfortable from the 1st inning on but there is no indication of an injury.

  • Avatar Jack says:

    Would you take Pivetta over Junis or Faria?

  • Avatar Rob says:

    Hi Nick! Do you think now is a good time to try to sell high on Junis? Looks like a lot of his peripherals suggest a negative regression on the horizon. Although I am not sure what kind of return I could expect for him. My biggest need right now is OF. I love the site. I read it literally every day. Thanks!

  • Avatar Gashouse Gorillas says:

    Hey Nick- I’m hanging on to Castillo and hoping for better days ahead.
    Also- I have a glut of 2B. Thinking to sell high with Albies for a SP. Could you give me some names to target?
    thx.

  • Avatar Fish says:

    Do you like R Lopez or Mikolas more ROS?

  • Avatar Fish says:

    Do you like R Lopez or Mikolas or Flaherty more ROS?

  • Avatar Upton Funk Gon’ Give it to Yu says:

    When Hill is back, would you trust him for Ws and solid ratios over Castillo? Talk about new hotness vs super-old, but for 2018, it feels easier to see Hill returning to form (like his slow start last year) than Castillo… do you agree?

  • Avatar bp says:

    Quintana was also failed by Heyward in RF who lost at least two balls in the sun before he figured out how to adjust.

  • Avatar Daniel says:

    Hey nick thanks for the help this are the league settings We play h2h with holds (35inn min. Weekly) my complete pitching is: SP: Kershaw, Syndergaard, Snell, clevinger & Morton. Rp: C. Allen, R. Osuna, Iglesias, Robertson, Minter. And I received the Carrasco for Morton and Clevinger offer.
    PD: Castillo’s owner got tired and drop him, I requested him through the waiver.

  • Avatar Mike says:

    Luis got Mesorocked again. He’s just a completely different pitcher with Mesoraco behind the plate instead of Barnhart. The numbers back it up, but even just the eye test tells you what you need. With Barnhart, he looks comfortable and his starts are characterized by dominance with a few mistakes sprinkled in or an unlucky inning with his bullpen letting him down. With Mesoraco, it’s like watching a guy who is totally lost and has no confidence in his pitches or his battery mate. It can’t be a coincidence that in his starts this year with Barnhart his O-Swing% is 40.7% (in both starts) and his SwStr% is 21.2% and 16.8%, but with Mesoraco it’s 22.2%, 32.4%, 26.4% and 12.2%, 11.2%, and 9.0% (respectively). I was hoping when Price was fired we’d be done with Mesoraco catching him, but apparently not.

  • Avatar Scott says:

    Price gave up 1 er over 7 2/3. He struck out lowrie and was around 100 pitches. Why did they leave him in there to face Khris Davis with 2 guys on base after he was around 100 pitches?. I don’t get it. He was pulled in last start at 5 innings around 70 pitches when he was cruising. Very frustrating last 3 outings (qs league).

  • Avatar Tom says:

    In a Scoresheet league, rebuilding – how do you rank: Lucchesi, Yonny Chirinos, Jarlin Garcia, JulioPablo Martinez, Preston Tucker?

  • Avatar Steve says:

    So I’m not sure if this helps, but Castillo’s still got the swinging strikes, the ground balls, and still in the top-10 in SP velo. I glanced at Brooks, and what looks to be a significant underlying problem is his release point is all out of whack. That tells me his mechanics are a little off, rather than an injury in place. Also could explain why within a week he throws a vintage start and the worst start in his career. Robbie Ray’s been fighting his mechanics so far, and it’s costing him the zone and a few MPH as well without costing him “stuff”.

    • Avatar Manny DGM says:

      They were commenting on this during the game yesterday….his mechanics were off and he was flying open on his breaking stuff.

      • Avatar Steve says:

        Yeah that’s matching up with what I’m seeing graphically on his release points. His vertical is relatively consistent, maybe a little high – but he’s pretty significantly out to the side horizontally. Definitely sounds like he’s flying open.

  • Avatar theKraken says:

    Re: Singled out – I get the impression that the implication is bad luck? I see it as quite the opposite – those singles could have been HR – I think it is good luck. The fact is that the pitcher got beat and only gave up minimal damage.

    • Nick Pollack Nick Pollack says:

      Or those batted balls could have found gloves instead, while the pitcher owns an abnormally high BABIP for the start.

      If he’s allowing hits that result in just singles, those aren’t LA/EV balls that almost left the yard. Instead, they ended as hits instead of finding gloves.

      • Avatar theKraken says:

        I don’t agree with that perspective. Lots of singles are well hit and lots of HR are not hit all that well. You can make a bad pitch and miss a bat or a great one and watch it sail into the stands. I think there are way too many variables to discount singles or to put too much weight into XBH. You are either getting guys out or you are not. Lots of well hit balls find gloves. Real outcomes are underrated.

  • Avatar Chris from Detroit says:

    Caleb Smith or Jaime Garcia? Better add? I have one spot open!

  • Avatar Steve says:

    Great site. Thank for all your advice. Starting to agree on Castillo. I have him on two teams. Potential replacements (depending on league) are Lopez, Mikolas, Velasquez and Pivetta.
    Please rank . Thank you.

    • Nick Pollack Nick Pollack says:

      Are there other options to drop more than Castillo? I’d love to own all of Mikolas/Pivetta/Lopez and I’d consider trading first –> then pick them up.

  • Avatar Mitch says:

    Would love the Buehler, Buelher break down if enough comes out of the outing.

    • Nick Pollack Nick Pollack says:

      Sorry it wasn’t all too note worthy for it. I’ll have one up on the site again soon, I’m sure :)

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