Max Effort

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Friday.

Okay, okay, okay. I need to give more love to Max Fried, even if I put him inside the Top 30 this week. While his 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 33% CSW line wasn’t the most outlandish “see?! He’s so dope!” performance, I have to hand it to him. His fastball command has been better this season than I anticipated, the slider that was a Money Pitch last year is even better this season (45% O-Swing, 51% zone rate, 20% SwStr!) and his curveball…well let’s hold on a second.

So I love that slider. It’s a pitch he introduced about a month into last season and got me excited for Fried in the second half. It didn’t go as planned and this offseason I took a step back, understanding that his fastball/curveball combination just isn’t as consistent as you want it to be. That hook had a solid first month last year, but took a dive (ha) as the year progressed and it has continued this year – it’s lost 11 points in O-Swing, 4 points in SwStr (as you’d expect with a lower O-Swing) and is getting smacked when in the zone, albeit with a .482 BABIP. That’s not great.

With a really good slider, you need to have a consistent pitch to set it up. Thus far, the fastball has been consistent enough to propel this unreal 1.32 ERA, 0.97 WHIP…though it comes with a 3.95 SIERA. You’re smart and likely understand what causes a massive gap between SIERA and ERA – A HOTEL of .259 BABIP, 86% LOB rate, and zero HRs allowed for a…well 0% HR/FB. Duh. That should scare you a bit. We know his heater has bouts of command issues and his curveball isn’t a stud #3 pitch like Bieber or deGrom have, but in mortal realms, it’s not as good as Castillo’s slider, Maeda’s changeup/slider (they are both dope, I can’t choose which is #3), or Gallen’s trio of awesomeness. It all seems a bit precipitous and while in this short season I will reward Fried for being in rhythm, I think y’all can understand that this isn’t a complete package that demands your respect.

Don’t get me wrong, I think Fried can hold a sub 1.00 HR/9 unlike last season – he’s allowing more soft contact and still holds a 50%+ GB rate with a great 13% SwStr rate – but if someone believes Fried is a Top 15/20 arm the rest of the way, I think you should cash in now. He hasn’t developed into that bonafide ace quite yet.

 

Let’s see how every other SP did Friday:

 

Dakota Hudson vs CIN (ND) – 4.2 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 27% CSW. I was tempted to lead with Hudson instead because I think he’s grossly undervalued. His curveball and slider each returned a 36%+ CSW here across 41 breakers and his sinker avoided the heart of the plate to generate outs. He’s up to 74 pitches now, gets the Royals next and I want that start. I don’t see a Hudson valley in the near future.

Colten Brewer @ BAL (ND) – 4.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 20% CSW. Huh. I don’t know why you’d think this was a good idea after the fact as it came across four innings and just two strikeouts, but if that’s in your head, stop it. You know better.

Dallas Keuchel @ CHC (W) – 8.0 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 31% CSW. It wasn’t full neckbeard, but holy smokes, that cutter inside to right-handers was GORGEOUS. Seriously, this is so good. He paired it with changeups away and yeah, I’m a happy camper as Keuchel continues his campaign to win the Spider-Man

Walker Buehler vs COL (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 11 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 41% CSW. Aces gonna ace and win a King ColeHe said in a post-game interview that he was tired of pitching like…a bad pitcher, to paraphrase and his four-seamer was unreal. 61 thrown at 39% CSW is crazy as he earned 20 called strikes on them. Wow. His cutter wasn’t as great as we’ve seen and his slider was nowhere to be found, but his curve was fantastic as well and yeah, it’s wonderful to see you back in form, Buehler.

Danny Duffy vs MIN (W) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 33% CSWI’ll be honest, Duffy deserved a spot on The List this week and after this outing against the Twins – albeit one you didn’t want to risk – he deserves your love as a proper TobyThat’s a great CSW and now he gets the Cardinals + Cleveland as he…wait. Well still start him, but Duffy, you were doing the BSB in previous starts but this one…wasn’t nearly as good. Yes, you got 12/35 called strikes en route to a 40% CSW on your 91/92 fastball, but I wanted more, you know? Anyway, I’d pick him up for those two matchups as I think he’s in a good enough rhythm to take advantage.

Chad Kuhl vs MIL (W) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 1 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 26% CSW. It wasn’t the overwhelming start I thought it could be, but Kuhl pitched well enough to earn a dub. Streaming Record: 15-13. His slider went just 3/24 on whiffs and his sinker is still suspect. Hmmmmm. He gets the Cardinals next and I think I’m, still game for that, but I expected a little more out of Kuhl by now.

Garrett Richards vs HOU (ND) – 2.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 27% CSW. Bleeeeeegh. I didn’t expect greatness from Richards, but I thought he could do better than needing 64 pitches to get through two frames and walking in a run. His slider wasn’t clipping the zone as we’ve seen and his approach became too “down-and-glove-side” focused. Now he gets the Seattle, though, I think you should at least hold for that.

Logan Webb vs ARI (W) – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 8 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 33% CSW. If Webb were on a team with a better schedule and could get matchups like the Diamondbacks all the time, he’d be a legit TobySadly, the Giants have it rough and while I’m happy he could dominate with his fastball against the Diamondbacks, it’s not worth it in normal situations. Sigh.

Elieser Hernandez @ WSH (W) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 34% CSW. Look at Elieser go. He has yet to be efficient enough to demand a full six frames as he needed 89 pitches in this one, but this was the first start when I saw Elieser truly go upstairs with heaters and falling down with sliders. I think his success isn’t going to last the full year, but you should feel fine starting him against the Mets next week.

Matt Shoemaker @ TB (ND) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 34% CSWThe Cobbler can’t be stopped! That’s a 47% CSW on splitters, no biggie, and I was sad he was pulled after just 74 pitches. It feels like a Vargas Rule as Shoemaker racked up another impressive CSW outing and now the Red Sox are next…there’s a feeling he can keep it going there as well.

Anthony DeSclafani @ STL (ND) – 4.1 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 4 BBs, 2 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 17% CSW. Soooo this wasn’t great. It reminded me a bit of Dylan Cease‘s strikezone plots of four-seamers too far up and I just wanted to grab the whole thing and drag them back into the zone. Solid sliders down, though, but the walks just got to him. You could see this line and think “ugh, he’s done”, but honestly, nah. He’s throwing a lot of sliders – yay – and his fastball is a small adjustment from finding the zone and being solid at 95 mph. And now he gets the Brewers? I’m down.

Patrick Corbin vs MIA (ND) – 6.1 IP, 3 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 9 Ks – 18 Whiffs, 32% CSW. Velocity is at 90 mph now, barely, and I want to see more 91/92 from Corbin, but okay, you earned a Gallows Pole and your slider was great per usual. This is super close to a VVPQS, but I think we’re all fine with that. He’s not going to get a bump to the Top 15 or anything, but I’ll move up Corbin on Monday. He obviously deserves it now that he’s not throwing 89 mph.

Mike Fiers vs LAA (W) – 5.1 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 28% CSW. Fiers is fighting to be a Toby and he’s not quite cutting it with a 5.81 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, and 10.1% clip. A 10.1% what? Strikeout rate. That is his strikeout rateOh no.

John Means vs BOS (L) – 3.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 32% CSW. We knew he’d be limited pitch count wise, but sadly his fastball lost a full tick here, sitting more 93/94 than 94/95 and failing to hit 96 mph. Meanwhile, his changeup is still failing to fall down in the zone like we want it to and I’m sad. I feel like his breakout season has been stripped away from him. Given the 44 pitches and failure to get his command in order, we’re forced to wait until he averages what we want before restoring him again. You know, make sure the Means are in line.

Adrian Houser @ PIT (L) – 7.0 IP, 4 ER, 9 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 23% CSW. Houser’s sinker is still performing well as he features it a ton arm-side while also displaying the ability to surprise right-handers off the outside corner. His other stuff is still a work in progress, though, and against a team not from Pittsburgh, Houser would have dealt an even worse line. I still think he’s worth it against the Reds, but don’t hold onto Houser thinking he’s a potential Top 30 asset – his sinker isn’t an elite pitch and his secondary stuff just isn’t good enough.

Ryan Yarbrough vs TOR (ND) – 6.1 IP, 4 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 26% CSW. The Fratty Pirate had a rough second inning where he allowed all four runs and was fantastic otherwise. His changeup stayed low and he featured some good cutters and I know it seems like I keep getting defensive about Yarbrough. I guess the line looks like he’s bad, but I don’t believe he is. Yes, I was wrong for putting him just inside the Top 40 two weeks ago, but he still should be rostered in 12-teamers.

Nick Margevicius vs TEX (W) – 5.1 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 33% CSW. I mean, yeah. It’s a good CSW because the Rangers love taking pitches like they are Instagram fiends (look, I don’t think I have a Brooklyn accent, but sometimes I like to get lazy with “pitches”, you know?) and you know those seven strikeouts are far from what to expect. The ratios? Yeah, that’s normal.

Robbie Ray @ SF (L) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 5 BBs, 8 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 33% CSW. 17 whiffs because his stuff is still so good, but he’s still fighting his overall command. This is 100% PEAS territory and I think we need to wait until 2021 as a late flier to hope Ray gets it back. In advance, please recognize that I’ll be endorsing him as a late-round pick that will be volatile early in the season and we could likely be dropping right away. Soooo for this year…? Yeah, we don’t buy in even with that CSW and high whiff total. He was better, but still not complete.

Lance McCullers @ SD (L) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 29% CSW. McCullers got a bit too low happy again with his fastball, while his changeup wasn’t as sharp as we’ve seen – 0/17 whiffs on the slow ball. I don’t you should do anything rash, but I was feeling that his approach change from the last start would carry over into this one. I still think he rebounds, but I am a touch more concerned now.

Jon Gray @ LAD (L) – 3.2 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 0 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 19% CSWYou can’t start Gray at home. You can’t start Gray during one of his road starts. WHEN CAN YOU START JAY GRAY?! Oh. Sorry. Next week as he heads to Arizona. Oh. Yeah. This is awkward. It’s cool man, I get your frustration, that’s zero strikeouts and horrible ratios. There’s nothing to salvage here. HAISTFMFWT?! Exactly. I feel for you.

Aaron Nola @ ATL (L) – 2.2 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 31% CSW. What is this, Nola? No Albies. No Acuna. You’re dope. They’re not. His changeup has been the pitch for him this year and it wasn’t there like normal in this one, earning just a 3/15 CSW as his curveball didn’t fare much better. He did pitch better than the line suggest with fastballs, though, and he did a good job avoiding the heart of the plate. He just didn’t have the same precision and it was blegh. Don’t doubt Easy-A. He’s got this.

Kolby Allard @ SEA (L) – 0.2 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 29% CSW. Ouch, he couldn’t escape the first frame and they pulled him at 38 pitches. Not to say that he’s excellent otherwise, but some days just aren’t your days.

Andrew Heaney @ OAK (L) – 4.2 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 34% CSW. What do we like about prime Heaney? His ability to throw fastballs up and changeups/curveballs down. Does this look like prime Heaney to you? I just want him to succeed and this ain’t it, even with that good CSW as the A’s elected to take a ton of fastballs in the zone – just 4/31 CSW on secondary pitches for a cool 13% CSW. Ouch. Yes, you can drop him, he’s a Cherry Bomb in its truest form.

Michael Fulmer @ CLE (ND) – 3.0 IP, 5 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 27% CSWFulmer is the ghost of Christmas future. I want Scrooge. The man who can change before it turns into…this.

Jake Odorizzi @ KC (L) – 3.0 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 1 Ks – 1 Whiffs, 19% CSWOdorizzi wasn’t pitching well and added insult to injury when a liner hit him straight in the chest. He already was wondering HAISTFMFWT?! and he deserves better than this pain. You’re okay dropping Odorizzi for now, he’s not acting like the pitcher we want him to be, he’s still limited pitch count wise, and I’m never even sure he makes his next start on time.

Adam Plutko vs DET (L) – 3.1 IP, 7 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 32% CSW. There go the Tigers with the Plut-KO. We just can’t’ wait for Plesac and Clevinger to come back, can we. Will they even pitch with the Indians again? I think so. It’ll probably be another week at least, though.

Jon Lester vs CWS (L) – 3.2 IP, 8 ER, 9 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 27% CSWThe White Sox are a solid offense and Lester isn’t made for starts against solid offenses. It’s Jon Lester, not Jon Morester.

 

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.

 

 

Josh Lindblom vs. Pittsburgh Pirates – The new slider is legit and the Pirates bats are not.

 

Tomorrow’s Streamer

 

Tyler Mahle vs. St. Louis Cardinals – There’s a chance he doesn’t go more than four considering he missed a turn in the rotation, but I’m willing to bet he maintained his pitch count on the side. It’s a good matchup and worth a shot on a Sunday.

 

Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer

 

Brad Keller vs. St. Louis Cardinals – I’m digging that curveball and I think he can handle the Cardinals.

 

Game of the Day

 

Sixto Sanchez vs. Washington Nationals – He’s an electric arm and I’m giving him the GIF Breakdown treatment. Andy Patton is handling the Triston McKenzie start as well, so enjoy your late Saturday or early Sunday with a pair of GIF Breakdowns.

 

 

(Photo by Rich von Biberstein/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.

3 responses to “Max Effort”

  1. Avatar Boom says:

    Let’s just admit it. John Means is this year’s version of Matt Strahmn.

  2. Avatar NickFolesMVP says:

    Keep doubting EliAcer (feel free to use that)

  3. Avatar Rocket says:

    Nice to see Walker Buehler find his form again. As good as he was I think he has another level he can reach in his next few starts. I think he moves to 5 or 6 on the list next week. Not sure if he is ahead of Gray yet only because Gray even when he does not have his best stuff has managed to push through his start. Thats what aces do.

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