Means’ Ultra Mode

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Sunday.

It’s been a bit of an anxiety-riddled season for those on the John Means train. He looked to be getting in rhythm early on but had to take a step back as the real world hit him (poor John) and he needed time to get back on track. Then he lost some velocity and didn’t have his changeup command, but suddenly had begun steering the ship right in the past few weeks. It all added up to yesterday’s incredible 5.2 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 12 Ks – 20 Whiffs, 40% CSW performance and it’s a wonderful sight. Does this mean we’re cool now?

Well, his fastball isn’t averaging 94/95 mph like it was initially, but still a full tick above last year and 93+ mph and embracing elevation propelled his four-seamer to 16 whiffs alone yesterday, returning an overall 45% CSW. Hot dang! I’ve been waiting for his changeup to turn into the elite offering it was last season and while it still wasn’t that level of quality, he tossed more of them lower in the zone today than we’ve seen, pushing over the 30% CSW mark. He also had effective curveballs as well and despite a few more deep counts than we’d like, Means dominated the Rays. Streaming Record: 29-27. (I’ll be honest, I lost track of the record, let’s just say it’s 50/50 and call it a day for the chaos of the 2020 season.)

To be straight with all of you, I’m not entirely sold on this. It’s wonderful seeing his fastball carve up the Rays, but his secondary stuff wasn’t as complementary as we want it to be and it could be something that doesn’t stick for his start. That’s me overthinking this, though, and you best be rolling with him against the Jays next. It’s the same thing, just replacing an R with a J, what could go wrong?

 

Let’s see how every other SP did Sunday:

 

Carlos Carrasco @ DET (W) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 3 BBs, 11 Ks – 24 Whiffs, 33% CSW. Aces gonna ace and earn a Gallows PoleRemember those three starts in August that had us all worried? Carrasco has gone at least six frames in the other eight starts and proved himself a stud. It’s the classic story of Carrasco – he’s a little streaky and has a clumped valley often. Don’t forget it.

Kyle Wright @ NYM (W) – 6.1 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 30% CSWHey! Wright was right for once! His curveball was excellent at 44% CSW and his fastballs found edges effective against a great Mets lineup, but sadly I think this is the poster child for a Birthday Party – Wright has allowed fewer than 3 ER just once all year, and that was across 3.1 innings with a near 3.00 WHIP. I don’t think there’s enough here to buy that he’s a changed man while it’s possible it carries over against the Red Sox, you don’t want to risk that horrendous floor.

Joe Musgrove vs STL (ND) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 11 Ks – 18 Whiffs, 39% CSW. YES MUSGROVE. YES. His four-seamer was able to be effective enough to give center stage to his slider and curveball, breakers that once again earned roughly 50% CSW between them. 9/27 whiffs on sliders are incredible. He’s also averaging 93.7 mph on his four-seamer and it’s frustrating the season is ending so soon. He deserved another two months to flex his muscles, but now I’ll have to wait until next season and hope, once again, that his September push sticks around. Start him for Cleveland.

Jose Berrios @ CHC (W) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 27% CSW. Great stuff Berrios, since you’ve found your curveball, you’ve been cruising. Just one more start to go against the Reds and you gots this.

Tanner Houck vs NYY (W) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 21% CSW. I was wondering if he could repeat and he did. Kinda. I think Tanner got a bit lucky here against the Yankees and he wasn’t nearly as sharp as last time, but the BABIP gods shined upon him today and granted him success. A combined 19% CSW on his sinker and four-seamer isn’t a product of success, even if their balls in play generated outs. It’s simply not sustainable. He gets the Braves next and nooooope.

Max Scherzer @ MIA (L) – 5.2 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 20 Whiffs, 26% CSW. Aces gonna ace and make us exhale. He needed 119 pitches to serve us a Philly and I doubt many will have him in the top tier for next year’s starters. He’s losing his edge just a bit and it’s not what you want to see. But hey, I’m glad this worked.

Tyler Anderson @ OAK (W) – 5.2 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 25% CSW. What a mysterious season for Tyler who shoved a solid start against the A’s. He’s too volatile for me and I’d avoid for his final start against the Padres.

Madison Bumgarner @ HOU (ND) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 30% CSWI wanted nothing to do with this start and I’m happy for Bumgarner to prove me wrong. His fastball sat 89 mph this time – not the 90/91 mph we want, but a little better than before – and he was able to hit his spots better than we’ve seen. I’m certainly not convinced he’s fixed, but at least there is some consideration for Rockie Road next time out. I think I’m still leaning sit, though.

Ben Braymer @ MIA (W) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 24% CSW. Yeaaaaah, this is a soft-tossing lefty who got outs trying to mess with speeds on his changeup and curveball. Not what you want to fantasy as this line is the ceiling. You feel like a tall man in this room.

Rick Porcello vs ATL (ND) – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 10 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 25% CSW. Porcello is this massive volatile play reserved for those who have nothing to lose and can chase the possibility of 6+ innings with decent ratios. Can we stop for a second and note that the Braves – the clear #1 offense this year – has been overwhelmingly subdued by the Mets staff this weekend? I mean, Porcello with ten strikeouts and glorious ratios over seven frames against the Braves just doesn’t seem right. Anyway, I think it’s important to note that even after this start, Porcello has a 5.46 ERA and 1.43 WHIP. Oh Porcello.

Antonio Senzatela vs LAD (W) – 6.1 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 23% CSW. Senz-A got the Dodgers inside Coors and I’m shocked he pulled another rabbit out of his hat. that’s a 3.13 ERA with a 4.87 SIERA and 14% strikeout rate for the year. His HOTEL is .257 BABIP, 80% LOB rate, and 12.1% HR/FB and you know I just don’t buy it for 2021. You’re chasing a Toby in Coors. Think about that. I feel like he’ll get the Dereck Rodriguez or Dakota Hudson treatment and get flat out ignored in drafts next year.

Dinelson Lamet @ SEA (ND) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 10 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 43% CSW. Aces gonna ace and earn a King Cole despite all the pitchers earning 40% CSW today. Maybe if he didn’t have a three-pitch-strikeout on three balls, this would be different.

Jack Flaherty @ PIT (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 11 Ks – 21 Whiffs, 35% CSW. Aces gonna ace. Let’s just ignore last week, okay? Okay.

Taijuan Walker @ PHI (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 26% CSW. Atta boy Taijuan! We didn’t know if he’d recover well after enduring the Yankees twice in a row and he was able to throw a ton of strikes and even a few whiffs on splitters and fastballs. Now it’s the Orioles and that could work.

Sandy Alcantara vs WSH (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 25% CSW. Yep, this works for me. That low CSW is due to batters putting his sinker in play and often returning outs – works for me! – and while his changeup still isn’t the pitch we want it to be, his slider was nasty at 42% CSW. Can’t say I expected that outburst from his breaker, but it’s certainly welcome. He has a tough matchup against the Yankees to end the year and I think you still want that one.

Josh Lindblom vs KC (W) – 5.1 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 23% CSW. So Lindblom happened to go yesterday and he went four-seamer/slider heavy in this one, leaning in on his excellent new slider. I’m down for that at 40% CSW and I’m glad he was able to carve 5+ frames with just 74 pitches. I’m not totally sold on everything as his cutter wasn’t incredible, but it was solid fastball command at 90 mph and it works with that slide piece. I think I’d avoid his final start of the season against the Cardinals, though.

Kyle Cody @ LAA (W) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 34% CSW. Ayyyy, look at that CSW! He leaned heavily on sliders for 54% CSW across 39% usage – that’s lovely – but I’m not sold he can always be effective doing so. Just 61 pitches needed for five frames is shockingly efficient and I imagine he doesnt’ go 80 pitches in his final start of the year against the Astros. Capped ceiling, poor matchup, Papa John’s and I’m out. But good job Cody, we’re proud of ya.

Ryan Yarbrough @ BAL (L) – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks – 21 Whiffs, 40% CSWSo many starters brought the big guns yesterday where a 21 whiff, 40% CSW performance earns no rewards. Crazy. The Fratty Pirate has success when his changeup and cutter are doing great things and he even had the benefit of 13/17 CSW on his curveball. Whoooaaaa. Thanks Keanu, I was thinking the same thing. It’s nice to see Yarbrough clearly in rhythm once again and with the Phillies up to end his year, I’m holding tight.

Jose Urquidy vs ARI (ND) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 31% CSW. It’s weird not seeing the strikeouts, but without his curveball, slider, or changeup earning whiffs (3/50 SwStr is horrendous), this is what you get. Whatever, we’ll take the QS and ratios and call it a day. I wonder where people will have him ranked for 2021 as one of the biggest questions for the year will be innings expectations. For a guy like Urquidy who will likely fail to hit 30 IP this regular season, how many do we expect him to throw next season?

Tony Gonsolin @ COL (L) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 10 Ks – 19 Whiffs, 29% CSW. I was concerned. You were concerned. He didn’t have his splitter or slider doing great things last time and this was Coors. Coors! Gonsolin didn’t care, earned 41% CSW on sliders, and was just so good. I really wish he left the Dodgers so we had a clearer understanding of his future – just 82 pitches here as he could have gone six – and I feel like if he were in Cleveland, he’d be a Top 30/40 guy. Wild.

Michael Lorenzen vs CWS (ND) – 4.2 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks – 19 Whiffs, 35% CSW. Even Lorenzen got in on the massive whiff party yesterday with nineteen of his own. Insane. His slider went 9/33 whiffs here with effective fastballs as well and he was able to avoid punishment despite plenty of mistake pitches. This isn’t the super sleeper you’re looking for.

Adonis Medina vs TOR (L) – 4.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 29% CSWI don’t love handing them out, but I have to give Medina the Cup of Schmo label. I watched some of this and there wasn’t a whole that excited me. He stayed away from right-handers, executed a few nice changeups and curveballs, but the whole package isn’t something to consider.

Dylan Cease @ CIN (L) – 3.0 IP, 2 ER, 0 Hits, 7 BBs, 5 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 25% CSW. Look at this line. It’s the most Cease line you’ll see with 7 walks and zero hits, but just 2 ER and managing five strikeouts along the way. He’s incredibly lost, y’all.

Justin Dunn vs SD (ND) – 5.2 IP, 3 ER, 2 Hits, 4 BBs, 6 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 30% CSW. Hey, it worked, but I’m sorry for those that needed a QS and got a PhillyI’m a bit amazed that Dunn survived the Padres and while I understand those that like him as a deep AL-Only sleeper next year, I wonder if his curveball and slider are actually this good – 41% CSW between them here. I’d still be cautious against the Athletics next.

Julio Teheran vs TEX (L) – 1.0 IP, 3 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 0 Ks – 0 Whiffs, 23% CSW. Not a single whiff and zero strikeouts as he was pulled with just three outs in the books – HAISTFMFWT?! I can imagine some started him given the Rangers, but it’s Teheran, yo. Great stuff from Patrick Sandoval after with 4.1 innings of 1 ER, four baserunners, and 7 strikeouts and I wonder if he gets that final start against the Dodgers. Doesn’t matter, you’re not starting either.

Yu Darvish vs MIN (L) – 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 9 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 39% CSW. Aces gonna put their Cy Young campaign in question as he raised his ERA to 2.22 here. Noooooooo. 

Braxton Garrett vs WSH (L) – 2.2 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 26% CSW. I understand BG was a deep sleeper here – I think I labeled him as such myself – and this was certainly disappointing as his curveball wasn’t as good as it was in his debut. That fastball needs his hook to mask its sub 90 mph velocity and without it, well, you get that. He may get another shot, but I think you know the floor enough now to avoid.

Brad Keller @ MIL (L) – 5.0 IP, 5 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 31% CSW. Blegh. His fastballs found the heart of the plate, his curveball was nowhere to be found, and his sliders weren’t as good as we’ve seen. There’s a chance it works against the Tigers next, but I prefer Singer/Bubic/Duffy more.

Matthew Boyd vs CLE (L) – 5.0 IP, 5 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 25% CSW. Nooooooo welp, there’s the Cherry Bomb of Boyd biting us once again. His changeup was remarkably good, but he had little command of his breakers and his fastball found the heart of the zone too often as it was slapped around for just 16% CSW. I get the feeling that even in 2021, you won’t know if Boyd will have ever gotten over his hump and while I’ll always be a Boyd Boy, he makes for a stressful fantasy manager.

Mike Minor vs SF (L) – 5.0 IP, 6 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 8 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 37% CSW. Bleggggh. His changeup was finally good again and his didn’t go sliders and this is the blowup start? Even curveballs were working too. A pair of longballs including a grand-slam in the sixth did him in and I think you should feel great with Minor against the Mariners to end his year, 5.92 ERA and all.

Deivi Garcia @ BOS (L) – 3.0 IP, 6 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 20% CSW. Easily the saddest start of the day for me as Garcia’s fastball was incredibly hittable. Given his inability to lean into his curveball, Garcia needs his fastball to be exceptional for him to succeed as that changeup just isn’t enough to be a proper #2 pitch. I don’t think you drop for the Marlins as the heater can be better than this, but it did sit 90.8 mph instead of the ~92 mph we’ve seen and it’s riskier than I’d like it to be. But yeah, I’m still starting him there.

 

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.

 

 

Brett Anderson vs. Kansas City Royals – Nothing is left. Dunning, Musgrove, Garcia, all owned above 30%, while somehow Brad Keller is at 60%. So there’s Anderson, I guess. I hate this. Looks like Anthony DeSclafani is going against the Milwaukee Brewers and I guess I’m leaning there over Anderson on the other side. Don’t love it and it’s super risky, but he’s worth the upside over Brett. NOPE. Looks like it’s JT Brubaker vs. Chicago Cubs and that’s super risky to me. I think I’m out there.

 

Tomorrow’s Streamer

 

Drew Smyly vs. Colorado Rockies – He fanned eight in fewer than four innings last time out and now it’s Rockie RoadThere’s a gamble as it could be just five innings or fewer, but it’s the most interesting low owned arm for the day.

 

Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer

 

Dean Kremer vs. Boston Red Sox – I’d consider Eovaldi heavily as well on the other side of this one, but he’s plenty more owned, making it easy for Kremer. There’s risk here, but Kremer had a much better cutter last time out and that could stick. We’ll see.

 

Game of the Day

 

Luis Castillo vs. Brandon Woodruff – Yesssssss.

 

(Photo by Mark LoMoglio/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.

11 responses to “Means’ Ultra Mode”

  1. Avatar Firtree baseball says:

    Darvish or Bassitt this week?

  2. Avatar DJ Pi k Kool-aid says:

    Smyly or Gausman for next year

  3. Avatar Nate says:

    Bench one. (Need K’s and W’s) Patrick Corbin, Ian Anderson, Greinke, Flaherty.

  4. Avatar Jake says:

    Flaherty or Ian Anderson this week?

  5. Avatar larry womack says:

    Only two moves left for the week:

    Streamer
    [email protected] Bos & @ Tor, C. Smith vs Tex and Colo, Eovaldi vs Balt. or Bubic vs Det.

    Like the two starts for Akin and Smith. but don’t want to wreck ratio’s

    Leagues does QS and is Yahoo H2H. Playing for 3rd place.

    Thank you

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