Mike Check

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Tuesday.

Michael Pineda has returned. Before you see his line from yesterday, what are your memories of Pineda? Are they good? Bad? Maddening? Do they present feelings of tension, horror, or is it of pure bliss? It was certainly the latter yesterday with an astounding 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 33% CSW line against the White Sox, and oh boy, we’re doing this again, aren’t we?

Let’s play a quick game. Since 2015, how many seasons has Pineda held a sub 4.00 ERA? Never. How about a 24%+ strikeout rate? Once. Or a WHIP under 1.20? Once. How about a HR/9 above 1.30? Three times.  He’s an innately volatile pitcher, rooted in his limited repertoire of sliders and four-seamers. His slider is filthy – 11/36 whiffs here and a career 20% SwStr with a 45% O-Swing and 43% Zone rate (CHA-CHING) – but his fastball is notorious for its affinity for the longball and punishment. It holds a career -7.0 pVal with a 135 wRC+ and a .826 OPS, numbers that make your face morph into a mushy glob of sadness.

I’m pretty sure the term Cherry Bomb was created way-back-when in response to Pineda and that’s all really I need to tell you here. This start against the White Sox? Excellent sliders with fastballs finding the middle of the zone often and fortunately not destroyed constantly. This time. I can’t help you here. You know the rules and so do I. It’s a coin flip on a given night and if you need to take the chance, good luck on you. The fact that he has the ability to be sweet like a cherry makes him more valuable than many on the wire, but just be careful, okay?

 

Let’s see how every other SP did Tuesday:

 

Aaron Nola vs WSH (W) – 8.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 9 Ks – 20 Whiffs, 33% CSW. Aces gonna ace. There’s a Gallows Pole for you as curveballs took center stage for 38% CSW and 12 whiffs. Fastballs hit the edges, changeups were great, and I wish every day were Nola day.

Kwang Hyun Kim @ CIN (W) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 31% CSW. Kim is showing off that he’s a very capable Toby and fighting to earn that Spider-Man award despite plenty fewer starts. That slider is working well and he’s making the most of an 89/90 mph fastball. Keep on keepin’ on.

Dallas Keuchel @ MIN (ND) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 26% CSW. So Keuchel’s changeup was way elevated and arm-side in this one and while he didn’t make a mistake over the plate with it, the pitch was far from the masterful offering we’ve seen in the past. Keuchel is the king of the neckbeard and this start was more like sideburns with cutters doing work glove-side and little finding it’s way near the chin. Still a constant starter for your squad, just brush off the Singled Out day here and carry on.

Michael Fulmer @ MIL (ND) – 3.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 34% CSWHa! Fulmer actually had a good day as the foundation of a piggy-back. He needs to get his velocity back and get consistent with changeups/sliders before legit considering him in 2021, but hey, this is something at least.

Julian Merryweather @ MIA (ND) – 2.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 35% CSWI feel like the Grays below need Julian and his happy weather to deal with their cloudy day. We all need a little Merryweather. Well, not really as this is so obviously not enough, but you know what, yeah. He seems like a good chap.

Luis Garcia @ HOU (ND) – 1.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 26% CSW. Garcia opened for Jordan Lyles as the Rangers tried to do something to save Lyles’ season and hey, 3 ER in 5 IP is certainly better. Not ideal, but you know, something.

Julio Urias vs ARI (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 37% CSW. Ayyyy it’s a King Cole for Urias as he pulled a Matt Foley and got himself back on the right track. His curveball was looking like his rookie season again with fantastic horizontal bend and fastballs pounded the zone with confidence against the Diamondbacks. It wasn’t as pristine of a heater as it can be, but it’s Arizona without Starling MarteYou shouldn’t have any worry about Urias for the next month.

Zach Plesac @ KC (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 27% CSW. Plesac is back and ready to attack. His fastball command wasn’t as good as we saw prior with many landing well over the plate, but his changeup was legit with his slider doing things as well. Yeah, you should feel super happy you held onto Plesac through that whole August ordeal. He’s a must-start the rest of the way.

Elieser Hernandez vs TOR (ND) – 2.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 31% CSW. Uh oh. Elieser left yesterday with lat soreness and he’s out for at least one start = IL stint incoming. Welp, that was fun.

Ian Anderson @ BOS (W) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 19 Whiffs, 33% CSW. Start Ian. Just do it, he has the floor you want with clear upside now as he fanned eight Red Sox batters, dominating with changeups and curveballs down. He’s not quite doing the BSB yet, but I think we’re going to get it very shortly. This was a way better outing from his secondary stuff as well and I’m very happy to be wrong about Anderson’s ceiling with those secondary pitches. Here’s to hoping it repeats against the Nationals over the weekend.

Masahiro Tanaka vs TB (W) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 26% CSW. Tanaka went heavy on the slider – 48% usage! – and it worked against the Rays. His splitter really wasn’t there, though, but he snuck in fastballs just enough and even flicked some curveballs for 6/6 strikes. You should feel pretty safe starting Tanaka, but yeah, get that splitter in check, please.

Kevin Gausman @ COL (W) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 26% CSW. Did you roll with Gausman in Coors? I went with it, filled with anxiety, and it worked. He still did the BSBand even with one of the worse splitters he’s had all year (22% CSW is blegh), he still kept the pitch down and powered through the Rockies in Colorado. Now he gets a break against the Diamondbacks and I am absolutely in for that.

Patrick Corbin @ PHI (L) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 23% CSW. He toughed it out hovering 90 mph once again, earning just 5/37 whiffs on sliders. This ain’t it, I’d be selling where I can. There’s a chance Corbin gets back to where he was last year before season’s end, but it could be some tough starts ahead.

Alex Young @ LAD (L) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 5 BBs, 4 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 24% CSW. Young got the Dodgers as we collectively watched from afar and despite returning a 2.20 WHIP with five walks in as many frames, he survived. His stupid good changeup was stupid bad in this one – 7% in 14 pitches? SEVEN PERCENT?! – and I don’t expect that to be a trend moving forward. He heads to San Francisco next and that could be a sneaky stream.

Trevor Richards @ NYY (ND) – 4.2 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 31% CSW. If you remember last time, I was super impressed with Richards’ pitch separation as he went full-on BSBWell, it was more of the same with a few more mistakes this time around, and I’m intrigued. It was a little harder, too, adding a tick from his last start to hover 91 mph. This could work y’all, but he’s still only at 64 pitches in this one and he may need another start for us to get to a point where he could go 5+ frames comfortably. We’ll see.

Ryan Weber vs ATL (ND) – 4.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 22% CSW. For those that doubted Weber, here’s a 4.50 ERA and two strikeouts. STICK IT. But seriously, stick to anything but this. I am happy for Weber, though, this is one of the better games he’s had all year.

Framber Valdez vs TEX (ND) – 7.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 8 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 29% CSWOkay okay okay, there are a lot of people unhappy with my low rankings of Valdez and I get it. I really do. His ~20% K-BB rate is fantastic, he’s somehow holding a sub 20% flyball rate that returns a 0.40 HR/9, and he’s winning you your leagues with a 2.58 ERA and 1.10 WHIP. This has been the pickup that has propelled you and you’re upset that I’m not giving him enough credit for it. It’s a 3.28 SIERA. These advanced metrics all point to him having success and deserving it…kinda. Y’all know me, I focus on repertoire a ton and I just see signs of major regression coming. His curveball is killing it – 47% zone rate with an 18% SwStr is crazy good – and I may be undervaluing the pitch as it’s held a .112 BAA across 818 thrown in the big leagues. My biggest concern is his sinker that is somehow allowing just a 6% flyball rate. It boggles the mind with only an 18% O-Swing and it gives me weird Trevor Williams vibes – not the vibes that you want. But alright, I’m going to agree that I’m undervaluing Framber because of that curveball. He likely belongs in the 40s around Jordan Montgomery but I will preach caution, especially for 2021. His fastball is going to hurt you, especially on a night when that curveball ain’t doing this magical thing.

Asher Wojciechowski vs NYM (ND) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 26% CSW. I need more than 6/36 SwStr between his breakers if I’m going to buy in. Nick, that’s over 15% SwStr! Right and Asher needs to be above 20% with them if I’m going to consider enduring his questionable four-seamer. I need more. MOAR.

Chad Kuhl vs CHC (ND) – 4.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 27% CSW. Blegh. Streaming Record: 21-19. I wasn’t excited for this start, but I was still hoping his sinker wouldn’t return a 21% CSW and sit slightly under 94 mph. This is a guy that was constantly hitting 98/99 back in 2018! He’s not the man I want him to be and while his slider did earn a few more whiffs this time – 6/29 – it’s not the back-breaker that saves him from a depreciated heater. Move on from Kuhl.

Josh Lindblom vs DET (L) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 28% CSWOkay so the slider is getting there with heavy 24% usage and a 42% CSW along the way. Cutters were solid too, but the problem is his fastball which fell further in velocity, now at 89.4 mph. That’s not going to work, Lindblom. It just isn’t. If he can keep these secondary pitches (well, not a 1/14 CSW splitter, please fix that too) and ramp up to 92+ mph somehow, then we’re talking. I’m out until I see 91 mph at least.

Jon Lester @ PIT (ND) – 5.1 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 22% CSWWelp, Lester, buddy, pal, I think we’re done here. Maybe now your 60%+ roster rate will actually fall under 50%. Don’t judge those who treasure name value. Or else what? You won’t be able to stream Shane Bieber in ten years. NOOOOOO.

Ariel Jurado @ BAL (ND) – 4.0 IP, 5 ER, 9 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 24% CSWSorry Ariel, I don’t want to be a part of this world.

Matt Harvey vs CLE (L) – 1.1 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 0 Ks – 1 Whiffs, 18% CSWDoes this bring you pain? It brings me pain. Fun fact: This slow-motion GIF of Matt Harvey’s fastball nailing the outside corner in 2013 is what inspired me to make Pitcher GIFs back in 2014. He’ll always hold a special place in my heart.

Sonny Gray vs STL (L) – 0.2 IP, 6 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 1 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 18% CSW. Look down here where all the clouds are. The overcasted, bombasted, short-lasted Grays. Sonny couldn’t get a strike with his curveball or slider, resulting in hittable fastballs, and his stubbornness to continue going to curveballs and sliders was his death sentence. The breakers just weren’t there in the first frame. That’s a trio of starts where Gray hasn’t had the overwhelming secondary stuff we saw earlier and you’re worried. I’m worried, too. I’m giving him the TIARA for now as it could show up in a heartbeat, but yeah, this ain’t great. Don’t sell low, this should recover.

Jon Gray vs SF (L) – 2.2 IP, 7 ER, 9 Hits, 0 BBs, 1 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 19% CSWNow this Gray, well, I expected it like I’m watching a film noir. He was in Coors against a surprisingly decent Giants lineup and that’s the rule with Gray, isn’t it? Only the weakest at home, then decent on the road. Wait, that means he’s only good for about 25% of starts. Right. So why do I roster him? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

 

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.

 

 

Tyler Mahle vs. St. Louis Cardinals – I was super impressed with Mahle’s fastball and slider last time out and I’m crossing my fingers it sticks here.

 

Tomorrow’s Streamer

 

Zach Eflin vs. Washington Nationals – He’s owned in just 18% of leagues as of Tuesday morning, which means you can take the chance on Eflin’s new curveball taking shape.

 

Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer

 

Dane Dunning vs. Kansas City Royals – There are 20 games scheduled for Friday and I imagine there will more options for Friday as starters solidify, but I’m loving this one for Dunning against a poor Royals lineup.

 

Game of the Day

 

Zac Gallen vs. Walker Buehler – I’m a Gallen Gal – duh – and Buehler is making his return. This is wonderful.

 

 

(Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire)

Nick Pollack

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

9 responses to “Mike Check”

  1. Perfect Game says:

    Would you want Sonny or Glasnow ROS for ratios and QS. I’m concerned about Gray’s recent starts. Glasnow seems to be going in the opposite direction for the better.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Yeah, I understand Glasnow > Gray right now. They are in the same tier and I get having more confidence in Glasnow short term – there are only four weeks left after all!

    • theKraken says:

      Those two are apples and oranges partner. Gray is QS and IP and Glasnow is Ks. Start both for sure.

  2. Triumph the Dog says:

    Ok so I know I should maybe just be looking at your latest rankings but maybe condensing the context helps to put in another perspective?

    ROS who you like most?

    jMont Framber Dobnak Hudson Dunning?

    Personally I really want to like Dunning most here but his sample size begs to differ? Though maybe he has most upside while Framber highest floor?

  3. theKraken says:

    Re: the good Gray. I imagine most trade deadlines have passed. I don’t think there is much selling to be done. I am also not sure that leagues have any common format so maybe my leagues are just weird. Nevertheless, I was unaware of the bad trend – thanks for that analysis. Bad news is that I think his owners are likely stuck riding him through the playoffs.

    These piggybackers and openers don’t seem to be effective or in anyone’s best interest other than the folks that want to pretend they provide value from crazy ideas coming from baseball illiterates. We could fail to acknowledge the made-up labels and roles or we can validate them. I saw more singles through shifts than I have seen in my life yesterday. I also saw a C playing CF yesterday, but hey Nick Solak has done it many times this year. How comical is it that some guys like Willie Calhoun or Yordan Alvarez are not allowed to play LF when you have complete novices in CF? Again… baseball illiteracy. You can see the destructive influence of people that don’t understand more than a heat map in every game at this point. I fear that this has nothing to do with the pandemic and this is the way baseball is going – its just worse in every way.

    SIERA and every other “advanced metric” is just a K % derivative. I think they basically see K rate, HR rate and then they regress BABIP towards a mean and that is what they do. There is no insight there whatsoever. I would argue that it is actually quite regressive as it is has all of the wrong ideas behind it. If one is to use such shoddy metrics, then why not just go with ERA and accept those flaws. Unfortunately the only way to actually judge with accuracy is to watch for yourself and have baseball literacy.

  4. Howie says:

    Is Robbie Ray missing from this roundup?

    • Josh says:

      He didn’t actually start, piggybacked Julian Merryweather (Merryweather pitched the 1st and 2nd, Ray came in to start the 3rd and pitched into the 6th)

  5. Orange WHIPs says:

    San Francisco has scored the third-most runs in baseball this year. I don’t think they’re a stream target right now.

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