Molding The Clayton

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

(Photo by Samuel Stringer/Icon Sportswire)

I don’t spend a whole lot of time talking about aces, but I wanted to dive a little on Clayton Kershaw who went 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks deconstructing the Mariners yesterday. Yes, aces gonna ace and TATIAGA n stuff, but past that, there are a few things to discuss. First, in a “down year”, Kershaw is still putting up a 25% K rate and 4.3% BB rate while he’s boasting a 2.40 ERA and 1.01 WHIP. Dumb. 6+ IPS, of course, though there are two areas of worry that I think is the root of people’s concern with Kershaw. The first is the obvious injury risk moving forward as we have to expect one DL stint per year now in some fashion. It’s going to be about 25 starts this year, which means it’s seasons of 21, 27, and ~25 for three years. It would be silly to ignore it. But the other is his repertoire itself, particularly his velocity, but more than that. Yes, him dipping to 90/91 often with his heater isn’t great. Kershaw has been so incredible because he was someone sitting at 92/93 with pristine command and a pair of crazy good breaking balls. He had everything. It returned four straight seasons of 14%+ whiff rates…until this year as it sits at 11.4%. This is matching his 2010-2013 seasons, which is totally fine given how dominant he was then too, but I’m wondering if he needs that whiff rate to get by with a worse heater. It’s just 0.1 pVal for fastballs after 8 seasons pure dominance with fastballs, a small step back last year at 8.3 pVal (everything else averaged about 22 pVal per season), and I have to wonder if in this age of heat, Kershaw’s dwindling velocity will catch up to him. It’s not now despite how it feels in this, again “down year”, but the sense that the greatest will forever be looking toward the top instead of down at his peers is all-too persistent.

Let’s see how every other SP did Sunday:

Diego Castillo1.2 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 0 BBs, 0 Ks. A solid False Start against the Sawx. Jalen Beeks went against his former team for four frames of shutout ball, but I’d hate to invest in Beeks. Just not enough reward for the heightened risk.

Jhoulys Chacin6.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks. That’s two straight goose eggs in the ER for Chacin, though a little less dramatic with just 3 Ks instead of 10. I want the love, the emotion, the PASSION! But seriously, just keep starting Chacin. I know it’s dumb, baseball is weird, just do it.

Mike Clevinger6.0 IP, 0 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks. It’s a 3.25 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 24% K rate and an 8% walk rate with a near 6.4 IPS. The dude is legit and I might have him Top 20 entering next year. Ohhh baby.

Jaime Barria5.0 IP, 1 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. Didn’t expect a whole lot here from Barria as the Call Boy against the Rangers and we didn’t get much but enough. Streaming Record: 76-40. I’ll take it and move on from him as he gets the Astros next.

Luis Castillo6.2 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 9 Ks. He’s buttering me up again – what a beautiful, beautiful man – but this time I’ll bake in the risk for next season and only put him in the mid 30s. Probably. Maybe. Let’s see how he finishes…By the way, 96.6mph on his heater is getting awfully close to the 97mph we saw last year, while 12/18 SNIP on his slider and 9/30 whiffs on his changeup = everything I hoped and dreamed for from Castillo. Here’s a supercut of all his strikeouts as well, because of course I made that.

Jose Quintana5.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. He had back-to-back 5 ER stumbles prior to this and now his heater didn’t get destroy. Yay. Still don’t have faith it will continue and while it’s possible he goes on a run here, I wouldn’t like to invest in it.

Jameson Taillon6.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 8 Ks. 34 CSW for Taillon here with 18 whiffs as he earned 9 off 36 breaking balls. I still want him to go up with his four-seamer, but he’s doing great boring his two-seamer inside with excellent deuces right under the plate. A few too many mistakes for my liking hanging deuces and sliders and I think there is even another gear here, but I’m all kinds of happy.

Jose Urena9.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. Urena had to make up for giving you just one pitch last time so he went the full 27 outs here. This isn’t something to invest in down the stretch though, because if you roster Jose, Urena boatload of trouble.

Hector Velazquez4.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks. Is this what you want? A 1.50 WHIP with 2 strikeouts in just four frames of 2.50 ERA? IS IT?

Buck Farmer2.1 IP, 2 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks. Barmer is so not worth your time. At all.

Yovani Gallardo6.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. YoGa has been Cherry Bombing lately with four of his seven starts returning jsut 4 ER total, while the other three have each been at least 5 ER. When it comes with an average of three strikeouts per start, I don’t like this game.

John Gant4.1 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks. Gant is a guy that doesn’t go deep into games, finds a way to not kill your ERA but doesn’t have much strikeout upside. And look at this, one strikeout! HAISTFMFWT?!

J. A. Happ5.1 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks. I’ll take this from Happ as he earned a Gallows Pole with 20 whiffs. He’s still boasting a 27% strikeout rate and he went ham wild with elevated fastballs here. Guess what, it worked. Man that changeup was bad, though. Fix it.

Brett Kennedy5.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks. I talked to Brett after this one. He’s saying that he thinks this game isn’t for him and he’s moving into politics. I told him with a last name like that, he shouldn’t quit his day job. But you saw me out there! I barely made it through five! Great, now I’m conflicted. THANKS BUD.

German Marquez7.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. And Marquez just keeps on rolling. Pick him up if he’s somehow still out there. If you own him, be a Jack and never let go. And not in the actual movie version where he does let go. Because that’s dumb.

Jason Vargas5.1 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks. This looks like a Vargas Rule for Vargas, but it isn’t. Don’t.

Zack Greinke6.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks. A PQS with a 1.00 WHIP and 7 Ks? Yeah, I’ll definitely take that. Sure it’s not perfect, but these starts on your “meh” days is fantastic.

Anibal Sanchez6.2 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks. Great stuff from Sanchez who wasn’t sharp last time out and hasn’t really looked strong in a few weeks. Yes, we want one fewer ER, but that’s fine. Keep going with Anibal, ignore him in 2019.

Jake Odorizzi5.0 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks. Okay, that WHIP and strikeouts are fine but he has a 4.55 ERA and it’s hard to imagine that changing much the rest of the way.

Justin Verlander5.1 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. Aces wanna ace. Still 33/101 CSW, but just not as dominant with his heater as we normally get from Verlander. So it goes.

Roenis Elias3.0 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks. Elias threw over 40 pitches to get out of the first and while he settled down a little in the second and third, this was one was over before it started. I’m a little surprised they let a kid coming off the DL throw over 40 pitches in one inning and throw him out there after, but that’s a whole different story.

Andrew Suarez2.2 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. Man, I miss those time when we could start someone like Suarez against the Reds. Those were fun days.

Ryan Borucki0.2 IP, 6 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 0 Ks. Borucki elected to change his first name to Felix before the start of this one without telling anyone. What a selfish thing to do.

Heath Fillmyer3.0 IP, 6 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. I feel like I need to enjoy the Heath Bar to drown in sorrow for starting Fillmyer. *Suit man whispers in my ear*. Wait, I don’t own him in any leagues and no one else does? Oh, right. He’s bad. SHOTS ON ME!

Reynaldo Lopez2.0 IP, 6 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. You guys know what I’m looking for in Reynaldo – changeup and slider dominance – and I didn’t get either of that here. So this was bad. Womp womp. Maybe next year for this Young Gun. Just maybe.

Sean Manaea4.0 IP, 6 ER, 9 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks. Only 67 pitches from Manaea as his heater got rocked. His slider nor changeup worked either, forcing Manaea to throw too many fastballs and it hurt. A lot. He’s a glorified Toby to me still so don’t bench him, but I have to think he’ll be sitting around the 40s/50s next year in drafts…maybe even down to 60s.

Nick Pivetta3.2 IP, 6 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. Here I was thinking this would be the tipping point for Pivetta fandom and then BAM! He looks absolutely terrible. Seriously, only four whiffs in this game – FOUR! – as his slider and curveball weren’t as sharp as we’ve seen, while the Mets were able to foul off all of his elevated four-seamers. Seriously, all of them save for one that was put in play. That’s just not right, something was off here and it was the worst I’ve seen him save for the game where he hosted the Rockies. And maybe one of those Nationals starts. On the plus side, if you don’t own Pivetta, he may have just been dropped and I’d be all over that. The skill set is still there n all. I wonder what it does to his 2019 draft stock though and this start itself will just add more fuel to those not going after him in March. I get it, I see a guy that could easily be top 20 by the end of next season. Anyway, hold and this should work out well overall.

Yefry Ramírez3.0 IP, 7 ER, 7 Hits, 5 BBs, 2 Ks. He’s a Young Gun but for now, he’s a gun that shoots you in the foot. It doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Gio Gonzalez4.2 IP, 8 ER, 10 Hits, 4 BBs, 5 Ks. Yeah, Gio is not doing well these days and he shouldn’t be on your team. Yep, that’s the state of Gio and let’s turn him into Gonezo.

Today’s Streamer

Derek Holland vs. New York Mets – He’s still under 20% owned and it’s the Mets.

Tomorrow’s Streamer

Sam Gaviglio vs. Baltimore Orioles – I have very few options here so I’ll take another stab at Gaviglio throwing a ton of sliders as the Orioles are terrible.

Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer

Jakob Junis vs. Tampa Bay Rays – There is nothing here. Seriously. Nothing. I don’t like this – I think he’s too volatile – but whatareyagonnado.

Game of the Day

Stephen Gonsalves vs. Lucas Giolito – Maybe Giolito takes another step forward and head! It’s an MLB debut. A debut that I don’t care a lot about, but we’ll still be doing a GIF Breakdown on him.

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.

  • Avatar Michael says:

    Give Pivetta the PEAS Label, it’s time

    • Nick Pollack Nick Pollack says:

      I would except that he has excellent execution more times than not.

      A Cherry Bomb would be more fitting and I think that’s a decent argument.

      • Avatar Michael says:

        That’s fair, I just remember seeing him miss over the middle so often that I thought PEAS would’ve been more fitting

  • Avatar Ro says:

    I dont like Pivetta floor… If you cant thrust him against the nym… Mayb next year.. but it could be like godley.. mehh

  • Avatar Big League S.Choo says:

    Castillo should be TOP 20

  • Avatar Scott says:

    Marquez is rolling. Would you start him at home vs stl? His streak of 8 out of last 9 starts with 3 earned runs or less only includes 3 home starts. But, He’s rocking a 2.87 era, 1.0 whip, 67K during those 9 starts (60 innings). Thanks

  • Avatar theKraken says:

    As you said, you don’t typically break down aces here but I am wondering what Kershaw is at this point and I didn’t get the chance to watch yesterday. Good to hear that he is looking good. Personally, I am not worried about how hard the rest of the league throws – don’t see why that would be Kershaw’s problem. As long as he is executing he will be fine. I wonder if you can’t go further with command of a diverse arsenal than you could a decade ago. Your average guy doesn’t just throw hard – they also often have relatively poor command and don’t change speeds for anything – also the arsenal is often limited. If it all catches up to him at some point I don’t think it will be for lack of velocity, but I guess that is debatable – I would say that whatever is ailing him effects more than his FB velo. I wonder if his workhorse days are over? That is somewhat worrisome. That said, thanks for breaking him down.

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