(Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)
I’ve been calling for #TheGreatRegressionOf2018 for Jon Lester for a while, but suddenly Lester is picking himself up. After yesterday’s 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks against the Phillies, Lester has allowed just 4 ER with 21 Ks in his four games. What I’m seeing is a major pull back in fastballs – normally sitting around 50%+ and hovering 40% (or even lower!) in his last three, putting a stronger emphasis on his cutter. Considering the cutter has earned a 5.1 pVal in these four starts while his heater holds a -8.0 mark for the year, this is a good thing. A very good thing. It doesn’t mean he’s an ace the rest of the way and won’t be a sub 3.00 ERA guy, but instead of fearing Lester’s outings, at least we can now feel a bit comfortable throwing him out there.
Let’s see how every other SP did Sunday:
James Shields – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. Whoa, ease up Jimmy Bucklers. You’re not supposed to do this against the Sawx. I’m pretty sure it’s against the law and the coppers are coming your way.
Yohander Mendez – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks. We’ve been calling ambidextrous pitchers “switch pitchers”, but I want to call them Yohanders because when we see it, we say “yooooooo.” And no, this isn’t something you want to go after. He’s a Cup of Schmo alright.
Diego Castillo – 1.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 0 BBs, 1 Ks. A standard False Start for the Rays as Ryan Yarbrough stepped in after and worked some magic. Crazy to think he’s earned 13 Wins, y’all know I still feel icky about it.
Edwin Jackson – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks. It’s so boring and TEEs worthy from EJax. Sounds about right.
Clay Buchholz – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. Bucky just keeps rolling as he has a tough schedule ahead for the rest of September. I can’t really tell you not to start a guy hovering a 2.00 ERA through his somewhat extended sample size, but I can tell you to have a shorter leash than you’d think.
Julio Teheran – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. Sure, whatever Teheran.
Nick Kingham – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks. After allowing a HR to start the game, he allowed 3 Hits in 15 outs and called it a day. Lovely. He only got the chance since Ivan Nova had to take personal leave, limiting him to just 73 pitches as he hasn’t been stretched out fully. I’m not sure he’ll get more starts this year, but here’s to hoping he gets his chances again next year.
Noah Syndergaard – 9.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 11 Ks. Well hot dang Thor! Among all my talk about wondering if he’ll proper express his ceiling, here he goes and sets the bar with a ridiculous start. A Co-Gallows Pole at 24 whiffs and everything worked. I didn’t see a dramatic change here, though, and I think it was a day where he was pumping gas and the horrid Giants lineup couldn’t handle it. Just understand this was an outlier – it was his first career CG after all.
Jorge Lopez – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 8 Ks. JoLo just isn’t this good. Seriously.
Sean Reid-Foley – 7.0, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 10 Ks. And here’s the upside that will show up every so often from SRF. 36/101 CSW and his slider was dope and with Blame it on the Marlins, he had himself a day. He still doesn’t have a locked rotation spot – the Jays might be Sans SRF – and even if he did, I don’t see this being close to a regular occurrence.
Walker Buehler – 6.1 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 9 Ks. That’s a 1.48 ERA in his last seven starts – 6+ IPS – and everything is wonderful for Buehler owners. Just 117.2 IP thus far as well, means he should be safe to start the rest of the way. But where does he get drafted next season? That’s…a question for another time.
Anthony DeSclafani – 3.2 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. He had a laborious fourth and was pulled a bit early because of it. I can fathom him being a proper Toby next year, but I think your better off gambling on someone else through the end of the year.
Gerrit Cole – 5.2 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 9 Ks. Aces gonna ace. For the most part. Okay fine, that WHIP hurts even if he got a little squeezed.
Chris Stratton – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks. He’s getting opportunities in the rotation, and I guess that’s cool. I’m far from sold that this is going to be like Stratton’s 2017 September so I’d stay away.
Gabriel Moya – 1.0 IP, 2 ER, 1 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks. The Twins had themselves a False Start – why not – with the iconic Zack Littell getting four innings after. Yay.
Luke Weaver – 4.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 5 BBs, 4 Ks. Weaver returned to the rotation and promptly reminded us why he was out of the rotation.
Shohei Ohtani – 2.1 IP, 2 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks. What a frustrating start as Ohtani did a little bit of everything here. He tried to field a one-hop comebacker with his throwing hand – dude, come on – and also had back stiffness, both leading toward an early exit with 49 pitches. How can we have any faith that this man can pitch for a full season. How.
Matt Boyd – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. I’ll take a PQS from Boyd if it comes with a 1.00 WHIP and 6 Ks. Against the Yankees?! Definitely. I’d keep rolling with Boyd as long as he avoids the elites.
Kyle Freeland – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. Well this is weird. I’ve been expecting Freeland to be more of a VPQS guy all year…save for the last few weeks as he’s increased his cutter usage and earned many strikeouts. However, after three straight games comfortably over the 30% mark, he’s now come down around 25% and I don’t like that. Whiff rates well under 10% now again, too. Kyle, please be better.
Jeff Brigham – 3.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 2 Ks. It’s too bad that Pablo Lopez is out for the year as I think he had a decent chance to turn heads with a weak strength of schedule down the stretch. Now he get Brigham instead, which sounds like a King demanding more of the freshly hunted boar. That’s the best I got for you, Jeff.
Felix Hernandez – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. They don’t call him the Prince for nothing.
Junior Guerra – 3.0 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. Blegh. Splitters just weren’t there and 5/23 CSW on his slider simply isn’t going to cut it. If you haven’t let Guerra go yet, it’s time.
Brian Johnson – 1.1 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks. You started Johnson for a possible cheap Win and he sent you on a Highway to Hell. Now that he’s not facing easy teams like the ChiSox I’m not coming close to him.
David Hess – 4.0 IP, 4 ER, 9 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks. For disappointment this year, the Hess Truck’s here!
Aaron Nola – 5.2 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 11 Ks. Happy Nola Da…wait. That’s 4 ER. Nooooooo, his beautiful ERA is now dwindling and he’s the clear 3rd. Welp, at least you got 11 strikeouts and a decent WHIP.
Carlos Carrasco – 6.1 IP, 5 ER, 9 Hits, 2 BBs, 9 Ks. Carlos Carrasco cruised through six frames with just two solo shots damaging his evening. However, it was a Careful Icarus as the seventh served him no favors. It’s nuts to see someone with a 41/107 CSW and 24 whiffs for a Co-Gallows Pole allow 5 ER, but Cookie finds a way.
Jacob Nix – 6.0 IP, 5 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks. I still think there is upside in Nix that should come out at some point, but let’s not take that chance when it’s playoff time any more.
Lance Lynn – 3.2 IP, 6 ER, 9 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. That’s 19 ER in Lynn’s last four starts, a bit of a shock after his hot start for the Yankees + his easy ChiSox/Tigers two-start week that went so so south.
Jefry Rodriguez – 4.2 IP, 7 ER, 7 Hits, 7 BBs, 2 Ks. You’re reading that correctly. Jefry went lucky number seven, even going so far to issue seven free passes. I don’t understand how this didn’t work.
Matt Harvey vs. Pittsburgh Pirates – Not much to choose from here and I think Harvey can pull this off.
Mike Minor vs. Los Angeles Angels – There’s also Lucas Giolito vs. Detroit Tigers and Trevor Richards vs. Philadelphia Phillies to consider, but I love the run Minor has been on and the Angels don’t scare me.
Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer
Jaime Barria vs. Texas Rangers – Not much to choose from here, with the only other discount option to consider as Dan Straily against the Phils and that doesn’t make me feel good.
Game of the Day
Touki Toussaint vs. Nathan Eovaldi – Touki is getting more time in the Braves rotation and I want to see it. There’s also Eovaldi hopefully getting back on track, earning another start after his last game featured an early rain delay.
Bye this week. Afterwards:
Hold Gibson (@KC, @DET) or drop for:
L Castillo ( LAD, @MIL, @MIA)
Velasquez (MIA, @ATL)
Minor (@LAA, @SD, SEA)
Matz (MIA, @PHI, @WAS)
Heaney (TEX, SEA, @HOU)
Giolito (@KC, @BAL, CHC)
Lucchesi (@SEA, SF, @LAD)