One More Cup of Joe

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Saturday.

Last September, we saw Joe Musgrove increase his velocity and begin to hint at being a legit fantasy stud, making us excited for 2020 and beyond. Then he got hurt, wasn’t in rhythm, and made us disappointed this summer…until September hit. Including yesterday’s phenomenal 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 10 Ks – 20 Whiffs, 38% CSW outing against the Indians (King Cole!) Musgrove held a 2.16 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 39% strikeout rate, and just a 5% walk rate in his five starts this month. Unreal. The heroes are his breakers that he’s featuring over 45% of the time, especially his curveball yesterday that returned a marvelous 15/27 CSW.

That approach is fantastic, especially when his breakers are answering the call effectively. The question is if he’s able to stay effective with that four-seamer, which has ranged from 92 to 94 mph per start. Can he keep elevating it? Can he keep getting strikes with his breakers? Is he still prone to too many mistake pitches? It does make for a player who will get a ton of hype from some but retains a good amount of volatility. Pitching for the Pirates doesn’t help things, either, and I want to pour some water on this fire before it becomes too large come March. He’s exciting and someone I’d want to take a chance on, but let’s ensure he doesn’t reach levels where you have to draft him inside the Top 40 SP, okay? There’s too low of a floor here.

 

Let’s see how every other SP did Saturday:

 

Brandon Woodruff @ STL (W) – 8.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 10 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 34% CSW. Aces gonna ace. A 3.05 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, and 31% strikeout rate over 73.2 IP is a fantastic season for Woodruff, who gave you a bit of a migrane in the middle for a moment – failing to go more than 5.0 IP for 5 of 6 starts. You have to think this warrants Top 20 SP treatment next year.

German Marquez @ ARI (W) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 36% CSW. Atta boy Marquez! This was the clear start for Marquez and while he didn’t…throw…a…single…slider(?!) he cruised with four-seamers and curveballs. I don’t think my Marquez outlook has changed dramatically to next year – Coors will dampen his stats. It always does – and I hope he somehow finds a new home.

Kyle Gibson vs HOU (ND) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 32% CSW. Gibson’s slider was excellent and enough to make this worth. Solid changeups as well and while that’s cool n stuff, I’m not digging it for 2021. Too volatile, you know the drill.

T.J. Zeuch vs BAL (ND) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 0 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 20% CSW. Whoa, can’t say I expected this to work. I mean, not a single strikeout?! HAISTFMFWT?! He did go the Neckbeard route pretty well, though, and that’s cool. Just not fantasy-relevant-for-the-future cool.

Lance McCullers @ TEX (ND) – 4.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 9 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 41% CSW. We didn’t know if he’d get the start and he was cruising with this one. Great cutters, high sinkers, low curveballs, it was everything we want out of McCullers and more. I really hope this is what we see next year, working the upside-down triangle of curveballs down, cutters up glove-side, and sinkers up arm-side. I believe in you Lance.

Trevor Rogers @ NYY (ND) – 3.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 30% CSWSo this is a solid three-inning line against the Yankees, but I don’t see a whole lot here that points to a legit arm for 2021. Maybe a deep NL-Only sleeper, but is he even going to get the playing time?

Zach Davies @ SF (ND) – 3.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 24% CSW. Ugh, why just three innings? Okay, okay, I understand. With Lamet & Clevinger hurt, Davies = their #2 SP now, so they needed him fresh for Game 2, but come on, he was still doing his great changeup things! What a wild and magical year of 2.73 ERA and 1.07 WHIP – even a 23% strikeout rate after never boasting 20%+ in his career. It’s sure not to stick next year as I doubt his changeup will be this good again, but this was fun.

John Curtiss vs PHI (ND) – 0.2 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 0 Ks – 1 Whiffs, 20% CSW. He opened for Yarbrough, but that’s a bit generous as the Fratty Pirate only went 35 pitches. It makes for a questionable chase next season for Yarbrough, but if the Rays are into him early, that could be for a solid April that you swap later on. We’ll see.

Tanner Houck @ ATL (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 10 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 33% CSW. WHOA. That slider was ridiculous with 46% CSW across 37 thrown, while his fastball was…kinda meh and I think he got a bit lucky that it wasn’t tatted more often. It’s a two-pitch mix, though, and while I think his slider is legit, he’s not throwing 97+ like Dinelson Lamet and it’s a risky proposition for 2021. Definitely on my radar, though.

John Means @ TOR (L) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 1 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 30% CSW. I’m so proud of you Means. I’ve lost track of my streaming record – I’ll update it tomorrow – but that’s another clear win as your heater was back up to 94+ mph, while your secondary stuff did good work, especially breakers for strikes. 40% changeup CSW is pretty dope too. I’m all for in for 2020 as I think a proper off-season and warmup for a season is just going to bring out the best in Means.

Mike Minor vs SEA (ND) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 31% CSW. Atta boy Minor! High four-seamers at 92 mph, changeups for strikes, and even your breakers got called strikes effectively. What a strange season for Minor and I’m a bit sad it’s ending too soon for him. He’s finally getting more in the four-seamer/changeup groove, albeit just 15% slow balls yesterday. Not sure where he ranks next year as he’s a FA and where he lands will matter. Capped ceiling, but could be a solid innings arm with some strikeout upside.

Justus Sheffield @ OAK (ND) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks – 1 Whiffs, 21% CSW. I still don’t like his sinker and his changeup was lost in this one. Slider got outs but returned that sole whiff and it meant just one strikeout in the end – HAISTFMFWT?! I’d be happy with a 3.58 ERA for the year, but I see a 1.30 WHIP and 21% strikeout rate and that seems a bit more in line. A 4.4% HR/FB rate surely isn’t going to stick either and I’m not buying here until I see legit growth in his approach/secondary stuff.

Michael Pineda vs CIN (ND) – 4.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 25% CSW. Blegh. It’s not a blowup, but it’s not the final solid start you wanted to put a cap on this non-bomb of a season. I’m sure some will be willing to jump in next year and maybe I am a bit, but I get the feeling he’ll be a HIPSTER with his volatile nature and that ain’t for me.

Tucker Davidson vs BOS (L) – 1.2 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 4 BBs, 2 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 23% CSW. He needed 53 pitches for five outs and yeah, we’re moving on here. I don’t see fantasy relevance here.

Adam Wainwright vs MIL (L) – 6.2 IP, 3 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 26% CSW. It’s a hint of a VPQS with just three strikeouts, but props to Waino from a successful year with that curveball once again. No, I don’t think he can hold anything close to a 3.15 ERA and 1.05 WHIP through a full 2021 season. Maybe worth the late pickup for an early stream, though.

Johnny Cueto vs SD (L) – 6.1 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 20% CSW. Hey, you got that PQS you chased. Cueto is a Toby at best – at best – and that makes him an avoid for 2021.

Max Scherzer vs NYM (W) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 26% CSW. Aces gonna kinda ace, one baserunner away from a VPQS Is that a UPQS then? Anyway, I think you’re going to see Scherzer fall out of the consensus Top 10 SP for next season (I may be totally off-base here) as many will point to this year as a beginning of the end. I’m not inclined to agree and even though his 1.38 WHIP was ghastly, that .355 BABIP fuelling a 9.36 H/9 just isn’t going to stick. That’s really the only problem here. He’s a workhorse and strikeout machine. You’ll be happy.

Matthew Boyd @ KC (W) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 27% CSW. This neutral outing is the worst representation of 2020 for Boyd but here we are, done with this roller-coaster as Boyd holds the highest qualified ERA of the year at 6.71 – the sole mark above 6.00 for those that took that in the PL Prop Bets. He’s a HIPSTER for 2021, so you know I’m out but I’ll always be a Boyd Boy. Be the man you’re destined to be.

Anibal Sanchez vs NYM (W) – 5.1 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 24% CSWEhhhhh. That’s how I’d sum Sanchez’s 2020 season if I’m feeling generous. Narrator: He was. Don’t expect a major rebound next year, his splitter and cutter were blegh all year and I’d be shocked if both miraculously returned next year.

Jacob deGrom @ WSH (ND) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 10 Ks – 23 Whiffs, 32% CSW. Aces gonna ace…? That’s a Gallows Pole as deGrom somehow allowed 3 ER along the way, but I’m still blown away by an average 99 mph heater and a slider that jumped from a 19% SwStr to 26.5% clip this season, propelling these stupid amazing stats. Yeah, a 21.6% OVERALL SwStr this year. Just dumb.

Justin Dunn vs OAK (W) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 30% CSW. Blegh. It doesn’t help you anywhere and that’s kinda what Dunn was all year. He had some moments and could be a streamer next year, but that’s it.

Rick Porcello @ WSH (L) – 3.0 IP, 3 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 21% CSW. Blegh. Porcello was a QS hail-mary as he’s a Cherry Bomb for innings leagues. Not so good here and at least the Mets can re-assess their rotation for next year. No idea where he ends up, but it surely won’t be in New York. What about the Yankees? Don’t you dare.

Carlos Hernandez vs DET (L) – 1.2 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 34% CSW. Essentially a bullpen game here for the Royals. You forgot they existed, didn’t you. Hey, it happens. (I’m so sorry Royals fans).

Julio Teheran @ LAD (ND) – 1.0 IP, 3 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 29% CSW. This was supposed to be Bundy, but he was scratched. I can’t help but wonder if there’s an injury underneath it given his low velocity last time out. Maybe not. What about Teheran? What about him? You know this ain’t the life you want.

Zack Wheeler @ TB (L) – 7.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 8 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 24% CSW. Blegh…? You want a better ERA and WHIP, but 8 Ks are always welcome from Wheeler as he’s yet to quite nail down how to get the most out of his repertoire. I still feel it’ll happen in due time and to see sinkers arm-side + four-seamers up is a very good start. Sliders were glove-side too so it’s close, just not perfected yet. He may be the draft steal you’re looking for in 2021.

Deivi Garcia vs MIA (W) – 6.2 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 30% CSW. A touch of Careful, Icarus as your PQS was lost in the seventh frame, but overall, I was more impressed with this outing than many before from Garcia. Better fastballs and curveballs, even with some good changeups and sliders sprinkled in. Looking forward to 2021, there are too many questions from the NYY rotation – will there be room – to wondering if his overall repertoire is good enough to be a consistent arm for your squad. The ceiling is limited until he turns one of his secondary pitches into a legit whiff offering & he’s throwing ~92 mph. Maybe he gets there, but I think I’m out for now.

Tony Gonsolin vs LAA (W) – 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 33% CSW. Blegh. So close to the QS you wanted as the Gonsolin ride of 2020 comes to a close. I’ll be struggling a ton ranking him tomorrow as I just don’t know how that Dodgers rotation will shape up. He’s gotta earn a spot now, right? RIGHT?! If he does, that’s a Top 50 arm to me, easily. 2.31 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, and 26% strikeout rate with a 14% overall SwStr are marvelous, albeit across sub 50 IP.

Luke Weaver vs COL (L) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 30% CSW. Just one cutter thrown and Weaver needs that third pitch to prevent his heaters from getting smacked around. I really hope he finds it over the off-season, I really do.

Luis Castillo @ MIN (L) – 4.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 26% CSW. Aces gonna struggle with his heater and disappoint. He had a bit of an unlucky season – 2.65 FIP! – but I do worry a little about his overall fastball command that holds him back from being a legit ace. Still Top 20 SP, of course.

Dane Dunning vs CHC (ND) – 3.0 IP, 4 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks – 1 Whiffs, 20% CSW. Ouch. It was fun while it lasted from Dunning, but this really wasn’t a sharp start. I don’t think his repertoire speaks to a sustained 2021 of success and I think he’s best on your wire to start next year.

Jon Lester @ CWS (L) – 3.2 IP, 7 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 23% CSW. Yeaaaaaah. I wonder if Lester is still drafted next year. He shouldn’t be.

Paul Blackburn @ SEA (L) – 2.1 IP, 7 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks – 2 Whiffs, 23% CSW. Hey, I remember you! I’m glad you got the chance again, but like microwaved bacon that is left in too long, it was a proper Black Burn. Maybe next year you become a streamer? Maybe…? Probably not.

Aaron Civale vs PIT (L) – 4.0 IP, 8 ER, 10 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 23% CSW. Noooooo. After starting the season on fire, Civale finished with six starts of 6.62 ERA, 1.68 WHIP, 19% K rate, and a 8% walk rate. Ouch. I know he’s much better than this and I adore his non-fastball approach, but his command of that sinker wasn’t as sharp as we’ve seen, while he’s not getting the same whiffs on his cutter. Curveballs are still dope – 20%+ SwStr rate! – it’s just nailing down that cutter and sinker that’ll make him studly again. I think he may come at a discount for next year because of this stretch and I’m all for it. The Indians will let him constantly go deep, his repertoire speaks to tons of upside, and I don’t think we’ll see that 6.00+ ERA floor again. This start is not him.

 

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.

 

JT Brubaker vs. Cleveland Indians – Sometimes, I marvel at how a guy like Jon Lester has 45% ownership and Brubaker has 3%. But I digress, this is the clearest stream of the day and I’m letting it ride after his last start where he cruised with sliders and sinkers. TAKE US TO THE PROMISED LAND.

 

Tomorrow’s Streamer

 

Possible Mets, Cardinals, Giants, Brewers, Phillies starters – So there’s a chance in the NL that there is some sort of one-game playoff to determine the final spot + the Cardinals may have to play a double-header against the Tigers on Monday if it makes a difference in the playoff picture…which it likely will. Not a terrible idea to hunt down possible Detroit/Cardinals starters if you have the room.

 

Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer

 

None – That’s it. That’s the game. I’ll be moving these streaming picks to the Rankings article next year to make everything more streamlined for y’all and I can’t thank all of you enough for checking out these articles daily. It makes my heart swell. Good luck today!

 

Game of the Day

 

ALL OF THEM. Okay fine, Aaron Nola vs. Tampa Bay Rays because Nola day is the best. Also I’m excited to watch Clarke Schmidt get his feet wet.

 

(Photo by Russell Lansford/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.

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