Rick It Up

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

(Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)

I often say that I’ll be the first to tell you I was wrong on someone. Guys, I was wrong on Rick Porcello who went 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks against the Yankees tonight. What’s important is to figure out why I was wrong, and the answer is pretty clear to me. His slider has been his best offering over the last three seasons and he upped its usage above 30% tonight after featuring it under 20% last season. Meanwhile, he earned 30% called strikes with his two-seamer and even found himself getting comfortable with his changeup. That curveball he favored last year? Yeah, axed to single digit usage rates as he went through this arsenal audit. It’s working now – Porcello was as locked in as I’ve ever seen him – and it’s hard to think he can’t be productive in a 12-teamer. Not Top 50 again, but I didn’t even include him in the Top 100 as I just didn’t see a path to success again after such a terrible 2017. Good on you Porcello, you’re not going to be this good, but you’ll help.

Let’s see how every other SP did Thursday:

Jose Berrios – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 11 Ks. It’s a Gallows Pole, albeit it with a relatively low 17 whiff count, but that’s not what really matters. Berrios killed it tonight earning 11 whiffs on 37 curveballs, even if he went 0-for-11 with his change piece. It does worry me a little that his changeup isn’t being that masterful pitch just yet, but when 2 of his 3 outings are this studly, does it really matter?

Chris Stratton – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks. After a pair of disappointments to begin the year, Stratton was picked as my Call Boy and showed up to work ready to get it done. I watched a decent amount of this and didn’t see anything all too impressive overall, unfortunately, meaning he’s just going to be the occasional streamer and not occupy a roster spot in my 12 teamer. But that’s okay, way to be Stratton. Streaming Record: 8-4.

Nick Tropeano – 6.2 IP, 0 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. Well this is interesting. I was disappointed entering last season that Tropeano went down with TJS, but he returned for his first start since 2016 tonight and killed it. Two-Seamer had good movement, he was feeling his slide piece, and had some good changeups as well. He avoided the middle of the plate often and forced the Royals to get frustrated enough to swing at tough pitches. Definitely worth a look at the backend of your staff and I’m ashamed I didn’t realize he was returning so soon. He could be a solid Toby through the year – think of 2016 Jerad Eickhoff

Chad Bettis – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. Before you shout his 2.04 in my face like a coach upset at a ref, let me direct you to his 6.11 K/9, 4.08 BB/9 and 4.69 FIP through 17.2 frames. Don’t be a fool, avoid the Kuhl. This is Bettis Yeah but that doesn’t rhyme. Can’t argue with that.

Ian Kennedy – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. There’s something enjoyable about a pitcher allowing his only ER via longballs before they record an out. But let’s get real Kennedy, you’re being considered because of strikeout upside and all you could muster were three whiffs? Seriously? How am I supposed to have faith in you now? Don’t let the 1 ER fool you, he didn’t get a Win, had just 3 Ks, and a 1.50 WHIP. Not as pretty as it looks.

Trevor Williams – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. Good to see Trevor reverse the K/BB numbers, but with just five whiffs to his name, he’s prime for plenty of Grave Mistakes and that puts him in the bad place.

Trevor Bauer – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks. Bauer is dope and you should feel dope for owning Sir Dopeness. 38/105 curveballs makes me so happy.

Gio Gonzalez – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks. Yep, this is a Gio line alright. Good amount of strikeouts, but enough question in the ratios that you feel slightly dirty about it. Not Dusty Donut dirty, but a little uncomfortable like sitting on a sleeve of the sweatshirt wrapped around your waist. Or maybe uncomfortable like the people who don’t know if they should be hanging out with a guy who still wraps sweatshirts around his waist. Both work.

Kyle Hendricks – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks. I’ll totally take this as a Hendricks owner, 1.33 WHIP be damned. You’ll enjoy your 3.00 ERA + 7 Ks and have a wonderful evening. Maybe even rewatch Ken Burns’ Baseball, you’ve earned it.

Lucas Giolito – 6.1 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 5 BBs, 3 Ks. His velocity was even worse today at 90.7mph, while he threw just seven curveballs. This is not the Giolito I was promised and I see no reason to keep holding him if you still have him.

Bryan Mitchell – 3.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 5 BBs, 2 Ks. Sometimes pitcher make it easy for me to tell you completely avoid them. It would be remiss to ignore the fact that Mitchell has great movement on his pitches but zero command of it all. If it somehow clicks (which is an “if” that is so often used and rarely understood to be as massive as it is) Mitchell would be fantasy relevant. But there’s zero reason for you to invest in that.

Sal Romano – 4.1 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 4 BBs, 4 Ks. There’s the Romano I know and hate.

Michael Wacha – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks. It’s about time you asked yourself a question. “Why do I own Wacha?” If Minor/Lopez/Junis etc. are on the wire, don’t wait any longer.

Michael Fulmer – 3.0 IP, 6 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks. I know this is the tipping point for many of you. I don’t blame you and I’m going to have to do some heavy thinking for The List on Monday. Should Fulmer be behind Corbin? Maybe? It blows my mind that I’m considering that but as I’ve said before, I’m an emotional man, not a blind man. I can see that Fulmer isn’t getting it done in the strikeout department and it’s getting harder to keep believing it will come around. Nick, we’re upset about the 6 ER and 3.67 WHIP It’s the same thing. Getting just 2 whiffs means Fulmer relies heavily on batted balls, making him susceptible to something like this – 2 HRs n all. I still want to believe in the skill set, but I need to properly weight the upside vs. the current value and that’ll take a moment. My instinct tells me he’ll sit around 35-40 on Monday.

Sonny Gray – 3.0 IP, 6 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. Hooooo boy. Gray has had a tough go of it out of the gate, holding a 6.92 ERA with a 4.85 BB/9 through 13.0 IP. But here’s the thing – it comes with a .409 BABIP and 61.5% LOB rate, good for a 2.59 FIP. Trust me, I know FIP is far from everything, but I’m sure there are some of you that are teetering on the edge and I’m doing what I can to pull you back to safety. Sure, Gray probably won’t be Top 20 this season, but don’t rule out Top 30 status just yet. Stay with this, better days are surely ahead, and I won’t blame you if you want to wait until you see the solid outing from Gray before trusting him. Personally, I think you’re okay start him next time out against the Marlins.

Today’s Streamer

Tyson Ross vs. San Francisco Giants – I would ideally wait another start or two before putting any faith in Ross, but with Reynaldo Lopez now owned in over 25% of leagues I don’t feel right picking him. I could go with Chad Kuhl against the fish, but he’s inconsistent and I’m feeling good about Ross for whatever reason.  Update: It looks like Andrew Triggs is going against the Seattle Mariners today instead of tomorrow and he’s my favorite option of the lot. He’s still owned in under 15% of leagues and I’ll take my chances against the Mariners.

Tomorrow’s Streamer

Andrew Triggs vs. Seattle Mariners – He’s still owned in under 15% of leagues and I’ll take my chances against the Mariners. Nope, Triggs is now going Friday instead, which means I’ll go Mike Minor against the Astros instead. I hate the matchup, but I’m getting the feeling Minor will succeed here and suddenly not be a streaming option for the rest of the season as he’s massively snagged in leagues.

Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer

Joey Lucchesi vs. San Francisco Giants – I don’t love him like many others do, but he’s the best option for the day as the Giants don’t scare me.

Game of the Day

Jordan Montgomery vs. Detroit Tigers – This is a big start for my assessment of The Bear. If he can’t pull it together here – especially with his breaking stuff – I’ll have to reassess for Monday.

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 Codylee says:

    Your blurb about Tropeano excites me, better use of roster spot than Kyle Gibson in a 16 team league?

    • Avatar bp says:

      I had him stashed in my AL only hoping this would happen. I’d rather have Tropeano over Gibson (tho as a Toby I’m going to have a hard time starting him against BOS next time out). You can Gibson owners can keep hoping for him to put it together…

      • Avatar Codylee says:

        Oh god I’m not going to start Tropeano yet, wasn’t starting Gibson. As a twins fan, I was ready to find anyone to drop Gibson for.

    • Nick Pollack Nick Pollack says:

      I’d rather own Trop than Gibson.

  • Avatar Castor Troy says:

    I think Triggs is going today, not tomorrow, at least according to TheScore app and the MLB.com probable pitcher page. Would you stream him over Ross? How do you feel about Mike Minor tomorrow @HOU, too risky? I might pick him up anyway just in case he does well against them which would make him a hold at that point right?

    Thanks site is awesome!

    • Nick Pollack Nick Pollack says:

      Awww man, I just recorded the morning cast too! Triggs is going today after all and I like him over Ross for the stream – still going to keep what I put in the article, though.

      It is a bit risky with Minor tomorrow, yeah. Not a bad idea to add and stash as I imagine it would be tough to get him if he has a successful start tomorrow as you mentioned.

  • Avatar Kevin says:

    Who would you stream between Montgomery, Faria, or Ross?

  • Avatar JerryOnDrums says:

    Sup Nick! All your Call Boys are gone already in my 12-team deep-roster points league. Buuuut, I see Homer Bale out there on the wire. Would you drop Pivetta to grab and stream Bale? Or do you think Nicky P has ascended past the streamer class in 12+ team leagues? Thanks man!

  • Avatar Sam says:

    How you feeling about Vince Velasquez in Tampa tonight for a QS league? Their offense has scored the same amount of runs as Miami so far

    • Nick Pollack Nick Pollack says:

      If you’re searching for a start for the weekend, I’m okay with it. Don’t love it given his low floor, though.

  • Avatar Nick Pollack Superfan says:

    Hey Nick,

    My current pitching staff is Sale, Severino, Greinke, Fulmer, Bauer and Weaver.

    Corbin is still on the waiver wire in my 8 teamer, and you mentioned here that Fulmer would likely fall to 35-40 on The List Monday. Would that make him my lowest ranked pitcher and should I drop him for Corbin?

  • Avatar Johnny says:

    Heading into next week, would you still rank the following: Lopez/Minor/Junis (56/57/58) in that order? I have all three per this site (it’s all I use for pitching!) but looks like I need to drop one next week due to some hitting injuries. Thanks man!

    • Nick Pollack Nick Pollack says:

      I can’t tell you yet since there are starts to be had this weekend that will certainly dictate it.

      Right now, Junis is the odd man out.

  • Avatar Bob says:

    I need a streamer for Saturday I’m between Newcomb and Minor. Triggs is already owned in my league. I know they are both ugly matchups. I’m leaning towards Newcomb as the cubs are scaring me that much right now plus the strikeout upside. Thoughts on this?

    • Nick Pollack Nick Pollack says:

      I’m okay with that, though if Minor does well, you won’t be able to pick him up after this one.

      • Avatar Bob says:

        I’m a little confused about what you mean. Are you saying someone else in my league will grab him before I am able to?

        • Nick Pollack Nick Pollack says:

          Right. I have to imagine a third successful start in a row – especially two against Houston – would mean that Minor won’t be hanging on the wire much longer.

  • Avatar J.C. Mosier says:

    I’ll keep the faith in Fulmer for now, but I’m wondering if you believe that last night’s performance was in any way related to the fact that he continues to experiment with the grip on his slider (according to the Tigers’ radio broadcast).

    • Nick Pollack Nick Pollack says:

      Yo JC!

      I wouldn’t say that. I’d attribute it more to some bad fastballs and his changeup not fully back yet.

  • Avatar Jpr says:

    Hi Nick,

    Hoping to sneak a hitting question in here. Who do you like better between Franchy and Profar? Thanks!

    • Nick Pollack Nick Pollack says:

      I personally like Franchy more, but I’d also get the opinion of our hitting experts who write the Batter’s Box articles.

  • Avatar omar says:

    How do you feel about Faria vs. the Phils today? I’m in an AL-Only, so I’m not too versed on the NL lineups. Thanks

    • Nick Pollack Nick Pollack says:

      I’m not as afraid of it as others are as Faria is a guy gets a TIARA as he can Turn It Around Right Away. In an AL-Only, I think he’s worth the risk.

  • Avatar Andre says:

    Do you really think Sonny Gray is a better pitcher than Rick Porcello ROS?? I have my doubts.. Great site!

    • Nick Pollack Nick Pollack says:

      I understand why you’d think that! It’s been a super small sample thus far and I’m not fully convinced this is 2016 all over again for Porcello.

  • Avatar NCKLM says:

    I dumped Giolito for JorMont just last night, but I’m also holding Pivetta and Flaherty (12-tm mixed). Deep bench and DL league, so only available options are Yonny or Trop. Any thoughts there?

  • Avatar Effem says:

    Much like your observation on Triggs, it looks like Tropeano has a new release point (granted, tiny sample size).

  • Avatar Brian says:

    Start or sit Stroman @ Cle tonight? I’m leaning towards sitting him although the Indians have not been hitting well.

  • Avatar Let's Play Two says:

    Last time I inquired about Weaver and Corbin, you mentioned it was a close choice to make. After Corbin’s third start would you still say it’s too close to call between the to when it comes to counting stats and ratios? I’m looking to deal one of them for some offensive help.

  • Avatar theKraken says:

    People seem to perceive Porcello as a villain type of character because he won a Cy Young that looks bad in retrospect. Its not his fault he got lucky… He has always been a solid pitcher and at times great which adds up to a lot more than what people think of him as. Consider that he is durable and pitches for a contender while he also has a reasonable K rate and you have one of the game’s most underrated arms. Even bad Porcello is rosterable and at times you get a guy that can help to carry a team.

  • Avatar theKraken says:

    Re: Berrios – His changeup was plenty good last night. It might not have bared itself out in the numbers, but that is kind of the problem with using outcomes to measure a pitches efficacy. It was the best, most consistent change I have ever seen him work with and it was a big part of his success last night. I am not sure what outcomes the change did generate – I think you are looking at whiffs? He was spotting it and it had consistent action last night – it helped everything else play up. I am not sold that Berrios is a TOR guy just yet myself as he makes some really bad mistakes in the middle of the plate and has been able to get away with it so far… but man, has this guy pitched great so far this year.

  • Avatar theKraken says:

    It was weird watching Giolito v Berrios. Giolito was the most hyped pitching prospect of the last decade and I think you could argue that he was even more than that. He came up at the same time as Berrios, so it was interesting to see Giolito with garbage stuff and execution relative to the always less heralded Berrios. Just an interesting frame of reference.

  • Avatar Let's Play Two says:

    In what order would you take Quintana, Weaver and Corbin for a standard 5×5 season-long roto (QS, K, ERA, WHIP)?

  • Avatar Barry says:

    Hello Nick,

    How often do you publish “every single starting pitchers performance” from the previous day?

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