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There have been a lot of questions about the value of Carlos Rodon as he made his first start of the season yesterday, going 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks against the mighty Red Sox. This is a lot better than expected given DLH and, you know, the Sawx. Rodon has had moments of brilliance with his slider, creating five games in 12 starts with at least 9 strikeouts in 2017…with the other seven giving 4 or fewer. That’s the deal with owning Rodon as he’s a massive Cherry Bomb and even with this solid outing in the books, I’d have worry trusting him. Fastball velocity was around 93mph (about 94mph in 2017, but not too far off here) and 15 whiffs are great. Just don’t get carried away here. He’s hasn’t had a sub 4.00 ERA season since 2015, he’s battled injuries plenty, and he’s volatile. It wouldn’t be wise to forget these things after one start.
Let’s see how every other SP did Saturday:
Danny Duffy – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 10 Ks. I’ve been out on Duffy this year. You have too. But seeing 19 whiffs with 34 CSW makes me raise an eyebrow and it should for you too. What I found was 9 whiffs on 34 changeups – the most changeups he’s thrown all year by a longshot. That was the money pitch each of his last two years and it’s hard not to wonder if he’s made an adjustment with it that can stick. 12-teamers, don’t invest yet (way too small of a sample to give up on something else that helps), but deeper leagues I’d consider this lottery ticket if he’s out there.
Jon Lester – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. Lester is representing a very popular question each year. If a guy is acting like a TEEs through the start of the season, at what point do we give into it and say “maybe he’s good at overperforming his under the hood numbers?” It’s a tough question to answer, but in general, the answer is “never.” Right now, Lester is holding a 2.22 ERA despite a 4.31 SIERA, using a .238 BABIP and 84.8% LOB rate to propel his numbers. His 8.7% walk rate is its worst since 2011, 9.9% whiff rate is its lowest since 2014, with the most hard contact he’s allowed…ever. By a lot at 34.6% – he hasn’t been above 30% since 2007. Pull rate is up to 45% as well, not a good thing as this generally indicates more power than batters getting fooled. Overall, it’s not a scenario I want to invest in and I think he’s the best sell-high target given these numbers + his name value. Sorry, I wish I could get behind it.
Chris Bassitt – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. Bassitt…Bassitt…ah, yes! The man who was sent back to the minors in 2016 and had a 3.56 ERA in 86 frames in 2015. Hey, maybe that means he can have success now that he’s back in the majors! Ehhhh I don’t think so. Blame it on the Royals. I’m not seeing anything special here for me to get on board.
Mike Fiers – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks. Fiers, I finally have the perfect saying for you and you’re not letting me use it. It took me five years BUT I HAVE IT NOW and you have to allow just 4 ER in three starts. Moreso, it’s a 3.35 ERA with a solid 15% K-BB in your last seven starts and now we have to question if it’s real. He’s throwing more curveballs in that time – 12.3% to 18.7% – and guess what, it’s been his best pitch. Ugggggh I don’t want to put faith in this, I guess it’s a Chicken Stock? You know, where everyone is playing chicken on the waiver wire to see if someone will take a chance on a guy that has a history of being terrible. I’m going to say no, but now I need to contemplate an addition to The List tomorrow. Yay.
Charlie Morton – 3.2 IP, 1 ER, 1 Hits, 6 BBs, 4 Ks. Just one of those days y’all. Don’t do anything silly.
Tyler Skaggs – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks. After allowing 8 ER in two starts, Skaggs has rebounded well the last two times out, allowing just 1 ER all racking up 7 Ks. I’m not the biggest believer in Skaggs – I’d be surprised if he sustained this enough for me to slot him comfortably in the Top 35 – but I can’t deny how he’s helping your team without a staggering low floor to make me worried each time out. I’ll have him in the Top 60 easily tomorrow if not close to 50.
Blake Snell – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks. A super weird start here from Snell as he turned to his fastball a ton – about 70% of pitches! – as he never got into a good feel with his secondary stuff. So that 1.50 WHIP and just 1 strikeout is disappointing, but at least it’s a quality start with 1 ER? Expect a rebound.
Mike Clevinger – 6.2 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks. I want like one or two more strikeouts to really get excited – just about an 11% whiff rate here, which is fine but not celebratory – but we’ll damn well be happy with this. Keep it up Clev.
Kyle Gibson – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. Should I be giving more love to Gibson? It’s a 3.13 ERA with a 1.10 WHIP, 26.5% K rate, 9.6 % BB rate, and 3.67 SIERA over his last nine starts. That’s kinda fantastic. This was against the Angels and I’m a little disappointed that he only got 8 whiffs total (only 28 CSW in 118), but he churned through 7 frames and helped across the board. Hold on tight to Gibson and I’m giving him a little bump tomorrow.
Nick Kingham – 6.1 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. After allowing 2 ER on essentially 0 Hits and a HBP in the first inning (a “double” on a dropped flyout), Kingham cruised through the day, save for back-to-back walks. He’s locked in and I love him and… *Suit man whispers in my ear*. YOU’RE JOKING. Kingham just got demoted to Triple-A to make room for Ivan Nova. THIS IS CLEVINGER 2.0. I guess you’re safe to drop Kingham now if there’s a solid add on the wire, though I’m grabbing him ASAP if something happens to the Pirates rotation. Streaming Record 36-23.
David Price – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks. Like Kingham, Price started off poorly with 2 ER in the first, then settled in for a solid Quality Start. Good job hitting the inside corner, though he did have a bit too many changeups floating up in the zone. 28 CSW across 86 works (32.5%) and that’s a 2.89 ERA with a 27% K rate, 1.10 WHIP, 9.5% BB rate (blegh) and 6+ IPS in his last six starts. Way to recover Price.
Aaron Sanchez – 6.1 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 4 BBs, 5 Ks. Sanchez is back with his Feral Command (TM) and of course wrecked your WHIP with 5 Ks to show for it. You’re wondering if it’s worth it and because it’s that confusing, the answer is no. See? Easy.
Anibal Sanchez – 5.1 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. Soroka is coming back this week so I’m happy you had your moment Anibal, but it’s time for some legit fantasy relevancy to show up.
Michael Wacha – 5.2 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks. Another solid outing from Wacha as he’s giving us no reason to stop starting him. That’s all we can ask. I don’t see a Top 35 guy here but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be happy with him on your roster.
Alex Wood – 4.2 IP, 2 ER, 9 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks. His changeup was pretty blegh here though he was still able to not kill your ERA with six Ks to boot as he got Singled Out. Some are really worried about Wood and while I have my concerns, I still recognize that his command is ridiculously good. Don’t jump ship.
Kevin Gausman – 6.2 IP, 3 ER, 9 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks. Gausman is finally understanding that more splitters = more success as he threw 39 in 93 pitches here. The result? 14 whiffs and six Ks and a positive start after two clunkers, albeit one with 9 Ks as he faced the Yankees. I know it’s really hard trusting in Gausman after allowing 18 ER in 4 starts prior, but those were against the Rays, Yanks, and Sawx. If you trust him against worse teams like the Jays and ChiSox, you’ll be a happy owner.
Domingo German – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 9 Ks. On one hand, German earned himself a share of the Gallows Pole at 19 whiffs with a 35 CSW in 96 pitches. On the other, it was the Mets and we just don’t know if his command will show up one game to the next. It’s a Cherry Bomb situation and while we know he will be getting the starts with Tanaka/The Bear out, I’d proceed with caution.
Steven Matz – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 4 BBs, 6 Ks. A VPQS with 6 Ks is a lovely thing from Matz. 7 whiffs are not, with 26 CSW in 105 pitches. Blegh. Y’all know I hate banking on low BABIP low whiff guys and that’s what Matz is doing. He’s incredibly fringey for a 12-teamer, which is why I’m low on him as I prefer to use those fringe spots on fliers and Spice Girls and the lot.
Mike Minor – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. It’s a QPS for Minor and I’ll take that at this point. Here’s to hoping I can get excited about Minor again.
Tyson Ross – 5.1 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks. After the supreme hotness for about six weeks, Ross has slowed down a little with a 4.60 ERA in just 15.2 IP across his last three starts. Walks are low though and these 7 Ks are a step up from the 7 combined in his last two (thank you Marlins!) but I am a little cautious right now. I think he’s going to see a little dip tomorrow and I’d consider the market to see if someone is interested in buying.
Brent Suter – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. This was going to happen Suter or later. Nick, this is what Suter does like every time. Fine, I don’t like Brent, but if you’re comfortable with this start, Sute yourself. Better? Plenty.
Jake Arrieta – 5.1 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks. Blegh. Arrieta never got comfortable against the Brewers and now has 9 ER in two starts, raising his ERA close to 3.00. He’s been a solid sell high candidate for a bit, though the market may be adjusting after these outings. Still see him as a 3.40/3.50 ERA kind of pitcher this year, just not the 25% K rate of old, though that 17% mark should rise to be a little north of 20%.
Gio Gonzalez – 3.1 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 4 BBs, 3 Ks. Easily the worst start of the season for Gio as he faced the Giants. Whatever, there’s no reason to act in any way on this.
Dan Straily – 3.2 IP, 4 ER, 9 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks. Yeah, alright this isn’t going to work out if this is what you do against the Pads.
Chad Bettis – 4.0 IP, 5 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. Bettis has abandoned his fellow Colorado teammates for the Rocky Mountain Way, though I’d hear an argument that the Diamondbacks should be excluded given how hot Goldschmidt is (finally!).
Luis Castillo – 6.0 IP, 5 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 10 Ks. Is it bad that I’m kinda okay with 10 strikeouts and a 1.17 WHIP? Back-to-back HRs in the first kinda ruined this for the long haul, but of course because it’s Castillo, he still earned 18 whiffs and a massive 38 CSW in 110 pitches (34.5%) and I just can’t quit you. Slider did some work as well with 50% CSW in 18 thrown (4 whiffs, 5 CS), and his changeup was absurd again with 9 whiffs, 3 CS in 23 thrown. Fastball velocity at 96mph, which is more than fine when he’s gassing up to 99mph, but of course it comes down to consistency and mistake pitches. I’m looking at The List and I’m thinking his spot at 55 is about right. Yes that can climb plenty, but I don’t really see it falling much as his ceiling is well worth chasing guys in the sixties like Joe Musgrove, Fernando Romero, Tanner Roark, Luke Weaver, Kevin Gausman etc. I’d love to invest if possible.
Felix Hernandez – 3.0 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks. It’s Prince Felix here among the PL staff and it’s going to stay like that. We miss the old Felix.
Matt Koch – 5.0 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks. If you own Matt, your roster already has Too Many Kochs.
Dereck Rodriguez – 2.2 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks. Awww Dereck. I still kinda like your shtick but you faced the Nats and they gave ya the business. Good news for you is that you’ll get another chance to rebound against the Marlins twice + Padres next and that’s all kinds of good. Really sneaky deep league play.
Marco Estrada vs. Baltimore Orioles – I know, this is kinda stupid. The only options I have otherwise are Nick Tropeano against the Twins (meh) and Clayton Richard against the Marlins (blegh). I know it’s been tough for Estrada thus far, but he looked improved last time out and the Orioles have Chris Davis so…
Jordan Lyles vs. St. Louis Cardinals – Not much to choose from here, so why not, let’s take a chance that Lyles has a good curveball against the Cards.
Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer
Clay Buccholz vs. Pittsburgh Pirates – I wrote about Bucky’s success over at RotoGraphs and there’s a chance that cutter sticks around for another start.
Game of the Day
Ross Stripling vs. Sean Newcomb – Will Stripling be able to tame the Braves’ offense? Will Newcomb continue his hot start? More at 4:10.
Hey Nick, thanks for doing so much analysis on pitchers, you are the best source out there!
One minor thing, in about 140 innings in Rodon’s first season he posted a 3.75 ERA and a 3.87 FIP, so he has had a sub 4 season!
You’re completely right! I was actually just finishing that edit as I got this comment.
Thanks for the catch :)
2 questions (I apologize):
I traded my Kemp for his Taillon. Thoughts?
Also, got Kingham on my roster. Beeks is NA. Kopech on waivers until tonight. What should be done? My thinking is attempt to pick up Kopech, flipping him for Beeks, then dropping Kingham. I could just drop Beeks and slot Kingham into NA. Not sure. 12-team redraft.
Thanks in advance.
1. Kemp for Taillon is pretty even. Depends on your needs.
2. I’d rank them Kingham > Kopech > Beeks.
Thanks, man. My thinking, even though Kopech is enticing.
Nick, a fellow owner an I have been frustrated by one each of our starting pitching draft picks so we decided to swap. Weaver for Castillo straight up. Who do you think regrets it? Who do you think turns it around? Even trade?
I want Castillo. Too much upside while Weaver looks lost and doesn’t carry nearly the same ceiling.
Gibson three 118 pitches yesterday (a career high), not 105. That makes the 26 CSW significantly less impressive.
Weird, not sure where I got the 105 mark from. Thanks! It’s been fixed.
Regarding Kingham, I commented yesterday that I was done but that was before the end of the game and I was impressed with how he rebounded. I think I will have to hang onto him just based on the lack of available starting pitchers in my league. I have a feeling the Pirates are not done with making changes and also Kingham will be back at the first sign of an injury for any of their rotation.
100%. Kingham will be back in the rotation at some point, just like Clev was destined to as well last year.
Glad you stuck with him!
I have kingham on my team now. Fulmer and gausman are on the waiver wire. I can probably afford to hold kingham with the pitcher I have, but do you think I should pick up one of the others instead? Thanks Nick!
Fulmer is my favorite of the bunch and we don’t know how long Kingham will be out. Make the swap.
It is being pretty widely reported that this move for Kingham is just roster manipulation more than anything else. He lines up to pitch Saturday vs Reds and will likely do so.
It’s probably worth it in most leagues to HOLD off on dropping him until the weekend if you can.
It’s clear we are all fans.
I’m hanging onto him, thx man
Picked up Estrada for today and he helped me win K’s and QS’s this week. Thank you sir.
Someone actually dropped Wood. I’m ready to pounce based on his 25 ranking on The List. Are you concerned about the report that his hamstring and adductor are giving him trouble?
Any updates on Kingham’s status for the week?
I haven’t heard anything for certain but there is speculation he takes Trevor Williams spot. The only problem is that he can’t be called back up that quickly so there would have to be an injury. I still feel he will be back soon.
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