The Best Beard of All

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Wednesday.

I haven’t spent much time really diving into Dallas Keuchel this season and after a casual night of production against the Pirates via 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 26% CSW I figured now would be as good of a time as any.

I’m not going to tell you that this is the Keuchel of old. His 2.70 ERA and 1.04 WHIP are certainly appealing, but the 15% K rate? Not so much. A bit odd given his solid 10% SwStr that would be the third-best of his career, but it’s a product of ending outs early as he sits around the edges, avoiding the top of the zone and outlining the strikezone like a neckbeard. His sinker usage has dropped substantially to sub 30% levels as his changeup and cutter have taken center stage, each inducing flyballs at sub 20% rates. And while his .243 BABIP does seem unsustainable with just a 15% soft contact rate and 56% grounders, I think the underlying ability to avoid the heart of the zone will continue to make Keuchel an asset through the year.

Those numbers should bring you some concern, though. I don’t see a sub 3.00 ERA or 1.05 WHIP holding through the next month. It could – this is small sample galore in 2020 – but a bump or two could find Keuchel and tussle those pristine marks a bit. He’s very much worth your time as one of the best Toby arms in the neighborhood – Spider-Man here we come? – and be happy you have welcome stability in your rotation.

 

Let’s see how every other SP did Wednesday:

 

Mike Fiers @ TEX (W) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 32% CSW. Fiers is good enough to warrant a start against the Rangers. He did his thing and he can probably do it again next time against the Mariners. Then it’s San Diego and you’ll need to look into this odd-looking pen to ensure you forget about the previous two weeks.

Masahiro Tanaka @ ATL (ND) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 30% CSW. Yep, I’ll very much take this from Tanaka. It sadly didn’t return a Win, but he looked solid and that’s all you really want from him.

Trevor Richards vs BAL (ND) – 4.1 IP, 0 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 28% CSW. Whoa, 17 whiffs from Richards! He went extreme BSB here as he located four-seamers exclusive in the top fourth, not third, of the zone and changeups/curveballs down. Daaaang, I kinda love this. It took him 86 pitches just to get pulled in the fifth because of it, though, as he tossed too many four-seamers well out of the strikezone. Huh. Something to monitor with Richards. It’s too bad he’s tossing 90 mph heaters, though.

Julian Merryweather vs BOS (ND) – 2.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 33% CSW. The Jays are short on arms and here’s Merryweather tossing 96/97 across 36 pitches with a changeup and slider. Huh. Those secondaries weren’t commanded well, but when he threw his slow ball over the plate, it worked. There isn’t enough season left to make me think there’s something here to invest in but maybe in the last two weeks? Yeah, nah.

Jacob deGrom vs MIA (ND) – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 14 Ks – 24 Whiffs, 38% CSW. Aces gonna legit ace and earn a “Gallows Pole.” This is the kind of dominance we expect from deGrom and…maybe deserving of a #1 spot. Of course, he didn’t get a Win. Of course.

Jon Gray @ ARI (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 32% CSW. Gray finally had a clear start in Arizona and there’s something soothing about a plan actually coming together. It’s like the A-Team for once. Now he heads home to host the Padres and I’m burning the blueprints. No thank you.

Ian Anderson vs NYY (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 1 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 32% CSW. It was another exciting MLB debut that got the GIF Breakdown treatment and I agree with the overall sentiment from Andy Patton. The line was better than the stuff, but it’s a bit of Lucas Giolito vibe with four-seamers and changeups ranging up-and-down and rarely focusing on east-west. I love his extension to the plate that helps him get the most of out his heater and changeup, while his curveball is a solid offering as well. In short, he should be added in 12-teamers and started right away. Do I think he has ace potential? Sure, if he gets a bit better with overall command and approach, but for now it looks like a solid floor that you should roll with in the NL Easy.

Max Fried vs NYY (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 23% CSW. It wasn’t an impressive start from Fried. His curveball did well falling in the zone, but his slider left much to be desired and he struggled with his heater all game. The final line is lovely and you keep starting Fried, but he’s not pitching like the Top 15 ace his 1.35 ERA and 0.95 WHIP would suggest.

Jon Lester @ DET (ND) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 27% CSW. Lester got the Tigers and did what you expected of him. Y’all realize it’s still a 4.55 ERA on the year, right? With just a 16% strikeout rate and 5.6% SwStr rate? Yes SUB SIX PERCENT. This is a trap.

Aaron Nola @ WSH (W) – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 32% CSWAces gonna ace. See y’all, everything is fine with Easy-A. Well, his changeup was still not exactly what we want with 19% CSW, but it earned plenty of strikes with 11 foul balls and a handful of outs as well. We’re all good here.

Mike Clevinger vs MIN (ND) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 30% CSWAces gonna return, allow a HR to his first batter, then ace. A 1.50 WHIP ain’t pretty and not what you want from a Top 10 SP, but this was the Twins and he hadn’t started an MLB game in a bit. He’s an ace, don’t overthink this.

Patrick Corbin vs PHI (ND) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 21% CSWAces gonna hold a terrible CSW and just five whiffs but champ it out to save your ERA. His fastball velocity is back down to 89/90 mph and his slider command isn’t great, returning just 20% CSW and only 3/35 whiffs. This isn’t the Corbin we love. He was better last time out and I hope that wasn’t just a blip of bliss. That’s my debut album. What was the hit single, “A blink of beauty?” YOU LISTENED. Hey, I dig it. ANYWAY, keep starting Corbin, and I hate how I have to keep yo-yoing Corbin on The List, but he’s giving me no choice.

Dakota Hudson vs KC (ND) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 24% CSWHe was able to toss 83 pitches in this one with a curveball that returned 5/21 whiffs and a slider that held a 38% CSW. This can work, y’all. He’s up to 30% owned, though I may have some reservations starting him against the Reds. Coin flip there.

Kolby Allard vs OAK (L) – 5.1 IP, 2 ER, 1 Hits, 4 BBs, 5 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 27% CSWI’m calling him Dralla and that’s how things are going to be. Good to see him survive the A’s, but I don’t have much faith on a given night with Dralla. It’s like he flips the whole thing upside down whenever he wants, you know? Is this whole thing about Castlevania. This whole symphony? Sure is.

Robbie Ray vs COL (L) – 4.0 IP, 2 ER, 2 Hits, 6 BBs, 8 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 31% CSW. Unreal. Ray had 17 called strikes with four-seamers and is as “effectively wild” as they come where he simply can’t put pitches where he wants as he falls behind. Want to know what’s crazier? His fastball fell to just 91.6 mph in this game. Ray was sitting 94/95 mph to start the year. There’s too much haze and mystery for me to bank on some legit R&R.

Jakob Junis @ STL (ND) – 3.2 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 33% CSWAs good as we’ll see Junis these days despite failing to last four frames. This ceiling isn’t worth chasing, of course.

Michael Fulmer vs CHC (ND) – 3.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks – 2 Whiffs, 26% CSWWe’re not going to see Fulmer go long in games and it doesn’t seem like he’s going to reach his ceiling any time soon. Blegggggh. I wonder if he’ll get packaged in a deal and suddenly become unlocked. Wouldn’t that be cool?

Jose Berrios @ CLE (ND) – 5.2 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 4 BBs, 6 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 33% CSW. So here’s the thing. Berrios’ curveball is still working and that’s all that really matters. The fact he was also able to feature solid changeups is a major plus and I know this is super disappointing, but there’s a lot of good in this start. Feel better about him as that’s two straight with a dope curveball. You’ll forget about this Philly and near VVVPQS soon.

Elieser Hernandez @ NYM (ND) – 4.0 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 27% CSW. Elieser struggles to go deep in games (he hasn’t hit the sixth yet) despite tossing 96 pitches in this one. His slider is still great, but his fastball isn’t and there’s nothing else. I know, 17 whiffs! 7 Ks! But a sub 30% CSW still should tell you how it’s not quite enough. I’m okay still trusting him in 12-teamers for the most part, but yeah, temper your expectations like you’re entering the theater for the third Matrix film.

Asher Wojciechowski @ TB (ND) – 4.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 23% CSWLike an Oreo without the cream filling, the stuff just isn’t there for Asher at the moment. That’s alright, keep in mind that it could show up randomly if you’re in a deep league and need to spin the wheel at some point.

Colten Brewer @ TOR (L) – 3.2 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 30% CSWColten doesn’t play for Milwaukee and each time he starts for the Sawx, that sad reminder hurts me inside. Just a little. What about Colten’s feelings after this start? Well, yeah, I feel for the guy. I’m sure he wants to pitch in Milwaukee too.

Gerrit Cole @ ATL (L) – 5.0 IP, 5 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 9 Ks – 22 Whiffs, 39% CSWAces gonna earn a King Cole and nearly a Gallows Pole too but also allow three HRs and end his Win streak. I’m tempted to place Cole at #3 on Monday as his slider and overall package haven’t been quite as dominant as the other two, but playing for the Yankees and still holding a 30%+ strikeout rate while carrying the potential for clear #1 stud is something to consider.

Trevor Williams @ CWS (L) – 6.0 IP, 8 ER, 9 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 27% CSWLook. You know I didn’t want to stream T-Dub. I wanted Hudson or Lester or whatever. But yeah, it was my ultimate choice and I chose poorly. Streaming Record: 17-17. This year isn’t fun.

 

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.

 

 

Chad Kuhl vs. St. Louis Cardinals – Kim and Freeland are both over the 20% threshold (Freeland is over 60%?!) so I’m going Kuhl here and hoping his sinker gets by as he earns whiffs with that deadly slider.

 

Tomorrow’s Streamer

 

Tyler Anderson vs. Arizona Diamondbacks – I was 50/50 with Brubaker and Anderson and now I get both! Sweet. Tyler’s CSW rates have been spectacular lately and the Diamondbacks are meh.

 

Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer

 

JT Brubaker vs. Milwaukee Brewers – I think his slider is solid, his command is good, and that sinker can earn outs – This start was pushed back to Saturday for those confused. Tyler Mahle is another option as he gets the Cubs.

 

Game of the Day

 

Clayton Kershaw vs. Kevin Gausman – I love watching the updated Kershaw + let’s see if Gausman can handle a tough Dodgers lineup.

 

 

(Photo by Zach Bolinger/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.

  • Avatar larry womack says:

    I know you’re suggesting Brubaker vs Mil-but what do you thing about B. Anderson who will throwing against him.
    Who would you go with?

    Anderson has been pretty solid so far and is at home vs Pitt which is a bad team missing two of their best players.

    Thank you

    • Nick Pollack Nick Pollack says:

      It’s not terrible, Anderson has been known to get an early hook, though. Not the worst idea!

      I think they are pretty close. I’m personally still leaning Brubaker since it’s a higher ceiling with relatively the same floor, but I understand siding with Anderson instead.

  • Avatar westy22 says:

    Thanks for the content. I wonder if the streamer section/idea would benefit from a re-thinking. First, daily streamers just for the sake of streaming are unlikely to ever be a thing except in points leagues. When I stream, I don’t do it every day, I do it when there is an advantageous matchup – maybe 3-4 times a week. I think it would be more useful to have a particular subjective threshold that you have in mind for streaming, and alert managers when a matchup exceeding that threshold is available (Tyler Anderson’s seems like a good example of a potential beneficial stream).

    Second, streaming W-L is meaningless; if the point is to show whether something “good” or “bad” happens, that isn’t representative of whether the start really helped ratios or tanked them. For instance, starting T. Williams yesterday TANKED your ratios compared to the same start with 4 ERs, so an L doesn’t really represent what happened. It would be much more helpful and useful for data tracking to show the results of streaming picks. It would also be a useful tool to show if streaming actually benefits the manager (here’s what you can expect from streaming using these recommendations)!

    • Nick Pollack Nick Pollack says:

      Thanks for the feedback!

      The streaming section has always been adapted based on what readers have wanted over the years and I’ve always felt it can be improved upon. In 2021, I’m considering it may be best to removing the section all-together from the SP Roundup and moving it to the Daily SP Rankings article, adding a few notes on the picks for today / tomorrow and what I’d hope for.

  • Avatar J.C. Mosier says:

    So, where do you see Ian Anderson on this past Monday’s list? Tier 6?

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