(Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire)
It’s been a wild ride owning Jon Gray this season, the pitcher who we collectively as analysts avoided discussing for the first few weeks of the year (I think we all had no idea what to do with him. It’s Coors! It’s upside! It’s WEIRD), was flat out terrible, hit the minors, and has suddenly become an ace over his last four starts including Sunday’s 8.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks against the Brewers. It’s a 1.52 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, 23% K rate and 6.5% BB rate in those four outings (nearly 30 IP!) and we have to wonder, is this the man we’re going to see the rest of the way? The biggest change I’m seeing is plenty improved command of his heater (3.0 pVal in last four starts, -13.1 pVal prior), moving it from middle-middle to down-and-in to RHB more often. It’s not ideal, but still an improvement and the results have followed, helping him emphasize his slider along the way. I think it’s a case where you have no choice but to keep riding it for now – shocking, I know. Is he Top 30? Nah, I don’t think we can eradicate his first half with just four starts. Is he Top 50? Yes and you’ll probably see him hover #40 today. That’s more of an indication of the SP Landscape than a stake in the ground that Gray is legit.
Let’s see how every other SP did Sunday:
Trevor Cahill – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 10 Ks. If you still have any chance of grabbing Cahill, I suggest doing it now. He’s healthy and ready to reproduce his spring numbers for the next six weeks. Go go go. Streaming Record: 67-37.
Jack Flaherty – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks. Ahhhh this is such a welcome sight after a pair of meh outings tallying 7 ER. He was pulled with just 84 pitches and while he’s still figuring out his third pitch, 5/9 CSW on curveballs ain’t bad at all. Keep rolling with the kid.
Tanner Roark – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks. It was a dark time for Roark leading up to the All-Star Break. Think struggling to find the lightbulb in your basement for five minutes dark. However, he’s come roaring back with guns blazing in three starts, allowed just 2 ER total across 22 IP. Daaaang. I’m not confident the bad Roark is gone, but I guess we’re at the point where you start him against bad teams and go from there. I guess I’m glad Roark is sleeping easier these days on his Tanner bed.
Masahiro Tanaka – 4.2 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks. This was against the Red Sox as Tanaka has been stupid good in his last three starts – 26 Ks, 1 ER, and 16 baserunners in 19.2 IP. If you’re not a fan, I just don’t know why.
Hunter Wood – 1.2 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. A good ole False Start as Yarbrough was as disappointing as ever to follow. There are so many jokes I want to make with his name and I just can’t do it. Oh come on, just one. No, I’m too worried I’ll misfire and avoid a tree. Really, Nick. REALLY.
Shane Bieber – 5.2 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks. You know what’s weird? Bieber has this slider that is super good. Like 25%+ whiff rate, 50%+ O-Swing, 40%+ zone rate bitcoin money pitch good. And he threw 10 over 94 pitches with one whiff. Five balls in play with 87mph+ average Exit Velocity. I DON’T GET IT. But fine, he pounded the zone like always, didn’t get totally wrecked by his hittable fastball and bam, there’s a decent outing. I really think we can’t consider him Top 40 until he gives the slide piece a bigger spotlight + his fastball pulls back from its clear meatballability.
Walker Buehler – 5.1 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks. To answer your questions, yes I think Buehler sticks in the rotation, then is shut down for the playoffs. Yes I think he can do more starts like this. No, I wouldn’t overthink it.
Luis Castillo – 5.1 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. Hmmmm. I liked that his fastball velocity was right around 97mph in this one – FINALLY – and he was mixing in changeups and sliders n all, but his fastball command just wasn’t good. We’re still so close and I’m willing to bet on a strong final two months from Castillo, especially when there are only a handful of decent arms to bet on outside the Top 40 or so.
Derek Holland – 5.1 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. Our backup Call Boy did good work once again, providing a sub 1.00 WHIP and six strikeouts. If you’re not on the Holland train already, there’s surprisingly still time, and you’ll like where it’s headed.
Francisco Liriano – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. Sure, whatever Liriano.
Joey Lucchesi – 5.2 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 9 Ks. Would you look at that. His Churve woke up a bit – 9/42 whiffs – while getting 15 called strikes on 44 heaters, earning 32/89 CSW (37%!). Easily the best we’ve seen Lucchesi since his DL stint and it makes twirl my horrendous goatee in thought. And this was the Cubs! Not sure where he’ll fall on The List today, but he’ll clearly get a bump.
Aaron Nola – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks. Aces gonna almost ace. It’s a 1.50 WHIP with two strikeouts. That’s not cool. I love Nola Day n all so it’s a little disappointing – just 1 whiff on 20 curveballs?! Against the Marlins??!! – but whatever, we move on. Nothing to be afraid of.
David Price – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks. Price had a date against the Yankees and he survived. I’ll take all of this and there’s little reason not to trust Price at this point.
Robbie Ray – 5.1 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 4 BBs, 8 Ks. So that WHIP is bad, but eight strikeouts are real and 2 ER are digestible. I think you’re going to be happy as a Ray owner down the stretch.
James Shields – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 4 BBs, 6 Ks. Jimmy Bucklers is back at it, this time only letting your WHIP suffer while producing a good ERA/strikeouts. We’ll take it from that rascal.
Dan Straily – 5.1 IP, 2 ER, 1 Hits, 5 BBs, 7 Ks. Ahhhh, a good ole “One-And-Dunn” start of one true outcomes. This is a weird day Straily and this ain’t much more than that.
Trevor Williams – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 9 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks. This has all the makings of a Grave Mistake – nearly two baserunners per inning! – and Trevor got away with it. This time…
Gerrit Cole – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks. Aces gonna ace. Mostly. Kinda not in the ratio department. Zero HRs though, so that’s cool.
Sam Gaviglio – 5.2 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks. The strikeouts are a surprise, the ERA and WHIP are not. Womp womp.
Mike Leake – 6.2 IP, 3 ER, 9 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks. Yeah, I’ll take this from Leake. You’re not expecting a whole lot when he pitches – probably owning him just for IP in points leagues and he gave you the goods today. Dems good goods.
Deck McGuire – 0.1 IP, 3 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks. Dude got Decked and it was a quick five-and-out. It’s what happens when you’re a Cup of Schmo.
Wade Miley – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks. Ahhh, there’s the Miley we all know and hate. Don’t wade into this, just cozy up in a chair and say “That’s nice Miley!” from afar.
Corey Oswalt – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks. The False King returned a PQS and I guess that’s good. And they all rejoiced.
Ervin Santana – 4.1 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. You were hoping Santana’s velocity would go up in this one. What you got was a decrease as now he’s throwing 88.8mph. His slider? 1 whiff in 31 pitches. Be the anti-Nike. Just Don’t Do It.
Julio Teheran – 5.2 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 4 BBs, 6 Ks. I think we’ve all gotten to the place that prevents us from ever starting Teheran, right?
Jon Lester – 5.0 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks. The Great Regression of 2018 continues as Lester now holds a 3.44 ERA. More destruction awaits. Oh and while you’re at it, do you mind giving us more than one strikeout? HAISTFMFWT?!
Yefry Ramírez – 1.2 IP, 5 ER, 5 Hits, 5 BBs, 1 Ks. Apparently Yefry is pronounced Jefry. Why isn’t it Jerfj then? I’m still labeling him a Young Gun as I think down the road some polish will translate into some success for Yefry, but for now…yeesh.
Danny Duffy – 6.0 IP, 6 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. Man, it’s still nuts how much of a Cherry Bomb Duffy is. Seriously, his last 11 starts have been 0, 1, 6, or 7 ER. NOTHING IN BETWEEN. It’s a 3.56 ERA and this is why VPR exists. Big things are coming in Pitcher List 4.0 with VPR by the way…
Drew Hutchison – 3.0 IP, 6 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 0 Ks. Whoa. That is not a name I’ve heard for a long, long time. He performed as expected given what I just said.
Sal Romano vs. New York Mets – I’m taking a chance here as I know there is some upside in the tank with Romano and the Mets are horrible. It’s him or Mike Montgomery against the Royals and I just don’t want to go with Monty anymore.
Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer
Game of the Day