Y’all knew I was into Zac Gallen last season and I tried my best to hold back my emotions in rankings. I even corrected my gut to be more conservative a few times early on, but now it’s time to open up the floodgates for 2021. Kinda. Not completely, but pretty far. After last night’s final note of 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 10 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 38% CSW, Gallen matched his 2019 season perfectly with a near-identical ERA (2.75) and strikeout rate (28%), while dropping his walk rate over two ticks, leading to a 12 point drop in WHIP to 1.11.
It would be easy to say this is who he is now but in actuality, I don’t believe that. I think he can be better.
Four-seamers didn’t earn the whiffs that it should at just a 5% SwStr rate this year. His slider fell dramatically as well to just a 12% clip and has plenty more potential to miss bats. These things would normally scare me, but his curveball and changeup are fantastic and he commanded both four-seamers and sliders effectively through the year. I should also note that Gallen’s pitch mix dances between his slider/curveball/changeup while the slow ball is elite and should see more of a 20% usage in 2021, distancing itself from the breakers.
What I’m getting it is that there’s still an opportunity for Gallen to take a step back – we saw a bump in the road prior to this outing – but there’s just as much room for continued growth here as well. I’m incredibly curious where his ADP lands for next season, but as you’ll see below with Flaherty, I’ll be ranking him higher than bigger named pitchers for his increased stability and near-identical ceiling. Gallen shouldn’t be labeled as a risk any longer.
Let’s see how every other SP did Friday:
Yu Darvish @ CWS (W) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 34% CSW. Aces gonna ace. That’s a 2.01 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 31% strikeout rate, and eight wins across 76.0 IP as he closes his Cy Young case. I don’t think he gets it, but what a wonderful year, Darvish. Let’s keep it going in 2021.
Chris Bassitt vs SEA (ND) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 40% CSW. Look at that King Cole! Not only was his sinker its usual self, but he actually got support from his cutter, changeup, and four-seamer here. I see this start and think “Okay, he did what he should against the Mariners”, but it’s hard not to wonder if he should get your focus in 2021. It may surprise you, but he held a 2.29 ERA across 63 innings this year with a 1.16 WHIP, and 21% strikeout rate. Soooo is he the ace of Oakland? I kinda feel like he is…
Brad Keller vs DET (W) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 30% CSW. Keller went 47% sliders in this one and they finally worked again. At least his velocity was 93/94 mph as well, but man, I don’t want to play around with this with any consistency next year. Just rare streams n stuff.
Yusei Kikuchi @ OAK (ND) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 25% CSW. Look at you! So problem here, his cutter was 91 mph and four-seamer was 94 mph. Both of these ideally would have about another two ticks to it, not to mention his fastball command was blegh and his slider held a 19% CSW (but induced some weak outs). It’s a risky play for next year still, but there is hope that the velocity gets back up and his command improves to make a sneaky late arm.
Brent Suter @ STL (ND) – 4.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 32% CSW. Always a Suter, never a groom. I’m always so proud of Brent, he does so much with so little and I feel like he’s the man of the people. I’D VOTE FOR HIM. Please don’t throw away your vote, it’s super important. Okay, I’d vote for him too.
Taijuan Walker vs BAL (ND) – 3.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 36% CSW. They pulled Walker after a perfecto performance of three frames and 42 pitches as the Jays managers sat in the dugout in the third inning, looked at their roster, and suddenly jumped up from the bench. Wait, where did our #2 starter for the playoffs go?! Then they realized it was Walker. GO GET HIM NOW. He’s a free agent after this one and I don’t think you’ll see me drafting him next year unless something drastically changes. There just isn’t enough in that repertoire.
Daniel Ponce de Leon @ MIL (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 1 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 30% CSW. Despite his curveball not being nearly as good as last time, Ponce dominated the brewers with some excellent heaters at the top of the zone for 40% CSW and 14 whiffs and the line above. What an incredible run to end the year for managers who trusted him and I have to wonder if he’s able to make this work in 2021. I’m inclined to say no unless he has a better secondary pitch to trust – i.e. what separates Freddy Peralta from Brandon Woodruff – but it makes you wonder, at least at that’s cool. I like wondering.
Chris Mazza @ ATL (ND) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 30% CSW. Hey, he did the thing! Atta boy
Zhu Li Mazza! Glad he has this in his head for 2021, I doubt we see a lot more of him.
Mitch Keller @ CLE (ND) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 0 Hits, 8 BBs, 3 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 20% CSW. What. No hits but EIGHT WALKS?! Remember when Keller was known as a command first pitcher when he was coming up the bigs? His fastball was erratic and his slider, while well-placed plenty, weren’t getting the nibbles off the plate and were wasted a good amount as well. He’s intriguing for a full 2021 season at the end of your drafts, but this performance is going to make so many turn away and it’s just funny to me, you know? How often do you see five innings of eight walks and just one ER? It’s so clearly an outlier and won’t be treated as such.
Kyle Cody vs HOU (ND) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 1 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 16% CSW. Hey, he survived the Astros! He was up to 73 pitches as he was almost fully stretched out and while I don’t think Cody is nearly as bad as many other names that have come through the roundup, I don’t see a guy that can be anything more than a Toby. So yeah, we’ll see what the Rangers do for their rotation next year.
Clayton Kershaw vs LAA (ND) – 4.0 IP, 1 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 24% CSW. Aces gonna get pulled early as they prepare for the playoffs. Blegh. Velocity was just 90.7 mph too, I wonder if he was just taking it easy overall. I wonder where to place Kershaw next year…I don’t think he’s fully removed from the injury concerns, right?
Dinelson Lamet vs SF (ND) – 3.2 IP, 1 ER, 1 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 34% CSW. On the very last day of his 2020 season, Lamet was pulled with biceps tightness. Uh. Oh. It’ll be impossible to gauge this for 2021 until we know more, but I can tell you right now, it’s going to shove so many people away from drafting him now. The Padres are “optimistic” apparently, but man, losing Clev and Lamet in the last week before the playoffs is rough. Poor Slam Diego.
Tyler Mahle @ MIN (ND) – 2.1 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 31% CSW. Ugh, they limited Mahle to just 62 pitches and he had some bad luck on some great pitches, but I’m excited for Mahle in 2021. I love this four-seamer/slider approach right now. Also, shoutout to Chris Welsh for mentioning Pitcher List during the Reds broadcast! Crazy awesome.
Sandy Alcantara @ NYY (ND) – 7.1 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 9 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 30% CSW. Atta boy Alcantara! This was a tough call given the improved strength of the Yankee offense and while his changeup was still out of the picture – he threw one – his slider was phenomenal for 40% CSW and I’m seeing the development I want to see to ensure I’m rostering Alcantara next year. He’s allowed to go deep into games as a Marlin, his sinker/four-seamer are pushing 97 mph each start with good control and he has a major whiff pitch with a chance at two. SIGN ME UP. Man, I love a pitcher forcing me to fall for him after taking a legit step forward – I was certainly out on Alcantara this time last year.
Jose Urquidy @ TEX (ND) – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 30% CSW. And that’s how you take advantage of a fantastic matchup against the Rangers. I’m curious how we’ll be evaluating Urquidy for 2021 as his secondary stuff is all fine, but nothing is really showcasing itself as elite. He’s like a slightly better Toby but hey, something could change.
Kyle Wright vs BOS (ND) – 6.2 IP, 2 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 28% CSW. Wright was fresh off his best career outing and gave us another above-average game. Well done kiddo, you’re still not getting my Bud Light. Still the wrong Wright as the right Wright was wrong a while ago. There is no right Wright. Very true.
Carlos Carrasco vs PIT (ND) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 8 Ks – 20 Whiffs, 31% CSW. Look at that. Carrasco earned himself a Gallows Pole and cemented himself inside the Top 20 if not Top 15 for 2021. His changeup and slider were both classic Cookie and it’s exactly what you needed against the Pirates. Aces. Gonna. Ace.
Tyler Anderson vs SD (W) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 4 BBs, 4 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 30% CSW. Atta boy Tyler! A surprisingly fantasy relevant season for Anderson, who gave a good handful of startable games through the year. I don’t have any hopes for 2021, but I won’t forget T-A, I won’t forget.
Jack Flaherty vs MIL (L) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 5 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 35% CSW. Redemption…? Yeah not really, this is pretty poor across the board. So for a guy that was in absolute rhythm in the second half of last year, 2020 did everything it could to take Jack out of it. I know that 4.91 ERA is way different without that 9 ER blowup and a 1.21 WHIP and 29% K rate are still cool n all, but the debates will be long and difficult this winter. Me? I’m going to shrug. It’s another case of flip your coin and I think I’m going to aim to draft as many pitchers that have clear pictures for 2021. That sounds obvious, but this means I’d be out on…Clevinger, Flaherty, Burnes, Bauer, Snell, Glasnow, and I’m sure a good amount of others as well. Without a doubt, many of these guys will be dope next year and we’ll look back and say Nick, why weren’t you in on this guy? and I’ll say “I’m glad this is the parallel universe where those guys are dope” then point to some rando and say “there’s a world where he’s dope, too” and you’re all like naaaaaah and we laugh. Let’s all make sure that’s always the end of the conversation. I like that.
Charlie Morton vs PHI (ND) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 31% CSW. Morton looked like peak Morton last start and against the Phillies, this was a clear start in my book. You got the strikeouts, but the ratios are blegh and now we’re wondering what we do with Morton. Is he in that list for Flaherty? No? KEVIN! PUT HIM ON THE LIST! I have no idea how ADPs will shape up and it’ll define if we take a chance on Morton’s health or not. I’m leaning no.
J.A. Happ vs MIA (ND) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 27% CSW. Ehhhhh it’s not the dominating ERA or strikeout boost you wanted, nor with a Win and Happpppppp stop. He served you well through the end, now let him go for 2021.
Spencer Turnbull @ KC (L) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 26% CSW. So good news, Turnbull axed the sinker down to just 12% and performed way better with four-seamers and sliders. Bad news, the slider wasn’t that great, and he threw some four-seamers over the plate. Still a decent outing and super close to legit ratios and I’m glad he’s moving in this direction with 2021 on the horizon. Not the worst deep sleeper here.
Vince Velasquez @ TB (ND) – 4.1 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 29% CSW. Yep, that’s a vv VV start. At least you got the Ks if you were going for that and he remains a massive shrug and “HISPTER” for next year. No thanks.
Jeff Samardzija @ SD (ND) – 3.0 IP, 3 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 1 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 20% CSW. The Giants DFA’d Loose Lips today. Ouch. It’s been a wild ride avoiding you, Samardzija, and I just miss the times we were cool, you know? That’s all I ever wanted.
Josh Lindblom vs STL (L) – 2.1 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 26% CSW. He was pulled early as the Brewers needed to win this one and he wasn’t in rhythm. I really hope Lindblom can get his velocity up and figure out a proper formula for his approach entering next year. It seemed like he was struggling to find what would be his pitches to lean in for each start and I hope that changes next year.
Jose Berrios vs CIN (L) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 32% CSW. Berrios got the start and while his curveball was still fantastic – 42% CSW! – he made too many mistakes and it hurt. A little bit of bad luck here and I think we’ll be seeing Berrios once again in the 30s of my rankings. He has that potential for stretches, but it really is too much on the back of his curveball being in rhythm and it’s too streaky for me.
Taylor Clarke vs COL (W) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 25% CSW. A little bit of Rockie Road will do ya some good every now and then. Unless you’re allergic to nuts. Clarke is allergic to nuts. Nuts. For real though, 14 whiffs is pretty cool, half of which came on elevated 94/95 mph fastballs. That’s pretty cool. 6/15 whiffs on sliders too. It’s way too raw to legit consider for next year, but I’ll be watching. I always do. That sounded really creepy like that The Police song. Please excuse me.
Antonio Senzatela @ ARI (L) – 4.1 IP, 4 ER, 8 Hits, 4 BBs, 2 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 22% CSW. I’ve had some fun conversations lately about pitches and I’ve heard this phrase a few times: “Huh, is Senzatela’s fastball actually good?” The answer is yes and it’s what makes him a major leaguer, but his slider and friends are often blegggggh. This was maybe the one start I was actually on board with for Senz-a all year. He defied me constantly in Coors with his 15% strikeout rate and here he was, served a platter of Arizona, but it turned into the Coors-Lite of old and blasted me for my trust. I WONDER WHY I HAS ISSUES. Anyway, Senz-a is the Dereck Rodriguez of 2021 and will be completely forgotten about come March for good reason. It was fun, kinda.
Dylan Cease vs CHC (L) – 4.2 IP, 5 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 36% CSW. I feel like Cease is a guy that could suddenly click and be dope but there is no way I’m going near him until then. Like pulling a Neville Longbottom and turning into a man by the final book. No interest for now, but I can see it happening later. Also, who had the under on 18% strikeout rate for Cease this year?
Andrew Heaney @ LAD (ND) – 4.0 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 21% CSW. Nooooo, the idea was to start Heaney only against the Rangers and not for Coors + Dodgers so I hope this didn’t hurt you, but I was sad to see him not have his curveball or changeup working as we’ve seen. Good to see 92 mph velocity at least? Yeah, it’s too much of a Cherry Bomb for next year.
Chris Paddack @ SF (L) – 3.2 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 25% CSW. Where are you drafting Paddack next year? I went back-and-forth entering this year, raising him near the start of the year because I expected him to get a heavy workload, but back in February I was down on him for his two-pitch mix that just didn’t do enough. We never saw that curveball come to shape and his new cutter is meh. If he falls too much, I’d jump back in, but I have to think people will keep him in the Top 25 or so and naaaaaah.
Jorge Lopez @ TOR (L) – 2.0 IP, 8 ER, 9 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 35% CSW. Yeah…man, he’s such a random peak of a pitcher, like those annoying gombas with the spike helmets so you can’t jump on them. It’s a really cool spike n all, but it hurts us when we jump for it, you know? He shows up all over the place for having these incredible pitches or movements profiles or even excellent games, but he just can’t do it with consistency. Sigh.
For those unaware, I’m forced to make my streamer picks under the condition of sub-20% owned in Fantasy Pros’ consolidated ownership rates.
John Means vs. Toronto Blue Jays – He just fanned twelve batters and his changeup command was better than we’ve seen. One more time, Means, you gots this.
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.
Day After 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.
Game of the Day
(Photo by Russell Lansford/Icon Sportswire)