The Slate – May 16th, 2018

Note: This post was scheduled for the early morning, but didn’t go through. If I do this again it the future, it will post in the morning. 

A look at the most interesting pitching performances from last night and what I’m looking forward to on Wednesday’s slate.

About Last Night

Some quick thoughts on the most interesting starts of yesterday:

Jordan Lyles (7.3 IP/0 ER) was perfect for 22 outs before a Trevor Story base hit. A walk to Pat Valaika immediately after ended his excellent day. It was Lyles’ second strong start since joining the rotation, but his big outing further underscores the issues against righties for the Rockies offense. Their 64 wRC+ versus righties is dead last in the league and their 25% strikeout rate is fifth highest. As for Lyles, he is throwing 94 mph (a career-high) and his curveball is working as well as ever. He was second to only Thor with 16 swinging strikes on Tuesday. He’s got the Dodgers and Nationals both on the road in a two-start setup next week. Let’s give him a shot.

Daniel Mengden had a second straight quality start (6 IP/1 ER), this time at Boston after a strong outing against Houston (6.7 IP/2 ER). He’s not a huge strikeout guy (17%) and allows a healthy amount of homers (1.1 HR/9) so I’d tab him as a high-3.00s/low-4.00s ERA arm. If Eduardo Rodriguez (5 IP/3 ER) could keep the ball in the yard more (1.5 HR/9 this year; 1.2 career), he could shave upwards of a full run off his 4.68 ERA.

We knew Reynaldo Lopez’s poor skills were going to catch up to his 2.44 ERA sooner than later. My only question was whether it’d be a handful of below average five-inning outings (4-6 ER) or a mega dud (<=4 IP, 5+ ER). Turns out it was the latter with a 2 IP/6 ER thrashing in Pittsburgh on Tuesday. His two swinging strikes were fewest among the day’s starters.

Lopez’s counterpart Trevor Williams was sharp (6 IP/0 ER), but he’s also due for a correction with a 7% K-BB and swinging strike rate. He has undoubtedly contributed to the .232 BABIP and 83% LOB rate, but it’s not enough to maintain a sub-3.00 ERA. I’d tread carefully here, though San Diego and then a home-and-home with St. Louis in his next three starts could delay the inevitable for a few more weeks.

The Jays ran up Noah Syndergaard’s (5 IP/2 ER) pitch count to 103 through five innings, though he netted 17 swinging strikes and seven strikeouts and the Mets were armed with an 9-2 lead so the shortened outing from their ace didn’t hurt them.

The Dodgers are back to their 2016 ways against lefties as one of the league’s worst offenses and while Wei-Yin Chen (4.3 IP/0 ER) didn’t finish five innings, he proved too much for them. Alex Wood (6 IP/1 ER) remains a bit of a blind spot for me as I never seem to give him his full due. His strikeout rate is a stone’s throw from last years (23% v. 25% in ’17), he’s down two points with his walk rate (4%), and his continued groundball lean keeps the ball in the park (0.5 this year, 0.7 career).

Yu Darvish (4 IP/1 ER) returned from the DL with a decent outing despite going just four innings thanks to a leg cramp. His 16% swinging strike rate was fourth best on the day with 10 whiffs in his 61 pitches. On the other side, Mike Foltynewicz (5 IP/0 ER) allowed a single unearned run in his five innings of work with 10 strikeouts, but also walked five and boosted his walk rate to 12%. He still feels like a ticking time bomb despite allowing more than two earned runs just once this year.

After striking out just four batters in 14.3 innings while allowing 13 earned runs, Jose Berrios (7.3 IP/1 ER) bounced back with one of his best starts of the year, including 10 strikeouts and just a single walk. Berrios has run guardrail-to-guardrail this year with five starts of 4-5 ER and four others where he allowed a combined one earned run. It’s frustrating, but you have to ride the waves with the 24-year old righty. Jack Flaherty (5.7 IP/1 ER) returned to the majors with a nice outing and should get another handful of starts with both Carlos Martinez and Adam Wainwright on the DL. He is an all-formats option.

Anthony Banda (5 IP/3 ER) didn’t stand out in his season debut, though did it make through five innings in just 52 pitches due in part to just one strikeout and zero walks. He leaned exclusively on fastballs (79%) and changeups (21%) to make it through the KC lineup twice before turning it over to the bullpen. I can’t see chasing Banda in anything but AL-only leagues.

Jhoulys Chacin (7 IP/1 ER) deserves credit for twirling a gem against a powerful D’Backs offense that is tied for the third highest ISO against right-handers, but they were missing their biggest bat after A.J. Pollock’s injury on Monday night. Of course, you probably missed this one if you’re rostering Chacin as a streamer. He’s once again showing a sharp home/road split just as he did last year, except this time there is a skill disparity (10% home K-BB, 4% road) lending weight to the split whereas he was essentially the same guy skills-wise regardless of venue last year.

Jaime Barria (7 IP/1 ER) has put together 12.3 innings of one-run ball with 14 strikeouts in Colorado and hosting Houston… just like we drew it up! I’m still curating starts for the 21-year old if he’s on my team, but above average swinging strike (12%), first pitch strike (64%), and chase rates (40%) offer some hope. Gerrit Cole (5 IP/3 ER) had his worst start of the season and still managed seven strikeouts thanks to 16 swinging strikes among his 98 pitches. Nothing to worry about.

Tyler Mahle (3.3 IP/4 ER) and Ty Blach (4 IP/1 ER) have been trendy streamers so far this year, but both came up lame in San Francisco. Mahle allowed four straight hits to open the fourth and then Pablo Sandoval ended his day with a two-run single. Sandoval pinch-hit for Blach that inning or else he’d have probably gotten another inning. While strikeouts do not guarantee success, Blach’s 11% mark is just too low for me to trust and in an innings cap league, he is actively hurting you.

Matchup of the Day

Justin Verlander (29% K-BB, 1.21 ERA, 0.72 WHIP in 59.7 IP) at Garrett Richards (17% K-BB, 4.08 ERA, 1.31 WHIP in 39.7 IP)


Walker Buehler (23% K-BB, 1.64 ERA, 1.00 WHIP in 22 IP) at Caleb Smith (21% K-BB, 3.63 ERA, 1.24 WHIP in 39.7 IP)


Jameson Taillon v. CWS – Hopes of another level to his game have faded, especially with just two reliable offerings.

Jake Faria at KC – Two ugly starts against Boston (9 ER in 5.7 IP w/8 BB and 2 K) to open the season, but he’s rebounded with a 16% K-BB. 11 of his 14 ER over the last six starts have come in two starts at Baltimore.

Matt Koch v. MIL – I want to see the smoke-to-mirror ratio needed to milk a 2.43 ERA out of a 9% K-BB, 6% SwStr, and 1.4 HR/9.

Matt Harvey at SF – Just because he escaped with 1 H and 0 ER at LAD in his Cincy debut doesn’t mean he pitched well. He had a whopping two swinging strikes in 55 pitches and plenty of loud flyball outs.


Nick Pivetta (20% K-BB) at BAL – Orioles are 19th in wOBA v. righties (.318)

CC Sabathia (15% K-BB) at WAS – Nationals are 25th in wOBA v. lefties (.297)

Trevor Cahill (27% K-BB) at BOS – Red Sox are 23rd in wOBA v. righties (.313) … alright, so I put the wrong thing. They are 23rd v. lefties and of course Cahill is a righty. They are actually 1st against righties at .349 and yet I still kinda want to start Cahill. He’s not an official recommendation, though. Just someone I’m going to use on my own teams.

We hoped you liked reading The Slate – May 16th, 2018 by Paul Sporer!

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Paul is the Editor of Rotographs and contributes to ESPN's Daily Notes. Follow Paul on Twitter @sporer and on Twitch at sporer.

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I think you meant to say, “Red Sox are 23rd in wOBA v. lefties (.313)”