Fantasy Baseball: Sizing up 16 two-faced pitchers, from Dylan Bundy to Jose Berrios to Mike Fiers


That's what every starting pitcher said this weekend, just as soon as you started to get comfortable.

OK, so I exaggerate. It wasn't actually every starting pitcher, but more like ... 16 of them. These 16, more specifically, had led us all to believe one thing about them before pulling an abrupt and dramatic about-face. For some, this weekend wasn't the start of the about-face, but for all, it was thoroughly annoying.

Because we all like to know what's coming, right? It's one thing when we lose because our players aren't good enough. It's quite another when we lose because they're not themselves.

But then, who are they? Recent events call it into question. You'll never be able to predict the day-to-day (or start-to-start) in baseball, but you can trust in the numbers to normalize over time.

So what's normal for these 16? Is what we've seen most recently, whether good or bad, the beginning of the normalization, or is it just a blip?

Let's examine them on a case-by-case basis.

Jose Berrios Minnesota SP
  • The good: Finally began to live up to his top-prospect pedigree with a 2.67 ERA and 0.91 WHIP in his first eight starts
  • The bad: Has a 6.20 ERA in nine starts since, most recently allowing six earned runs in 3 1/3 innings Saturday 

    It may be that Jose Berrios is simply getting tired (he's about 30 innings away from his career high), but whatever the reason, his swinging strike rate has plummeted during this time. His stuff is less effective now, and it has continued long enough that I can't justify starting him in any league.
Dylan Bundy Baltimore SP
  • The good: Has three straight quality starts, recording 10 strikeouts in two straight 
  • The bad: Looked like a waste of a roster spot for most of June and July, compiling a 7.38 ERA, 1.50 WHIP and 8.2 strikeouts per nine innings during an eight-start stretch 

    Dylan Bundy had his own Berrios-like stretch in the middle of the season but has come out of it by throwing his slider-cutter hybrid as often as he did in April, when he put together a 1.65 ERA. It's his best pitch in terms of getting swings and misses, but he said it lost its movement for a while. As long as it's working, I'm on board.
Carlos Carrasco Cleveland SP
  • The good: Struck out 10 over eight two-hit innings Friday 
  • The bad: Allowed five earned runs over 7 1/3 innings in back-to-back starts to begin August, swelling his ERA to 4.06 

    Higher-than-expected ERAs have become commonplace for Carlos Carrasco and have combined with injuries to keep him decidedly second-tier. But he's still an elite bat-misser with plus control, so you'll take your lumps here and there for a shot at a start like his outing Friday.
Mike Clevinger Cleveland SP
  • The good: Struck out nine over seven shutout innings in his return to the starting rotation Saturday 
  • The bad: Put together a 14.04 ERA in three appearances between July 25 and Aug. 6, which included a brief banishment to the bullpen 

    "Banishment" wouldn't be the fairest way to describe the one relief appearance Mike Clevinger made in August seeing as the Indians merely skipped him a turn because of an abundance of off days. About the one thing he has proven he can do is miss bats, struggling at times to throw strikes and keep the ball in the yard, so some regression was inevitable. He's still better than most leagues have to offer on the waiver wire, though.
Jacob Faria Tampa Bay SP
  • The good: Cruising along with a 3.19 ERA in his first 12 career starts
  • The bad: Allowed five earned runs in six innings Friday, making it his worst start to date and giving him a 5.08 ERA over his last five starts

    Jacob Faria was perfect through his first four innings in this outing and still wound up with 13 swinging strikes, giving him double digits in 10 of his 12 starts this year. It's tempting to conclude he's wearing down since he's a rookie nearing his professional high in innings, but by individual performance metrics, he's the same pitcher. The luck is probably just evening out a little.
Mike Fiers Houston SP
  • The good: Put together a 10-start stretch in which he looked like an ace, compiling a 2.36 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings.
  • The bad: Has an 8.41 ERA, 1.72 WHIP and 7.5 strikeouts per nine innings in four starts since

    Mike Fiers had similar stretches when he looked like an ace both as a rookie in 2012 and again in 2014, so his subsequent collapse wasn't all that surprising. He has always had fringy stuff, averaging 90 mph on his fastball, but he at times commands it so well that, with his mix of secondary offerings, he's dominant. With no power arsenal to fall back on, though, the other side of the coin is what we're seeing now.
  • The good: Recorded double-digit swinging strikes in five of six starts after doing so in just three of his first 15
  • The bad: Had only three swinging strikes Friday, when he allowed six earned runs on seven hits and four walks in 2 2/3 innings

    Mike Foltynewicz's 2017 doesn't have a clear turning point defined by some arsenal change he made. His slider has simply gotten better, allowing him to miss bats at a rate you'd expect for a pitcher with his velocity. So while for most of the season, I've argued that his high-threes ERA was too good to be true, I'm taking it back just in time to see it swell to over 4.00. His command clearly wasn't right in Friday's start, though, so I'll give him a pass for it.
Jeff Hoffman Colorado SP
  • The good: Began August with two quality starts in which he struck out 13 over 13 innings, including his fourth start with eight strikeouts or more this season
  • The bad: Allowed four earned runs and struck out only one at Miami on Saturday, giving him a 5.15 ERA for the year

    Jeff Hoffman, judging by his pedigree and at times his performance this season, would appear to have the sort of raw ability necessary to slay the mile-high monster. But he has to capitalize on his road outings, and his past two -- both Saturday at Miami and July 26 at St. Louis, where he allowed six earned runs in four innings -- were among his worst in any venue. He's running out of innings, too, having already exceeded his previous high in pro ball, so he may not be worth the headache anymore.
Ian Kennedy Kansas City SP
  • The good: Put together an eight-start stretch in June and July in which he had a 3.26 ERA and bounced back with another quality start Saturday
  • The bad: Allowed 10 earned runs in 10 innings in between

    Ian Kennedy has a 5.06 FIP on the year, so there's nothing fluky about his 4.80 ERA. There was a time when he'd average about a strikeout per inning, but his 7.8 strikeouts per nine this year is his lowest rate for a full season. Combined with his typically high walk and home run rates, he was lucky to have the kind of success he did in June and July.
Dallas Keuchel Houston SP
  • The good: Allowed one earned run in six innings Sunday, striking out seven and walking three
  • The bad: Allowed 14 earned runs in 12 innings in his first three starts off the DL, striking out seven and walking eight

    Dallas Keuchel's neck injury (a pinched nerve) is one that doesn't offer a clear timetable for recovery, and we saw last year how his health can impact his command. He was looking like the best pitcher in the AL when his neck troubles began in late May, consistently pitching deep into games with a ground-ball rate similar to his 2015 Cy Young season. He's not out of the woods yet, but Sunday's start was obviously a step in the right direction. 
German Marquez Colorado SP
  • The good: Recently had a streak of six quality starts in which he struck out 41 over 39 2/3 innings
  • The bad: Ended that streak with five earned runs in 4 1/3 innings Sunday at Miami

    German Marquez, like Jeff Hoffman, has to contend with the most severe of home-field disadvantages, but unlike Hoffman, he had shown real consistency before the Marlins got to him Sunday. He still piled up 10 swinging strikes in the short time he pitched, though, and it's not like he beat himself with a bunch of walks and homers. It looks like just a blip to me, and I'm still seeing a Carlos Carrasco-like skill set here.
Jimmy Nelson Milwaukee SP
  • The good: Turned in an eight-inning, nine-strikeout effort Aug. 6, giving him eight starts of seven innings or more with 12 of eight strikeouts or more
  • The bad: Served up nine earned runs on 11 hits in 3 2/3 innings Friday, swelling his ERA to 3.72 and his WHIP to 1.25

    Jimmy Nelson has piled up whiffs with his curveball and slider this year, but what has really keyed his breakout is learning to throw strikes consistently after leading the majors with 86 walks last year. Friday looked like one of those days when he just didn't have his usual command. It's a shame the damage it did to his ERA and WHIP, undermining what had been consistent dominance.
  • The good: Allowed a combined two earned runs over 12 innings in his last two starts, striking out 12 and walking four
  • The bad: Allowed a combined 11 earned runs over 14 2/3 innings in his previous three starts, striking out 19 and walking nine

    Eduardo Rodriguez deserves a pass for those first three starts off the DL, right? He had missed six weeks with a partial dislocation of his kneecap, for crying out loud. Before those three starts, plus the one when he tried to pitch through the injury, he had a 2.77 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 9.6 strikeouts per nine innings and appeared to be having a breakout season. I'm willing to give him another chance.
Luis Severino N.Y. Yankees SP
  • The good: Allowed a combined three earned runs in five starts to begin the second half, exceeding six innings in four of them
  • The bad: Throttled for eight earned runs in 4 1/3 innings Saturday, his worst start of the season

    Luis Severino has had similar blips this season, even allowing 16 earned runs during a four-start stretch between June and July (one that raised his ERA from 2.75 to 3.53). But his stuff is exceptional and rarely ever compromised by a bunch of walks and home runs. My biggest concern for him is what the Yankees may have to do to ready him for the playoffs. He's already less than 20 innings away from his career high (majors and minors combined).
Jameson Taillon Pittsburgh SP
  • The good: Has put together back-to-back starts in which he allowed two earned runs in six-plus innings, recording more than a strikeout per inning in each
  • The bad: Allowed 17 earned runs on 20 hits in the 6 2/3 innings prior, swelling his ERA from 3.08 to 4.50 during the combined four-start stretch

    If you want an example of a two-start stretch wrecking a player's season-long numbers, look no further. Jameson Taillon has still given up only eight home runs across 17 starts, and that's a valuable skill in its own right. Between that and his .361 BABIP, which would rank second among qualifiers, Taillon will almost certainly bring that ERA down to size. I do worry he has a little Rick Porcello in him, though, judging from his swinging-strike rate.
Adam Wainwright St. Louis SP
  • The good: Put together a 3.50 ERA in his past eight starts, allowing one earned run over five innings in his second start back from the DL Friday
  • The bad: Put together a 5.75 ERA in his first 14 starts, giving him still a 4.87 ERA for the season

    Adam Wainwright's 5-0 record during that "good" eight-start stretch makes it appear better than it actually has been. Only four of those eight lasted the minimum required for a quality start, and his 6.8 strikeouts per nine innings during that stretch suggests he has had his share of luck. His stuff hasn't actually improved with this turnaround, and the next shellacking is probably just around the corner. He's the most over-owned player in CBS Sports leagues at 79 percent.
Senior Fantasy Writer

Raised in Atlanta by a board game-loving family during the dawn of the '90s Braves dynasty, Scott White was easy prey for the Fantasy Sports, in particular Fantasy Baseball, and has devoted his adulthood... Full Bio

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