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Bring Me Your Dreams

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Thursday.

Sandy Alcantara vs TB (ND) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 36% CSW.

What a wonderful day. It’s been two years since spring brought us an afternoon of baseball hope — where expectations were shattered and pitchers made us believers. One such pitcher was Sandy Alcantara, Mr. Sandman himself as he went 6 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks against the Rays, along with 16 whiffs and a 36% CSW. Sadly, Glasnow was on the other side, but it doesn’t really matter. Alcantara was golden. Upper 90s fastballs finding the edges and earning quick outs, changeups in the lower 90s (sometimes 93 mph) that forced me to emit noises during my seven-hour Twitch stream, and a slider that stole many strikes for a 43% CSW. 43%!

This is the man I dreamed of for months and for him to give us a taste on Opening Day was everything and more. There’s still work to be done – there were moments where his fastball command wavered + his slider isn’t as consistent as we want it to be (despite the CSW) – but in a landscape of “180 is the new 200”, you’re looking at a potential stud without a skipped start in sight. Be still my beating heart.

 

Let’s see how every other SP did Thursday:

 

Lucas Giolito @ LAA (ND) – 5.1 IP, 2 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 34% CSW. Yeah, aces gonna ace. He’s really good and that changeup is ridiculous. The pitch had a — wait for it — 55% CSW across 29 thrown. That’s so stupidly absurd that it makes me grin like an idiot. Like an IDIOT. It’s too bad he couldn’t go just one more out, but hey, some days you can’t have it all.

Dylan Bundy vs CWS (ND) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 30% CSW. A two-run blast ruined Bundy’s night off the bat of Adam Eaton but otherwise, you should be pleased. Sure, it wasn’t the most pristine changeup, but he was throwing over 1.5 ticks harder than last season at 91.7 mph, while he got his first pitch curveballs and a 37% CSW slider. This is good Bundy, not bad Bundy.

Kevin Gausman @ SEA (ND) – 6.2 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 32% CSW. A 42% CSW on his fastball is wonderful, especially when you’re throwing 1.5 ticks slower than 2020. His splitter wasn’t doing a whole lot (21% CSW) and I have to think that’ll get better in future starts. This start really is all about that heater and it’s great to see it perform so well. The bad news? Well, he’s throwing softer and didn’t have his splitter as he gets ready for the Padres + the not-so-bad Reds + kinda underrated Phillies next. Meanwhile, the Mariners did not look good at all today. This could be…kinda rough.

Marco Gonzales vs SFG (ND) – 6.0 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 21% CSW. Marco is now just four walks away from matching his 2020 total. To say this wasn’t the same man from last year would be an understatement, as his sinker was plenty hittable and his secondary stuff did next to nothing to help. It shouldn’t be this bad for the rest of the season and he’ll likely have some nice stretches ahead, but yeah, you may just end up with a Toby when all is said and done. Be ready for it.

Zack Greinke @ OAK (W) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 30% CSW. It’s almost as if Greinke saw that Bassitt was pitching and wanted to show him how to truly dominate without a ton of whiffs. Many were scared to draft Greinke as they didn’t want to put themselves in harm’s way of the “cliff” that is going to hit a hurry. The dude had a 40% CSW on his 88.6 mph fastball. I think Greinke is just fine, y’all.

Chris Bassitt vs HOU (L) – 5.1 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 28% CSW. The biggest question for Bassitt has always been the secondary stuff and on a night where he doesn’t go 35% CSW on his sinker (like the 26% tonight), he’ll have trouble finding effective strikes with his other options. That’s not to say that Bassitt pitched poorly here — that’s a near 1.00 WHIP and a few outs from a quality start — it’s just, well, boring. I see the Toby life ahead for Bassitt and that’s just not my style.

Matthew Boyd vs CLE (W) – 5.2 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 4 BBs, 2 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 28% CSW.

Here I was, telling y’all not to grab Boyd early in the off-season because of his early schedule, then bringing myself back in over the last three weeks, hoping that his slider had returned while his changeup was looking like the #5 CSW changeup among starters last year. So fine, he got the start today against Cleveland in my ranks, and…it worked? The first two frames were the same as Bieber’s – pitching in a blizzard – so I’m willing to give him some excuse, but honestly, I don’t have faith in this. His slider still isn’t the whopping whiff pitch it once was and he wasn’t throwing 92+ mph on that fastball. Now he gets the Twins and Houston and I’d rather throw him back to the wire. It stinks and I wish I saw better, but this was a product of an atrocious Cleveland lineup. Don’t let that mask the blegh.

Hyun Jin Ryu @ NYY (ND) – 5.1 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 23% CSW.

Aces gonna ace. Ryu did exactly what we thought he would, save for about two outs. He’ll be hinting at a 25% strikeout rate all year as he jams right-handers with cutters and sitting changeups away. Have no fear, just hope the IL isn’t near.

Gerrit Cole vs TOR (ND) – 5.1 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 29% CSW.

Aces gonna ace. Yeah, a lot of that today. Cole did Cole things, throwing his changeup a bit more than usual today to…some success. Too bad he didn’t go six full, but you should be expecting pitchers across the majors needing a start or two to finally get the full leash.

Chad Kuhl @ CHC (ND) – 3.0 IP, 1 ER, 1 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 29% CSW.

Blegh. I mean, it’s not a frustrating blegh, it’s just a “hey, I guess this happened” blegh. I really wish he was throwing upper 90s like pre-TJS days, that would have been a cool story. Sadly, this is just a Kuhl story.

Kyle Hendricks vs PIT (L) – 3.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 25% CSW.

It’s the opposite of last year’s complete game shoutout extravaganza, though considering the following start was an atrocity, this is all according to plan. But seriously, you’re obviously starting Hendricks again for a repeat against the Pirates, though I will express some concern — Hendricks was sitting 85/86 mph today after sitting 87/88 mph last year. That’s not to say Hendricks can’t ramp it up, but it does explain why he wasn’t particularly sharp in this one. Here’s to hoping for better.

Kenta Maeda @ MIL (ND) – 4.1 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 28% CSW.

Yikes. Maeda, please. We need you. His fastball wasn’t able to sneak the edges as it did so well last season, while his slider was way too hittable. That’s supposed to be his money pitch! It’s unlike Maeda to walk in runs and struggle to earn strikes, so I’ll just wave my hand at this and banish it. Seriously, he gets the Tigers next and to their chagrin, they won’t have the aid of Jadis the White Witch. Maeda is fine.

Tyler Glasnow @ MIA (ND) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 41% CSW.

Aces gonna ace. This was crazy. Crazy! We weren’t fans of Glasnow’s new splitter last year since it wasn’t the pitch he needed: a secondary offering he could comfortably throw for strikes. Fast forward to today and Glasnow had nearly 70% strikes on sliders with a 42% CSW. Yep, I think that’ll do it. The pitch was as filthy as anything you’ll ever see and all you can do is watch and wonder how this won’t work for the entire season. There is one major problem with Glasnow, though — his workload. Despite featuring just 76 pitches through six frames, the Rays still went to their pen. While Glasnow will certainly get a longer leash as the season goes on (not to mention, he was dealing with some back pain in this outing), I can’t help but wonder how much he’ll still be babied by Tampa Bay and it pains me. If I felt he was getting the same volume as essentially anyone inside the Top 10 starters, I’d be tempted to raise Glasnow as high as #5. I’d need to see that slider sticking for a few more starts first, but hot dang, it’s that good.

Max Fried @ PHI (ND) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks – 18 Whiffs, 33% CSW.

This almost gets the AGA label, but the vibes are from his 2019 when he held a WHIP above 1.30. These are worse vibes than my cousin’s set as he banged on those metal bars during our family reunion back in 2003. It. Was. PAIN. I wasn’t in love with his overall command in this one and I still feel something is missing with that curveball. I also got a sense that we (read: I) may be undervaluing the Phillies offense. McCutchen, Bohm, Harper, Hoskins, Didi, Segura, etc. — they can all do damage in a hurry. Anyway, at the end of the day, that’s 18 whiffs from Fried and eight strikeouts. Things are cool.

Aaron Nola vs ATL (ND) – 6.2 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 27% CSW.

Aces gonna ace. Yes, I wore my Live Every Day Like It’s Nola Day T-Shirt for this one and I’m still in absolute awe that Nola’s sole ER came from an 0-2 pitch to Pablo SandovalI bet you didn’t even know he was still playing before today’s pinch-hit blast. What is this world? Regardless, Nola had his fastball working in this one, though his changeup wasn’t getting the whiffs it used to. Whatever, as long as that heater is good, Nola will be too.

Shane Bieber @ DET (L) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 12 Ks – 22 Whiffs, 41% CSW.

Aces gonna ace. The man was somehow pitching through my TV’s white noise, allowing 3 ER across his first two frames, and yet he managed to still strike out 12, go a full six frames, and earn himself a Golden Goal along the way, thanks to his slider earning a 54% CSW. Yeeeeesh. Sure, it was the Tigers, but who cares, he’s dope and will make you feel dope.

German Marquez vs LAD (ND) – 4.0 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 6 BBs, 2 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 22% CSW.

Marquez faced the Dodgers inside Coors. This wasn’t supposed to work and while that ERA is shockingly solid, that 3.00 WHIP sure isn’t. He even allowed a HR to Cody Bellinger that turned into an out as he passed Justin Turner on the basepaths. Why don’t the ERA estimators account for that?! He hosts Arizona next so you should be fine there, but then again, they blasted Darvish for 4 ER across plenty of HRs so…it’s your life, you do what you want. Y’all know I didn’t draft Marquez anywhere.

Brandon Woodruff vs MIN (ND) – 4.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 28% CSW.

Blegh. It was weird watching Woodruff in this one as he didn’t look like he was struggling but…was. For a guy that we expected to be going six frames constantly, it sure was a slap in the face, a big disgrace seeing Woody pulled after four at 78 pitches. It was a weird day, I wouldn’t be concerned.

Yu Darvish vs ARI (ND) – 4.2 IP, 4 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 30% CSW.

Darvish, come on man. You know you’re better than this. He allowed a pair of longballs in the fifth and got the hook as the Sneks pushed him near 100 pitches in just 14 outs. Wild. Cutter was still excellent, though he couldn’t get whiffs on any of the other secondaries — slider, curve, splitter, etc. — and his fastball was good but not great. There’s more in the tank with Darvish and like other aces today, you have to believe it’ll get better.

Clayton Kershaw @ COL (L) – 5.2 IP, 5 ER, 10 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 22% CSW.

Kersh, please. I’ve always said “It ain’t opening day until Kershaw pitches” but this wasn’t the celebration it normally is. Your fastball was down a full tick from last season at 90/91 instead of 91/92, your slider held just a 23% CSW, and you failed to earn a single whiff on your world-famous curveball. This ain’t it. Coors does weird things, though, and while he didn’t have it in this one, you just gotta throw him out there again next time out. Hopefully that velocity returns, too.

Kyle Gibson @ KC (ND) – 0.1 IP, 5 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 1 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 34% CSW.

At least it was a 34% CSW! HA Ha ha…Oh Kyle, you were handed a wonderful 5-0 lead and as you hummed Anything You Can Do, you walked a trio of batters and turned the basepaths into a red carpet. Please, after you. There will be a day this year that I’ll consider streaming him, but man, it’s gonna be in the depths of summer.

Brad Keller vs TEX (ND) – 1.1 IP, 6 ER, 9 Hits, 2 BBs, 0 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 27% CSW.

Awwwww. Keller was the only choice for a streamer today and, well, yeah. That’s a no. The good news is that he was throwing nearly 1.5 ticks harder, but just not in the places you want to. Now he gets a tough schedule and we likely won’t be touching him again until the end of April. BK, it’s not what you crave.

Madison Bumgarner @ SD (ND) – 4.0 IP, 6 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 37% CSW.

After getting a touch of hype hearing Bumgarner was suddenly throwing 90/91 in the spring, I pulled back my draft interest a few weeks ago when I realized Bumgarner starts the season with the Padres (see above) and Coors. The good news here is that he was averaging two ticks harder today than last season — yay! — and we’ll see if it sticks after Coors next week. Seriously, if he’s throwing that hard and keeping up with this CSW, you can ignore the box score and consider him as a deep option against Oakland or Washington after.

Jack Flaherty @ CIN (ND) – 4.1 IP, 6 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 26% CSW.

This game in Cincy was brutal. Neither ace was cruising and while Flaherty was able to get whiffs on his slider — 8/25! — everything else was a struggle. He also was 1.5 ticks lower on his heater and there is a touch of concern here. Way too early to heavily react, but yeah, monitor that fastball and hopefully it can pick it up next time out.

Luis Castillo vs STL (L) – 3.1 IP, 8 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 0 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 26% CSW.

Jeeeeeeeeeeeez. Casty, this ain’t it. Not a single strikeout?! HAISTFMFWT?! His changeup went just 3/18 on whiffs and he was 2.5 ticks slower on his heater than last year. Yeah, I don’t buy that this will last and we’ve seen Castillo be a slow starter in previous years, possibly a product of cold weather. It was a rough blow today and all you can do is act like a man wearing a vest inside a casino and deal.

 

Game of the Day 

 

Blake Snell vs. Arizona Diamondbacks – There isn’t a ridiculous matchup slated for Friday, so let’s hope that Snell is suddenly a different pitch who can comfortably go six frames now that he’s out of Tampa Bay.

 

But Nick?! Where are the streaming picks? – I’ve moved them to the daily SP Matchups & Streamer Rankings article.

 

Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

Nick Pollack

Founder of Pitcher List. Creator of CSW, The List, and SP Roundup. Worked with MSG, FanGraphs, CBS Sports, and Washington Post. Former college pitcher, travel coach, pitching coach, and Brandeis alum. Wants every pitcher to be dope.

  • Jaybird says:

    Good to be back here, reading these :) Thanks Nick

  • jeffreym@reagan.com says:

    Nick,

    It’s great to be back. One more step to something close to normalcy when I’m reading your daily SP article after a successful OD. I wanted to tell you I listened to your spot on MLBNR last week or the week before. Don’t know if you heard it but before the guys broke to go to commercial before they welcomed you on air. I believe it was Mike Stanton who said “if you love baseball and you’re not following Pitcher List, you’re doing it wrong”. I felt great for you and your team when he said that. Obviously coming from him, a former successful big league pitcher, carries a little more juice. Anyway you did a great job on that segment and represented your product extremely well. Thanks for everything and let’s play some ball!

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Thanks so much Jeffrey! I was shocked and honored they brought me on and hadn’t realized Mike sung such praises. Thanks for me letting me know and here’s a wonderful season ahead! Can’t wait for more baseball.

  • TommyBoy1189 says:

    Any chance Alex Reyes starts at some point this season?
    I’m high on the dude but my only real droppables are McMahon and Walsh (10-team/sv+hd)

  • Nick G says:

    I’m so happy to have my morning ritual back with my coffee Nick!
    What’s worse? Having Bellinger’s homer taken away (not that bad) or reading Sandy’s line where I ran out of bidding money because I accidently clicked on a bid for Robbie Ray that I couldn’t take back :(

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Noooooo the Alcantara bit :(

      And thanks man! I’m thrilled to get into this routine once again. I’ve missed it so much.

  • John says:

    I agree with the others Nick. Your breakdown of pitching is THE best out there, and love the glossary. Ordering the TOBY t-shirt today haha it’s awesome.

    I think your site and podcasts have a chance to become The Fantasy Footballers of baseball, a site/show that is obviously extremely informative but ALSO entertaining.

    I’ve tried tons of baseball pods over the last month, and most put me to sleep. And I’m huge baseball fan.

    THANKS

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