Corey of the Year

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Sunday.

Corey Kluber vs DET (W) – 8.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 10 Ks – 20 Whiffs, 34% CSW, 103 pitches.

It’s about dang time. Corey Kluber had himself a day against the Detroit Tigers with a brilliant line of 8.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 10 Ks, securing the win with 20 whiffs and 34% CSW across 103 pitches. It was destined to happen — after all, it’s no longer April.

I’m not entirely sure how to feel about this outing. There are many ways we can knock it — Kluber went 13/25 whiffs on changeups, while we saw his breaker earn just four whiffs of its own. Not a bad number, it’s just not the classic Kluber we saw for six seasons. His sinker sat at 91 mph, not the 91/92 mph we saw last time, and his cutter held just a 16% CSW. And, you know, Blame it on the Tigers.

But maybe that changeup really is the new ticket for success. He had the pitch working last time as well and with it, his breaking ball doesn’t have to be the whiff McGee it once was. Meanwhile, his cutter still earned tons of strikes as foul balls — 19/25 were strikes! — and he wasn’t destroyed by that sinker. I’ve been expecting a specific mold, and I won’t overlook that Kluber could be evolving with his ability. At any rate, he’s slotted to face the Nationals this weekend and you’re obviously seeing how far this goes. I’m incredibly curious if this changeup sticks or if his breaker can take that step forward.

 

Let’s see how every other SP did Sunday:

 

Justus Sheffield vs LAA (W) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 18% CSW, 103 pitches.

Ayyy that’s a solid outing from Sheff! Sure, three walks were included, and he returned 6% CSW on 18 changeups, but it was a success! You make it sound like you’re not buying this. Yeah, that’s because I’m not. Boasting a sustained 18% CSW just doesn’t lead to success, and I didn’t see anything new in his repertoire that makes me reconsider my assessment of his arsenal. Sorry y’all.

Carlos Martínez @ PIT (W) – 8.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 100 pitches.

So this is cool. CarMart took advantage of a date with the Pirates, turning it in for a sub 1.00 WHIP and eight frames of 0 ER ball, taking a stab at the Minimalist Score. Sure, the whiffs and strikeout aren’t there, his slider was decent, and his changeup was only thrown twelve times…huh. This was a game where his cutters did a ton of work and churned outs. Not really the performance to lean into. Thing is, he gets Rockie Road next and sure, why not. Have a ball, CarMart.

Rich Hill vs HOU (ND) – 3.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 39% CSW, 44 pitches.

After he killed it for six innings last time, we wondered if Hill would be allowed to flirt with 100 pitches again. Why wouldn’t he? The Rays need innings eaters! HA Ha ha…At least you got quality?? I don’t think this headache is worth your time as suddenly, it’s Tampa Bay who has Dodgeritis. I know there’s a TB joke here but I just don’t want to make it.

Zach Plesac @ CWS (W) – 5.2 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 4 BBs, 6 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 110 pitches.

Ahhhh, much better. Sure, it was a Philly, but Plesac was allowed to go 110 pitches and he put up a goose egg. And yeah, I want a better WHIP too, but let’s be thrilled that he finally survived against the ChiSox in his third attempt. The redemption tour continues next time against Kansas City, and you’re going to love this, I promise.

Garrett Richards @ TEX (ND) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 93 pitches.

That’s a lovely outing for our streaming pick of the day – Streaming Record: 19-10. Richards found the zone once again with four-seamers (albeit, right down the heart of the plate, BUT I DIGRESS), and it allowed him to set up his slider for 7/28 whiffs. That works all day. I’m a little sad his curveball couldn’t do better than 2/20 CSW, though, but it was the Rangers and we’ll take it and run. Yes, I’d hold for Baltimore as Garrett in the zone is way better than Garrett out of the zone.

Lucas Giolito vs CLE (L) – 5.1 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 8 Ks – 18 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 97 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. Were you worried? Stop being worried. Oh, okay. #NickCuresAnxiety.

David Peterson @ PHI (ND) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks – 18 Whiffs, 34% CSW, 88 pitches.

Whoa, there’s the fun, upside-heavy Peterson! He absolutely killed it with four-seamers, painting the edges and avoiding the heart of the plate for 46% CSW and 71% strikes. It’s what you want. His slider was decent enough, but this start was reliant on that heater’s success. Here’s the tough question: Are you willing to bet he can live on the edges this well in his next start, too? I’m hesitant to make that wager against the Cardinals. He’s a deep option, but not a must-grab after this.

Julio Urías @ MIL (W) – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 10 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 40% CSW, 90 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. Yeah, I think it’s time as Urías earned a King Cole and has essentially dominated all year — even that Rockies start deserved better. His new breaker is fantastic, his four-seamer command is legit, and there’s even room for improvement as his changeup was middling tonight. I don’t think you’ll stop starting him with confidence this season.

Max Scherzer vs MIA (W) – 9.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 9 Ks – 22 Whiffs, 36% CSW, 106 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. Max earned a Gallows Pole as he had to put the young Rogers in his place. Son, this is how it’s done. It’s true because it rhymes. 41% CSW on 54 four-seamers is just silly.

Kevin Gausman @ SD (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 95 pitches.

This was a wonderful matchup and after a not-so-crushed HR in the first from Tatís Jr., Gausman cruised. What can’t this man do right now as he’s holding that 94/95 mph velocity and getting the whiffs with splitters. Oh cool, it’s Coors next. Yaaaay. I’m tempted to start him, that’s how well he’s pitching.

Zach Eflin vs NYM (ND) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 10 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 97 pitches.

That’s two straight games of at least nine hits as Eflin — once again for the fourth of six starts — didn’t have his curveball, throwing just eight of them here. So it becomes the sinker/slider game and it generally returns a lot of hits. It’s why Eflin has never had a sub 9.00 Hit Per Nine. The elites all hover 7.00 or lower, FWIW. But hey, there are worse starters out there than Eflin, and he should be helpful over the course of the year. He’s just not an auto-start, okay? Especially if he has a date with Atlanta, like his next start.

Merrill Kelly vs COL (ND) – 5.2 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 85 pitches.

So, the legends of Rockie Road are true! They sure are, ancient explorer. Kelly didn’t even have his cutter in this one, but got it done with his curveball at 44% CSW. This really doesn’t matter, though, it mainly worked because Blame it on the Rockies. Don’t overthink it.

Dylan Bundy @ SEA (L) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 95 pitches.

There’s the good stuff. Bundy sat 91 mph and had his slider + changeup working. It’s all you could as for as he did his job against the Mariners. Keep it up, fella.

Mike Foltynewicz vs BOS (ND) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 86 pitches.

Hey, this ain’t bad Folty! Your slider finally did things with 35% CSW and six whiffs, though there really isn’t anything else to report. Maybe he’s a streamer if he can push that usage to 35-40% at this effectiveness. For now, we nod in approval and move on to the next piece in this gallery, taking a sip of wine before saying something articulate in a soft voice. The sweeps bring out just the right amount of intrigue. Ah yes, darling. Sip. They do.

Brad Keller @ MIN (L) – 4.1 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 22% CSW, 72 pitches.

When was the last time you saw Keller starting and thought “Mmmm, I want that”? Yeah, I thought so. It is a bit frustrating given he’s featuring better velocity, but it comes with worse command without a stellar breaker. So we move on. Maybe Lynch will end up replacing him instead of Junis?

Ross Stripling vs ATL (ND) – 4.1 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 70 pitches.

We weren’t sure if Stripling was starting until about 30 minutes beforehand, and he wasn’t much to write home about. I’m glad to see he’s okay, though, and here’s to seeing that huge curveball earn a single whiff across 16 thrown next time. Wait, 0/16 on curveball whiffs?! Yuuuuup.

José Ureña @ NYY (L) – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 36% CSW, 100 pitches.

Huge props to Ureñahere — he not only gave you fantastic ratios across seven innings, but did so with seven strikeouts as well. His slider earned 44% CSW, and the Yankees took plenty of sinkers for strikes. That’s five straight starts of two ER or fewer if you can believe and his fourth straight of seven frames. Yeah, this is straight-up bonkers, even if only one of his previous four came with a CSW above 23%. There’s no way this continues against the Twins…right? Are we really going to Vargas Rule Ureña?!

Cristian Javier @ TB (ND) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 81 pitches.

I feel like Javier teased us with his slider whiffs a few starts ago and now I can’t settle for anything else. I’ve felt the fluff of clouds, the light of the heavens, the gifts of angels, and you expect me to endure the dirt of mortals? Or something like that. He is a Cristian after all. Anyway, he still did good work with that breaker at 40% CSW, but his fastball wasn’t an overwhelming force, and it was pretty mediocre. Next up in Toronto and I’m SCARED, y’all. I have a feeling the Jays will score more runs than any in the majors this year, no joke.

Bruce Zimmermann @ OAK (ND) – 4.2 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 87 pitches.

Remember that amazing pitch separation he had at the beginning of the year? Yeah, it disappeared like my pog collection two decades ago. Funny enough, both pogs and Bruce are equally relevant now. Ouch. It hurt to type, I’m sorry.

Trevor Rogers @ WSH (L) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 77 pitches.

This was a fun one, and once that three-run homer left Ryan Zimmerman‘s bat, you knew that was it. Max had won this round. I’m a little annoyed they pulled Rogers after just five as he clearly had enough in the tank for another frame + I have to mention how Rogers did this essentially just with his heater as the changeup and slider returned a combined 18% CSW. It’ll be better against the Brewers.

Wil Crowe vs STL (L) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 3 Hits, 4 BBs, 2 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 97 pitches.

You had no idea Crowe started this game and looking at it, you realize he did absolutely nothing for those that trusted him. And look at that, you’ve already forgotten about him again.

Sean Manaea vs BAL (ND) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 91 pitches.

Nooooo, I was just starting to get on the Manaea bandwagon and while he retained two skills I liked — changeup whiffs and sinker velocity at 91 mph — his command facet wasn’t there. Sinkers were too hittable, his changeup often fluttered (Is that a good thing? No, that’s not a good thing) and his curveball wasn’t much to depend on. I want to buy into Manaea, but I don’t like seeing this side of him again.

Ian Anderson @ TOR (L) – 4.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 89 pitches.

Look y’all, some of you are going to look at this and heavily start questioning Ian, while there are some like me that are legit terrified of the Jays right now. Seriously, adding Springer is making that lineup stupid and combining it with Dunedin is just cruel for the opposition. The Phillies should be way more digestible for Anderson and don’t change the course.

José Berríos vs KC (W) – 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks – 19 Whiffs, 39% CSW, 95 pitches.

Hey Berríos, do you mind not allowing one or two of those earned runs? It’s great to see your curveball has returned — 48% CSW! — but it’s hard to fully appreciate this with a 6.00 ERA. I like my donuts not dusty, thank you very much. By the way, Berríos typically doesn’t just find his yakker for just one game, he normally keeps it for about four starts or so. Get amped for that Detroit start next.

Chi Chi Gonzalez @ ARI (ND) – 4.2 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 85 pitches.

Okay, okay, I won’t even consider CCG as a desperate option. You know what they say, don’t trust a person with two first names.

Joe Musgrove vs SF (L) – 5.0 IP, 5 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 35% CSW, 85 pitches.

I know this looks terrible but I have a feeling Musgrove didn’t even know if he was starting this game until the day off, and it may have messed him up a little bit. His slider was just 27% CSW and that ain’t right. IT AIN’T RIGHT. Keep the faith.

Tyler Mahle vs CHC (ND) – 5.0 IP, 6 ER, 9 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 82 pitches.

Mahle didn’t have the elite fastball command, turning his whiff-heavy four-seamer into a 4.7% SwStr pitch. Yuck. That ain’t it, and I’m okay rolling my eyes and expecting better against his in-state rival Cleveland next time out.

Trevor Williams @ CIN (ND) – 2.2 IP, 6 ER, 6 Hits, 4 BBs, 2 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 19% CSW, 72 pitches.

Hey Trevor, I see you’re comfortably leaning into the T-Ells nickname. You do you, man. You do you.

Alec Bettinger vs LAD (L) – 4.0 IP, 11 ER, 11 Hits, 2 BBs, 0 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 19% CSW, 89 pitches.

You don’t know who this is, and I feel terrible that he’s in contention for the WHERST with this one. Poor guy.

 

Game of the Day 

 

Aaron Civale vs Daniel LynchIt’s always fun watching Civale + DANIEL LYNCH IS HERE. Pick him up.

 

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

 

Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

Nick Pollack

Founder of Pitcher List. Worked with MSG, FanGraphs, CBS Sports, and Washington Post. Former pitching coach and Brandeis alum. Wants every pitcher to be dope.

  • Avatar DB says:

    A shouting endorsement of picking up a starter that’s never played above High-A is irresponsible and wrong by a site called “Pitcher List.”

    Calm down please. Tell people to watch him rather than telling them to pick him up, or tell people to grab him in dynasty.

  • Avatar BB says:

    The Rays were more careful with Hill this time around because he was on the COVID IL on Friday due to vaccine side effects.

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