Do Not Pass Pablo

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Friday.

It happened. It legit happened and I couldn’t be more excited. Pablo Lopez came onto our podcast back in April and expressed that one of his goals in 2020 was to win a Gallows Pole. HE DID IT. With a line of 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 8 Ks – 21 Whiffs, 36% CSW, Pablo earned himself the award and I still can’t wipe this smile off my face.

How did he do it? Well his changeup is stupid good, for starters. Solid locations arm-side and down as it returned a career-high 10 whiffs and 43% CSW despite its high 32% usage rate. Throw your best pitch more, we always say, and seeing Lopez do that is superb. There’s also the addition of a cutter this season that was as good as I’ve seen it thus far. 5/15 whiffs on the pitch here, earning heavy breezes as it darted inside to left-handers, and nipping the top of the zone and inside to right-handers. I wouldn’t be shocked if we see more than 15 of these thrown in the future as it’s clearly working.

Sinker command was also pristine, landing down-and-away to left-handers and falling just inside the zone to right-handers. It’s what you want from a sinker. Oh, and did I mention that none of his four-seamers landed in the bottom half of the zone? It’s the approach we want to see—four-seamers up, sinkers jamming right-handers, cutters inside to left-handers, and changeups down, and why not, a few curveballs for strikes too—and I’m excited for what’s ahead. Grab him for the Mets and let’s continue this fantastic party.

 

Let’s see how every other SP did Friday:

 

Merrill Kelly vs SD (W) – 6.2 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 30% CSW. Whoaaaa, have I been grossly undervaluing Kelly? Ehhhh I don’t think so and I get the sense this is a trap. Maybe Vargas Rule it, but long term, I don’t trust Kelly’s four-seamer nor two-seamer to generate outs this effectively, though it was nice to see his curveball do great things with a 36% CSW and a 27% SwStr. The A’s next with Laureano back in the lineup is a bit too risky for my blood, but I don’t blame you for riding it out.

Lance Lynn @ COL (W) – 9.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 27% CSW. Aces gonna ace. I had a bad feeling about this with Lynn heading into Coors and needing over 100 pitches for each previous start, but the madman did it. He hasn’t had a game under 105 pitches yet and his fastball is just stupid good. Don’t you dare reconsider Lynn and he’s a must-start. Hey random friend named Jay! What’s up? LL is so cool, Jay. Oh.

Gerrit Cole vs BOS (W) – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 8 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 36% CSW. Aces gonna ace. You’re going to need more than 16 whiffs if you want to win a Gallows Pole when PabLo is pitching. Get it together, Cole. I’d imagine this start makes y’all happy I didn’t put him under deGrom last Monday. He’s still the #1 arm with his strikeout ability and Win potential…and that’s ignoring deGrom’s sad injury today.

Clayton Kershaw @ LAA (W) – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 1 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 33% CSW. Aces gonna ace. It makes the world feel right when TATIAGA dominates. Fastballs hung out at 92 mph and that makes me very happy (even some 93/94 mph in there!), though he wasn’t able to jam right-handers as much as we used to see. His slider was unreal, though, being featured 42% of the time for a 39% CSW. We’re cool, Kershaw, though my concerns about that fastball command has me pushing him comfortably out of Top 10 consideration.

Sonny Gray vs PIT (W) – 6.2 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 10 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 39% CSW. Aces gonna ace and earn a King Cole with a 39% CSW. All of his pitches earned a CSW above 38% across 110 pitches, okay, save for three changeups that went 1/3. That’s absurd and outlines how good Gray is feeling with both fastballs and his two breakers. Normally we see one pitch elevate the overall CSW, but nah, Gray’s entire repertoire is dope. You love to see it.

Framber Valdez vs SEA (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 35% CSW. Framber got the Mariners and Framber did exactly what he was supposed to do, despite having a meh fastball approach (his curveball is still solid, though). Streaming Record: 13-9. Now he heads to Coors and you can let him be free on the wire. Be free, sweet summer child…

Dinelson Lamet @ ARI (L) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 32% CSW. The people are clamoring for me to give Lamet an AGA label and I understand why. It’s a 1.59 ERA, 32% K rate, 0.81 WHIP, and 15% SwStr rate thus far. That’s stupid good. He’s also needed a .210 BABIP, 7 % HR/FB rate, and 87% LOB rate to get there, but hey, that’s a 3.35 SIERA at the end of the day! Simply put, I don’t trust Lamet’s heater to continue returning a 29 wRC+. While its increased velocity from 96 –> 97/98 definitely improves its former 164 wRC+, I don’t think he commands it well in the slightest. Case in point, the pitch earned a 14% CSW across 35 thrown yesterday. That’s not going to cut it when his slider isn’t the most ridiculous pitch ever. I’m not saying Lamet is destined for the bench, but I do believe there is turmoil ahead that will make you struggle with your confidence. Also, the Diamondbacks are kinda bad.

Ryan Castellani vs TEX (ND) – 4.2 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 41% CSWWhoa, 41% CSW?! I can’t give him the King Cole because he was one out short, but hot dang, that’s lovely. Inside Coors too! He gets the Astros next inside Coors and you so obviously don’t want that, but I’d consider him for the start after in Arizona and if you want to plan that far ahead, by all means, add Tyco RC. I have to hand it to him, he did an unreal job with location here. Fastballs sat up-and-away to left-handers while his slider and curveball both fell down-and-in. He stuck along the diagonal all night with beautiful pitch separation, even surprising right-handers down-and-away with four-seamers as well. This was a guy in rhythm. Again, it’s not worth it for the Astros, but I’ll be watching there to make sure he’s still in good enough rhythm for the Diamondbacks after. It’s weird. I kinda love his approach and look, but I also get the sense that it’s a small sample and his fastball is a bit too hittable. I don’t want y’all to go overboard here, but he’s definitely intriguing.

Stephen Strasburg @ BAL (ND) – 0.2 IP, 1 ER, 1 Hits, 0 BBs, 0 Ks – 2 Whiffs, 19% CSW. Strasburg left this after throwing just 16 pitches as the nerve issues with his hand sparked up. Yeaaah, that’s an IL stint and possibly a shutdown for the year here. Get surgery, fix the issue, and we’ll see you in 2021 Strasburg. I can obviously be very wrong here, it does seem like it’s just not worth it with six weeks left, you know? Erick Fedde came in after and was kinda amazing with 5.1 IP of 0 ER ball, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, and…zero strikeouts. Hi, are these the BABIP Gods? I need some help today…yes I’ll hold… Remember kids, Don’t Trust The Feddes.

Johnny Cueto vs OAK (ND) – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 25% CSW. Cueto did Cueto things and grinded for seven innings against the A’s. Grammarly wants me to say “Ground out for seven innings” which just sounds like he’s the Sisyphus equivalent of Mike Trout, and we’re not allowing that. Anyway, Cueto’s stuff wasn’t sparkling, but he threw some great curveballs and changeups and some days this will happen. It’s a bit Cherry Bomb like, but without the whole excitement part of the Cherry, you know?

Colten Brewer @ NYY (L) – 2.2 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 14% CSW. I see his name and think of someone wondering which team Wong is on in the NL Central. Colten…Colten…Brewer? Nah, I think the Cardinals. That’s the most I can say about Brewer, you don’t need me to tell you to look elsewhere.

Chad Kuhl @ CIN (L) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 36% CSW. Ohhhhh Thanos snap! Look at that 36% CSW! His slider and curveball were cooking with 44% CSW across 41 breakers thrown and while I would love to see his fastball velocity push 96+ like the good ole days (94.3 yesterday), I have to wonder if Kuhl’s next start against the Indians is the outing people truly wisen up. He is up to 78 pitches now, so 85-90 isn’t out of the question next time out. Get your shares now if you can.

Brandon Woodruff @ CHC (ND) – 4.1 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 31% CSW. Woodruff labored in this one, needing 86 pitches to only get pulled in the fifth. It was strange seeing 3:2 sinkers being favored over four-seamers and he wasn’t quite the man we expect. Nothing too concerning though, and you best be trusting Woodruff moving forward.

Trevor Richards @ TOR (ND) – 4.1 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 21% CSWHe avoided the heart of the plate well, but nibbled way too much along the way. Changeups were’ low enough and it just wasn’t great. I won’t rule out a decent start in the future, though.

Tanner Roark vs TB (ND) – 4.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 4 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 32% CSW. We’re hoping for Roark to become a Toby and this ain’t it. He tossed 82 pitches, was pretty wild, and even though he was effective once in the zone, there’s not enough here to latch onto.

Tommy Milone vs WSH (L) – 4.0 IP, 3 ER, 9 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 24% CSW. Naaaah, this is old Milone Schmilone and it’s not what we’re looking for. The Nationals offense is heating up a little with Soto back and Turner kinda doing things again, but nevertheless, Milone isn’t the man we want him to be.

Spencer Howard vs NYM (ND) – 3.1 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 28% CSW. We were initially told he’d be piggy-backing with Vince Velasquez, but VV pitched the day before, possibly opening the door for a long start. Nope, just 69 pitches here and he was Singled Out a bit in this start. Great to see 94 mph average velocity after Sunday’s ~92 mark, especially plenty of four-seamers up, but his secondary stuff is far from locked in. Baby steps, though, and the first two were rooted in that fastball velocity and approach. I’m a little more in, but still hesitant until I see his changeup take over.

Kyle Wright @ MIA (L) – 3.0 IP, 3 ER, 2 Hits, 6 BBs, 1 Ks – 2 Whiffs, 22% CSWYeah, that command just isn’t there as he provided a HAISTFMFWT?! There’s no reason to be this wrong with Kyle.

Alec Mills vs MIL (L) – 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 36% CSWLike three others, Mills had to make a start a day early with Tyler Chatwood scratched with—you guessed it—back tightness. He did incredibly well all things considered, but it was a bit of Dusty Donut given the blegh ERA. Looks like I have to change today’s streamer then…He’ll likely get the Cardinals next and I think I’m cool with that as his fastball command is on point.

Patrick Sandoval vs LAD (L) – 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 30% CSW. Facing the Dodgers offense is no simple task and a 30% CSW with 13 whiffs is a moral victory for Sandoval. There’s work to be done polishing his slider and changeup locations…which may not be the words you expected me to say after he returned a 47% CSW on sliders and 30% on changeups. He can be better. His four-seamer is where the damage came from, leaving too many in the heart of the plate, but he also executed a fair amount up-and-in to right-handers that made me excited. There’s potential here and I wonder if 2021 will be the year he shines.

Aaron Civale @ DET (W) – 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 24% CSW. Civale nooooo. His command was worse in this one, finding the heart of the zone way too often, while his cutter all over the place, without a single one landing low as intended. Bleeegggh. Sliders were good, though, and I’m in no way giving up on Civale, I just wanted him to cruise in rhythm all year, you know? It may be a product of what’s going on with Plesac and Clevinger causing slightly shifted schedules and a different clubhouse, but who knows. Regardless, keep starting Civale, this ain’t him.

Walker Lockett @ PHI (ND) – 6.0 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 26% CSWThe Mets are searching for starters and while they wanted to call up Strikeouter Lockett, they had to settle with Walker. He’s a Cup of Schmo and I wouldn’t consider him in any league—this was a product of Jacob deGrom as a late scratch for neck stiffness. It could result in an IL stint and it’s just terrible. TERRIBLE. Not a long term issue, though.

Jesus Luzardo @ SF (ND) – 3.1 IP, 6 ER, 9 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 29% CSW. Yikes. Keep in mind, Luzardo was rushed up a day with Frankie Montas scratched late with upper back tightness. I wouldn’t read much into this one as he likely wasn’t prepared for a day early. Keep calm with Luzardo.

Nestor Cortes @ HOU (L) – 0.1 IP, 7 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks – 2 Whiffs, 22% CSWOhhhh man that’s rough Nestor, I feel for you. I remember David Cone was mentioning how excited he was for Cortes last summer and it’s sad to see him struggle. There’s a solid Toby in there somewhere, hopefully we see it one day.

Ivan Nova vs CLE (L) – 3.1 IP, 8 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 23% CSW. Should I get my glasses Pop? No son, no Super Nova today. Will we ever see another one? We can only hope.

 

Today’s Streamer

 

For those unaware, I’m forced to make my streamer picks under the condition of sub-20% owned in Fantasy Pros’ consolidated ownership rates.

 

 

Alec Mills vs. Milwaukee Brewers – The Brewers aren’t in a great spot offensively and Mills can spin a decent one. I’d also consider Kevin Gausman against the Athletics as his increased velocity and elevated heaters are making me wonder if we should take him more seriously. Mills went on Friday with the Chatwood injury so Kevin Gausman vs. Oakland Athletics is on the menu. Heeeeeeere we go.

 

Tomorrow’s Streamer

 

Adam Plutko vs. Detroit Tigers – I see at least five innings and a Win here for Plutko as he doesn’t destroy your ratios. That works for me.

 

Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer

 

Touki Toussaint vs. Washington Nationals – I’d consider Robert Gsellman but I don’t think he’s stretched out enough yet. Brandon Bielak hosting the Rockies on the road could be strong as well.

 

Game of the Day

 

Shane Bieber vs. Spencer Turnbull – Yeah, these guys are fun.

 

 

(Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)

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 Let’s Play Two says:

    Trade Clevinger for Maeda or Gallen? Wonder about when Clev will be back and what his head will be like. He also wasn’t pitching well before being an idiot.

    • Avatar Louie says:

      I wish I knew, as a Clevinger owner. But as a Clevinger owner IN THE BOTTOM HALF OF THE STANDINGS, I gotta keep him and hope he’s a top-5 SP, so I can make up ground. If I’m near the top of the standings, I play it safe and do that trade. In this case, simple game theory trumps psychological prognosticating.

  • Lynn damn near threw an eleven inning perfect game last night. It was legitimately one of the better pitching performances I have seen. Watch the first and sixth innings and just know that nobody reached base (something like that) in any other inning. I think the two hits came on he first two batters. odor led off the game defesively with one of the stupidest plays I have ever seen (scored a hit) and then Story got the lone real hit of the day – that was the one real base runner he allowed. I don’t think it is inconceivable that Odor’s putrid decision to attempt to barehand a ball on the dirt with plenty of time to make a play ma have rattled Lynn a bit. Nevertheless, 1 baserunner in 9 IP at Coors is pretty good. If his defense were competent he would have recorded probably 30+ outs at least but he settled for 27. I don’t even think he is an AGA, but it was a fun performance to watch. Lynn is my favorite starter to watch. He battles every pitch and just cuts and runs FBs all over the place. He has several variations of the FB and good command of them. He is like bizzaro Greg Maddux IMO.

    Hey Nick, how do you scout these starts? I am guessing that you look at strike zone plots and pitch outcomes Gamefeed style for the most part? Where do you get the data? Just curious. I just use my eyes and if I need a little more info I go look at pitch split types and velocity charts for trends. The way you present the data makes me curious as to what you look at.

    Check out Kibry Yate’s line from yesterday. It shouldn’t exist. 0 IP, K, ER. There is no way that run should be earned, but score keeping is not without its issues. If the batter swung at it, then the catcher should be able to stop it.

  • Are we going to talk about the fact that Freddy Peralta has 19ks in his last 9 IP? Also do you think he ends up a starter this year in that crowded rotation?

  • Avatar Rocket says:

    I watched Gray, Kershaw, and Mills closely last night and all were superb. I love the way Kershaw always bounces back with an outstanding start following a bad start. Really only 1 mistake to Rendon and he was flirting with a no-no. Nice to see him touch 94 (93.5mph) a couple of times. I will roll with “the claw” any day when healthy.

    Mills filled the zone with strikes worked all quadrants and really kept the Brewers off balance all night. His ” dusty donut” was a result of a little fatigue or lack of concentration or both in the sixth inning. He walked the leadoff hitter, HBP Huira, and left a 3-2 cambio over the heart of the plate to Yelich for a 3R bomb. Otherwise, he was very precise with his pitches and had a solid plan. Not sure what to make of Mills longterm, he is somewhat intriguing, really in the same comp as Kyle Hendricks. 7 punch outs which I did not see coming.

    Gray was Gray and dope as usual. He is in a really good spot right now in terms of his mental approach and confidence. The Great American Ballpark is not a friendly place for many pitcher but he owns it. He realizes the importance of three key factors for success in the park. First, strike guys out. Two, limit free passes. Three, be stingy with runners in scoring position. Check, check, check.

  • Avatar Play Ball says:

    This is a great site. But, it’s unfortunate that the writers rarely reply to anyone’s comments and when they do it’s just a couple out of many posted.

  • Avatar Giacomo says:

    Hi Nick, in a dynasty keeper points league could You please rank these SP?
    Toussaint, Spencer Howard, Corbin Burnes, Pablo Lopez. I’ve to cut one.

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