Evoke A Nola

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Thursday.

Welcome to the SP Roundup, my daily fantasy baseball article reviewing every starting pitcher’s performance from every Thursday game. I apologize for the jokes written in my delirium in advance. Have questions? Ask me during my office hours on Twitch weekday mornings from 9 am-11 am ET.  

Aaron Nola (PHI) vs CIN (W) – 9.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 11 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 40% CSW, 101 pitches.

For a pitcher whose ERA sits 50 points higher than their FIP, is often represented as the unfortunate product of the Phillies’ defense and bullpen, and has constantly made managers feel as if luck never comes his way, Aaron Nola has had himself a mighty fine season, posting a 3.25 ERA and 0.96 WHIP entering today, which is sure to get plenty better after his incredible 9.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 11 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 40% CSW, 101 pitches performance against the Reds. That’s a “King Cole” and a CGSHO. You gotta love it.

I wanted to take a moment to reflect on Nola’s now near 3.00 ERA and how we got here instead of 2021’s ghastly 4.63 mark. To me, there are a few factors. First, his sinker finding the zone more often, returning far more groundballs, and finding its way to record a .172 BAA on the year – about 80 points lower than last season. That’s a huge deal as Nola has been able to find strikes more confidently than before.

Meanwhile, the four-seamer has taken similar strides with a four-tick increase in strike rate with the same fall in BAA to .189. These are incredible marks for fastballs – the average four-seamer returns a .265 BAA. Amazing.

But what about the curve and change? Well, the hook is still one of the premier curveballs in baseball with its 39% CSW and 21% SwStr rate (9th best in baseball), while the changeup…we don’t really talk about the changeup. Nola wisely has tossed the pitch less often this year, and when he has, he’s elected to feature it out of the zone under 30% of the time – a smart call give its elevated BABIPs across the years.

In summary, Nola has improved his fastballs, kept his elite curve, and lowered the impact of his weakest link. I’m thrilled we can once again live every day like it’s Nola day.

 

Let’s see how every other SP did Thursday:

 

Jameson Taillon (NYY) @ OAK (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 101 pitches.

Sure, it’s just two strikeouts, but we’ll take this Win and run. You really can’t hope for much better from Taillon.

Jordan Lyles (BAL) vs CWS (ND) – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 9 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 95 pitches.

The story of Lyles’ low ERA with a high WHIP carries on, and I can’t help but shake my head seeing 19/21 outs come via the ball in play. Props to Lyles for wriggling out of constant trouble in this one, but surely y’all can’t buy into this as a model of sustainable success. Surely.

Marco Gonzales (SEA) vs CLE (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 101 pitches.

I had my hesitations and I’m glad Marco settled into his “Toby” roots in this one, spotting cutters, changeups, and heaters, while flipping in curveballs for strikes. Great timing, too, as the Tigers are next. Feel confident there.

Jacob deGrom (NYM) vs COL (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 39% CSW, 87 pitches.

Aces gonna ace and earn a “Gallows Pole”. Yes, I’m disappointed this wasn’t a perfect game. Whatever. Also, how dare he sit a tick down at 98.5 mph. Who does he think he is?

Lance Lynn (CWS) @ BAL (ND) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 100 pitches.

I feel like we don’t need to see much more of Lynn to believe the man has returned. Once again, he pumped four-seamers and cutters with authority, and once again he produced for fantasy teams everywhere. Things are good once again.

Patrick Sandoval (LAA) @ TB (L) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 90 pitches.

Yessss, I’m thrilled to see The Irish Panda come through in a solid matchup. It wasn’t one of his patented overwhelming outings, but he had enough to perform well and the scales tipped in his favor. Have caution against the Yankees next with Stanton back in that lineup.

Drew Rasmussen (TB) vs LAA (W) – 5.1 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 97 pitches.

The strikeouts are still here, though the slider is not. It was replaced with a curveball, which we haven’t seen at all this season, yet here it is, returning a 57% strike rate in 14 thrown. No, I don’t understand it, but that’s what happened. Regardless, the Angels struggled to catch up to the four-seamer and cutter, and y’all can keep smiling with the Marlins up next.

Dakota Hudson (STL) @ CHC (W) – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 97 pitches.

Ayyyy it worked! He even got whiffs this time with some perfectly placed sliders and there’s a part of me that sees @CIN next and gets tempted to spin the wheel again. Don’t worry, it’s just a part of me. Dakota will be at the bottom of the Questionable Start tier then.

Justin Dunn (CIN) @ PHI (L) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 92 pitches.

Ohhhhhhh baby. The slider and curveball are getting whiffs again – 11/45 between them. Sadly, the four-seamer is far too erratic and sits lower at 92 mph, a tad worrying for me to move forward on it (and with the Cardinals next) but hey, that’s progress. I love progress, I mean, they don’t call it congress…oh no. OH NO.

Triston McKenzie (CLE) @ SEA (L) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 93 pitches.

That’s a “PQS”, but at least the WHIP was sub 1.00 here. I blame the heavy slider usage for this one as I adored his four-seamer and curveball command, but that blasted slider just isn’t a good offering. Stick to the hook and the heat, Triston. Sidenote: The Hook & The Heat ain’t bad for a podcast name. I give you full permission to use it.

Luis Garcia (HOU) vs MIN (W) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 88 pitches.

Ehhhh okay. It’s one earned run away from being solid across the board and I dig that Garcia is trying to figure things out by throwing more cutters than four-seamers. I don’t think he’s fixed yet, though, and we’ll see if he can properly recover against the Rangers next time. He isn’t a must-hold, but I imagine he’s better than the generic 12-teamer wire options. Barely.

Ryan Feltner (COL) @ NYM (L) – 4.2 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 92 pitches.

DeadDove.jpeg

Kevin Gausman (TOR) @ BOS (ND) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 9 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 88 pitches.

Oh hey, it’s the terrible BABIP again. That’s not to say Gausman pitched immaculately, but he sure didn’t deserve nine hits and baseball can be a cruel sport. We’re gonna keep trucking forward with Kevin, though, as the Cubs shouldn’t get such wonderful fortune.

Kutter Crawford (BOS) vs TOR (ND) – 4.2 IP, 4 ER, 10 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 85 pitches.

Kutter? But I barely know her! Wait, you haven’t cut Kutter yet?

Marcus Stroman (CHC) vs STL (L) – 5.0 IP, 5 ER, 11 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 85 pitches.

Bleeeegh. That Cardinals offense really is something to avoid at the moment, isn’t it. Just one strikeout (“HAISTBMBWT?!”) and five whiffs is far from fun and it makes for a tough call against the Jays next. I think I still do it.

Chris Archer (MIN) @ HOU (L) – 4.0 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 88 pitches.

Archer was not a target with his capped ceiling facing a tough offense. He very rarely is.

James Kaprielian (OAK) vs NYY (L) – 2.2 IP, 8 ER, 7 Hits, 6 BBs, 2 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 86 pitches.

Poor Jimmy Hat. He labored through the second and third despite sitting over a tick harder in this one. The Yankees did add Stanton back to their lineup, FWIW, but Kaprielian clearly didn’t have his best stuff with those six walks. Thing is, he gets the Nationals next and he could be of use there, regardless of this bad outing. Don’t ignore it.

 

Game of the Day

 

Spencer Strider vs. José Quintana – It’s always a blast watching Strider + I’m curious whether Quintana’s command can get back on track.

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

Have Questions? – Join my morning Twitch livestream! I answer all questions there for free: 9:00 am – 11:00 am ET Monday through Friday.

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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.

One response to “Evoke A Nola”

  1. Joe Mulvey says:

    And don’t call me Shirley.

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