Fast Walker

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Thursday.

Taijuan Walker vs MIA (ND) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 87 pitches.

After a phenomenal 2020 campaign that saw a 2.70 ERA and 1.16 WHIP, Taijuan Walker earned a contract with the Mets, hoping to improve upon his 27% CSW and sub 8% SwStr. So far, so good, as he cruised for 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks against the Marlins, earning 33% CSW and an 11.5% SwStr rate. Want to know the best part? His fastball averaged 95.4 mph — a full two ticks harder than last season. He was able to elevate it at times for whiffs and there may be something to it suggesting he can improve upon last year’s fantastic season.

I’m still a little hesitant to jump on board regarding his secondary stuff, though. He’s still lacking that major whiff pitch to turn to frequently (4/27 whiffs on his slider and 2/6 on splitters) and while the harder heater could turn into one, he’ll need to pitch backward to get its full effect. I’m curious how it’ll play out and I wish he didn’t have to face the solid Phillies offense next. Despite the lead here and increased velocity, I still get a cold chill considering that outing. Here’s to hoping he quells those fears.

 

Let’s see how every other SP did Thursday:

 

Corbin Burnes @ STL (ND) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 0 BBs, 9 Ks – 18 Whiffs, 38% CSW, 86 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. That’s a Golden Goal for Burnes, and I can’t do anything but adore what Burnes is doing. I just hope he gets more than 160 innings, you know?

Cristian Javier vs OAK (W) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 36% CSW, 88 pitches.

I was tempted to lead with Javier and he impressed me in this one by keeping his four-seam velocity in his final inning at 94 mph. Not at all what we saw last year! It’s still just five innings, albeit of quality, and he’s pitching backward with sliders + curves for strikes and fastballs for whiffs. So yeah, better than I expected + he gets Detroit next, which is a clear start now (then Coors and that’s a bench but shhh). Long haul for Javier? Meh? I’m not sure I trust him to be a six-inning guy quite yet and he’s not a command focused arm. If he’s still consistently sitting 94 mph through starts and can keep the whiffs, I’ll be game, though.

Lance Lynn vs KC (W) – 9.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 11 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 111 pitches.

Aces gonna ace as Lynn is making good on his promise under the guise of Tony La Russa. It’s why you drafted him, outside of the fact that you’re clearly smart. Yeah, you.

Adam Wainwright vs MIL (ND) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 94 pitches.

Glad to see Waino recover after his misstep last week. The curveball and cutter were in true form, returning all 14 whiffs evenly split between them. He gets two straight against the Nats now and in QS leagues or general deep leagues, that may be a target for you. He’ll be in the “Questionable Start” tier of my daily rankings for at least the first game.

Jon Gray vs ARI (W) – 6.2 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 4 BBs, 5 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 101 pitches.

That’s two straight for Gray to kick off the year, both inside Coors. His slider was working in this one, but I am sad to see his curveball was not + he’s throwing softer by a full tick. He gets the Dodgers on the road next time which is a little different than Arizona without Ketel MarteI don’t think I take the chance.

Nick Neidert @ NYM (ND) – 4.1 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 5 BBs, 3 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 85 pitches.

With Elieser Hernández and Sixto Sánchez both missing time, Neidert could see regular time for a bit, but not in your lineups with his poor command. Like my high school yearbook photos, there’s nothing attractive here and you should move on.

Jose Berrios vs SEA (W) – 5.2 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 8 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 99 pitches.

Remember the excitement I had last week when Berríos had higher velocity vs. last year’s spike? It was down a full tick from 2020, meaning two ticks from his last start. Nooooooo. His curveball earned 1/31 whiffs and this feels like he did poorly yet…that’s a solid line with a blegh WHIP. He gets Boston next and what are we going to see? The velocity and in rhythm hook or this shifty arsenal? I really hope it’s the former.

Jake Arrieta @ PIT (W) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 89 pitches.

Lots of curveballs falling in the zone for strikes, some sliders for whiffs, and too many hittable sinkers. That’s Arrieta these days and he’s fortunate to have gotten the Pirates twice. I’m not terrified of the Brewers in general, but I think they’re enough to warrant a gracious curtsey toward Arrieta as you send him off to the wire now. Yes, even with that ERA — Let me point to the second sentence: it was the Pirates. Twice.

Eduardo Rodriguez @ BAL (W) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 79 pitches.

Eduardo returned from the IL and I told many this was a Still ILLavoiding the start even against the Orioles. He was limited in the end at just 79 pitches, but he did make the most of it via 7 Ks and a 0.80 WHIP. Good on him for pulling it off, I’ll even ignore the 5.40 ERA given you got the Win as well. Velocity was even with 2019 and to see him get 40% CSW on 20 cutters is a lovely thing. He got his changeup down, fastballs around the zone, and all in all, I’m pretty impressed. However, it is the Twins next and I’m not sure I’m totally in. Ehhh probably. He’ll likely be inside the Top 70 on Monday, maybe Top 60…?

Tyler Anderson vs CHC (L) – 5.1 IP, 3 ER, 10 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 78 pitches.

Another solid CSW performance from Tyler, though he was super hittable with his cutter and four-seamer. I don’t think he’s anything more than a backup streamer when facing the lower tier of offenses. And that’s okay.

Matt Harvey vs BOS (L) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 84 pitches.

Is it weird for a pitcher to allow 3 ER with a 1.60 WHIP and I somehow feel like they overperformed?

Brad Keller @ CWS (L) – 3.1 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 69 pitches.

Blegh. After his first performance, it was an easy drop for Keller here against the ChiSox, but it doesn’t mean I can’t be sad. His breaker just isn’t that pitch we want and he’s throwing sinkers over four-seamers that bring out my inner Twain with how they don’t impress me much. Angels are next and I’m still out.

Ross Stripling vs LAA (ND) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 70 pitches.

I went with Strip for the reluctant stream and it wasn’t the worst, but it’s a clear loss. Streaming Record: 3-5. His changeup was shockingly 5/9 on whiffs with his curveball and slider failing to record a single one. Huh. It’s the Yanks and Sawx next so you can forget about this.

Griffin Canning @ TOR (ND) – 5.1 IP, 4 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 81 pitches.

So the WHIP and strikeouts are actually fantastic, while that ERA makes your head hurt. I love how Canning turned to sliders for half of his pitches, especially when they return a 49% CSW along the way. HOT DANG! I’m not sure he can survive at that high of a level where he’s essentially Dinelson Lametespecially when his fastball is plenty worse with 16% CSW on the night. I wish I could tell you who he faces next, but we’re in the dark about when Shohei Ohtani pitches next (stupid blister), so it could be the Royals, it could be the Twins. Yes to the former, no to the latter, maybe to the flatter. Well how you doin’ — Okay, it’s a no to the flatter.

Cole Irvin @ HOU (L) – 5.1 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 19% CSW, 79 pitches.

Blegh. Irvin has had it rough out of the gate and fortunately gets the Tigers + Twins next…though those aren’t slam dunks given his mediocrity here. Sure, you can struggle against the Astros, but a sub-20% CSW and just 5/79 whiffs? That doesn’t instill the most confidence. I don’t think the ceiling is high enough. Ain’t no ceiling hiiiiiigh enough. Ain’t no floor looooooow enough. This doesn’t even make sense, I’m so sorry.

Merrill Kelly @ COL (L) – 6.0 IP, 6 ER, 9 Hits, 0 BBs, 1 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 90 pitches.

Well, yeah. Kelly went to Coors and Coors was all like “sup?” and Merrill muttered “Oh hey, can I get a few strikeouts? Maybe just one?” and he left with a single punchout on the day. HAISTFMFWT?! 

Marco Gonzales @ MIN (L) – 4.1 IP, 7 ER, 9 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 100 pitches.

Oooof. After the Giants hit around the southpaw Gonzo, it got worse in Minnesota. I’ve seen worse command sinkers, but his secondary stuff got a bit too much of the plate in this one. I know, you’re scared. You drafted Marco (or not if…ah never mind) and he’s been rough. But now he gets the Orioles and he’s sure to rebound there. BLUE SKIES ARE A COMIN’.

 

Game of the Day 

 

Zack Wheeler vs. Charlie Morton – I may have picked this last week, and I don’t care. I’m swooning for Wheeler and also want Morton to look like his 2019 self. Oh and there’s also Corey Kluber so watch that too.

 

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

 

Photo by Juan DeLeon/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 Ray says:

    Hi Nick. Thanks for all your hard work. I know you are just looking at the Starters – but do you have any comments on AJ Puk and Triston McKenzie from Monday evening?

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