He’s No Clark Kenta

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Wednesday.

Kenta Maeda @ OAK (ND) – 3.0 IP, 7 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 1 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 22% CSW, 51 pitches.

We’ve endured a lot of catastrophic starts over the past week, but Kenta Maeda’s outing today felt like it was coming all season, going 3.0 IP, 7 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 1 Ks against the Athletics. Just one strikeout across 51 pitches?! HAISTFMFWT?! I’ve watched most of Maeda’s games, including this one, and the story is the same – he doesn’t have his changeup and his fantastic approach from last year is hurting because of it. In short, Maeda sneaks fastballs on the glove-side edge early in counts, then finishes batters with low sliders and split-changeups deep in counts. It’s a constant battle of keeping hitters off-balance, allowing his superb command of the edges + elite slider/changeup movement to debilitate hitters.

Well, I should say snuck. Yes, Grammarly, it’s a word. Maeda’s approach is all over the place now, turning into a two-pitch arsenal often, while his slider isn’t quite as sharp and fewer fastballs squeezing into the zone. It’s rough. Do I think this is Maeda’s future? No, I don’t. We’ve been giving out a TIARA to pretty much everyone inside the Top 50 of the preseason, but rightly so – we have to expect that their career track records will show themselves over more time during the season. This applies to Maeda (even without the stud season before 2020) and we need to remind ourselves that as we over scrutinize April performances. This will get better and you don’t want to miss the majority of his 2021 season. The best news is the easy schedule ahead for his next three starts, so he doesn’t even need to be at his best to help. We’ll get through this, too.

 

Let’s see how every other SP did Wednesday:

 

Trevor Rogers vs BAL (W) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 39% CSW, 82 pitches.

This is getting ridiculous. I watched this one and saw a left-hander confident in hitting fastballs inside to right-handers while mixing in an effective changeup away for whiffs (9/24! 50% CSW!) and a surprise slider for strikes. This is going to keep working and we’re all along for the ride as he earns a near Golden Goal for the day – blame Mahle for matching him with 17 whiffs. No joke, he has a brilliant schedule ahead and could have an AGA label in May. Unreal.

Trent Thornton @ BOS (ND) – 2.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 0 Ks – 1 Whiffs, 20% CSW, 25 pitches.

Hey look, it’s the Discount Hotel! And…it’s nothing. Cool, cool, no doubt, no doubt.

Ian Anderson @ NYY (W) – 6.2 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 4 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 97 pitches.

I still think there’s a lot to work on with Anderson, but this worked out well as the Yankees are baaaad. That curve fell in for a ton of strikes, but the changeup can be so good and so blegh at times, leading to more deep counts than normal. It’ll take some time but he’s well worth it even before it all comes together.

Max Scherzer vs STL (W) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 109 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. Remember when we were scared about Scherzer’s worse 2020 season? Dude has a 1.80 ERA with a 12 K/9 and 0.72 WHIP so far. I think he’s okay, just a thought.

Tyler Mahle vs ARI (ND) – 6.2 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 9 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 36% CSW, 103 pitches.

Mahle is looking like a stud, though I should note that the Sneks are a lovely team to face. He earned a share of the Gallows Pole today thanks to them and he’ll get a proper challenge against the Dodgers next. I really hope he pulls it off and forces me to make some very tough decisions on The List.

Dinelson Lamet vs MIL (ND) – 2.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hit, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 34% CSW, 29 pitches.

Poor Lamet, he left this game with forearm tightness and is getting an MRI. Sigh. At least we had a magical 2020, didn’t we? I can’t but wonder if this means Ryan Weathers has a proper chance to emerge in San Diego now. I’ll be watching intently tomorrow evening.

Jose Quintana vs TEX (ND) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 4 BBs, 8 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 95 pitches.

Well hot dang, Quintana was able to take advantage of a great matchup after all. His sinker earned 41% CSW with five (!) whiffs as he went essentially two-pitch, leaning on his curveball and forgetting changeups were a thing. He’s going to get the Rangers a second time and that could work, but I’d prefer to avoid it. I just don’t buy his sinker performing this well a second time in a row.

Spencer Turnbull vs PIT (W) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 62 pitches.

He came back and I labeled it a Still ILLnot expecting many innings and not entirely sure how he’d look. Well, I watched all of it and he had his moments. It was a mostly lefty lineup and while he’s focusing too much on sinkers away + his changeup wasn’t getting any of the bites you want, Turnbull fanned most on his slider biting in-and-off the plate and that’s exactly what you want to see. The best sliders do it all the time – Cole, Bieber, deGrom, etc. – and it was Turnbull’s best skill. There’s fastball and changeup command polish left, and I wouldn’t have faith for the ChiSox yet, but hopefully he can build on this.

Zach Eflin vs SF (ND) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 86 pitches.

It’s more Eflin success without his curveball – Just ONE thrown! – and it meant he was ultra reliant on called strikes and outs in play. You don’t need me to tell you that it’s not ideal. I can’t help but be a little worried about the Cardinals + Mets + Atlanta next, but hey, Vargas Rule this all you like. I hope it works.

Carlos Martinez @ WSH (L) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 91 pitches.

Better sliders today from CarMart + his four-seamer was up to 94.5 mph. Great things, but his changeup was gone and I’m a bit concerned about it. See those three strikeouts? I can’t expect a whole lot more without that great slow ball. I don’t think I’m trusting him against the Phils. What, like Jackson and McGraw? Please stop. Okay.

Austin Gomber vs HOU (W) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 81 pitches.

Look at Gomber Pyle pile on the strikeouts against the Astros inside Coors. His curve earned a ton of strikes and paired well with his slider, though his heater and changeup were a bit lucky here. Is he worth the stream on the road for his next three starts? Maaaaybe? It’s a sneaky play in Oracle Park next, but I can see it in a deep NL-Only or 15-teamer.

Zach Davies vs NYM (ND) – 4.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 75 pitches.

Meh. Changeups aren’t all too dominant still and while his velocity was a touch higher, I’m still just not loving the whole package. He needs to overwhelm with changeups and if that’s not a thing, Davies on my rosters isn’t a thing. Sorry, I’m not pushing Davies these days.

Tyler Anderson @ DET (W) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 90 pitches.

The Twitch chat wanted this one higher during my morning livestream, citing how the Tigers are terrible against lefties and I should have listened. I SHOULD HAVE LISTENED. Tyler’s four-seamer is still among the top of the CSW leaderboards if you can believe it, but don’t get too carried away. He’s got the Tigers and gets the Twins next, who just put up 12 runs. Sit this out.

Corey Kluber vs ATL (L) – 4.2 IP, 2 ER, 2 Hits, 4 BBs, 2 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 20% CSW, 91 pitches.

He’s not ready. Kluber’s heaters are questionable, while his cutter and breaker aren’t ruining hitters like they used to. I gave him two more starts to get it together, but I can’t help but wonder like all of you. It’s expecting him to be more than he is right now, and I hope you all feel how conflicted I feel saying it. Welp, I’ve given him two more starts, let’s see what happens.

Adrian Houser @ SD (ND) – 4.2 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 18% CSW, 83 pitches.

Somehow Houser survived nearly five frames with middling stuff here. There may be a day where it all clicks this year, but there’s no reason you should be forced to wait for it.

Bruce Zimmermann @ MIA (L) – 4.2 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 81 pitches.

Bleeeggh. I didn’t really expect a glistening performance, but I wanted a little more than hoping the whiffs will return to bank on him in streaming situations moving forward. Fastballs are still up, (a little too far up, though) and hey, 14/42 whiffs on secondaries is pretty rad. I wouldn’t take the chance versus the Yankees next, even if they are struggling like putting a shoe on a hanger. IT DOESN”T WORK. 

Michael Fulmer vs PIT (L) – 4.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 60 pitches.

Is the changeup back to where it was on its best days? No? Welp, we’re still out, then. Also disappointing to see just 60 pitches from Fulmer, too. Let the man eat already! But he’s Ful! Oh no. Please don’t devolve into me, random italics person. I’M TRYING BUT IT’S SO HARD.

Anthony DeSclafani @ PHI (ND) – 4.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 68 pitches.

Blegh. He didn’t have the good stuff (it’s a The Good Place spin-off sponsored by Oreos) with just 2/19 whiffs on sliders and not a whole lot else. He does get another crack at Rockie Road next, though, and that could be a worthy stream. Just get that slider back at least, please.

Mike Foltynewicz @ LAA (ND) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 89 pitches.

It’s a PQS that Folty should be thrilled about. His command was plenty off here without a single whiff pitch to rely on (3/14 sliders is a great ratio, but just 3 whiffs on the game aren’t). He’ll square off against the Angels again and I think he won’t be so fortunate.

Merrill Kelly @ CIN (ND) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 79 pitches.

Ehhh, I guess this works. Maybe not. He’s just not that great with nothing in that repertoire to get me excited – heck, he’s even cut the cutter. I wouldn’t, save for the very best of streams.

David Peterson @ CHC (L) – 3.1 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 62 pitches.

He was the streaming pick of the day after fanning ten last time out and…yeah. He ran into some poor luck in the fourth with plenty of unearned runs, but that slider was unable to earn called strikes like last time. Streaming Record: 10-10. The Nationals make for an interesting choice, but I think I’d sit out Peterson there.

Michael Wacha @ KC (ND) – 5.2 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks – 1 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 76 pitches.

Blegh. He gave us a Philly and a HAISTFMFWT?! as Wacha threw softer, abandoned his changeup, and had worse command. There is a general phrase I like to say when it comes to a random pitcher suddenly having successful starts – the first is an Exception, the second is a Suggestion, the third, Confirmation. The hardest part about this is you often can’t wait for the third start as most guys are off the table after two, if not one.

Jose Urquidy @ COL (L) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 1 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 22% CSW, 88 pitches.

Coors is undefeated, even if Urquidy is a solid arm for the long haul. He hasn’t quite found his groove this season yet and he simply wasn’t ready, leading to just one strikeout (HAISTFMFWT?!). He really didn’t have his breakers – Coors can do that – and don’t judge him harshly for this. Seattle and Tampa Bay are next, this will be fine.

Miguel Yajure @ DET (L) – 4.1 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 60 pitches.

I saw Miguel and the Yagure has a verdict – a Cup of SchmoI’m sorry, I don’t think his breakers are great and his fastball is pedestrian. He had some nice changeups though, and it’s why he’s a major leaguer. Nothing to consider for fantasy.

Garrett Richards vs TOR (L) – 4.2 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 6 BBs, 2 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 92 pitches.

I feel like I’m staring at a performance report and feeling guilty when the “Please check the box: Does Richards have his slider?” question remains blank. I’M AN HONEST MAN. Without that pitch cruising – just 15% thrown here! – you can’t trust Garrett in the slightest.

Jakob Junis vs TB (ND) – 5.0 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 19% CSW, 83 pitches.

Sigh. I really wish the new cutter was the answer, I really do. Sadly, it’s just one pitch and it’s the same ole story for Junis as he doesn’t have a supporting cast to push through the full start – even his fastball was a full tick slower here. I really don’t see this panning out for the year, and it’s best to designate him as a rare streamer.

Frankie Montas vs MIN (ND) – 4.0 IP, 6 ER, 9 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 76 pitches.

The talk is all about Maeda’s struggles, but managers with Montas are also a bit confused as to what to do. This one is easier, though, as Montas actually pitched pretty well. Sure, he made a few mistakes that got punished, but then there’s Josh Donaldsonwho took two heaters off the plate inside for a longball and a single. Baseball isn’t always fair and I was mostly pleased with this one. Well, Montas should still ax that sinker and just throw four-seamers instead, I just don’t get it. He’s a great buy-low right now if he’s coming at a discount.

Game of the Day 

 

Ryan Weathers vs. Walker Buehler – It’s Buehler, it’s a young intriguing arm getting another chance, it’s Dodgers vs. Padres. Grab some popcorn.

 

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

 

Photo by Nick Wosika/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 pitching coach and Brandeis alum. Wants every pitcher to be dope.

  • Avatar Ted Williams frozen head says:

    Just wanted to say that I appreciate this article getting published early each morning. It’s nice to be able to drink my coffee and read a top notch article each morning. Now if only “Batters Box” followed suit.

    • Avatar Nick G says:

      Same! I’m just in a 12 team 25 roster league, so most pitchers aren’t even available. Not sure if I should pounce on Turnball.

    • Nick Pollack Nick Pollack says:

      Thanks a lot TWFH! I certainly am a touch more dilerious, though. Here’s to hoping that adds to the overall flavor :D

  • Avatar nealbert says:

    Good title/graphics this morning!… it’s amazing to me that the perpetual pun machine never stops churning.

    • Nick Pollack Nick Pollack says:

      It’s always a fun part of these – makes it even better this year with the graphics team making them come to life! It’s incredible.

  • Avatar AH says:

    Fulmer only threw 60 innings because it was a seven-inning game and the plan is for him to start again on Sunday on short rest. He actually went longer than intended; they had Skubal slated as follower.

  • Avatar Stahoviak says:

    I was waiting to see Turnbull before I have to do the following action: drop two and keep one: Turnbull, Smyly, and Sixto. Any advice?

    • Nick Pollack Nick Pollack says:

      I’d be holding Sixto, honestly. I think his season-long impact will be worth the wait.

      • Avatar Stahoviak says:

        Thanks! You’re right. Stashing upside on the bench is better than two guys who wouldn’t crack the lineup now anyway.

  • Avatar Matt J. says:

    Dynasty league problems…need to find a spot to keep Spencer Howard for the long haul now that he’s up (even if he’s mostly useless in the bullpen this year fantasy-wise…at least we have holds in this league). Drop Patrick Corbin or Frankie Montas? Both are pretty far down my SP food chain, probably sitting SP 5 or 6 on my roster anyway. I’m thinking Montas has the better long-term upside and Corbin is just looking rough this year (again).

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