I Senz a Soul in Search of Answers

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Tuesday.

If there is one pitcher I didn’t anticipate having a breakout 2020, it’s Antonio Senzatela who continued his crazy good campaign with an 8.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 30% CSW performance against the Astros on the road. That’s a 2.90 ERA and 1.03 WHIP with a 10% SwStr on the year across five starts and 31.0 IP. Shockingly excellent and let’s figure out what’s going on here.

You may have noticed I didn’t include strikeout rate there, which is up six points from last year, but when you have a 13% clip in 2019, that’s a pedestrian 19% strikeout rate for the year. He has increased his SwStr three ticks though, and he did so by cutting his fastball out of his arsenal nearly 12 points to a 51.5% usage – still not ideal, but definitely a step in the right direction. That heater was crushed last season for a 151 wRC+, but after gaining a tick of velocity to turn it from 93/94 to 94/95, Senzatela’s heater gets the job done with a 86 wRC+, allowing him to feature it in the zone more frequently without fear. I’m not sure I buy that it’s going to hold an 8.3% HR/FB over the full year, while its O-Swing and SwStr rates are still paltry at 18% and 6%, respectively. It seems like regression is coming there, even with its bumped velocity.

With fewer fastballs, Senz-A is focusing on sliders and changeups instead, each of which has made a major difference. His slider has reduced its O-Contact a full 15 points (whoa!) and led to a four-point jump in SwStr rate as he’s throwing them more under the zone, while changeups are being used as a confident zone offering. These are good things but…are they enough?

Sadly, I don’t think so. Coors is still undefeated and while he’s also getting more whiffs with curveballs, it’s still a bit erratic. His heater isn’t this good and outside of a stream on the road in the right circumstances, I think this is a trap pickup. I’m glad to see he’s not what he was last year, but this doesn’t seem like the pickup of your season. Remember, it’s still a sub 20% strikeout rate, meaning it’s a Toby at best and that’s not enough for the very clear floor.

 

Let’s see how every other SP did Tuesday:

 

Zack Greinke vs COL (ND) – 8.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 38% CSW. Aces gonna ace with a King Cole. Greinke’s antics are hilarious and are especially pleasant when it comes with him being all kinds of wonderful. Hit fastball is back to 88 mph, as it looked like he needed more starts under his belt to ramp up to closer to 2019’s marks. I’m a little more encouraged that before, though still not confident sticking him inside the Top 15 or probably not Top 20.

Tony Gonsolin vs SEA (ND) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 31% CSW. Gonsolin is getting time in the rotation and making it work, with another 80+ effort and lovely ratios for your squad. Streaming Record: 14-11. I really hope he gets another shot against the Giants next in Oracle Park (even if they are a top 5 team in wRC+ at home this year. 2020!) and I’d hold until we hear otherwise.

Adrian Morejon @ TEX (ND) – 3.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 38% CSW. Ummmm hey buddy. You threw 97 mph with intent of jamming batters on both sides of the plate and featured a curveball and changeup that combined for 50% CSW across ten thrown. Wait, why were we caring about Skubal instead of Morejon? Okay, okay, he only tossed 24 pitches across three frames and will take a while to be stretched out – if he even gets the chance to – but man, that was way more impressive than I expected from Morejon. I was all prepared to do a joke saying I wanted More Gray instead of Adrian but NOPE. Sorry Jon, I like Adrian’s stuff more.

Kenta Maeda vs MIL (ND) – 8.0 IP, 1 ER, 1 Hits, 2 BBs, 12 Ks – 26 Whiffs, 36% CSW. Aces gonna ace with a Gallows Pole. He had a CGSHO and no-hitter entering the ninth, allowed his first hit on a ball that could have been caught (still a tough play), was yanked, lost his Win and had his baserunner score. That’s unjust. UNJUST. Regardless, it’s hard not to be a Maeda fan. He’s dope and makes you feel dope for rostering him.

Marco Gonzales @ LAD (ND) – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 9 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 35% CSWWhoa, Gonzo did this?! Against the Dodgers?! He’s still throwing sub 90 mph, but he had great pitch separation with curveballs and changeups down and cutters/sinkers up. Don’t buy into that CSW sticking for his next outing and I wouldn’t endorse him a consistent streamer, but hey, this is a fun Birthday Party

Yu Darvish vs STL (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 31% CSWAces gonna ace. As much as I can feel an aura of doubt, Darvish manages to slice away the haze…even if it came with a 1.50 WHIP. There’s also a lingering concern, isn’t there? Whatever, we keep starting Darvish, looking back at the end of the year to say “huh, he had a 1.80 ERA, 30% K rate, and 0.90 WHIP. I didn’t appreciate Darvish enough during the year.” We appreciate Yu.

Luke Weaver vs OAK (W) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 32% CSW. YES YES YES YES. First of all, 87 pitches here as the Diamondbacks let Weaver do his thing again. Second, his cutter was a better offering as it hugged the outside corner to right-handers. Third, he nailed four-seamers arm-side. Fourth, changeups fell down-and-in to right-handers constantly, earning 30% CSW for the night. Fifth, his four-seamer carried a 39% CSW instead of getting blasted like before. Sixth, I’M THRILLED FOR HIM. Now, this is just one outing and it’s likely too soon to begin trusting him again – we saw 0/22 whiffs on curveballs and cutters here and just two on his changeup – but he’s back on the menu and that’s just so wonderful. He gets the Giants next and that’s awfully tempting…but I think for roto leagues we play it safe one more start.

Corbin Burnes @ MIN (ND) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 28% CSW. Burnes is still going up-and-in to right-handers with fastballs and I’m all for it. There’s still a bit of feral command here, but his curveball and changeup looked better than I expected. Good news? He now gets the Pirates twice in a row. Yes, pick him up everywhere.

Trevor Cahill @ LAA (ND) – 4.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 32% CSWHey, Cahill is actually starting again! He wasn’t as sharp as the CSW and line would suggest as his curveballs and changeups were a bit all over the place. Sinkers were well spotted, though, and it worked out. This isn’t the renaissance we want, though, so let’s keep it together.

Zack Godley vs PHI (ND) – 4.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 19% CSWGodley survived four innings. Golf claps were made.

Dylan Cease vs DET (W) – 6.1 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 24% CSWLook at those whiffs and CSW. It’s rare to see so few called strikes in a start, but that’s Cease for you – he’s not going to effectively attack the zone, even against the Tigers. I think we can all understand that if you can’t get the start you want against the Tigers then it’s hard to start him confidently at all. But that’s just 2 ER! 13 whiffs! Yeah…he’s not in command, though. This is Cherry Bomb alright, and the cherry on top ain’t that pretty.

Corey Oswalt @ MIA (ND) – 4.1 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 28% CSWWe saw The False King here as David Peterson was sent to the IL with shoulder fatigue. Yikes. He’s no Roy, sadly, so let him sit on the wire like a chilled out raven.

Josh Tomlin vs WSH (ND) – 4.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks – 2 Whiffs, 20% CSWWe just had a great piece about Tomlin on Monday outlining his increased curveball usage, but sadly the whiffs didn’t carry over into his time in the rotation – 0/15 on curveballs. I wouldn’t be going after Tomlin – is he going to stick in the rotation for Atlanta? – until I start seeing them carry over.

Daniel Ponce de Leon @ CHC (L) – 3.1 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks – 18 Whiffs, 33% CSW18 whiffs are unreal, but it was just 10 outs. It’s the nature of Poncedeleon as he has a wild fastball that can overwhelm batters, but not enough in his arsenal to work around it. 7/10 outs for Ks are so Ponce.

Blake Snell @ NYY (W) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 24% CSW. The Yankees are still a strong offense without Judge, DJ, or Stanton in the mix and while I’m in love with Snell’s strikezone plot, his changeup-heavy approach as he faced plenty of right-handers left me disappointed. I know changeups are the standard go-to for right-handers, but that slider and curveball work super well too! He did a great job jamming batters with four-seamers inside and he was pushed to 92 pitches. I’m raising Snell next week after this one – his stuff is there and the pitch count is back up in full. Let him loose.

Carlos Carrasco @ PIT (ND) – 4.1 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 23% CSW. Ho boy, what happened here? Ah. His slider was really hit-or-miss, returning just 15% CSW. Fastball wasn’t commanded all too well either and he simply didn’t overwhelm the Pirates like he should. I know he hasn’t been the sharpest as of late, but I think there isn’t enough to warrant a major change. Maybe a few spots on The List, but nothing drastic. He’s still an ace for you.

Humberto Mejia vs NYM (L) – 4.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 29% CSWYou know this isn’t what you want. Treat yo’ self to something else.

JT Brubaker vs CLE (ND) – 3.0 IP, 3 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 1 Ks – 2 Whiffs, 18% CSW. Yeaaaah, I think Brubaker doesn’t do enough to warrant your attention. He isn’t named JT Sexybaker, after all.

Zach Eflin @ BOS (ND) – 4.0 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 8 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 34% CSW. So it wasn’t exactly the same approach with sinkers and sliders nailing the arm-side down corner, but he still kept everything low and…he still fanned eight batters. I know the ratios are far from good, but I’m warming up to the idea of Eflin as a decent streamer, so keep him in mind there.

Dylan Bundy vs SF (L) – 4.0 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 25% CSWI’m pretty sure I heard Fast’s yell after the second HR allowed and while some are likely to say “ah yes, the world is returning to its natural state” I’d say, no, climate change is very obviously real. But about Bundy, he wasn’t doing the “BSB” effectively and his slider was terribly located arm-side instead of glove side. That ain’t right. I think that changes next time so yes, you should still be happy with Bundy. Don’t worry.

Tarik Skubal @ CWS (L) – 2.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 21% CSW. I went into full depth on this start for his GIF Breakdown last night and you should read it. In short, stuff is raw and exciting, but his command is way off right now. Mixed with a low pitch count that will take time – he had a late start to the season after recovering from COVID-19 – I wouldn’t be rostering Skubal at the moment.

Nate Pearson @ BAL (ND) – 4.0 IP, 5 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 31% CSW. For a guy throwing a 96 mph heater, I’m shocked to see his fastball perform so poorly, earning just 6/34 CSW for the start. It was smoked in play as he threw a bit too many in hittable locations, but on the otherside of it, the Orioles are a better offense than we’re giving them credit for + his slider and curveball returned 18/43 CSW, good for a 42% clip. Some are calling for a drop and I understand with the Rays next, though I’m inclined to hold. I think he’s an arm that should help more than hurt over the year. Update: Pearson has been placed on the IL with elbow tightness. Welp, there’s your decision for you.

Masahiro Tanaka vs TB (L) – 4.0 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 27% CSW. Bleeeggggh. His slider was a little too much in the zone here while his fastball wasn’t well commanded in the slightest, earning just 14% CSW here. I think he’s better than this and well worth your roster spot still, but yeah, this ain’t good.

Austin Voth @ ATL (ND) – 4.0 IP, 5 ER, 9 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 22% CSWI’m glad he earned at least some whiffs on breakers in this one – 5/34 – and while that’s hinting 15%, I need more if I’m going to jump back in at all with Voth, especially when he threw 91.8 mph and couldn’t handle the weakened Braves offense.

Wade LeBlanc vs TOR (ND) – 4.0 IP, 5 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 23% CSWBlegh. He’s a desperate streaming option at this point for one of those rainy days. Honey, what if we went with…LeBlanc today? We haven’t done that in a while. Spice up your life, you know?

Mike Minor vs SD (L) – 3.2 IP, 6 ER, 9 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 34% CSW. Minor allowed a grand slam in the first inning and the day was already ruined. He’s still down on his velocity and relying too heavily on sliders. Abandon ship if you hadn’t already.

Frankie Montas @ ARI (L) – 1.2 IP, 9 ER, 6 Hits, 4 BBs, 1 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 23% CSW. Oh no. His fastball velocity was still good, but his command was not. Could be a case of being out of rhythm with his back injury and the few days off through him for a loop. It could also mean he’s still hurt. A tough blow and I’d keep on the lookout for updates on this one. I know it sounds crazy, but I think he’ll be plenty better next time out and would still start him if he’s going per normal. This has the feeling of a day where he was lost, but it’s not a death sentence.

 

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.

 

 

Patrick Sandoval vs. San Francisco Giants – I think it’s time to take a chance on Sandoval’s solid secondary stuff over Alec Mills‘ (vs. Cardinals) meh overall repertoire.

 

Tomorrow’s Streamer

 

Kevin Gausman vs. Los Angeles Angels – He’s owned right around the 20% threshold and I’m all for it.

 

Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer

 

Chad Kuhl vs. Milwaukee Brewers – Now’s the time. That slider is solid and he’s stretched out properly. Note: This start was moved from Thursday to Friday.

 

Game of the Day

 

Casey Mize vs. Dane Dunning – Like I did with Skubal, I’m doing another GIF Breakdown late tonight (likely up around 10:30pm EST). And cool! There’s Dunning as well.

 

 

(Photo by Keith Gillett/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.

7 responses to “I Senz a Soul in Search of Answers”

  1. Avatar Triumph the Dog says:

    Yes I’m one so inclined to want to drop Pearson hah
    But might be worth it to activate Hill and safely start him vs MIL?
    Or instead drop Pearson for one of Senzatela, Gausman, Elieser or Kikuchi?

    Although now that Hill is no longer IL eligible might not be able to make a concurrent move unless I also drop Schwarber?

  2. Avatar Derek says:

    Luke Weaver was also touching 98, and all his Ks were on fastballs. If he keeps that up and finds the change, it definitely opens the door for some more upside

  3. Avatar theKraken says:

    Yesterday was a crazy day full of great performances. Cool to see MIN let him attempt what LAD never would have. He was clearly very appreciative of the opportunity to finish it off. It was a cool moment to see him lose it and also appreciate the moment. I actually didn’t see the hit because the top of the 9th took forever, but I saw the aftermath.

    Do you agree that Gonsolin should get the chance to stick in that rotation? I would rather try him than a guy like Ross Stripling that you know won’t stick as he never does. The man has a .90 WHIP over about 50 IP at this point. He has been debatably their top pitching prospect in the upper minors for a few years now and he doesn’t really even get the opportunity to stick. Why does May get the chance over him? I am not sure what they are thinking but it seems to me like he has earned a shot to stick… which they have yet to give him. Maybe it is injuries or something but they let other injury prone guys take regular turns.

    Damn shame that SD didn’t want to let Morejon pitch yesterday. He was looking great but someone had their mind made up about who he was going to face or how long he was going to pitch. They had already been talking about a piggyback and he was just never going to pitch long yesterday and it didn’t matter how he looked, felt or how well it went… which begs the question why even use him as a starter if you are not going to let him pitch. As much as his stuff was great yesterday, literally every sign at every point has led to the idea that he is extremely injury prone so I wouldn’t expect much from him ever. I figure that they should either let him start for real or put him in the bullpen but that usage yesterday is just kind of nonsense.

    Unfortunately there has never been many reasons to think that Pearson can handle a starters load. Hopefully he can find a role that will work for him. He and Morejon are similar in that way.

    I disagree that the Yankees offense is still strong without their three best hitters.

  4. Avatar Giants Fan says:

    Regarding your surprise at the Giants wRC at home: Oracle Park (formerly ATT) had both the fences move in a little, and they’ve closed the breezeway under the arches so it’s playing a lot different than past years. Thus, even though the Giants roster is lackluster, at their home park, they can still put together some pretty decent run production.

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