It’s What You Crave

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Wednesday.

I’ve been a bit hesitant to believe that Brad Keller is a changed man given that his fastball velocity hasn’t touched 95 mph like it did during a mini-breakout last season (93 mph last night), but there’s something more to talk about after his excellent 6.2 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 29% CSW performance in Cincinnati: his breaking ball.

I had initially thought it was his slider as Savant had been labeling it as such, but it’s in fact a new curveball that he’s managing to throw comfortably around 83-85 mph. It’s really good. We’re talking a 38% CSW across 32 yesterday and he’s kept the pitch low in the zone frequently. That works when you throw fastballs up and while Keller hadn’t done that effectively in previous starts, he did so beautifully here against the Reds. Look at all of these chickens high four-seamers! If he’s able to push the pitch back up to 95 mph like we saw last year, we could have a legit breakout on our hands paired with that new curveball, but at the very least, you have an arm I’d trust in 12-teamers for his next start in St. Louis and we’ll take it from there. BK, it’s what you crave.

 

Let’s see how every other SP did Wednesday:

 

Trevor Bauer @ KC (W) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 3 BBs, 9 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 31% CSW. Aces gonna ace. Bauer is the sole qualified pitcher with a sub 1.00 ERA at the moment, though I feel it’s only fair to note that he’s faced the Tigers twice, Brewers, and now Royals. Who cares, he’s taking full advantage and averaging just under seven innings per start. Fantastic.

Jesus Luzardo vs ARI (W) – 6.1 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 29% CSW. I still wish Luzardo threw a four-seamer instead of a sinker (18% CSW across 33 thrown here) but his slider and changeup are so good that it makes you forget about these things. He’s up to 90+ pitches now and fingers crossed I can throw him an AGA label in the near future – likely just one start away. This was the Diamondbacks, though, so let’s not go crazy in the short term.

Jacob deGrom @ MIA (ND) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 40% CSWAces gonna ace and win a King ColeJust seven strikeouts without a Win, though, so yeah, you’re still #3 deGrom. It hurt to type that.

Steven Brault vs CLE (ND) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 2 Whiffs, 26% CSWThe Indians are far from a scary offense at the moment, but hey, good job Brault. That slider is looking lovely these days and hopefully you can make it work a lot more in the future. I’d leave him on the wire for now, though.

Adbert Alzolay @ STL (ND) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 27% CSW. Hey, Alzolay is back! I’m shocked to see just one walk as Alzolay is still a bit out of control. His changeup was…not great and his curveball was volatile, but at least a decent amount of his heaters found the zone. I wouldn’t take another chance on him, though, there’s just too much inconsistency here.

Aaron Civale @ PIT (W) – 9.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 33% CSW. Aces gonna ace. Civale has to have earned it by now, right? His command is ridiculous, he has the approach we want to see with a ultra focus on secondary pitches and a start like this simply isn’t surprising anymore. He’s a new pitcher and it’s everything you want.

Framber Valdez @ COL (W) – 7.2 IP, 1 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 27% CSWOkay, okay, I need to be more favorable toward Valdez as well as he’s one of ten pitchers with a qualified ERA under 2.00. I still don’t think he’s all that great, but look at him, returning nearly 8 IP of 1 ER ball. I still think his sinker just isn’t anything special, but his curveball is doing great work (31% CSW across 35 here) as he’s keeping it down effectively. I think you’re alright starting him against the Angels and at the very least you can Vargas Rule this (who knows, maybe it lasts the whole season!), but I get the feeling the pumpkin will appear at some point and it’ll stay a pumpkin. I know that wasn’t that harsh, but that sounded harsh. Right?! Who knew pumpkins were so…insulting.

Brett Anderson @ MIN (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 33% CSW. Seriously Brett? Against the Twins?! This has Birthday Party written all over it and I guess that’s cool but it makes for a legit trap for the normal fantasy manager. Don’t risk this.

Chris Paddack vs TEX (ND) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 26% CSW. The Rangers aren’t the toughest of foes, but I was thrilled to see 95 mph on Paddack’s fastball in this one, as he painted the top of the zone constantly. His fastball was the worst pVal pitch in baseball, but it was better here and he had success. Still not completely out of the woods – that changeup found the heart of the zone too often and his heater returned just 25% CSW – but this is very much a step forward.

Tanner Roark @ BAL (W) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 9 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 30% CSW. Leave it to Roark to get Singled Out and allowed just 1 ER on ten base runners. There has to be a better Toby out there for you to add.

Jack Flaherty @ CHC (ND) – 1.2 IP, 1 ER, 1 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 37% CSWUgggggh, we’ve waited so long for another Flaherty outing and they pulled him after just 41 pitches. 41! I imagine he’s two starts away from being in a position to actually provide, which means you have about four starts of prime Flaherty to go, if we’re lucky. He’s still clearly great, though, and who knows, we’ve seen Flaherty carve five frames in under 60 pitches before. Just keep starting him.

Julio Urias @ SEA (ND) – 1.2 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 27% CSW. Oh no. He needed 34 pitches to escape the first inning and at 52 in the second they elected to give him an early hook – a bit frustrating given the matchup. I think he’s fine and just labored a bit here, with the Dodgers wanting to make sure he wasn’t over-used. Everything is fine.

Lance Lynn @ SD (ND) – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 23% CSW. Aces gonna ace. It wasn’t the prettiest, but once again, Lynn gave you seven innings of quality production. If you’re not on the Lynn train, I don’t know what you’re waiting for.

Gerrit Cole vs TB (ND) – 6.2 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 10 Ks – 19 Whiffs, 38% CSW. Aces gonna stay as the #1 SP and win a Gallows PoleHe’s back, y’all.

Pablo Lopez vs NYM (ND) – 6.1 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 31% CSWIt wasn’t as good of a changeup as we saw last time out, earning just 3/24 whiffs on the pitch in this one, but his cutter is developing well and I’m still encouraged by his four-seamer command. Keep it going, PabLo.

Johnny Cueto vs LAA (W) – 5.2 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 29% CSW. Man, Cueto is a Toby and not the worst call on a given night. It’s hard to pick your spots, though, so good luck trying to figure out when he’ll have enough across his arsenal to make it all work. He did a great job of keeping changeups and curveballs down tonight, but do you really want to trust this against the Dodgers? I didn’t think so.

Tyler Glasnow @ NYY (ND) – 5.2 IP, 2 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 8 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 36% CSW. See? Everything is fine. He pulled his pitches up from last game and did great things against the Yankees. He even earned 4/7 called strikes on changeups here. We wish it weren’t a Philly but we should be thrilled to have confidence on our side with Glasnow again.

Johan Oviedo vs CHC (ND) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 29% CSW. I had zero expectations for Oviedo and was pleasantly surprised. He featured a 95+ mph four-seamer with cut-action that he sometimes paired with a two-seamer darting the other way. His changeup was blegh, but a solid slider and curveball showed up and this isn’t so bad. I think he isn’t quite there yet with approach and command, but the raw velocity and decent movement across the repertoire could return a few decent starts down the road. Sadly I don’t think we’ll see much of him given this was for a double-header, but I’m glad to have been introduced to him last night.

Kyle Hart vs PHI (ND) – 3.2 IP, 2 ER, 2 Hits, 4 BBs, 5 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 29% CSWYou don’t need me to make another Hart pun again, do you? PUT YOUR HART INTO IT. Stop beating me down.

Taijuan Walker vs LAD (W) – 7.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 34% CSWLook at Taijuan go. He elevated his four-seamer, got strikes with cutters, and did a decent job with curveballs and splitters. I’m likely not giving him enough credit at the moment, though I think he’s more of a Cherry Bomb than a TobyHe gets the Padres next and I’d still be cautious.

Tommy Milone vs TOR (L) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 29% CSW. Whoaaaa, 16 whiffs! Yes, this mostly came off of Milone’s changeup – 12/43 whiffs! – while the rest was…very mediocre. It’s nice to see Milone still has it when that slow ball is working, but you know in your heart that this is a hard spin of the wheel each time.

Dane Dunning vs DET (ND) – 4.1 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 36% CSWWhile I was all focused on Mize, Ben Palmer wrote about Dunning’s start and it’s a fantastic GIF Breakdown. My quick take – He would be worth the add if he weren’t optioned to their alternate site today. Ugggh. I enjoyed seeing plenty of elevated heaters and a tendency to use sinkers inside to right-handers on top of his breaking ball that will earn whiffs galore. This could work once he gets a regular gig.

Casey Mize @ CWS (ND) – 4.1 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 27% CSWI wrote all about Mize last night across 3,400 words and you should read it. I’d hold in redraft leagues for now, but do note that his lack of major breaking pitch is holding him back from being a consistent 25%+ strikeout arm, even with the seven strikeouts last night. Maybe that curveball turns into it, though, and man oh man, I love that cutter. Mmmm, it’s money.

Luis Castillo @ KC (L) – 3.1 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 25% CSWBlegh. A frustrating start from Castillo, who has been suffering from a whole lot of poor defense and bad luck. He’s still earning a ton of whiffs and his FIP is currently sitting at 2.04 for a good reason – it’s a .403 BABIP and 62% LOB rate. Yuck. This will correct itself, don’t worry.

Matt Harvey vs CIN (L) – 3.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 33% CSW. It was a dark…evening for the Royals as they felt Harvey was their answer to fill in their rotation. What a timeline this has been. The darkest. 

Merrill Kelly @ OAK (L) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 33% CSW. While the 4 ER are annoying, seeing Kelly in rhythm with 27 curveballs (41% CSW!) at the bottom of the zone was lovely. He didn’t go north-south enough, though, allowing the A’s to look low and it ultimately got to him – throwing 91 mph isn’t helping either – but yeah, I think Kelly is a Toby at the very least right now. Definitely a consideration for squads, but not a must hold at all.

Jake Arrieta @ BOS (L) – 4.1 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 4 BBs, 3 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 33% CSW. Arrieta doesn’t have sinker command and while his slider is alright, there just isn’t a whole lot in the bag of tricks any more. This isn’t the Toby you’re looking for.

Rich Hill vs MIL (L) – 2.2 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 1 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 28% CSWSo you held onto Hill for his first start, which was a disappointment as he went to the IL shortly after. Now he returned and…was a disappointment against a weak Brewers offense. His fastball velocity was down again at 88 mph and his command wasn’t there. Sure, if he’s able to stretch out there’s a chance he gets that velocity back and refines his command, but this is Hill we’re talking about. How often does he go six weeks without interruption? I think you’re safe to drop here, but of course there is a chance he goes 5.0 frames with 8 Ks next time. I don’t buy that after seeing him toss this poorly with a depreciated fastball, but hey, it could happen.

Ryan Castellani vs HOU (L) – 5.2 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 24% CSWOuch. Coors is undefeated and Casty got the Astros. That double-whammy led to a HAISTFMFWT?! but you didn’t start him, obviously. Now he heads to Arizona and that’s a sneaky deep league stream.

Patrick Sandoval @ SF (L) – 4.0 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 22% CSW. Bleegggggh. Streaming Record: 14-12. His changeup and slider were far from what we want, with the slow ball floating up way too often and his slider abandoning him for just 1/6 CSW. Terrible. And now he gets the Astros? Yeah, no thanks. I hope to see you locked in at some point this year, Irish Panda.

Alec Mills vs STL (L) – 3.2 IP, 6 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 23% CSW. Mills, nooooo. This one hurt a good amount with just one strikeout (“HAISTFMFW?!”) and yeah, you can drop Alec now. Womp womp.

 

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.

 

 

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

 

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.

 

Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer

 

Josh Lindblom vs. Pittsburgh Pirates – The new slider is legit and the Pirates bats are not.

 

Game of the Day

 

Clayton Kershaw vs. Yusei Kikuchi – I want Kershaw to be TATIAGA and Kikuchi’s cutter to earn double-digit whiffs again.

 

 

(Photo by Frank Jansky/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 Perfect Game says:

    Clevinger isn’t eligible to be back until 8/24 if they do bring him back. Would trading him for Luzardo be a good move?

    • Nick Pollack Nick Pollack says:

      I think I’d make that deal. It’s close though and up to you if you need more help in the short term.

  • Avatar Mike Honcho says:

    It seems to me I just read this 2 days ago…”Rich Hill…IL with shoulder fatigue. Would be Top 60.”
    Now we’re abandoning ship after his first outing in weeks?

    • Nick Pollack Nick Pollack says:

      Good point, I likely should have updated that Fringe Table last week as I didn’t have the highest expectations for his fastball to return, nor be stretched out long enough.

      The ceiling of Rich Hill is Top 60, certainly, though. To ignore how he’s looking right now and how long it’ll likely take for him to return value wouldn’t be wise.

  • Avatar David Dilks says:

    When Bieber made his debut, analysts were rather tepid on his outlook. After last season, analysts were tepid on Civale and Plesac. A few years back (2017), Flaherty made his debut and analysts were tepid on him. All had very good MiLB stats. All had great command and good repertoires. None had the hyped “stuff.” Soroka was another that seemed to fall into this category (but not quite as much since a few analysts were very high on him). It just makes me wonder if analysts have a tendency to over-value “stuff” and undervalue good repertoires with great command. What do you think? Thanks, always enjoy reading your work.

    • Nick Pollack Nick Pollack says:

      The hardest part is the development. How are these pitchers going to change while in the bigs?

      FWIW, I loved Soroka’s command and it’s been the same since. I was definitely down on Flaherty and he didn’t flourish until the second half of 2019 that we’re still skeptical of. Bieber learned a new curveball and made a step forward with approach. Civale + Plesac just did the same thing, and it’s the hardest thing to predict. You never know!

      “Great command” is often hard to pick up on from one game – is this a fluke? When do we buy it? The easier element is to identify potential of pitches themselves – the stuff – and is more applicable for redraft leagues, as I do here in the roundups.

      Hope that helps!

  • Avatar Morgan Cross says:

    It is amazing to me how consistent that 4’s have been for Arrieta (4IP, 4ER, 4BB), and not just this year. I think this warrants a new term, like getting “Jake’d” or something, haha.

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