Jesús’ Lightning In A Bottle

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Sunday.

Jesus Luzardo vs CIN (W) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 94 pitches.

It hasn’t been the year we envisioned for Jesús Luzardo. Entering today, Luzardo held a 7.91 ERA and 1.82 WHIP across 60.1 frames this season, struggling massively even during his times as a locked starter for the Marlins. Today was…different. He faced the Reds and put up a phenomenal 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 94 pitches, all while doing something different. 

When looking at Luzardo’s repertoire, it’s pretty easy to discern the problem. It’s not the 37% CSW curveball with a 25% SwStr or 47% zone rate, nor is it the changeup with a near 30% CSW and .263 BAA. It’s a four-seamer that holds a .370 BAA, 23% CSW, and sub-60% strike rate. It’s a bad pitch.

So what do you think the solution would be? Throw fewer heaters, of course, and Luzardo tossed sub-41% fastballs for the first time this year. His changeup and curveball took center stage, with the hook earning a ridiculous 56% CSW and changeup going 7/29 whiffs. He took a chance, made it happen, so pop the corks and snap your fingers. It happened that quickly.

I’m not saying this is a permanent change – we’ve seen moments of bliss like this only to disappear in the next — but it’s the first sign of distinct change for the better we’ve seen from Luzardo thus far and that’s an exciting thing. He gets the Phillies next and if you want to take the shot, that’s on you. I’d prefer to bench one outing and see what happens. This could be it.

 

Let’s see how every other SP did Sunday:

 

Ian Anderson vs SF (W) – 5.2 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 0 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 85 pitches.

Anderson returned from the IL and he looked great—Wait. No. That can’t be. Did he…fail to strike out a single batter?! NOT ONE?! HAISTBMBWT?! I really can’t believe he survived nearly six full innings without a strikeout. The curveball wasn’t what we want it to be, and the heater wasn’t well commanded. The changeup did well, though — six whiffs + plenty of outs in the field. As long as he has that one, he should be fine moving forward…okay maybe not Coors next. That’s a rough test.

Antonio Senzatela @ LAD (W) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 90 pitches.

Of course you did, Senz-A. OF COURSE. I don’t know, do what you want y’all, Senz-A plays by his own rules and doesn’t care to tell us what’s going on. He’s the Dark Souls of pitchers.

José Berríos @ DET (W) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 11 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 37% CSW, 97 pitches.

This is the Berríos life. The Flag is at it again, following a tough three-game stretch, he shows up to produce one of his best starts of the season, King Cole included. It’s what you signed up for and you can expect a 3.60-3.80 ERA when all is said and done. This is the way.

Paul Blackburn vs NYY (ND) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 72 pitches.

The man treats whiffs like talking to your boss at 4:55 pm on a Friday. That’s a HAISTBMBWT?! and you know it’s a TEEs. Don’t start him against the Jays. Please.

Jordan Montgomery @ OAK (ND) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 83 pitches.

Another solid start from The Bear, even when his curveball and changeup failed to be the whiff machines we know they should be. The Orioles are next and there’s no reason to stop starting JorMont.

Ranger Suárez vs ARI (W) – 5.1 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 95 pitches.

Huh, Suárez showed up with a solid slider in this one, going 4/13 whiffs. I’m not sure it’s the pitch he needs to win me over, while the rest of the stuff was awfully Tobyesque. I’d normally look elsewhere, but the Marlins are next. Fine, that’s a hold.

Kwang Hyun Kim @ PIT (ND) – 4.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 64 pitches.

Kim only tossed 64 pitches as expected, and while the skills suggested he could go five to six productive frames against the Pirates, he was forced to end it early. The Brewers are next and I could see him squeeze five frames there for a Win, but the ceiling isn’t super high there. Plan accordingly.

Brady Singer @ SEA (ND) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 102 pitches.

Whoa. Singer is generally a volatile arm, but that’s two straight impressive starts, this one on the back of a fantastic slider that went 14/46 whiffs en route to a share of the Gallows Pole. Do we believe that Singer has suddenly turned into a reliable fastball/slider pitcher? I’m reluctant to do so and he has a true test next time out against the ChiSox that I’d still prefer to avoid. If that one works, then sign me up, but I have my doubts — we’ve seen this before.

Dylan Cease vs CHC (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 11 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 35% CSW, 108 pitches.

Atta boy Cease. That’s another Gallows Pole on the resume, with his slider working alongside both the four-seamer and curveball. The Royals are next and he should cruise there, too.

Aaron Ashby @ MIN (W) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 73 pitches.

We were all blessed to have Ashby not only start but go a full five frames, where he produced against the Twins. His changeup did earn outs, but wasn’t as good as I’ve seen, the slider did great work, and the fastball was…fine. It sat 95/96 (not 96/97) and didn’t earn to outs we typically want, but it did enough in the end. Ashby did toss an elevated four-seamer for a whiff and it made me all kinds of happy — maybe he does that with regularity at some point…? I hope the Brewers will let him start next time out. He needs the time to develop into the man we believe he can be.

Eli Morgan vs BOS (ND) – 3.0 IP, 2 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 22% CSW, 45 pitches.

Just three innings for Morgan as he got the early hook after allowing a pair of longballs. The heater came in plenty harder here — 92.8 mph instead of 90.4! — but it didn’t get the results we want. Monitor this — if the velocity sticks, he could be interesting with a solid slider/changeup pairing.

Marco Gonzales vs KC (W) – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 96 pitches.

Marco is on a Vargas Rule run that’s actually just him being a good Toby. And that’s wonderful and dandy. Now he gets the Sneks and I don’t see why that wouldn’t work either.

Taylor Hearn vs HOU (W) – 6.2 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 37% CSW, 89 pitches.

What a wild day of starts. In traditional form, the Astros let fastballs land in the zone consistently, with 19 four-seamers + sinkers landing for called strikes, propelling a King Cole for Hearn. Am I underrating the four-seamer? A 49% CSW is a hard thing to brush off, but I feel like I have to here. Maybe he can replicate it against the Angels next, but it feels like a hard sell. What about the slider and changeup? 19% CSW on the slider nad he tossed just nine changeups for decent results. They aren’t anything special.

Matthew Boyd vs TOR (L) – 4.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 71 pitches.

Hey, the Boyd is back! THE BOYD IS BACK! Annnnd he kinda had his slider and changeup. Just 2/14 whiffs, but few swings and it found the zone a good amount. I’m decently encouraged here as he sat 92.5 mph on the heater, but he heads to Cincy next and that’s not a start you want + he’s only at 71 pitches right now. Just wait another outing, it’ll be fine.

Tylor Megill vs WSH (W) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 1 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 82 pitches.

The changeup is still gone and I’m still worried. Sigh. I think it should return over time, but it’s a little risky trusting him to come through in a second start against the Nats next time.

Chris Archer @ BAL (ND) – 4.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 41% CSW, 59 pitches.

Archer had a hiccup in his return last week, and this time was able to go a full four innings without issue against the Orioles. His slider was great, and while the heater returned good results (43% CSW!), it sat just 92.8 mph. Yikes. I’m not sure that’s the Archer I want to buy into, but if the slider is this good, it’s essentially a prime Adbert Alzolay, and that may be okay moving forward. I wouldn’t chance it next weekend against the Twins simply because of the expected low pitch count (59 pitches here, I’d say ~70 next time), but keep an eye on Archer.

Tyler Mahle @ MIA (L) – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 104 pitches.

Mahle was on the road (check) and against the Marlins (check) with a great four-seamer (check). Yep, that’s the line we expected.

Tanner Houck @ CLE (ND) – 5.1 IP, 3 ER, 1 Hits, 4 BBs, 3 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 90 pitches.

Blegh. Tanner. Buddy. Your fastball and slider are solid pitches, just throw them for strikes. Don’t get cute, don’t nibble, just toss dem strikes and you’re golden. I want to believe he can take care of it against Cleveland next, but he really hasn’t come through as of late. He’ll be taking a dip on The List tomorrow.

Mitch White vs COL (L) – 3.1 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 72 pitches.

Nooooo. Streaming Record: 78-61. He looked great last time out and while he had his slider and curveball working like last time, the four-seamer wasn’t nearly as good, sitting 1.5 ticks lower than usual. The Giants are next, so this experiment is on hold, but at the very least, monitor the velocity there. If it’s back, he could be a stream later in September.

Wil Crowe vs STL (ND) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 90 pitches.

Crowe didn’t have the changeup and slider we wanted. That’s it? That’s it.

Anthony DeSclafani @ ATL (L) – 3.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 64 pitches.

Womp womp. Tony Disco came back from the IL and didn’t impress as we wanted him to. The slider was solid, everything else was not, and sadly his arch-nemesis is up next. No, it can’t be. HASN’T HE BEEN THROUGH ENOUGH?! Sorry bucko, he faces…the DodgersNOOOOOOOOO. That’s a clear bench.

Madison Bumgarner @ PHI (L) – 5.0 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 4 BBs, 3 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 100 pitches.

Blegggggh. The fastball is still down (89 mph) and it’s catching up to him now. At least he gave us the mediocre start against the Pirates to give us a heads up here and I’d avoid bummy until further notice.

Erick Fedde @ NYM (L) – 5.1 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 99 pitches.

After striking out ten Marlins batters, Fedde put up this clunker. Remember kids, Don’t Trust The Feddes.

Spenser Watkins vs TB (L) – 5.0 IP, 6 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 78 pitches.

Yeah, you don’t want this. Spenser’s ability isn’t much of a hot topic anymore.

Griffin Jax vs MIL (L) – 5.0 IP, 6 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 100 pitches.

Yeaaaah, this ain’t it. The slider has gotten him through innings in the past, but even that wasn’t working here. Jax just doesn’t have that punch.

Zack Greinke @ TEX (L) – 4.0 IP, 6 ER, 9 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 22% CSW, 76 pitches.

Jeeeeeeeez. Greinke has been his stable self this season and a start against the Rangers gave us no warning to this implosion. Welp, not much we can do here, I’d still start him against the Padres next.

Kyle Hendricks @ CWS (L) – 4.2 IP, 8 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 72 pitches.

Yikes. That’s three 4+ ER games in his last four, two massive blowups like this. I wouldn’t say Hendricks’ command was atrocious – his fastballs sat around the edges, but the changeup didn’t find its way low per usual – and there was a bit of luck for it to go this poorly. Welp, he gets the Pirates next and you’re clearly starting him there. You should be fine.

 

Game of the Day 

 

Zack Wheeler vs Josiah GrayUmmmmm yeah, this is a stupid fun game. Wheeler could go 7+ again while Josiah Gray has been racking up the whiffs like empty milk crates at the milk crate factory. That’s the first place you go. The milk crate factory. Best middle school tour. Ever.

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

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Featured image 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 Nate says:

    Any idea what the Braves are planning with Touki? Saw he came in late when they were down big already.

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