So here I was, casting doubt on Hyun-Jin Ryu after his first two starts as a Blue Jay. “He’s not getting as many chases out of the zone,” I said. “I’m not sure he’s anything more than a Toby these days,” I suggested. I’m so glad to be wrong as Ryu earned himself a Gallows Pole with a line of 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 3 BBs, 8 Ks, earning 21 Whiffs and a 37% CSW. Hot dang! Has the southpaw redeemed himself in time during this short season?
It’s possible. His changeup was stupid good with a 25% SwStr rate and 50% CSW (whaaaaaat), landing just outside the zone to right-handers like the good ole days, while turning to cutters 32% of the time as his primary strike-earner. Yes, another pitcher elected to throw fewer than 25% fastballs and had success as a result. I do wonder if this season is amplifying experimentation given the shorter year (what do you have to lose?) and the early results are making me smile.
Back to Ryu, it’s hard not to be excited moving forward, especially when the Marlins are next on the docket. I’m not going to thrust him up to Top 30 or anything crazy, but since that changeup is back in form, you’ll see Ryu climb back up The List a bit on Monday.
Let’s see how every other SP did Wednesday:
Adrian Houser @ CWS (W) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 28% CSW. Not only stoked to see 87 pitches from Houser, but also seven full frames! No “Camp Counseling” in sight! Houser’s sinker was cruising, sitting arm-side and down all evening while featuring a few surprise four-seamers up and some breakers for strikes. I’m still a little worried about his lack of true whiff pitch (6/44 on sinkers is nice though!), but if the Brewers are letting him go this deep into games, sign me up.
Randy Dobnak @ PIT (W) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 1 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 25% CSW. As much as I try, I don’t think I’ll come up with a better line than this one. The house elf Dobby did exactly what expected against the Pirates – good ratios and a dub without making a dent in your strikeouts. Streaming Record: 7-6. Hey, we’re back in the green! Wait, he got just one strikeout across six frames?! Yep, that’s a HAISTFMFWT?! alright. Welcome to the land of Dobnak.
Mike Clevinger vs CIN (W) – 5.2 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 5 BBs, 4 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 33% CSW. Aces gonna ace. What a weird beginning to the year for Clev dog who just isn’t locked in with his fastball yet. It was a Philly here but you’ll take this across the board. Figure it out Clev, we need you.
Martin Perez @ TB (W) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 27% CSW. Yeah, sure Perez. I still don’t trust you after what you did earlier on and even if your cutters and changeups look good here, I’m still not buying it, especially now that your velocity is sub 92 mph. Yep, the crazy velocity boost we saw last year is a distant memory now.
Elieser Hernandez @ BAL (ND) – 4.1 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 32% CSW. It’s cool seeing Elieser make his first start of the year and what I saw were fastballs exclusively elevated arm-side and sliders glove-side and down. The Orioles featured plenty of lefties and sadly, those heaters weren’t jammed – it worked, but I wonder if that won’t be the common outcome with a sub 91 mph fastball. That 32% CSW was even for both pitches (nice!), even sharing the number of whiffs at four apiece, but I’d be cautious signing on for anything outside of a great matchup.
Josh A. Smith vs BAL (ND) – 2.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 19% CSW. This was a bullpen game for the Marlins and that’s cool. Great to see Sterling Sharp make his MLB debut along the way!
Dallas Keuchel vs MIL (L) – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 35% CSW. After having a day last week where not a single starter last more than 5.0 frames, we had six – SIX! – different pitchers go a complete seven innings. Incredible. Keuchel continued being on point here, featuring excellent cutter and changeup separation, nailing the arm-side down corner with the slow ball, then jamming right-handers with his cutter. With Grandal as his backstop and looking like the Keuchel of old, I really should keep pushing him up the ranks. I don’t think his strikeout rate will stick here, but this is the workhorse you need.
Yu Darvish @ KC (W) – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 30% CSW. Aces gonna ace. His fastball is sitting 95 mph (fantastic) and we saw a different look here with 41% curveballs…which landed for 24% CSW. A bit shocking. I’m amazed he doesn’t lean on his slider more, turning it here into the curveball’s role of earning called strikes, going 3/3 for the night. It’s all a bit weird and if he had incredibly difficult matchups, I wouldn’t feel super confident in Darvish, but he gets the Indians and Brewers next so hey, that’s cool.
Trevor Williams vs MIN (L) – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 26% CSW. Williams did the best I’ve seen him with fastballs up and changeups + sliders exclusively down, though he got few bites on secondary stuff (just 4/39 whiffs there). Really amazed given the matchup against the Twins, but I wouldn’t put much stock into it. I don’t’ expect him to show up like this often.
Rick Porcello @ WSH (W) – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 30% CSW. Oh look, it’s The Thief stealing a Win and having a Birthday Party. The fuel for success here were well-placed sinkers on the edges and changeups down, but you already know that you can’t trust this. Sorry, Porcello.
Aaron Nola vs NYY (ND) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 12 Ks – 19 Whiffs, 42% CSW. Aces gonna ace. THAT’S THE NOLA WE KNOW AND LOVE. His curveball was unreal, earning 47% CSW and spotted perfectly down-and-in to lefties, while his changeup wreaked havoc as well. And then there was 92/93 mph velocity that is everything we want from Nola. Enjoy that King Cole, you deserved it.
Alex Cobb vs MIA (L) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 34% CSW. Cobb earned himself 13/39 whiffs on splitters in this one – LOVE IT – and had his way with a weak Marlins offense. Don’t rule him out as a decent streaming option, though I wonder if his splitter (known as “The Thing”) is going to be there through the year. Let’s hope it is.
Logan Webb @ COL (W) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 29% CSW. So much in the middle of the zone and Webb got a bit fortunate in this one. He’s a deep streaming option, but that schedule is so rough that you’re better off chasing something else.
Tejay Antone @ CLE (L) – 4.1 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 4 BBs, 4 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 29% CSW. I didn’t expect much in this spot start for Antone, but Tejay! Not bad. He threw nearly 50% sliders with a 48% CSW on that, which is obviously all kinds of lovely, and he had some nice surprise front-door two-seamers in on the hands of left-handers as well. Ignore him for now, we can talk later if he gets any consistent playing time. Not a huge fan, FWIW.
Jonathan Loaisiga @ PHI (ND) – 2.1 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 31% CSW. Bullpen game here for the Yankees as they played a doubleheader and I think we all know that I love Loaisiga if he were ever stretched into a starter. Narrator: He won’t. One day…one day…
Max Scherzer vs NYM (ND) – 1.0 IP, 1 ER, 1 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks – 2 Whiffs, 26% CSW. Scherzer left this one with a tweaked hamstring as we all collectively hold our breath. Erick Fedde came in after, but remember, Don’t Trust The Feddes.
Kris Bubic vs CHC (L) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 34% CSW. So here’s the thing. I like the CSW and 13 whiffs, but I’m still unsatisfied with his changeup command as that pitch was all over the place. Meanwhile, his fastball is erratic as well and I’m not confident starting him against the Reds next. Let this one simmer for a bit.
Zack Wheeler @ NYY (W) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 21% CSW. What. Wheeler is going more East-West than I’d like, and his slider is getting hit plenty more than it should. He’s sitting down-and-in to right-handers with heaters and it’s not what you want to see from sometime featuring 96+ mph four-seamers. Ugh. Yeah, the ratios are great and so is the Win, but still, this isn’t the Wheeler I signed up for. I hope it gets correct for next time – maybe the long time off affected this.
Asher Wojciechowski @ MIA (L) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 24% CSW. It was the Marlins and Woj didn’t have to be at his best to escape with a decent outing. It wasn’t the CSW explosion we saw against the Yankees, though, with a cutter that barely showed up and curveballs that were left in the middle instead of diving under bats. His fastball command was kinda meh as well and…yeah. I’m not nearly as excited as before. I think I need to see him back in rhythm before trusting him again.
Sean Newcomb vs TOR (L) – 4.2 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 26% CSW. I wonder how much longer the Braves will continue with Newcomb until they throw caution to the wind and go with one of their prospect pitchers instead, like Ian Anderson or give Bryse Wilson another shot. At any rate, the only scenario I start Newcomb is in an NL-Only league where I’m desperate to start any arm going over 90 pitches. That’s it.
Julio Teheran @ SEA (L) – 2.2 IP, 2 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 31% CSW. Oh hey Teheran is back…and had an entire line of twos. Okay, this is the most amazing thing I’ve seen and I have to give Re2pect. No you don’t, this is a terrible line. BUT THE TWOS. I’m glad for Teheran that he’s healthy after enduring COVID-19, but you shouldn’t consider him for your fantasy squads.
Marco Gonzales vs LAA (W) – 7.0 IP, 3 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 33% CSW. Before Dobnak was the clear choice, Gonzo was the streamer choice for yesterday and this is incredibly tasty like a fried oreo. You have it once and go “MY GOD” and realize you should probably never do that again. I often don’t quote season stats until around the 5th start of the year, but a 0.74 WHIP through three outings is a pleasant surprise. Fine, a .152 BABIP, and 8.6% SwStr are all the signs you need to grasp the Toby here, but is it out of the question this is a Vargas Rule and could be decent against the Rangers? Just sayin’.
Kyle Gibson @ OAK (ND) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 9 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 36% CSW. So I’m happy with a PQS from Gibson against the Rangers, especially with a 1.00 WHIP and 9 Ks. This should get you a bit excited for him as a streamer considering his slider…wait. WHAT. Gibson threw 39% sliders in this game. Keep in mind, that slider held a 26% zone rate last season – this is a pitch reserved as a chase pitch and was thrown roughly 20% of the time. This is awesome and I haven’t even mentioned that his changeup was well spotted, even if it didn’t get the elite CSW we wanted at 28%. Sure, some fastballs were meh, but I think I’m on board with the Angels start next. Not Coors after, but I could see myself going for Gibson next time.
Jon Gray vs SF (L) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 21% CSW. It’s a PQS with a good WHIP but not much else. That’s okay, it’s Gray. You never feel like you get a clear outlook from him.
Ross Stripling @ SD (W) – 5.2 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 35% CSW. I gotta say, Stripling’s curveball is oh-so-pretty and returned a ridiculous 56% CSW across 27 thrown. That’s what you want to see. He was cruising through four then fell apart in both the fifth and sixth, but I’d feel confident with Stripling moving forward. That deuce is too good and his overall command is solid.
Garrett Richards vs LAD (L) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 29% CSW. Blegh. I know it was the Dodgers and innately a bit shaky here, but I was still hoping for better. Really great to see 38% CSW on heaters (not the best commanded, though), but oddly just 24% on sliders – what I’d call Richards’ best pitch. He hung too many and didn’t quite nail the corner with the sweeper leading to some trouble. Sadly he gets another Dodgers start next and I think you have to bench there, but I’m starting Richards constantly after.
Sean Manaea vs TEX (ND) – 3.1 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 30% CSW. We saw a better curveball in this one, but I’m not liking how Manaea stays away from right-handers at 90 mph instead of trying to jam them inside. His changeup was also pretty meh here and I’m continuing to drop Manaea in my ranks. He’s a Toby at this point and there are simply better options out there – for example, grab Tyler Mahle for this next two starts.
JA Happ vs. PHI (L) – 3.0 IP, 4 ER, 3 Hits, 6 BBs, 1 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 20% CSW. You probably are thinking of dropping Happ. Don’t wait, go ahead. His command was way off and there are other arms to grab if you’re searching for a cheap Win. Don’t put yourself through this.
Ryan Yarbrough vs BOS (L) – 5.0 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 37% CSW. Blegh…even with a 37% CSW. The Fratty Pirate made some mistakes and it cost his ERA. His changeups were the main pitch at fault, often landing above the knees and allowing for some crushed pitches. I’m still a fan here and don’t let this start get to you.
Robbie Ray vs HOU (W) – 5.0 IP, 6 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 29% CSW. Is it weird that I’m kinda excited by this start? Ray is getting separation down with his heaters and sliders, averaging 95 mph on the pitch and keeping around the zone often while sliders were kept down and earned a 24% SwStr rate. The problem was the number of pitches landing middle-middle in this one, but we didn’t start Ray against the Astros and it’s a step in the right direction. He has one last bump inside Coors next, but I get a feeling his start against the Padres after will be the wake-up call we’ve been waiting for.
Lance McCullers @ ARI (L) – 3.2 IP, 8 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 1 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 23% CSW. I’m amazed at this line given how well McCullers sat at the bottom of the zone with curveballs and changeups. Maybe he needed to get them a little more out of the zone, but there were very few pitches left in the heart of the plate here. His sinker was fine – the highest CSW of the lot at 29% – but may have needed to be spotted up more often to keep batters from zeroing in on the same location on every pitch. It added up to just one strikeout and a HAISTFMFWT?!, which is all kinds of surprising for McCullers. This isn’t an auto-drop for me, I think there’s just a tweak to make and McCullers can do what you want him to.
For those unaware, I’m forced to make my streamer picks under the condition of sub-20% owned in Fantasy Pros’ consolidated ownership rates.
Kyle Freeland vs. San Francisco Giants – Yes, it’s inside Coors but I think Freeland is figuring it out once again. He’s worth the stream.
Yusei Kikuchi vs. Colorado Rockies – He’s hosting them in Seattle (Rockie Road) and with that new cutter and increased velocity, this is everything we want.
Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer
David Peterson vs. Miami Marlins – The Marlins offense is incredibly easy to stream again and Peterson is good enough to help. I’d also consider Alec Mills against the Cardinals who will be coming off a long stretch of missing games.
Game of the Day
(Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire)