Miles Morale

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Friday.

Miles Mikolas vs PIT (L) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 84 pitches.

I remember Miles Mikolas‘ shocking 2018 season and my excitement entering 2019, hoping he can turn his slider into a legit whiff offering, elevating past the 20% strikeout threshold. What we saw instead was a disaster of a 2019 season, an elbow injury, then full-on Tommy John Surgery in the summer last year. Friday night marked his return and it was as good as you could hope for – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 84 pitches – as he took the loss against the Pirates (silly errors).

What I saw was the same ole Mikolas, for the most part. His four-seamer sat 93/94 mph, his cutter and curveball did their best to earn strikes, and nothing jumped out of the screen to suggest legitimate strikeout upside. The overall command was…inconsistent, but hey, the Cardinals can win some games and have some nice matchups ahead. Consider Mikolas a possible Toby for now and maybe for a stream or two the rest of the way.

 

Let’s see how every other SP did Friday:

 

Mitch Keller @ STL (W) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 89 pitches.

Ayyyy, he had a taste of success! The four-seamer did all the work, earning 10/56 whiffs as his slider returned just 4/26 CSW (yikes). This isn’t real, his velocity was actually lower than his season average. Hope the cake was good at this Birthday Party.

Max Fried @ BAL (W) – 9.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 90 pitches.

Whoa. Sure, he was an auto-start, but you just don’t see a Maddux happening anymore these days. The curveball and four-seamer played super well off each other as Fried has his fastball command on point, jamming right-handers with four-seamers up-and-in all game (remember, that’s my #1 desired skill for left-handers!). He did get a bit lucky and there’s still a gauntlet ahead with the Giants + Dodgers next, but obviously you’re starting him for the first one, if not both.

Chris Sale vs TEX (W) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 71 pitches.

71 pitches is a bit underwhelming and his slider isn’t back yet – 0/16 whiffs?! – while his fastball averaged just 92 mph. Hmmmm, I’m a touch worried (he was 93.4 mph in his season debut) and he may get a little bruised against the Twins or Rays next. I sure hope there’s another level still in him.

Sonny Gray vs MIA (W) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 87 pitches.

Yessssss. Gray axed the curveball and went slider + cutter instead to great effect – 39% CSW combined – and we have to embrace these steps in the right direction more than holding off for a massive jump toward success. Hopefully it’s an approach Sonny is comfortable with moving forward as he has a comfortable schedule. Steps, not leaps, ya’ll.

Robbie Ray vs DET (ND) – 8.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 11 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 35% CSW, 109 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. Remember when we asked in April how long his success would last? We still don’t know. Crazy.

Tyler Alexander @ TOR (ND) – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 36% CSW, 88 pitches.

Say what. WHAT. T-Lex, you’re not supposed to earn a King Coleespecially not against the Jays. WHAT IS HAPPENING. His changeup was as good as you’ll ever see, earning 10/22 whiffs (daaaang) while Toronto acted like polite Canadians, allowing cutters and sinkers to step into the elevator first for 14 combined called strikes. He avoided the heart of the zone incredibly well and this wasn’t just luck. I highly doubt he can maintain this kind of command and it has Birthday Party written all over it, but hot dang, it’s a cool thing.

Patrick Corbin @ MIL (W) – 6.1 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 92 pitches.

IT’S WORKING. IT’S WORKING. His heater sat a ridiculous 94 mph in this one with sliders earning 44% CSW as they fell below them all. It’s about dang time he had a successful start because of it, but last time you had this outing, you relapsed in the very next one. Please don’t lose this, Corbin. It’s the Marlins next, there’s no way you mess this up…right?

James Kaprielian vs SF (W) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 4 BBs, 4 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 92 pitches.

It’s not pretty, but we’ll absolutely take this from Kap against the mighty Giants. His slider was far from its best self and I can’t help but wonder if we’re in for a whole lot of slider struggles moving forward. He has a start against Seattle followed by the Tigers to get it back and I sure hope he does. I’d be okay for both of those outings.

Brad Keller @ CHC (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 35% CSW, 97 pitches.

Hot dang, look at you! Keller was able to dominate against a weak Cubs lineup, earning 8/39 whiffs on four-seamers while going 41% sliders. I’m a general believer that Keller’s approach is good enough to take down poor teams, but he hasn’t been as consistent as we want, albeit this is his second straight eight strikeout game. What’s even more interesting is what’s ahead: Seattle + Cleveland. It’s risky, but I’m down in deep leagues.

Sam Hentges vs LAA (ND) – 4.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 61 pitches.

Eh. I have some hopes he can be a Young Gun if he really embraces those breakers. He sure looks far away from a possible peak at the moment, though.

Matt Moore @ SD (ND) – 4.1 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 4 BBs, 4 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 75 pitches.

This is bad but it ain’t the worst. And hey, that’s something. Congrats.

Walker Buehler vs NYM (W) – 7.2 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 8 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 107 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. The man keeps going seven frames (or more!) and it’s glorious. I can’t help but wonder if the Dodgers will apply the brakes at some point, though. He’s already at 162 innings and the playoffs should be coming, too.

Alex Wood @ OAK (L) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 9 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 96 pitches.

Yessss. The WHIP ain’t great, but the sinker sat 92/93 mph while…oh. His slider and changeup were actually underwhelming as the sinker did most of the work. But hey, that sinker is dang good and I’d expect the slider to do better than 3/24 whiffs next time out.

Lance McCullers vs SEA (W) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 35% CSW, 102 pitches.

Yep, that’s the McCullers we want. His curveball and changeup took over here as the slider was the #4 option and for Lance to have so many effective tools allows him to adapt well these days. Enjoy that gorgeous schedule, McCullers, and go set your innings career-high.

Lucas Giolito @ TB (ND) – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 8 Ks – 24 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 90 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. So great to see Giolito doing good things again, here earning a Gallows Pole as his slider and changeup both rebounded after last start’s dismal display. That’s nearly 150 frames for Giolito this season and he’s coming through on the promise of volume that made you draft him in the first place.

Nestor Cortes Jr. vs MIN (W) – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 104 pitches.

The man is cruising, here earning a bunch of free real estate with sliders falling into the zone for strikes, a curveball that got plenty of beneficial swings, and a four-seamer that managed to earn six whiffs despite sitting 90 mph. His fastball command has been excellent and I do very much worry when it comes back down to Earth, but hey, let’s Vargas Rule this as long as we can. I get the sense Luis Gil will be out before Nestor with the way Cortes is going right now.

Michael Wacha vs CWS (ND) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 9 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 100 pitches.

The two factors that can make a Wacha start productive: changeup whiffs + 94+ mph fastballs. Throw in a curveball earning 50% CSW and you’ve got yourself a nine strikeout game. It’s a rarity and makes Wacha a Werewolf as he shows up once a month so good luck trying to figure out when the full moon hits.

Austin Gomber vs ARI (ND) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 88 pitches.

Blegh. I was hoping for more from Gomber, but he didn’t have his changeup or curveball working, which meant we had to watch nearly 50% four-seamers. I’M A 30% FASTBALL MAN! We know, Gomber. We know. He heads to Wrigley next and that should be plenty better.

Blake Snell vs PHI (L) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 9 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 92 pitches.

He’s really doing it. This was 85% fastballs + sliders and the heater is working so much better than before. There’s a touch more room left to nail down the slider locations, but I think we’re genuinely seeing a change for good here. Exciting stuff, hopefully it’s in time for him to survive against the Dodgers next.

Keegan Akin vs ATL (L) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 101 pitches.

We all wish Keegan. But sadly, Keegant. You should delete this. Title of my biography.

Brett Anderson vs WSH (L) – 5.1 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 82 pitches.

The ceiling is Anderson going five innings with just one earned run and three strikeouts. This is the realistic outcome. I wish it were fantasy. There is so much I could riff off of that and instead, I’ll just nod. Yes. I wish it were, too.

Carlos Carrasco @ LAD (L) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 78 pitches.

Yeah, no. His slider and changeup are still not there and without those, I don’t believe in Carrasco. He’s not supposed to hold a 39% CSW and nine whiffs on four-seamers. That just isn’t how he dominates through a season. He gets the Giants next and that’s a clear bench to me at this point. I love his schedule after, though, so not a drop. Just a one-week sit.

Elieser Hernandez @ CIN (L) – 4.2 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 68 pitches.

Womp womp. I didn’t have high hopes given the location of the game but at least the slider was able to go 45% CSW and suggest good days ahead. He should be much better against the Nationals next time out.

Tyler Gilbert @ COL (ND) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 9 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 19% CSW, 85 pitches.

After tossing a no-hitter, Gilbert allowed nine of them in Coors. Welcome to The Show. At least he gets the Pirates next and I wouldn’t rule that out for a stream.

Zach Davies vs KC (L) – 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 98 pitches.

Only one of Davies and Keller were destined to pull it off in this one and Davies took the fall. Womp womp. At least the WHIP is sold? He gets Rockie Road next and you could absolutely do worse.

Jaime Barria @ CLE (L) – 2.0 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 45 pitches.

Nooooo. Streaming Record: 75-55. I really should have taken Brad, huh. His slider was plenty worse than we’ve seen and the overall command was as questionable as that one ketchup bottle in your grandmother’s fridge. Maybe he can show us something next time to hook us in for Texas, but that’s doubtful.

Dane Dunning @ BOS (L) – 4.2 IP, 5 ER, 9 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks – 1 Whiffs, 18% CSW, 78 pitches.

It seems so long ago, but Dunning had a decent amount of hype entering this year with his 24% strikeout rate and a slider that seemed like a whiff pitch. Now he’s earning just one strikeout (HAISTBMBWT?!and we’ve all collectively forgotten about him. Sure, this was the Sawx but you know what I mean.

Yusei Kikuchi @ HOU (L) – 2.2 IP, 7 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 72 pitches.

Kikuchi got the Astros and didn’t have his best stuff. Well at least he got the tough one out of the way. Ummm he faces them two more times across his next three starts. Oh no. Oh no indeed. At least the easy start is next (Kansas City), but I’d look to replace Kikuchi after. Two weeks is a whole lot of time at this point in the year.

Charlie Barnes @ NYY (L) – 5.0 IP, 7 ER, 8 Hits, 5 BBs, 2 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 20% CSW, 109 pitches.

There will be days you have it, Chuck, and I’ll call you Barnes stable because I’m cultured and aware of Cape Cod towns. But today isn’t that day, Chuck. Today is not that day.

Game of the Day 

 

Kevin Gausman vs. Sean Manaea – I hope both of them can be at their peaks. What a fun story they’ve been this year.

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

Have Questions? – Join my morning Twitch Livestream! I answer all questions there for free: 9:00 am – 11:00 am EST Monday through Friday.
 
Photo by David J. Griffin/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 college pitcher, travel coach, pitching coach, and Brandeis alum. Wants every pitcher to be dope.

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