Misses Smith

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Saturday.

One week ago if you told me that Caleb Smith (@ PHI, ND) would be throwing 92/93 and hold an 18.5% SwStr rate in his first start, I would be thrilled. Excited. The return of the king, I wouldn’t say. But I’d be hoping I could actually say it by the end of the year.

The actual line told a different story yesterday 3.0 IP, 1 ER, 1 Hits, 6 BBs, 3 Ks – and anyone who watched it would be able to tell you how frustrating it was to see him walk six batters. They couldn’t hit him, but they also had few chances in the first place to…save for that terrible 0-2 slider to Didi Gregorius they still haven’t found in the bleachers. 

Here are more crazy things about this start. Look at his plot. It’s like a novice doing their best to recreate the Blake Snell Blueprint – four-seamers up, secondary stuff down – and kinda nailing it? But then there are six changeups that were just nope, and about half his heaters weren’t even close to the zone + a few sliders that just spun up there (mislabeled as curveballs). But look at the bottom third of this plot! So good! Tons of red up-and-in and at the top of the zone! 92/93 mph velocity…18.5% SwStr…

So here I am today trying to make sense of how to feel about Smith. I realized last night a good way to detail what I try to do with these roundups and The List in general – I aim to be predictive, not descriptive. Smith did this thing, but his rank and my feelings will be toward what I think Smith will do next. He killed your WHIP today (ERA is 3.00!), but I’m willing to wager he won’t walk six again this year. He still has the velocity we want and stuff that earned plenty of whiffs. He gets Baltimore next. He knows it was a terrible start and can be a different guy next time out. I’m willing to wager he’s in a better place than the second half of last year, and that means we hold on for now. And as always, you’re certainly welcome to ignore me completely. I feel you.

Let’s see how every other SP did Saturday:

Ryan Yarbrough vs TOR (ND) – 5.1 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks, 8 Whiffs, 28% CSW – A few things. First, no opener. Second, low pitch count just under 70 pitches. Third, he’s still really good. The Fratty Pirate has a lovely changeup that will continue to miss bats, and while he did serve us a HAISTFMFWT?!, you should be happy with this outing. I don’t think you’ll be sad to own Ryan this year, and he deserves more love from me on The List. Here’s to hoping they push him 80-90 pitches eventually.

Dylan Bundy @ OAK (W) – 6.2 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks, 9 Whiffs, 37% CSW – There’s a lot of feels here. I can imagine the pain of Baltimore fans everywhere to see their once heralded ace finally make the desired changes and flat out dominate with it. He threw 33% sliders and returned a 57% CSW with them. He threw under 45% heaters. Bundy looked actually good and consistent. Well, his fastball still got a bit too much of the plate when thrown, but he wasn’t punished for it, and this was a team that punishes things. You think we’re called the Oakland B’s?! GO TO YOUR ROOM. Do you start Bundy against the Astros? Oof, that’s still a tough sell, but if he’s going to succeed there, it’s after a start like this.

Zack Wheeler vs MIA (W) – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks, 12 Whiffs, 29% CSWWheeler looked pretty dang good. I wanted a few more strikeouts across seven frames, but in reality, he just looked in control with good heaters that forced outs, and sliders that nailed the down-and-away chunk of the zone. I’ve been waiting for ages for a strikezone plot like this one from Wheeler (#WatchItForThePlot), and was crossing my fingers the Phillies would bring it out of him. They did. Life is wonderful.

Luis Castillo vs DET (ND) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 11 Ks, 25 Whiffs, 41% CSWAces gonna ace. 25 whiffs y’all. Yeah, I think that earns a Gallows Pole. Nearly 50% CSW on his changeup because duh. I don’t think Castillo is a slow starter, y’all, I think he’s an “if it’s hot, I’m GOAT” That doesn’t rhyme. YOU DON’T RHYME. It was the Tigers, and he somehow didn’t get a Win with this (Raisel…), but the Reds will see plenty of weak lineups ahead, and that’s wonderful.

Matt Shoemaker @ TB (ND) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks, 7 Whiffs, 32% CSW – Watching The Cobbler do his thing was…fine. Great to see him do well here against the Rays, but it came with just 7 overall whiffs and underwhelming approach. I don’t expect him to have this success constantly, but tuck him away in your head as a streaming option. That’s it, just a streaming option.

Steven Matz vs ATL (ND) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks, 13 Whiffs, 28% CSW – Many are hyped about this and I’m kinda on their side? He’s throwing high sinkers and averaged 95 mph yesterday – well above the 93.4 he had in 2019. That’s awesome. What isn’t are the 7/36 whiffs on his secondary stuff. It’s okay, but it leaves me wanting more from Matz before I get all silly amped. Not to mention, he gets a questionable start against the Red Sox next time out, but if Cobb could handle that, why not Matz, right? He’ll get a boost on The List tomorrow because of that velocity and ambition up in the zone, I just want to see more from the curveball and changeup to make that 25%+ K rate a reality.

Adam Wainwright vs PIT (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks, 7 Whiffs, 28% CSW – One of the better streams of yesterday (I regret Perez so much) was Waino who did everything he could to stay relevant. Consider him in these situations against poor teams like the Pirates and ignore elsewhere.

Alex Cobb @ BOS (W) – 5.1 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks, 9 Whiffs, 31% CSWHa, what. Cobb’s splitter (known as “The Thing”) was in full effect, thrown nearly 33% of the time with 7/26 whiffs – we’ll take that. I’m a little surprised the Sawx didn’t take advantage of his fastball more often and I feel like it’s a bit of an anomaly, but let’s follow this one. If that splitter is working like this, you may see Cobb eke out some more streaming Wins in the future. Don’t ignore him completely.

Dinelson Lamet vs ARI (W) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks, 10 Whiffs, 34% CSW – It’s so wild, in both senses. It blows my mind how someone so erratic can be so effective, but I find myself getting sucked into the allure while watching him – how could you not? He was touching 100 mph yesterday paired with a filthy breaker that even when hung A TON, was rarely clobbered. I call him Professor Chaos for a reason, just look at his plot, it’s hilarious. These are hung sliders and heaters without direction but it doesn’t matter…? I guess? Whatever, I’m on the Lamet train, just expect him to rarely go super deep into games given his poorly commanded heater (he was also gifted many strikes outside the zone last night, same goes for Ray), and a few WHIP bombs along the way as you enjoy a strikeout rate well above 30%.

Mike Minor vs COL (L) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks, 7 Whiffs, 23% CSW – Sadly this returned a loss as an unearned run turned the tide, but I’m still cool with Minor. I’m not loving that CSW and the fact that he threw 33% sliders (why?!), but he still has a great changeup and his fastball isn’t getting clobbered, leading to six strikeouts and great ratios. Atta boy.

Jon Gray @ TEX (ND) – 4.2 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks, 6 Whiffs, 25% CSWI get the feeling that each year we collectively can’t decide what to do with J. Gray, and if this is what you’re getting when he’s outside of Coors, what’s the point?

Erick Fedde vs NYY (ND) – 4.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks, 6 Whiffs, 29% CSWWith Stephen Strasburg a late scratch due to a nerve issue in his hand (yikes), Fedde got the call, and did well enough against the Yankees. He’s not someone that I’d consider for my squads (Don’t trust the Feddes), but I respect his effort here.

Logan Webb @ LAD (ND) – 4.0 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks, 4 Whiffs, 29% CSW – The Giants are scrambling for starters and tossed Webb out there who actually did alright against the Dodgers. I don’t innately dislike his stuff, but there’s way too much risk, and not enough substance, for you to consider in your leagues.

Randy Dobnak @ CWS (L) – 4.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks, 9 Whiffs, 25% CSW – Not bad at all Dobnak. I think the ChiSox are a legit offense, and to see him prevent a ton of damage is something to consider if he gets more chances in the rotation (Rich Hill is slated to pitch this week, so we may not). Just keep him in mind against weak teams for a possible dub that won’t kill your ratios.

Corbin Burnes @ CHC (ND) – 3.1 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks, 13 Whiffs, 35% CSW – Burnes had his moments looking ridiculous, with spotting plenty of two-seamers, cutting four-seamers, and sliders. But he also had plenty of pitches where we got too on the side of his two-seamer, and it went soaring into Cubs hitters. There’s something here, but the question is if he’ll be able to make the tweaks to get consistency so he doesn’t get pulled in the fourth with 75 pitches. It’s great that he had a 75 pitch leash in the first place, though, and I’m curious to see how it plays out.

Dallas Keuchel vs MIN (W) – 5.1 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 1 Ks, 4 Whiffs, 26% CSW – Keuchel was fed the Twins and did a decent job (HAISTFMFWT?!), all things considered. It was typical “abuse the edge” stuff from Keuchel, and I’ll be excited to crown Keuchel Spider-Man when this season is over. Royals and Brewers are next and I’m definitely game for that.

Mike Clevinger vs KC (ND) – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks, 14 Whiffs, 32% CSWAces gonna ace. I still can’t believe Clevinger allowed back-to-back HRs in the first inning only to not allow another run for the next 6.1 innings. I mean I can, but that was a ride. He’s still dope and makes you feel dope for owning him. No, he’s not swapping with Bieber, FWIW. Predictive, not descriptive. Bieber isn’t going to strike out 14 batters again.

Lance McCullers Jr. vs SEA (W) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks, 12 Whiffs, 38% CSWThat CSW is crazy good as he got a ton of called strikes with both his curveball and sinker. Solid stuff here across the board, especially after a rugged first frame. Love to see him get pushed to 92 pitches as well as I’ve expressed my concerns that the Astros would limit him pitch-wise. Nope, wrong! And I couldn’t be happier that I am. Hopefully he can be this good when it’s not the Astros, too.

Brady Singer @ CLE (ND) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks, 14 Whiffs, 40% CSW – I watched all of this and wrote 2,800 words about the start. You should read it. In short, he threw way more sliders than I ever expected, while his cross-body release made for a two-seamer that had a lot of movement, but not consistent command. I’m a little worried moving forward, but a 40% CSW is really cool as the Indians struggled to make solid contact. I’d pick him up for his next two starts against the Tigers and Cubs and go from there.

Max Fried @ NYM (ND) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks, 10 Whiffs, 27% CSW – It’s kinda boring, but I’m fine with this with Fried on my staff, especially when we knew he would be limited with his pitch count – just 67 pitches yesterday. He had one pretty curveball (just 2/10 CSW), and some very poorly missed heaters, but 8/15 CSW on his slider as the pitch is still great, and I get the sense that it’ll be more of the same from Fried. Is that good? I don’t know? That 1.30+ WHIP sure wasn’t fun last year, and so far so good but without consistent command on his fastball and curveball, we may see some turmoil ahead. Keep starting him, of course, but I’m not sold yet.

James Paxton @ WSH (L) – 1.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks, 5 Whiffs, 20% CSW – It was a decent first frame, then he fell apart in the second, failing to record an out as his pitch count climbed above 40, and he was given the hook with just a single strikeout. HAISTFMFWT?! His velocity was about two ticks down – uh oh – and it came with a six inch drop in arm slot. That is bad. Very bad as it often is an indication of injury. There’s a chance it was just a one-time thing, but you don’t want this concern so early in the year. We need to see a major change next time around for me to be convinced Paxton is okay.

Ivan Nova @ CIN (ND) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 2 Ks, 6 Whiffs, 18% CSW – Sure, whatever Nova.

Yu Darvish vs MIL (L) – 4.0 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks, 12 Whiffs, 32% CSW – Yeah this wasn’t great. His fastball varied in velocity and didn’t come with the command we thought he unlocked, while his secondary stuff was sporadic. Ugh. I need to see a shift in the right direction next time, otherwise I think he deserves to be knocked a few pegs down The List. For example, I felt way more confident watching Chris Paddack than I did Darvish. Same with Lynn and Wheeler and Nola. One start does not define a pitcher, but this wasn’t good.

Robbie Ray @ SD (L) – 3.2 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks, 10 Whiffs, 30% CSW – How can someone look so good and so bad at the same time? He was fluctuating between 91-95 mph through the night with some unreal breakers along the way…but then he’d just completely lose batters too. I’m hyped and think there may be something that grows with Ray as he gets more used to the new arm-circle, but it’s still a work in progress. I’m not completely off the hype we’ve had as I think he is a better pitch now than he was before, but we may be a few starts away from him putting it together as we envisioned.

Trevor Williams @ STL (L) – 3.2 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks, 7 Whiffs, 28% CSWThat’s Trevor, alright. Pulled a little early in this one at just 67 pitches, but yeah, he’s not someone that you’d want to consider in 12-teamers. Not enough there.

Alex Wood vs SF (L) – 3.0 IP, 3 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks, 10 Whiffs, 30% CSWOne of the more disappointing starts of the night, despite 10 whiffs. Wood did his thing of keeping the ball low, but he was sitting 90 mph on his sinker. Noooooooo. I was hyped on Wood as he was 92/93 in the spring, and anxious to see if it held in the summer. Welp, I’d rather have Steven Matzeasily now. It’s a good CSW n all and I liked his curveball, but this was the Giants. I need that velocity + seeing him pulled after just three frames with 69 pitches isn’t too encouraging either. Move on.

Martin Perez vs BAL (L) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks, 7 Whiffs, 15% CSWWait. Perez. No. Stop. STOP. This is not how an MP is supposed to act. Anyway, he got the Orioles, I streamed him thinking I’d get an easy Win and nope, this just hurt instead. I really should put out that streaming article outlining how it’s bad to stream in April n all, but I don’t listen to my own advice. I deserve this. Streaming Record: 0-2.

Sean Manaea vs LAA (L) – 4.2 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks, 3 Whiffs, 36% CSW – On one hand, it is 36% CSW as the Angels were patient at the plate, but he was throwing just 89 mph and got the hook with 55 pitches in a tough fifth frame. Ouch. Just three whiffs on the day leave a lot to be desired, and I’m wondering if we have a Toby on our hands. Not great, Bob.

Taijuan Walker @ HOU (L) – 3.1 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks, 3 Whiffs, 16% CSWHe got Houston and we didn’t expect much of anything, but you still don’t want to see it. Just one strikeout? HAISTFMFWT?! 92/93 velocity on his heater isn’t bad, but yeah, there isn’t enough here for you to chase. Maybe wait for a rainy day stream? Eh Walker away. I thought you liked Walker throwing inside, not away. Oh no.

 

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.

 

Vince Velasquez vs. Miami Marlins – Still technically at just 4% on Fantasy Pros so that’s cool. He showcased a new changeup in the exhibition match against the Yankees, throwing it against right-handers and having success. It’s still VV so there’s innate volatility, but the Marlins is as loaded of a die you’ll find.

 

Tomorrow’s Streamer

 

Pablo Lopez vs. Baltimore Orioles – His changeup is getting used more often and could take advantage of the Orioles. Chris Bassitt against the Angels could pay off as well + Wade Miley as a deep option against the Cubs may work for a Win.

 

Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer

 

Josh Lindblom vs. Pittsburgh Pirates – Just owned in 5% of Yahoo! leagues and it’s the matchup you want to see. Given how other Brewers starters have been allowed to go somewhat deep into games thus far, I trust Lindblom can make it work.

 

Game of the Day

 

Zac Gallen vs. Garrett Richards I’m so excited to see where each of these arms are at. There are so many great matchups to watch, too, including Shohei Ohtani pitching for the first time since 2018. I LOVE BASEBALL.

 

(Photo by Mark LoMoglio/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:

    Minor or Maesa for ratios and counting stats (QS league).

  • Avatar Perfect Game says:

    Minor or Maeda for ratios and QS?

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