Smart Alek

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Friday.

Alek Manoah vs TB (W) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 10 Ks – 23 Whiffs, 35% CSW, 109 pitches.

Since his MLB debut, Alek Manoah hasn’t hurt fantasy teams, but he hasn’t quite been the man we thought he could be. Well, he certainly dazzled us last night against the Rays, going 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 10 Ks (23 Whiffs, 35% CSW, 109 pitches) and clearly this is the peak…right? Right?!

If you watched Manoah in the debut, you’ll remember he featured a mid-90s heater with a legit breaker and changeup, all three pitches he felt confident throwing at any moment. That was the joy, the celebration – a man equipped with a deep repertoire and hinting at legit upside if the breaker and/or changeup could be a major whiff generator and his fastball command was consistent. In this outing, we had two of those three land: His slider returned 45% CSW with 11 whiffs, while his sinker and four-seamer returned 31% CSW combined. That’s phenomenal and all Manoah really needs…and all he really had. Manoah’s changeup was decent but not the special pitch hinted early on and it’s a strange feeling. I adore the slider/fastball combination we saw here, but what will we see moving forward? Will he be a Huascar Ynoa type with a better third pitch? Or will he need that slow ball to take shape as the 1-2 punch fails to consistently perform at this level? We’ll see, and for now, we watch with adoration.

 

Let’s see how every other SP did Friday:

 

Zack Wheeler vs SD (ND) – 7.2 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 9 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 114 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. San Diego Shmam Schmiego. I AM THE GREAT WHEELER.

Eduardo Rodriguez @ OAK (ND) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 89 pitches.

His changeup hasn’t returned, but the fastball command is sticking around and that’s a great thing. His cutter/slider was good enough to earn called strikes and that’s the tale of this one. It’s still a bit dicey with the Angels next, though, and good luck making that choice. I imagine you’re leaning start and that’s okay.

Drew Smyly vs MIA (W) – 5.2 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 86 pitches.

Smyly coasted against the Marlins and I’m kicking myself for not sticking with my guns by labeling Smyly as the reluctant streamer. He’s just so volatile and upside like this is a rare feat. Anyway, it’s nothing new from Smyly, sadly, but his curveball was its best self and that was cool. I guess he’s another streaming option against the Pirates next week.

Max Scherzer vs LAD (ND) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 19 Whiffs, 35% CSW, 100 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. It’s pretty wild how Scherzer’s injury history + an unlucky 2020 has made us collectively underappreciate how good Scherzer has been (even with a small ~18 day gap between starts this year). It’s his best season ever – 36% K rate, 2.10 ERA, 0.85 WHIP – and let’s just hope he’s able to keep his near 200 IP pace. He’s effectively earned six Gallows Pole awards this year, you know.

Sonny Gray vs CHC (ND) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 86 pitches.

This was a debatable Still ILL for Gray (once again) and I’m thrilled to see 86 pitches + a great feel for his slider. Still a touch of work left on the hook, but this is progress. I’m excited to see what he does against the Royals next.

Adrian Houser @ PIT (W) – 6.2 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 103 pitches.

Hey, it worked! I had my doubts about Houser and while the strikeouts are still massively underwhelming, I’m glad he had a low WHIP for a change. He should get the Mets next and given that the curveball still wasn’t a factor, I’m not taking that chance. He needed 15 called strikes on sinkers for this one to work (it’s not the reliance for success you want).

Kyle Gibson @ SEA (ND) – 5.2 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 110 pitches.

The WHIP hurts and we wanted one more out, but this was a grind for Gibson across 110 pitches and he made it work. It’s the biggest stumble I think we’ve seen across this major run, and yes, I’m saying that despite the 1 ER and 7 Ks. It’s the journey, not the destination. Welp, we just shrug and enjoy the Tigers next. I would expect him to be off the Rangers before August comes, though. No reason not to trade him.

Julio Urías @ WSH (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 87 pitches.

It’s not sexy, but it works and we’re glad Urías is helping our lineups. It’s strange to see him take such a big step back with that changeup this year, the moment it comes back, BOOM! POW! STRAIGHT TO THE MOON!

Lance Lynn @ DET (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 5 BBs, 9 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 117 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. Lynn, pro tip incoming, you don’t need to walk five Tigers, they really aren’t that good.

Pablo López @ ATL (L) – 0.0 IP, 1 ER, 0 Hits, 0 BBs, 0 Ks – 0 Whiffs, 0% CSW, 1 pitches.

Pablo accidentally hit Ronald Acuña to start the game and got ejected. There’s no way this was intentional and it’s just not fair. But hey, his changeup was flawless today. Hopefully it means he pitch on short rest next week now…good luck against the Dodgers.

Lance McCullers @ CLE (W) – 5.1 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 4 BBs, 8 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 36% CSW, 107 pitches.

That WHIP hurts but McCullers had his slider, got you a solid ERA and collection of strikeouts, and that lovely dub makes you forget all about it. H*ck, even the curveball earned 33% CSW as he went over the 100 pitch mark. I hope he can be a little more efficient next time, but things are cool.

Chi Chi Gonzalez vs STL (ND) – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 1 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 98 pitches.

Wow. That’s a HAISTFMFWT?! as CCG went 20/21 outs in the field. In Coors. Unreal. The Cardinals are really that bad, huh? I guess somatically starting against St. Louis is “The Cardinal Rule” – props to PL+ member Brent Carswell for the term.

Frankie Montas vs BOS (ND) – 5.2 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 95 pitches.

Spin rates aren’t as dramatically down as before, but still down and his slider was used as a rare get-me-over pitch. There’s a chance Montas pulls this out, but I just don’t think the juice is worth the squeeze at the moment, especially when Houston is next.

Logan Gilbert vs TEX (ND) – 5.2 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 101 pitches.

I was a little underwhelmed here as Gilbert’s changeup was just okay and his breakers did barely anything. His four-seamer is still excellent as it sat just under 96 mph with 10 whiffs, but I need to see more if I’m going to trust him against teams better than the Rangers.

Alec Mills @ CIN (L) – 5.2 IP, 2 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 37% CSW, 92 pitches.

What?! Nine strikeouts and a King ColeAgainst the Reds?! Wild. Mills had his slider and changeup working here, while the Reds simply waved in those sinkers for strikes like an upright citizen conducting traffic during a blackout. I guess we have to consider Mills as a reluctant streamer against the Phils, don’t we.

Casey Mize vs CWS (L) – 3.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 36% CSW, 56 pitches.

So Mize stumbled a bit + the Tigers outlined that they’ve begun the process of limiting Mize for the season by taking him out early of starts. In other words, it’s likely time to jump off the train as we’re going to see plenty more sub 70 pitch outings from Mize the rest of the way. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to put myself through the game of guessing which starts Mize will be allowed to go longer in & racking my brain to remember all my mathematical formulas to determine if the quality of inning will be worth it. It’s too bad, really.

Brady Singer vs MIN (ND) – 3.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 35% CSW, 72 pitches.

I think you should stop rostering Singer this year. The Royals are being weird about his pitch counts and the upside is…just a side. Like forcing you to spend another $1.50 for Guac. Is the side really worth it? Not cool, Chipotle.

Alex Wood @ ARI (W) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 8 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 34% CSW, 98 pitches.

HIS SLIDER HAS RETURNED. Ugh, thank the lord, the pitch went 51% CSW with eight whiffs and even his changeup was still effective like last time. Fastball sat just under 92 mph and I’m back to being a Wood fan…probably. I just want to see it back for a second start in a row to feel great and he gets the Cardinals? Oh sweet, I’m in.

Zac Gallen vs SF (L) – 2.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 37% CSW, 57 pitches.

Gallen left this one with a hamstring issue and this is looking a lot like a lost season. Gallen Gals, we must be patient. 2022 will bring us the fruit of our labor. Poor guy, he’s so dang good and it just hasn’t gone his way this year. Good news though, his changeup looked great across the 11 thrown (all his secondaries for that matter went 38% CSW combined). So yay, his secondary stuff isn’t gone forever. Not like we ever believed it was, but you know what I mean.

Johan Oviedo @ COL (ND) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 79 pitches.

This is incredibly impressive heading into Coors, but then again, seeing just two strikeouts we can all understand that wonderful BABIP led to this PQSDon’t let anything convince you otherwise.

Chris Paddack @ PHI (ND) – 7.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 95 pitches.

Hmmmm. So the changeup wasn’t great and allowed some damage from the Phillies, forcing Paddack to lean more on curveballs that performed pretty dang well at 40% CSW across 20 thrown. His heater was good enough, though we’re talking 94/95 mph, not the legendary 97 mph we saw a few starts ago. I’m a bit conflicted – Paddack seemed to be on the path of ascension with his fastball velocity up and changeup feel back. Now we have…neither. It seems like it’s the year of purgatory as he’s a slightly worse José BerríosThat’s okay, right?

Keegan Akin @ LAA (ND) – 3.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 64 pitches.

I wonder if there will be a time we consider Akin again, like we did in September 2020. Those were wild times. These are too with that command. Ha. Funny. Ish. Ish? Yeah, funny-ish. I’ll take Ish, but not Akin. Fair.

J.A. Happ @ KC (L) – 4.1 IP, 5 ER, 9 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 89 pitches.

Oh Happ, we just never when we can stream you, do we. Remember, it’s essentially just four-seamers with a hope that one of his slider or changeup can be a proper supporting character for a day. It’s the opposite of electric.

Luis Patiño @ TOR (L) – 5.1 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 94 pitches.

We’d been hoping to see Patiño since the sad news of Tyler Glasnow and while it was mostly what we expected – the Fastball show with special guest, Mr. Slider – sadly Patiño made some mistakes against a tough Jays team and was sent back to the minors directly after. Womp womp. I imagine we’ll see him again shortly, but I’m not stashing him anywhere.

JT Brubaker vs MIL (L) – 6.0 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 93 pitches.

Ugh, Coffee Cakes, you’re supposed to cruise through the Brewers! A 1.17 WHIP and six strikeouts kinda make this a Dusty Donut and the slider was great once again, but his sinker wasn’t performing as well and there you go. I’m not starting him against Atlanta next.

Sam Hentges vs HOU (L) – 2.2 IP, 6 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 65 pitches.

I mean, Hentges went against the Astros. There’s being excited about a pitcher’s development and there’s putting yourself through the same struggles for no good reason. I hope Cleveland allows Sam to get his reps still and I wouldn’t be shocked if they elected to change things up.

Griffin Canning vs BAL (ND) – 2.2 IP, 6 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 0 Ks – 1 Whiffs, 16% CSW, 62 pitches.

I flipped from Smyly to Canning as the reluctant streamer of the day as I saw the same volatility but a higher upside for Canning, but oh my, this was bad. Streaming Record: 51-39. Canning is a Cherry Bomb based on his having his breakers or not (or sometimes the changeup miraculously saves him) and he went 1/30 whiffs on sliders + curveballs + changeups. Yeah. It resulted in zero strikeouts – HAISTFMFWT?! – and I know it’s crazy to say, but don’t rule out success against the Mariners next…? I just gave him the CB label, which means he has a chance of being terrible or sweet. He was terrible here, he could be sweet next time. Nothing really changes.

 

Game of the Day 

 

Sandy Alcántara vs. Kyle Muller – The apple of my eye vs. a budding rookie pitcher? WHERE DO I SIGN.

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 MLB Photos | Adapted by Aaron Polcare

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.

One response to “Smart Alek”

  1. TruthTeller says:

    Wheeler > Cole now. Pretty hard to argue against that.

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