Welcome to the SP Roundup, my daily fantasy baseball article reviewing every starting pitcher’s performance from every Thursday game. I apologize for the jokes written in my delirium in advance. Have questions? Ask me during my office hours on Twitch weekday mornings from 10 am-12 pm ET.
Pablo López (MIN) @ KC (W) – 5.1 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 8 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 34% CSW, 85 pitches.
I’m starting to think I underrated Pablo López a bit this preseason. I didn’t quite know if his spring velocity was real but after tonight’s 5.1 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 8 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 34% CSW, 85 pitches in a Win against the Royals, Pablo sat 95 mph (1.6 ticks higher than 2022!) as I could feel him look my way with a wink. You better believe it’s real.
But that’s not even the biggest story of tonight. Nope, not the velocity, I know. I KNOW. It’s the fact he actually has a legit breaking ball suddenly and I’m absolutely beside myself. López featured 19 sweepers (two more than his signature changeup!) to the tune of 8/17 whiffs and I couldn’t be more amped about it.
So let’s take PabLó as we know him from his 180 innings last season, move him from the Marlins to the Twins (read: more Wins), add an effective sweeper, and gain 1.5 ticks of velocity. Yeaaaaaah that’s phenomenal and I’m stoked for him. Call me a PabLó Fanchez, I’m so in.
Let’s see how every other SP did Thursday:
Marcus Stroman (CHC) vs MIL (W) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 8 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 36% CSW, 90 pitches.
Don’t you just love when a plan comes together just right? Those of you who targetted Stroman at the end of your drafts just for this start, I applaud you. Stick around for as much as you want of @CIN, SEA, @OAK next, but also feel free to play the wire instead if there’s something super enticing over the next few days. Don’t worry, Stroman won’t be this good too often – his 7/32 breaker whiffs today are cool but not something to rely on.
Shane McClanahan (TB) vs DET (W) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 87 pitches.
Aces gonna ace. He’s doing the BSB and still has his filthy changeup. Oh, and slick breakers as well. It’s good to see you again.
Luis Castillo (SEA) vs CLE (ND) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 37% CSW, 76 pitches.
Aces gonna ace. He went more changeup than slider in this one to my surprise, and the pitch held a fantastic 47% CSW, though he was a bit wild with his misses along the way. This wasn’t the most polished I’ve seen Castillo despite the line – the slider was hung inside the zone often (especially in deeper counts when he didn’t want it there) and I wouldn’t say he cleanly hit his spots. Still, he was very tough to square up and I’m at least thrilled we got a strong outing from Castillo this early in the season – remember, he’s someone who usually heats up around the end of May.
Gerrit Cole (NYY) vs SF (W) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 11 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 95 pitches.
Aces gonna ace. He didn’t allow a single ball in play off 30 sliders + changeups, and while part of that may be because his slider wasn’t as filthy as we’ve seen, that’s still something remarkable when they combined for 40% CSW. Gotta love it.
Framber Valdez (HOU) vs CWS (ND) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 85 pitches.
Look at Framber, spouting 95 mph sinkers like he’s always been doing it. Fun fact – Cease and Valdez each had elevated walk rates last year and yet they combined for zero in this game. You may think this is a great outing for Valdez, but in truth, only the ERA was great here. My biggest concerns were the WHIP (1.20 here) and failure to be a 25% strikeout arm (4 Ks in five frames), which are clearly still present in this ultra small sample. Gotta love that velo spike, though. Sure hope that sticks around as he holds off the free passes.
Shane Bieber (CLE) @ SEA (ND) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 87 pitches.
Aces gonna ace. It’s not great to see his four-seamer hover 90-92 mph all evening, but he went to the fastball just 28% of the time as a result, leaning heavily on his cutter and slider to get through six. I was one of those who shouted Sell Sell Sell last season with the depressed velocity and boy was I wrong…but it was a 24% strikeout rate in the end and while I think Bieber is sure to be good for your team this year, how good can we really expect? I’m not sure.
Shohei Ohtani (LAA) @ OAK (ND) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 10 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 93 pitches.
Aces gonna ace. Ohtani is back to his old ways of going 48% sweepers and it’s everything we want. I just hope we get to see 160+ innings from him again.
Dylan Cease (CWS) @ HOU (ND) – 6.1 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 10 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 36% CSW, 86 pitches.
Aces gonna ace. Slider was fantastic, curveball found strikes, and the fastball wasn’t wild. This is a small peek at prime Cease, which means this peak will likely soon cease. I sure hope not, though – his four-seamer and curve have always seemed like they should perform at this level, he’s just never been able to locate them with any sort of consistency.
Kyle Muller (OAK) vs LAA (ND) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 18% CSW, 72 pitches.
Huh. It’s hard for me to get too excited about five whiffs and an 18% CSW, but hey, I’m thrilled for Muller as I’m sure he had no expectations of an opening day start back in October and here he is, nearly matching Ohtani for five frames. I was impressed by his four-seamer command as he did a phenomenal job of going high or low at will, mixing in sliders and curves in between. The problem? His slider and curve were not pitches I’d call electric. It doesn’t speak to a guy I want to lean into at the moment, but as long as he continues to get opportunities, he’ll have a shot to impress me again like when he initially hit the scene. I’m curious if we’ll see something more.
Max Fried (ATL) @ WSH (ND) – 3.1 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 43 pitches.
Fried left this game early after covering first base and injuring his hamstring. WHY CAN’T WE HAVE NICE THINGS. He’s expected to miss at least one start and hit the IL…which sounds like missing two starts + a game with a ~75 pitch limit. One of these years, we’ll get a 200 IP season from Fried and he’ll blow our minds. One year. Dylan Dodd is the biggest benefactor as it means he sticks around for a little longer – I don’t like him for his first outing, but maybe the second.
Zack Greinke (KC) vs MIN (L) – 5.1 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 80 pitches.
Yep, that’s Greinke alright. He’s the neighbor you know but don’t really want that relationship with. Just a “oh, that guy is home I guess” kind of thing. And maybe he wants to borrow your dog for an afternoon. What a wonderful neighbor he is.
Germán Márquez (COL) @ SD (W) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 87 pitches.
Márquez has limited upside, pitches his home games at Coors Field, and doesn’t deserve a spot on your team. This should be the blurb for every Colorado starter.
Julio Urías (LAD) vs ARI (W) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 79 pitches.
Aces gonna ace. Huh. That’s Urías doing his thing, alright. I’m sad to see 92.5 mph instead of 94 mph from Julio, but everything else checks out to the normal man we know. Good on him for going six frames in just 79 pitches, you can thank the brilliant curveball for that as it went a whopping 25/31 for strikes while allowing just one hit. That’s insane.
Zac Gallen (ARI) @ LAD (L) – 4.2 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 89 pitches.
He’s still not quite there, sadly. Velocity was a tick down and his four-seamer + cutter were far too hittable in the zone. This can be fixed, though, and I think Gallen just needs a little more time to ramp up for the year – we did see him need some extra time last year, after all. And besides, this was the Dodgers. Nick, he gets the Padres next. Uggggh. I think we still start him there, then feel extra good about the Brewers and Marlins after.
Patrick Corbin (WSH) vs ATL (L) – 3.0 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 85 pitches.
Oh hey, it’s Corbin returning a 3.33 WHIP with a 6.00 ERA. Ah, it’s so nice to have baseball back.
Max Scherzer (NYM) @ MIA (W) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 91 pitches.
Aces gonna ace. Yes, even with the PQS, it’s still Scherzer doing good things, outside of a two-run shot from Garrett Cooper out of nowhere. Sure, the fastball was a tick down to 93 mph and he was essentially two-pitch with fastballs and sliders, but he’s still the ace you wanted.
Sandy Alcantara (MIA) vs NYM (ND) – 5.2 IP, 3 ER, 3 Hits, 4 BBs, 2 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 96 pitches.
Aces gonna return a Philly and make me dramatically sad on Opening Day. It really isn’t that poor of a line, but it’s more that he simply didn’t have his fastball command in this one. 15/28 four-seamer strikes (54%?!) is atrocious and destroyed the entire foundation of this outing. Can it return? Absolutely, I’ve seen it before from Sandy and he normally clicks back in by the next outing. At least the slider and changeup did their part with a combined 24% SwStr rate. Don’t freak out y’all, everything’s fine.
Eduardo Rodriguez (DET) @ TB (L) – 5.1 IP, 3 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 88 pitches.
If you elected to go with Erod today, I think you’re generally happy with it. Sure, it’s one more ER than you wanted, but a 1.00 WHIP and five strikeouts? Yeah, that helps. I’m glad to see he was sitting 92/93 mph with some pristine changeup command that makes me raise an eyebrow and believe this could be the year Rodriguez lives in the SP 40/50 range as a Toby but with a few more strikeouts. Unfortunately, it’s the Astros and Jays next so we can live that paradise closer to May instead. Dustin? What’s he got to do with this? Please stop checking in with Dustin. We’ll get to him tomorrow.
Blake Snell (SD) vs COL (L) – 4.1 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks – 20 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 93 pitches.
This didn’t go Snell’s way but hot dang I think he pitched well. You don’t earn a Gallows Pole and 20 whiffs by pitching poorly. Sure, there’s refinement to be had (93 pitches in 4.1 IP?!) and you can blame the horrifically bad sliders and curves he bounced routinely, which I am even angrier at because it forced him to return to his changeup for a decent amount of throws – DON’T PUT ME THROUGH THAT AGAIN – but I think that’ll get ironed out moving forward. Enjoy the nine strikeouts, y’all. It’s not easy to find that.
Hunter Greene (CIN) vs PIT (ND) – 3.1 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 8 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 83 pitches.
Greene averaged 100 mph in this one but failed to command his slider with just 12/24 strikes on the pitch (one whiff?!), forcing him to squeeze too much out of the fastball. This is what I see for Greene this year – he’s going to have games like this where we should be happy we were able to salvage eight strikeouts while sacrificing our ratios, but then he’s going to click into a rhythm for a gorgeous stretch where there is no one better in the game…before falling back to Earth a few weeks later. So, a Cherry Bomb then? The best there ever was.
Logan Webb (SF) @ NYY (L) – 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 12 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 41% CSW, 92 pitches.
Ohhhhh my. You drafted Webb because you expected him to be an 18 K/9 pitcher, right? I’m shocked he earned a King Cole against the King himself with a whopping 41% CSW that may not get topped for a good while, and it’s all thanks to a stupid good changeup that went 11/32 whiffs with a 47% CSW. His sinker is earning more horizontal break as well, while the higher slider was good but not great. Obviously, we don’t expect the strikeout rate to stick (called strike three are less sticky than whiff strike threes), but Webb deserved better. After all, he allowed 3 ER on two home runs, with his fourth coming after he was pulled after walking his first batter in the seventh. To those in QS leagues, you have my sympathies. Anyway, this was a ridiculous start to Webb’s season and it’s obviously something we can’t trust quite yet.
Corbin Burnes (MIL) @ CHC (L) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 87 pitches.
Velocity was slightly down, spin was up, and y’all should give the fella a break. He didn’t execute as well as we normally see from him, but ultimately, it’s the same Burnes we know and love. Don’t call him Corbin, please.
Kyle Gibson (BAL) @ BOS (W) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 79 pitches.
The big question was whether the new sweeper would return and it did! But for just 27% CSW and three whiffs. The rest wasn’t very impressive (save for one really lovely changeup) and I’m very okay skipping Gibson save for the best matchups, like hosting the Athletics in ten days. That’s cool with me for a stream.
Mitch Keller (PIT) @ CIN (ND) – 4.2 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 4 BBs, 8 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 100 pitches.
Who had Mitch as the first one to hit 100 pitches this season? How about in fewer than five innings?! Keller wasn’t as wild as the four walks would suggest, but the Reds were a feisty bunch and forced deeper counts with a whole lot of foul balls (21% here, which would have been in the 90th percentile in 2022. Average was around 18%). The 15 whiffs are a cool thing, especially the 5/22 from breakers, but I fear that he isn’t consistent nor efficient enough for us to latch onto him for a given night. Like an Alex Gordon on third, he’s so close yet so far.
Jacob deGrom (TEX) vs PHI (ND) – 3.2 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 73 pitches.
Ummmm what? This happened – I’m not sure how it happened but it did – and at least the man isn’t hurt. That’s still seven strikeouts to go with a .555 BABIP + a home run. He’s still the best pitcher on the planet.
Aaron Nola (PHI) @ TEX (ND) – 3.2 IP, 5 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 72 pitches.
Oh dear. The curve wasn’t the dominant self, the change and cutter failed to earn a single whiff between sixteen of em, and despite allowing just five hard hit balls, Nola returned five runs. Womp womp. It happens, y’all. This will be an afterthought in November when we play the game of “well, if you remove his first start of the year…”
Miles Mikolas (STL) vs TOR (ND) – 3.1 IP, 5 ER, 10 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 90 pitches.
It’s the Blue Jays and Mikolas isn’t a pitcher you trust to survive against an elite offense. Fine, we should have benched him here and we start him next time instead? Well, it’s Atlanta next. NOOOOOOOO.
Alek Manoah (TOR) @ STL (ND) – 3.1 IP, 5 ER, 9 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 85 pitches.
This is rough and I know it terrifies you, but there’s good news. You just saved a bunch on– I DON’T EVEN DRIVE. No, Manoah’s velocity is just fine. It was a major concern in the spring and to see him even slightly up is a very good thing. Nah, what happened here was a few sliders over the heart of the plate and some bad luck as he got Singled Out. Was he at his best? Nah. Just drink some Ale, K? You need to forget this day and keep starting him. It’s too soon to freak out.
Corey Kluber (BOS) vs BAL (L) – 3.1 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 4 BBs, 4 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 80 pitches.
Ouch. My biggest takeaway from this is moreso that we’re likely underrating the Orioles’ offense. That said, Kluber was a full tick down to just 87/88 mph and returned only 4/41 whiffs on his breakers. That ain’t gonna cut it…but it might against the Pirates next week…? You decide, I’m probably not gonna risk it.
Game of the Day
David Peterson vs. Jesús Luzardo – It’ll be fun to watch Lynn vs. Javier as well, but hot dang, I’m AMPED to watch some 97-100 mph Luzardo + I’m curious what we’ll see from Peterson, who has been sporting a harder slider this spring.
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)
Ah it’s so nice to have this column back. But Nick now you gotta tell us the story about your neighbor who asked to borrow your dog.
Yesterday wasn’t opening day. NOW it’s opening day!
The artwork accompanying this column is amazing! Of course the analysis is great too.