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Flucas Giolito

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Friday.

Welcome to the SP Roundup, my daily fantasy baseball article reviewing every starting pitcher’s performance from every Friday 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 9 am-11 am ET.  

Lucas Giolito (CWS) @ HOU (L) – 5.0 IP, 8 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 86 pitches.

Okay what is going on with Lucas Giolito? After going 5.0 IP, 8 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 86 pitches against the Astros last night, his season ERA and WHIP lie at 4.78 and 1.50 despite a 29% strikeout rate and 32% CSW, which ranks 13th among all starting pitchers. Something’s weird here.

This biggest change has been his…change. Its strike rate has fallen over 10 points from 2021 to just 60% as its zone rate fell off a cliff from 51% to 37%, and it manifested in this outing against the Astros with just a 53% strike rate and only 1/17 whiffs. His fastball velocity isn’t an issue and I think it’s still the same pitch of old (h*ck, even a tick harder here!), while the slider has had to do a bit more and hasn’t been able to hold the burden — 30% hard contact, a dip in CSW rate, and just a 26% CSW ain’t the results we want this pitch to have.

In the end, Giolito is searching for his changeup feel to return. We saw it in the middle of May and it’s been a struggle to get it back across the last month. If there is one bet to make on Giolito for a full year, it’s that his changeup will return — it’s been the money maker for his career. I’m all for this being a buy-low situation and I’m not selling him at a discount. Nick, you ALWAYS say hold in a Top 20 starter. Sure do, career wins more than the current moment more times than not. Don’t forget that.

 

Let’s see how every other SP did Friday:

 

Carlos Rodón (SF) @ PIT (W) – 8.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks – 18 Whiffs, 37% CSW, 98 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. This is exactly the line Rodón should have against the Pirates and to see his slider return to form with 14/44 whiffs was wonderful. The downside was his heater sitting 94.8 mph instead of the 96+ we’ve seen, which did mean he returned 4/51 whiffs on heaters, but it got the called strikes it needed and the slider took over. Feel good about this.

Jon Gray (TEX) @ DET (W) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 102 pitches.

Mmmmmm that’s what’s up. Gray sat 95.7 mph on the heater with a fantastic slider and BLAMO! There’s your game. That’s two straight of JG being (went)worth the draft pick from March and he’s a clear start against the Nationals as he’s finally healthy enough to get in a proper groove.

Charlie Morton (ATL) @ CHC (ND) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 9 Ks – 21 Whiffs, 39% CSW, 94 pitches.

There he is. That’s a King Cole as his curveball and heater were both dominant for the third straight start. It’s about time the results matched the ability and for all of you who have held on tightly for two straight months, now’s the time we celebrate. But hey, you need one more start to really buy it as he gets the Giants, I get that. I’m excited for you.

Dean Kremer (BAL) vs TB (ND) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 82 pitches.

There was a time we had an interest in Kremer, and it was rooted in his cutter and breaker both earning whiffs. They earned 2/22 between them here. NOPE.

Shane Baz (TB) @ BAL (ND) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 76 pitches.

Baz figured out his issues from the stretch and soared against the Orioles, going six frames far sooner than we expected. The slider had an insane 23/28 strike rate (82%!), while the fastball found gloves in play and the curveball earned 5/13 whiffs. He is the Baz who lured men, and now we find out how intoxicating his seduction is as he faces the Yankees likely with a pitch count north of 80 pitches. I can’t wait to see it.

Keegan Thompson (CHC) vs ATL (ND) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 9 Ks – 18 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 92 pitches.

HA. That’s how you respond after an atrocity of an outing. This is the best we’ve seen Thompson all season with 40% CSW on both his four-seamer and cutter here, even flipping in curves effectively through the outing. He did get lucky with heaters in the middle in the zone at times, but elevating effectively while that cutter mixed up for strikes was all Thompson needed as he was able to go over 90 pitches. And now he gets the Pirates? Yeah, I’m cool with that. Welcome to The List, Keegan. It’s about time I saw something I can latch onto as you face a poor lineup.

Robbie Ray (SEA) vs LAA (W) – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 10 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 102 pitches.

WELL LOOK AT THAT. Here I am, Mr. Pollack, in all my infinite wisdom thinking that Ray’s introduction of a sinker-first approach would mean the strikeouts would disappear. NOPE. The sinker is working well as he keeps it arm-side and even without elevating his four-seamers a ton, he still earned 6/26 whiffs with it…and another six for the sinker. Wild. It all feels a little odd, and maybe it’s a product of a middling Angels lineup, but who cares! He gets the Athletics next and there isn’t much reason to think this experiment will massively blow up there. I’m glad we can finally get some quality R&R.

Zach Plesac (CLE) @ LAD (ND) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 22% CSW, 93 pitches.

The slider and changeup failed to do what we wanted and he faced the Dodgers. And yet, here were are, with one strikeout (HAISTBMBWT?!but solid ratios. It’s better to be lucky than good.

Michael Wacha (BOS) vs STL (W) – 5.1 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 88 pitches.

I had little faith Wacha would show up and he made me look foolish once again with his heater sitting a tick harder than usual + his changeup returning 37% CSW. He’s primed for a start against the Tigers next time out and alright, you can start him. FINE.

Clayton Kershaw (LAD) vs CLE (ND) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 81 pitches.

Aces gonna ace for TATIAGA (get your shirt here!). The slider is still elite and you should feel comfortable starting him every time he pitches, especially with this 81 pitch count game behind him.

Daniel Lynch (KC) @ OAK (W) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 10 Ks – 23 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 99 pitches.

Hot dang, look at you! There was debate on Twitch about this one and I’m so happy to be wrong and see Lynch THRIVE. We got the game of Lynch going 12/33 slider whiffs as he properly executed the BSB, catalyzing a Gallows Pole. Just look at this four-seamer and slider separation, IT’S BEAUTIFUL. He’s a speculative add at the moment as we’ve known he’s capable of success if he executes properly, we just haven’t seen it last. Boy do I hope it does.

Jordan Montgomery (NYY) @ TOR (W) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 93 pitches.

Despite facing the Jays, it’s nothing but more success for The Bear as the sinker did work at 34% CSW, allowing his changeup to prosper at 48% CSW. The curve was horrendous with a 29% strike rate that is laughable, so let’s thank the sinker/change combo for being everything he needed.

Madison Bumgarner (ARI) vs MIN (W) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 9 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 103 pitches.

Buxton punished Bumgarner in the first at-bat of the game and Bumgarner went one ER and nine baserunners across the next eighteen outs. That’s baseball, Suzyn. Good to see him back at 92 mph, but I don’t dig his whole shtick enough to start him against the Pads next.

Paolo Espino (WSH) vs PHI (ND) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 4 BBs, 5 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 89 pitches.

You know, Paolo had moments in 2021 as a decent streamer and this may be opening the door for a potential start against the Rangers next weekend for those in NL-Only leagues. Just a thought.

Zach Thompson (PIT) vs SF (L) – 4.1 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 5 BBs, 2 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 83 pitches.

The cutter + curve returned 2/41 whiffs and that’s not what we want, at all. It meant Zach was the #2 Thompson today and he has to live with that.

Ross Stripling (TOR) vs NYY (L) – 3.2 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 84 pitches.

I’ll take the least shocking line of the night for $300. Interesting to see Strip toss just 34% fastballs here and I wonder if it’s worth the gamble against the ChiSox next. I think I’m passing, but I can see it working.

Carlos Carrasco (NYM) vs MIA (W) – 6.1 IP, 3 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 98 pitches.

A near VVPQS from Carrasco against the Marlins isn’t exactly ideal, but the slider/four-seamer combo was pretty dang good even if the changeup went just 1/16 CSW. I keep the same opinion that Carrasco is a Toby’s Toby as he won’t be dropped by you, but he’ll hover around that 4.00 ERA with a middling WHIP through the year.

Framber Valdez (HOU) vs CWS (W) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 34% CSW, 91 pitches.

Hmmmmmm. This is part of the Valdez equation:  He’s going to have many near VPQS outings but give you that volume that allows for seven strikeouts on a given night if things go well. This is who he is, and don’t get any ideas that he’ll flirt with anything near a 1.10 WHIP. Not a chance.

Ranger Suárez (PHI) @ WSH (W) – 5.2 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 19% CSW, 94 pitches.

Look at that, a Philly earning a Philly as he was one out away from a VPQSThe changeup is still so far from its 2021 self (0/15 CSW?! SERIOUSLY?!) and you know the rest. No thanks.

Frankie Montas (OAK) vs KC (L) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 10 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks – 18 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 103 pitches.

Jeeeez that splitter command was rough. 8/20 strikes is a sign of how many times he spiked the pitch and it led to Royals batters having an easier time sitting fastball/slider to rack up double-digit hits. In some ways, he’s a Cherry Bomb because of this volatility (stupid splitters) but with the potential of a workhorse, he’s firmly in the SP #2/#3 conversation.

Bailey Falter (PHI) @ WSH (ND) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 78 pitches.

If you want to roster Bailey, you’re a free man to do so. Just because you can does not mean you should. That would be foolish.

Kyle Freeland (COL) vs SD (W) – 7.0 IP, 4 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 0 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 17% CSW, 82 pitches.

Whaaaaat. Freeland, you earned 21 outs and not one, not one, came via the strikeout?! HAISTBMBWT?! Seriously, this toast is as dry as Spongebob staring at a cold glass of water. I feel like it’s an art to rely so much on BABIP and escape with a Win. What a dude.

Eric Lauer (MIL) @ CIN (W) – 6.1 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 34% CSW, 91 pitches.

Nah, this ain’t it. One step back — four-seamers landed too much in the middle of the zone still at 93.5 mph while the cutter disappeared — and one forward as his breakers went 40% CSW and 63% strikes. Tweaks are being made, though, and I hope the slider and curve stick while the four-seamer can regain its April velocity. Let’s hope it’s there against St. Louis.

Adam Wainwright (STL) @ BOS (L) – 6.1 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 96 pitches.

He had a PQS until he returned for the seventh (Careful, Icarus) and I think our feelings of Waino are unaltered after this. The curve is great and this was the Sawx. We move on.

Hunter Greene (CIN) vs MIL (ND) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 97 pitches.

That ERA hurts, but I still dig what’s he’s doing with his slider focus and four-seamers commanded well. It’s unfortunate it’s the Dodgers next, but there’s a legit chance this works. I’m a fan here.

Joan Adon (WSH) vs PHI (L) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 97 pitches.

He’s still a Frozen Banana even if he’s throwing a little harder right now (nearly a full tick harder). And to think I was his number Joan fan in October last year.

Tarik Skubal (DET) vs TEX (L) – 5.0 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 100 pitches.

Huh. Skubal’s changeup was as legit as I’ve seen (47% CSW!), but the slider was a bit worse despite its improved location (the times it was floated, it got hit unlike previous outings). Interesting. The real story here is the four-seamer failing to keep up its end of the bargain as it returned just 19% CSW and that’s annoying. He’s still solid, though, and it felt like just one of those Singled Out days, for the most part.

Pablo López (MIA) @ NYM (L) – 5.1 IP, 6 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 18 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 84 pitches.

Whaaaaat. If you told me López had 11/30 whiffs on his changeup on a given night, I’d never guess 6 ER with nine baserunners. But then I’d guess the four-seamer and cutter found too much of the middle of the zone and…that’s exactly what happened. Fine. Stupid Mets.

Devin Smeltzer (MIN) @ ARI (L) – 4.1 IP, 6 ER, 9 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 96 pitches.

Womp womp. He found the middle of the zone too often and got punished for it. He could recover against the Guardians next, but that should be a calculated gamble if you must chase it.

Michael Lorenzen (LAA) @ SEA (L) – 5.0 IP, 7 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 96 pitches.

Yikes. Lorenzen hasn’t pitched at a level that demands you start him and his stuff is susceptible to starts like this. At the same time, he could have also been serviceable and a solid play, so hey, welcome to the game of fantasy baseball. He’ll get the Mariners a second time next Friday and I wouldn’t rule out a rebound there. This isn’t a death sentence.

MacKenzie Gore (SD) @ COL (L) – 4.0 IP, 8 ER, 9 Hits, 3 BBs, 1 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 79 pitches.

Look, I know the last two starts haven’t been great, but this was Coors. Give the kid a break and start him next against the Phils. Let’s Nike this and just do it. Sponsor me pleeeaaasssse.

 

Game of the Day 

Jameson Taillon vs. Alek Manoah – I’m hoping Taillon can recover while watching Manoah face a proper challenge will be exciting.

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 ET Monday through Friday.

Photo by Nick Wosika/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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