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Tai-juanderful

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Saturday.

Welcome to the SP Roundup, my daily fantasy baseball article reviewing every starting pitcher’s performance from every Saturday 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.  

Taijuan Walker (NYM) vs MIA (W) – 6.2 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 97 pitches.

Boy have I whiffed on Taijuan Walker this year as he sits with a 2.88 ERA following Saturday’s 6.2 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 97 pitches performance against the Marlins. That’s two starts combining for 19 strikeouts and it seems like Walker has turned a corner. But do I actually think this version of Walker is something to lean on the rest of the year? …not really?

Here’s the thing. Walker’s best self generally goes like this: 94/95 mph heaters dominating with splitters getting whiffs and sliders + curves stealing called strikes. What did we get here? 93.8 mph heaters, with just 3/22 splitter whiffs and 1/5 CSW on the curveball. The star of the show was his slider that returned a 46% CSW out of nowhere and was featured over a quarter of the time. This is a completely different path to success than what we saw last week (hard heaters and great splitters).

I’m sadly still skeptical, which feels dumb considering his recent success. Come on Nick, Walker has been great! I get it, I really do. Maybe I’m getting too cerebral about it, maybe I see a guy who has had moments of success in ways that aren’t sustainable and think it crumbles over the long term. But hey, it’s a 12-teamer and you’re likely not selling him for much of anything, so why not just hold and see what happens? It’s still better than the waiver wire, I’m sure.

 

Let’s see how every other SP did Saturday:

 

Aaron Nola (PHI) @ WSH (ND) – 8.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 106 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. That’s three straight now and he deserves the label as he holds a 3.11 ERA and 0.87 ERA with a 29% strikeout rate. Welcome back, Nola.

Johnny Cueto (CWS) @ HOU (W) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 93 pitches.

Cueto is a marvel. He just whips up this ridiculous starts every so often and makes you play a ridiculous game of chicken. Do whatever you want, I’m personally not putting myself in harm’s way.

Brad Keller (KC) @ OAK (W) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 97 pitches.

Ayyyyy good job Keller. He’ll get them a second time and I’m not sure I want to roll the dice again. It really does feel like that with Keller and don’t let this outing cloud your judgment there.

Josiah Gray (WSH) vs PHI (ND) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 117 pitches.

Ayyy he survived! Just nine whiffs is an oddity here and the man got lucky in the field + his pitch efficiency was horrendous as evidenced by 23% CSW and 117 bullets in the books. I’m okay with taking a shot next time out against the Rangers if you’re chasing strikeouts, but just recognize the poor floor he could step into.

Julio Urías (LAD) vs CLE (W) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 87 pitches.

Great job Urías, you’ve done solid work regaining the trust of managers lately. The heater was a bit harder here up to 93.5 mph with excellent curveballs as the changeup took a major backseat and that’s just fine with us. It’s pretty insane that he holds a 2.56 ERA with a 1.02 WHIP this year and makes me wonder if he’s knocking on the door of the AGA label again. That 22% strikeout rate though…

Jameson Taillon (NYY) @ TOR (W) – 5.2 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 35% CSW, 88 pitches.

Hot dang, look at you! Taillon had a pair of tough outings and rebounded in a major way with his four-seamer to take down the Jays and earn a King ColeI think this is the ceiling for Taillon here and not something that outlines potential SP #2 ability. Good luck against the Astros this week…

José Suarez (LAA) @ SEA (ND) – 4.1 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 17% CSW, 95 pitches.

Whoa, seven strikeouts? In 13 outs?! There’s your surprise of the day, especially at just 17% CSW. Suarez will get the Mariners again and I don’t have any interest there. He won’t earn those strikeouts a second time.

Penn Murfee (SEA) vs LAA (ND) – 2.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 34 pitches.

The Mariners went bullpen with a sprinkle of Tommy Milonewhich is a name I haven’t heard in a while. Can we move on? K thx.

Dylan Bundy (MIN) @ ARI (W) – 8.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 107 pitches.

Oh wow. Bundy did this throwing his slider…15% of the time. He instead leaned on the changeup and curveball more, the latter earning called strikes galore. This has all the signs of a Birthday Party and you’re better off forgetting it.

Cole Irvin (OAK) vs KC (L) – 6.1 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 99 pitches.

Hey, it worked! Irvin was the streaming pick and located heaters well enough to survive against the Royals. Do we want to take another dive in a repeat start this week? Ehhhhh, if I have to, I guess. I need to see how the canary is doing before I make Cole mine.

Patrick Sandoval (LAA) @ SEA (ND) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 91 pitches.

The good news: The Irish Panda had that line and it’s wonderful. The bad news: just 3/18 whiffs and 22% CSW on the changeup as its command was atrocious. The slider saved the day, but I was excited last week because that changeup was returning and this…was not that. I’m a little scared the Mariners will jump on him next time.

Jason Alexander (MIL) @ CIN (W) – 5.2 IP, 2 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 80 pitches.

That sinker is still hilarious in its horizontal movement, spelling few strikeouts and a high BABIP reliance, leading to a terrible WHIP/ERA balance. It’s a starter about nothing.

Chris Flexen (SEA) vs LAA (ND) – 5.1 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 92 pitches.

Ehhhh sure. I feel like Flexen is the king of the Dusty Donut these days. I hope you’re proud of yourself, Chris.

Dakota Hudson (STL) @ BOS (W) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 5 BBs, 3 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 22% CSW, 93 pitches.

That’s a Dusty Donut alright. Welcome to the slippery world of Hudson.

Justin Steele (CHC) vs ATL (W) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 18% CSW, 90 pitches.

If you had to roll with Steele, you’re thrilled with a Win and a 3.60 ERA. The other stuff…we don’t talk about the other stuff.

Rony García (DET) vs TEX (W) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 92 pitches.

I’d take a PQS from García given I don’t expect a whole lot from him on a given night. He’s a desperate stream against the Diamondbacks next and I wouldn’t take the shot.

José Quintana (PIT) vs SF (ND) – 5.1 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 95 pitches.

Quintana is the best representation of “location” not equating to “ability.” He does a great job of spotting his arsenal, but it’s simply just not good enough to demand excellence. In real life? This is solid and the Pirates need a guy going nearly six innings at three earned runs. Just not for 12-teamers.

Braxton Garrett (MIA) @ NYM (L) – 4.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 0 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 19% CSW, 75 pitches.

Yeaaaaah that’s the floor of Garrett as he failed to earn a single strikeout (HAISTBMBWT?!and it makes it a tough call as he hosts Rockie Road next. Maybe his low sinkers and sliders do enough and warrant a stream there. Meh.

Alek Manoah (TOR) vs NYY (L) – 5.1 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 94 pitches.

Aces gonna have his worst slider of the year (5/15 strikes?!) and get punished by the Yankees for it. We move on. Expect the breaker to return.

Alex Wood (SF) @ PIT (W) – 5.1 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 95 pitches.

Blegh. This was Wood’s last stop on the four-game parade, and a three-run shot made it end on a sour note. Now it’s Atlanta and I’m okay going with something else instead of Wood. He’s in general a step up from a Tobybut play the matchups instead of blind holding.

Germán Márquez (COL) vs SD (ND) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 93 pitches.

I guess that’s okay for the strikeouts…? Nah, we avoided this since it was Coors and I wouldn’t touch him moving forward. It’s such a gamble every time out.

Nick Martinez (SD) @ COL (ND) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 77 pitches.

I mean, yeah, this was Coors. Sure, it was a HAISTBMBWT?! but I didn’t even prepare toast in the first place. Gotta be proactive in this world.

Jeffrey Springs (TB) @ BAL (ND) – 4.1 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 86 pitches.

Disaster finally struck Springs against the Orioles, in a start where his changeup was too elevated and his slider wasn’t helping a whole lot. Seems like a bad day instead of an indictment of mediocrity.

Kutter Crawford (BOS) vs STL (L) – 4.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 22% CSW, 85 pitches.

Awwww. I wasn’t chasing Kutter here but I was hoping he would do something that forced us to pay attention. Instead, his kutter returned just 8% CSW across 25 pitches and that’s the story. With Whitlock likely returning soon, that might be it for Crawford.

Justin Verlander (HOU) vs CWS (L) – 3.2 IP, 4 ER, 9 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 81 pitches.

Aces gonna…faceplant. His fastball wasn’t as good and despite solid slider locations, Verlander couldn’t make it work. Bummer. He gets the Yanks next and I’d still go for it.

Kyle Wright (ATL) @ CHC (L) – 6.0 IP, 5 ER, 11 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 95 pitches.

Wright got Singled Out in this one as I think he had better-than-usual command against the Cubs. He oddly earned a share of the Gallows Pole with just 13 whiffs, leading to eight strikeouts, and it’s a bit funny to see Wright pitch better but get worse actual results. That’s baseball, Suzyn. 

Cal Quantrill (CLE) @ LAD (L) – 5.0 IP, 5 ER, 10 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 93 pitches.

Whoa whoa whoa. The man formerly known as So-So Cal didn’t go six frames?! And allowed more than 3 ER?! SACRE BLEU!

Graham Ashcraft (CIN) vs MIL (L) – 5.0 IP, 6 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 98 pitches.

Ashcraft once again abandoned the sinker for sliders and cutters, and the plan just doesn’t work. It was less for lack of trying here, though, as the sinker went just 30% strikes across the ten thrown (yuck), forcing his hand. Hopefully that sinker command returns and he can work a proper three-pitch mix here, but I ain’t gonna test it against the Giants.

Kyle Bradish (BAL) vs TB (ND) – 4.1 IP, 6 ER, 11 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 79 pitches.

Command was poor and Bradish needs to be pristine for this to work. Not very radish of Bradish.

Taylor Hearn (TEX) @ DET (L) – 3.2 IP, 8 ER, 10 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 74 pitches.

Even against the Tigers, Taylor couldn’t Hearn a Win. Poor guy.

Luke Weaver (ARI) vs MIN (L) – 3.2 IP, 9 ER, 10 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 74 pitches.

He hasn’t had a third pitch since…2019? Is that right? I think so. Spoiler alert: He still doesn’t. It really is too bad because the changeup is really good, he just needs more of a supporting cast to soar. Womp womp.

 

Game of the Day 

Shane Bieber vs. Andrew Heaney – Heaney hath returned + Bieber gets a real challenge against the Dodgers. Should be fun.

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.

Photos by slgckgc (https://www.flickr.com/people/slgc/) | 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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