Money Graham

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Thursday.

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 9 am-11 am ET.  

Graham Ashcraft (CIN) vs WSH (W) – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 35% CSW, 92 pitches.

Some days you get to watch a pitcher who very few know of do something exciting. Today is one of those days as Graham Ashcraft went 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 35% CSW, 92 pitches against the Nationals, earning himself a King Cole and a Win. On the surface, it’s simply a wonderful line and not a whole more, but Graham displayed a skill I’ve been hoping to see. He threw sliders for strikes.

He’s been armed with a 97+ mph cutter & sinker across his first two starts, but the slider has been far behind, earning strikes well below a 50% rate. It meant batters could time themselves for heat and forgo the change of pace breaker for the most part. But here? Ashcraft went 20/27 strikes with sliders and it changed everything.

The major question now is if this was simply a good day at the park or if Ashcraft made a tweak to find value in that breaker. I’d say go for it. He gets the Diamondbacks next on Tuesday to kick off a likely two-start week and it’s a worthy risk given the lack of danger Arizona brings. Think of Drew Rasmussen except he’s allowed to go more than five frames.

 

Let’s see how every other SP did Thursday:

 

Sandy Alcantara (MIA) vs SF (W) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 111 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. Do you have a Sandy Crush? I’ve been infatuated ever since I saw his first inning on July 24th, 2020. His sinkers were armside all night tonight, sliders spotted down-and-gloveside, and the changeup earned a boatload of strikes. He’s. So. GOOD.

Nestor Cortes (NYY) vs LAA (W) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 34% CSW, 96 pitches.

The people want an AGA tag. I can’t give it to him but dang is it hard to deny your confidence in him right now. The dude slays. I’ll at least raise him on The List, is that okay? Cool.

Reid Detmers (LAA) @ NYY (ND) – 4.1 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 86 pitches.

I don’t know how Detmers does it sometimes, skirting around a poor WHIP to make the ERA work. As long as the slider isn’t a factor (1/8 CSW), Detmers shouldn’t be on your roster. Sigh. He showed such promise in the spring.

Tony Gonsolin (LAD) vs NYM (ND) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 89 pitches.

Okay okay okay, I need to raise Gonsolin more…even if his slider went 1/12 CSW, it still earned 75% strikes and that’s more important in my book. The splitter and four-seamer were solid and earned the CSW instead and once again, Gonsolin went six frames. He’s solid, not a stud, but solid.

Taijuan Walker (NYM) @ LAD (ND) – 5.2 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 22% CSW, 94 pitches.

I’m astounded Walker survived again, though he allowed — I kid you not — 16 hard-hit balls according to Statcast. Just a casual 67% HC/PA rate. He can’t keep getting away with it. At least he got seven splitter whiffs and sat above 94 mph on his heater? Nah, you want nothing to do with this.

Jameson Taillon (NYY) vs LAA (W) – 8.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 101 pitches.

This is getting wild. Taillon flirted with perfection in this one, painting his four-seamer up, keeping cutters away, and riding sinkers inside. I still think there’s a lot of work to be done with the slider and curve, but clearly he’s mixing his pitches enough to make the breakers effective enough even when they aren’t located in ideal spots. Keep riding him and don’t look back.

Corey Kluber (TB) @ TEX (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 69 pitches.

Kluber placed the cutter gloveside all game and it propelled him through six frames. It gets a little tougher now with the Cardinals + Twins on the docket next week and that’s a questionable two-step. I don’t think Kluber is necessarily overpowering guys right now.

Sean Manaea (SD) @ MIL (ND) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 103 pitches.

That’s a Gallows Pole for Manaea as his changeup came to play. We’re talking 8/27 whiffs with a 44% CSW for his heater which sat 91 mph once again. I don’t see a reason to not start Manaea these days and I wonder if he’s one of the more underrated starters out there. Just a thought.

Adrian Houser (MIL) vs SD (ND) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 100 pitches.

Hey, it worked! I wonder if the Padres are simply that poor against right-handers moreso than Houser really doing anything different — this was classic Houser with just sinker dominance and not much else. Despite the ERA, the WHIP is still rough and the Phils are next. Nooooooope.

Chris Archer (MIN) @ DET (ND) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 57 pitches.

Whoaaaa, he can go five innings?! Ah, only when he does so in 57 pitches. Yeaaaaah, can’t bet on averaging ~11 pitches per inning moving forward.

Alex Wood (SF) @ MIA (L) – 5.1 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 90 pitches.

I’ll take it. The slider still has a little bit of growth left to go as it was floated a decent amount (and the changeup was bleeeegh) but the heater is still 92/93 and did great work here for 44% CSW. And now it’s Rockie RoadBe happy you have him.

Alex Faedo (DET) vs MIN (ND) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 89 pitches.

The slider was better and he made it work against a tough Twins crew. I wouldn’t do this start again, but he gets the Pirates next and that feels like a decent stream. I really want that old slider back, though, the one that flirts with double-digit whiffs n all.

Alek Manoah (TOR) vs CWS (W) – 7.2 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 102 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. That’s a Careful, Icarus as he allowed all three runs in the eighth frame (the last driven in by the pen), but I’m moving past it as his slider earned strikes once again. You gotta love this man.

Johnny Cueto (CWS) @ TOR (L) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 84 pitches.

Look at Cueto go, making those in Quality Start leagues lean a bit forward with intrigue as you earned a PQS with a 1.17 WHIP against the Jays. For the rest of us, Don’t get cuet cute.

Joan Adon (WSH) @ CIN (L) – 5.1 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 4 BBs, 4 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 20% CSW, 98 pitches.

Until I see something spectacular from Adon, he’s simply going to be the Joan that got away.

Keegan Thompson (CHC) vs STL (W) – 5.1 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 89 pitches.

Yeaaah I don’t see a whole to like about Thompson’s approach. I have to think you can do better in your 15-teamers than this 94 mph heater with a middling cutter.

Chris Flexen (SEA) @ BAL (ND) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 20% CSW, 76 pitches.

Blegh. I thought this was a good matchup for Flexen but it simply didn’t work out the way we wanted it to. Now it’s the Astros and there’s a world it works, but there ain’t a world I’m excited for it.

Taylor Hearn (TEX) vs TB (L) – 4.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 4 BBs, 3 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 89 pitches.

I knew of a place where Taylor is prosperous all the time, earning 0-1 counts constantly — you know Where The Ahead Hearn Grows. Did you just reference that book about two dogs? SO WHAT IF I DID.

Jordan Lyles (BAL) vs SEA (ND) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 9 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 83 pitches.

Yeaaaah, don’t go jumping for Jordan.

Matthew Liberatore (STL) @ CHC (L) – 3.1 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 1 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 18% CSW, 80 pitches.

Womp womp. That’s a HAISTBMBWT?! as Liberatore tossed so many pitches in the heart of the plate. Seriously, a ton. I’d avoid him until he showcases a BSB with that four-seamer and curveball/changeup properly.

Shohei Ohtani (LAA) @ NYY (L) – 3.0 IP, 4 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 12% CSW, 75 pitches.

Nooooo. Shohei, for whatever reason, struggles against the Yankees and he got burned here. You just gotta act like a rebellious teen and act like you just don’t care. NO DAD, I WON’T TAKE OUT THE TRASH. JUST LEAVE ME ALONE.

Ian Anderson (ATL) @ COL (W) – 6.0 IP, 5 ER, 10 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 104 pitches.

It was Coors and we didn’t want to take the chance, but at least the changeup was ridiculous here with 12/38 whiffs. When you bench a guy, this is kinda the ideal scenario: You don’t get hurt by the ratios but you feel more encouraged about what’s ahead. Seriously, he kept the heater up and changeup down, I see this as an absolute win. Get pumped for the Athletics next.

Austin Gomber (COL) vs ATL (L) – 5.0 IP, 9 ER, 10 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 93 pitches.

Ohhhhh jeez. I mean, we knew not to start him but this is just bad. I really hope he can find those breakers again at some point.

Game of the Day 

Joe Musgrove vs. Corbin Burnes – Ummm duh. Watch this.

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.

Featured image 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.

3 responses to “Money Graham”

  1. Mario Mendoza says:

    Graham Ashcraft needs a nickname, because for some inexplicable reason, saying “Ashcraft” is like nails on a chalkboard to me.

    “Ashy Gary?”

    • Mario Mendoza says:

      Or if Brubaker is Coffeecakes… There might be something about a home-ec ashtray for fathers day made out of graham crackers but that’s reaching. “Lava Art?” “Dusty Martha?” “The Pompeii Potter?”

  2. CrimeDawgEsq. says:

    I cannot seem to get my Discord/PL thing to work to ask questions, so I’m ask here… ROS, rather have Gallen or F. Valdez or M. Perez, and also consider for next season as well (which probably means not thinking of Perez). I’ve got some trade propositions going and the other side is trying to give me Perez. I’ve been burned by him for many years, and I can’t get burned again on a trade. Traded for Paddock right before his injury. Thanks in advance!

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