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 10 am-12 pm ET.
Yu Darvish (SD) @ PHI (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 9 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 94 pitches.
I’ve hammered my keys incessantly over the years discussing the trials and tribulations of Yu Darvish, but Friday night may have actually been a turning point for the former star of the league as he went 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 9 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 94 pitches against the Phillies, earning trusting managers a lovely dub along the way.
I’ve been clamoring about Darvish’s chaotic nature, where looking at his strike zone plots and observing his starts have come with duress. Pitches seemingly go where they want to, and the idea of sequencing and utilizing his pitches in their best form gets thrown out the window instead favoring making pitches move as filthy as possible, then suddenly an easy cutter or fastball comes over the plate to save him from walks.
But last night was different. His slider wasn’t the McFilth, but instead, it was spotted, landing down-and-gloveside. His curveball earned strikes inside the zone. The four-seamer was used to elevate. His sinker was saved only to jam right-handers. This was Darvish PITCHING, not throwing and I can’t express the joy I got watching it unfold. This was the wish I made on the shooting star. People still do that, right?
His stuff is good enough that he doesn’t need to spin the most ridiculous breaker or whip out splitters. He just needs to focus on locating, following the rules of sequencing, and letting the stuff, even with a little off the gas pedal, do the rest. I believe in this approach so wholeheartedly and I can only hope he can keep it up in future outings.
Let’s see how every other SP did Friday:
Charlie Morton (ATL) vs CWS (W) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 83 pitches.
The curveball command was pristine, the four-seamer had few mistakes, and Morton cruised. I really do hope we can count on him more the rest of the way.
Julio Urías (LAD) @ NYM (W) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 36% CSW, 85 pitches.
12/20 called strikes on the curve is everything you need to know as the Mets once again allowed plenty of called strikes to get in their way. I don’t even think this is peak Urías with his changeup and fastball often missing their spots. But hey, we keep it going.
Corbin Burnes (MIL) @ CIN (W) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 13 Ks – 21 Whiffs, 38% CSW, 102 pitches.
WELL HELLO THERE. That’s a Golden Goal for Corbin, earned heavily by a ton of foul balls and called strikes from his cutter (43% between them), allowing for the curve to wake up as a whiff pitch. We’re talking 9/30 hook whiffs and IT’S ABOUT DANG TIME. There’s still some work with the changeup (and I’d even argue cutter a little too as it wasn’t as low as often as we want), but watching him carve the Reds up like butter was pitching bliss. Please do it one more time and I’ll give you the AGA label back.
Miles Mikolas (STL) vs WSH (ND) – 3.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 34 pitches.
This one was suspended in the bottom of the third and was looking to be your standard “Mikolas finds a way in the most boring way possible” outing. So we carry on. I should note, he was chucking baseballs over a tick harder in this one, finally back to the 94 mph we’d seen in previous seasons. I wonder if that sticks around.
Graham Ashcraft (CIN) vs MIL (L) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 74 pitches.
Slider command was solid with a lot of loLoc%, the cutter was…its normal “whatever happens in the zone, stays in the zone” self. I still can’t get behind this sadly, but maybe I’m overlooking that the cutter doesn’t need to be great, just the slider. Nah, that breaks the Huascar Ynoa rule (don’t trust a two-pitch pitcher with an elite slider and non-elite #1 pitch) and I’m still out on Ashcraft.
Dean Kremer (BAL) vs MIA (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 97 pitches.
Welp, I guess we’re at the point of rostering Kremer and seeing how long this lasts. There were moments I was enamored with Kremer while watching this, though I did see a fair number of pitches get away from him as he isn’t the precise arm I want him to be. Suitman whispers in my ear The Dodgers?! Really?! Ugh, I can’t endorse that outing – Marlins to Dodgers causes WHIPlash – but we’ll be paying close attention. I wish I liked his overall command a touch more to suggest stashing him through that one, since if he goes off there, then it’ll be incredibly hard to get him after.
Ryne Nelson (ARI) @ TOR (ND) – 5.2 IP, 1 ER, 9 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 18% CSW, 97 pitches.
I want to give Nelson the Gold Star as he survived the Jays and did so with a well-spotted cutter throughout the night, even if they returned five hits (only two were in the zone!). I won’t tell you that Nelson as a four-seamer/cutter arm is legit for fantasy purposes, but it does help and means he requires less from his breakers (or changeup, remember that?) to become fantasy relevant again. I wonder how this evolves.
José Berríos (TOR) vs ARI (ND) – 5.1 IP, 1 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 90 pitches.
His velocity was up a tick and it didn’t really change much as Berríos was his normal 2023 self. Let it ride, let it ride.
Trevor Williams (WSH) @ STL (ND) – 2.2 IP, 1 ER, 1 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 42% CSW, 52 pitches.
Poor Williams, this was actually looking to be fantastic for those who desperately streamed him and it was cut short by the rain, suspended for another day. That’s baseball, Suzyn.
Austin Gomber (COL) vs NYY (W) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 78 pitches.
His heater and slider were each up over a tick and he was pretty dang good save for a two-run shot to Stanton. Buuuuut yeah, that’s not enough praise to really consider this.
Sandy Alcantara (MIA) @ BAL (L) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 99 pitches.
We’re getting there. The changeup was much better in this one, landing armside and down nearly across all 34 changeups, but I didn’t love the fastball command as much, giving the Orioles more chances to put balls in play for hits than I would have liked. Still, he got through six with only two earned runs (one more unearned) and we keep on keeping on.
Eduardo Rodriguez (DET) @ SEA (W) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 88 pitches.
Much better this time around with Erod, nailing the edges with cutters and sinkers, while earning strikes with changeups and sitting 93 mph on the heater. This is what we want and we can feel good about him again. Well, for now.
Aaron Civale (CLE) @ TEX (ND) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 19% CSW, 79 pitches.
Honestly, this is fantastic given the scenario against Texas, especially with those low whiff and CSW marks. We move on, you weren’t supposed to start Civale here anyway.
Ross Stripling (SF) @ PIT (ND) – 4.2 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 72 pitches.
I questioned if the Giants would let Stripling go five, and they did, but he wasn’t able to make it through. He was better in this one with his command, but the changeup isn’t the elite pitch from last year and he’s only at 72 pitches. We hold off for now.
J.P. France (HOU) @ LAA (ND) – 4.1 IP, 2 ER, 9 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 91 pitches.
He got Singled Out but did a great job with cutters and four-seamers around the edges. Secondaries…not so much. He’s a Toby.
Rich Hill (PIT) vs SF (ND) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 91 pitches.
A VPQS for those that chased Hill ain’t so bad…right? I’m not in a QS league. Well then this gave you absolutely nothing. Yay.
Brayan Bello (BOS) @ CHC (W) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 93 pitches.
That’s nearly a VPQS and it’s okay when you understand he’s not growing in his skill set. We want that slider and four-seamer to do more and until then, we’re going to get starts like these mixed with the occasional excellence…and likely some duds.
Justin Verlander (NYM) vs LAD (L) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 2 Hits, 6 BBs, 6 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 104 pitches.
Yikes. Six walks?! He was booed, again, by the home crowd, which I don’t understand at all for many reasons, but mostly because it’s 3 ER in five frames, how can you be that upset at Verlander?! Anyway, his slider wasn’t there and the backup option of curveballs didn’t come through with just 9/20 strikes on its own. It’s not fun at all and I think I need to lower Verlander once again in the ranks. He’s a Holly, not a potential ace at this point. It’s hard to really see it all clicking into his former 2019 self, or even 2022 at this point.
Luis Castillo (SEA) vs DET (L) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 20% CSW, 91 pitches.
Aces gonna mostly ace. A little weird to see him go five frames on 91 pitches without a single walk, but the skills are still there and we’re cool here.
Cristopher Sánchez (PHI) vs SD (L) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 38% CSW, 79 pitches.
Honestly, against the Padres, the five strikeouts and a sub 1.00 WHIP with just one extra earned run is solid here. That sinker earned nineteen called strikes and if he could just get that dang changeup down, he would have fared even better. We’re up to 80 pitches now and I hope the Phils let him find the sixth constantly now as there could be a solid second-half run coming,
Ken Waldichuk (OAK) vs MIN (ND) – 3.2 IP, 3 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 74 pitches.
He’s getting the four-seamer up a little better, but there’s still a lot of work left to be done. I’m looking forward to that one great outing that allows us to scrutinize the follow-ups.
Kenta Maeda (MIN) @ OAK (ND) – 3.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 6 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 80 pitches.
Whoa, that ain’t it. The four walks got away from him and weren’t a product of overall chaos, though the slider wasn’t nearly as precise as we want it to be. I wouldn’t get too worried here and imagine the slider will not allow as much contact moving forward.
Jon Gray (TEX) vs CLE (ND) – 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 20% CSW, 88 pitches.
I’ve been saying that I’m hesitant to start Gray until we witness an outing that showcases his peak skills, which should set off a barreling train of dominance until the next station, usually three-four weeks away. This…wasn’t it, but maybe closer? He did spot a fair number of fastballs well, but the slider didn’t do what it normally does and some home runs got in the way of his six frames on the bump. You likely have to wait a while to feel good starting Gray, unfortunately, as he gets the Rays + Astros in his next two starts. Yikes.
Carlos Rodón (NYY) @ COL (L) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 88 pitches.
Womp womp. Coors is dumb, while the extra 2 ER dampen a decent WHIP and six strikeouts. Nine slider whiffs is great, seeing 88 pitches is better, and I think this is the last tune-up before we see Rodón become the starter we’ve waited over three months to roster. Get pumped.
Shohei Ohtani (LAA) vs HOU (L) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 94 pitches.
Apparently the blister is still affecting Ohtani, though I’m happy to see him go 35%+ sweeper again. As long as he’s starting, you start him.
Michael Kopech (CWS) @ ATL (L) – 0.2 IP, 4 ER, 1 Hits, 4 BBs, 0 Ks – 2 Whiffs, 16% CSW, 38 pitches.
Ah. This was a clear avoid with Atlanta being, well Atlanta, and Kopech’s volatility still very much present, but we didn’t expect this at all. He tugged so many pitches gloveside and couldn’t find his timing, and some days are like that. The Mets are next and while he still has a ceiling that makes for a weekend dart throw, it’s best to look past it.
Kyle Hendricks (CHC) vs BOS (L) – 4.2 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 84 pitches.
Hendricks did everything right with his sinker and four-seamer…but not with his changeup. I’ve been waiting for the curve to wake up and what’s made me cool starting Hendricks is that possible upside with a solid floor, on the condition that the heaters and changeup maintain their performance. So this is a whole lot of blegh. It’s a safe bet to expect the pitch to return as soon as the next start, but I feel you now, especially after the Yankee start that looks worse on paper than it actually was.
Game of the Day
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