Spark Ranger

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.  

Ranger Suárez (PHI) @ PIT (ND) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 84 pitches.

I know, it’s another starter getting featured after a great start against the Pirates – Nick, IT’S THE PIRATES – but I had to talk a bit about Ranger Suárez after going 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 84 pitches on Saturday. After a horrible first half, Suárez is starting to correct the ship, hinting at the stellar 12 starts we saw at the end of 2021.

His ERA has fallen to 3.60 after three straight starts of 0 ER as his changeup has finally returned the whiffs we missed from last year, holding a 22% SwStr rate here and pairing it with stellar command on the edges with sinkers, four-seamers, and cutters.

What I’m trying to say is he’s essentially a Vargas Rule as he executes what Martín Pérez has done this year: changeups armside and down with heaters + cutters along both edges and avoiding the heart of the plate. It’s the soul of a Vargas Rule, and Ranger has been executing it so dang well. He gets the Nationals next and that could be more of the same. Ride this until it Bailey falters again.

 

Let’s see how every other SP did Saturday:

 

Carlos Carrasco (NYM) @ MIA (W) – 7.2 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 93 pitches.

Carrasco had both the change and slider working (45% CSW on the slider) and suddenly has a 3.71 ERA after flirting with a 4.50 at the break. Welcome to the weirdness of baseball. Let’s hope that 1.31 WHIP can fall too…

Ian Anderson (ATL) vs ARI (W) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 35% CSW, 97 pitches.

Ohhhh so this is the start you elect to do well? Cool, can you let me know next time? No? WELL THEN WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO. Don’t lean on this one, he’s a Cherry Bomb who’s usually a PEASIt feels destined to crumble again.

Paul Blackburn (OAK) @ CWS (ND) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 62 pitches.

Lovely recovery for Blackburn after an array of nightmarish outings across the last month. Sadly, the curve wasn’t a part of the equation, and considering that is what made him tick when he was successful, I’m not ready to jump back in on this 56% sinker/20% cutter approach, even against the Giants next.

Jakob Junis (SF) vs CHC (ND) – 4.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 74 pitches.

Hmmmm, I’m sad it was just four frames against the lowly Cubs, but I enjoy seeing 28% changeups in the mix. I imagine if the slider was a bit more like its best self and not this 19% CSW version, you would have seen 5+ innings of production. If he recovers his slider against the Dodgers next, then maybe we’ll consider a start in San Diego.

Mitch Keller (PIT) vs PHI (ND) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 86 pitches.

Man, I really wish Dean Kremer didn’t sway me to remove the streaming stage from Keller. Sigh. Anyway, I don’t truly buy what Keller is doing – the velocity is down, his slider returned 1/16 whiffs, the four-seamer isn’t missing bats, and his curveball is so dang volatile – I’ll give props to his sinker command up-and-armside as it generated a few whiffs and outs. The Orioles aren’t the toughest team around to face next, and maybe it keeps working. But then again, this was three walks and a 1.33 WHIP with just three strikeouts. It doesn’t seem like the ceiling is worth it, does it?

Drew Hutchison (DET) @ TOR (ND) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 68 pitches.

Ummmm yeah I ain’t buying it. 0/19 slider whiffs, meh fastball command, and a changeup all over the place. Naaaaaah.

Sonny Gray (MIN) @ SD (W) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 79 pitches.

Yeah that works for me. The slider + curve returned 3/30 whiffs though…not so much. At least the curve is earning a ton of called strikes, though, with a 70% strike rate overall, while the four-seamer pumped the zone effectively. I just want that overwhelming pair of breakers like the old days. He gets a major challenge against the Jays next and I’m incredibly hesitant about it.

Eric Lauer (MIL) @ BOS (W) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 94 pitches.

He’s a Cherry Bomb who was…neither? That’s a good ERA and Win, but just four Ks and a poor 1.40 WHIP ain’t fun. The heater was super low at 92.2 mph in this one and I think he got away with this. Good news: The Pirates are next and we can still let him fly there despite the concerns. It’s the Pirates.

Johnny Cueto (CWS) vs OAK (ND) – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 19% CSW, 97 pitches.

Because of course he did. That lowers his ERA to 2.86 and you gotta tip your cap to him despite sitting 180th among all starters in CSW this year. The Rangers could rough him up, so don’t force yourself into a Vargas Rule if you don’t have to.

Joe Musgrove (SD) vs MIN (L) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 96 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. The slider wasn’t the main guy here, with the curve stepping up for 41% CSW and catalyzing this one. That’s a 2.65 ERA with a 0.99 WHIP this year. Gotta love it.

Tyler Mahle (CIN) vs BAL (W) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 98 pitches.

What a wonderful audition for Mahle as he’s likely to be dealt at the deadline. I’m happy for him to have his potentially last home game come out so dang well. He deserves that for all the hate thrown his way over the years, you know?

Chris Flexen (SEA) @ HOU (ND) – 5.1 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 4 BBs, 1 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 16% CSW, 94 pitches.

A decent ERA against the Astros but a poor WHIP and just one strikeout (HAISTBMBWT?!) with four walks? Weird Flexen, but okay. The Mariners rotation is a little weird with Luis Castillo showing up, but he’ll very likely go against the Angels next and that’s fine with me.

Nestor Cortes (NYY) vs KC (W) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 90 pitches.

Ehhh sure. The WHIP is meh, but everything else is cool and okay, I’m cool. The four-seamer went 9/43 whiffs so we’re all good here. CARRY ON.

Nick Neidert (MIA) vs NYM (L) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 82 pitches.

Huh, he survived. I don’t think this is the next Marlins ridiculousness like Braxton or Sandy or Luzardo or whatever, but we may see more of him with Rogers on the IL and a possible trade on the horizon. We’ll talk about him vs. the Cubs later this week, which I’m leaning avoid but there’s a chance as that lineup will be depleted.

Ross Stripling (TOR) vs DET (ND) – 4.1 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 58 pitches.

Pretty shocking to see him get pulled in the fifth here. He had a rough inning, sure, but let the man get out of it. He’ll likely get the Twins next, after not taking advantage of this luscious Tigers matchup and that’s a no from me dawg.

Dakota Hudson (STL) @ WSH (ND) – 4.1 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 83 pitches.

The Dime gave you absolutely nothing here with just one strikeout (“HAISTBMBWT?”, there’s a lot of that today) and blegh ratios. You can do better.

Framber Valdez (HOU) vs SEA (ND) – 7.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 106 pitches.

Sure, one extra run scored, but it’s weird to see the ERA high and WHIP low from Framber, while the seven strikeouts are very welcome. The dude just keeps being a stable rock and I thank him for that. I love it when I’m wrong like this: His WHIP has been so much better than I expected.

Kyle Freeland (COL) vs LAD (W) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 98 pitches.

If you took a chance on this, wow. Congrats. His curveball was absurd at 8/25 whiffs and I wouldn’t bank on that repeating – it’s the highest of the year and only the second time above four whiffs in a game (even if he’s earned a few more across the last four starts than before). Happy Birthday Party.

Clayton Kershaw (LAD) @ COL (L) – 5.1 IP, 3 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 92 pitches.

TATIAGA was close to making it work in Coors, but couldn’t quite do it. Womp womp. Okay y’all, I’ll stop ranking Kershaw highly in the daily rankings when in Coors. I get it.

Corey Kluber (TB) vs CLE (W) – 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 10 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 37% CSW, 89 pitches.

Sometimes you can pitch super well, earn a King Colecollect ten strikeouts, and disappoint. Stupid Dusty Donuts, why don’t they take care of their pastries better? Thankfully he gets Detroit next. Phew.

Glenn Otto (TEX) @ LAA (ND) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 73 pitches.

Even against the Angels, he’s not Otto-matic. You’ve made that joke before. AND IT’S STILL GREAT.

Nick Pivetta (BOS) vs MIL (L) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 9 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 99 pitches.

I know some of you were still intrigued, but we can all collectively get off this train now, yeah? We’ve been sitting at the final stop for the past hour and they need to clean the dang thing.

Paolo Espino (WSH) vs STL (ND) – 4.2 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 70 pitches.

H’ok, so we’re up to 70 pitches now as my oddly specific dream of streaming Espino by the end of August creeps closer. But he was terrible. Yeah yeah, sure, I’m not streaming him today. Let me dream.

Corbin Martin (ARI) @ ATL (L) – 4.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 89 pitches.

I’m glad he flipped the K/BB this time around as his four-seamer hinted at its rookie-season self, but he has a whole lot of work left to do with the secondaries and overall command. Don’t chase it yet.

Jonathan Heasley (KC) @ NYY (L) – 3.1 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 76 pitches.

Just one strikeout (HAISTBMBWT?!) and struggling through ten outs is everything we expected. No offense, Heasley. None taken. Just like your pitches as they destroyed them instead. OKAY NOW TAKEN.

Zach Plesac (CLE) @ TB (L) – 5.0 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 92 pitches.

It’s rare to see a Gallows Pole winner hold some of the worst ratios of the day. You’d think the heaters were the problem, but his slider and changeup returned the most hits as they were floated and walloped. Sadly it’s the Astros next and those mistakes will continue to get punished, which seems like a proper sit. Get excited for the Tigers after, though.

Chase Silseth (LAA) vs TEX (ND) – 4.0 IP, 5 ER, 5 Hits, 4 BBs, 5 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 78 pitches.

Yeaaaah, he’s not there yet. Fastball was down 1.5 ticks to a pedestrian 93.8 mph and the splitter returned just four whiffs. This is a Frozen Banana and let’s move on.

Drew Smyly (CHC) @ SF (L) – 4.0 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 87 pitches.

Soooo the curve earned all eleven of those whiffs and I think he had some excellent pitch separation with sinkers up, but he made too many mistakes ultimately across all three pitches as that cutter was baaad. I can’t help but wonder if there is some upside here to chase in these lost August games if you’re sneaky enough, like his next start against the Marlins – that curve is cooking for two starts in a row now.

Dean Kremer (BAL) @ CIN (L) – 4.1 IP, 6 ER, 10 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 88 pitches.

Oh dear. That’s the Kremer I know and hate from 2021, and despite earning fastball and cutter whiffs, he couldn’t avoid the longball, nor getting Singled Out. Poor fella. Thing is, he gets the Pirates next and I’m kinda still in for that, despite how bad this was. I mean, THE PIRATES. (I know, there was a theme today, BUT IT’S TRUE)

 

Game of the Day 

Shane McClanahan vs. Cleveland Guardians – The man is must-see entertainment. Watch it.

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.

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