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Sonny Darko

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.  

Sonny Gray (MIN) @ TEX (L) – 4.2 IP, 5 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 0 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 82 pitches.

What are we to make of Sonny GrayI think the nebulous grasp of Sonny is a sub 4.00 ERA with a decent WHIP and 25%+ strikeout rate, which is all fine and good, but what you don’t see is the volatility that comes start-to-start when looking at season numbers. That chaos was on display against Texas yesterday with a final line of 4.2 IP, 5 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 0 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 82 pitches and normally I’d brush it off…but there is a concerning trend here.

With this strikeout-less outing (“HAISTMBMWT?!”), Gray has failed to fan more than five batters in any of his last six starts. He’s earned just 23 whiffs total on his slider + curve in that time, averaging fewer than 4 per start between them. If you know Gray, you know his success hinges on these offerings – not on his fastballs + cutter.

I want to believe that it’s just one of his rough patches and that he’ll come around soon enough and a date with the White Sox next should be better, but then again, this was the Rangers. And before it was the Royals, Mariners, Guardians x2, and Orioles. I’m worried.

 

Let’s see how every other SP did Friday:

 

Zack Wheeler (PHI) @ STL (W) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 22% CSW, 97 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. Is this because I put Sandy ahead of you? Can’t say I’m complaining.

Reid Detmers (LAA) @ BAL (ND) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 91 pitches.

Is Detmers back?! I really wish I could lead the parade, but it’s not quite there yet. I like that he’s trying to lean more on sliders these days (40% usage!), but just 4/39 whiffs isn’t quite it, while he wasn’t all too precise with it & and the curve. It’s a new breaker, though, with the slider coming in three ticks harder and it feels super close. His heater was elevated well, too, and it worked, I just wonder if it’s actually something real and not a night where things went his way. Some pitches were great, others not so much, and there’s still work to be done. Absolutely encouraging and I’m watching closely now.

Keegan Thompson (CHC) @ LAD (ND) – 5.2 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 96 pitches.

Hot dang, look at you! I’ve been all over the place with Thompson, from embracing his 17 whiff outing to jumping off the ship heading into this Dodgers start, and now…I don’t know? Despite the eight strikeouts and overall dominance here, I wonder how much I should buy into this heater. I wouldn’t say Keegan located the pitch particularly well, and that offering was the catalyst for what you see above. It feels like a start against Baltimore should be fruitful after defeating the Dodgers but is that a trap? I can’t make up my mind and kinda want to say avoid. I guess feel free to Vargas Rule until there’s something more definitive…? What do I know.

Luis Castillo (CIN) vs TB (ND) – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 108 pitches.

He sat 98 mph on the four-seamer here, continuing his trend of favoring four-seamers heavily over sinkers as the prominent heater went 9/45 whiffs. I know this sounds weird, but I think there’s another level above this as BABIP went in Castillo’s favor + he was able to put away batters efficiently here. I wonder if I should be showing him more love with his sub 3.00 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, and 25% strikeout rate. Maybe…

Aaron Civale (CLE) @ KC (ND) – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 91 pitches.

Ayyyy it worked! Civale went two-thirds cutters and curveballs, spotting the cutter on the edges while the hook was brilliantly placed low with ease. I’m starting to buy this, ya’ll, and I’m excited to see him against the ChiSox on Wednesday.

Shane McClanahan (TB) @ CIN (ND) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 36% CSW, 95 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. Just 12 whiffs? You’re slacking, McShane. Enjoy the #2 spot on Monday.

Blake Snell (SD) vs SF (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 11 Ks – 21 Whiffs, 36% CSW, 108 pitches.

Oh hey Snell, that’s a Golden Goal as you obliterated the Giants, earning 11+ strikeouts for the second straight start. The changeup is in timeout (just 3/108 thrown! YES!) as Snell pounded the zone with four-seamers and earned strikes with sliders + curves. THIS. IS. THE. WAY. Okay, great, now who does he get nex—OH COME ON, COORS?! Two straight starts of dominance and looking like his August 2021 self vs. you know, Coors. That’s a tough one, y’all. I kinda want to do it anyway. Regardless, he’s getting a major bump on The List on Monday and I sure hope this is here to stay.

Pablo López (MIA) @ NYM (W) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 93 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. You still have it Pablo, great job keeping the changeup down and the only run came from an inside cutter that Nimmo was able to hook down the line. All is well here.

Adam Wainwright (STL) vs PHI (L) – 9.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 103 pitches.

Another complete game from Waino, though you don’t want to see it with L attached. Stupid Wheeler. I’d be careful against the Dodgers next – Wainwright has been solid but isn’t one to survive tough opponents with regularity.

Charlie Morton (ATL) vs WSH (W) – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 105 pitches.

Morton is a new man and approaches AGA territory with his consistency over the last month, save for a misstep two starts ago. I imagine he’ll have it by the end of July.

Chris Bassitt (NYM) vs MIA (L) – 6.1 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 99 pitches.

Great to see Bassitt get back on the horse after his COVID spell, still leaning on his sliders + cutters about 40% of the time. Let’s hope the AGA label returns soon.

Tarik Skubal (DET) @ CWS (W) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 91 pitches.

FINALLY. I think all it took was for me to place you in the dang bottom tier for a day for you to snap out of it. His slider and changeup were plenty better, nearing 40% CSW on each as the heaters did work in and out of the zone. I wouldn’t say he’s completely fixed – it wasn’t one of those magical strikezone plots n whatnot – but you can feel much better about starting him against the Royals next week as we worship our little statues of 2012 Kris Medlen that this wasn’t a Dennis

Aaron Ashby (MIL) vs PIT (W) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 72 pitches.

Okay that’s better. We’ll take it, though he’s not there yet and I’d be cautious as he faces the Giants next. He did a much better job locating his sinkers and changeups in this one, though the slider labored out of the zone, wasting far too many pitches. He’s pretty close, though (I loved the select four-seamers that were elevated with intent!), and a major breakout outing could be around the corner. Keep holding.

Ross Stripling (TOR) @ SEA (ND) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 94 pitches.

Atta boy Strip. You struggled against the Rays last time and did well to make that look like an outlier…kinda. That is a 1.60 WHIP, after all, but the changeup was working and now you’re headed to a start against the Royals that will earn you a solid spot in the Questionable Start tier.

George Kirby (SEA) vs TOR (ND) – 4.1 IP, 2 ER, 10 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 88 pitches.

This was a challenge for Kirby and I’m sad to see him get Singled Out here. Without a major whiff secondary, he does open the door to that often, especially against a team like the Jays. Just 4/43 whiffs across non-fastballs is just the way it is.

José Urquidy (HOU) @ OAK (W) – 8.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 20% CSW, 98 pitches.

It’s an awfully lacking Urquidy outing despite the eight frames as he once again leaned heavily on the four-seamer to get the job done. It doesn’t inspire the kind of confidence I want to have with Urquidy (aren’t you a kitchen sink guy?) but he’ll get the Athletics again and you’re obviously starting him again.

Brady Singer (KC) vs CLE (ND) – 7.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 100 pitches.

Ahhh, the realistic ceiling of Singer. Sure, there will be better starts, but this is what a rational manager would hope for from Singer. Nothing new, sadly, and we can only hope it’s more of the same against the Tigers…maybe with a Win.

Tyler Anderson (LAD) vs CHC (ND) – 7.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 94 pitches.

Anderson is a Toby and you’re supposed to easily start him here. 3 ER in 7 IP seems fine with me as the changeup was on point with 9/37 whiffs. Next up are the Cards and we’ll still on this train, obviously.

Jon Gray (TEX) vs MIN (W) – 5.1 IP, 3 ER, 9 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 98 pitches.

In the battle of the cows lazily eating grass (you know, The Grays), Jon came out on top with a Dusty Donut of a Win and 8 strikeouts. The Twins are a strong offense and I’ll take that, with his fastball now at 96.6 mph and his slider earning 38% CSW. The dude is ON FIRE. I wonder what the Rangers would get on the trade market if they dealt him as he’s in the first year of a 4/$56M deal. Very unlikely, but I’ve seen weirder.

JT Brubaker (PIT) @ MIL (L) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 5 BBs, 6 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 100 pitches.

That’s the life of starting Coffee Cakes. He’s not polished enough to cut these kinds of outings from his routine, but then again, it could work out against the Marlins next. It’s an NL-Only play.

Tyler Wells (BAL) vs LAA (ND) – 4.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 81 pitches.

Ah. It’s the real Tyler. Far worse command here with a ton in the heart of the plate with sliders and four-seamers and a spotty change. He’s a Toby at best and a decent chance against the Rays next.

Sam Long (SF) @ SD (L) – 2.1 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 37 pitches.

The Giants are trying to figure out what to do with Anthony DeScalfani’s slot in the rotation and I don’t believe Long is the answer. Maybe a comedy legend named Martin would be better?

Zac Gallen (ARI) vs COL (ND) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 86 pitches.

Bleeeeegh. I gave Gallen a large drop on Monday and I hate that this start justified it. His changeup/cutter/slider returned just 2/18 CSW and the curve didn’t do a whole lot as he tried to power through with heaters. This isn’t the Gallen way, y’all. WE NEED THOSE SECONDARIES.

Chad Kuhl (COL) @ ARI (W) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 87 pitches.

Even on the road, you get a hefty serving of the Kuhl WHIP.

Nestor Cortes (NYY) @ BOS (ND) – 3.2 IP, 4 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 73 pitches.

Blegh. The charm has been wearing off across the last month, though his previous outing gave me hope he could rise above the Sawx here. He also sat more than a tick higher across the board here and I wouldn’t call his command poor as he sat on the edges, though he didn’t elevate fastballs quite like he normally does. Expect a bounce-back against the Reds next.

Lucas Giolito (CWS) vs DET (L) – 6.2 IP, 5 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 94 pitches.

Ugggggh. What a Careful, Icarus as Giolito tossed five shutout frames, allowed two in the sixth, then earned two outs before the next three reached and the bullpen allowed the final two to come in. We were so close. 67% strike rate on his slider is plenty better and I really don’t think his stuff lacked here. Still a great buy low as it just didn’t work out at the very end of this one.

Paul Blackburn (OAK) vs HOU (L) – 4.0 IP, 6 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 86 pitches.

I mean, it was the Astros and Blackburn is a TobyYou know the rules and so do I.

Connor Seabold (BOS) vs NYY (L) – 2.2 IP, 7 ER, 9 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 71 pitches.

Yeaaaaaah, that’s likely the end of Seabold’s run in the rotation with Chris Sale returning next week. It was…interesting?

Erick Fedde (WSH) @ ATL (L) – 3.0 IP, 8 ER, 8 Hits, 3 BBs, 1 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 75 pitches.

Remember kids, Don’t Trust The Feddes.

 

Game of the Day 

 

Alek Manoah vs. Robbie Ray – It’s the hopefully AGA game for Ray while Manoah is often a fun time. Let’s hope his velocity is back.

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 “Sonny Darko”

  1. Joe Mulvey says:

    Thank you for the fun, informative Roundup. I think Grays are horse, not cows. You may need to mooove a word or two.

  2. B says:

    I’m in a 8 team league and my rotation is Morton, Sandoval, Kirby, wheeler, gallen, Jon gray, gore, strider, musgrove, and Lynn. I am considering the possibility of dropping Kirby to get Blake snell back (dropped him before the 2 last starts, of course), what do you think? Do you think there is someone else? (Also, lodolo is available is there anyone to drop for him that you think?) Thanks and thanks for the roundups, I wait everyday for them after all the games end.

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