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 Playback.tv weekday mornings from 10 am-12 pm ET.
Jack Flaherty (BAL) @ TOR (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks – 19 Whiffs, 37% CSW, 92 pitches.
It’s been a long time since we’ve truly felt excited to start Jack Flaherty. He’s held a sub 4.00 ERA just once since the start of 2020 and this year’s 4.43 ERA paired with an atrocious 1.55 WHIP hasn’t been all too convincing of a turnaround, even if he’s allowed just 10 ER across his last five games.
But today is a new day for Flaherty as he was dealt to Baltimore and was clearly excited to pitch for the AL East leaders as he dominated the Blue Jays for 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks – 19 Whiffs, 37% CSW, 92 pitches, including a shiny new Win to take home. That’s one way to make a new impression.
Flaherty hit 97 mph in the first frame and settled in at 94 mph for the game as the four-seamer waned in the final frames, but the real story was the cutter that suddenly went from a 10% usage pitch to 28% with the Orioles and returned a whopping 46% CSW on the evening. It wasn’t just “here it is, hit it”, we’re talking lovely down-and-gloveside location constantly, pushing it to 8/26 whiffs. That’s fantastic.
Throw in a curve that he relied on for strikes and a generally solid command with the four-seamer and you have yourself one h*ck of a debut. I’m not sure what to make of it given the obvious adrenaline rush that bolstered his velocity and we can’t expect another King Cole in the immediate future, but hey, this is a start. The cutter could be back and maybe the command is actually real? Unfortunately, he gets the Astros next and given how this was peak Flaherty, I have to preach caution there. It’s unlikely he’s as good as this.
Let’s see how every other SP did Thursday:
Brady Singer (KC) vs NYM (W) – 8.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 100 pitches.
We saw slider perfection last time out and given the Cherry Bomb nature of Singer, I wrote it off. Well guess what, he essentially did it again. Now that’s some good pitchin’. So that’s a pair of outings in a row with impeccable sliders, you have to think he can do it a third…and yet, I don’t want to as it’s against the Red Sox. His recent stretch doesn’t overwrite history with Singer, but maybe there was a legit tweak on the slide piece to get this command. I hope so.
Shohei Ohtani (LAA) vs SEA (ND) – 4.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 59 pitches.
He left this one early with cramping in his right hand and you can breathe a little easier. Incredibly frustrating given his clear dominance, but let’s all be glad he’s okay. He was sitting two ticks harder and leaning 40% sweepers. I KNOW, I’M DEALING WITH IT TOO.
Julio Urías (LAD) vs OAK (W) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 22% CSW, 68 pitches.
Ahhhh, much better. The plan from the start was to pull him after five (don’t worry about the low pitch count) and it’s good to see his curve return a 48% CSW. Keep starting him, as you know.
Scott Alexander (SF) vs ARI (ND) – 1.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 0 BBs, 0 Ks – 1 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 7 pitches.
I love watching bullpen games. I love the moment to kick my feet up and know I am not needed. Wait, don’t you enjoy having purpose in life? I WAS DOING SO WELL.
Brandon Pfaadt (ARI) @ SF (L) – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 37% CSW, 84 pitches.
Each start, Pfaadt does something different. This time around, his sweeper went 85% strikes with 10/33 whiffs and that’s just plain dumb. It paved the way for this Gold Star while the four-seamer still fails to miss bats (2/26 whiffs) and the changeup is awfully mediocre with a sub-50 % strike rate. Do you want to buy that his sweeper is a 45% CSW pitch with an 80%+ strike rate forever? Didn’t think so.
Adrian Houser (MIL) vs PIT (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 95 pitches.
Oh look, he chucked fastballs over the plate and it worked. Yay. To his credit, the sinker is an 80th+ percentile PLV offering, but everything else is definitively not. At least he lowered his 1.57 WHIP on the year.
Michael Lorenzen (PHI) @ MIA (W) – 8.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 101 pitches.
The dude just doesn’t let up. A lot of hittable pitches found gloves as Lorenzen took down another middling offense (to be fair, I thought they may be slightly above average now, but maybe not) and guess what? He gets the Nationals next. The dude is pitching on easy mode and you have to love it.
Sonny Gray (MIN) @ STL (W) – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 8 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 36% CSW, 77 pitches.
The sweeper fanned a ton in this one as the four-seamer, sinker, and curve did their part inside the zone. I’ll take that from Sonny any day (zero walks!) and I hope it sticks around. Probably won’t, though.
Bryan Woo (SEA) @ LAA (ND) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 83 pitches.
I was a bit scared of this start given the Angels’ improved lineup and Woo’s lack of four-seamer domination. Well, we got what we wanted with seven four-seamer whiffs + solid sinkers armside and it was enough to produce for those who let him fly. Okay, this has to be the last start now…right? Or are they just going to shut him down like the old days instead of the mid-season slowdown? He’d get the Padres next if so, and I guess that’s okay given the four-seamer returning back to normal here.
Jameson Taillon (CHC) vs CIN (W) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 92 pitches.
Taillon was a bit Singled Out but came through otherwise and that makes it 7 ER across his last five starts. Props to him for that, and yet I still can’t buy it. OH COME ON. Hey, feel free to Vargas Rule it if you want, but I’m telling you he will falter at least once against the Mets and Jays next. There just isn’t enough excellence in what he does.
Clarke Schmidt (NYY) vs HOU (ND) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 82 pitches.
I actively ran the other way and Schmidt made me look silly as he survived the Astros…while pitching far from his best. The curve and cutter were wild as anything and he’s fortunate his zone-heavy sweeper wasn’t squared up more often. I still find it hard to buy into Schmidt, as much as I want to.
JP Sears (OAK) @ LAD (L) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 95 pitches.
Hey, that could have been a lot worse. Sadly, the sweeper wasn’t nearly as good as we saw last time out and now he gets Texas. Welp, I’ll see you for the Cardinals and Royals after that.
Max Scherzer (TEX) vs CWS (W) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 9 Ks – 21 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 105 pitches.
Aces gonna ace and earn a Gallows Pole to show off for his new friends. Well, also a VPQS that keeps his ERA above 4.00, but we’ll forget about that with the Win. Does he actually deserve the AGA label? That’s a good question and I’ll say yes. I still think he’s a high-floor arm with legit strikeout and Win potential. We expect success.
Cristian Javier (HOU) @ NYY (ND) – 4.2 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 102 pitches.
Blegh. I really wanted to believe that the poor Yankee morale would lift Javier, but it was around 40% strikes on the slider and that is, once again, atrocious. You’re so dang close and you don’t even know it. The four-seamer is still dang good, it just needs help.
Kevin Gausman (TOR) vs BAL (L) – 4.1 IP, 3 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 103 pitches.
Ouch. Velocity was there, splitter whiffs were there, luck was not. It’s kinda wild how far we’ve come that I completely forgot getting Singled Out was Gausman’s whole schtick for a while. Please don’t come back.
Johnny Cueto (MIA) vs PHI (L) – 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 100 pitches.
Johnny Be Meh. Fantastic pitch separation that did create a decent WHIP, but it wasn’t enough for Cueto. Cincy is next and that’s a clear bench. Noooo Johnny, No.
Touki Toussaint (CWS) @ TEX (L) – 5.1 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 4 BBs, 9 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 34% CSW, 98 pitches.
His putaway rate was stupid good and I don’t see that sticking around, while the rest of it was business as usual for Touki and the Rangers. I don’t think it’s enough to take a chance against the Yankees next.
Luke Weaver (CIN) @ CHC (L) – 3.0 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 5 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 83 pitches.
Blegh. I actually do think Weaver is trying the Canibal McSanchez, but he didn’t nail it and the four-seamer was all over the place. I hope Weaver figures it out eventually, he’s too chill not to have it work out. In the podcast we did with him in 2020, I remember him saying “You’re either born as a spin guy or a changeup guy”. He was a changeup guy for years and to see him try to make spin work now is pretty fun.
Matthew Liberatore (STL) vs MIN (L) – 5.2 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 22% CSW, 93 pitches.
Yuuuuuup. At least it’s 93 mph and not 92, but it’s not 94/95.
Carlos Carrasco (NYM) @ KC (L) – 6.0 IP, 6 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 0 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 19% CSW, 74 pitches.
You thought because it was Kansas City that you were safe. THINK AGAIN. The same thought? No, a different one. Seriously?
Mitch Keller (PIT) @ MIL (L) – 5.0 IP, 8 ER, 9 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 90 pitches.
It was a Dennis Nick. Why didn’t you realize it. I DON’T KNOW. The idea that I came up with a term specifically for what Keller did last start and didn’t listen to it is…bad. Sorry y’all, I believed too much in how he recovered against the Phillies and I hate everything. It’s time to let go. Buuut. IT’S ATLANTA NEXT. Okay…okay.
Game of the Day
But Nick?! Where are the streaming picks? – I’ve moved them to the daily SP Matchups & Streamer Rankings article.
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Photo by Gerry Angus/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)