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The Charlie Course

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Wednesday.

Welcome to the SP Roundup, my daily fantasy baseball article reviewing every starting pitcher’s performance from every Wednesday 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.  

Charlie Morton vs CHC (ND) – 2.1 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 1 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 70 pitches.

Across his first six starts of 2021, Charlie Morton held a 5.08 ERA, given a productive performance to trusting managers just twice across those five weeks. The thing is, after that dreadful commencement to the season, Morton held a 2.96 mark across his final 27 games. Why am I telling you this? Because after today’s rough 2.1 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 1 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 70 pitches performance, Morton holds a 7.00 ERA across his first four games. It’s not fun and you’re scared as to what to do.

It’s pretty clear I’m telling you to hold. Morton’s velocity is still right where it should be as it flirts with 95 mph and his curveball is still a strong breaker. Is the command off? Absolutely, but he’ll iron this out. He’s done so before and he’ll do so again — I’d be more worried if the velocity were down or his curveball was simply gone from the picture. This isn’t the case and while it’s hard as h*ck to endure your anxiety and let it pass through you, it’s the same course of action we took last year. It’ll pay off.

 

Let’s see how every other SP did Wednesday:

 

Joe Ryan vs DET (W) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 90 pitches.

Hot dang, look at you! Ryan has held his 92/93 mph velocity and lived in the top half of the zone with his famous heater while keeping his slider down and arm-side for the full outing. I don’t think he’s this good for the long haul, but it’s times like these we all hope we took a shot on JR.

Zac Gallen vs LAD (ND) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 90 pitches.

Are you not entertained? I’m loving Gallen’s near 95 mph velocity right now as his four-seamer continues to carve outs, but I am still waiting for his cutter and changeup to show up again in full. I know it’s in there…At least the curveball is fine in the meantime. Don’t doubt yourself starting Gallen again.

Drew Rasmussen vs SEA (W) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks – 19 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 84 pitches.

Ahhhhhhh THERE HE IS. I’d essentially written him off after his April has looked awfully like this 2021 fall self (just without the fortunate BABIP), but here’s the man we were promised in the off-season. It’s PLENTY different from last year: Instead of relying so heavily on four-seamers, he reduced the pitch to just 23% usage, instead relying on cutters and sliders for 17 whiffs across 68% usage. Those pitches were filthy and he commanded them super well, rarely letting them float up and instead kept them down and glove-side consistently. If this is what we get every start from Drew, yeah, he’s all kinds of dope. I’d pick him up just to see if the approach sticks — he’s got Oakland next, what’s the worst that can happen?

Paul Blackburn @ SF (W) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 84 pitches.

He’s a Toby with his kitchen sink approach and I’m glad it worked again here but I’m still iffy that this is something you want to lean into. Feel free to Vargas Rule this against the Rays, if that’s your jam — none of his five pitches today earned a CSW above 25%. Wild considering they averaged 24% as a crew.

Mark Leiter Jr. @ ATL (ND) – 2.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 0 Ks – 0 Whiffs, 9% CSW, 45 pitches.

Well kids, this is what happens when you have a Leiter with no gas. Zero. Whiffs.

Dillon Peters vs MIL (ND) – 2.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 Hits, 1 BBs, 0 Ks – 0 Whiffs, 14% CSW, 21 pitches.

Peters opened for Bryse Wilsonwho went four frames of shutout ball. No full pitching line? Nah. But what did he actu— I said NAH. There’s nothing of note here for you to take the chance.

Pablo López @ WSH (W) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 84 pitches.

He just keeps cruising along despite being mostly two-pitch with changeups and four-seamers. Don’t question it, just enjoy it at this point. I still can’t help but dream of a day when PabLó turns today’s 0/4 strike curveball into a legit weapon. Man, that would be something.

MacKenzie Gore @ CIN (W) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 10 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 102 pitches.

Jeeeeez, if this is the last start we see of Gore, it’s one h*ck of a tease for the rest of the year. His slider was plenty better this time around with 41% CSW across 27 thrown, though it was just fastball/slider as the curve and change left a lot to be desired. You can add him if you want, but I imagine we’ll hear some news this week about Blake Snell and Mike Clevinger returning, but they each may take one more start before returning. We’ll see, Gore would be a “probable start” if he does in fact start against the Guardians next.

Marco Gonzales @ TB (L) – 0.1 IP, 1 ER, 1 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks – 2 Whiffs, 18% CSW, 11 pitches.

He took a liner to the wrist and left the game. Good news is X-Rays were negative and I’d imagine we see him for a start against the Astros next Monday.

Sam Long vs OAK (L) – 1.0 IP, 1 ER, 1 Hits, 0 BBs, 1 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 35% CSW, 17 pitches.

Long opened for Jakob Junis who is a major story today as he matched his previous outing against the Nationals with 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 64 pitches. Well, he matched the line but not the approach: He went slider/changeup heavy in the previous outing while he only tossed the slowball four times in this one. Four times! That thing was filthy last time, what on Earth happened? Seriously, I’m astounded at this. I thought Junis had found his calling, his major ticket on the mechanical stairs of ascension. Yet here he stood, going sliders 56% of the time (sweet!) and sinkers 30% (WHAT. WHY.). I don’t get it at all. I don’t think Junis can continue to rely just on the slider, even if it went 42% CSW and 75% strikes. Jakob, WHAT IS GOING ON.

Julio Urías @ ARI (ND) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 1 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 81 pitches.

We’re still living in 92/93 mph land, but Urías doesn’t seem to care. He should, given his drop in strikeouts as a result, but maybe we just need to accept him as a strong ratio guy first, strikeouts fourth. Fourth?! Yeah, I consider my family and friends second and third, then Urías strikeouts. I’m not a heathen.

Ross Stripling vs BOS (ND) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 37% CSW, 84 pitches.

Whoaaa a King Cole from Stripling?! Against the Sawx?! His changeup and four-seamer combo were spectacular, the curveball fell for 6/6 strikes, and even the sinker was effective inside the zone. Excellent pitch separation, including a slider that stuck to glove-side through the outing and did its part. Strip is set for the Yankees and Guardians next and maaaybe that’s fine? I dunno, it feels close to a Birthday Party as I haven’t seen Stripling at this level for a long time, but hey, it’s your Ross.

Aaron Ashby @ PIT (ND) – 5.2 IP, 1 ER, 1 Hits, 5 BBs, 6 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 36% CSW, 85 pitches.

Jeeeez, stop walking guys — your stuff is far too good to do that. Regardless, that’s a lovely outing from Ashby as he shockingly went 85 pitches. All of his secondaries did what we wanted (save for the slider at just 11/23 strikes. Blegh.) and I imagine the walks will disappear if he gets more starts. But will he? The Brewers seem to be giving him a start every other week for some reason and it’s driving me mad. Just let the kid get in rhythm!

Michael Wacha @ TOR (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 92 pitches.

Whoa whoa whoa, Wacha survived?! Again?! That’s just four ER allowed ALL SEASON from WachaHis changeup earned 8/26 whiffs, the fastball was up a tick to 93/94 (though not the peak 94/95 we saw last year) and somehow it flustered the Jays. Are you really going to Vargas Rule this one too? I’m not impressed enough and the Angels can mess a pitcher up quickly with the way Ward is hitting. I’d still stay away.

Shohei Ohtani vs CLE (W) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 86 pitches.

It’s not bad, just a little…disappointing after last week’s dominance over the Astros. The slider was still good, but just 1/20 whiffs is a bit odd. 0/11 CSW on splitters sure ain’t fun either. It’s pretty clear this was a bit of an off-night for Ohtani and to see him still come through should make you respect him even more. Yes, MORE.

Glenn Otto vs HOU (ND) – 4.1 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 79 pitches.

Ehhhh this isn’t the start I was hoping to see from Otto that would win over my trust for a start next week against the Phils. The slider and curveball were solid, but the four-seamer gives me pause at just 14% CSW. Sure, the Astros exist and whatnot, but this was Otto comme ci comme ça, not Otto bon.

Erick Fedde vs MIA (L) – 4.2 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 91 pitches.

Remember kids, don’t trust the Feddes. Even against the Marlins? Yes. Even against the Marlins.

Jordan Montgomery vs BAL (ND) – 5.2 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 37% CSW, 71 pitches.

This wasn’t Jordan at his Rudes(s)t, more like Jordan as a wizard as he hit all the keys at the right time to make some lovely melodies despite not having the same hooks he normally brings to the table. Did you just make an elongated Dream Theater joke? Sure did, all for those three readers who get it. I DID THIS FOR YOU. Keep starting The Bear as we’ve seen some better results lately from his sinker and his changeup was on point. I’m so happy his fastball can live in harmony with his secondaries. YOU’RE STILL GOING. Okay okay, I’ll stop.

Tyler Wells @ NYY (ND) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 72 pitches.

Sure, that’s a start. I’ll take outings I’ll forget by Friday for $400, Alex. It’ll always be Alex.

Cristian Javier @ TEX (W) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 84 pitches.

So we got a taste of Javier in the rotation and I’m in shock he went 84 pitches — the man went sub 60 in each of his last two appearances. It was enough to earn a Win as his four-seamer earned whiffs and the slider was…not its best. If he’s sticking around in the rotation, it would mean Javier gets the Mariners next and I’d expect him to be a little better with his breaker there. Why not, let’s see what happens.

Dylan Cease vs KC (ND) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 9 Ks – 21 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 99 pitches.

That’s a Gallows Pole for Cease as he rung up the Royals nine times despite their lineup being one of the harder crews to punch out. His four-seamer was way better this time — 13/44 whiffs! — and the slider did its thang per usual. If only every start his heater could act like this. If only. Pretty interesting to see him lean so heavily glove-side in this start and it does make me slightly wonder if a tweak was made. We’ll see if it holds next time out.

Ranger Suárez vs COL (W) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 97 pitches.

PQS from Suárez? Yeah, what the h*ck. He’s looking awfully like a Toby these days and I’ll still hold out hope he can be more than that. I’m not banking on it, but a man can hope.

Zack Greinke @ CWS (ND) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 82 pitches.

Greinke tripled his strikeout total in this start, en route to a PQSAtta boy Greinke. Atta boy. He’s a Toby through-and-through at this point, plan accordingly.

Ryan Feltner @ PHI (L) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 84 pitches.

You don’t know who this is and today isn’t the day you learn about him. Pretty cool he earned seven strikeouts, though. Atta boy Ryan, I’m glad you Felt right.

Michael Pineda @ MIN (L) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 65 pitches.

Yeaaaah this is the line that his start last week felt like. He’s running on fumes right now, don’t trust this.

Steven Matz vs NYM (ND) – 4.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 97 pitches.

I’m stunned to see 17 whiffs from Matz and save for a rough second frame, he pitched pretty dang well here. That’s not fair, the second frame was 25% of his start! Sure sure sure, I’m just making it clear that putting up 4 ER in 4 IP isn’t a death sentence for a pitcher, you know? There was a path here for Matz to cruise through 5+ frames, but he hit a snag. It’s best to frame the outcome properly so we can make better decisions down the road, like Matz against the Royals next time out. That’s another “Questionable Start” and I don’t have major issues if you want to let him fly.

Vladimir Gutierrez vs SD (L) – 4.0 IP, 6 ER, 5 Hits, 6 BBs, 2 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 88 pitches.

The Reds have four legit pitchers in their rotation once Luis Castillo returns. I can’t help but wonder whether the Reds can find that dependable fifth starter or not — it sure isn’t Vlad.

Zach Plesac @ LAA (L) – 3.2 IP, 6 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 77 pitches.

Yeaaaaah, allowing a grand slam doesn’t help things, nor does failing to have your secondaries of old. He’s as cold of a Frozen Banana as it gets.

Carlos Carrasco @ STL (L) – 3.2 IP, 7 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 78 pitches.

Annnnnd that’s why I didn’t push Carrasco further up the rankings. We haven’t seen a start yet where both the slider and changeup performed at a high level and I’m still waiting after this one. It simply wasn’t the best that Carrasco has to offer and now he has to face Atlanta. I called it a possible Vargas Rule when I led with him over the weekend and this sure feels like the figurative brick wall that brings it to a screeching halt. Even Jason himself would say “Okay, I think that’s enough.” Now, I think Carrasco had some bad luck here that amplified the day, but that upcoming Atlanta start ain’t feeling great. Go with your gut — he can still go six frames after all. I’m sitting this one out, personally.

Game of the Day 

Garrett Whitlock vs. Alek Manoah – It’s the path to AGA for Manoah while Whitlock could do something amazing to keep himself in the rotation.

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 Ethan Kaplan (@djfreddie10 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.

  • Joe says:

    Is it just me or is there unwarranted love for Nick Martinez floating around these parts? Why in the world would SD keep Martinez as part of the 6th and not their future in M Gore? You’re hesitant to say Gore is an ace, of course. He is not that yet, but to constantly think he will be sent down tomorrow and not worthy of a hold is a bit irrational.

  • Roger Wheeler says:

    FYI – the Twitch link at the top of the post is broken.

  • Shep says:

    It will always be Alex

  • cozmicdawg says:

    Dream Theater reference? This column has absolutely the highest Actionable Analysis & Entertainment Quotient (AA&E) in all of fantasy sports. THANK YOU.

  • Paul says:

    Thanks Nick for the elaborate Jordan Rudess / DT joke :-)

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