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The Picture of Gray

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Wednesday.

Sonny Gray vs CWS (ND) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 90 pitches.

I wanted to take a moment for everyone to take a huge sigh of relief and welcome Sonny Gray back into your arms after today’s 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks against the White Sox. His curveball did wonderful things by landing in the zone frequently, his sinker snuck in for called strikes and outs, and you have to love it on a day when he wasn’t quite feeling his slider.

It’s a short roundup focus, I know, but I think it’s important to make a point to establish Gray as a legit Top 25 starter again. Seriously, his curveball was as good as I’ve seen it and it should make you feel things. I felt things. The man has fanned 18 across his last two games and is ready to do it all over against the Pirates next week. H*ck, he’s even making me consider Coors in the game after. That’s where we’re at.

 

Let’s see how every other SP did Wednesday:

 

Shohei Ohtani vs TBR (ND) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 6 BBs, 7 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 84 pitches. It feels like he’s getting closer, now? Sure, the six walks ain’t it, but with them was a surprisingly decent amount of pitch efficiency, and that splitter is still doing great things. Even his curveball went 100% SwStr at a lovely 3-for-3. Let’s hope he can nullify the Astros next. That’ll be a difficult test and a tough decision. I’m leaning yes — it’s fantasy baseball and what’s more fun than Ohtani?

Ryan Yarbrough @ LAA (W) – 4.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 65 pitches. Ignoring Andrew Kittredge, the opener, The Fratty Pirate followed with a performance that can only be described as fine. You deserve more from your roster spot.

Chris Bassitt vs TOR (ND) – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 90 pitches. Like a slice of butter, Bassitt is on a roll, now dampening a powerful Jays lineup as he found strikes with cutters and changeups to go along with the obviously effective sinker that he always has. He needs to be higher on The List — not anything close to Top 40, but he needs to be higher.

Robbie Ray @ OAK (ND) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 9 Ks – 21 Whiffs, 40% CSW, 95 pitches. That’s three straight starts for Ray without a single walk after allowing nine across his first two. He’s still pumping 95/96 mph four-seamers confidently in the zone (38% CSW!) while he took steps forward with both breakers to return 10 whiffs across them, helping him earn a King Cole. This is it. This is the Robbie Cray we’ve been waiting to return for two seasons. Hold onto this one.

John Means @ SEA (W) – 9.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 Hits, 0 BBs, 12 Ks – 26 Whiffs, 35% CSW, 113 pitches.

John Means Business. The dude threw a “perfect game” with a dropped third strike, along with a Gallows Pole at 26 whiffs, steamrolling the Mariners and missing the Roundup headline only because I gave him the spotlight over opening weekend. The man’s changeup is everything I wanted it to be last season while his fastball sat along the edges at 93+ and even curveballs + sliders got in the mix at 33% combined CSW. He also went 26/27 on first-pitch strikes because duh. Means is dope and makes you feel dope. This may sound crazy, but I can’t raise him up The List too far as he demoralized the Mariners as he should have. Still, this is going as well as I could have ever hoped, and that’s a wonderful thing.

Ross Detwiler vs ARI (ND) – 2.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 52% CSW, 23 pitches.

Did you get the Deets? Why? This was a bullpen game.

Dallas Keuchel @ CIN (ND) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 1 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 18% CSW, 95 pitches.

Look at Dallas, one frame short of establishing the Minimalist Score of the year and showcasing to the crowd how a true Spider-Man performs. One strikeout — HAISTFMFWT?! against the Reds, no less. Yes, he can do it again.

Miguel Castro @ STL (ND) – 1.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 22 pitches.

GIVE ME AN M! M! GIVE ME AN E! E! GIVE ME A T! T! WHAT’S THAT SPELL? Bullpen game! WHAT’S THAT SPELL? Bullpen game!

Max Fried @ WSH (W) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 72 pitches.

I called this a Still ILL, rooted in its general principle that most games when returning from the IL come with a limited pitch count, let alone the slight dip in quality we often see when pitchers aren’t back in their rhythm. Super glad to see Fried back to normal here and making the most of 72 pitches. Curveballs landed for strikes and I’m glad to see it. Start him with confidence once again, and let’s just ignore the whole start of the season wonkiness.

Kwang-Hyun Kim vs NYM (ND) – 4.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 66 pitches.

Sup Kim. You couldn’t go just one more inning for us to at least qualify for a win? No? Just mediocre numbers across the board? K. He had two strikeouts, not one. Okay, Okay.

Casey Mize @ BOS (ND) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 4 BBs, 3 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 95 pitches.

Sure, it’s just one earned run, but are you really going to feel good about this when the man walked four and fanned just three? You know he’s not the pitcher of legend and he’s not doing anything to suggest otherwise. His heater sat 92.7 mph for Pete’s sake — that’s as standard as E-tuning.

Hyeon-Jong Yang @ MIN (ND) – 3.1 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 66 pitches.

You’re confused. I’m confused. We keep staring at that line of 8 strikeouts in 11 outs and wondering who did this and how. Yang was the mayor of value town, squeezing out strikes with his 89 mph four-seamer to get ahead, then getting a ton of terrible swings on his solid changeup. It worked surprisingly well and if he gets stretched out to 85+ pitches, there’s a solid Toby in there. Wait, just a Toby?! Yes, this is like Cole Irvin where the stuff just isn’t this good.

Walker Buehler @ CHC (ND) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 8 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 92 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. 10/16 whiffs came off four-seamers and sinkers because that’s what Buehler does. Imagine what the curveball and cutter are actually back. Wait, they’re not here right now? Nope. Wild, I know.

Martín Pérez vs DET (ND) – 5.2 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 91 pitches.

Ayyyy another solid stream in the books. Streaming Record: 21-11. Sure, the WHIP isn’t helping and you wanted a win, but that’s six strikeouts and a solid ERA. Now move on from Perez and let’s forget we ever had to do this.

JT Brubaker @ SD (ND) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 93 pitches.

I gotta stop pulling back the Coffee Cakes love, even if he gave you a 1.80 WHIP. That’s a solid 3.60 ERA and seven strikeouts against the Pirates as he sat 94 mph on sinkers. It’s what Singer wants to be doing with a sinker/slider combo, but it’s hard to make a slider this good. I guess I’m starting him for both the Reds and Giants next week, bring it on.

Jon Gray vs SF (W) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 38% CSW, 96 pitches.

Hot dang! Gray nearly had a King Cole as his slider was filth McGee against the Giants in Colorado. Yeah, the man survived Coors, and we couldn’t see it coming. It’s a spin-o-rama of the wheel with each start, and I’m sick and tired of playing his games. We know you’re off the team before August, just tell us where. I wouldn’t be rostering him until then.

Marcus Stroman @ STL (L) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 98 pitches.

It’s good to see Stroman having success with the slider still after his last start ended abruptly. 9/48 whiffs on the pitch here (49% usage!) and 35% CSW in total is exactly what you want, though it was strange to see him go essentially two-pitch with sinkers/sliders. He’s completely vacating the top third of the zone and I have to think there’s more he can do there in the long term. This works for now and we’ll see if he evolves. Oh my! Your Stroman turned into a STROMONSTER! 

Yu Darvish vs PIT (ND) – 5.2 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 35% CSW, 98 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. You couldn’t stave off the Philly, could ya, Darvish? Not for us?

Adbert Alzolay vs LAD (ND) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 79 pitches.

Alzolay got the Dodgers and I considered that a tough bench. Boy am I glad to see him excel despite circumstances, going heavy slider again, albeit at 42% this time instead of the 50-55% usage we’ve seen. It worked, his fastball was good enough, and we’re all happy. If you’re wondering what separates him from Huascar Ynoait’s about four ticks on his four-seamer. Oh. Yeah…Noooooo get out of here giant pitcher of sugar water. I JUST PAINTED THAT WALL.

Chase Anderson vs MIL (ND) – 4.1 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 2 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 22% CSW, 92 pitches.

Why do I feel like Chase allowing three ER is a win for him. I don’t like this feeling.

Jordan Montgomery vs HOU (ND) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 82 pitches.

The Bear had to endure the Astros, and I think we’ll all take a PQS in this one. His curveball took shape here with 41% CSW as he turned to it a third of the time, but there wasn’t much of a supporting cast. He’s still figuring this out, but his two-start week of the Rays + Orioles next week should have you interested. A pair of quality starts and wins could be ahead.

Lewis Thorpe vs TEX (L) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 80 pitches.

Lewis got the start and fired his Thorpedo at 90 mph for 36% CSW. I’m pretty impressed with that, but sadly he went 2/32 CSW on sliders + changeups. Yikes. There just isn’t enough here, sadly.

Shane Bieber @ KC (ND) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 9 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks – 26 Whiffs, 34% CSW, 105 pitches.

Aces gonna ace as Bieber earned a share of the Gallows Pole with some guy named Means. It’s a bit annoying to deal with a VVPQS along the way, especially against the Royals, but the man is going to collect and hold one of the highest IPS in the majors. That’s your top-tier arm.

Brady Singer vs CLE (ND) – 5.2 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 92 pitches.

Singer’s night came to a stretching halt in the sixth frame, leading to a tirade against Angel Hernandez as he was pulled. Regardless of the slight Careful, Icarus, I’m a bit disappointed that it’s the same ole boring Singer that makes me constantly rank him lower than most (or at least I assume based on comments, I don’t actually look at other Top 100 SP lists to make sure I stay unbiased). To put it simply, there isn’t enough there. His sinker gets called strikes, his slider sometimes get whiffs, and that’s it. I’m okay with Singer as a matchup-focused arm, but nothing more.

Yusei Kikuchi vs BAL (L) – 7.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 36% CSW, 87 pitches.

It was a historic outing for Means, but let’s not let that overshadow Kikuchi coming in HOT with 96.5 mph on his heater as it played second fiddle to his cutter and kinda third fiddle to his 53% CSW slider. Baltimore has been an above-average team against lefties, FWIW, and it puts us in a tough position to consider him against the Dodgers. It could work…?

Luis García @ NYY (ND) – 4.2 IP, 3 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 92 pitches.

It’s possible I’ve been undervaluing García as he did a lot of damage here with his cutter at 6/25 whiffs & 36% CSW. His 93 mph fastball also earned plenty of strikes (70% clip) and it almost earned him five full frames. If Odorizzi isn’t back after his next start (LAA) — which I don’t think he will be — then Garcia would get the Rangers, and I think there’s enough here to warrant a stream. I just don’t see quite enough as a long term asset, though, nor to start against the Angels next. I don’t trust the fastball a whole lot and his cutter is good but not elite.

Johan Oviedo vs NYM (L) – 4.0 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 59 pitches.

A true Young Gun as I inherently like the stuff of Oviedo, but I don’t think y’all should be rushing to the wire to get him in 12-teamers. There’s just not enough polish on his command just yet. I’d grab him in dynasty leagues, though.

Erick Fedde vs ATL (L) – 5.0 IP, 5 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 76 pitches.

Remember kids, Don’t Trust The Feddes.

Freddy Peralta @ PHI (L) – 4.0 IP, 5 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 8 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 36% CSW, 73 pitches.

Peralta dominated the Dodgers and struggled against the Phillies, despite 8/12 outs coming by way of the K. That’s Peralta, where the match-ups don’t matter. It’s the Cherry Bomb you signed up for.

Luke Weaver @ MIA (L) – 4.0 IP, 6 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 81 pitches.

To put it one way from Al Melchior, Luke Weaver Business doesn’t have the same ring to it. Not terrible pitch separation, but his command needs to be on point for him to squeeze what we need out of that fastball/changeup combo.

Logan Webb @ COL (L) – 3.2 IP, 6 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 68 pitches.

It was Coors. Coors is undefeated. I’m fighting this urge to end this with a “Caught in a Webb” reference, and I feel like y’all should know what I do for you. Y’all deserve better, like that roster spot that houses Webb.

 

Game of the Day 

 

Brandon Woodruff vs Zack WheelerIt’s the match-up of power fastballs, and I couldn’t be more excited. Unlike other starter match-ups that include on guy out after five frames or so, this could be a duel lasting a full seven frames. That’s what’s up.

 

But Nick?! Where are the streaming picks? – I’ve moved them to the daily SP Matchups & Streamer Rankings article.

 

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.

2 responses to “The Picture of Gray”

  1. Floyd says:

    Why is Luke Weaver throwing 2 pitches ~94% of the time? Gotta bring back that cutter or he’s on the wire, even in NL leagues. Just picked him up before this start and wow.

  2. Punchingsmurphs says:

    Thought Gray died for a sec

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