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The Wright Stuff

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Saturday.

Kyle Wright vs CIN (W) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 36% CSW, 76 pitches.

We’ve had plenty Kyle Wright sightings over the years, and with the fifth (and sixth?) rotation spots open in Atlanta for yet another season, Wright was given a crack in the rotation for the fourth straight season. This may be the time he holds onto it after going 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 36% CSW, 76 pitches with a Win against the Reds on Saturday.

The major concern I’ve had with Wright over the years has been command. He’s always had a filthy breaker, but he couldn’t wield it properly as his 94 mph heaters found barrels far too often. I watched this outing yesterday and…I’m conflicted. On one hand, his curveball was as good as I’ve seen it, earning 22/31 strikes while inducing some terrible swings. His changeup was strong as well for 6/7 strikes and could turn into a better offering if he can find a consistent feel for it. However, his heater just doesn’t seem like it’s fixed. Wright’s sinker got away with far too many mistakes and I’m not confident he’ll continue to get away with it.

It’s a risk right now and I’d consider other options first as Wright faces the Padres next. If he can go 44% CSW on breakers again while avoiding fastball punishment, I may be inclined to chase. There’s a chance I’m underestimating the heater’s ability and I imagine we’ll have more clarity on Friday.

 

Let’s see how every other SP did Saturday:

 

Kyle Gibson vs OAK (W) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 10 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 38% CSW, 82 pitches.

Oh my. I was shocked to see Gibson hovering 40% rostered while his buddy Eflin was under 20%, but clearly what do I know. We circled this start against the Athletics for good measure, but I didn’t realize it would be such a wonderful time. The second act is still to come with Miami next so obviously hold there, just don’t get so enamored that you start him in Coors after. That wouldn’t be wise.

Chris Bassitt @ WSH (W) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 93 pitches.

I was scared of Bassitt’s 2-3 tick velocity drop in his final spring start, but I’m so glad to see his velocity just a touch down here, while he’s still leaning into his slider — 25% usage! The result was domination as the breaker went 43% CSW and his sinker + four-seamer did their thang per usual. Yeah, I’m a Bassitthound and you should be too.

Brad Keller vs CLE (ND) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 69 pitches.

It’s José Ramírez and Friends over in Cleveland and Keller had his way with it, getting 70% slider strikes and executing his heaters. Not much else more to say here except Blame it on the Guardians. I wouldn’t dare against the Tigers.

Zach Plesac @ KC (ND) – 5.2 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 70 pitches.

Huh. This line makes you think Plesac was great, but in actuality, he’s down 1-2 ticks on everything, his slider nor his changeup are the elite offerings of 2019/2020, and the secondary command was highly questionable. He did avoid the heart of the plate, though, so that’s good and it helped him nearly get through six frames. It’s awfully risky at this point and I’m avoiding that start against the Giants.

Noah Syndergaard vs HOU (W) – 5.1 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 76 pitches.

Man, many are going to get hyped seeing this line after Thor’s great spring outing against the Dodgers, aren’t they? Don’t they realize it was a HAISTBMBWT?! and he relied on 13/15 outs in play? His velocity is still just 94/95, his slider isn’t nearly as good, and I don’t believe in the changeup being a legit offering to make him hint at his former potential. Absolutely feel free to keep starting him, like against Texas next week, but I’d float a trade offer or two if someone got excited by this one. He’s not going to be your SP #3.

Justin Steele vs MIL (W) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 77 pitches.

Hot dang, look at you! Just 5/77 whiffs should tell y’all this was a fluke ‘n’ whatnot, reinforced by a full tick of velocity drop to just 92 mph, but hey, I hope you enjoyed the Birthday Party, Steele. Good job. No, I wouldn’t pick him up.

Carlos Rodón vs MIA (ND) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 12 Ks – 24 Whiffs, 42% CSW, 89 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. I mean, we knew he was going to be good but 97.4 mph heaters on average?! We freaked out over a jump to 95.4 mph last year. He just keeps blowing us (and batters) away. It’s insane — I moved him up the ranks in the final update of The List and I’m going to wrestle with it all year since his injury concerns are as elevated as any starter out there. At least he’s dominating in the time he has, and it makes for a case like deGrom in the sense of him being so good while healthy that he’s worth a higher slot on The List. But I’ll calm down now, sure this was a Golden Goal and establishes solid bars for whiffs and CSW, but this was five innings against the Marlins. I can’t wait for more.

Tony Gonsolin @ COL (ND) – 3.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 62 pitches.

I was concerned to throw Gonsolin in lineups here and this gave you a whole lot o’ nothin’. My biggest question for the season is if Gonsolin will be able to throw his slider for strikes again and here we saw 7/15. Nope, we’re not there yet…though it was Coors. I wonder what we’ll see in a different park and without the pitch limit.

Pablo López @ SF (ND) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 39% CSW, 79 pitches.

Velocity was normal, changeup earned whiffs, and even the cutter helped. I’ve missed fantastic command PabLó, he’s so underappreciated outside of fantasyland.

Justin Verlander @ LAA (L) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 80 pitches.

It’s great to see Verlander back on the hill, with his fastball sitting exactly where it’s supposed to be. The bad news is his slider isn’t quite as sharp, returning just 2/22 whiffs here, and it was a story in the spring that it wasn’t the breaker of old. You’re going to keep starting Verlander because duh, and let’s hope the slider can get better to make us feel good about it.

Logan Gilbert @ MIN (ND) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 35% CSW, 85 pitches.

Well ain’t that pretty. I was itching to see Gilbert’s new slider and changeup and ultimately, I was a bit disappointed. There were some sliders that he snapped off incredibly well, coming in nearly 10 mph slower and with enough break to dive under the zone. It was a bit inconsistent, though, and there’s still a bit of work left to do. The changeup had some great moments but gets the same review from me. But the heater, well that thing is still so dang good. It’s an interesting case where I don’t think the line represented Gilbert’s performance, but future Gilbert could be very deserving. Monitor the slider and changeup development.

Dylan Cease @ DET (W) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 8 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 79 pitches.

Yep, that’s a Cease start. His curveball went 0/6 strikes, changeup went 1/3 strikes, and his fastball held a 24% CSW, but his slider was elite and that was enough. The premium Cherry Bomb has begun the season sweet and I hope he never sours.

Germán Márquez vs LAD (ND) – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 74 pitches.

I could write the same blurb for every Márquez start this year — you’re either in or you’re out. There is little rhyme or reason to when Márquez excels and given Coors, it’s too risky for my blood to set-and-forget him in my lineups. If you’re doing it, good luck. We’re all counting on you.

Drew Rasmussen vs BAL (ND) – 4.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 64 pitches.

Blegh. I’ve been worried Rasmussen will be treated like this through the year and this start is zero indication given that everyone is holding depressed pitch counts right now, but take a look at it. Notice the few whiffs and strikeouts and 15% CSW on 20 sliders. I just don’t buy him being this major breakout guy. If he does go 5/6 frames consistently moving forward, though, he could maintain decent ratios with his solid fastball command at 96 mph, but that’s all he’s got.

Luis Severino vs BOS (ND) – 3.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 22% CSW, 65 pitches.

What a strange outing from Severino. He’s up to 97/98 mph — Yay! — but according to Statcast his slider has turned into a cutter and it returned 1/11 whiffs — Oh. The command isn’t back yet and it’ll likely take some time before he clicks again. It could be next week, it could be in July. Either way, we’re sticking with it for now.

Miles Mikolas vs PIT (ND) – 3.2 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks – 2 Whiffs, 22% CSW, 77 pitches.

Womp womp. He was my streaming pick of the day and one of my favorite pre-season late fliers specifically for this start. How could you, Mikolas? Let him go, but I imagine he’ll be a streamer again at some point.

Zach Davies vs SD (ND) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 75 pitches.

Oh hey, you’re still a thing. That’s cool. Davies doesn’t have his changeup of old and he was able to squeeze out a 3.60 ERA by earning 12 called strikes on sinkers. You don’t want to rely on that.

Vladimir Gutierrez @ ATL (L) – 4.1 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 76 pitches.

He did a solid job of locating changeups and curveballs down, but I don’t think his heater is good enough for us to jump on board here — remember last year? He had the greatest gift of a schedule and he was still rougher than me trying to replicate Monet. I’m the worst artist.

Sonny Gray vs SEA (ND) – 4.2 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 76 pitches.

Ehhhhh, okay. He was one out away from a 3.60 ERA and 1.20 WHIP so that’s fine, I guess. His slider + curveball returned 2/23 whiffs, which is no fun at all, meaning he survived this start on the back of his heaters. That’s not the Sonny you’re looking for. Let’s hope he gets on track next time out.

Joe Musgrove @ ARI (ND) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 8 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 39% CSW, 74 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. While we’re all sad to see Musgrove allow a single hit to the Diamondbacks, his slider was filthy as he limited his fastball usage to just 20%. The man is living the secondary dream. Start him blindly until further notice.

Kevin Gausman vs TEX (ND) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 34% CSW, 80 pitches.

The splitter was the dopest of dope at 11/29 whiffs and a 76% strike rate, but the heater wasn’t quite as good as we normally see, sitting a tick down. That’s alright, I believe in Gausman to get there. Don’t worry about this.

Dane Dunning @ TOR (ND) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 74 pitches.

Once again, Dunning does nothing to make me consider him as an add. That said, it was the Jays and I can imagine this works out against any normal offense, say the Angels. Hey, that’s his next start! Sure is. So you’re grabbing him then, right? Sure ain’t. This isn’t the play you want to make. Just watch from afar.

Nick Pivetta @ NYY (L) – 5.2 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 81 pitches.

Very rarely do I believe I can sum up a guy’s start in one image, but today, we’re doing just that.

Cole Irvin @ PHI (L) – 5.1 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 34% CSW, 88 pitches.

I was curious what we’d see from Irvin and boy was it a lot. He’s now a kitchen sink guy, featuring five different pitches above 10% usage, bumping up his velocity to 92 mph from 90/91, and added four ticks to his slider alone. The result? Someone who I’d consider for a stream here and there. His curveball found the zone plenty and his sinker was well located. I kinda dig it as a crafty lefty, but he was simply too hittable at times. Don’t write him off completely.

Casey Mize vs CWS (L) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 22% CSW, 81 pitches.

Blegh. There isn’t anything new here for me to consider Mize anything more than a TobyAnd that’s okay for streams ‘n’ whatnot, but not against the ChiSox.

Joan Adon vs NYM (L) – 4.1 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 3 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 86 pitches.

So. Many. Fours. If you don’t know Adon, he made his debut on the last day of the season last year and piqued my interest. Sadly, we saw a shell of that man here with 93/94 mph heaters + 2/24 slider whiffs. Yeah, I’m Adon with you for now.

Mitch Keller @ STL (L) – 4.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 34% CSW, 70 pitches.

His fastball is 2.5 ticks harder and well commanded up in the zone, yet it’s not enough as his slider/change/curve returned just 5/35 whiffs. This ain’t it. There’s no reason to stash this instead of chasing solid early adds like Zach Eflin, Tylor Megillor Merrill KellyDon’t worry, there’s always a fun pitcher to grab later in the year.

Jordan Lyles @ TB (L) – 5.0 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 22% CSW, 83 pitches.

I wish he was more like Rare Jordan instead of Despair Jordan. Rare Jordan is a wonderful thing with incredible sliders and curveballs. This…is not that.

Brandon Woodruff @ CHC (L) – 3.2 IP, 7 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 19% CSW, 89 pitches.

Okay what is going on with Woodruff? He had a horrendous spring (10.80 ERA and 1.71 WHIP across three starts) and it continued in this against the lowly Cubs. His velocity is mostly normal, vertical break a bit low, and not the worst command, but jeeeeez something is off. You can’t do much of anything but hold and cough it up to starting slow, but yeah, I feel your concern.

 

Game of the Day 

Hunter Greene vs. Ian AndersonIt’s Greene’s MLB debut and I’m excited to see if he’s constantly hitting 100 mph. Meanwhile, let’s hope Anderson is feeling a bit better after getting a toe blister in the spring.

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.

Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire | Adapted 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.

One response to “The Wright Stuff”

  1. Jeremy Kirshner says:

    How worried should I be about Woodruff? After Julio Uriaś had his horrific outing today, I have an opportunity to trade for him. Is that a good idea, or am I overreacting? I had Luis Castillo last year, so I could be quick to jump the gun after my experience last year.

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