This Is The Wade

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Tuesday.

Wade Miley vs PIT (W) – 6 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 78 pitches.

It’s September 5th, 2019. Wade Miley steps onto the mound to throw his first pitch, confident for what comes next. Why wouldn’t he be? Miley holds a 3.06 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 21% strikeout rate across 28 starts this year, boasting one of the most successful changeups in the majors. I’ve figured it out, he mutters before narrowing his eyes, waiting patiently for a wiggled index finger from his catcher.

That was a blissful moment. The last one Miley had for over a year. What came next is best described as an ambush. Miley failed to record an out that day and when he attempted to recover the following start, he managed to record just one out before getting the hook. Two starts. 12 earned runs. One recorded out. His final three appearances saw just one outing of normalcy and he’s been searching for it ever since — 2020 came with all of its dishevelment, including an injury in August that displaced Miley further. A man lost.

Until today. I’m always thrilled to see forgotten starters make an impactful return and Miley was in full force against the Pirates: 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BB, 6 Ks with 11 Whiffs and a 29% CSW. It wasn’t a true ace performance — Miley has never quite had that in him — but it worked. His cutter and changeup led the way with strikes, outs, and superb pitch separation while he peppered in four-seamers as a change of pace offering. Despite an unfortunate fate that will cause him to miss both dates with Arizona, San Francisco and Cleveland await and I wouldn’t rule him out for either. Well, maybe the Giants as they hound lefties, but Cleveland? I think there’s something to this. He’ll be given the Hollywood Nod for 85+ pitches by then and it’s free real estate. Don’t overlook it.

 

Let’s see how every other SP did Tuesday:

 

Lucas Giolito @ SEA (W) – 5.1 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BB, 10 Ks – 18 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 96 pitches. This looks all wonderful and dandy (aces gonna ace) but Giolito sat 92.7 mph in this one — over a full tick slower than his 94 mph last year and two ticks from his 94.9 mph on opening day. While I’m not going to massively react to it (his changeup was fiiiiilth), I can’t help but wonder if something is up. Monitor this, it could just come right back up next start.

James Paxton vs CWS (ND) – 1 ER, 0 Hits, 1 BB, 2 Ks – 24 pitches. Paxton left this one after a 92 mph fastball with an elbow injury. Yeah, this is bad and I’m so sad. I highly doubt he’s making another start any time soon.

Yu Darvish vs SFG (ND) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BB, 7 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 35% CSW, 89 pitches. Aces gonna ace. See? Everything is fine. Probably. It was a softer four-seamer today by a significant amount (just 94 mph on average), but his cutter and slider were both great and even some nice curvebals and splitters too. Darvish is fine. Fiiiiiine, even.

Aaron Sanchez @ SDP (ND) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 74 pitches. It’s cool to see Sanchez back in the rotation and I was hoping I could label him as a sneaky pick up after this start. Sadly, I can’t. Let me guess, velocity. Yup, Sanchez sat 90.5 mph on heaters in this one after sitting well above 93 mph prior. I do like that he tossed curveballs and changeups over 55% of the time, though. I just need a better fastball if I’m taking the leap.

Luke Weaver @ COL (ND) – 5.2 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 82 pitches. Whoa, Weaver survived Coors! Kinda! He was apparently throwing a new slider in spring and…yeah, it wasn’t here. The cutter earned three called strikes on seven thrown, and sadly it’s the same Weaver from 2020. I don’t think he’s going to jump back into relevance pitching like this.

Germán Márquez vs ARI (ND) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 91 pitches. We debated this one for Márquez and ultimately, it was a PQS with a 1.17 WHIP and five Ks. Was it worth it? Maybe? And guess what, this was the best matchup he has across his first four games. Ugh.

Tyler Glasnow @ BOS (ND) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 9 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 97 pitches.

The slider returned and, well, it was worse. 21% CSW and just five whiffs despite a 35% usage as there were plenty more mistakes both wild out of the zone and in the heart of the plate. Blegh. The good news, though, is how the Rays are pushing him. 97 pitches and able to pitch through the sixth inning is a major showcase of Glasnow’s workload ahead. Let’s hope it stays this way and that slider can adjust a bit. Oh, right, and aces gonna ace, this is wonderful, blah blah blah. Nick, you’re not thrilled about this start? OF COURSE I’M THRILLED.

Clayton Kershaw @ OAK (W) – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 8 Ks – 21 Whiffs, 40% CSW, 91 pitches.

Whoa, 21 whiffs for TATIAGA! I should add SFOD at the end there (Save For Opening Day) but for real, his slider was filthy with 16 whiffs on the evening. He did sit 90.6 mph though, and I’d love to see that land above 91 mph next time. That would be rad, just like the time he appeared on New Girl.

Chris Bassitt vs LAD (L) – 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 9 Hits, 1 BB, 4 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 22% CSW, 102 pitches.

This was the second of two poor matchups for Bassitt out of the gate and now you’ll be happy you held onto to him. Congrats, you made it. That’s it? That’s it. He’ll be a solid arm for a few weeks now and that’s cool.

Martín Pérez vs TB (ND) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 92 pitches.

So the fastball velocity is coming back up to 2019 levels — yay! — but I don’t think that’s enough to really buy in on Pérez outside of the weakest of offenses — nay!

Gerrit Cole vs BAL (W) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 13 Ks – 27 Whiffs, 45% CSW, 97 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. Not only did he win his namesake of a King Cole but easily had the most whiffs too and turned it into a Golden GoalWhy can’t he pitch against Baltimore every game?

Freddy Peralta @ CHC (W) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 4 BBs, 8 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 91 pitches.

Leave it to Peralta to get eight strikeouts, 0 ER, and just one hit, but also need 91 pitches for 15 outs and record four walks. It’s Professor Chaos all over again! The new breaker was filthy for 41% CSW and 11 whiffs, while his fastball was difficult to square up. He’s effectively wild in the purest form and it will lead to headaches. I think that breaker is too good to pass up when paired with that great fastball, though, so I’m rolling with this a second time against the Cubs. Just please find the zone more this time. Points See? It’s right there.

John Gant @ MIA (ND) – 4.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 82 pitches.

I still don’t quite understand how Gant failed to allow an earned run in this one, but whatever. I don’t really think you can expect a whole lot more than four frames and I get the sense that his time in the rotation is short-lived. This ain’t the play you’re looking for.

J.A. Happ @ DET (ND) – 4.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 89 pitches.

Ehhhh, Happ you need to be going more than four innings against the Tigers. They’re letting you toss 89 pitches, and like my 19-year-old self, you’re wasting opportunities. Live to your name and make it Happen, not make it Sadden. I’ll rein it back, sorry. Seattle is next and that’s still an option despite the lack of outs here. Not a shining victory, but Twitch chat voted this as a streaming Win, so there it is. Streaming Record: 3-3.

Casey Mize vs MIN (ND) – 4.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 18% CSW, 82 pitches.

Yeaaaah, this isn’t the Mize you were hyped about last year. Nothing exceeded a 23% CSW across his repertoire, which means he’s delivering less than a newspaper boy who never learned how to ride a bike. Not everyone can and that’s okay. 

Zack Greinke @ LAA (ND) – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BB, 4 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 96 pitches.

I feel like Greinke should have the AGA label, right? Sure it’s not the super stud of old, but he’s more than a Toby and you expect starts like this one. It’s the Greinke zen. So, Zen Aces Gonna Ace? Nah, ZAGA just comes up short, you know? STILL TOO SOON NICK. 

Dylan Bundy vs HOU (ND) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 10 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 40% CSW, 102 pitches.

You know what I love? Averaging 93 mph and maxing out at 95.1 mph. Bundy didn’t throw a pitch above 94 mph last season. He’s still featuring early curves for strikes as well, on top of 44% CSW on his slider. I’m not the hugest fan of 52% fastballs, but honestly, if he’s throwing this hard, that may be completely fine. This is a new Dylan BundyI think I’m back in…though I can’t shake the feeling that the velocity won’t hold. It did fluctuate last year, after all.

Sandy Alcántara vs STL (L) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 10 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 34% CSW, 93 pitches.

His first five frames were simply gorgeous, then he ran into some trouble loading the bases with no outs in the sixth. He got out of it somewhat unscathed and now that’s two straight six-frame games with 17 strikeouts total. If you haven’t bought in yet, I’m not sure what else you want from him. I’ll save the AGA label for one more game, but the mere fact that he was allowed to pitch out of his sixth-inning jam while above 80 pitches should tell you that he’s going to see six full frames often and when it comes with 98 mph heat + a deadly 92 mph changeup, things are going to be lovely. Alcántara is dope and makes you feel dope.

Drew Smyly @ WSH (ND) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BB, 8 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 36% CSW, 94 pitches.

Hot dang! Smyly allowed a pair of unearned runs as well and couldn’t quite get the dub but you should be super pleased that he was able to carve up six quality frames. There are two issues, though. First, this Nationals lineup was not at full strength and act as a vague litmus test. The main reason we were amped last season was 93/95 mph velocity in September and in this one…he sat just under 93 mph. Not terrible, but not great. He also barely touched the cutter and there is a sense of fool’s gold here for the long haul. I’d still keep rolling with it until it stops but for those that are making larger macro moves, I’m cool selling Smyly.

Max Scherzer vs ATL (ND) – 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 9 Ks – 21 Whiffs, 34% CSW, 91 pitches.

Aces gonna allow four solo home runs and then get it together. It was a huge issue for him last season and it’s haunting him early in 2021 as well, but honestly, those that will hate on this start overrate ERA — that’s nine strikeouts and a 0.80 WHIP! Glorious stuff. Scherzer is still wonderful.

Dean Kremer @ NYY (L) – 3.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 4 BBs, 5 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 85 pitches.

This doesn’t look good and that’s because it wasn’t very good (wow, such analysis) but what I’m trying to get at is there were some positives here. Well, just one – Kremer’s cutter. It’s a great pitch and can serve as a foundation if he can possibly touch up his heater or curveball. Possibly not facing the Yankees would help, too. Don’t look at this and think he’s incapable of success against a non-elite offense. You’ll just be missing out.

Dane Dunning vs TOR (W) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 34% CSW, 70 pitches.

I’m not sure if I’m impressed or not by Dunning in this outing. He has a sinker that reminds me of Chris Bassitt‘s in the way it steals called strikes despite being seemingly unimpressive (91.3 mph?!), and it kept the Jays at bay. There was a slider in there as well, though it didn’t do a whole lot — 3/10 CSW with three fouls — and the rest of the repertoire was just there for the free hors d’oeuvres. He gets the Rays and Orioles next and that could work too, so I guess it’s a hold. Not quite in love with a sub 92 mph sinker that relied on called strikes + a 2/10 whiff slider, though.

Marcus Stroman @ PHI (ND) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 85 pitches.

I’m a bit torn here. On one hand, he earned a 39% CSW on sliders and was able to effectively get outs with his sinker. On the other, he still doesn’t have a legit whiff offering as no single pitch had more than three whiffs. I need more than that, even if it was a 13% overall SwStr. I wanted to believe that Stroman was developing in a huge way since we saw him last in 2019 but this kinda felt the same. Whatever, keep starting him for now.

Chase Anderson vs NYM (ND) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 80 pitches.

I mean, I’m kinda impressed that this wasn’t worse. That’s something, right? Yay.

Adbert Alzolay vs MIL (L) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 77 pitches.

Blegh. There’s a clip some have seen of me reacting to some videos of Alzolay and that I “might be in on Alzolay now.” I still am moreso than I was earlier in the preseason (which was completely out), but there’s still work to be done. He’s comparable to Peralta in that he has a solid heater and breaker but it comes with a lack of command that can be maddening (FWIW, I like Peralta’s fastball and breaker combo better). It’s going to be another Peralta v. Alzolay matchup again next week and while I think A.A. gets better with time, I’m not sure he can upgrade to A.A.A. so quickly. You’re saying he’s a Triple-A player? Well, that’s better than Double-A, right? Okay, fair.

Tanner Roark @ TEX (L) – 3.0 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 59 pitches.

Yikes. Roark hasn’t been good since an article I wrote in 2016 and even then it felt weird. But seriously, there used to be a chance that Roark could be a Toby but he really hasn’t been that for too long. Too. Long.

Trevor Cahill @ CIN (L) – 4.0 IP, 7 ER, 9 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 73 pitches.

Man, this isn’t even Trevor’s Irish doppelganger Trevor O’Cahill, this is his evil twin, Trevor O’Muhgawd. Cahill has made a name for himself randomly showing up on teams in the spring and somehow performing for a rare start here or there, but good luck finding the right one this time. Well, at least don’t test him against the Reds. They’re good, yo.

 

Game of the Day 

 

Jameson Taillon vs. John Means – Will Means’ velocity tick up? Is Taillon truly back? I CAN’T WAIT. There are a ton of amazing games here and I’ll be live-streaming from 12:00pm – 6:00pm EST on Twitch.tv/pitcherlist as we watch them all. Come through!

 

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. Worked with MSG, FanGraphs, CBS Sports, and Washington Post. Former pitching coach and Brandeis alum. Wants every pitcher to be dope.

  • Avatar Ray says:

    Hi Nick. Thanks for all your hard work. I know you are just looking at the Starters – but do you have any comments on AJ Puk and Triston McKenzie from Monday evening?

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