Trying to Grapple Jax

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Tuesday.

Griffin Jax vs CWS (W) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 10 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 35% CSW, 83 pitches.

Sooooo Griffin Jaxyeah, him, that guy you definitely know, faced the White Sox today and astonished us all going 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 10 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 35% CSW, 83 pitches. That’s right, ten strikeouts and a PQS with a 1.00 WHIP. This Jax packs a punch, clearly, and while he’s now allowed just six earned runs in four games, something doesn’t feel right.

I watched all of this game to get a sense of how this happened and here’s the quick low-down: He allowed back-to-back jacks to account for all three runs while his slider returned 46% CSW with nine whiffs across 35 thrown. I watched every pitch and I was shocked at the number. It wasn’t a pitch that devastated and debilitated, in fact, I’d probably say the 27% CSW four-seamer was better as it zoomed around the edges of the zone and turned Jax into an efficient out-machine. But I digress, the point here is that I don’t see this slider — a pitch with a 12% SwStr entering this game — to be the whifftastic pitch in future outings, which means this ten-strikeout affair is an anomaly. A whisper in the wind as it curls around the corner and disappears in a whisk of the hand. Don’t forget, he had zero strikeouts in five innings his previous start. ZERO. Yeah, but what about his previous outing? Two strikeouts in five frames. Against the Cardinals. Oh.

Feel free to Vargas Rule this as Jax faces the future Guardians next time out (his fastball command was good enough to handle Cleveland), but he isn’t the savior you build a church around. Chapel Jax. Oh dang, that has a nice ring to it.

 

Let’s see how every other SP did Tuesday:

 

Jake Odorizzi vs COL (W) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 81 pitches.

I was really down on Odorizzi for this one as he’d failed to capitalize against the Mariners + Rangers. Why would Rockie Road be any different? Well, Odorizzi leaned hard into the four-seamer (as he should) and commanded the pitch brilliantly up in the zone. When it works, it works. Maybe he can do it a second time against the Royals next.

Aaron Nola vs LAD (ND) – 4.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 39% CSW, 51 pitches.

Well this was wonderful and cruel as a rain delay shortened a fantastic pitchers’ duel. He ended this start with a 71% CSW on his curveball. Unreal. Let’s hope it continues against the Reds in Philly.

Alec Mills vs MIL (ND) – 2.1 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 34% CSW, 38 pitches.

The rain ended this one early for Mills, too, and it’s too bad as he seemed locked in for a worthy stream. Sigh. At least he gets the Marlins next and that should work.

Aaron Ashby @ CHC (ND) – 2.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 1 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 48% CSW, 23 pitches.

Um, I loved this so much. It was just two frames and 23 pitches (the tarp came out in the middle of an at-bat, stupid rain), but Ashby favored a pair of secondaries in his changeup and slider over his sinker, which, by the way, sat 96.5 mph. The biggest knock here was some questionable command as he was a bit volatile pitch-to-pitch, but there were a few at-bats where he just overpowered the Cubs and it was glorious. I wonder what happens next as I dream of Ashby sticking in this rotation and actually going six frames. The secondary-focused approach with 95-98 mph in his back pocket is so dang enticing. Not the worst speculative add as we wait to hear the plan.

Ross Stripling @ LAA (ND) – 2.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 1 BBs, 0 Ks – 2 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 28 pitches.

Strip left this one early with an abdominal injury. I hope he’s alright.

Max Scherzer @ PHI (ND) – 3.1 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 54 pitches.

Aces gonna get bounced due to a rain delay. At least he still gave you six strikeouts in the short amount of time, that’s a true #1 SP doing what he can.

Paolo Espino @ NYM (ND) – 1.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 0 Ks – 0 Whiffs, 14% CSW, 14 pitches.

This game was suspended so I guess we get to skip P.E. this week. Fifth grade me hates this.

J.A. Happ @ PIT (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 1 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 86 pitches.

Phew. It’s nice to see Happ actually do the thing and act like a proper Toby from time to time. I still see his disasters against Detroit often when I close my eyes, but this helps. Still don’t trust you against the Royals next, though.

Chris Rodriguez @ TOR (ND) – 4.0 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 68 pitches.

C-Rod had himself a seven strikeout game against the Rangers as he earned himself a King Colebut that Birthday Party of a start wasn’t meant to be replicated against the Jays. This was a doubleheader and I wonder if we’ll see Chris get some more action in the rotation, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up. I just don’t see a whiff pitch in the mix here.

Steven Brault vs STL (L) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 35% CSW, 78 pitches.

Ayyyy solid stuff here from Brault as he followed The Cardinal Rule. His slider earned strikes and he was able to carve out five strong frames for the Pirates. However, the Brewers are a bit stronger, and I’m not seeing a changed man – he’s still a tick down from earlier in the year. Just let him sit on the wire.

Freddy Peralta @ CHC (ND) – 5.1 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 89 pitches.

89 pitches! We’re all stoked to see it and can only wish for that kind of leash every start through the end. We won’t get it, but one can wish.

Eduardo Rodriguez vs TB (ND) – 5.1 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 82 pitches.

Erod has had his fastball command for a bit, but the question has always been if his changeup can do enough to make it all come together. Yes, the changeup is the rug of this equation and it came through against the Rays. I think you’re fine starting him against the Orioles next time, even if they do well against southpaws.

Kolby Allard @ SEA (ND) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 91 pitches.

Look at you Dralla, taking advantage of the Mariners and cruising for six frames. Almost makes me consider you for teams. And by “almost” I mean not even close. But almost.

Steven Matz vs LAA (L) – 4.2 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 97 pitches.

Blegh. Matz is a Toby and the Angels are borderline a team you can start against. Welp, it just wasn’t meant to be. You’ll be fine against the Mariners next.

Triston McKenzie vs OAK (ND) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 36% CSW, 86 pitches.

Whoa, excellent work McKenzie. I’ve found it tough to believe in you on a given day, but here, you did some legit work, earning 8/32 whiffs on breakers and executing a decent interpretation of the BSB. And even though the velocity is waning a bit now, the command is a touch better. He gets Detroit next and while that isn’t a must-start after this (we’ve seen a volatile McKenzie this season), I’d heavily consider it.

Drew Smyly vs CIN (W) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks – 19 Whiffs, 38% CSW, 92 pitches.

Saw what now. Smyly earned a Golden Goal, keeping all the awards to himself against the Reds. Unreal. His cutter actually showed up for a start, getting tossed 17 times for 35% CSW, while the curveball was as filthy as ever. We’re talking 14 whiffs and 47% CSW as he went to the hook over half the time. What makes this start even weirder was his heater as it has sat 92 mph all year and was just 90.6 mph in this one. That’s right, Smyly’s best start had arguably his worst fastball. Do you want to trust that the curveball can continue at this level? Then start Smyly next against the Nationals. But what if I think the fastball will stick sub 91 mph? Then run for the hills. RUN.

Sonny Gray @ ATL (ND) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 8 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 89 pitches.

I’m so glad to see Gray recover. Kinda. His curveball earned a ton of foul balls but just 2/17 CSW, while he barely touched the slider. Nope, this was a fastball game, oddly enough, as Gray had great command of his four-seamer and sinker. Sadly, it doesn’t make me super confident as he normally lives or dies by the breakers. I don’t think a fastball-heavy approach is a long-term ticket to Sonny’s success. He gets the Phils next and I’m still anxious.

Logan Gilbert vs TEX (ND) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 97 pitches.

The slider wasn’t back, but the fastball was too dang good for the Rangers to handle. I’d bench him everywhere against the Jays next, he’s not at his peak and that offense is stupid. 

Carlos Carrasco vs WSH (ND) – 1.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 0 Ks – 1 Whiffs, 6% CSW, 33 pitches.

The rain washed this one away – at least for today as the game will complete on Wednesday. He sure didn’t have his stuff and it may be nice for Carrasco to be able to hit the reset button a bit sooner than usual later this week (he only tossed 33 pitches and the Mets could use him on shorter rest).

Casey Mize @ BAL (ND) – 4.1 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 85 pitches.

Once again, Mize is allowed to go 80+ pitches and once again, Mize flounders it. Yikes. He could do better against Cleveland as the slider and four-seamer weren’t atrocious, but it’s too low of a ceiling to make my heart aflutter. I’m six foot four, there are few things I enjoy more in life than high ceilings.

Justin Steele vs MIL (ND) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 70 pitches.

Soooooooo yeah. This wasn’t the JS script we had in mind. Like that Shaq movie in the 90s, Steele shouldn’t be given much attention. Let’s move on before I make you roll your eyes a third time.

Daniel Lynch vs NYY (ND) – 4.2 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 6 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 100 pitches.

Awwww, I was really hoping Lynch would rise to the occasion here. Streaming Record: 70-50. But he did! 17 Whiffs! 33% CSW! That’s actually not a bad point at all as Lynch had fantastic command elevating heaters and keeping them down-and-glove side at will, while his slider was still a solid offering. The main pain (title of my second album) came from the changeup, which had its moments and allowed the two-run shot. There’s still a bit of polish left to add here (four walks ain’t it) and sadly we have to wait one more start as he gets the Astros next…but then it’s the Cubs and then — THEN! — we tango. And we tango hard.

Sean Manaea @ CLE (ND) – 1.2 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 19% CSW, 69 pitches.

Aces gonna…whaaa?! Manaea labored in this one and somehow earned just five outs across nearly 70 pitches. Madness. He sat just 91 mph — understandably so given the number of pitches he threw each inning — and the man just didn’t have his best stuff. He should be just fine against the Rangers next time out.

Jon Gray @ HOU (L) – 4.1 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 9 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 97 pitches.

I feel like this is what we expected — a clear expression of success despite failure. It’s a Dusty Donut with those nine lovely strikeouts but the Astros are too dang good offensively and Gray ultimately wasn’t able to pull it off. Fine, whatever, good luck with the Giants next.

Dallas Keuchel @ MIN (L) – 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 1 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 102 pitches.

Yeaaaah no. The ratios are blegh, you earned a Loss, and one strikeout?! ONE?! HAISTBMBWT?! Come on Keuchel, do you even enjoy being on The List?

Nestor Cortes @ KC (L) – 5.2 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 80 pitches.

Womp womp. The magic evaporated and the Royals jumped on Cortes. I don’t imagine many of you ran with it, anyway, but if you did, at least you can comfortably swap him out for something else now.

Luis Patiño @ BOS (ND) – 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 18% CSW, 103 pitches.

I’ll take expected disappointment for $600. I’m happy Patiño was at least capable of returning seven strikeouts, but the Red Sox are too good of a club and made him one earned more than a VPQSWe have the sole start of respite for Patiño next time out against the Twins and I’d start him there. His slider should perform better then.

José Suarez vs TOR (L) – 5.1 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 88 pitches.

I kinda like Suarez as a possible streamer, but not against the Jays. Definitely not against the Jays.

Craig Stammen vs MIA (ND) – 2.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 45 pitches.

It was a bullpen game gone wrong. Coming this Fall it’s…THE OPENER FROM H*CK. Yes, I know that sounds like failing to pop a cork, but trust me. It’s terrifying.

Alex Wood vs ARI (ND) – 6.0 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 82 pitches.

Wood was absolutely cruising through five, then felt bad for Gallen and messed it all up in the sixth for a Careful, Icarus. Why do you have to be so dang kind, Wood?! It’s been a weird stretch where Wood hasn’t pitched nearly as well as his skills indicate and I have to sit here and tell you to keep the faith. It’s the worst part of what I do, I hate this. But the fastball is at 92 mph and his secondaries are fine (albeit, low whiffs today). He’ll take advantage of Rockie Road next time, I’m sure of it.

Zac Gallen @ SF (ND) – 6.0 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 34% CSW, 101 pitches.

Gallen got blitzed for four ER across 15 pitches in the first frame, then settled in for five strong innings after. His changeup and curveball saw some life, but there is still a touch of refinement left, especially in the cutter. It’s too bad he gets the Padres next, I was hoping he could get a comfortable outing or two ahead to ease back into the man we know he should be. That’s a tough call there.

Braxton Garrett @ SD (ND) – 3.1 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 68 pitches.

Blame it on the Padres. Can I do that for tough opponents? I feel like I can as we had no interest in Braxton against a legit offense. Only poor, thank you.

Keegan Akin vs DET (L) – 3.0 IP, 6 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 37% CSW, 68 pitches.

The man left a lot over the plate and got shellacked. More at 11.

 

Game of the Day 

 

Frankie Montas vs Cal QuantrillI’d love to see Montas put a stop to a Cleveland offense that is somehow scoring + this Quantrill hype is going to end…right?!

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 Cliff Welch/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 pitching coach and Brandeis alum. Wants every pitcher to be dope.

  • Avatar DB says:

    The “Game of the Day” bit is the best thing you’ve written this season, lol. (You’ve written a lot of good stuff.)

  • Avatar Peralta Luver says:

    Hey, big fan of your work. However, I still don’t understand the Freddy Peralta analysis. First, I would assume he would have an AGA label given that he’s given up 5 earned runs once, 3 earned runs twice, and then 0, 1, or 2 earned runs in every other start (I believe 5 starts with 0, 5 starts with 1, and 7 starts with 2). He’s gotten 5 strike outs twice and every other time he’s gotten 6+ Ks. I understand the fear of a shutdown, but they are clearly letting him go at least 80-90 pitches. That often gets through 5 innings to qualify for the win. Given his obscene K rate along with great ratios, I don’t see the fear. I mean the guy has 162 Ks vs 117 BB+ hits+ HBP.

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