Yusei Decent, I Say Great

What is happening!

Welcome to the SP Roundup, the morning article reviewing every starting pitcher performance from last night’s (or morning’s, I suppose) games.

This article and yesterday’s are a bit different from the regular flow of SP Roundups, which will kick off proper next Friday following “real” Opening Day games, containing streamer picks and games to watch.

And a much better opening paragraph.

All right, let’s talk about the two pitchers from Thursday’s early game:

Yusei Kikuchi – 4.2 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. I really liked what I saw here. I know, 91 pitches to get through just 14 outs is a bit disappointing, but there was a lot at play. There had to have been nerves, as not only was Kikuchi playing his first game as a Seattle Mariner, but he was also in front of his home crowd in Japan. It was a momentous occasion, and I believe he was slightly off because of it. Still, I liked what I saw. A great mix of fastballs and cutters that kept right-handers off balance often, giving a sense of a pitcher working on his craft instead of throwing. There’s a little bit of polish left, but it’s very believable he flexes it sooner rather than later. His breaker will miss bats, and I think if he had a little more faith in the pitch down-and-arm side, he’d rack up more strikeouts quickly (just 8 whiffs and 22 CSW in 91 pitches leaves a bit to be desired). Don’t look at the 4.2 frames and think this isn’t a QS arm—Kikuchi will contribute plenty through the year as he’ll earn poor contact constantly, allowing him to charge through frames quickly. My current rank around No. 40 seems just right, and I’m definitely interested in the southpaw as my No. 4 starter.

Marco Estrada – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 1 Ks. On the other side was Estrada, who didn’t put up a dramatically different line but looked dramatically different. He allowed two home runs on a pair of poor pitches, and if Estrada is to act like his former 12-teamer-relevant self, he’ll need to refine that changeup. The slow ball was up too frequently today and needs to fall beneath the zone more often, helping him get more pop-ups with high four-seamers as he changes eye levels. There was talk during the game of Estrada needing more from his curveball, and that may be correct if he can’t find his old changeup. However, an improved deuce doesn’t elevate Estrada to 12-teamer relevancy. I can see him having success in 15-teamers now that his home park is the spacious and fly-ball-friendly Oakland Coliseum, but that’s where I draw the line. Join me as I yell Polo, running outside the pool as Estrada helplessly flails in the water.

(Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire)

Nick Pollack

Founder of PitcherList.com. Rotographs and Washington Post contributor and has worked with CBS Sports, Grantland, and SB Nation. Former pitching coach and Brandeis alum.

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Comments


Perfect Game

1. With the Dodgers rotation so injury prone, how many starts and QS do you see Stripling getting this year? Concerned the Dodgers will limit his IP during starts and not get the QS opportunities.

2. How many starts and QS can you realistically expect of Strahm?

Nick Pollack

Hey PG!

Very tough questions to answer.

1. With the news of Kershaw returning as soon as 20 days, I’m starting to question Stripling as a solid choice in the rotation. The previous List update was in belief that Stripling had the #4 spot (not #5), which means he’s now the first out. I’m not a fan of that out of the gate, which stinks a lot since I *was* on board for a good amount of the preseason.

2. 25-30 starts seems realistic to me with about a 50-60% QS rate.

theKraken

Nobody is going to be able to tell you anything of any reliability about QS for SP that have never survived one season.

Dave

Where do you see Peacock slotting into your list now that he looks to be on track to be Astro’s 5th starter.

And is Urias stock rising with Kershaw’s issues….. Do you think Urias will get a few starts to begin the season….and if he has a few outstanding outings do you think he has any chance of a rotation spot this year?

theKraken

Urias won’t pitch that many innings this year and that is 100% certain. I can’t see him making 20 starts even if his WHIP is 0. I don’t know how closely you follow the actual on-field happenings, but LAD really managed Walker B last year – the innings got up there thanks to the playoffs but they were skipping him, faking injuries, optioning him and doing everything they could to limit the innings. That said, he was way ahead of where Urias is. If he starts, then they will burn through his IP really quickly. Its an interesting situation – I like him – but I don’t love his chances to throw 100 innings a lot. Unfortunately, I can’t help but think of 2018 Alex Reyes as he was in a similar position, albeit a worse one but what is the appropriate workload for a young guy coming off serious injury with a minimal workload the previous season? I would have him open in the minors and promote at mid-season, but LAD has too many injuries for that plan.

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