A Duff of Smoke

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Monday.

Danny Duffy vs TB (L) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks – 18 Whiffs, 34% CSW, 96 pitches.

We had a pair of legit aces, two budding ones, and a few strikeout games, but the real star of the show was Danny Duffywho earned a rare loss despite going 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks against the Rays. Two unearned runs were the only blemish here, with Duffy sporting 18 whiffs en route to a 34% CSW and if you weren’t hyped last time, now’s the time.

The man was hurling the rock at 93.5 mph, a start after sitting ~94 mph. Why is this important? Duffy hasn’t averaged 93 mph or higher on his fastball since his breakout 2016 season. The heater earned 10/42 whiffs in this one, making it easy for his slider to clean up the rest with 35% CSW. This works. The Rays aren’t a terrible offense, either, and now he gets a lovely matchup against Detroit. If you didn’t pick him up today as an early streamer — Streaming Record: 10-8 — now’s your chance and I’m all for that weekend outing, and possibly more.


Let’s see how every other SP did Monday:

Dustin May @ SEA (L) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 34% CSW, 92 pitches.

He kept the ball down plenty with sinkers…and four-seamers, and it made him a little too hittable. I am excited to see him continue to get whiffs on that new curveball, though, going 8/26 whiffs tonight and pushing those strikeouts forward. With the Dodgers letting him toss over 90 pitches, you should feel very comfortable letting May fly moving forward as I’m sure he’ll figure out the whole fastball thing soon enough.

Justus Sheffield vs LAD (W) – 5.2 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 94 pitches.

Blegggh. He served us a Philly as he was an out away from a PQS and I guess that’s a victory against the mighty Dodgers. Still, I’m not seeing a whole lot I like here from Sheffield as he’s still sinker focused with a slider that makes plenty of mistakes. You’re hoping for a Toby and it’s not a bet worth taking.

Kevin Gausman @ PHI (W) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 6 Hits, 4 BBs, 5 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 108 pitches.

Gausman and his incredible splitter made it work once again, here featuring a tick lower velocity. I’m not worried — he had a dip earlier in the year and recovered — and 9/35 whiffs on splitters is everything you want. Props to him for squirming out a few jams to make this a lovely goose egg. No reason to take your foot off the Gaus pedal now.

Kohei Arihara @ LAA (W) – 5.2 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 34% CSW, 77 pitches.

Am I impressed he nearly went six innings of shutout ball and just four baserunners with six strikeouts? Absolutely. Am I seeing anything that suggests continued success ahead? Kinda…? Probably not. 5/10 whiffs on splitters is a lovely sight, but I think this was one of those days where he pounded the zone with fastballs + sliders and they weren’t slapped for hits. With the White Sox and Red Sox next (or maybe don’t wear socks at all?), this is an easy pass.

Josh Fleming @ KC (W) – 5.1 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 38% CSW, 65 pitches.

Fleming went opposite Duffy and more than matched him, and like some famous oil, he lasted far longer than any of us expected. His famous pitch separation wasn’t there in this one, leaning on changeups and cutters instead of sliders. I think with his solid sinker command he can have outings like these, shooting to be a competitive Toby. Sadly, I don’t think that’s what I want for my teams, especially when he’s unlikely to go nearly six frames under 70 pitches again.

Brandon Woodruff @ SD (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 1 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 37% CSW, 95 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. I know the hoopla about Musgrove, but he didn’t have the face the Padres and Woody did exactly what you wanted him to do. The man is a rock and should be there through the year. Please Brewers, let him pitch 200 frames.

Jack Flaherty @ WSH (W) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 107 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. Flaherty hasn’t settled in quite yet as he’s essentially a two-pitch pitcher (hey, like Ynoa!) at the moment, with his slider failing to be that pitch with just 2/28 whiffs here. Well, that’s not completely fair as his heater is truly the weapon that sets the foundation for the rest and it did its job here. I get a sense that Flaherty will be lovely to roster through the season, just not that stud you want to tell all your friends about, even those friends who don’t even know who Mike Trout is. Flaherty? Is that a Pokémon? You can’t catch win ’em all.

Chase Anderson vs SF (L) – 4.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 34% CSW, 70 pitches.

While I’m happy for Anderson that he could get five strikeouts and hold a 4.50 ERA with a 1.25 WHIP, you should be questioning why that would make for excitement. I really miss those days when he had increased velocity and acted like a Top-40 arm. Sigh.

Joe Musgrove vs MIL (L) – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 13 Ks – 27 Whiffs, 47% CSW, 96 pitches.

The man was legit tonight, as if yelling at me to give him an AGA label. I just need to see one more outing, Musgrove, but if it’s anything like this Golden Goal, yeah, you’ve got it. It does help facing the Brewers, for what it’s worth, but the man capitalized, going 14/28 whiffs on sliders + throwing just 14% fastballs. That’s right, one sinker for a ball and 5/12 CSW on four-seamers. He’s insane right now.

Nathan Eovaldi vs CWS (W) – 6.1 IP, 4 ER, 9 Hits, 0 BBs, 10 Ks – 19 Whiffs, 42% CSW, 100 pitches.

There’s a touch of Careful, Icarus here as Eovaldi allowed another run in the seventh — an inning he wouldn’t normally pitch if it weren’t for his lovely lead. The main story here is a glorious 42% CSW, driven by heavy curveball and slider usage (34% combined!) as Eovaldi has elected to favor them over the splitter and cutter. Well, kinda. The cutter still went 5/13 with whiffs and the splitter held 6/12 CSW, so essentially, Eovaldi had everything working in this one. I’m pretty impressed with his transformation as we’ve been searching for the right complement to his 97+ mph heat. Today, the answer was everything against a respected ChiSox lineup. He won the battle of the pink laundry, and now with Seattle, Texas, and Detroit ahead, you have to be ecstatic if he’s on your squad.

Dylan Bundy vs TEX (L) – 5.0 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 36% CSW, 81 pitches.

The man cruised through five frames with just a run on the docket, then ran into trouble in the sixth, then he walked the first batter followed by three straight singles. There it is, four extra baserunners + four extra runs. Sometimes baseball just isn’t fair as I get flashbacks to Sandy Alcántara’s weekend outing. I’m a little disappointed to see 91/92 mph from Bundy instead of the 93/94 from early on, but hey, that’s way better than the 89/90 he had at the end of last season. He’s fine, just brush it off.

Lucas Giolito @ BOS (L) – 1.0 IP, 7 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 0 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 54 pitches.

Oh no. Does it make hurt less if I told you that Giolito allowed 7 ER in the first start of 2020 and held a sub 3.50 ERA by the end? This happens, all pitchers generally have one poor start like this a year (maybe not this bad) and here’s to hoping it’s just one for Giolito. It’s no fun watching your guy get Singled Out, sandwiched by a pair of solo shots. Whatareyagonnado.

Joe Ross vs STL (L) – 4.1 IP, 10 ER, 8 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 85 pitches.

Soooo any hope we had for Ross after two shutout games is gone. Kaput. Peaced out. Finished. Wiped out. DONEZO. I hoped those with Ross available on the wire pivoted to something else instead of letting him go and for those that bought in, you have my sympathy. This feeling shall pass.


Game of the Day 


Zac Gallen vs Luis CastilloThere are so many great games — Shohei Ohtani is pitching! — but I’m going with two of my favorites dueling in Cincy. Must-see TV.


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


Photo by William Purnell/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.

3 responses to “A Duff of Smoke”

  1. Mario says:

    Based on this performance by Duffy, do you think you’d move him above Taijuan and Desclafani on the list? (not-so-subtle “who should I pick up” question)

  2. Felix Millanaire says:

    Nick-Someone dropped Lynn for his injury. I want to grab him obviously, but I need to drop an SP.
    who to drop? My staff- Burnes, Gallen, Bauer, Morton, Montas, SonnyGray, J. Montgomery
    How concerned are we over the trapezoid muscle?

  3. James says:

    I think it’s fascinating how a pitcher can become startlingly more effective at 94 mph vs 92 mph, whereas another given pitcher can’t become effective until 96. Baseball is so cool.

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