Adam Theory

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Monday.

Adam Wainwright vs PHI (L) – 9.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 8 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 34% CSW, 107 pitches.

After carving through the Nationals’ lineup for ten strikeouts in seven frames, Adam Wainwright outdid himself against the tougher Phillies with a phenomenal 9.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 8 Ks across 107 pitches. Hot dang! It came with 12 whiffs and 34% CSW as that curveball and cutter combination did its thang, with sinkers stepping up for plenty of called strikes.

Is this real? Does Wainwright have that extra fuel in the tank to make this work for one more season? It’s not out of the question. His curveball was that good, featuring a 50% CSW across 36 thrown, rarely wasting a yacker and pounding effective strikes in every at-bat. Relentless.

His cutter is also doing a fantastic job hugging the glove-side edge, and I feel weird denying Wainwright a date on my squads as he gets the Pirates next. The man is feeling it, and it could last more than the month of April. Just be ready to jump ship when this comes to its inevitable conclusion.


Let’s see how every other SP did Monday:


Anthony DeSclafani vs COL (W) – 9.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 100 pitches.

Tony Disco with the CGSHO, showcasing why Rockie Road is oh-so-wonderful. Now it’s the tricky part — he’s slated for two straight against the Padres now. Are you willing to drop DeSclafani after a night like this one? The hardest choices require the strongest wills. You’re jumping from one extreme to the other, don’t let this result blind you. That slider was doooope though.

Trevor Rogers @ MIL (W) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 85 pitches.

Rogers has a 1.29 ERA on the year and is getting awfully close to the AGA label. Fastballs were 95/96 and his changeup was on point, though we really didn’t see much of his slider in this one — he simply didn’t need it. With the Nats and a repeat against the Brewers next, this train isn’t going to stop anytime soon, is it?

Sean Manaea @ TB (W) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 100 pitches.

I’m stoked to see Manaea keep his velocity up, here sitting just under 92 mph, while he’s earned a 15% SwStr rate for the third straight game. I wanted to see more of it and I likely should have had Manaea near the Top 50 with the way he’s pitching, honestly. Seeing 12 whiffs from secondaries is fantastic as he’s keeping them down and with that increased velocity, this is the best-case scenario for Manaea. Hold on.

Zack Wheeler @ STL (W) – 8.0 IP, 1 ER, 1 Hits, 3 BBs, 9 Ks – 20 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 114 pitches.

THANK YOU. I felt like I was losing it as Wheeler has underperformed over the past few weeks, and I’m thrilled to see him get back into his groove as he found the edges with fastballs and avoided the heart of the plate. The man willed his way through eight frames with 97/98 mph heat. His secondary stuff still needs refinement, though, and it would have turned this 114 pitch start into something a bit more…sustainable. But as long as that fastball is there, possible Gallows Pole awards await, with a higher ceiling to hit. You love to see it.

Matt Harvey vs NYY (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 84 pitches.

Are you in shock? I’m in shock. Sure, he’s getting more movement on that slider and it caused David Cone to shout out Alex Fast during the YES Broadcast, and props to him for locating it away with sinkers inside effectively. Four-seamers? Just chuck em in the heart of the plate. I don’t think this is the resurgence of Harvey’s fantasy relevance and a clear Birthday Party.

Tyler Mahle @ LAD (ND) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 97 pitches.

Mahle had his first true test of the season and passed as he survived the Dodgers. It’s not the attention-demanding performance we’ve seen from him before, especially with his slider not nearly on the same level as we’ve seen in previous starts. Nevertheless, his four-seamer was dominant and he adapted with his splitter. Good on ya Mahle, enjoy the Cubs and Cleveland as your reward.

Rich Hill vs OAK (L) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 10 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 37% CSW, 93 pitches.

Oh, go ahead Hill. Please fan TEN as you sit in my Fringe Table of The List. Please, go make us incredibly confused trying to figure out how the Rays will use you next, here getting 97 pitches after going a total of 6.1 innings in your previous two starts combined. I am happy to see him sit at 89 mph, though. We’ve had some rough patches where it was comfortably in the 80s and y’all don’t want that Rick. Sadly, I don’t think this warrants a pickup with his unpredictable workload + Houston next.

Brad Keller @ DET (W) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 103 pitches.

Hey look, it’s Keller tossing 94 mph once again and with a decent slider. It’s not the great separation we’ve seen in the past and somehow just 25% CSW despite the 14 whiffs, but let’s be thankful Keller came through against the lowly Tigers. That velocity is certainly interesting, but not so interesting that I bowl forward with no regard for the Twins. They’ll rough ya up good.

Deivi Garcia @ BAL (L) – 4.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 65 pitches.

Deivi arrived showcased middling stuff and was promptly sent back down. Blegh. We didn’t know what we were going to get from Deivi, and while that fastball was located well and his slider fell in for strikes, there just wasn’t enough grabbing me here. Let’s forget this for now.

Jose Berrios @ CLE (ND) – 5.2 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 83 pitches.

Hmmmmm. Berríos went 3/31 on curveball whiffs while his changeup elected to put up the hammock it bought a decade ago when it didn’t realize how hard it would be to put up a silk hammock inside a 2br NYC apartment. It’s one of those weird dry spells for Berríos at the moment, yet he managed to give you a great ERA and WHIP this time around, and let’s be happy for that. Here’s to the strikeouts coming back next time.

Jose Urquidy vs SEA (W) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 96 pitches.

So it’s not the overwhelming outing we want to get us all hyped for Urquidy, but I’ll take a 3.00 ERA and sub 1.00 WHIP. His curveball and slider aren’t quite there yet, but the fastball/changeup special is working just like we want it to. Small steps here, let’s hope the slider is next.

Julio Urias vs CIN (ND) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 87 pitches.

A bit disappointing to see the mediocre ERA, but the breaker was working, he kept his changeup arm-side, and his fastball was excellent. Seriously, what a gorgeous strikezone plot — not for necessarily the locations (though some are amazing!), but just the precision and consistency of his pitches. If this line has given you any worry, just know his stuff speaks to plenty of success ahead.

Zach Plesac vs MIN (ND) – 7.2 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 93 pitches.

Phew. Sure, it’s a trio of ER, but that sub 1.00 WHIP is what you want as Plesac was effective with sliders and changeups. Remember the Plesac you envisioned when you drafted him? He’s back. CLANK! That was the sound of the buy-low window slamming shut.

Spencer Turnbull vs KC (L) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 81 pitches.

It’s not the greatest, but it’s a sub 1.00 WHIP across a PQS. That works. Streaming Record: 14-9. Turnbull’s four-seamer went after the edges while his sinker and slider earned strikes. I’m still waiting for his curveball to kick in before diving in headfirst (is there any other way to dive?) and with the White Sox, Yankees, and Twins ahead, I don’t see myself chasing Turnbull for a bit. Sorry Spencer, you’re just not a Hot Topic anymore.

Shohei Ohtani @ TEX (W) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 9 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 75 pitches.

This first inning was an atrocity, but then Ohtani settled in, finding his splitter and featuring a few surprise breakers. Nine strikeouts is nothing to laugh at and clearly he’s doing something right, but man, he’s not commanding the zone well. The strikeouts are chaotic and wonderful but I’m finding myself questioning how long until this Cherry Bomb explodes. It could be the Rays next, and it’s a huge risk to let Ohtani fly. Choose carefully if it’s right for you.

Justus Sheffield @ HOU (L) – 5.1 IP, 4 ER, 12 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 97 pitches.

Simply put, I don’t think there’s enough in that repertoire for Sheffield to be a consistent guy for your teams. It’s cool to see his changeup take a major role in this game (not typical) but even so, it wasn’t that good and it may have been a product of his slider not performing nearly as well as advertised. There’s a lot of tweaking to do.

Corbin Burnes vs MIA (L) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 9 Ks – 20 Whiffs, 40% CSW, 87 pitches.

Burnes nooooo. I mean, sure it’s a Golden Goal as he tied Wheeler with 20 whiffs, but the man isn’t supposed to go just five frames and allow four earned runs. YOU WERE THE CHOSEN ONE. That cutter is just so dang good.

Charlie Morton vs CHC (W) – 5.1 IP, 5 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 89 pitches.

Awwwww. Bryant swatted a grand slam as he stayed in the box on a front-door curveball and it was everything against Morton. Don’t panic, though — Morton sat 96 mph in this one and was feeling his curveball. All signs point to success ahead.

Zach Davies @ ATL (ND) – 3.2 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 4 BBs, 4 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 85 pitches.

Yeaaaaah, after Davies couldn’t handle the Pirates in his second start, there hasn’t been a whole lot to latch onto – even in this start, his changeup was great at 37% CSW and it didn’t save him. It’ll be a tough road back to your rosters.

Jordan Lyles vs LAA (L) – 2.2 IP, 7 ER, 10 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks – 2 Whiffs, 18% CSW, 77 pitches.

That new slider did little to stave off the Angels offense as Lyles can’t seem to get into that groove. There may be a time when he becomes a deep streaming option this year, when you’d choose Jordan instead of your favorite streamer dealing with a rough matchup — you know, Lyles over bae — but until then, let’s forget this.

Austin Gomber @ SF (L) – 1.2 IP, 9 ER, 7 Hits, 4 BBs, 3 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 64 pitches.

Oh no. I considered Gomber as a deep streaming option as he escaped the grip of Coors for a chance in Oracle Park and it was a disaster. Poor fella, it felt as though he was working toward a great start here and it all just fell apart. Back to the drawing board.


Game of the Day 


Kenta Maeda vs Aaron CivaleIs this when Maeda turns it around? Will Civale show up in a big way?


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


Photo by Dirk DBQ  | 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.

11 responses to “Adam Theory”

  1. Terry says:

    Tough BABIP luck for burnes…

    • theKraken says:

      His BABIP on the year looks fine to me – .273. You can’t get lucky every time out. IMO there is no stat that comes close to WHIP in terms of measuring how good a pitcher is – hits definitely should count against a performance. I would suspect that no BB would go hand-in-hand with giving up hits as he is throwing strikes and guys should be swinging. His GB rate also should lead to hits. Everything is always connected.

  2. Steve J Honovich says:

    Heard Cone namedrop Fast on the YES broadcast and almost pooped myself with happiness. So glad you guys are getting the success and notoriety you deserve!

  3. Frank Tavaras says:

    Would you drop Montas for McCullers?
    (I always feel a McCullers injury is not if but when)

  4. theKraken says:

    I suspect that the Rays are hoping to get innings out of Hill. They have pretty much no inning eaters. To this point I think the Rays have actually been quite reasonable with their usage of Hill – he has just pitched like crap and gotten pulled in his previous starts. As weird as the Rays are, they get that somebody needs to eat innings and I think they like to have rentals in that role. I think Hill is an easy top 100 arm even though he isn’t too exciting. He has a long track record of elite WHIP and K performance. Velocity is irrelevant with Hill – he knows how to pitch and his meal ticket is that CB that he changes speeds on. In a league with very few guys who know anything about pitching, Hill is one of the exceptions. His realistic production is way higher than the ceiling of many names on the list. Yes, I was getting close to dropping him before his start yesterday but the track record is too good and I suspect the Rays actually want everything they can get out of him. That is their model – suck what is left out of players and then send them off to pasture.

    What Rocco did in MIN last night to Berrios should cost him his job – he should never hear the end of it. That moron learned the rules last night when he visited twice in the sixth inning with no intent to remove the SP. As he was leaving the infield the umpires explained the rules to him and Berrios was removed. He was not giving up hard contact and he was one out away from a QS – think how much that would change the optics on the start. Why visit twice if you are not going to remove once? Berrios actually had a shutout through 5 and a very clean outing going. While it wasn’t his best night, Rocco demonstrated that he is a liability. I think that MIN pitchers get burned a lot by poor game management in MIN. Luis Arraez should never see the field and he plays every day defensively.

    You can see the collective social media stupidity in the wild swings in the player write-ups. The hype some of these characters are getting after 3/4 great starts is unprecedented… as is the heartbreak when reality inevitably sets in. I think it is worth remembering that things don’t change very quickly if at all in almost all cases. People may have gotten less in touch with reality and desperate for headlines, but the players themselves are the same as they have always been. Personally, I have enjoyed seeing a few guys come back to earth the past few days. There really is nothing to be gained by being first to put an AGA label on a guy. Most of the guys that people clamor for the AGA label on are embarrassments eventually. Those that are not end up there whether we are first or not. People’s increasing disconnect from reality and addiction to social media plays a large role in player values. It is a very exploitable situation if to the more objective minded.

  5. Benjamin Chang says:

    I see you with that Lyle Overbay reference hidden near the end.


  6. bp says:

    A Spencers reference…wow. :)

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