Akin To An Ace

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Saturday.

It should surprise you to see Keegan Akin toss a line of 5.1 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 4 BBs, 8 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 38% CSW against the Yankees and earn himself a King ColeIf you’re not surprised, you need to learn to be true with yourself and embrace the truth instead of lying internally. You gots this.

Who is this guy? Akin tosses low 90s fastballs from the left side of the mound, using fastballs all over the zone and intent to elevate in deeper counts, while his solid changeup keeps batters off balance and sliders sprinkled in for strikes. It’s the makings of a Toby in most cases, but his four-seamer faced a weakened Yankee lineup that had a difficult time making sense of the pitch. Watching this one, I saw plenty of awkward swings and batters failing to get on top of his heater, showcasing the pitch’s exceptional rise. It added up to a 44% CSW that you normally don’t see on 91.7 mph four-seamers thrown 55%+ of the time, and while some of those were on very borderline called strikes, he deserved its success.

His changeup certainly impacted its success along the way. Akin did a great job keeping the pitch down for the most part, helping earn 37% CSW across its 19 thrown, and it all clicked. There was a slider as well that turned me into a Twain as it didn’t impress-a me much, and I think his changeup will step into the firm #2 thrown pitch in short time.

It all added up to a fantastic outing last night, though I have to preach caution. It’s a formula that can have success when executed like this, but no pitcher holds a 38% CSW through the year. The package seems a bit fragile and those days when his fastball isn’t returning such remarkable outcomes, this could be a lot of mediocrity. There’s a chance he’s a solid Toby to stream against meh lineups and that’s perfectly fine with me. This has more makings of a Birthday Party than a breakout start, though, and keep that in mind.


Let’s see how every other SP did Saturday:

Austin Gomber vs CHC (ND) – 2.2 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 35% CSW. Gomber got the call as Kwang Hyun Kim was placed on the IL with a kidney ailment. Poor guy, I hope he’s okay. I wouldn’t expect Gomber to get significant innings, even if he does take his spot. Let’s move on.

Gerrit Cole @ BAL (L) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 10 Ks – 20 Whiffs, 29% CSW. Aces gonna ace. Sorry, Cole, 20 whiffs aren’t going to do it and neither is 1 ER through six frames. Keegan and Lucas are clearly better. On a serious note, this is the kind of performance you expect from your #1 SP and let’s be happy he’s not giving up 2 longballs per game.

Sandy Alcantara @ TB (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 8 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 29% CSW. Well this is much better. Look at his four-seamer location. This is absolutely perfect…if they were against right-handers as all of these were against left-handers. Weird. His changeup was much better in this one with 8/11 CSW, his slider earned strikes, and seeing 97 mph velocity on average is A-OK in my book. Not the final form of Alcantara but yeah, you should be starting Sandy for the rest of September.

Tony Gonsolin vs COL (ND) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 8 Ks – 18 Whiffs, 35% CSW. Look at Gonsolin taking full advantage of just 75 pitches. I really hope the Dodgers let him go six when he needs 85 pitches to get there, but at the very least, expect five solid frames per start moving forward. His slider and splitter combined for 13/36 whiffs and that’s wonderful. Seriously, wonderful, especially sitting 95/96 mph on four-seamers. The only problem I have is that I miss the Zappa facial hair. That was legit.

Tarik Skubal @ MIN (ND) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 28% CSW. You know, it’s about time Skubal dominated once. He went four-seamer heavy and threw many up in the zone for a 32% CSw at 94/95 mph, though his secondary stuff was lacking in a major way. Sliders and changeups all over the place while curveballs couldn’t find the zone. Yeah, this isn’t the finished product you want to believe in. Nice line, though.

Seth Lugo vs PHI (W) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 33% CSW. Okay, we’re finally at a point where we should feel good rostering Lugo. His curveball is doing wonderful things – 36% CSW across 22 thrown, while his sinker is finding the edges and he’s using rare sliders for strikes. The best part? He hit 81 pitches here and could conceivably go six frames next time. That works for me.

Sean Manaea vs SD (W) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 36% CSW. Look at you, Manaea, earning 36% CSW as your fastball found the edges of the plate for 38% CSW on its own. His changeup was a little spotty and his breaker showed its face just 7 times for a handful of strikes, but tossing 92 mph on his fastball – 92! He normally sits 90! – is incredibly encouraging. He even touched 94.6 mph in this one. So that’s great, I wish he went more than 64 pitches in this one and I wonder if that helped with the overall average heater (it fell to 90 mph in the fifth), and I’m not suddenly a huge Manaea fan now without dominating secondary stuff. Certainly encouraging, though.

Trevor Cahill vs ARI (ND) – 2.2 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 21% CSW. He was pulled early with injury last time, giving him a short 42 pitch leash this game. That’s not what you want.

Kris Bubic vs CWS (L) – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 27% CSW. That’s two straight solid games from Bubic, though I haven’t seen his changeup fall properly like it should be…and it still earned 7/31 whiffs. I don’t think I’ll feel confident in Bubic for a while as he gets more experience to develop consistency, but I can see him becoming a strong Toby for 2021.

German Marquez @ LAD (ND) – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 28% CSW. Marquez has been a bumpy road lately, but with his slider doing well, he was able to make it work against the Dodgers on the road. It wasn’t the overwhelming stuff in his repertoire, but it was solid and sometimes, that’s all you need. Now he hosts the Angels in Coors and I’m leaning start him there. It’s close and make sure to recognize him as a bit of a Cherry Bomb at the moment.

Justus Sheffield vs TEX (ND) – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 22% CSW. Phew. Sheffield’s changeup was far from sharp, though his slider did better things in this one to get through the Rangers lineup. He’s still not a finished product, but against weak opponents (like the Rangers), Sheff can make it work. That sinker really isn’t that great, sadly.

Adam Wainwright @ CHC (W) – 6.1 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 35% CSW. Waino is simply cruising right now, killing it with his curveball, especially here with 45% CSW across 44% usage. Phenomenal. It’s weird to see him have this level of success after he was so far from it last year, carrying a 2.68 ERA (4.52 SIERA) with a 0.92 WHIP through 40.1 frames and six starts. Why is that SIERA so high? Well it’s a sub 20% K rate and .207 BABIP, which both put severe dents into SIERA. I wouldn’t anticipate a 4.50 ERA the rest of the way, but keep that in mind – Waino isn’t likely to carry a strikeout per inning so you’re hoping he’s the Spider-Man at the end of this as you’re chasing his ratios and Wins. That’s fine and I’d keep tossing him out there with Detroit next, but just keep that in mind.

Aaron Civale vs MIL (ND) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 32% CSW. The line works, but it wasn’t the best performance from Civale. His cutter wasn’t there, forcing him to throw more sinkers than usual, while his curveball was still fantastic – 6/24 whiffs + 42% CSW. Keep starting Civale but keep in mind that there is a small question of consistency. I wonder if more experience will make this three-pitch mix more reliable looking head to 2021.

Ryan Weber vs TOR (ND) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 23% CSW. Oh hey it’s Weber who survived five frames. Cool, cool.

Kyle Gibson @ SEA (ND) – 4.2 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 24% CSW. He needed 104 pitches to get pulled in the fifth and while he got more whiffs on his slider and changeup today, his sinker and four-seamer combination didn’t do enough. We’re looking at Gibson through a telescope right now and wondering if that really is him. That’s how far away we are. AYYY Steve! I think that’s him! Does he have the sandals I let him borrow? The purple and blue ones? That’s our man.

Madison Bumgarner @ SF (L) – 4.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 28% CSW. Bumgarner returned from the IL, threw 72 pitches, and averaged 88.7 mph on his fastball. Yep, this is still bad. He’s hoping to be a Toby at this point and now you’re wondering if you should be bumping someone off your roster to activate him. I’m going to say no. Just let him go – he has the Dodgers then Angels next. I’m out.

Anthony DeSclafani @ PIT (ND) – 4.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 24% CSW. Blegh. This isn’t what you wanted. Streaming Record: 22-22. Just 5/83 whiffs, his fastball was all over the place, forcing Tony Disco to try to go the kitchen-sink route and it just wasn’t good. He’s not where you want him to be and failing to do things against the Pirates is enough for me to take him off the menu.

Jose Urquidy vs LAA (ND) – 3.2 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 29% CSW. Hey, Urquidy is back! It was a lot like the Urquidy we remember with a 93 mph heater, a whiffable changeup and a mix of sliders/curveballs for his breakers. It wasn’t polished, though, and he lasted just 63 pitches for the Astros. Rostering him now means you’re A) banking that he gets his command back right away and B) believing ~70 pitches from Urquidy will be worthy production. I wouldn’t bet on either of those and I’d leave him on the wire.

Adbert Alzolay vs STL (L) – 2.2 IP, 2 ER, 2 Hits, 5 BBs, 4 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 27% CSW. The book on Alzolay is he’s a wild arm with some whiffability and you won’t see a new edition coming out anytime soon. Your over-priced textbooks are still relevant, rest assured.

Lucas Giolito @ KC (W) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 9 Ks – 24 Whiffs, 38% CSW. So according to our numbers, both Giolito and Akin earned a King Cole which allows Giolito to get a Golden Goal as well. I’ll allow it. He’s been in an absurd groove over the last few weeks with his changeup acting like the best in baseball with 12/35 whiffs in this one. Aces. Gonna. Ace.

Kenta Maeda vs DET (ND) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 22 Whiffs, 35% CSW. Aces gonna ace. I’m annoyed to see a PQS on just three baserunners, but here we are. Maeda has had a little bit of a rough stretch since the non-no-hitter but 22 whiffs? A fantastic slider? Just 20% fastballs? Be still my beating heart.

Max Fried vs WSH (ND) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 32% CSW. Soooo Fried averaged 94 mph on his fastball in the first few starts of the year, then settled in around 93 mph. Last start was 92 mph. This start was 91.5 mph. Yikes. That’s a dramatic fall and while some on twitter are suggesting that it’s because his fastball is getting grouped in his a cutter, there were few pitches above 93 mph in this one. There is something legit wrong here. Another issue is his slider earning only one whiff in 14 thrown, though his curveball was excellent. I love when Fried is able to constantly get that pitch down and refuse to let it hang. 41% CSW on the pitch here and it saved him plenty across this start. This is his third start in four with just five innings on the dot, while he hasn’t fanned six since the middle of August. There’s a reason he holds a 4.11 SIERA and I’m a little scared. He has yet to allow a HR and you know that’s coming soon. I’m hoping he holds on through the month and can get that velocity back up instead of a legit fall.

Brandon Woodruff @ CLE (ND) – 4.1 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 29% CSW. Blegh. Woodruff really hasn’t been the workhorse we wanted this season with just one game in his last six coming with six full frames. It was his lowest fastball velocity of the season, normally sitting 96/97 and sitting 95.5 mph here, a full tick lower. It’s not great and could spell a weak three weeks ahead, but I have to imagine spinning this wheel is a better gamble than others on the wire. Let’s hope for the best.

Spencer Howard @ NYM (L) – 4.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 28% CSW. So 94 mph is fine from Howard, the real focus is his changeup that is supposed to make for an excellent 1/2 punch. Sadly, it hasn’t been a premier offering and just 2/12 CSW here isn’t turning any heads. Tossing just 65 pitches isn’t fun at all as the Phillies are babying him in 2020 and it makes for a 2021 “Young Gun.” I would look elsewhere in September.

Dillon Peters @ HOU (ND) – 1.2 IP, 3 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 28% CSWI’ll be honest, I’ve been trying to write something about Dillon for a bit, but all I can focus on is the melody from Peter and the Wolf. Look what you’ve done to me Peters. LOOK WHAT YOU’VE DONE. That would also be the reaction to anyone that trusted him, so I guess this fits.

Blake Snell vs MIA (L) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 8 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 30% CSW. While he got whiffs 8/28 whiffs on breakers, he couldn’t land a single one for a called strike. That’s the problem here as prime Snell = getting his breakers inside the zone and off. He’s still worth your starts – I don’t expect 4 ER and a 1.80 WHIP moving forward – but keep your expectations a little tempered.

Chris Paddack @ OAK (L) – 4.2 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 28% CSW. Soooooo this isn’t get better, is it? Paddack’s fastball is a pitch that needs to jam batters up-and-in. It’s what makes four-seamers like Paddack’s super effective and it’s like against Oak, he’s gone from a fire-type to water-type. Terrible jokes aside, you’re going to have make some tough decisions down the line as Paddack hasn’t quite figured it out yet. We only have three weeks left. Can you afford to keep taking chances on Paddack to get it together or go for that solid stream instead? I’m inclined to think you’re still better off trusting Paddack but I feel your struggles. I feel you.

Griffin Canning vs HOU (ND) – 4.0 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 27% CSW. Blegh. It was the Astros and Canning is a Cherry Bomb that we didn’t expect to work against the Astros and it could have been worse if Jo Adell didn’t rob a longball. If you haven’t moved on from Canning yet, you really should.

Brandon Bielak @ LAA (ND) – 3.2 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 30% CSW. I can see myself streaming Bielak against a poor offense, but in most cases, he should stay on the wire. You won’t be lacking his presence.

Erick Fedde @ ATL (ND) – 3.2 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 23% CSW. Remember kids, Don’t Trust The Feddes. 

Colin Rea @ STL (L) – 2.0 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 2 Whiffs, 33% CSWThis is Rea life. It’s not a fantasy.

Trevor Williams vs CIN (ND) – 6.0 IP, 5 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 28% CSW. Weird thing is I actually liked Williams’ approach here, but his stuff just wasn’t good enough to escape it unscathed. His mistakes got punished and despite one of his highest whiff counts, it just didn’t come together. It does make me consider him a little more with his solid four-seamer and slider separation, but it’s obviously risky.

Chase Anderson @ BOS (ND) – 4.0 IP, 6 ER, 9 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 22% CSW. After a solid start last week, Anderson was liquid or gas against the Red Sox. No solid. Now he gets the Mets and yeah, no thanks.


Today’s Streamer


For those unaware, I’m forced to make my streamer picks under the condition of sub-20% owned in Fantasy Pros’ consolidated ownership rates.



Brett Anderson vs. Cleveland Indians – It’s this or Alex Young against the Giants and I’m a little afraid of San Francisco’s offense right now.


Tomorrow’s Streamer


Kevin Gausman vs. Arizona Diamondbacks – This is the start where it all comes together for dominance.


Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer


Tyler Mahle vs. Chicago Cubs – I like where Mahle is at right now and I’d let him fly against the Cubs.


Game of the Day


Aaron Nola vs. Jacob deGrom – Yes I’ve already been watching it as I write this article WHATEVER.



(Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire)

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 “Akin To An Ace”

  1. Jeremy says:

    What are you doing with Gonsolin in shallower redraft leagues? His next three starts look to me to be HOU, @COL, and OAK. Is he a start in all matchups now, or would it be better for me to reclaim a streaming slot?

    • Nick Pollack says:

      I think I’m holding for the Astros and taking it from there.

      Coors does scare me a little, but if he’s still doing this thing against the Astros, he can survive Coors.

      I’d be completely fine with Oakland.

  2. Lei says:

    What do you make of Trevor Rogers? Worth grabbing off the Wire?

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