Average Means

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Thursday.

John Means vs DET (L) – 4.1 IP, 6 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 79 pitches.

Y’all know me, I’m a believer in John Means after his 2020 season suggested a legit ace ceiling backed by increased fastball velocity, a phenomenal changeup, and a pair of breakers that could blossom into legit secondaries. After an explosive start to the season, he was interrupted by a lengthy IL stint, and he hasn’t quite looked the same since his return, encompassed in tonight’s 4.1 IP, 6 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 79 pitches against the Tigers. This ain’t it and I wonder when it will return.

The problem here was nothing stepped up to the table. The changeup went just 23% CSW and the fastball? Oh my, it sat 91.4 mph, 1.4 ticks down from the season average and nothing close to the 93/94 mph games we saw last season. Something isn’t quite right with Means and I have to wonder if there isn’t something larger at play with that large velocity drop. The fact of the matter is he’s not the man we want him to be and odds are, he’ll struggle against a solid Rays lineup next week. I’d think twice before letting him fly there as we cross our fingers he’s flirting with 93 mph once again. He used to be such a charmer…


Let’s see how every other SP did Thursday:


Chris Bassitt @ CLE (W) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 81 pitches.

Bassitt against Cleveland is a match made in heaven, where we don’t quite trust him regardless of opponent and seeing Cleveland allows us to exhale, kick back, and know we’re going to get production. I’m still a little shocked he’s boasting a 25% strikeout rate this season, FWIW, and he’ll get a true test against the ChiSox next week. The overall season performance screams “start him ya dingus”, while I can’t help but feel like he isn’t quite up to the challenge. Take em down, Bassitt.

Logan Webb vs COL (W) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 36% CSW, 91 pitches.

Did you not start Webb? FOLLOW THE RULES, COME ON. I honestly doubt any of you benched him given Rockie Road and all, but hey, he’s not rostered everywhere yet so who knows. Regardless, he got it done with sliders and sinkers, each returning a 40%+ CSW here, and with the laboring Mets next, this party ain’t stopping. Don’t you dare bench him now.

Brandon Woodruff @ CHC (ND) – 3.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 74 pitches.

Aces gonna be super inefficient and disappoint everyone. What a weird start. His heater just couldn’t get the job done, but neither could the Cubs bats. All I can think about is how hard it must be for Burnes not to tease Woody. I mean, come on man, I just had a 51% CSW against them, how tough could it be?

Vladimir Gutiérrez @ ATL (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 102 pitches.

Hot dang, look at you! Alright, alright, let’s Vargas Rule this one. I said you could before, but didn’t have faith here against Atlanta. I was so foolish. Gutiérrez had his best slider — 8/30 whiffs — while earning a ton of strikes with heaters and doing a fantastic job commanding his changeup down-and-away from lefties. And now he gets the Cubs? Yeah, sign me up.

Marco Gonzales vs TEX (W) – 9.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 108 pitches.

Oh dannnnng! Y’all might think this deserved the lead, but I dunno, it’s still Marco. He’s a Toby and just kept pitching through a full nine instead of getting pulled after seven because the Rangers are bad. This start doesn’t suddenly make me think Gonzo is now destined to repeat 2020 for the rest of the year. Nah, but hey, he’ll get the Rangers a second time in a row. That sounds great to me.

Ranger Suárez vs LAD (ND) – 4.1 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 82 pitches.

Whoa, I can’t say I expected Suárez to already be above the eighty-pitch mark, but here we are. He got the Dodgers and I’m not going to judge him for that, but I do want to see a bit more than 22% secondaries in the future if I’m ever going to jump onto this train. You best be going uptown.

Marcus Stroman vs WSH (W) – 5.1 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 38% CSW, 85 pitches.

Mmmmm, that’s Stroman earning himself a King Cole with eight strikeouts and we all love him for it. The slider + cutter returned 9/39 whiffs between them while his sinker earned strikes galore. That’ll do it. We don’t always see it from Stroman and sadly he gets the Giants next, who have been absolutely crushing it offensively. I’d be a bit cautious there if I could, despite this wonderful performance.

Trevor Williams vs WSH (ND) – 4.1 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 52 pitches.

Oh look, Williams is back! And he made the best of his low pitch count. I’m glad it worked out for his sake, and y’all know he’s not a play to make in your fantasy teams. Just not enough ceiling for what lies below.

Drew Rasmussen @ BOS (ND) – 4.0 IP, 1 ER, 1 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 34% CSW, 50 pitches.

Am I the only one that sees “Rasmussen” and thinks we’re in some campy 90s film where the Rays suddenly don’t have a pitcher on their roster and have to resurrect an Egyptian Pharoah for Game 7 of the World Series? The Wrapsodo of Rasmussen. I’d watch the h*ck out of that. Anyway, Drew tossed just 50 pitches of 2/3 fastballs + 1/3 sliders and hey, he was solid against the Sawx. Good on ya kiddo, I doubt you’ll actually be a true starter this year.

Erick Fedde @ NYM (ND) – 4.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 22% CSW, 68 pitches.

Is this a good start from Fedde? I guess? Maybe? It’s a 4.50 ERA with a 1.75 ERA. Oh. Right, that’s not good at all. Don’t Trust The Feddes.

Shohei Ohtani vs TOR (ND) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 99 pitches.

Yesssss. Ohtani earned whiffs and trucked through six frames against one of the baddest offenses in town. I hope you could hear that gravel in the sentence, the real loooooow tones that add depth, character, and charisma to any spoken word. Anyway, Ohtani hasn’t slowed down since the end of spring and here’s to him pulling it out through the end for a very clear MVP award. Sorry, Vladito.

Matt Peacock vs SD (ND) – 1.1 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 34% CSW, 29 pitches.

This was a “bullpen” game with Caleb Smith going 78 pitches across 5.1 scoreless innings (one unearned). Go figure. Nothing too alarming in his stuff to make me think it’s real, sadly, but hey, I’m happy for him. He needed this night.

Mitch White @ PHI (L) – 4.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 59 pitches.

Hey, that’s not the worst 59-pitch outing I’ve seen. So that’s cool, I guess. With Gonsolin and Kershaw out, the Dodgers are moving on from wheat and accepting White into their regular rotation, but likely still well under 70 pitches. He throws hard (~95 mph) and has a solid hook, but it’s not the play you’re searching for.

Mike Foltynewicz @ SEA (L) – 7.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 98 pitches.

Hey, we’ll all absolutely take this from Folty. He’s a volatile Toby when the good starts aren’t that great — this is still an ERA over 3.80 — but the floors are like a floating cauldron. Of what? Does it matter? Anything that one would have inside a cauldron is terrifying. I think the “one” is more terrifying than the cauldron. True, whoever has a proper cauldron with anything inside it, those are the true terrors. ANYWAY, Folty is getting the Mariners a second time and it’s up to you if you care enough for it. In a Quality Start league, I get it. Otherwise, meh.

Wade LeBlanc @ PIT (ND) – 2.0 IP, 3 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks – 2 Whiffs, 20% CSW, 30 pitches.

LeBlanc left this one with elbow pain and the Cardinals scrambled to fill in the frames. Not the Wade they planned it.

Matt Manning @ BAL (W) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 83 pitches.

It’s so dang boring, but sure, there’s a win and a PQSAnd few rejoiced. Yay. I’m not someone that goes coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs, but four whiffs? That’s it?

Tanner Houck vs TB (L) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 8 Ks – 18 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 89 pitches.

You gotta dig Houck earning a Gallows Pole against the Rays, though he had a bit of Careful, Icarus in this one, with a two-run shot in the sixth, followed by a double that came around to score after the hook. He was so close to dazzling us all. He’s firmly in the rotation now for the foreseeable future, and despite the 5.40 ERA, I’m excited for what’s ahead. He’s now stretched out to 90 pitches and the potential is astounding. I’m willing to wager we see a double-digit strikeout game as soon as the end of August. Sweet.

Lance Lynn vs NYY (ND) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 107 pitches.

Aces gonna help make this a show for fans after Heaney messed things up. This was in Iowa without Statcast (read: no pitch metrics), but I go the extra mile! I calculated 26/107 CSW with 10 whiffs because THAT’S WHAT I DO. But for real, Lynn pitched well save for a three-run shot from Judge, and y’all shouldn’t think twice about Lynn because duh.

Sean Nolin @ NYM (L) – 3.0 IP, 4 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 51 pitches.

Hey, Sean was No Lynn (thanks Twitch chat). That’s all you really should walk away from this roundup remembering.

Eli Morgan vs OAK (L) – 4.0 IP, 5 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 1 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 72 pitches.

Womp womp. I was hoping Morgan would be up for the challenge, but instead he didn’t have his best fastball or slider, and the changeup was…not much of a factor. It lead to a HAISTBMBWT?! and a start against the Twins is likely a no from me. You could do worse, I guess.

JT Brubaker vs STL (ND) – 5.0 IP, 5 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 81 pitches.

Ugh. Streaming Record: 71-51. Look, if Coffee Cakes can’t follow “The Cardinal Rule” then I guess I can’t trust him at all, let alone the Dodgers next. It’s been fun watching your spurts of success, Brubaker, but this may be where our streaming ties end for 2021.

Yu Darvish @ ARI (L) – 2.2 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 73 pitches.

Aces gonna relapse after a stupid good start to fall flat on his face. He didn’t have his command in the slightest and it’s hard not to panic once again as a fantasy manager. I truly thought he figured things out last time and this is such a heavy step back we just don’t know what to expect anymore. It’s like he’s a premium Cherry Bomb and those don’t belong in the Top 10 starters, you know? Update: Darvish left this one with back tightness and apparently wanted to pitch through it for his team. That explains a lot. Monitor this situation.

Kyle Muller vs CIN (L) – 2.1 IP, 6 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 1 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 72 pitches.

Bleggggh. The Reds are a solid team, but it’s not like Muller doesn’t have the skills to overcome it. He went 50% sliders and they weren’t good enough to mask his poorly commanded heater, leading to just one strikeout (HAISTBMBWT?!and so many disappointed hearts. Even worse, because of these struggles, Atlanta has elected to keep Toussaint up and send Muller back down to Triple-A. Bummer. The Muller hype will return in the future and we’ll be ready when that time comes. In the meantime, you can go ahead and drop if you haven’t already.

José Berríos @ LAA (ND) – 4.1 IP, 6 ER, 8 Hits, 4 BBs, 3 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 93 pitches.

Awwww, Berríos just can’t go three straight stellar starts, can he. Now his ERA sits at 3.52 and y’all know it’s because it’s the dang law. Berríos simply cannot have a full season where he sits in the low 3s of ERA. No sir, the man has to be in the 3.60 – 3.90 range. He’ll find a way. He always finds a way.

Germán Márquez @ SF (L) – 4.0 IP, 7 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 22% CSW, 81 pitches.

Noooooo. I’m sad to see Márquez not have his best stuff when he has an outing in Oracle Park, but maybe there’s a bigger issue at play. Maybe we all need to just stop starting pitchers against the Giants. I think that’s the real problem here. Anyway, Márquez gets the Padres in Coors next and y’all know that ain’t it.

Andrew Heaney @ CWS (ND) – 5.0 IP, 7 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 78 pitches.

Yikes. We knew this wasn’t a start to chase for Heaney as it was a small park and the long ball was destined to find him. And what do you know, three long balls for six ER came to be. It’s been very easy to keep Heaney on the wire this summer and all I can say is I hope there’s something that pulls us back in before this season is over. His stuff is much better than the results have been.

Kyle Hendricks vs MIL (L) – 4.0 IP, 9 ER, 11 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 97 pitches.

I was tempted to lead with Hendricks but let’s be honest, y’all know the rules and so do I. This is the floor we know Hendricks has in the back cellars of his being, the floor he has so deftly evaded despite his stuff egging it on all season. Sure, the man has let the monster out of the cage, but it’ll go back in by next week, enjoying its 50s television as Hendricks quietly goes back to do his work without interruption.


Game of the Day


Tyler Mahle vs Zack WheelerI’d love to see Mahle do great things + Wheeler is fresh off a CGSO. That’s what’s up.

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

Have Questions? – Join my morning Twitch livestream! I answer all questions there for free: 9:00 am – 11:00 am EST Monday through Friday.

Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Aaron Polcare (@bearydoesgfx 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.

7 responses to “Average Means”

  1. FAAB says:

    I’d like to point out Vladimir Gutierrez’s upcoming schedule:

    vs CHC, vs MIA, @MIA, vs DET, @CHC, @PIT, vs PIT, vs WSH

    Enjoy winning your leagues!
    And if he fails or gets injured, just grab Hunter Greene.

  2. John says:

    Not saying it should be thrown around, but if Alcantara could get the label, I’m not sure how Chris Bassitt doesn’t have the AGA label by now. He’s been doing this for pretty much the whole season, outside of a slightly rough start to the season, so he’s definitely a guy you set and forget regardless of the matchup. Yes, the White Sox are a very rough matchup, but he’s been up to the challenge for much of the season, so not sure why he hasn’t earned that respect from you.

    Not looking to argue or anything. Just an honest observation about a pitcher who’s been an ace practically all season.

    • Bbboston says:


      He’s been pitching this way his whole career… see note below.

      • John says:

        No argument there, although he has taken it up to another level this season to legit ace. Obviously he’s been good for several years now, but last year was his first year he started taking it up a level. Now this season he’s improved his walk rate and has his lowest BAA of his career, which should be silencing any doubt that his improvements last season were just luck.

  3. Bbboston says:

    It’s crazy to me, how excellent pitchers in terms of mix and craftiness just get dismissed as lucky. BASSITT HAS BEEN GOOD HIS WHOLE TOME IN MLB…….

    From another pert:
    Chris Bassitt – 6 IP, 0 ER, 5 baserunners, 6 Ks, ERA at 3.06. At 32 years of age, he has a career ERA under 3.50. There’s only 22 starters under 3.50 for just this year! Yet — again with some stank — YET! Bassitt is still underrated. Someone asked yesterday if they should start him. Look at the Player Rater for starters — he’s so crazy under-appreciated — he’s around a top 10 starter on the year! I also wrote a sleeper post for him this past offseason, so this ain’t new. Finally, I bet he’s under-drafted again in 2022.

  4. Elias says:

    Are there any concerns that Woodruff is being limited? He was held to 74 pitches in 3 innings. Maybe send him down to the 30’s on the list like Peralta?

  5. David J says:

    Hey Nick…..ROS….Tanner Houck….Huscar Ynoa or John Means?

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