Casting Doubt

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Tuesday.

Luis Castillo @ SF (ND) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 98 pitches.

Let’s get this out of the way, today was rough. It was ace day, and many starters fell on their faces, and I’m here to help sort through it all. One that has had repeated question marks to kick off the season was Luis Castillo as he faced the Giants in Oracle Park, resulting in a shifty 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks and you’re starting to carry doubt. Is he really an ace I can trust? It’s the second game of three where he allowed at least 4 ER in the opening frame and his one respite was against the Pirates — a start that featured a slower fastball than we’re used to. Is everything okay in Castillo land?

I think so. His fastball sat 96/97 in this one, he allowed a pair of two-run shots in the first and essentially cruised after that, his changeup was better, and even his slider went 45% CSW. I’m disappointed just like you are, but I don’t see a guy laboring with every pitch. I see someone who isn’t quite in rhythm yet, and we wouldn’t even notice if the ball wasn’t bouncing the wrong way. I’d buy low on Castillo if your league’s manager is hitting the panic button, as this has a bit of 2018 air running about — you know, when he exploded after a horrific April, sparking the start of the Fireside Chats. I miss those, we should do them again.


Let’s see how every other SP did Tuesday:


Shane Bieber @ CWS (W) – 9.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 11 Ks – 20 Whiffs, 41% CSW, 113 pitches.

Ahhhh that’s better. Aces gonna ace. It’s a Golden Goal for Bieber as he went 11/46 whiffs on curveballs and 10/25 CSW on sliders. It’s weird to see him completely move away from an effective 2020 cutter, but can you argue with the results? Not a chance.

Lucas Giolito vs CLE (ND) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 107 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. It was the same ol’ Giolito approach as I wonder what he’d look like if he could actually pitch backward with his slider — 1/10 CSW here. I still feel like it’s a part of his game that will get exposed when he’s not facing lineups like Cleveland, but there’s plenty of time for that and he’s going to face weak lineups constantly. It’s a lovely world for Giolito.

Marcus Stroman vs PHI (W) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 86 pitches.

Here’s to Stroman getting his chance to start after an unfortunate rainout on Sunday. I’m digging his slider and cutter at the moment, but we’re not seeing the elevation from his four-seamer we were promised — seriously, none of his pitches are taking advantage of the top of the zone and it’s hurting him. Well, not today, but it’s not easy to survive 18 outs with just three punchouts. He’ll likely get Coors next and while you’re likely benching him there, things should be solid after.

Hyun Jin Ryu vs NYY (W) – 6.2 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 37% CSW, 95 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. Guy like Ryu are who the Yankees struggle against — not the power pitchers, but the ones that can live on the edges and induce chases constantly. His cutter did just that while his four-seamer and changeup found the corners with ease. Here’s to a healthy season ahead for Ryu, Canada needs you.

Trevor Bauer vs COL (W) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 2 BBs, 9 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 35% CSW, 99 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. He got Rockie Road and if he didn’t take advantage, the rest of the aces would have given him cold daggers of jealousy. Well, they still are, but you understand.

Matthew Boyd @ HOU (W) – 6.2 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 100 pitches.

Well hot dang, the boy man can’t be stopped! I’m shocked he’s having success without slider whiffs — just 2/27 today — especially when his changeup held just a 15% CSW. This start seemed a little…lucky, honestly, and y’all know I don’t want to be reticent about signing up for Boyd but even after three starts without a single longball, I’m still questioning the ability for the full year. I can’t blame you if you want to treat this like a Vargas Rule at worst, though.

Danny Duffy vs LAA (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 100 pitches.

Ummmm, Duffy averaged 94/95 mph on his four-seamer tonight. WHAT. His slider and changeup each jumped two sicks as well and I have to wonder if he’s tweaked something to suddenly get the most out of his stuff. The increased velo pushed his slider and changeup to 14/39 CSW (36%!) as his fastball earned plenty of strikes. Ignore the 1.50 WHIP, I’m kinda excited for Duffy now. I wish he weren’t facing the Jays next but there’s a part of me that still wants to start him there. 94/95! That’s vintage 2016 Duffy.

Zac Gallen vs OAK (ND) – 4.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 37% CSW, 82 pitches.

The man returned earlier than we expected, and while he wasn’t efficient, he made us proud. The report was that it hurt the most throwing his curveball when he initially had the injury and the pitch wasn’t particularly sharp today with 13% CSW and getting blasted for a solo shot. In other words, there’s room for improvement and I’m always down for that. Here’s to hoping he can go 90+ pitches again soon.

Taijuan Walker vs PHI (ND) – 4.1 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 8 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 80 pitches.

The last time he was on the hill, I lead with him for the roundup as he showcased a harder fastball by a full tick. The good news here is that it stuck around and then some as he’s up to 95 mph on the season. You love to see it. His splitter was a touch better here, but his sinker and four-seamer stole the show, opening the door for eight strikeouts. His inability to escape five frames is a product of his lack of depth in that repertoire, though, and even when he’s stretched out proper, I’m hoping one of his slider or curveball can steal strikes confidently — you can’t bank on splitters getting strikes. He gets Coors next and that’s a clear bench so don’t feel too bad if you need to drop him and possibly pick-up again in about a week.

Kyle Gibson @ TB (W) – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 86 pitches.

This was Gibson’s tougher opponent of his two-start week and he made it work for you, despite a 15% CSW on his sinker. It feels like cheating and not deserved but whatever, you survived and now it’s the Orioles. I think I like the tone of that…?

Brandon Woodruff vs CHC (ND) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 95 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. It’s what you expect and it was just another day at the office. Weird seeing the slider get just one appearance in favor of worse curveballs, though.

Jack Flaherty vs WSH (W) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 96 pitches.

Yeah, I’ll take this from Flaherty, aces gonna ace. He hasn’t been ultra dominant yet this year and while that line suggests it, I want to see one more frame as he displays a touch more efficiency and overall domination. Give me those 35%+ CSW days from late 2019!

J.A. Happ vs BOS (ND) – 4.2 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 20% CSW, 87 pitches.

Ehhhh it’s just so boring. Sure, it’s a good enough ERA and WHIP but are you going to look at this line and say “yep, that’s why I added Happ”? Yes…? No. The answer is no.

Justus Sheffield @ BAL (ND) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 77 pitches.

I can imagine someone asking their co-manager who they should pick up to avenge their Yarbrough draft pick. Justus. Do you mean like Batman or like Sheffield? Look, I understand he did well — yay! — but it was the Orioles (earmuffs, Fast and Palmer) and the underlying skills are still questionable from Sheff. I don’t believe he’ll be able to hold a 35% SwStr on that slider, while his sinker is meh and changeup isn’t there. Don’t fall for this.

Alec Mills @ MIL (ND) – 4.0 IP, 2 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 0 Ks – 0 Whiffs, 17% CSW, 41 pitches.

This was supposed to be Kyle Hendricksbut he was a late scratch with an undisclosed illness. Mills got the start and while it was only 41 pitches, I flat out can’t believe he failed to record a single whiff. No wonder he didn’t record a single strikeout — HAISTFMFWT?! And he still managed to put up a decent performance, what a guy, that Mills. What a guy.

Martín Pérez @ MIN (ND) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 88 pitches.

On a day filled with massive disappointment, Pérez managed to keep his head above water. Barely. Seriously, it’s one run away from doing absolutely nada for your squads and let’s be thankful for that. We have to always be thankful.

Dylan Bundy @ KC (L) – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 94 pitches.

Bundy keeps on proving that last year was no fluke, though his massive velocity spike took a dive here at a pedestrian 91.5 mph. That’s not the bad velocity we’ve seen in past years and completely fine, it’s just not the hype that was his last outing. Regardless, that slider is fantastic with 50% CSW here and he gets Texas next. That’s lovely.

Nick Margevicius @ BAL (ND) – 3.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 67 pitches.

Leave it to Nicky M. to go three frames and hold a 2.33 WHIP. Yep.

Chase Anderson @ NYM (ND) – 4.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 74 pitches.

Another start from Chase, another forgettable…what was I on about? Oh right, Chase. I guess he pitched today. Okay.

Chad Kuhl vs SD (ND) – 3.2 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 7 BBs, 1 Ks – 1 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 92 pitches.

Kuhl elected to turn to a knuckle-curve more than his slider today and it was slightly worse than his slider…which returned a 15% CSW. Yeah, the two pitches earned 1/41 whiffs and I can’t help but think I cursed Kuhl with that article back in 2018. He was just so promising!

Blake Snell @ PIT (ND) – 0.2 IP, 3 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 38 pitches.

What in tarnation. Snell was completely out of whack and couldn’t find the strike zone against the Pirates. The Pirates! The Friars had to pull Snell before he tossed his 40th pitch in the first inning and poof, there goes your Snell outing. Unless you do something miraculous over the weekend, you can bet Glasnow is finally leap-frogging you. He’s no longer in your shadow, Snell. Oh, and don’t worry, this was weeeirrrddd.

John Means vs SEA (ND) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 88 pitches.

This was rougher than expected for Means, but he did recover as the game went on, adapting as he didn’t have his changeup by whipping out a strong pair of breakers, combining for 43% CSW across 28 thrown. Fastball was hovering 93 mph and overall, you’re fine holding. He gets the Rangers next, after all, and you don’t want to miss that. But this was Seattle! And he still wasn’t horrific on a bad day.

Aaron Nola @ NYM (L) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 92 pitches.

He ran into trouble in the fourth and that’s about it. He still doesn’t have the changeup that he had last year, but his curveball was looking plenty better and he was sitting 92+. Nola is fine, y’all, and I expect him to get that changeup back soon.

Dean Kremer vs SEA (ND) – 3.0 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 54 pitches.

Bleeegggh. Fast wasn’t feeling good about this during our OTC pod earlier this week and I wanted to roll with it. His cutter was solid, but he didn’t have a whiff offering and his fastball was down a full tick to 92 mph. As my favorite two-start pitcher pick-up with Texas ahead, and questioning myself and wondering if he’s truly worth that stream. In daily leagues, I’m more in favor of chasing a different stream between now and the end of the week if I could. With a worse heater and 1/7 CSW on curveballs, it’s not a great chance he recovers over the weekend.

Antonio Senzatela @ LAD (L) – 2.2 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 73 pitches.

Aww man, another ace performed poorly today. Who? You know, the guy who held a 3.44 ERA last year. Please don’t do this. You’re so much better than this, unlike Senz-a. Sorry Senz-a.

Kevin Gausman vs CIN (ND) – 6.0 IP, 5 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 90 pitches.

Like Castillo, Gausman allowed a pair of two-run bombs in the first and looked plenty sharper with them out of the way. I wouldn’t be worried about Gausman after flexing the same fastball velocity with plenty of splitter whiffs. Yes, this is rough, but it doesn’t define the rest of his 2021. I feel like I’m going to be saying that a lot tonight.

Jake Odorizzi vs DET (L) – 3.1 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 80 pitches.

Uggggh, you too? Is Akil Baddoo batting for every Detroit hitter? My main focus for Odorizzi’s start was seeing red at the top of the zone and we got that here, but he didn’t have anything else to steal strikes effectively. He could get Coors next and that’s a major “naaaah” from me. I do believe Odorizzi should be solid after that.

Jameson Taillon @ TOR (L) – 3.2 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 84 pitches.

Easily my most disappointing line of the night and I know I’m going to sound biased and everything but he didn’t pitch that badly. Look at his strikezone plot — his fastball was excellent (37% CSW backs that up), but the major problem was his slider finding too much of the zone. Those should be on the corner or slightly off it, and it burned him here. Don’t give up on this, with a fastball like this and command that is clearly not erratic but adjustable, this can get real good real fast.

Jesús Luzardo @ ARI (ND) – 2.2 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 63 pitches.

I was thinking about leading with Luzardo here as he put up another poor outing for managers. The legend himself Eno Sarris said it best on Twitter, citing his reduced movement and spin rates and things aren’t looking swell. Except for his ERA and WHIP swelling up. NOW IS NOT THE TIME. Sorry. I think you still hold as the velocity is still there and he’s too good of a talent to let this last all season, but one strikeout won’t do (HAISTFMFWT?!) and I don’t know when that turnaround will happen. Yes, he does get the TIARA.

Pablo López @ ATL (ND) – 4.0 IP, 6 ER, 9 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 83 pitches.

Bleeeeeegh. PabLó’s four-seamer wasn’t as well command as we’ve seen, his changeup sat a bit too high, and there just wasn’t that pitch to save him against the mighty Atlanta offense. We’ve learned our lesson from years past, though — Pablo has one bad outing and then rebounds in a major way the following start. Don’t ignore history, keep starting Pablo.

Ryan Yarbrough vs TEX (L) – 6.0 IP, 6 ER, 10 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 93 pitches.

You know, maybe he was just the Friday Pirate all along and we can only start him on one day of the week. On the other side, he got 14 whiffs and had a 31% CSW as clearly there’s still talent here. This really hurts, though, and it hasn’t been smooth sailing for the year. I want to say I start him against the Royals but it’s tough. I feel your pain.

Stephen Strasburg @ STL (L) – 4.0 IP, 7 ER, 8 Hits, 5 BBs, 3 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 88 pitches.

Remember when we were scared he was averaging ~93 mph? Strasburg averaged 91 mph in this start. Oh no. Apparently, he tried to slow things down to help him find the zone, but A) Strasburg shouldn’t be struggling so much that he can’t find the zone and B) That doesn’t work. Seriously, it just doesn’t, pitchers aren’t used to throwing at 80% and it often makes things worse. I’m obviously worried.

Max Fried vs MIA (L) – 4.0 IP, 7 ER, 9 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 86 pitches.

Ugggggh Fried is looking nothing like an ace and even felt a hamstring twinge running after his final at-bat of the day. He’s featuring too many pitches in the heart of the plate while his breakers aren’t being the consistent offerings they need to be. I believe in the long haul here and this April struggle doesn’t outline failure for 2021, but it’s hard to let him fly right now. He gets the TIARA and I hope it begins as soon as his next outing. No, I wouldn’t drop him — stash him one start if you must.

Game of the Day 

Zach Plesac vs. Carlos RodónLet’s see Plesac go deep once again + Rodón keep the momentum from his debut outing of the year.

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

Featured Image 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.

10 responses to “Casting Doubt”

  1. Ross says:

    This Guy has been doing really well, but I think That Guy is finally going to be what we’ve expected at the start of the season. Either way, should be a great game, as you say. Luv ya Nick

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Ha! Thanks Ross, somehow skipped over that when finishing this round 2:00am last night. Plesac vs. Rodon!

  2. Ryan Fickes says:

    I trusted you on Kremer, Nick. I trusted you!

  3. Floyd says:

    Mets announcers noted Nola’s velo dropped later in the outing (89 on the FB). Hopefully it’s nothing/just early season stamina ramp up.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Thanks for the heads up Floyd!

      Yeah, his changeup and heater fell through the outing. Really hope it’s nothing to get concerned about.

  4. Nick G. says:

    Does Kopech get in the rotation this year Nick? If he does, where do you slot him in the ranks this year or next?

    • Nick Pollack says:

      I hope so! It may be a bit of a headache if that time comes as we’ll have to wait something close to a month just to see him properly stretched out.

      It’s way too early to tell as rankings are relative to the field. Maybe around 50?

  5. Micah says:

    Matz, Boyd, and Cobb are all on my wire right now. I have had some injuries recently and can pick up at least one without dropping anyone significant. Which of the hot starts do you most believe in? (12 team dynasty points)

  6. Christian says:

    Keep Taillon over Trevor Rogers?

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