Deuces In The Pocket

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Thursday.

Jose Berrios hasn’t had a fun 2020. Entering yesterday, his 5.92 ERA ranked among the worst marks in the majors and a 5.04 SIERA did little to suggest otherwise, especially after facing a slew of weak offenses. However, he did his best to erase the past against Milwaukee on Thursday evening with a blissful line of 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 40% CSW, narrowly missing a King Cole coronation. 

If you’ve followed the tale of Berrios, you can probably guess how he cruised through six innings: his curveball. The volatile pitch has dictated his success and failures in the past and when Berrios has feel for the pitch, the results are glorious. This start was no different, with a 52% CSW as he turned to the pitch over 1/3 of the time – more than any offering. It found a called strike remarkably well at a 39% rate, earned whiffs, and allowed him to elevate sinkers and four-seamers for 7/40 whiffs on their own. This works.

But the problem is that heavy reliance on a pitch that has been famously fleeting through his career. Do I believe this is the start of one of his patented months of dominance? I’m inclined to say yes more than a full relapse next time out. He was given a TIARA after his previous poor outings and I’m willing to take it off for this. But be warned: That curveball can disappear as quickly as it arrived. Let’s hope it liked the appetizers enough to stick around for the desert.


Let’s see how every other SP did Thursday:


Lucas Giolito vs DET (W) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 13 Ks – 21 Whiffs, 35% CSW. We saw the Nile of changeups and fastballs once again, flowing in tandem down the center of the zone. It was a bit more split up glove and arm side, respectively, this time around, while his both pitches earned over 10 whiffs apiece, fueling his Gallows PoleIt’s great to see dominance with his heater (44% CSW!) but this was the Tigers and there’s a sense that Giolito is going to be a little volatile. There still isn’t the pitch separation I want to see and while changeups were further down today, there were plenty of hittable fastballs along the way. But yeah, this is wonderful and obviously you should be starting Giolito against the Pirates and Royals next. Like, duh.

Shane Bieber @ PIT (W) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 11 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 34% CSWAces gonna ace. This is really fun.

Clayton Kershaw @ SEA (W) – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 11 Ks – 19 Whiffs, 41% CSWAces gonna ace for TATIAGAThat’s a King Cole on an evening when his slider was crazy good. I mean, everything was crazy good, with nothing below a 38% CSW, and you love to see it. Fastball is sitting a little lower at 91.4 mph, but that’s not anything to set off alarm bells for.

Nathan Eovaldi @ BAL (W) – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 30% CSW. Okay this is weird. Think of Eovaldi. When he has success, what is the pitch that carries him. Maybe it’s his 97+ four-seamer? Or his cutter that drops down into the zone for called strikes? How about that splitter that can return whiffs when heavily featured low? Nah, Eovaldi threw 20 curveballs for 50% CSW in this game as his four-seamer & cutter failed to eclipse a 25% clip. That being said, his cutter did a great job of falling along the outside corner to right-handers to induce weak contact, but still, this was a weird start and putting stock in that curveball performing this well again is a fool’s errand.

Sean Manaea vs ARI (W) – 5.1 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 26% CSW. What makes me excited about Manaea? Watching him effectively jam right-handers with fastballs. Does this look like jamming right-handers to you? I’m not buying this approach for the future, especially when his velocity is down to 89 mph on heaters. He’s not getting whiffs with his slider or changeup either and the whole package is a can of meh. That’s a Tobyalright.

Trevor Williams vs CLE (L) – 4.0 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 22% CSW. It’s so typical to see a 22% CSW but just 1 ER from Williams, even if it was just four innings. His changeup did the heavy lifting and performed well here against a meh Cleveland offense and I wouldn’t put faith in future success.

Spencer Howard @ TOR (ND) – 3.2 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 30% CSW. Good news is that he’s sitting 95 mph and touching 97. Bad news is that the changeup is still poorly commanded – just 1/9 on whiffs for an 11% CSW. Yuck. He’s also only at 67 pitches and you’re better off sitting this one out, possibly until 2021.

Chase Anderson vs PHI (ND) – 3.2 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 24% CSWHe needed 78 pitches here as he’s continuing his path to full flexibility and getting stretched out to 90+. I’m not anxious for him to get a proper leash n all, though, so let’s move on.

John Curtiss @ NYY (ND) – 1.1 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 29% CSW. It was an opener for Trevor Richards who didn’t last very long and isn’t worth the trouble. No, not as a possible win candidate as an SP/RP, there’s just too much risk.

Adam Wainwright vs CIN (ND) – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 26% CSW. Wainwright is showcasing himself as a solid Tobyespecially as he went 97 pitches in this one – I’ve been worried about Cardinals starters getting a long leash and it’s great to see Waino put those fears to rest. His curveball was stupid good at a 37% CSW with 35 thrown and his cutter did an excellent job jamming left-handers on the inside corner. He gets the Royals and Indians next and there could be some sneaky streamability here.

Sonny Gray @ STL (ND) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 6 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 27% CSWYes, this isn’t what you wanted, but I’m going to give props to Gray for toughing it out and still being serviceable despite not having either his slider or curveball in this one. We’re talking just 5/40 whiffs across the pair, leading to a good amount of struggle. That’s what an ace does – even when it’s not going great, he finds a way.

Dinelson Lamet vs TEX (ND) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 9 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 33% CSW. Professor Chaos has a 1.89 ERA with a 35% strikeout rate and 0.84 WHIP. I have no choice, but to give him the coveted Aces Gonna Ace label, even if his command gives me fits. His stuff is just too overwhelming.

Brandon Woodruff @ MIN (L) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 9 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 22% CSW. The Twins are tough, but that doesn’t mean Woodruff was destined to hold a 2.00 WHIP. His fastball failed to hit the top third of the zone, hitting the heart of the plate constantly, betraying the tao of Woodruff. His slider and changeup are decent complements to his fastball when elevated, but otherwise fizzle as they did here, failing to hit 20% CSW on either offering. It’s not a death sentence for future starts as I think Woodruff can make the adjustment to get back upstairs (he still averaged 97 mph across 27 four-seamers) and this could be way better against the Reds next week.

James Paxton vs TB (ND) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 1 Hits, 4 BBs, 8 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 34% CSW. The bad news here is Paxton was down to 91.4 mph on his heater and left to get an MRI on his forearm. Can’t say I’m shocked there’s an injury given the damped velocity. You have to feel for Paxton as he’s entering his FA off-season with a slew of injuries. Wait to get full confirmation here, but I’m guessing this will be a drop once the news comes out.

Alex Young @ OAK (L) – 4.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 27% CSW. Ehhh, I’m kinda encouraged by Young’s excellent changeup that he kept down in the zone and featured more than any other pitch with 34% usage, but everything else was really mediocre. I think there is a solid Toby in there and this start isn’t pushing me away from that notion. Just do better with that curveball (1/19 whiffs?!) and fastball, please. He’s a sneaky stream hosting Rockie Road next time out.

Asher Wojciechowski vs BOS (L) – 3.2 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 24% CSW. If I’m going to trust Asher, it’s on the back of both his cutter and slider working. His slider was decent, his cutter was not. Nope, I’m out like I’m Alex Gordon heading home in Game 7.

Cristian Javier @ COL (ND) – 3.2 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 27% CSW. I understand that you liked Javier and thought he could survive Coors. His command is too volatile, which is a recipe for disaster inside Coors, and let’s be happy he allowed just 3 ER across 9 baserunners in under four frames. He’s hosting the Angels next and that’s a borderline outing for me – obviously better than this matchup, but it’s not a given he’ll be what you want.

Spencer Turnbull @ CWS (L) – 2.0 IP, 3 ER, 2 Hits, 4 BBs, 0 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 18% CSW. Noooooooo. This one hurts a bit (HAISTFMFWT?!) as I’m still a Turnbull believer despite the current sample of advanced stats disliking him. On the plus side, he did go more four-seamer heavy, but man his command was poor, especially on his secondary stuff. His success hinges on his slider/changeup/curveball being legit as he figures out his fastball issues and this is just…bad. I don’t think the Tigers have him on a short leash now – he needed 60 pitches for just six outs! – and he’d still be capable of 80+ pitches next time out, and the question is if you’d trust this man against the Cubs. Certainly not the Twins after. I’m inclined to say yes to that Cubs start, but man, this doesn’t feel great. He wasn’t stupid wild, but he just didn’t have it with his stuff.

Kevin Gausman vs LAA (W) – 5.1 IP, 4 ER, 9 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 18 Whiffs, 37% CSW. The velocity is dipping slightly to 94.7 mph, but he’s still elevating with splitters down (10/44 whiffs!) and I’m absolutely on board moving forward. I really wish he wouldn’t get Singled Outthough. It makes things a lot more difficult. He gets the Dodgers next and I know it’s risky, but that could legit work. His approach is sound and the splitter is doing what it needs to. Streaming Record: 14-13.

Vince Velasquez @ TOR (ND) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 29% CSW. You’re wondering about the changeup. It went 1/7 on CSW without a whiff. So yeah, this was old-school VV with his fastball taking center stage and I’m not down to bank on that moving forward.

Kyle Gibson @ SD (ND) – 5.0 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 22% CSW. His changeup looked great here, but sadly everything else was terrible. Just 7% CSW on sinkers and his slider went 1/16 on whiffs. That’s a 6% SwStr on his slider! Ouch. His featured everything low in the zone, which may be the real issue here as that sinker and four-seamer need to be elevated to make those secondary pitches work. Gibson’s ability has been cutaway at the moment and I wouldn’t anticipate he gets it back as soon as his next outing. Let him sit on the wire.

Yusei Kikuchi vs LAD (L) – 4.2 IP, 5 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 5 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 25% CSW. Blegh. Kikuchi did get burned but a poor “foul ball” call, but that’s not an excuse for the overall performance. His cutter was still excellent and keeps me excited, but his fastball velocity is down to 94.2 mph and its approach was plenty worse than we’ve seen. This was the Dodgers and you likely sat him, but I still wanted to see a package that would make me feel comfortable against the Padres. I’m on the fence there given the plenty worse four-seamer.

Jose Suarez @ SF (L) – 1.1 IP, 5 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 0 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 31% CSWThe Angels are moving away from Julio Teheranallowing Suarez to get a shot. We needed a vaccine, not from a glass. Well, now I need one from a glass. Yeah alright, top me off too.

Trent Thornton vs PHI (ND) – 0.2 IP, 6 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 16% CSW. We expected nothing and I’m still disappointed. His stuff isn’t this bad, he’s just in a bad place right now.

German Marquez vs HOU (L) – 5.0 IP, 10 ER, 10 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 28% CSW. Oh no. Coors is undefeated. This was easily the worst matchup Marquez has had thus far…kinda. Altuve is struggling, Bregman has a hamstring injury, Brantley is injured, and this isn’t the same Astros offense. Nevertheless, Marquez’s slider was gone in this one and his curveball had to do the heavy lifting. For those unaware, Marquez’s success hinges on his slider being fantastic and up to now (13% CSW!), it had been. Brush this one off, I imagine he can get it back on the road in Arizona next week as that’s very much worth your time.


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.



Chad Kuhl vs. Milwaukee Brewers – Now’s the time. That slider is solid and he’s stretched out properly. Note: This start was moved from Thursday to Friday.


Tomorrow’s Streamer


Josh Lindblom vs. Pittsburgh Pirates – The new slider is legit and the Pirates bats are not.


Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer


Tyler Mahle vs. St. Louis Cardinals – There’s a chance he doesn’t go more than four considering he missed a turn in the rotation, but I’m willing to bet he maintained his pitch count on the side. It’s a good matchup and worth a shot on a Sunday.


Game of the Day


Lance McCullers Jr. vs. Garrett RichardsTwo fun pitchers dueling sounds like a lovely Friday evening.



(Photo by Nick Wosika/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.

4 responses to “Deuces In The Pocket”

  1. Perfect Game says:

    Giolito or Castillo I’m QS league?

  2. Ryan says:

    What do you think about Pablo Lopez over Turbull?

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