Eflin Rhythm

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Sunday.

Zach Eflin vs ATL (ND) – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 38% CSW, 80 pitches.

I was out on Zach EflinHe was mainly a sinker/slider arm with a curveball that was marvelous when used, but was thrown over 10% of the time in just half his starts. Eflin himself said he tests the curveball in the pen before the game and will only go with it if it feels right. Well, it certainly felt right today with 40% CSW across 15 thrown acting as a proper addition to his dominant sinker and slider as the third straight Philly starter carved up the Atlanta lineup. The end result was 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 38% CSW. Yeah.

So here’s the thing. This line? It’s gorgeous. 13 whiffs and 38% CSW shockingly returned a Golden Goal today (only because four others also had 13 whiffs!) and doing so against the Braves is no small feat. I promise you I’m not biased when I’m going to tell you to proceed with caution. Would I start him again next time? Probably? But I didn’t like his slider and sinker locations today (heavily reliant on called strikes) and while his curveball was great, we saw last year how it wasn’t always great. It’s the Hendricks Rule from last year — one start does not define a pitcher. There’s a part of me that even wants to sell high if that’s a thing during opening weekend, but hey, I really hope this is the new normal for Eflin. He needs that curveball to stick at a 20% usage rate moving forward and we can only hope it does.


Let’s see how every other SP did Sunday:

Shohei Ohtani vs CWS (ND) – 4.2 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 5 BBs, 7 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 92 pitches.

He’s so fun to watch and absolutely maddening as you know he has the skills but can’t quite put it all together. I want to say that he just needs more time on the hill to get there, but he’s as injury prone as anyone and even gave us all a scare as he took a Jose Abreu slide to the legs. Not to mention, with how good of a hitter he is, you have to wonder if he transitions away from a pitcher at some point. These are all random thoughts and as of right now, Ohtani keeps pitching, with Toronto next. Ugggh, that’ll be another risk/reward start and I can’t be the one to make that decision for you. He’s as much of a Cherry Bomb as you’ll find these days.

Dylan Cease @ LAA (ND) – 4.2 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 92 pitches.

It’s a bit interesting how Cease and Ohtani each went the same amount of innings and exactly 92 pitches. It’s almost like they both have legit K upside but can’t get their command in order. Cease didn’t quite have it here, and despite having a trio of strong matchups next against the Royals + Cleveland x2, I don’t think I’d like to roll with it. Too inefficient to get through six frames, too all over the place to trust the ratios and strikeouts. Maybe one day I’ll be back in.

Taylor Widener @ SD (W) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 38% CSW, 81 pitches.

Fast and I went back and forth about Widener during his final spring training outing, as we watched for Civale and wound up impressed with Taylor. Not so impressed that we started him against San Diego, but here he is, getting through a tough Pads lineup with effective 93 mph heaters and paired it with a slider that can miss bats. I’m sorry, though, I don’t think his fastball command is good enough — he got away with plenty here — and that slider isn’t at the level where we can rely on it to turn him into a strikeout per inning guy. I wouldn’t start him against Cincy.

T.J. Zeuch @ NYY (ND) – 4.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 63 pitches.

So none of you started him, and he shocked us all with four productive frames. This was the best reward, and it was still just four innings, no Win, and only one strikeout. HAISTFMFWT?! Sidenote: I’ll never get over how T.J. Z. sounds like Tommy John Surgery 100 hundred years into the future.

Jeff Hoffman vs STL (W) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 77 pitches.

Well ain’t this a lovely thing. For all the times we’ve said “get Marquez and J. Gray out of Coors”, we may have said the same about Hoffman once or twice, but here he is like Gordon — a free man — and taking full advantage of it. The bad news here is that I’m super skeptical. What has made Hoffman tick in the past? A deadly slider and a mid-to-upper 90s fastball. What we saw here was 93 mph heaters and a terrible slider that went 3/16 CSW. I just don’t buy this new curveball that he was able to land for called strikes and he’ll likely get burned moving forward. Sorry Jeff, you’re just a dude. El duderino, if you’re not into the whole brevity thing.

Ian Anderson @ PHI (ND) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 88 pitches.

The other side of Eflin was Anderson who did essentially what he does best — gives you good production while pitching inefficiently. He went a bit more curveball this time around, with a near-even split between curves and slowballs, and they both did the trick at over 38% CSW each. Feel good about this and I have an inkling we’ll see the walk totals fade as we go deeper in the year. He’ll get better.

Michael Pineda @ MIL (W) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 36% CSW, 81 pitches.

Look at Pineda go. He came back last year without skipping a beat and hasn’t stopped producing, even dealing with a few jams to go five innings unscathed in Milwaukee. Yes, hold him for Seattle next as that slider is still doing it’s thang.

Julio Urias @ COL (W) – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 37% CSW, 79 pitches.

Hot dang Urias! You didn’t let Coors phase you and you held a 34%+ CSW on all three of your pitches. That new breaker did good work, your changeup had increased velocity and led to 8/24 whiffs (LOVELY!), and your heater was well commanded, allowing you to go seven frames in under 80 pitches. Uggggh I wish I could believe you’d be throwing over 160 frames this year, or at least consistently going in your spot in the rotation. I’m ready to fully buy in.

Austin Gomber vs LAD (L) – 3.0 IP, 1 ER, 1 Hits, 7 BBs, 2 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 73 pitches.

Seven walks and one hit. I haven’t seen that since EJax was still a thing. He was Gomber Pyling on the walks and got the early hook with 73 pitches and just nine outs. Urias needed six more pitches to get 12 more outs. Yeeeesh.

Tarik Skubal vs CLE (ND) – 5.1 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 87 pitches.

I don’t think I can quite buy into Skubal’s success until he’s A) Throwing fewer than 60% fastballs and B) Performing well with a pair of secondaries. In this one, he went 60% four-seamers and 17% CSW across his other three pitches with just one whiff. Yeaaaaah, I just can’t buy that quite yet against a team that isn’t from Cleveland. But Nick! He pitches against Cleveland in his next start too! Oh. Hmmm. I guess I’m okay with that then…? I hate how uneasy I am about it.

Jordan Lyles @ KC (W) – 5.2 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 8 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 76 pitches.

Whoaaaaa, look at this. Lyles is normally a four-seamer/curveball guy, but he went 29% sliders instead, which returned 36% CSW. Huh. That’s a thing. He located them super well down or below the zone, while sprinkling in the classic deuce for strikes as well. I guess, if Lyles is going to work, it’s going to be this. The Royals are a bit of a boom/bust offense and I’m not quite sure how much I can blame this on them, but we can just wipe that away as even this intrigue isn’t enough to roster him for San Diego next. Just keep an eye on it.

Jose Urquidy @ OAK (ND) – 4.1 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 101 pitches.

I’m absolutely shocked Dusty let Urquidy toss 101 pitches, even for Dusty. His slider and fastball did great work, but the changeup and curveball weren’t, and it made him tough to get the outs he normally gets. At least he earned a co-share of the Gallows Pole with four others, though. That’s cool. He’ll get the A’s again next time and honestly, if he’s able to touch 90+ pitches constantly, I’m kinda stoked for more Urquidy. He’ll get the curve and change back.

Chris Paddack vs ARI (L) – 4.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 89 pitches.

Nooooo. Paddack had decent fastball/changeup separated in this one and despite earning 13 whiffs across the two, he struggled to put batters away. I’m still undecided if Paddack is any different from last year, so I guess we just have to keep starting him. He gets a luscious schedule with TEX, PIT, and MIL ahead so we should be just fine.

Adrian Houser vs MIN (L) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 77 pitches.

The main question is “how is his sinker looking?” and it’s…fine. It earned outs this time but it came with a 17% CSW. The Houser of late 2019 is still hiding and I don’t know when he’ll realize this game of hide and seek ended like 18 months ago.

Zach Davies vs PIT (W) – 5.2 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 34% CSW, 88 pitches.

This is why you drafted Davies. Well, not for that WHIP, but you got a Win, a solid ERA, and five strikeouts. Now let’s do it a second time next week as that changeup is still here and fully in gear.

Mitch Keller @ CHC (L) – 3.0 IP, 3 ER, 2 Hits, 4 BBs, 4 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 77 pitches.

This may be the most disappointing outing as Keller looked all kinds of rusty. Sure, he was sitting 95 mph and held a solid 36% CSW, but his slider wasn’t what we wanted and his curveball wasn’t very good. I had a feeling it may take a few starts to get Keller ramped up to what we want to see and I’m okay letting him loose for now with another game against the Cubs + the Padres. I think you’ll want to be back for the Tigers, though.

Domingo German vs TOR (L) – 3.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 68 pitches.

Blegh. German’s curveball was good, but his changeup and heaters were not. The Blue Jays are a mighty offense and it just wasn’t in the cards. That isn’t to say you should let go of German — I’d still start him against the Rays, especially since he’ll likely go more than 70 pitches and that curveball was working. Brush it off.

Aaron Civale @ DET (W) – 7.0 IP, 3 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 22% CSW, 91 pitches.

Not the greatest commanded start from Civale, but he got six Ks, gave you a glorious WHIP, and is living up to the volume bargain. Life isn’t all about ERA, yo.

Bruce Zimmermann @ BOS (W) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 34% CSW, 73 pitches.

Despite throwing sub 92 mph, Zim executed the BSB to perfection, avoiding the heart of the plate while peppering four-seamers up and sliders/changeups down. Seriously, I was stupid impressed (even if it’s just for a PQS) and I have the chart to prove it. I’m not sure I buy that Bruce has this kind of command and can pull it off each time, but I will say that after Boston next, he has the Mariners and Marlins after. If he’s able to do this against Boston a second time, I just made be ready to take the plunge until it fades. Yes, this means we may have the first Vargas Rule of the year going to Bruuuuce.

Carlos Martinez @ CIN (L) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 34% CSW, 77 pitches.

The good news is that CarMart was chucking it around 94 mph and held a 34% CSW. The bad news is he needs to throw more than nine changeups and throw fewer cutters. I think it’s that simple and while I can feel the hesitation to trust him against the Brewers — you kinda want to see him do well first, right? — my head says you should do it. The stuff is better than the four ER line.

Sean Manaea vs HOU (L) – 4.2 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 101 pitches.

Wow. Over 100 pitches thrown without getting through the fifth frame. That’s what good ole shoving looks like. Yeah, shoving. It’s what I describe a guy like Manaea who just seems like he’s doing everything to get the ball over the plate and it just feels like your ole standard pitch. They have to shove the thing instead of letting it glide off their fingers with elegance. Anyway, we didn’t have high hopes against Houston and I sure don’t next time out in a repeat matchup. I’ll be in for the Tigers, though.

Brady Singer vs TEX (L) – 3.1 IP, 5 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 77 pitches.

Bleeeeegh. Singer is supposed to emit a lovely melody in starts against the rugged Rangers lineup and while he had a high CSW — called strikes, what’s up — he was too hittable. Now he gets CWS + TOR + TBR and–oh. You already dropped him. Well. Fine. I was going to say that, but you seem like you know what you’re doing. I’m so proud.

Garrett Richards vs BAL (L) – 2.0 IP, 6 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 61 pitches.

Well this was an atrocity. Streaming Record: 1-3. That’s right, I’m bringing it back into the Roundups, even if the streaming picks themselves are living inside the main SP Streamer articles now. Anyway, Richards couldn’t find effective strikes and didn’t have the pitch he relies on so heavily – his slider. Just a 15% CSW ain’t gonna cut it! In standard Richards fashion, he found a way to throw over 60 pitches in two frames and, hey, maybe it’s that Orioles offense…wait. Nah. Eovaldi and Houck had no issues, get it together Richards! He faces them in a repeat matchup and to be completely honest (To be fair, I always am) I wouldn’t roster Richards until I see it for at least two starts. Maaaaybe one if he gets something like the Tigers after.


Game of the Day 


Jacob deGrom vs. Philadelphia Phillies – It’s deGrom. FINALLY. Just ignore the other side of it. Get a snack or something. (Sorry Matt Moore.)


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


Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire | 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.

5 responses to “Eflin Rhythm”

  1. J says:

    Awesome write-up as usual Nick. Love the insight on when Eflin decides to throw his curve.

  2. Perfect Game says:

    Looks possible that Gray could be back in a week or so and Gallen, Carrasco could be back by end of the month.

    Where would you rank them if that’s the case? I have them stashed in my IL slots, but will need to ditch one of them when they are all activated. I need to pick the two that will be the best contributors for QS, K’s and ratios.

  3. TommyBoy1189 says:

    Make sense to try to trade Mercedes for Eflin? Trying to solidify my roster of SPs (10-team/redraft/roto)
    Or is Eflin not even really that good? Top 45-50 at best?

  4. rainmaker says:

    Thanks as usual Nick. Although I want to take issue with your decision to pick a stream EVERY day. Who needs a streamer EVERY day? It would make more sense to pick 3 or 4 each week, and I imagine your record will be more impressive that way

  5. NL Baseball Rules says:

    Thanks for moving the streaming outcomes back to this article… hopefully they work out better for you going forward (though, to be fair, you usually caveat that streaming in April is a fool’s errand, but you do it anyway for the benefit of the readers). Cheers!

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