Going Back To Zac

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Saturday.

Zac Gallen vs COL (W) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 108 pitches.

This wasn’t the year we had envisioned for Zac Gallen, finishing his season with a solid 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 108 pitches Win against the Rockies. He stole my heart in 2019, dominated despite a gauntlet of a schedule in 2020, and in 2021 he…had an arm injury before the season started. But wait! He returned in the middle of the year! …and hurt his hamstring. But he’s back! And ready for action! …he only has his four-seamer working and doesn’t have feel for his changeup, curveball, or cutter. That’s been the story of Gallen, but I think I’m ready to jump back in for 2022.

Does he need to calibrate? Absolutely. His changeup returned just a 23% CSW this year despite a remarkable 36% clip in 2020. His cutter earned fewer strikes and allowed a .317 BAA. The hook lost five points in both O-Swing and called strike rate. But his four-seamer is still very effective at getting called strikes (and even had a higher zone rate without getting hurt this year) and given the history of his trio of secondary pitches succeeding, I have to believe a healthy off-season to hit the reset button will do wonders for the 26-year-old. Ignore the 4.30 ERA and 1.29 WHIP, I imagine it’s the worst you’ll see from him for a long time.


Let’s see how every other SP did Saturday:


Matt Manning @ CWS (ND) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 69 pitches.

Whoaaaaa. Let me see how many whiffs his secondaries earned. Oh. 3/23 whiffs across changeups, sliders, and curveballs. On the plus side, his heater was 94.8 mph, a full 1.3 ticks harder than usual (this is a common theme today, it’s the final start without the playoffs for most & they emptied the tank), and it returned 34% CSW because of it. I wouldn’t look at this and say “Oh, now I understand Manning’s upside!” because we need the secondaries to be better to get there. This ain’t it.

Tanner Houck @ WSH (ND) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 Hits, 0 BBs, 8 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 47% CSW, 53 pitches.

Ahhhh, there he is. That’s a King Cole as his slider finally was the pitch we fell in love with in September last year. 52% CSW on the sweeper as he threw it half the time + it helps having your heater sit a full tick higher at 95.5 mph. If the kid can show up each day with that breaking ball, I don’t see why he doesn’t excel in 2022. That’s a decently chunky IF, though.

Griffin Jax @ KC (W) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 74 pitches.

Wow, look at Jax, figuring it out at the last second. Well, kinda. I think he got a bit lucky against a mediocre offense, but hey, cool for you man.

Jesse Chavez vs NYM (ND) – 2.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 30 pitches.

It’s 2021 and every day needs a bullpen game. Dems the rules. We saw a bit of Drew Smyly for three innings as well, putting a conclusion on that whole thing, too. He never changed the entire year. Never.

Kevin Gausman vs SD (ND) – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 18 Whiffs, 38% CSW, 84 pitches.

Aces gonna ace as Gausman returned from his slumber in late September. 12/33 splitter whiffs is 36% SwStr for those needing quick maths. Insane.

Jesús Luzardo vs PHI (W) – 5.1 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 11 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 34% CSW, 87 pitches.

MmmmmMMMM! Look at that upside from Luzardo showing up in his final start of the season. Am I amped about the 44% curveball usage? Absolutely. The 44% CSW on changeups? Sure, even if he only tossed nine of them. But what really gets me excited was a 48% CSW on four-seamers. HIS WORST PITCH. I don’t quite understand why he had a near-even split of four-seamers and sinkers (the sinker just isn’t a good pitch) and maybe this will nudge him in the right direction. Those that gave up on him, I completely understand, but now is the time to reconsider for 2022. I’m not saying grab him as your #4 or #5, but if people are looking at the full year, why not as a #6 you can drop if needed early?

Shane Baz @ NYY (ND) – 2.2 IP, 1 ER, 1 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 51 pitches.

We didn’t see much of him and the slider wasn’t great (0/8 CSW) but that heater was phenomenal at 37% CSW and I’m so stoked for 2022. Keep in mind, the Rays will be weird with him. You may not even see him in the rotation until the end of April and we can essentially look at Shane McClanahan’s 2021 and mirror it for Baz’s 2022 campaign. The dude has legit stuff. Get. AMPED.

Alek Manoah vs BAL (W) – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 1 Hits, 1 BBs, 10 Ks – 21 Whiffs, 39% CSW, 89 pitches.

That’s a Gallows Pole for Manoah, concluding a phenomenal rookie season of a 3.22 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and 27.5% K rate. Each game comes with either a ridiculous four-seamer or slider, as the changeup has been completely placed in the sidebar for now. I’m in for 2022, but I would temper expectations a touch here. I wouldn’t expect the same rates across the board.

Josiah Gray vs BOS (ND) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 90 pitches.

Yep, sign me up for 2022. Gray clicked back into place after his rough patch and I generally jump in on rookies once they recover from their first cold streak across a few starts. Everything worked here and you have your 2022 Alex Manoah here.

Joe Musgrove @ SF (ND) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 70 pitches.

Phew. It’s been a struggle of a September for Musgrove (atypical of previous years) as he’s had one of the toughest schedules around, but I’m glad to see him come through and end the season on a high note. I can see him going inside the Top 20 SP next year and I likely won’t be chasing him, simply because there are so many dudes in his same range that’ll likely come a round or two later + I still have some hesitation about him finding the perfect pitch mix. It bounces around from start to start with sliders, cutters, four-seamers, and curveballs, and I generally prefer pitches who have their blueprint and execute it day-in and day-out. Regardless, we’ve been shouting from the heavens that Musgrove was due for a breakout and I’m thrilled 2021 gave us the season he deserved.

Jordan Lyles vs CLE (W) – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 99 pitches.

He was one of the popular streaming options and props to you if you profited from it. The slider and curveball were there and Lyles, the Werewolf he is, came through. That’s cool, you’re still not getting my Bud Light final pick in 15-teamers next year.

Lucas Giolito vs DET (ND) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 72 pitches.

Yeah, okay. The strikeouts weren’t there as his changeup earned 1/16 whiffs, but the ratios are wonderful, and let’s be honest with ourselves. We drafted him because we expected 180 frames of solid SP performance and what we got was 178.1 frames of 3.53 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and a 28% strikeout rate. The man met our expectations for the most part and that’s a cool thing.

Adrian Sampson @ STL (ND) – 4.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 91 pitches.

Wow, seven strikeouts were nothing that we expected here. He really doesn’t have the stuff to support it and it’s one of those “huh, welp, see ya later” starts.

Chris Flexen vs LAA (ND) – 5.1 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 22% CSW, 83 pitches.

The M’s needed Flexen one last time and his contract with the BABIP Gods was extended for one more game as he tallied just one strikeout – “HAISTBMBWT?”! – but allowed just one run in 5.1 innings. Yes, he is the Spider-Man of the year, which I will be re-naming to the Holly for 2022. Yes, that is another Office reference, it just makes sense.

Julio Urías vs MIL (W) – 6.1 IP, 1 ER, 1 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 92 pitches.

Did you realize Urías ended the season with a 2.96 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 26% strikeout rate, and 20 Wins? Seeing Urías go 185.2 frames as well may be as shocking as any season we’ve seen and it certainly makes me wonder what 2022 will hold, especially if he gets his changeup back. Seriously, he’s been essentially fastball/curveball the entire year and that’s about it. Incredible.

Kris Bubic vs MIN (L) – 6.2 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 92 pitches.

Bubic came through against the Twins and I’m a bit shocked to see it. Why? Because I couldn’t predict his four-seamer would sit 92+ mph – 1.3 ticks higher than his season average. Changeups were kept down, for once, as well, and if this is the Bubic we see in 2022, that could be a sneaky play through the year. I have my serious doubts, but hey, it could happen.

Jhonathan Diaz @ SEA (ND) – 4.1 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 89 pitches.

On one hand, I’m disappointed Diaz wasn’t able to replicate his excellence from last week. On the other, it meant the Mariners won and YESSSSSSS. If you’re not rooting for the Mariners, put your emotions aside and think of the people. It means so much to so many and please, join the fun crew. There’s so much room left for you.

Corbin Burnes @ LAD (L) – 2.0 IP, 3 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 36% CSW, 42 pitches.

As speculated, Burnes was heavily limited and tossed just two frames. What a wonderful ride this has been, watching him excel on everyone else’s teams. I’m not mad – I want every pitcher to be dope – and I’m excited about a fully unleashed 190+ inning season next year.

Max Kranick vs CIN (ND) – 4.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 20% CSW, 70 pitches.

You know, I don’t think Kranick is all that bad as he tosses 94 mph and he has a decent slider, but yeah, he won’t be in any “watch out for him” lists.

Hans Crouse @ MIA (L) – 4.0 IP, 3 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 1 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 22% CSW, 72 pitches.

I was wondering if Crouse could take advantage of the Marlins like so many others, but in the end, his stuff ain’t so great, the innings were limited, and no streamer could save me, not even a Crouse. Okay, I didn’t select him, but you get the point.

Jake Odorizzi vs OAK (ND) – 4.2 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 69 pitches.

Blegh. Odorizzi had a moment of looking like his former self this year but has turned into the old “I can’t be relied upon for six innings” arm and that’s frustrating. Maybe his protégé Bailey Oberizzi can come through.

Triston McKenzie @ TEX (L) – 4.0 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 2 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 18% CSW, 74 pitches.

Oh no. McKenzie, what a wild, ridiculous season this was. I imagine this season knocked you to the final rounds of many drafts next year and I’ll likely avoid him as I don’t think we’d get clarity even after a few great starts. It’s tough.

Jon Lester vs CHC (ND) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 4 BBs, 4 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 22% CSW, 88 pitches.

Bleggggh. Lester, you had two starts against the Cubs and we all needed just one of them to go well. It’s like you were just wearing a Toby Flenderson mask only to reveal Jerome Williams underneath. How dare you.

Carlos Carrasco @ ATL (L) – 5.0 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 93 pitches.

What a way to end a season from Carrasco that never came together. I think he may be a wonderful bounce-back candidate for next year as he has plenty of time to get his changeup and slider back in order, but only if we can treat him like a man in the 50s/60s, not a much-needed #4 starter on our teams.

Tyler Mahle @ PIT (ND) – 4.1 IP, 6 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 82 pitches.

Mahle, didn’t you get the memo? This was in Pittsburgh, not at home! Mahle ended the year with a 3.70 ERA and 1.23 WHIP with a ridiculous 27%+ strikeout rate and I imagine he’ll hover around the 30s and 40s next year in drafts. Do I see him taking a leap forward? Probably not? His four-seamer is good but not Brandon Woodruff good and his slider didn’t carry a 30% CSW as the #2 pitch. There isn’t quite isn’t oomph in here to outline consistent dominance, creating this volatility that can be oh-so maddening through the year. But hey, roto leagues? Sure, go for it.

John Means @ TOR (L) – 3.0 IP, 6 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 18% CSW, 57 pitches.

Ouch. Means is ending his 2021 in an extremely different fashion than 2020’s league-winning stretch. Ever since his IL stint earlier this year, we’ve been wondering when he’ll click back into place, and sadly he never quite got there. I think there’s still so much potential here and given…wait. He finished with a 3.52 ERA and 1.03 WHIP across 146.2 frames?! There goes any hope I have grabbing him at the back-half of drafts, yeeeeeeesh. I may still be in, but I think those marks suggest more security than what’s there.

Paul Blackburn @ HOU (L) – 2.0 IP, 6 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 22% CSW, 54 pitches.

Womp womp. We had zero expectations and somehow, I’m still disappointed. I’d be surprised if the Athletics leaned on Blackburn next year.

Antonio Senzatela @ ARI (L) – 0.2 IP, 6 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 0 Ks – 2 Whiffs, 18% CSW, 40 pitches.

OF COURSE. Senz-A in Coors against the best offenses? Pfffft, six quality frames. Toss him in Arizona? DEMOLISHED. I feel so terrible for everyone going with this one on Saturday, it’s been such a poor streaming week and it couldn’t have come at a worse time. Streaming is the worst, y’all.

Jordan Montgomery vs TB (L) – 2.2 IP, 7 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 71 pitches.

Jeeeeeez. This start brought JorMont’s final marks to 3.78 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, and a 24.4% strikeout rate and I imagine people will expect more of the same next year for The BearThat seems to me, with the included ceiling of an ERA closer to 3.00. It’s in there with his curveball and changeup, he simply needs to develop the consistency to earn strikes with both and prevent him from tossing over 40% fastballs. Hopefully we get there.


Game of the Day 


Yankees + Red Sox + Jays + Mariners + Giants + Dodgers – There is so much still up in the air and make sure you have players from these teams rostered for possible Game 163 (and Game 164s?!) on Monday.

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 from Russell Lansford/Icon Sportswire | Design by Quincey Dong (@threerundong 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.

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