He Ceases To Amazes

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Thursday.

I know that we don’t have the highest expectations of Dylan Cease but after going 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 20% CSW against the Royals last night, I think we need to talk about this. What was the one thing you expected from Cease? It wasn’t a good ERA or WHIP, but you thought at least you’d get some strikeouts along the way. After just one strikeout last night (HAISTFMFWT?!) Cease now holds a 16% strikeout. WHAT. Yeah, that’s kinda ridiculous. His overall SwStr rate has fallen from 11% to 9.4% and any sort of growth we anticipated has failed to emerge.

There has only been one area where Cease has improved: his ratios. His ERA has fallen from an atrocious 5.79 to a 3.29 mark, while his WHIP dropped 21 points to 1.34. Not great there, and it’s a product of his BABIP dropping over 100 points while his LOB rate spun around to go from 68% to 86%. This is all pretty damning.

Looking at his pitches, it’s all just the same but worse. His slider holds the same SwStr but a significant drop in O-Swing and Zone rates, his four-seamer has called 3 points in SwStr rate, his curveball has been flat out terrible, and his changeup is getting smacked around for a 273 wRC+. Yikes.

It makes for an incredibly risky play that I don’t even want to call a Cherry Bomb as Cease has yet to strike out six batters all season. I know it’s the Pirates next and that should be okay, but really, all you’re chasing it that 3.29 ERA to stick – his WHIP hasn’t helped you out at all. Is that worth it to you?


Let’s see how every other SP did Thursday:


Andrew Heaney vs SD (W) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 24% CSW. Well this was an interesting start. On one hand, Heaney’s heater was excellent, touching 94.6 mph and sitting 92/93 mph, while his changeup was gone at 13% CSW and his curveball wasn’t as good as we saw last time out. I love that Maddon trusted Heaney for 117 pitches, allowing him to earn that co-share of the Gallows Poleand a matchup against the Rangers next should work well. I still consider Heaney a bit of a Cherry Bomb though and it doesn’t help my confidence seeing his secondary stuff take a step back from his last start.

Clayton Kershaw vs ARI (W) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 35% CSWThe other holder of the Gallows Pole went to TATIAGA as he earned himself a Golden Goal as well. Four-seamers were stupid effective in this one as he elevated often and pounded the strikezone. Sliders weren’t the overwhelming whiff pitch we’ve seen before, but a 16% SwStr rate is certainly good enough for me. It’s really wonderful to have Kershaw back to being one of the better starters around once again.

Martin Perez vs TOR (ND) – 6.2 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 26% CSW. Perez had one of his better outings of the year on the back of his changeup – 9/33 whiffs! – though there isn’t much else to be excited about here. It’s low 90s velocity (not close to the peak we saw last year) and I wouldn’t anticipate his slow ball being this well commanded often. There isn’t enough here.

JT Brubaker vs CHC (W) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 31% CSW. Another solid start from Brubaker as he spotted his sinker and did damage with sliders. Sadly he gets the ChiSox next and that’s a sit. But keep him in mind for your streams down the road.

Anibal Sanchez @ PHI (ND) – 3.1 IP, 1 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 19% CSW. He got the early hook after laboring into the fourth. He was Singled Out a good amount and left with just one strikeout – HAISTFMFWT?! – and we’re nowhere closer to starting Sanchez.

Mike Clevinger @ LAA (L) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 24% CSW. We got our first look at Clevinger in San Diego and it was…meh. His slider isn’t back to its 2019 self, his curveball is blegh with 1/10 CSW, and his fastball isn’t hitting the edges like we want. You still start him every time, and his rank around #20 or so seems right. Maybe slightly lower.

Taijuan Walker @ BOS (ND) – 5.2 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 25% CSW. Walker is leaning into the BSB a bit and I’m all for it. He needs to find something to stick outside of his heater, though, as his cutter/splitter/curveball returned just 1/35 whiffs yesterday combined. That ain’t what you want. If we hear of Walker learning a new slider or curveball or something in the spring, I may start to get a little excited. Just a little.

Luke Weaver @ LAD (L) – 5.1 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 25% CSW. Seeing 2 ER is a bit unfair as without a throwing error, Muncy doesn’t advance to second and doesn’t score on the single that followed. After that first frame, Weaver shut down the Dodgers completely getting 7/34 whiffs on changeups and holding back on damage with his fastball. I still want to see that cutter have a bigger presence, though, as it was a major part of his 2019 success. here? 0/5 cutters for strikes. Ouch. I’m not sure I trust Weaver going just two-pitches, especially with neither hitting 27% CSW. I’d be careful.

Zack Greinke vs TEX (W) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 32% CSW. Aces gonna ace. He’s nearly replicated his 2019 season thus far and you should be stoked about that, even if you got a PQS here. I should probably raise him a bit on The List, though I don’t expect nine strikeouts much more. I’d consider pushing him up on The List but…yeah, that’s not happening again. It’s schedule List time already. What a weird season of chaos – five weeks just isn’t enough for proper SP analysis! Welp, it’s what we got.

Zach Eflin vs WSH (ND) – 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 26% CSW. Blegh. Streaming Record: 22-20. That curveball that was so good last time? Not this time. 9% CSW. Welp, that’s just not what we want and I guess we can call Eflin a Cherry Bomb rooted in that breaker showing up or not. Just 6/82 whiffs overall and that’s not cool. He gets the Red Sox now and that’s…meh.

J.A. Happ @ NYM (ND) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 29% CSW. I was super happy to see Happ do great things with four-seamers, but the question is always how well he can get by with a very blegh changeup and slider. They weren’t good, his fastball got tattered a bit and voila, four runs and a 1.80 WHIP against the Mets. He’s still a decent Toby but I very much understand not wanting to trust him in 12-teamers.

Alec Mills @ PIT (L) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 19% CSW. Womp womp. Cycle through Alec for different streamers like a true Mills deck.

Robert Gsellman vs NYY (ND) – 1.2 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 0 Ks – 1 Whiffs, 12% CSW. The Mets are trying their best to stretch out Gsellman and now at 52 pitches, it looks like he threw 25. I wonder if he’s a deep sleeper for 2021 – I doubt it – so yeah, not great Bob.

Lance Lynn @ HOU (L) – 6.0 IP, 6 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 25% CSW. Nooooooo. Lynn had a nightmare first inning with a trio of singles (two of which were jammed shots), followed by a blast, returning 4 ER in a hurry. 2 ER across the next five innings isn’t great, but helped relatively to that first inning. He’s still excellent, brush this off, and choose to be happy.

Danny Duffy vs CWS (L) – 6.0 IP, 6 ER, 7 Hits, 5 BBs, 3 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 24% CSW. Bleeeegh. The White Sox are not a fun team to start against and Duffy moved away from the BSBreturning a poor 17% CSW on four-seamers and too many changeups in the middle of the plate. Solid slider, though, and his curveball earned some strikes as well. He gets Cleveland next and I wouldn’t rule him out for a stream there as his fastball command could be better.


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.



Dane Dunning vs. Kansas City Royals – There are 20 games scheduled for Friday and I imagine there will more options for Friday as starters solidify, but I’m loving this one for Dunning against a poor Royals lineup.


Tomorrow’s Streamer


Anthony DeSclafani vs. Pittsburgh Pirates – Okay, I know. This is crazy. There just isn’t a good play out there and it’s the Pirates and I feel strongly that Tony Disco is not the 7 ER guy we’ve seen. I’d be very cautious with this one, though.


Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer


Brett Anderson vs. Cleveland Indians – It’s this or Alex Young against the Giants and I’m a little afraid of San Francisco’s offense right now.


Game of the Day


Jack Flaherty vs. Yu Darvish – There are 20 games today. Just watch all of them.



(Photo by Quinn Harris/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.

9 responses to “He Ceases To Amazes”

  1. Jim says:

    You pump Means all season long yet dog Cease…. WHAT.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Hey, it’s nothing personal!

      I have more faith in Means figuring out his command with his changeup than Cease getting his approach and command figured out.

      It is interesting to look at their small samples this season and see a good amount of similarity. Different things going on with each.

      Did it make sense as to why I was encouraged by Means in August as a potential breakout candidate? Obviously hasn’t come to fruition, and I’m always open to discuss these things, especially feedback about how I’m outlining why I lean one way vs. another.

  2. Greg says:

    I wouldn’t read too much into the CSW of Heaney after this start. Obviously called strikes are a component of this stat, and the umpire was being super stingy with the strike zone, esp the glove-side portion he uses. Coupled with a few horrible checked swing calls that should have been strikeouts and I think the stats look a little worse than the raw performance.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Definitely agree with you about the CSW side of Heaney’s four-seamer. It held a 25% mark and it felt more like a 30%+ pitch yesterday.

      Changeup and curveball were still a bit underwhelming, though. Really hope they come back.

  3. Benjamin Chang says:

    Objectively, what do you think of Kershaw’s Cy Young chances? As a Kershaw stan, I want to believe he can pull off a 4th. Taking a step back, though, I’m not sure whether Kershaw will throw enough innings to overtake deGrom and Darvish.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Hey Ben! Hope you’re doing well.

      It will take a very fortunate month of Kershaw dominating + Darvish/deGrom & anyone else really not excelling for the next four weeks. I just don’t see it happening.

      • Benjamin Chang says:

        Although I don’t want to agree, I objectively do. Darvish is more beast than man at this point. Thanks for all the great content; even in a year where everything’s in shambles, quality Pitcher List articles remain a reassuring constant.

  4. Elliot says:

    Hey Nick,

    You might remember last week giving me the advice to sell high on Cease. I did so and got Berrios in return, and after their last two respective starts I am very happy with the upgrade.

    Thanks for the advice and for all the great work you do! All the content at Pitcher list is great and I look forward to joining PL+ in the near future!

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Sweet! I’m super glad to hear that worked out well for you.

      My pleasure, looking forward to seeing you on the PL+ Discord!

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