Houser Rules

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Saturday.

Adrian Houser vs STL (W) – 9.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 40% CSW, 100 pitches.

I wouldn’t call myself an advocate for Adrian Houser this season. I’ve adored how he’s been able to fight constantly in his starts, but for fantasy teams, he’s mostly been productive against the Pittsburgh Pirates and awfully difficult to discern success from disappointment otherwise. Well, yesterday was as removed from disappointment as you’ll find, going one pitch short of a Maddux against the Cardinals: 9.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 40% CSW, 100 pitches. Yeah, we have to talk about this.

That’s a King Cole with just nine whiffs and you know where this is going. Oh no. How many sinker called strikes did he have? Twenty-two. TWENTY-TWO. It’s the least sticky facet of CSW and relies more on passive hitters than it does sheer ability. That isn’t to say he didn’t feature some great pitches along the way, but Houser tossed 71% sinkers and the Cardinals chose their spots poorly, leading to worse counts and so many balls in play finding gloves. What this means for fantasy is despite the incredible performance here, Houser isn’t a lock against Cleveland next. Is he worth the gamble? Sure, go ahead. The floor still exists, but at least he’s expressed something more than five innings of a Dusty DonutI hope this is a turn for his sinker being the legit pitch it once was again, we just need to see more before we forget about the last two seasons.


Let’s see how every other SP did Saturday:


Tanner Houck vs CLE (ND) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 38% CSW, 68 pitches.

Ahhhh, it’s good to see Houck performing well again. Streaming Record: 82-62. Oddly enough, the slider still didn’t get the whiffs it deserves (1/22?!) but the heaters attacked the zone well (10 whiffs!) and he landed the sweeper in the zone often. H*ck, we even saw splitters go 4/8 whiffs to pick up the slack. Bad news: he gets the ChiSox next and I’d be worried there and jump back on this after for his start against Seattle.

Chris Ellis @ NYY (ND) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 92 pitches.

You don’t know who this is and how he no-hit the Yankees for five frames. I was actually at this game and couldn’t believe what I was watching. Don’t buy into this, it’s Max Kranick all over again.

Eli Morgan @ BOS (ND) – 5.2 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 4 BBs, 7 Ks – 19 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 96 pitches.

Hey, this awesome stuff from Morgan, who is making a case as a Cherry Bombwhere every start is made up and the matchups don’t matter. It comes down to fastball command on a given day and the heater did crazy good things avoiding the middle of the plate and hovered the top of the zone at 90/91 mph – 14/66 whiffs is crazy good! Take the chance all you want against the Brewers, you know the rules now.

Ranger Suárez @ MIA (ND) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 71 pitches.

This is exactly what Suárez is supposed to do against the Marlins. I still think he’s just a 2021 play, but hey, that’s schedule is begging to be taken advantage of. Keep it going.

José Suarez vs TEX (W) – 9.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 8 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 100 pitches.

Hot dang, look at you! It’s pretty amazing to see not one, but two arms go exactly 100 pitches and nine frames on a day and Suarez was a bit more convincing with his effort. 41% CSW from his heater on the back of whiffs and called strikes, with curveballs falling in the zone and changeups getting outs. It’s the best version of Suarez and if you need to take a chance on him in the future, he’s not the worst play against weak lineups. Against the Astros next? Yeah, that’s an easy pass…and probably another pass for the Athletics after. But keep him in mind for a possible start against the Mariners.

Jordan Montgomery vs BAL (ND) – 4.2 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 97 pitches.

He got a bit Singled Out in this one, though his heaters weren’t as good as we’ve seen. Now he gets the Jays and boy is that a tough start to make. Good luck.

Julio Urías @ SF (W) – 5.2 IP, 1 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 8 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 96 pitches.

The WHIP hurts, but I’ll take this Dusty Donut against a strong Giants crew. It’s still mostly curveball/heater, but the changeup did get some outs…and was floated for a trio of hits as well. If he ever gets that slowball working again, watch out.

Joe Musgrove vs HOU (W) – 5.1 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 100 pitches.

Musgrove is in a good place right now, tossing ~35% heaters in this one and featuring both sliders and curveballs effectively. This wasn’t his best effort, but I think the constant maneuvering of his repertoire based on the night is a good thing – his depth is an asset and seeing a start where he goes a bit more heavy on fastballs displays a possible gameplan we didn’t know he still carried. It’s a tough date with the Dodgers next, though, and let’s all start him while hoping for the best.

Trevor Rogers vs PHI (ND) – 4.1 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 83 pitches.

Blegh. It’s not the Rogers we saw in the first half, with his fastball leaking over the plate more than we’re used to + changeups & sliders failing to act as their dependable selves over the plate. It’s alright, it’ll come.

Germán Márquez vs ATL (ND) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 99 pitches.

Nothing like Coors to set a pitcher straight, right? Jokes aside, Márquez has been struggling with his slider and curve, and took a small step forward with both, but not to the levels we’re used to. He’s off to Philly next and I think that’s okay, but it’s awfully risky. He’s not in the groove we love so dear.

Reynaldo López @ KC (ND) – 4.0 IP, 3 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 22% CSW, 65 pitches.

Hey, it’s ReyLo getting a start! And he went just 65 pitches, with a poor heater and a slider that didn’t do a whole lot, serving up a dreaded HAISTBMBWT?! I wonder if he’ll get another start as Lance Lynn and Lucas Giolito could return this week and he doesn’t excite after this encourage a hold.

Jay Jackson vs LAD (L) – 0.1 IP, 3 ER, 1 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 22 pitches.

This was another bullpen game that didn’t go as planned. I think we often forget about this downside with bullpen games as it can get messy awfully quickly. Starting pitchers have poor first innings all the time. Sure, but if the opener has to leave early, it can be such a struggle to find innings after that not only affects the game ahead, but the days after. Something to consider.

Kolby Allard @ LAA (L) – 5.2 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 82 pitches.

Allard just doesn’t do enough for me to see his 36% CSW across heaters for the day and think “yep, that’s legit and I want to stick with this.” Sorry, Dralla.

Josh Rogers vs NYM (W) – 5.2 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 22% CSW, 87 pitches.

You’re wondering who this guy is. Don’t worry, you’re not going to bring Rogers into your neighborhood with his 90 mph heater and secondary stuff that returned 1/35 whiffs. That’s not the security vest you want around you.

JT Brubaker @ CHC (ND) – 3.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 36% CSW, 44 pitches.

Brubaker returned from the IL, then left this one early, and has since been placed on the IL with a shoulder injury. Sigh. Should have let Coffee Cakes bake a little longer, hope he’s okay.

Marcus Stroman @ WSH (ND) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 94 pitches.

Awwww. Stroman was denied a Win in this seven-inning game because lol Mets, but he didn’t have the cutter + slider he had in previous outings. This is what it’ll look like when he has to hyper rely on sinkers and splitters + a meh cutter. Expect recovery against the Marlins.

José Berríos vs OAK (W) – 6.2 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 103 pitches.

It’s a touch better than a PQS as Berríos needed to even out the ERA for the 3.70 inevitability (he’s currently sitting at 3.55). We’ll all take this, though, and keep on starting the man.

Tyler Mahle vs DET (W) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 5 BBs, 8 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 106 pitches.

Like clockwork, Mahle was poor at home. Fortunately, his next two on are the road against poor teams and that is bound to work. It’s kinda bonkers how much this home/road split is real – save for Coors, it’s the only one I think I actually believe in.

Tylor Megill @ WSH (L) – 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 35% CSW, 96 pitches.

THE CHANGEUP HATH RETURNED. Sure sure sure, it wasn’t a great ratio start, but that’s a Dusty Donut with eight strikeouts as his slow ball went 33% CSW + sliders even earned six whiffs on their own. The ghastly ratios were a product of too many hittable heaters and at least now I’m a bit interested. He gets the Yankees next and that’s a toss-up (read above, Chris Ellis went five no-hit innings against them. Chris. Ellis.), but at least we have that instead of Matt Harvey’s Two-Face’s double-sided coin.

Ian Anderson @ COL (ND) – 3.0 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 4 BBs, 0 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 16% CSW, 62 pitches.

Jeeeeeez. Anderson couldn’t do anything with his changeup or curveball and it was an absolute disaster. There’s nothing quite like enduring Coors to exploiting the Marlins, though, and I’d still start Ian there. But this was legit the worst start we’ve ever seen from Anderson. And I don’t expect the nadir to hang around for tea.

Chris Archer vs MIN (W) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 3 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 78 pitches.

Annnnnd we’re back to ignoring Archer again. Velocity is still 92 mph + the slider went just 2/33 whiffs. Y’all know this ain’t it.

Kwang Hyun Kim @ MIL (L) – 1.2 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 43 pitches.

Oh no. I had high hopes that Kim would be able to take down the Brewers and settle in around 75-80 pitches. Neigh, said the horse of Nick’s dissatisfaction. The slider and fastball found the middle of the play and he got walloped. I don’t expect that to stick, but I also don’t expect success against the Dodgers next. Consider him against the Mets after.

Framber Valdez @ SD (L) – 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 92 pitches.

Blegh. This doesn’t help a whole lot as the curveball went just 3/37 whiffs with 27% CSW. If the curveball isn’t pulling the most of the weight, the sinker has to be at its very best and we haven’t seen that since the spring. At least it’s the Angels next and that should be fine.

Paul Blackburn @ TOR (L) – 3.2 IP, 4 ER, 9 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 69 pitches.

It was a poor matchup for Blackburn and it went the natural course. Thing is, now he gets TEX + @KCR + SEA and there could be some sneaky playoff value here. Something to consider.

Erick Fedde vs NYM (ND) – 3.0 IP, 4 ER, 9 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 19% CSW, 80 pitches.

He was great last time against the Mets and…yeah. Remember kids, Don’t Trust The Feddes.

Matthew Boyd @ CIN (L) – 4.0 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 83 pitches.

Boyd? In a HR haven like Cincy? Yeah, this went as we expected. We still don’t have those slider whiffs back and the changeup that kept him above water went 14% CSW. Now it’s the Rays and I’m still not interested at all. I’m back to Boyd Watching instead of being one of the Boyz.

Marco Gonzales @ ARI (W) – 5.0 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 86 pitches.

Come on Marco, you’re supposed to handle a start like the Sneks with ease. You’re a Tobythat’s what you’re supposed to do. He’ll get another shot against the Diamondbacks in Seattle next time out and I’d give the wheel another spin.

Humberto Castellanos vs SEA (ND) – 3.2 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 68 pitches.

Yes, the Sneks have a second Humberto making starts for them and this one didn’t hum a sweet melody. The curveball is solid, the rest isn’t, and let’s move on.

Daniel Lynch vs CWS (L) – 2.2 IP, 6 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 65 pitches.

Blegh. I still love his slider and think it’ll push him toward success in September, but he didn’t have a good feel for his heater here and it messed him up. The Twins are next and I think he can rebound there, but it’s riskier now given his clear need for recalibration. Update: Lynch was dealing with a cut finger. Definitely explains the poor fastball command.

Kyle Hendricks vs PIT (ND) – 4.1 IP, 6 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 1 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 79 pitches.

Hey. Y’all know what you have to do. But…no. It’s Hendricks! … Why aren’t you saying anything? … FINE. It’s time y’all.

Andrew Albers @ TB (L) – 3.0 IP, 9 ER, 10 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 68 pitches.

Yikes. Hope the fella is okay after a shellacking like this. It’s not how he Drew it up.


Game of the Day 


Charlie Morton vs. Ryan Feltner – With Austin Gomber out for the rest of the year, the Rockies are giving Feltner the pearl and he features mid 90s velocity. I’m curious what he can do.

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 Keith Gillett | 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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