Koward Thinking

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Wednesday.

Jackson Kowar vs CLE (ND) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 94 pitches.

The first pass in the rotation for Jackson Kowar wasn’t a fun one. We saw a pair of four-ER blowups across two starts mixed with a short relief appearance, tucked him back into the minors as we muttered under our breath “One day…” Well, that day has come as Kowar returned with a vengeance via 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 94 pitches against Cleveland. We watched Kowar 2: The Quickening with awe and now we all ask that age-old question: Great, is he worth the pickup? I think he could be.

Kowar’s fastball command was plenty better this time around. He sat 96 mph (touched 98!), earning 8/50 whiffs and 30% CSW and hovered the top third of the zone constantly. It’s a great foundational pitch for a repertoire, and sadly I’m not in love with Kowar’s changeup and slider. The slow ball had its moments, but he floundered the pitch a decent amount, while his slider failed to earn a single whiff in ten thrown. It’s possible the heater is enough to replicate starts like these through September and it could continue against the Orioles next time out. Maybe that changeup can be a bit more consistent there and truly get me amped for the month ahead.


Let’s see how every other SP did Wednesday:


Logan Gilbert vs HOU (ND) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks – 18 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 94 pitches.

OH MY. It returned! His slider went 7/21 whiffs and it was glorious. His heater also performed in a big way, going 32% CSW as it sat a full tick higher at 96 mph. No, the curveball nor changeup were anything special, but the harder fastball + slider whiffs = a great time for Gilbert. The bad news: He gets the Astros + Red Sox next. Bummer, I know this was Houston, but I don’t want to bank on all of it coming together again, nor against the powerful Boston offense. I’m still out and hope to be proven wrong.

Max Scherzer vs ATL (ND) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 9 Ks – 20 Whiffs, 42% CSW, 76 pitches.

Aces gonna ace as Scherzer keeps his #1 SP status. I wonder if Scherzer would have demanded to stick past the sixth inning with just 76 pitches to his name if he knew the night Cole was having. It’s weird seeing 20 whiffs and a 42% CSW with zero awards attached, but that’s baseball, Suzyn.

Justin Steele @ MIN (W) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 20% CSW, 86 pitches.

So this is when I tell you he’s a TEEs who relies too heavily on BABIP ‘n’ all that. I agree with all of that, and also mention his sinker was super well commanded as it fell off the outside corner to Twins batters. The rest…was not and he got away with plenty, but that arm-side command of a sinker should not be ignored. It’ll churn plenty of outs.

Brett Anderson @ SF (ND) – 2.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks – 1 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 38 pitches.

Brett left this one early with a shoulder injury. I could have sworn he was just intimidated by my death stare as I saw just one whiff on 38 pitches, but I’ll trust the beat reporters on this one.

Gerrit Cole @ LAA (W) – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 15 Ks – 32 Whiffs, 43% CSW, 116 pitches.

OH DANG. Aces gonna ace, stare down Patrick Sandoval, and grab a share of the “32 Whiffs” title. Enjoy that Golden Goal, Cole, you clearly want that #1 spot back on The List and for 2022 drafts.

Kohei Arihara vs COL (ND) – 3.1 IP, 1 ER, 1 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 36% CSW, 47 pitches.

Hey, it’s Arihara! Despite tossing just 47 pitches, Savant has him down for six different pitches thrown in this game and the ones that stood out to me were the changeup (4/11 whiffs) and cutter (4/7 strikes). Maybe they can turn into something legit over more innings? In the meantime, he’s a ‘Toby” at best who needs to be stretched out more before being trusted. This isn’t the arm you’re looking for.

Luke Weaver vs SD (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 79 pitches.

Hot dang, look at you! It’s cool to see Weaver back in the bigs and doing good things…in the book. The repertoire? Not as much. I liked seeing his changeup land low plenty, but the fastball was a bit fortunate in the zone, he relied heavily on fastball called strikes, and didn’t have his cutter/curve to complement the fastball/change approach. This isn’t it. Thing is, he could stick and get the Rangers next and that’s kinda tempting. Your call there, I’d play it safe and chase something else.

Jake Odorizzi @ SEA (L) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 87 pitches.

Hey, this is great Odorizzi. You’ve really come around after failing to put it together at the beginning of the month. Keep peppering high fastballs in the zone and take advantage of that schedule. It’s a wonderful thing.

Carlos Rodón vs PIT (W) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 77 pitches.

Soooo Rodón sat 93 mph in this one. Is that bad? That sounds bad. It’s the first start all year he’s sat under 94 mph and in his prime, he was sitting — SITTING — 96 and 97 mph. Oh no. Yeah. Hold me. At least his final pitch of the night hit 96 mph, but no other pitch touched 95 mph. Something is wrong.

Kyle Freeland @ TEX (ND) – 1.0 IP, 1 ER, 0 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks – 1 Whiffs, 14% CSW, 21 pitches.

Freeland left this one early with a hip impingement. UGH. Maybe he makes his next start? Nah, I imagine this lands him on the IL. Welp, onto the next guy.

Drew Rasmussen vs BOS (ND) – 4.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 36% CSW, 74 pitches.

He throws super hard, but doesn’t go long into games and doesn’t have anything else in that arsenal. But it’s 97 mph that earned 13/49 whiffs here. That’s crazy good. I want to call DR the Doctor with his surgical precision on his fastballs, but he’s in some super-specialized field like a rheumatologist. We want a primary care doctor of BEING DOPE, not someone to deal with my arthritis, yeesh. If Drew gets 85+ pitches, I may be interested.

Wily Peralta vs OAK (ND) – 4.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 71 pitches.

This start is just like Shrek 3. It’s boring and forgettable. What even was the plot?

Logan Allen @ KC (ND) – 6.2 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 17% CSW, 76 pitches.

Solid results, terrible CSW. Seriously, a 17% is an atrocity and speaks to the mediocre nature of his fastball/slider approach. But hey, a Birthday Party is always welcome. It’s unclear if he gets another turn in the rotation with the possibility of Aaron Civale returning soon, and I think that’s for the best.

Chris Sale @ TB (ND) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 95 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. Ish. Just three strikeouts is a bit alarming (2/25 slider whiffs doesn’t feel right) and the changeup wasn’t as good as we’ve seen. But whatever, we keep starting Sale and he’s sitting 94 mph still. Everything is cool.

Sonny Gray vs STL (W) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 76 pitches.

Am I thrilled and excited for what’s ahead? Not really as the cutter was good but didn’t do a whole lot. This was a start fueled by heaters — somehow — and I don’t like relying on Gray to dominate with fastballs. But hey, I’ll take these results any day. Thanks for the dub, Sonny.

Max Fried @ LAD (ND) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 99 pitches.

And here I was questioning if Fried would have the right stuff to pull this off. Shockingly, none of this major trio of pitches earned a 30% CSW or higher, but Fried earned early foul balls from sliders and turned those deeper at-bats into punchouts. I’ll take it and now he’s been granted the gift of the Nationals + Marlins as a reward. That’s sweeter than an Arizona Iced Tea on a Tuesday. Why a Tuesday? Why not? Touché.

Steven Matz vs BAL (ND) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 4 BBs, 5 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 100 pitches.

Ehhhh, that WHIP is bad but I guess the ERA and strikeouts help…? It’s almost like he’s a Toby or something.

Kevin Gausman vs MIL (ND) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 35% CSW, 82 pitches.

Hey, he earned some splitter whiffs again! 8/31 isn’t the best we’ve seen from Gausman, but he located them well down and out of the zone and it’s absolutely good enough for me to feel confident again. Well, that and going 43% CSW on four-seamers. Please do that all the time.

Joe Ryan vs CHC (L) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 89 pitches.

Hmmmm, was this a streaming Win or Loss? I’ll let Twitch chat decide tomorrow morning. Anyway, Ryan made his debut for the Twins and while I normally don’t trust people with two first names, Joe was my streaming pick of the day as he was touted with a solid fastball and developing secondaries. Well, the heater was only 91 mph, but he commanded the pitch well at the top of the zone, earning 30% CSW despite 71% usage. I wanted a bit more out of his changeup and slider for me to get excited about the future + I was hoping for 93/94 mph at least from the fastball, but the Odorizzi-esque four-seamer approach can work. He gets Cleveland next if he sticks in the rotation and I’d consider him for that one, too.

Packy Naughton vs NYY (L) – 3.2 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 58 pitches.

Baseball has the best names. There’s not much else to say about Packy and his arsenal containing a 90 mph heater and secondaries that went 4/21 whiffs. The boring stuff betrays the incredible name and it’s not fair. Why can’t Packon Naughty be a household name? You have it backward. THE WHOLE WORLD HAS IT BACKWARD.

James Kaprielian @ DET (ND) – 4.0 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 83 pitches.

See? This is fine. Nick, what are you talking about. Oh, I’m sorry, I was seeing the fours and I thought that was the goal. Nah, we don’t believe in the fours here. Right right right, yeah, this is terrible. He hasn’t been the same for ages, and I had a feeling Jimmy would be able to handle the Tigers, but I was wrong. Sit this out until we see his heater dominate again.

Matt Harvey @ TOR (ND) – 4.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 0 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 71 pitches.

Harvey is so often in the bottom half of these roundups, I feel like he’s the one who welcomes everyone in each time they have a poor outing. Hey there, first time?

Miles Mikolas @ CIN (ND) – 3.0 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 55 pitches.

This wasn’t a matchup you’d consider Mikolas in, and in reality, we only start Mikolas against teams that rhyme with Darlins.

Max Kranick @ CWS (L) – 4.2 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 83 pitches.

It’s kinda cruel to call up Kranick and have him start against the White Sox. No wonder he earned a HAISTBMBWT?!They say he throws his hardest with each pitch, I say it doesn’t matter if this whole start was a Max effort, it clearly doesn’t work. Jeeeeeeeeeeez. 

Yu Darvish @ ARI (L) – 2.2 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 76 pitches.

You’ve got to be joking. Darvish, come on bud. This was the Diamondbacks and you can’t allow five ER in under three frames. Half your pitches were filth McGee (sliders and cutters, mostly), the other half sat in the middle and got slapped around. At least you get the Angels next and should bounce back there, but man, you’re making this hard for us and you’re not supposed to do that.

Wade Miley vs STL (L) – 4.0 IP, 5 ER, 12 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 66 pitches.

Bleeeggggh. Man, I was really hyping Miley up as a possible Spider-Man winner, but this tanks his already middling WHIP a ton, and I feel for those who have to carry a 3.25 WHIP in this one. At least the Cubs are next and that should be much better than this.

J.A. Happ @ CIN (L) – 1.0 IP, 7 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 0 Ks – 2 Whiffs, 15% CSW, 52 pitches.

Oh jeez. I didn’t read the fine print: The Reds are horrible against left-handed pitchers not named J.A. Happ. Man, that feels like super critical information I should have known before today. Sigh, never again Happ. Never again.


Game of the Day 


Eduardo Rodriguez vs Shane McClanahanEduardo likely won’t have the changeup, but at least it’s McShane on the other side and I just want to watch him chuck baseballs endlessly.

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 by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Aaron Polcare (@bearydoesgfx 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.

2 responses to “Koward Thinking”

  1. theKraken says:

    You left out a few parts about Scherzer’s night. Not only did they lift him on an absurd pitch count, but the bullpen came in and blew the lead immediately. I think the most notable thing was that Joe Kelly got the save. I don’t comment much anymore because I don’t watch as much baseball anymore. It is infuriating to watch MLB in 2021. The volume of innings played by scrubs is astounding. The Dodgers have reached peak stupidity right as September rolls around. Both Kenley and Treinen have been consistently unavailable the past few days due to overuse. My favorite LAD move was using Kenley in a blowout and then having him unavailable the next day – which happened a few days back. The Dodgers are not setting themselves up well for the postseason or maximizing what they have – this is baseball in 2021. Defense is broken beyond repair as of several years ago. Now pitching staffs are broken. Hitting broke with the juiced ball revolution. The NFL went this route over a decade ago and they solved the problem by changing the rules to make passing about as difficult as playing catch. NFL football is tough to watch but at least they made it produce numbers which is all that Twitter fans need. It is unfortunate that MLB botched the juiced balls thing as I see that as the only way out of this mess. They won’t be able to fix the lack of quality of on-field baseball, but they could at least make it look good with big stats. Unfortunately, they tried to cover up the juiced balls and brand it as better baseball and it blew up in their faces. It achieved its real purpose though – AWS got their advertising in and MLB got to pretend that it was unraveling the mysteries of the universe. The problem is that literally zero progress was made and now we just have a bunch of idiots running the teams.

  2. theKraken says:

    I don’t think anyone should start Mikolas in a game against any team. He got consistently crushed in the minors on his rehab assignment. I suspect that his career is over.

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