Max Machine

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Monday.

Max Scherzer @ STL (W) – 8.0 IP, 0 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 13 Ks – 25 Whiffs, 35% CSW, 103 pitches.

I rarely lead with an ace, but we really have to take a moment to applaud the current #1 SP on The List, Max Scherzerfor yet another ridiculous evening. He dominated the Cardinals via 8.0 IP, 0 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 13 Ks – 25 Whiffs, 35% CSW, 103 pitches, earning a Gallows Pole and bringing his ERA down to 2.28 in the process across 154 frames. It’s incredible.

He demolished the Cardinals here with 13/30 whiffs on his slider and he’s doing this all after turning 37-years-old last season. Sure, he’s missed a few starts, but all the woes of 2020’s high HR rates are behind him and it’s going to be interesting trying to place him for 2022 drafts. Scherzer has been a machine and who knows when that will stop. That’s all, now back to our regular scheduled roundup.


Let’s see how every other SP did Monday:


A.J. Alexy @ LAA (W) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 85 pitches.

Ayyyyy he did it! The slider was way better this time with 47% CSW as he located them down and arm-side, while the fastball wasn’t the best commanded, but it snuck in for effective strikes. Now it’s the Athletics + White Sox, though, and that’s just a little too scary for me, despite this result. Not the worst chance to take against Oakland, but I’d avoid it where I could. I get a feeling those heaters today would have been laced by the A’s offense.

Zack Wheeler @ MIL (W) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 9 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 99 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. See? Everything is just fine. That last start was a hiccup and he was pulled before making an appearance in the ninth. I will mention that the slider wasn’t as good as we’ve seen, though, but that fastball, my lord it’s a beauty.

Hyun Jin Ryu @ NYY (W) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 80 pitches.

Whoa, the man showed up! His heater came in two full ticks higher than normal at nearly 92 mph instead of the sub 90 mph velocity we’re used to, helping him return a whopping 43% CSW on the four-seamer. Crazy! Too bad the cutter and changeup were still a bit lacking, but maybe he can hold onto this velocity for the Orioles next? Ehhh, probably not, but there’s a chance.

Zac Lowther vs KC (ND) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 92 pitches.

Lowther sat 90 mph and earned 4/47 whiffs on curveballs + changeups. That doesn’t seem legit. No. No it does not. I feel like Zac is a discount Creed song. Caannn you take me Looooowther…

Chris Sale vs TB (ND) – 3.2 IP, 1 ER, 10 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 34% CSW, 86 pitches.

Ehhhhhh, that’s a horrible WHIP and things did not go Sale’s way against the Rays. He’s yet to really have that start of 6+ frames and pure dominance, but we all know it’s in there as he’s at 94 mph and featuring a strong slider. Keep starting him, of course.

Trevor Williams @ WSH (ND) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 10 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 93 pitches.

That’s a 2.40 WHIP and that’s it. That’s the blurb.

Sonny Gray @ CHC (ND) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 8 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 41% CSW, 66 pitches.

Whoa, a King Cole from Sonny?! I’m incredibly surprised given his general low zone rates, but here we are, as the curveball showed up for 47% CSW and Sonny was super efficient across five frames for just 66 pitches (he was pulled for a pinch hitter, #AddTheDH). It wasn’t the slider/cutter show I expected it to be, but hey, that can still be a thing and seeing his curveball perform this way is only a good thing.

Tarik Skubal @ PIT (ND) – 3.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 50 pitches.

He got the early hook ala Casey Mize and it’s a bit frustrating to see. I trust his ability to help your teams more than Mize and I think I’d take the chance he can produce against the Brewers next time out and play it from there. We could see more of these early hooks in September and we have to monitor it the best we can.

Kris Bubic @ BAL (ND) – 5.1 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 95 pitches.

The heater was a little up, sitting just over 91 mph, but the changeup and curveball weren’t what we need it to be and I’m still avoiding Bubic. He’s a Young Gun at this point.

Lance McCullers Jr. vs SEA (W) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 7 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 34% CSW, 93 pitches.

Yessss. It does feel like old-school McCullers with the four walks and a heavy 52% curveball usage, but you’ll take it with his 3.00 ERA and seven strikeouts. That’s a 3.19 ERA on the year with a strikeout rate flirting with 30%…but a WHIP over 1.25. You can’t ignore that one element, sadly.

Bailey Ober @ CLE (ND) – 4.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 34% CSW, 59 pitches.

Ugh, one more inning and this would have helped, but this is too short and doesn’t do enough. Streaming Record: 82-64. Save for a two-run shot from the Franimal in the fourth, Ober was looking pretty dang smooth, featuring four-seamers up and sliders down-and-away effectively. Sadly, he split the time with Michael Pinedaforcing him out after just four frames. I wonder if that’s what we’ll see through September and sadly it means his date with the Royals over the weekend now comes with some hesitation. It’s really unfortunate, I was starting to really like the kid. I may still start him just in case and keep your ear to the ground if Pineda is slated to pitch another time.

Justin Steele vs CIN (ND) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 78 pitches.

Despite a name like Steele, Justin really just wants to be a Tobydoesn’t he. Maybe that’ll be your future in 2022, but I don’t think we can depend on that quite yet this year.

Kevin Gausman @ COL (W) – 7.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks – 21 Whiffs, 35% CSW, 98 pitches.

Gausman kinda survived Coors, abandoning his splitter plenty in favor of 71% fastballs as the pitch recorded 14 whiffs on its own. And it’s not like the splitty didn’t work – 6/19 whiffs is right in line with the dominance we remember. So yeah, everything is back to normal with Gausman’s stuff and he should be primed to dominate the Cubs next time out.

Jaime Barria vs TEX (L) – 7.0 IP, 3 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 88 pitches.

It’s cool seeing Barria do his best to match Suarez’s upside, but in the end, the best is a better PQS with few strikeouts and a decent WHIP. I blame the hollow repertoire that features a decent slider and middling heaters without much else. Be careful streaming him.

Patrick Corbin vs NYM (ND) – 7.0 IP, 3 ER, 11 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 114 pitches.

He’s still sitting 93/94 on heaters + double-digit slider whiffs yet he allowed eleven hits. I just don’t know y’all. I JUST DON’T KNOW.

Bryse Wilson vs DET (ND) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 19% CSW, 83 pitches.

PQS ain’t so bad from Bryse, though I really didn’t like what I saw from his secondaries, as he earned just 15% CSW across 48 thrown between them. Yeeeeesh. He gets the Nationals + Marlins next and there are worse options out there, but I think it’s more reserved for NL-Only leagues.

Jameson Taillon vs TOR (L) – 7.0 IP, 3 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 22% CSW, 94 pitches.

This is better than I expected as his slider finally did some work, earning 35% CSW across 20 thrown. He got them down and away for the first time in ages, though the curveball couldn’t follow suit + his four-seamer command wasn’t nearly as good as we’ve seen. But hey, that WHIP is cool and we’ll take an easy five strikeouts against the Jays. Not so bad and now he gets the Mets. That could work.

Yusei Kikuchi @ HOU (L) – 1.2 IP, 4 ER, 3 Hits, 4 BBs, 0 Ks – 0 Whiffs, 19% CSW, 42 pitches.

Oh dear, I didn’t expect great things, but I sure didn’t expect this. He really didn’t have it against the Astros, including a 93.6 mph heater (remember when it was 95/96 mph?) and if you haven’t already dropped Kikuchi, you most certainly should now.

Miles Mikolas vs LAD (L) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 90 pitches.

Can’t say we expected anything else from Mikolas against the Dodgers after he couldn’t handle the Pirates last time out. And it doesn’t get easier with the Reds and Padres next, so any remote interest you had in 8-Miles over here, you can leave it at the door.

Brandon Woodruff vs PHI (L) – 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 9 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 20 Whiffs, 37% CSW, 101 pitches.

Aces gonna…flirt with a Gallows Pole yet give managers some pretty poor ratios. It’s a rarity from Woodruff, who still holds a sub 2.50 ERA, and let’s hope the Brewers let him pitch in full through September.

Logan Allen vs MIN (L) – 5.1 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 86 pitches.

Womp womp. There simply wasn’t enough going on here for Allen. He’s trying to be a Toby in a given start and it feels apparent that it’s his best self, not his normal self. I’d be awfully careful considering LA in your future.

Kyle Freeland vs SF (L) – 4.1 IP, 7 ER, 9 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 92 pitches.

Yiiiiikes. The new curveball did earn five whiffs, but the fastball was demolished and I have to believe his hip impingement affected this is in some way. Maybe he can recover against the Phillies next time, but I think you’re better off going with someone else.

Ryan Yarbrough @ BOS (ND) – 2.0 IP, 7 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 64 pitches.

It’s not easy being “The Fratty Pirate” these days. That’s a HAISTBMBWT?! as he lasted just two frames against the Red Sox and it’s a case of “is the risk worth the reward?” In this case, nah, and in the next case against the Jays it’s a definite NOPE. I don’t expect you to still be holding him, but if you are, you gots to stop.


Game of the Day 


Aaron Civale vs. Minnesota Twins – He’s back! I’m stoked to watch him again and see how well he’s attacking hitters.

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 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.

One response to “Max Machine”

  1. DB says:

    Max is Cy. Buehler be damned.

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