Milling It Over

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Sunday.

I was surprised to have one SP roundup on Alec Mills earlier this season, but with two weeks left, I have to double dip as the right-hander tossed a no-hitter against the Brewers yesterday – 9.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 27% CSWUnreal. His curveball landed in the zone for strikes, his sinker found the edges constantly, and his four-seamer wasn’t, well actually it kinda was battered a bit, but it found gloves (obviously) and that’s a 114 pitch no-hitter.

Baseball is weird. I say things are weird often and I need to say it again here. Mills now has 15 shutout innings across his last two starts, with a 5.16 SIERA between the two, carrying a .111 BABIP despite a 47% hard-hit rate, and as much as you think you have to start Mills again following this no-hitter, seeing the Twins and White Sox ahead, you really should reconsider. It’s a wonderful day and I’m sure this start had plenty of playoff implications, but you know this shouldn’t come close to repeating. Don’t feel obligated and it’s okay to drop him after a no-hitter. Just say it out loud enough and it’ll make sense.


Let’s see how every other SP did Sunday:

Brad Keller vs PIT (W) – 9.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 23% CSW. Sure, why not Keller. Have yourself a day. He lived in the zone against the Pirates and managed to earn 25/27 outs in the field, which isn’t a gameplan I’d recommend…oh snap! Between Mills and Keller, we may have ourselves the two best “Minimal Score”s of the season, each sporting a low 8 mark. Totally forgot about that term this year. Anyway, it’s great that we can put Keller back on the menu with most of the Royals rotation through the end of the year, now getting the aforementioned no-hit Brewers next time out. I guess I’m cool with that. Sidenote: Adrian Houser earned more whiffs in four frames than during the 18 innings of Mills + Keller. Baseball. 

Mike Clevinger vs SF (W) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 30% CSW. Aces gonna ace. Finally. His slider was plenty better, four-seamers dominated, and we’re happy as anything. Now it’s the Mariners and Giants (again) and let’s do it two more times, cool? Cool.

Ryan Castellani vs LAA (ND) – 5.2 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 6 BBs, 4 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 28% CSW. He hosted the Angels in Coors and he had a big brain thought – if I walk them, then their Coors advantage disappears. It somehow worked. I wish I could make a gif of the typing cursor blinking after I wrote that last sentence. It’s how I feel inside. Casty doesn’t get a start you want the rest of the way, so ignore all of this.

Brusdar Graterol vs HOU (ND) – 1.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 58% CSW. Bullpen game here for the Dodgers, but Red Sox should take note – Graterol is clearly a starting pitcher. I don’t know what they were thinking.

Lance Lynn vs OAK (W) – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 10 Ks – 18 Whiffs, 29% CSW. Aces gonna ace. It’s a Gallows Pole for Lynn as he allowed his sole ER on his first out of the game, then cruised through the rest. That’s Lynn for ya. What. A. Stud.

Sixto Sanchez vs PHI (W) – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 29% CSW. Aces gonna ace. Yeah, Sixto gets that because you should have no fear starting him and his 98/99 mph four-seamer. I don’t quite get why his sinker was thrown 30% of the time here at 95/96 as it’s clearly a worse pitch, but whatever. I’m not sure where I’ll have him ranked next year as I do question his six-month legitimacy (does he have enough in the tank to last a full year?), but he’ll certainly help in the early months.

John Means @ NYY (ND) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 31% CSW. It’s weird, we’re seeing just 93/94 mph from Means – still better than last year, but not the overwhelming heat from early August – and his changeups are still floating too far up, but he’s a bit more accurate with his fastball and he’s piling up the whiffs. Maybe he just needed to take a little off to command it better…? While that sounds intuitive, it doesn’t happen very often, but hey, he’s in a good spot now. Is it good enough to trust against the Rays? I’m not sure, though. Be careful.

Hyun Jin Ryu vs NYM (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 30% CSW. Atta boy Ryu, way to bounce back. Not much to report here, start him the rest of the way. You gots this.

Braxton Garrett vs PHI (W) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 31% CSW. He made his debut for the Marlins yesterday and while that’s an impressive line, I wouldn’t suspect we see much of him again this year, nor would you want to take the dive. It’s 89/90 mph on his heater that isn’t super well commanded – in the zone with control, yes, but not spotted constantly – and while it’s hard not to love the southpaw’s big hook, it’s not enough to make me overlook everything else in the arsenal. If he added a few ticks + that changeup became more of a weapon, I’d consider him more, but I just don’t see enough of a realistic ceiling to chase.

J.A. Happ vs BAL (ND) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 19% CSW. We’d like one more inning, especially at just 73 pitches, but sure, this works Happ. He’s been on a roll across his last five starts with just a 2.45 ERA, but that doesn’t mean he’s a lock for the Red Sox next. I may play that one conservatively and sit out.

Garrett Richards vs SF (ND) – 4.1 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 25% CSW. Blegh. The Giants are gritty and Richards needed both fastballs for strikes & a well-commanded slider to make this profitable for managers. His fastball did find the zone, but his slider wasn’t sharp and this is the boring mess you get. Sure, those ratios are actually helpful, but 4.1 frames? 3 Ks? Yeah, not for me. Dodgers + Angels in a LA sandwich comes the rest of the way and I’m out.

Logan Webb @ SD (ND) – 4.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 26% CSW. Meh. I don’t think anybody went with Webb and yeah, he just gives me a super meh vibe, not even with a tinge of Toby appreciation, just meh.

Jonathan Stiever vs DET (ND) – 3.2 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 27% CSW. It took him a moment to settle in after walking his first two batters, but sadly this is a Cup of Schmo in my book for fantasy purposes as it’s a mediocre 92/93 mph fastball and not a whole lot else. His curveball had a few moments and there could be something decent with his changeup and slider, but yeah, this isn’t the prospect you want.

Justin Dunn @ ARI (ND) – 2.0 IP, 1 ER, 1 Hits, 5 BBs, 5 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 23% CSW. He was a streaming option for some on Sunday and he was all over the place, needing to get pulled with 66 pitches and just six outs to his name. Now it’s the Padres + Athletics and I’m not touching either.

Martin Perez @ TB (W) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 36% CSW. I wonder if we’re going to get to a place where we make bets on the Gallows Pole and King Cole winners because Perez certainly wasn’t going to pull many wagers last night, but here we are. His changeup and cutter saw the pitch separation we look for, while his sinker and four-seamer surprisingly were taken plenty inside the zone. I’m not considering him as an option against the Yankees and Braves next, though. Sorry MP.

Luke Weaver vs SEA (L) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 30% CSW. Weaver got the Mariners and we were still hesitant, for good reason. His cutter just isn’t working – 0/4 CSW here – and without it, it makes for a risky proposition each time. We saw more curveballs instead and that’s not the end-game answer. I’d sit out for the Rockies later on and definitely the Astros next. This needs an off-season to fix.

David Peterson @ TOR (L) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 21% CSW. Good to see him at 81 pitches, but the command isn’t what it was prior to the shoulder injury, so we’re still out. There’s a chance his next start is fruitful given the pitch count and maybe it comes together, but I’d sit the Braves out – obviously. Maybe the Nationals on the 24th…nah.

Adrian Houser vs CHC (L) – 4.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 5 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 25% CSW. Look at Houser, needing 100 pitches to get through just four innings as he was searching for answers across his full repertoire here. Despite the 15 whiffs, this isn’t the Houser we’re looking for. Move on.

Ramon Rosso @ MIA (L) – 2.1 IP, 2 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 23% CSW. I watched this debut and yeah, this isn’t for me. Cool to see him spot 97 mph on the edge to fan his first MLB batter, but I don’t trust his fastball command, his slider wasn’t particularly sharp, and while one of his two changeups were well placed, it’s not a pitch that wows. His mechanics don’t speak to a control-freak, either, twisting a lot with his shoulders to wrap the ball far around his back-side, turning into a very cross-body delivery, explaining how he was missing in-and-out often. This isn’t the kind of R&R you had in mind.

Andrew Heaney @ COL (W) – 7.0 IP, 3 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 8 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 27% CSW. Heaney survived Coors and we’re thrilled. Now he gets the Rangers again and WE’RE BACK IN BAYBE. His changeup is still not what I want, but curveballs were lovely and that’s good enough for me.

Kyle Wright @ WSH (W) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 23% CSW. That’s alwright with me, Kyle. I’ll take a VPQS from you any day, but you ain’t getting my Bud Light. I think he got a bit fortunate for just 3 ER, though he did sit inside the zone a bit more, preventing the garish walk totals we’ve seen in the past.

Michael Pineda vs CLE (ND) – 4.2 IP, 3 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 32% CSW. Pineda is really feeling that slider, but his fastball command could be better as it sat around the middle of the zone all day. He gets the Cubs next and it could work out for him, but look at these strikeouts, then look at his ratios. The ceiling and floor are right in front of you. It’s your choice to make.

Charlie Morton vs BOS (ND) – 4.1 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 22% CSW. It’s a rough line, but there’s good news here – Morton tossed 77 pitches. That means 85+ could come next time against the Orioles and that’s a start worthy of your time, even if Morton is featuring just 92.3 mph on his sinker. Wait, that seems super note-worthy. Okay, okay, Morton really didn’t look good here. It may still be safe to sit out against the Orioles as his command was off – 10% CSW on curveballs! – and velocity was down. Bleeeggggghhh.

Carlos Martinez vs CIN (ND) – 4.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 33% CSW. So it’s not great, but it’s not terrible either and now he should get the Pirates and Royals to end the year. Hold tight, you want Martinez and that CSW / strikeouts + likely helpful ratios through the final two weeks. His changeup and slider are doing well enough and despite the velocity drop (92.4 mph? Yeesh, at least he ramped up to 95 by the end), I think I’d still do it.

Tyler Mahle @ STL (ND) – 2.2 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 3 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 27% CSW. Mahle noooooo. Streaming Record: 25-23. At least we know not to consider Mahle and his tough schedule anymore, but this was supposed to be his last hurrah. The final celebration before we cracked the champagne with a cold salt breeze gliding across our faces and sent him off into the mysterious world past the horizon. This instead was me sending him an eviction notice after he was “perfecting his house album” at 3am on a Tuesday. I was digging your jams for a bit, but this is a bit much. For real though, his slider wasn’t finding the zone enough, that was the problem. So close.

Johnny Cueto @ SD (L) – 5.1 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 27% CSW. The Padres? Yeah, that’s not a Cueto start. I don’t think Oakland next is either, but Rockie Road certainly is to end the year.

Frankie Montas @ TEX (L) – 5.1 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 32% CSW. You took a chance and made it happen, popped the corks, fingers snapping it wasn’t exactly what you wanted. It was a touch of Careful, Icarus as Montas allowed a 3-run shot in the sixth that soured his day, and while I want to be encouraged by those whiffs, CSW, and strikeouts, I don’t like his slightly lower velocity + his lack of splitter feel. We’re talking just 1/6 CSW and that ain’t cool. Now he gets the Giants and like my sister yelling at me when my five-year-old self wanted to open the EZ-Bake oven, it ain’t ready.

Zach Eflin @ MIA (L) – 4.0 IP, 4 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 30% CSW. I feel like an ancient explorer each time Eflin pitches – Can we find the great curveball of legend? – and fortunately we saw 18 in this one for 44% CSW, but his slider was truly blegh – 7% CSW! – and his sinker was meh. It’s a gamble each time with Eflin and I think it’s time we stop rolling this die.

Spencer Turnbull @ CWS (L) – 5.0 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 26% CSW. Why is that sinker still being thrown 26% of the time? Why? 16% CSW on the pitch while his slider/four-seamer each held a 30%+ across their 60% usage and it just boggles the mind. Blegggh. Turnbearish is the correct term.

Zack Greinke @ LAD (L) – 5.0 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 35% CSW. Aces gonna blegh. It wasn’t his day against the Dodgers and I don’t think he pitched particularly poor or anything. It just wasn’t a good day.

Triston McKenzie @ MIN (L) – 4.1 IP, 5 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 32% CSW. Blegh. So his fastball is the same lower velocity at 92.2 mph, but the main issue was his command as too many pitches found the meat of the zone. Curveballs were still great, though used too little compared to his slider, which got too much focus in my view for its meh ability. A four-seamer/curveball heavy focus could work well for Triston and we may see that moving forward. Stick with him, the Twins are no joke, either + it’s the Tigers next. Sweet.

Max Scherzer vs ATL (L) – 5.1 IP, 6 ER, 9 Hits, 2 BBs, 10 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 29% CSW. I talked about Scherzer last time out and it was more disruption against the Braves, tossing plenty of heaters in the middle of the zone and getting pummeled – just 22% CSW on four-seamers is not the Scherzer we know. His slider usage did rise, though, and was able to fuel those ten strikeouts, but his changeup was sporadic as well and it’s hard not to be concerned. Well, you’re gonna start him vs. Miami and Philly so good luck. We’ll talk 2021 later.

Chad Kuhl @ KC (L) – 2.1 IP, 9 ER, 4 Hits, 6 BBs, 5 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 27% CSW. Even against the Royals, Kuhl’s sinker can’t get it done. 12% CSW and sub 94 mph velocity is nothing like what we want and even with a 44% CSW slider thrown nearly 40% of the time, things aren’t good. Womp womp.


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.



JT Brubaker vs. Cincinnati Reds – This was going to Tejay Antone on the other side but now he’s going today and not Monday, leading me to go with Brubaker. It can work, just a little risky in Cincy. Touki Toussaint vs. Baltimore Orioles – I wouldn’t go with this, it’s simply a weak slate. Too much risk. Josh Lindblom hasn’t put it together, and Anthony DeSclafani is far from his strong self, making too low of a floor, even against Pittsburgh.


Tomorrow’s Streamer


Danny Duffy vs. Detroit Tigers – Great matchup and he’s locked in with his BSB these days.


Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer


Brady Singer vs. Detroit Tigers – Sign. Me. Up.


Game of the Day


Clayton Kershaw vs. Dinelson Lamet – Chaos vs. Harmony? This sounds awesome.



(Photo by Stephen Hopson/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.

One response to “Milling It Over”

  1. Jim says:

    Brutal year for PL’s streaming picks and ranks. 2020 takes no prisoners.

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