On The Blackburn

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Monday.

Paul Blackburn @ TB (W) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 38% CSW, 71 pitches.

You know what I enjoy? Watching the first pitch of the game from a starter break into the zone for a strike. Yes, a first-pitch curveball from Paul Blackburn began a wondrous 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 38% CSW, 71 pitches performance and it truly was impressive. Blackburn boasted a 43%+ CSW across each of his secondaries, while relying on his sinker and four-seamer under 40% of the time (not to mention, they featured an extra tick of velocity. Nice!).

It was a product of smooth command to both sides of the plate. Cutters landed up-and-in to lefties, curveballs fell where they needed to, sinkers stayed arm-side, and while his changeup was a bit more erratic than the others, it all went just right for Blackburn.

I’m not as sold that this is going to keep working this way moving forward for the Oakland right-hander, but he’s certainly caught my eye as a possible streamer. Leave him on the wire for the Jays and maybe we’ll consider him for the Orioles next week.


Let’s see how every other SP did Monday:


Alek Manoah @ NYY (W) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 4 BBs, 7 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 89 pitches.

Despite walking the bases loaded at one point, Manoah bore down and gave trusting managers everything a fantastic six-frame outing against one of the better offenses around. I am a bit sad to see him struggle to earn strikes with his slider (10/22 ain’t it) and his sinker consistently missed too far arm-side off the plate. Both seemed like small tweaks instead of sweeping chaos and the four walks should stick out like a rose on a putting green in short time.

Bruce Zimmermann vs MIL (ND) – 4.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 66 pitches.

Sure, not bad Bruce. You sat 91 mph and earned 4/37 whiffs on your secondaries so I’m gonna have to pass, but hey, thumbs up.

Taijuan Walker @ PHI (ND) – 2.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 50% CSW, 30 pitches.

I anticipated Walker to throw fewer pitches and honestly get shelled, but instead his splitter was RIDICULOUS and earned 7/9 whiffs. That’s insane. His fastball is a tick down, but hey, he’s ramping up and that could come back if his knee pain doesn’t return. It’ll take a bit of time and he’s not worth stashing til he gets fully stretched out, but consider it noted.

Dylan Bundy vs SEA (W) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 67 pitches.

His velocity is still hovering just 90 mph and his slider usage was only 19%. This. Ain’t. It.

Michael Wacha @ DET (ND) – 4.1 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 72 pitches.

So this is better than I expected and it’s essentially a 1.20 WHIP. Wacha wasn’t throwing hard, but his changeup missed bats and his curveball + cutter found some strikes. Good for him…? I’d feel like a Dark Souls game rostering Wacha right now — very uneasy.

Taylor Hearn vs COL (ND) – 4.0 IP, 1 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 76 pitches.

He got a bit Singled Out here and featured a strong slider for 7/26 whiffs. I won’t rule out Hearn as a streamer down the road given that sweeper & his 95+ mph velocity, but let’s wait a little bit until then. It’s just too risky right now.

Luis Patiño vs OAK (L) – 0.2 IP, 1 ER, 1 Hits, 0 BBs, 0 Ks – 1 Whiffs, 46% CSW, 13 pitches.

Patiño left this one with an oblique strain – those can take a while to heal properly. It’s a tough blow for the Rays and may mean we see more of Tommy Romero than we initially anticipated.

Nick Martínez @ SF (ND) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 40% CSW, 83 pitches.

YES. After getting into some trouble in the second, Martínez settled down nicely and absolutely dominated the Giants with cutters, changeups, early strikes with curveballs, and excellent four-seamer command. There is one issue though – he came into the spring tossing 93-94 mph and sat just 92.5 mph here, matching his 2017 velocity. Not exactly what we want to see. Meh, I don’t really care that much after watching him paint across the zone and earn 9/36 whiffs across changeups + cutters. After this King Cole, I’m starting him against Atlanta and taking it from there.

Josh Rogers @ ATL (W) – 5.1 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 74 pitches.

Oh hey Josh. Sup. Do people call you junior? Nah. But your initials are–Yeah, I know. No one calls me that, though. Cool, cool. So. Um. You like pitchin’ and stuff? Yeah, I’m okay at it. Yeah, yeah. I wish you threw harder than 90.2 mph lol. Ha, me too. Ha. Welp, see ya later.

Michael Lorenzen vs MIA (ND) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 89 pitches.

First of all, this was Miami. But hey, his sinker missed some bats, changeups were effective, and sliders stole 63% strikes. Not bad! I don’t like his command with far too many pitches in the heart of the plate (I mean, seriously, look at this) and with the Astros next, I’d elect for you to focus your attention on another arm for now — just circle back when he gets the Guardians after.

Matt Manning vs BOS (ND) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 1 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 68 pitches.

Hey, just one hit! It was a HR. And he went six frames! And only two strikeouts! Why must you be who you are. Why must Manning earn 0/22 whiffs on secondary pitches while sitting just 93.7 mph. FINE.

Jameson Taillon vs TOR (L) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 39% CSW, 72 pitches.

It’s pretty cool to see Taillon flirt with a Golden Goalthough I wish his Gallows Pole worthy evening came with a bit more excitement from the slider and curveball — just 4/22 whiffs between them. I love that his four-seamer has once again established itself as a CSW darling, and I hope to truly get hyped again when his breakers return poor swings consistently. That said, he gets the Orioles next and after 72 pitches tonight, you should feel cool with that for a weekend start.

Alex Wood vs SD (ND) – 4.1 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 35% CSW, 86 pitches.

The rumors were true: Wood sat 91.8 mph last year and is now at 93.2 mph. Hallelujah! His heater was great, his slider was better (41% CSW!) and ignore the line. Wood is legit and needs to be rostered everywhere. If he’s at 93 mph for the year, it’s going to be 2021 but better.

Adrian Houser @ BAL (L) – 3.2 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 76 pitches.

Man, these Brewers starters just aren’t feeling it to start the year. No worries, Eric Lauer and Aaron Ashby are here to save the day. Seriously, I have high hopes for Lauer tomorrow against the Orioles and for Ashby whenever he actually gets a starting job, it’s going to be wonderful. Yeah, but what about Houser? Oh, him? Nah, we’re good.

Aaron Civale @ KC (ND) – 3.1 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 74 pitches.

Blegh. I love the fact Civale sat just 28% heaters, but his curveball was bad in this one, returning 0/10 CSW while relying on sliders + cutters to get it done. Throw in diminished velocity across the board and I’m not seeing a guy I’m itching to roster in 12-teamers at the moment, especially with the lack of offense behind him. Consider swapping him out instead of throwing him back out there for the Giants next.

Austin Gomber @ TEX (ND) – 4.2 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 78 pitches.

I dropped Gomber in the ranks down to #100 earlier today because I began to realize I was underestimating the Rangers offense + his velocity was down in his final spring start. It was a bit better here, but still a tick down with his changeup and curve looking nothing like they should. But that slider…oh man that slider. At 8/26 whiffs and 38% CSW, there will be starts where you want to trust Gomber when he’s on the road. Just not right now.

Chris Flexen @ MIN (L) – 4.1 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 20% CSW, 91 pitches.

I wish it were him Flexen at the beach. But instead, we got Chris in the mirror. I miss the 2021 beach man. I blame the cutter going 17% CSW, if you’re electing to write a scathing letter. Do it, then throw it in the fire. You don’t need that hate in your life.

Ranger Suárez vs NYM (ND) – 2.2 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 22% CSW, 63 pitches.

Suárez’s 10.13 ERA is essentially last year’s ERA with an extra zero on it. We didn’t expect the best from him given the interrupted spring, and his fastballs weren’t as good avoiding the heart of the plate as we typically see. Still, he was a bit unlucky and that’s gonna happen. Start him with confidence against the Marlins next.

Elieser Hernandez @ LAA (ND) – 4.2 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 76 pitches.

Yikes. Elieser’s slider wasn’t the savior he needed it to be as his fastball got tattered a whole lot. You can do better than settling for EH.

Carlos Hernández vs CLE (ND) – 4.1 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 68 pitches.

Carlos sat two ticks down on his heater and struggled immensely to locate his pitches…mostly. He threw some great sliders along the way, but he’s far from locked in at the moment. This is a Frozen Banana, a guy who you don’t want to go for now, but you may be into later if his ability unthaws. And maybe you’re just not in the mood for a banana then. And that’s cool.

Huascar Ynoa vs WSH (L) – 3.0 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 17% CSW, 72 pitches.

Well dang. Ynoa’s slider returned just 22% CSW and his fastball was crushed. His command was poor as h*ck and we’re not in a good place right now. Sigh. And I was amped about him in the preseason. He gets the Padres next and that seems a bit risky as well. You’re okay dropping him if you see some fun options out there, just be ready to snatch him back up if things start clicking again — I imagine they will in due time. BUT NICK! You had him around #60 on The List in the pre-season! So? There are so many solid pitching options out there that you shouldn’t be loyal to a guy like Ynoa at this time of the year. It’s not like he’s Charlie Morton or Max Fried from last season, this was your 20th round draft pick. Let him fly if there’s someone solid on the wire. It’s okay, it was all a part of the plan. We’ll get through this.


Game of the Day 

Tylor Megill vs. Zack Wheeler – Oh. My. GOD.

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 ET Monday through Friday.

Featured image 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.

3 responses to “On The Blackburn”

  1. BB says:

    Could take a while for Walker to get fully stretched out since he left the game with right shoulder irritation.

  2. Moelicious says:

    Re: Ranger Suárez, he fumbled an easy comebacker that should have been a double play. Instead it was ruled a hit. That basically ruined the night (two outs vs. one hit), plus three throwing errors by Bohm extended the pitch count. The lack of swings and misses was disappointing….

  3. Jim says:

    Ynoa was my 25th round pick and to your point, HE GONE. Snatched up T Romero in hopes that he can stick around for a while til (maybe) Ynoa figures it out, or one of the other FA SPs are still avail: Taillon, Rasmussen, etc.

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