Pain Bieber

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Saturday.

Shane Bieber vs MIN (ND) – 5.1 IP, 3 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 35% CSW, 101 pitches.

This headline may be a bit aggressive as after seven straight games of 2 or 3 ER, Shane Bieber still has a 3.32 ERA on the season and leads the league in strikeouts. However, a 1.26 WHIP is not what you’d expect from a pitcher in the first tier and yesterday’s 5.1 IP, 3 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks (16 Whiffs & 35% CSW) was more of the same. How does this keep happening to Bieber?

Very bluntly, his curveball jumped from a .229 BABIP to a .383, a result of throwing the pitch in the zone too often this year. We’re talking a jump from 26% to 50% this season and the same can be said for his slider, surging 23 points in Zone rate to 45%. It’s not right. He’s still getting ~40%+ O-Swings on both pitches while his four-seamer is getting strikes at the same rate. In short, his breakers are finding too much of the plate, allowing for more hittable pitches than we’ve seen in the past.

I have to believe it’ll be tweaked and corrected moving forward, possibly by a re-introduction of his cutter from last year that found the zone and allowed the breakers to do their thing. He’s not a 1.26 WHIP pitcher.


Let’s see how every other SP did Saturday:


Pablo Lopez vs NYM (ND) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 90 pitches.

Atta boy Pablo! The changeup and four-seamer were both working well as it’s been fun watching him embrace the four-seamer over sinkers as of late. His curveball was helpful, though this was a fastball/changeup game as he was feeling the two and had no reason to change it up. He gets the Phils next and that should work well + Toronto should be in Buffalo for the following start as Pablo deftly avoids Dunedin. SWEET. Still not ideal but SWEET.

Gerrit Cole vs CWS (W) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 34% CSW, 95 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. Boy am I happy I swapped him and Bieber last week. It was a week too late. Sure sure sure, but at least it’s done, you know?

Joey Lucchesi @ MIA (ND) – 4.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 0 BBs, 8 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 49% CSW, 43 pitches.

Whoaaaa. I should note, this Miami series is a bit of a trainwreck with a pair of offenses that just do not want to score runs. Lucchesi should not have a 49% CSW and eight strikeouts, trucking through four frames with just 43 pitches. This ain’t real life. But it’s Fantasy! Don’t you start with that. If you’re wondering why this isn’t the King Colethere’s a minimum of five innings.

Bryse Wilson vs PIT (W) – 6.2 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 85 pitches.

Ayyyy Bryse had success! With an 8% CSW on his #2 pitch! That doesn’t sound good. That’s because it’s not. Sure, the changeup earned outs, but that’s that low BABIP isn’t sustainable. I’m not seeing enough from this fastball/changeup approach to make me think he’s worthy of a pickup.

Walker Buehler @ SF (W) – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 105 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. You want to see more strikeouts, but whatever, this only helps. That fastball is just so good right now, returning a 39% CSW and making us all feel dope.

Shane McClanahan @ TOR (ND) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 67 pitches.

I’m annoyed they pulled him with just 67 pitches, but Shane was placed in Dunedin and produced. His slider is still great, his fastball sat 97 mph, and it’s hard not to feel confident in him once he is fully stretched out. I would like to see more curveballs and changeups over time, and I feel once he gets to 85/90 pitches, we’ll see more of it. Do we keep holding with the low innings totals? I think that’s up to you, I’m personally doing it as his quality of inning is top-notch and he’ll eventually get the leash off. Please Tampa, we all need this.

Scott Kazmir vs LAD (L) – 4.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 55 pitches.

Whaaaa, Kazmir?! I really hope he has a Zep song playing when he warms up and it’s awesome to see him have success against a difficult lineup. The stuff is highly mediocre and should not be entertained, but this was a cool thing.

Robbie Ray vs TB (ND) – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks – 19 Whiffs, 34% CSW, 109 pitches.

YES. There he is. I’ve been waiting for the secondaries to wake up and here we saw 11/28 slider whiffs as the Rays cheated on fastballs. NOT TODAY. His changeup even had success too, which…wait. Ray throws a changeup?! It makes a ton of sense given how much he sits in the zone with four-seamers, but I didn’t know he had one, let alone go 5/10 CSW with them (and allowed the only run of the night via a Mike Zunino bomb, but I’m still encouraged!). So yeah, I’m stoked, this is wonderful, and I’m starting him indefinitely. He doesn’t even start in Dunedin ever again as the Jays return to Buffalo on June 1st. Everything is coming up Robbie.

Ryan Weathers vs SEA (ND) – 4.0 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 67 pitches.

That WHIP hurts and I didn’t see the overpowering stuff we got a glimpse of earlier in the season. In most leagues, I’m out on Weathers for now as the innings aren’t there and the stuff isn’t at the level it needs to be. This was Seattle! Two strikeouts won’t cut it.

Miles Mikolas vs CHC (ND) – 4.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 59 pitches.

Hey, it’s Mikolas! Oh yes! And he sat sub 90 mph on his fastball! Oh no! Don’t touch this until we see something encouraging.

Spencer Howard vs BOS (L) – 3.0 IP, 2 ER, 1 Hits, 4 BBs, 5 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 37% CSW, 68 pitches.

I’m thrilled to see Howard back in the majors, but I’m not seeing the two things I wanted: a high pitch count + strong secondaries. His changeup was actually pretty decent, but this was 72% four-seamers and while the 37% CSW is great, it’s not one of those elite heaters that deserves the high usage. I’m out until further notice.

Antonio Senzatela vs ARI (ND) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 89 pitches.

Look at Senz-A hold the fort with a 3.60 ERA. What. A. Guy. And a 1.60 WHIP and just three strikeouts. Well, yeah, it’s Senz-a.

Nathan Eovaldi @ PHI (W) – 5.1 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 85 pitches.

It’s not pretty, but it worked. He’s struggling to figure out his secondary stuff once again and I’d take this start-by-start. Miami is next so that’s cool, but Houston twice after? Naaah.

Patrick Sandoval vs OAK (L) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 83 pitches.

The Irish Panda returned and this ain’t so bad. His changeup was marvelous at 9/16 whiffs, but his breakers and heaters couldn’t hold their end of the deal. Still, he got outs with fastballs and survived Oakland as the Angels wanted to give Bundy one more day. I don’t think we see Sandoval return in the next pass of the rotation.

Adbert Alzolay @ STL (L) – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 36% CSW, 86 pitches.

Yep, that’ll work. Streaming Record: 32-16. I won’t say I was incredibly confident here, but Alzoaly earned a King Cole as his 55% usage slider returned 8 whiffs and a 36% CSW, earning plenty of outs as well. He’s up to 95 mph on that sinker now as well and…it’s the Reds + 2x Padres next. Hmmm, it’s tempting to try the Reds given their volatility, though I can’t feel comfortable with him against the Padres. Maybe I’m being overly cautious. At any rate, I don’t expect to be able to use Alzolay much longer as my streamer, so this may be your last chance to pick him up if he’s still there. Here’s to hoping he survives the gauntlet.

Brett Anderson @ CIN (ND) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 65 pitches.

Oh hey, I guess Anderson pitched again. 3/65 CSW whiffs is kinda ridiculous. Yes, in the bad way. You don’t want this.

Chris Bassitt @ LAA (W) – 7.2 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 95 pitches.

It was a mix of curveballs, fastballs, cutters, sliders, and changeups, and it added it to…this. Good on you Bassitt, you’ve earned yourself a trio of glorious matchups against the Mariners, Diamondbacks, and Royals. Hold tight.

Kenta Maeda @ CLE (ND) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 73 pitches.

Maeda hit the IL today with a groin strain and so ends my struggles of where to put him on The List. For now. Thing is, his splitter was actually kinda good here, and while his slider wasn’t moving quite like I want it to, a 36% CSW is what we’re looking for. Poor heater though, yeah that wasn’t great. Anyway, he hits the IL and I’m holding through it but that’ll be a Still ILL when he returns and if you’re overloaded and have someone like Syndergaard or Framber to hold instead, at this point I’d favor them over Maeda – Thor/Framber will be back in June and carry a more realistic ceiling right now. It’s close, though.

Brady Singer vs DET (W) – 6.1 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 96 pitches.

PQS from Singer feels like the deal you’ve agreed upon and hey! There’s an extra out! Until I see something new in his arsenal, I just can’t rely on Singer to be anything more than a Toby and let’s be honest, this was the Tigers. You want a little better than this ~4.50 ERA and ~1.33 WHIP, yeah?

Lance McCullers Jr. @ TEX (ND) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 4 BBs, 7 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 104 pitches.

Ehhhh, this isn’t what I’m looking for from McCullers. Neither his curveball nor slider earned a 30% CSW, pushing up that walk total and trying to do it all with called strike sinkers. This ain’t it. So here I am, patiently waiting for the explosion of excellence so I can give McCullers the AGA label. I think it should come eventually, but maybe not for a bit.

Sonny Gray vs MIL (ND) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 4 BBs, 8 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 34% CSW, 96 pitches.

Ehhhh, I think we’re looking for more than a VPQS from Gray against the Brewers. However, his slider and curveball seem to be coming alive, earning 16 called strikes between them as the Brewers played a passive game here. Feel confident with Sonny against the Nats, Phils, Cards, and Rockie Road ahead – or it could be Cubs, Phils, Brewers, Rox depending how the Reds position the #5 spot. Either way, it’s a go.

Jordan Lyles vs HOU (ND) – 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 87 pitches.

Lyles dominated the Yankees with his slider and in this one…earned 9% CSW across 23 thrown. Welp, that’s the story, pack it up boys. It’s a risky proposition to expect it to show on a given night.

Dylan Cease @ NYY (L) – 4.1 IP, 5 ER, 5 Hits, 4 BBs, 6 Ks – 20 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 91 pitches.

Look at Cease earn a Gallows Pole on the back of his slider (13/38 whiffs!) and not do enough with everything else to keep the Yankee bats at bay. At least his curveball found the zone a lot in this one…? The fact that his slider works is enough to warrant a hold, especially given the Orioles next. Maybe we’ll see it all click one day and he’ll soar.

Bruce Zimmermann @ WSH (ND) – 3.0 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 82 pitches.

There was a glimmer of hope that B-Z could get busy with the Nationals after showing some excellent command at moments to kick off the year. That skill wasn’t here and who knows when we’ll see it again.

Justus Sheffield @ SD (L) – 5.0 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 5 BBs, 3 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 91 pitches.

Justus hasn’t been an arm to trust against poor lineups and this was San Diego. Yeah…

Madison Bumgarner @ COL (L) – 6.0 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 20% CSW, 99 pitches.

Womp womp. On the plus side, Bumgarner was at 92 mph on his heater, but his cutter was easily smacked around and his heater wasn’t able to sneak in for strikes. He gets the Cardinals next, though, and I’m game for it. This was Coors, you know.

Matthew Boyd @ KC (L) – 5.0 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 93 pitches.

The slider whiffs still aren’t there – 2/20 here – and while his four-seamer and changeup weren’t bad, he needed that extra pitch to tie it all together. Y’all know I want to be a Boyd Boy and it’ll come when that slider returns. In the meantime, he should get Cleveland next and I think you’re still fine holding.

Mitch Keller @ ATL (L) – 5.0 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 89 pitches.

Hey, he went 8/29 whiffs on sliders! Sure, his four-seamer was incredibly hittable and there was nothing else in the tank (save for four curveballs for strikes), but that slider! Maybe that’s hope over time and he can be a proper Young Gun

Jon Lester vs BAL (ND) – 4.0 IP, 6 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 79 pitches.

Lester can’t handle the Orioles, though they are a bit better against Lefties. It’s not an excuse, it’s just…I dunno. Disappointing? Sad? I just miss those moments way back when Lester was a rock day after day. Night after night. Replaying the eve—No no no, I will not quote Dream Theater in this roundup. NOT TODAY.


Game of the Day 


Sean Manaea vs. Dylan Bundy – Let’s hope both can get back on the right track.


But Nick?! Where are the streaming picks? – I’ve moved them to the daily SP Matchups & Streamer Rankings article.


Photo from Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire | 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.

3 responses to “Pain Bieber”

  1. Mike Honcho says:

    In a 12 team roto mixer, would you drop L.Garcia for Kaprielian this week?

  2. Bbboston says:


    Come on man; admit your mistakes and pony up an AGA to Bassitt.


  3. Jameson says:

    I don’t even get a blurb anymore? :(

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