Please, Zach

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Tuesday.

Zach Plesac vs CWS (L) – 5.0 IP, 6 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 92 pitches.

After strolling into the season with 13 frames of two ER against the Tigers, Zach Plesac has gotten a sharp taste of reality across the last week, facing the ChiSox twice and allowed six ER in both, disastrous, outings, with a ghastly line of 5.0 IP, 6 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks tonight. He made mistake pitches with all three of his major offerings, they were hit, and the crooked number followed. On the whole, it’s his changeup that I’m most disappointed in. His slider was solid and his fastball was poor, but it was in 2020, too. His changeup, however, is supposed to be a rock against lefties and he’s not throwing it well.

That said, I don’t think Plesac really is a six ER pitcher, nor do I think he was the sub-2.30 ERA pitcher from 2020. He’s a solid ~3.50-4.00 ERA guy who can flirt with a 25% strikeout rate as he constantly goes at least six frames. That’s still very valuable and those that stick with him will be rewarded. Remember, it’s early. Things are weird. Plesac has certainly shown better over his history and you have to lean on that. We’ve already seen some struggling pitchers pull it together this season (a few tonight!) and I expect Plesac to take part on the same journey.


Let’s see how every other SP did Tuesday:


Zac Gallen @ CIN (ND) – 5.2 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 6 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 98 pitches.

It’s not fun to see the walks show up for Gallen, but he did a fantastic job hovering the edge of the plate in this one with changeups and curveballs down and fastballs jamming left-handers. I was a bit surprised to see just four cutters on the night, though, and I have to think once he gets in rhythm featuring the pitch for a strike, these four walk days are gone. He’s up to 98 pitches and we should feel very confident in Gallen moving forward.

Luis Castillo vs ARI (ND) – 4.0 IP, 1 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 89 pitches.

Blegh. Castillo was burned by an error, but he didn’t have his slider whatsoever and his four-seamer was atrocious with a 7% CSW, as he tried to go high and didn’t get bites. He was forced to lean too heavily on changeups, making the pitch not as ferocious as we normally see it. It’s been frustrating watching Castillo fail to be the stud we want him to be, but give him time. He’ll be a rock soon enough.

Julio Urias @ SEA (W) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 1 BBs, 11 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 40% CSW, 88 pitches.

Did you have concerns about Urías after his shaky start against Rockie Road? Nah, you’re too smart for that. It’s good to see Urías have his breaker working, while his fastball command was solid. Weird seeing his changeup underperform, though. Imagine if he has all three pitches working…

Sean Manaea vs MIN (W) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 34% CSW, 95 pitches.

It was a CGSHO for Manaea in the first game of the doubleheader as he carved up the Twins lineup. It’s great to see him at 91 mph, but even better to see a whopping 17 whiffs from a guy normally hovering an 11% SwStr rate. He shelved the breaker for a start to favor a vicious changeup that earned 50% CSW while his sinker did all the work inside the zone. While I’m not sure he can own the strike zone this much moving forward with that sinker, he’s certainly a start against the Rays and O’s next.

Patrick Corbin vs STL (ND) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 76 pitches.

Patty C, this isn’t supposed to happen. Nick, you were right! He turned it around right away! No no no no, that’s not what you’re seeing. He had 3/31 slider whiffs. His four-seamer was…actually pretty well-spotted glove-side. Sinkers were very hittable, though, and yeah, this isn’t a fixed Corbin. I can’t shake a feeling that it’s a ruse, a quick moment of respite before the onslaught continues. We’re not done here.

Jesus Luzardo vs MIN (W) – 5.1 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 40% CSW, 65 pitches.

Ahhhh there we go Lizard King. Excuse me just a moment as I—pardon me–umph-errr-gger–AH! There. That TIARA can be difficult to pull off sometimes. He’s abandoned the sinker and throwing effective heaters in the zone, while going 43% CSW on his changeups and curveball. Against the Twins. Yep, that’s the Luzardo we’ve been waiting for. Still not elite command, for what it’s worth, but this floor is all we could ask for.

Shohei Ohtani vs TEX (ND) – 4.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 6 BBs, 7 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 80 pitches.

He’s not ready yet, but to be fair, he hasn’t had a regular schedule to pitch yet, which would explain why he still can’t refrain from walking batters. Blegh, I want to be done with this but I just can’t justify it yet. And now he could get Texas a second time, in a game that actually feels like routine. Fine, I’m still in.

Corbin Burnes @ SD (W) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 10 Ks – 18 Whiffs, 39% CSW, 93 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. It’s getting ridiculous now as he earned a share of the Gallows PoleI mean seriously, ridiculous — 42% CSW on 48 cutters is simply not fair. It just stinks he’s not going to get the same volume as others.

Chris Paddack vs MIL (L) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 42% CSW, 79 pitches.

Whoa, is Paddack fixed? That is a King Cole after all…and he earned 43% CSW with a 95 mph heater…and went 33% SwStr on changeups. Also keep in mind that he had to work a little harder in the third when four unearned runs came with two outs. I’ll say this. It’s better, but not quite the same from 2019. But definitely better and I think the real test is next time out against the Dodgers. Old Paddack could handle it, let’s see if the latest sheriff in town is up to the task.

Jon Gray vs HOU (W) – 6.2 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 4 BBs, 6 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 104 pitches.

Oh no. That’s a 2.42 ERA for Gray on the season while enduring the Dodgers twice and now the Astros. I can’t do this, it’s just too much heartbreak and anxiety for an old man like me. But Nick, he threw his slider 43% of the time! For 38% CSW! STOP IT, STOP IT. I really wish J. Gray could get out of Colorado. Nick! Now he does in Oracle Park, Arizona, and St. Louis for three straight starts! Ugggggh, is he really pulling me in for this stretch? I think so. Unreal.

Jose Berrios @ OAK (L) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 89 pitches.

Solid, but a touch lacking in substance, you know? Curveball is still an issue with just 3/27 whiffs and I’m not feeling his fastball command at the moment. But hey, he did well enough and he should be on the upswing soon enough with his repertoire.

Jake Arrieta vs NYM (W) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 88 pitches.

Arrieta is trying his best to compete for Spider-Man this year, and we all know this won’t end well. I’ll keep cheering for you, though.

Charlie Morton @ NYY (ND) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 99 pitches.

The only blemish was an Urshela blast to center as Morton sat 95/96 on his four-seamer (sweet!) and went to town with his curveball. This is the Morton of 2019 we know and love and it could mean an AGA label returning soon. Get pumped.

Jameson Taillon vs ATL (ND) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 80 pitches.

He’s almost at 94 mph now while he’s keeping four-seamers up, though the command isn’t quite there yet on the heater, and slider too for that matter. It’s an encouraging outing given the effectiveness of his pitches inside the zone + going a full 80 pitches, but I think we’re still a start or two away from seeing Taillon: UNLEASHED. Man, I’ve been waiting for this sequel for three years.

Carlos Rodon @ CLE (W) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 5 BBs, 8 Ks – 18 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 110 pitches.

Once again, Rodón started slow and ramped up four-seamer through the game, averaging 94.5 mph and was up to 97+ in the fifth. It’s a co-share of the Gallows Pole as well and you have to be a bit impressed. He didn’t get as many strikes as you want from his slider, though, and it led to those five walks. Still, the heater is killing it and makes Rodón well worth your roster spot. I mean, how can you remove him after his hot start to the season?

Marco Gonzales vs LAD (L) – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 101 pitches.

Well well well. It’s been a shaky start to the year and in his toughest matchup, Gonzo got his act together. I wouldn’t say his sinker command was phenomenal, but his curveball and changeup found their spots. There are still significant concerns for the long season, but he’ll have a decent number of outings like this ahead. You gotta take the good with the bad, you know?

Adam Wainwright @ WSH (ND) – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 10 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 100 pitches.

Whoaaaa, Waino! Just like last year, you’re leaning hard into that curveball/cutter combination and after last week’s blowup, it’s cool to see you still have some oomph in there. I’m not sure I buy that you can keep the magic alive against the Phils, but I ain’t ignoring it for a stream down the road.

Eduardo Rodriguez vs TOR (W) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 90 pitches.

It wasn’t an overwhelming performance, but the line certainly acts like one. His cutter earned strikes — yay! — and his fastball + changeup did the rest. And now he gets SEA, @TEX, @BAL. Deeeelicious.

Taijuan Walker @ CHC (L) – 3.2 IP, 2 ER, 2 Hits, 6 BBs, 7 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 91 pitches.

I feel like I’ve opened a bag of chips, ate a few, and I’m now shaking the bag wondering where all the innings went. You had 91 pitches, Walker, how do you only get 11 outs?! What’s that? Ohhhhh, you walked everyone. Yeah, don’t do that. His velocity is still good, but not great (94 mph vs. the 95+ we’d seen) and his secondary stuff is heavily lacking. It’s frustrating as it looks like the blegh Toby I don’t want him to be, but without his fastball shredding through innings, there isn’t much else to save him. You’re still safe to start vs. the Nats next, though.

Luis Garcia @ COL (L) – 5.2 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 84 pitches.

This was supposed to be Lance McCullers, but he was scratched and should pitch sometime this week. Meanwhile, García stepped up and somehow earned a Philly inside Coors. Props to him and this Birthday Party. He pulled it together so quickly.

Jordan Lyles @ LAA (L) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 80 pitches.

He’s still using his new slider more than his curveball and it helped him return this satisfactory PQS against the Angels. It’s a repeat matchup next time out and given this was a success for a 4.50 ERA, I’m out. It’s like your chasing a Toby — you shouldn’t be chasing those.

Matt Harvey @ MIA (W) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 82 pitches.

Hi, my name is Harvey, and you’ve already forgotten about this pitching performance. Performance?! Hamlet is a performance, this was sending a fax. And how irrelevant it is.

Hyun Jin Ryu @ BOS (L) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 83 pitches.

Awwww, Ryu finally hit a bump in the road, right after I gave him the AGA label. His cutter was gone after cruising with the pitch thus far, earning just 6% CSW on 17 thrown. Ouch. He’ll bounce back.

Logan Webb @ PHI (ND) – 4.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 74 pitches.

Soooo I know we want to give up on Webb, but at least his changeup actually did things in this one + it was his first start after dealing with vaccine side-effects. Okay, okay, that’s not really enough for me to hold onto Webb…well, he does get the Marlins on Sunday. Maybe that’s worth a desperate Sunday stream. Maybe.

Zack Wheeler vs SF (ND) – 5.2 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 105 pitches.

Wheeler, dude, what is going on with you. First, you showcase what got me all amped in the spring, then you allow at least three ER across the next three starts. You said Alcántara was just like Wheeler! Ahhh not cool, random italics person. I have to mention that 7/27 whiffs is exactly what I’ve been waiting for, but simply put, you have to do that while not throwing a ton of pitches over the heart of the plate. Your stuff is great, but not that great. If you’re scared, don’t be. His ratios will still be solid by the end + he’s going to get the volume you want.

Rich Hill @ KC (ND) – 2.0 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 40 pitches.

He threw 40 pitches and allowed 4 ER. I know, I read the line too. I just needed to be repeated. You shouldn’t be rostering Hill.

Brad Keller vs TB (L) – 1.2 IP, 5 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 1 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 19% CSW, 54 pitches.

Blegggggh. His heater shook me at 95 mph and he hit the edges pretty well, but it didn’t go in his favor while his breaker did few favors. I know I sound crazy, but if Keller can live around the edges and stay at that 94/95 mph velocity, there’s a legit rebound coming + it’s against Detroit. That’s a bold move and something to consider in deep leagues.

Matt Shoemaker @ OAK (L) – 3.1 IP, 5 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 0 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 67 pitches.

You know, I’m not sure why I went from “Shoemaker needs his splitter” to “Shoemaker can survive with this new slider” so quickly. I deserve this. Anyway, his slider that carried him in his early starts was far from exceptional here, while The Cobbler still doesn’t have his splitter with just 2/19 whiffs here. Fortunately for all of us, his schedule is divine moving forward regardless of how Minnesota shapes their lineup, with some trio grouping of PIT, KC, CLE, TEX, and DET. Count me in, questionable secondaries or not. Streaming Record: 10-9.

Nick Neidert vs BAL (L) – 3.0 IP, 5 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 70 pitches.

All I can think of when I hear “Neidert” is a baseball describing a breaking ball to his comrades. “We’re going to be a 58-footer and we’ll be hitting the ground soon…nigh! Dirt!” Nick, that was terrible. Just like this performance. Touché.


Game of the Day 


Dinelson Lamet vs Milwaukee Brewers He’s back! I wonder if he still has the best pitch in baseball.


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


Photo by Ian D’Andrea | 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.

6 responses to “Please, Zach”

  1. Lion says:

    No write up on Luis Castillo?

  2. David says:

    Calling Luis Garcia a “birthday party” feels rude. He’s essentially a rookie and if you include last post season has more good starts than bad. I can understand not trusting him as a starter, but crapping on a guy who stepped up in Coors with a last minute call seems harsh.

  3. JR says:

    I came here for Gallen :(

  4. Lei says:

    What about Gallen?!

  5. Nick says:

    Gallen was 1 strike away from a 6 IP, 2 ER, 3 BB line. With an 0-2 count, Gallen’s last batter battled back and walked and the reliever who came in immediately gave up a HR to push Gallen to 3 ER. Unlucky end to his night.

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