Pretty Plesac

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Wednesday.

I know it’s two Cleveland pitchers in a row but just when we thought Aaron Civale won the off-season debate, Zach Plesac had his chance to make a case and went 8.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 11 Ks against the White Sox. What. That came with 20 Whiffs and a 38% CSW as his slider was flat out disgusting – 13/32 whiffs and many placed perfectly under the zone. His fastballs jammed right-handers effectively (he did get a very lucky 3-2 call in the first, though), he featured changeups for strikes as well and even had some curveballs steal outs and strikes.

This was the Plesac we’ve dreamed of. I feel bad that he got deGrom’d and left with the dreaded ND, but that’s beside the point. Focus on the fact that Plesac had multiple secondary pitches working effectively, featured fastballs for strikes that didn’t deserve to be crushed, and was extended to throw 98 pitches. You want this. Everywhere.

Let’s see how every other SP did Wednesday:

Max Scherzer @ TOR (ND) – 7.1 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 10 Ks, 22 Whiffs, 34% CSW. Aces gonna ace. You weren’t scared off by his opening day start, right? He tossed 112 pitches in this one, just enough to earn himself a Gallows Pole as his slider was as good as we’ve seen it. Atta boy Max.

Sonny Gray vs CHC (W) – 6.2 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 1 BBs, 11 Ks, 12 Whiffs, 40% CSWAces gonna ace. Gray is locked in, with over 50% CSW on his sliders yesterday because duh. I’m so glad his second half from 2019 is carrying over into 2020 and here’s to nine more starts of dominance. His 40% CSW was second highest of all starters and I am so thrilled to see Sonny dominate.

Nate Pearson vs WSH (ND) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks, 14 Whiffs, 36% CSWI wrote 2,800 words about Pearson already so I’ll keep this one short. He’ll likely be around the 50s/60s on The List with a good fastball/slider combination. He’s a bit too inconsistent with his mechanics, though, and I worry that he’ll get beat up against better lineups. He gets the Braves and Sawx next, which could be a bit dicey. This isn’t a lock.

Brandon Woodruff @ PIT (W) – 6.1 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 1 BBs, 10 Ks, 20 Whiffs, 36% CSWA whole lot of low sinkers here from Woodruff is a bit surprising, but maybe not as shocking as 23/92 changeups. Whoa. He had the feel for them in this one returning nearly 50% CSW on the slow ball, creating more whiffs and a good time for all. He’s up to 92 pitches now, too, and so far so good on the Woodruff front. I’m not confident that changeup feel will return, but if either his slider or changeup are this good in a game, his fastball can do the rest.

Lance Lynn vs ARI (ND) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks, 10 Whiffs, 25% CSWAces gonna ace. That’s not a good CSW at all, but the fact that Lynn, once again, pushed himself over 100 pitches in order to go the full six frames should make you feel smart drafting him this season. I am curious how much we’ll see “normal” levels of pitch counts during the second turn of the rotation, I know I am certainly ready to stop playing the game of guessing pitch-counts for starts.

Lucas Giolito @ CLE (ND) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks, 15 Whiffs, 31% CSWAces gonna ace. His changeup did it’s thing with a 25% SwStr rate and fastballs earned outs and strikes. Just four breakers for the night was a bit odd and I do want to see his slider take a step forward in the near future, but I’ll take this against the Indians, especially after last week’s disappointment against the Twins.

German Marquez @ OAK (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks, 12 Whiffs, 33% CSW. Am I undervaluing Marquez again? His slider was the main reason for the 2018 run and that pitch was killing it yesterday with 12/24 CSW and a 33% SwStr while his curveball sat in the corner with a 3/17 CSW. But it was another game outside of Coors…but it’s the Giants at home then Mariners on the road next. Huh. I’m so down for both of those and he’ll get a bump considering how good his slide piece is looking.

Cristian Javier vs LAD (ND) – 5.2 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks, 9 Whiffs, 35% CSWThis was a fun one and I’m writing another GIF Breakdown on Javier this afternoon after Twitter asked for it. (I’m looking at you, Rob Silver). The quick thoughts are A) his fastball was up to 94 mph in the first and super deceptive B) He was gassed by the fifth/sixth as that velocity dropped to ~91 mph C) his breaking stuff was fantastic D) I wonder if his command is a little too shaky for consistency. At any rate, he’s slotted to get the Diamondbacks next and I think I’m okay with that one. Go ahead and grab him for that if you can, but don’t be too sad if you missed out. Look at Hendricks – one start doesn’t define a pitcher.

Dustin May @ HOU (ND) – 3.1 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks, 4 Whiffs, 25% CSWHonestly, not bad for facing the Astros. It’s kinda what we expected from May, though – not going super deep into games and leaving a bit to be desired in the strikeout front. It’s just who he is until he changes his fastball to more four-seamer based.

Rich Hill vs STL (W) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks, 3 Whiffs, 21% CSWYou’re thinking you kinda killed it with Hill since he had great ratios here and earned a Win. Hill – the strikeout king of 25% – 30% rates forever – had a 4% SwStr rate and two punchouts. His fastball was 2 ticks lower than 2019 from 90 mph to 88 mph. He missed a lot of pitches well out of the zone and had a ton dead-red in the middle. Are you scared? You should be. It could just be his first start back from injury and he improves as the season goes on, but if you can deal Hill, I would.

Jacob deGrom vs BOS (ND) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks, 12 Whiffs, 24% CSW. Aces gonna ace. Weird to see just four Ks, but that WHIP is glorious and he still helped you out. He also hit 101 mph in this one so yeah, deGrom is kinda unreal.

Madison Bumgarner @ TEX (ND) – 5.1 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks, 8 Whiffs, 35% CSW. I am both terrified and excited about Bumgarner at the same time. He does an excellent job of spotting heaters and cutters around the edges of the zone, leading to a ridiculous 23 called strikes in this one, but he also failed to hit 90 mph as he averaged 88 mph on his heater. That’s a little scary. It could be something that increases during the year and I do like that he’s pushing 90 pitches at this point – he was pulled in the 6th and I imagine if he’s cruising, he’s hinting 100 pitches next time. Sooooo yeah. Hold onto Bumgarner, but we may be in a spot where he’s simply Spider-Man and not a true ace.

Frankie Montas vs COL (L) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks, 9 Whiffs, 36% CSWThe champion here was Montas’ sinker, despite coming in at 95mph and not the crazy good 96/97 mph. 15/44 CSW there as he served a ton of strikes to the Rockies while also nibbling the edges effectively as well. I’m not shocked at the low strikeout total with just 3 whiffs on sliders & splitters, though, and I hope he can get there next time. He’s up to 77 pitches now and here’s to hoping 90 is around the corner.

Chris Paddack @ SF (ND) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks, 9 Whiffs, 25% CSW. Aces gonna ace. His approach is great, but today his changeup just wasn’t what he needed it to be while pumping just under 94 mph with his fastball – 5/26 CSW on changeups in this one (decent locations though!). Still an ace with a great floor, but I was hoping for more against the Giants. If only his curveball was properly developed where he could turn to it when his split-changeup is like this.

Andrew Heaney vs SEA (ND) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks, 10 Whiffs, 31% CSW. A bit worse pitch separation in this one as sinkers fell into hittable territory against the Mariners + his curveball nor changeup were quite as sharp as we’ve seen. I’m not liking that he was pulled after walking the first batter of the sixth (that’s an ER) as he still had a lot left in the tank. Hopefully we see more than 64 pitches next time and we get 90+ pitches before too long.

Nathan Eovaldi @ NYM (ND) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks, 11 Whiffs, 24% CSW. Better cutters today from Eovaldi, but still not enough from anything else to get me actually excited. He’s still too hittable and should only be used as a streamer. That’s it.

Justin Dunn @ LAA (ND) – 3.0 IP, 2 ER, 1 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks, 5 Whiffs, 26% CSWI still think there’s something in there with Dunn, but at the moment his stuff isn’t quite where it needs to be. Fastballs found middle-middle way too often and his slider command was questionable. Maybe sometime in the future, but I’m Dunn for now.

Mike Soroka vs TB (ND) – 5.1 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks, 10 Whiffs, 28% CSWI’m glad to see Soroka lean a bit more on sliders, but they didn’t return the ideal results with just 4/27 whiffs. I think he can develop the pitch if he keeps trusting it, but it’s not quite there yet. Still, overall a solid outing against the Rays and he’s over 80 pitches now. Should be a safe play moving forward.

Charlie Morton @ ATL (ND) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks, 13 Whiffs, 33% CSW. Aces gonna ace. Solid recovery from Morton, though we’re still seeing that drop in velocity as he sits 92/93. Not ideal, but his curveball was good and things were fine.

Gerrit Cole @ BAL (W) – 6.2 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks, 11 Whiffs, 28% CSW. Aces gonna ace. You want one fewer ER to solidify it as Cole was the meat of the sandwich today. He allowed an ER in his first three batters, then three hits for 2 ER in his final three, but he was dope across the rest. So stay cool y’all, stay cool.

Joe Musgrove vs MIL (L) – 5.2 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 8 Ks, 14 Whiffs, 33% CSW. Whoa, so just 37/91 fastballs in this one, but I didn’t like their locations as they fell a little low into the zone, but I loved his secondary stuff here…save for some pretty blegh changeups. He served us a Philly along the way and I think we’re seeing Musgrove take the steps forward we wanted to see, outside of the 92.4 mph on his fastball. I’d be so amped if it were 93/94, but for now, the pitch usage shift is still enough for me to be a happy fantasy manager with Musgrove on my squad.

Daniel Poncedeleon @ MIN (L) – 3.2 IP, 3 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 8 Ks, 10 Whiffs, 32% CSWPoncedeleon’s heater is solid and confuses many, while I was impressed with his curveball more than usual, but he’s simply too wild. This isn’t a finished product and I’m not sure you’ll get to see that come to fruition this year. Think Freddy Peralta type Cherry Bomb where the sweet moments are few and far between.

Asher Wojciechowski vs NYY (L) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks, 18 Whiffs, 39% CSWSooooo that’s a 40% CSW, narrowly edging Gray as today’s King Cole – the award I’m creating for the highest CSW of the night, in honor of Gerrit Cole’s 2019 holding the #1 CSW of the season. A-Bomb’s cutter and slider were absolutely bonkers against the Yankees in this one – we’re talking 28/60 CSW across the two pitches. Crazy good. Now, CSW stabilizes across five starts so it’s not too actionable, but it does make me a little sad he had to face the pinstripes instead of the previously scheduled Marlins. Now it’s another Florida team in the Rays and I think we sit it out. He didn’t give you the line you wanted even with this CSW, after all.

Johnny Cueto vs SD (ND) – 3.2 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks, 5 Whiffs, 26% CSWYou know, I was uneasy after ranking Cueto lower than Plesac and Duffy at first in my daily SP rankings as I was thinking Cueto could put up a boring performance against the Padres…but then it was Cueto and kept him there. Looking now, yep, he’s Cueto. Not the old Cueto, the new Cueto. It’s too bad.

Danny Duffy @ DET (ND) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks, 11 Whiffs, 36% CSWSo here’s a question. Duffy gave you eight strikeouts and a 0.80 WHIP…but a 7.20 ERA. Is this a streaming Win? I want to think so since he massively helped in two of the three major categories, plus he avoided the Win. Please yell at me in the comments if you disagree. Streaming Record: 1-5. This was the Tigers, and now it’s the Cubs and Twins. Nope, we’re done here.

Matthew Boyd vs KC (ND) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 9 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks, 13 Whiffs, 22% CSWOh no. Velocity was okay at 92mph and he was a bit better with his heater and slider in the zone, but he was hittable and not nearly as deceptive as we saw last year. Yes, a step forward from last week, but it’s not getting better quickly enough. 22% CSW against the Royals? Really? Now it’s the Cardinals and Pirates, though, and I can’t help but think one of those at least will be good enough for you to be happy. I just want you to be happy. So do you endure it? Depends on what’s out there, honestly. He could flick a switch in the next week or two and make you regret dropping him, or you can get some value elsewhere and just be done with it. It’s your call. I’m dropping him a bit on The List, of course, but there’s still hope here.

Kyle Hendricks @ CIN (L) – 4.1 IP, 6 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks, 7 Whiffs, 26% CSWI’m going to be referencing this for a while as the perfect example of not overreacting to the first start of a season. A CGSHO followed by a 6 ER clunker –> the best outing of the day to the worst outing of the day. Just like last time, I think this will be the most extreme outing of the season for Hendricks (this time on the bad side), and I’d anticipate something different moving forward. This is baseball, this is pitching. Now I’ll slide Hendricks back to the mid-to-late 30s and call it a day.


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.


Marco Gonzales vs. Los Angeles AngelsPlease don’t. Brady Singer is the obvious one, but he’s too highly owned, and it’s between Marco, Ivan NovaKevin Gausman, John Means (vs. NYY with his recent arm issues), and Martin Perez. Blegh.


Tomorrow’s Streamer


Tyler Chatwood vs. Pittsburgh Pirates – He increased his cutter usage with its higher velocity and had himself a day against the Brewers. Now he gets the Pirates, let’s do it.


Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer


Jon Lester vs. Pittsburgh Pirates – I think you can steal a Win here against a poor offense. Even Kyle Freeland was considered here (sadly Anibal Sanchez vs. the Marlins won’t be happening), but I think this is the safest play.


Game of the Day


Shane Bieber vs. Jose Berrios – This sounds like a boatload of fun + we’ll get to see if Bieber can handle the test of the Twins after dominating the Royals.


(Photo by Frank Jansky/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.

19 responses to “Pretty Plesac”

  1. Triumph the Dog says:

    Drop dMay, Mercado or Khrush for Plesac?

  2. Tom says:

    Civale or Plesac ROS?

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Absurdly close. I’m leaning Civale just because he’s the #4 vs. the #5 – there’s a chance Plesac gets skipped next week, for example.

      Both looked excellent!

  3. Boom King says:

    Streaming record: 0-6. (0-5-1 at best.)
    It’s been a rough start to the season for everyone, but things will turn around.
    I added O Drake, RP over Duffy because Duffy can’t be trusted. Drake’s 13.50 ERA and 4.50 WHIP reminded me the pain of streaming RP.

  4. Sean says:

    Young Matthew Boyd….so disappointing, though he’s like my 5 starter. Would you drop him for some Plesac action?

    • Nick Pollack says:

      Man that’s close. Just like I mentioned with Hendricks, we can’t really define a season from the first start of the year.

      I *want* to jump ship for Plesac, but my head says stick with Boyd for one or two more.

      In the end, trust your gut. There’s no wrong/right answer.

  5. Disco Lou says:

    Nick, is Josh James worth a hold in a redraft, points league? Plesac and Turnbull are on the FA list

  6. Omar says:

    Moving forward, would you prefer Plesac over Carlos Martinez or Like Weaver?

    • Dave says:

      Wow, I did not see your question! Crazy we had the exact same two guys…

      • Nick Pollack says:


        I’m worried you guys may do the hot potato, adding a pitcher after a start then moving to the next one, etc. without getting an actual start under your belt!

        Hold Weaver, definitely. CarMart would be the drop, but he gets the Tigers next and I’d want that.

  7. Dave says:

    Drop CarMart or Luke Weaver for Plesac?

  8. G says:

    Are we concerned with the drop in splitter usage with Montas? That’s the reason he broke out last year and I didn’t see much of it in both starts. Is this just a late start to the season thing?

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