Ray Tracing

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Friday.

Robbie Ray vs ATL (W) – 6.2 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 95 pitches.

This is going to pretty quick. You want to roster Robbie Ray after he went 6.2 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks against Atlanta last night, even getting a taste of Careful, Icarus as he allowed a two-run home run in his seventh and final frame. We’ve been terrified of the volatility of Ray through the years as he’s struggled to get strikes with fastballs to set up his devastating breaking balls. Why we do we care now? Because he’s peppering the zone with four-seamers without fear and it’s working. In fact, this outing wasn’t even Ray at his best with his breakers returning just six whiffs between them, but the fact that Ray is boasting 96 mph velocity inside the zone – returning outs and plenty of strikes – is a strong enough foundation that it’ll set up for double-digit strikeout games ahead moving forward.

Hold him tight, pick him up now as he’ll be making me heavily consider a Top 50 placement on Monday (I recognize there’s a chance this won’t last after just two starts but my gut tells me otherwise) and start him against Oakland next week.


Let’s see how every other SP did Friday:


Marcus Stroman @ PHI (L) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 38% CSW, 64 pitches.

Stroman was dominating here as he earned 50% SwStr on splitters and 6/19 whiffs on cutters + sliders and was pulled with a hamstring injury. Baseball isn’t fair. Apparently he shouldn’t miss his next start but this had all the makings of a legit seven-inning performance and instead he’s left with an L from two unearned runs in the second. Hopefully those secondaries are this good moving forward.

Jon Lester vs MIA (ND) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 70 pitches.

Well look at that, Lester returning from the IL in a Still ILL scenario and getting the most out of his 70 pitches. Well, kinda, he did only fan one batter – HAISTFMFWT?! – and that 1.40 WHIP ain’t great. He’s made it easy for all of you to avoid.

Lance McCullers Jr. @ TB (W) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 9 Ks – 21 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 111 pitches.

See? Now that McCullers is fully removed from his vaccination, he’s back to be the newest of the dope squad. The curveball did all the work in this one, though, with that new slider that has all amped took a backseat with just 4/15 CSW. In fact, I wonder if get a little too “down” heavy in this one as he completely avoided the top third of the zone but hey, that’s 21 whiffs and it was working. Don’t overthink this.

Pablo Lopez @ WSH (ND) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 79 pitches.

Despite holding a 2.34 ERA, PabLo still doesn’t have a Win. Baseball isn’t fair. He wasn’t getting the whiffs on the changeup this time, but they gave him outs as we’re still waiting for his cutter or curveball to take proper shape. Next is Arizona and we keep moving forward hoping that changeup doesn’t disappear. It shouldn’t, but you know, sometimes it needs a vacation.

Gerrit Cole vs DET (W) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 12 Ks – 21 Whiffs, 44% CSW, 87 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. There’s a reason we call it King Cole. And y’all want deGrom to have his own tier.

Madison Bumgarner vs COL (W) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 81 pitches.

After an early run in the books, you settled down and kept your fastball velocity up, even at 91.4 mph in this one, as you carved up Rockie Road for a Win – Streaming Record: 17-10. Now with 2x Miami next, you best be holding with that improved velocity.

Freddy Peralta vs LAD (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 1 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 91 pitches.

Look at Peralta go, displaying how the matchups are like the points in Whose Line Is It Anyway – they don’t matter. The only focus is his control in a given start and as long as he finds the zone, good things happen. In this one, that control was with his four-seamer more than the slider (just 40% strikes on the breaker is highly questionable) and the Dodgers couldn’t handle it. Here’s to hoping that’s still there moving forward.

Brady Singer @ MIN (L) – 2.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 1 Ks – 0 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 48 pitches.

Singer left this one early taking a liner off the foot. It’s unclear if he’s able to start next time and I should note that he wasn’t at his best before the removal. Still, it would be Cleveland + Detroit and yeah, you’d start him. Monitor this.

John Gant @ PIT (W) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 5 BBs, 2 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 99 pitches.

Leave it to Gant to put up a line like this. I can see him leaving the stadium and approaching all of us with his arms open, an anxious smile, tilting his head as he emits an “Ehhh?” hoping for us to buy it. We don’t, John. We don’t.

Chase Anderson vs NYM (W) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 91 pitches.

Chase, buddy, what did I ever do to you? Why wasn’t I invited to your Birthday Party?

Yu Darvish vs SF (W) – 6.1 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 12 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 38% CSW, 107 pitches.

Aces gonna ace as Darvish maintains a firm hold on the #4 spot on The List, even suggesting he belongs in Tier 1 with his 2.13 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, and 6.33 IPS. It’s crazy to say, though, but his sub 35% strikeout rate just isn’t gonna cut it to be at the top, even after these twelve punchouts. What a world.

Nathan Eovaldi @ TEX (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 91 pitches.

Phew, we’re back on track with Eovaldi, who didn’t have the wide variety of secondary options as he did for the first month, but his splitter and curveball did enough hovering 30% CSW to complement his four-seamer. Detroit is next and that’s a go-go. Just wake me up first.

Michael Pineda vs KC (W) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 71 pitches.

Pineda went 8/28 whiffs with his slider. Phew. Yeah, he lost it last time and it felt like it was the end of a Vargas Rule but here it is, returning with a long speech about how much it never wanted to leave in the first place. You had me at hello. Now it’s Texas and we’re still riding this Pine. Wait, “riding the pine” means you want to bench him. Okay, not that. You get it.

John Means @ OAK (W) – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks – 22 Whiffs, 40% CSW, 93 pitches.

Fastball at 93? Check. Changeups with whiffs? 11, check. Are breakers getting some reasonable action? 41% CSW, check. Solid pitch separation? Fastballs up, changeups down, WE GOT ANOTHER CHECK. It’s so good to see Means fully coming into his own as he earned a Gallows Pole against the Athletics. He should keep cruising against the Mariners next and possibly the still frigid Mets after.

Wade Miley vs CHC (W) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 99 pitches.

This is what you signed up for from Miley, maybe with one fewer baserunner and one more inning, but this is generally it. Welcome to the Toby life. He gets Cleveland and Pittsburgh next so keep this train a-chuggin’.

Edwin Uceta @ MIL (L) – 2.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 27 pitches.

This was a bullpen game for the Dodgers and I’m sure it’s cool for Ueeta to say he started a game in the big leagues. I feel you, Edwin, I won’t nerf this for you. Was that a…Yes.

Chris Flexen vs LAA (ND) – 4.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 0 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 14% CSW, 87 pitches.

Blegggh. Flexen had a brilliant start last time as he relied heavily on well-commanded cutters and in this one? 6% CSW on 29 cutters. Yikes. It meant he failed to punchout a single batter – HAISTFMFWT?! and teach those who depended on him all about trust issues. He’s just Flexen in the mirror, now.

JT Brubaker vs STL (L) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks – 20 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 80 pitches.

Coffee Cakes, you were so close to keeping us thrilled about what you’re doing. Well, it is seven strikeouts, though, and twenty whiffs…jeeeez I would say it’s mostly the slider (12/34 whiffs!) but he took full advantage of the sweeper opening up vulnerabilities up in the zone with four-seamers, tacking on six whiffs there as well. It’s more believable to me now seeing him attack like this, and his overall command was actually pretty solid. He gets the Padres next, though, and I’m not game for that. I understand if you want to hold through it.

Shane Bieber @ CWS (W) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 11 Ks – 19 Whiffs, 39% CSW, 100 pitches.

Aces gonna ace despite tossing a PQSJust a cool 7 IPS and average 11.3 strikeouts per start for Bieber so far this year, so yeah, he underperformed in this one.

Mike Fiers vs BAL (L) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 22% CSW, 83 pitches.

Ohhhh right, you’re a thing. Welcome back from the IL, here’s a PQS and just three strikeouts against the Orioles. You may cancel this subscription at any time at not cost to you why are you still here and rostering Fiers leave this now this is not the Toby you want please make it stop.

Logan Webb @ SD (L) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 93 pitches.

I guess those who took a chance on his previous start would take PQS from Webb, especially against the Padres. The problem is still present, though: We want to see that changeup soar and 4/33 whiffs ain’t that. Solid results with outs and 30% CSW, but we want the whiffs! THE WHIFFS! Now it’s Coors so we sit that one out – duh – but keep monitoring that changeup. This is obviously a step forward from his last outing, after all.

Tarik Skubal @ NYY (L) – 3.0 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 19% CSW, 77 pitches.

Poor Skubal. The Yankees jumped on him in this one as he didn’t have any secondaries doing him any favors. It’ll be a season-long journey of him finding the right blueprint for success but I have him labeled as a Young Gun proper. I see it clicking at some point and becoming a legit arm in 2022. Detroit is also weird and I wonder how much they’ll even let us see Skubal this year.

Andrew Heaney @ SEA (L) – 3.1 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 90 pitches.

Ugggggh, this was supposed to be the start! The Mariners aren’t a strong offense and with Heaney clearly in a groove against the Astros, he was all set to propel forward. His pitch separation was great, but the Mariners jumped on high fastballs at…91 mph?! Ahhh there’s your problem! Heaney excited us early in the season with 93-94 mph velocity and without perfect sequencing, a 91 mph fastball isn’t going to do the same things in the upper third of the zone. All of that aside, it’s not a death sentence and I feel Heaney pitched better than the line indicates – 7 whiffs each for his curveball and four-seamer should be a strong indication. Hopefully he stays in line to get the Rays next and I’d start him there.

Jon Gray @ ARI (L) – 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 9 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 34% CSW, 83 pitches.

Gray finally gets a solid matchup with the Sneks in Arizona and this is what he does. That’s a wonderful CSW and 11 whiffs but it’s completely dissonant with the results. How could you do this to me. Now it’s two starts in Coors against the Giants and Padres and I’m out again. PAIN.

Dallas Keuchel vs CLE (L) – 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 4 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 85 pitches.

Womp womp. Keuchel had a tough third inning and props to him for recovering to go a full six frames to help dampen the pain. You want better against Cleveland and now you’re wondering if this Toby is worth the squeeze with his 4.65 ERA and 1.32 WHIp for the season. Let’s be honest, he’s a Toby, right? Those are never clear low ratios guys and have bumps just like the rest of em. If you’re in a QS league, you hold Keuchel, if you need more strikeouts, you let him go. It’s the Royals next and if you want to wait one more start before making that decision, that sounds like a solid plan to me.

Drew Smyly @ TOR (L) – 4.0 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 4 BBs, 3 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 84 pitches.

It is really hard to keep holding Smyly after this, even if was the Jays with Springer & his curveball earned 8 whiffs. His fastball command was off as he hovered 92 mph (we want 93+!) and even with the Nationals next, you should be looking elsewhere if you haven’t already.

Ryan Yarbrough vs HOU (L) – 6.0 IP, 5 ER, 9 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 103 pitches.

The Fratty Pirate was able to actually start a game and…yeah. The Astros are healthy again and know how to hit baseballs. It’s the Angels next for Yarbrough and I’m leaning sit. It’s close, though.

Kohei Arihara vs BOS (L) – 2.2 IP, 6 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 55 pitches.

Bleggggh. We’re hoping for Arihara to turn into a Tobywhich means you’d be skipping this start anyway, but we always want one of those starts that makes us reconsider, you know?

Jake Arrieta @ CIN (L) – 3.1 IP, 7 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 19% CSW, 67 pitches.

Remember when Arrieta had a pair of good outings that were heavily reliant on sinker called strikes and some wanted to take the risk against the Reds after? You didn’t actually go through with that, right?


Game of the Day 


Dustin May vs. Brandon Woodruff – May is feeling the whiffs and Woodruff doesn’t care that he’s facing the Dodgers.


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


Photo by Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Aaron Polcare

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 “Ray Tracing”

  1. Scott says:

    Would you rather have Ray or McClanahan going forward?

  2. Royals says:

    Does Ray’s inflated peripherals not bother you a bit? Or is it too early to be paying too much attention to any pitcher’s peripherals?

  3. Rob says:

    How would you rank Ray in a 12T points league alongside Tony Disco and Alex Wood? Ray > Disco > Wood? I have disco and wood and am thinking about making a trade offer. Thanks!

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