Sandy Off Coarse

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Friday.

Sandy Alcántara @ LAD (L) – 1.1 IP, 8 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 55 pitches.

Last week, I did a silly thing. After a pair of starts against Arizona and showcasing consistent ability to go six frames, I granted Sandy Alcántara the coveted Aces Gonna Ace label, one start before his first true test – the Los Angeles Dodgers. I was excited, I felt it was due and I did it with arrogance, naive to the effects of emotion, and I as watched along yesterday all I could think was I deserved this. After starting the game with an 0-2 count to Mookie Betts and walking him, he recovered with a pair of strikeouts and a groundout on a great 92 mph changeup. This was the ace. The Sandy of our dreams.

And then the second inning happened. It happened so fast. He was nibbling the zone, had some great pitches that didn’t get bites or found grass in the field and it was…terrible. 1.1 IP, 8 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks terrible. The good news here is that his stuff is still legit, he just didn’t have as sharp of command as we’ve seen and it all snowballed to disaster. The man is still legit and I’m absolutely starting him next time against the Phillies. Yes, I’ll drop him a spot or two on Monday, but this start really shouldn’t change your opinion of him.


Let’s see how every other SP did Friday:


Max Scherzer @ ARI (W) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 35% CSW, 85 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. Surezer, you wanted another inning tacked on here, but that’s a wonderful line and you’ll take it. Cool to see him dominate with 55% four-seamers where the next highest pitch had just a 15% usage rate.

Miguel Yajure vs SF (ND) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 57 pitches.

Huh. I kinda dig him…? I mean, it’s not an overwhelming repertoire with a fastball around 91/92 mph and it’s hyper reliant on command, but his 88 mph cutter was well spotted and jammed left-handers, while his changeup did some wonderful things as well. The curveball is more of a “get me over” than legit breaker, though. It doesn’t spell must-add in any league save for NL-Only, but…huh. I can see it working as a desperate streamer. I just don’t know if his command is this good yet. Weird to see just 7% CSW on his cutter, but that’s because it earned fouls and outs. I loved it.

Steven Matz vs PHI (ND) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 9 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 106 pitches.

Matz cruised against the Phils, even earning an extra walk and one fewer strikeout on a ridiculous no-call against Andrew McCutchenThis was mostly on the back of his excellent changeup (7 whiffs), though he threw some solid sliders glove-side as well + some solid curveballs down and this may be the most impressed I’ve been by Matz this year. Sadly it’s the Sawx + Yankees next and I don’t think it’s worth the gamble.

Joe Musgrove vs STL (W) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 4 BBs, 5 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 93 pitches.

Musgrove gave us a Dusty Donut as we nod in hesitant approval as that 1.80 WHIP stares back with uncomfortable eyes. His slider is a solid offering, but he’s not quite in a groove with the rest of his stuff at the moment. Don’t worry, I don’t expect that curveball to be a 17% CSW again. he’ll get there.

Kevin Gausman @ PIT (ND) – 8.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 12 Ks – 21 Whiffs, 35% CSW, 96 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. Sure, this was the Pirates, but you still gotta go out there and fan 12 guys. He’s in such an amazing rhythm right now and I hate every ounce of skepticism I had in the preseason.

Michael Kopech vs KC (ND) – 4.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 65 pitches.

Kopech got another start – yay doubleheaders! – and while his four-seamer didn’t return the same amount of whiffs we saw before, he was still incredibly effective across his 65 pitches. Once he gets a secure rotation spot and stretched out to 85+ pitches, he’ll likely be on The List around #45-50 or so. He’s that good.

Vince Velasquez @ TOR (ND) – 5.2 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 94 pitches.

Look at that, a Phillie earning a PhillyI’m pretty amazed by this one as I’ve been calling Dunedin the new Coors and Vince was able to keep the Jays at bay with changeups and curveballs to pair with 50% four-seamers at 93.5 mph. He did a wonderful job avoiding the heart of the plate (for the most part) and it worked out. Now he gets the Marlins twice and I can’t help but wonder if that’s some sneaky value. Sneaky sneaky…

Frankie Montas @ MIN (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 20% CSW, 94 pitches.

Ahhhh there we are. I’m used to this from Montas as his four-seamer and sinker should be a duo that allows him to efficiently go six frames often, but what made him great in the first half of 2019 was–PEDs! No. Stop shouting that. Please. It was his ability to get whiffs on splitters. Just 1/16 here and it’s the next step for him to be a legit Top 35 arm again. I think he can get there and the fastballs + slider mix should make him still worthwhile in the meantime. It’s a tough call against Houston next week, though.

Drew Smyly @ MIL (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 98 pitches.

Many ragged me for not raising Smyly higher in my daily matchup rankings and I obviously deserved it. I guess I was hyper-aware of his floor and didn’t give enough credit to how poor the Brewers offense really is at the moment. Smyly wasn’t doing anything special – 92.5 mph heater + 1/32 whiffs on his curveball and few signs of his cutter – but it’s Milwaukee in their time of need. I think he can do it again versus the Pirates next.

Chris Flexen vs CLE (W) – 5.2 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 0 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 19% CSW, 85 pitches.

Cleveland isn’t a strong team, but Flexen, seriously? Not one – ONE! – strikeout?! HAISTFMFWT?! That’s unbelievable. Seriously, I’m pretty sure we haven’t seen someone go at least five frames without a single K this year. So what do you think of Flexen now, do you think he’s okay? Yeah, I guess he is 0 K. Don’t trust this.

Adrian Houser vs ATL (L) – 3.0 IP, 2 ER, 2 Hits, 5 BBs, 3 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 22% CSW, 65 pitches.

Yeaaaaaah. After fanning ten, Houser was demanding pen after just three frames. What’s his repertoire like? It’s just sinkers. Sinkers for days. And it’s not that great of a pitch. So yeah, don’t do this.

David Peterson @ TB (ND) – 7.1 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 9 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 38% CSW, 93 pitches.

Well hot dang Peterson, I should have given you the nod. I was still recovering from your blowup against the Sneks, okay? Peterson did a great job of placing sliders down-and-away, while his heater set up the pitch wonderful as the four-seamer lived glove-side. It’s the Patrick Corbin way that I’m so happy I can say again because the dude earned 13 WHIFFS ON SLIDERS. Sorry, Peterson wasn’t that good with 6/21 slider whiffs but this is certainly encouraging and I wish he wasn’t facing Atlanta next. At least he gets Rockie Road after and that should be a solid stream.

Nick Pivetta vs LAA (ND) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 38% CSW, 92 pitches.

Remember how I’ve been begging Pivetta to throw his breakers down to complement the high heaters? Yeah, it’s still a work in progress. Oh, I didn’t see that coming. I mean, it kinda was there, but everything was everywhere in this one and the Angels weren’t able to punish Pivetta properly. Love seeing 95+ on the heater and 55% CSW on sliders, though. If you’re thinking Pivetta is now a super intriguing arm, I wouldn’t blame you, but it’s Dunedin + Atlanta + Houston next. Noooope.

Griffin Canning @ BOS (ND) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 94 pitches.

Just look at this pitch separation from Canning. You love to see it. It led to his fastball getting outs, sliders earning four whiffs, and his changeup keeping batters honest. Sure, his WHIP ain’t ideal, but this is the Canning we dream of and now we just have to hope he still has it for the Twins next – the Rangers and Giants in Oracle Park aren’t so scary after. I think I’m okay for that Minnesota start.

Jake Arrieta @ DET (W) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 78 pitches.

This was a popular streaming choice and he found a way to do it with just one strikeout. HAISTFMFWT?! 

Brad Keller @ CWS (W) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 97 pitches.

Soooo this is rad. Keller. His four-seamer was at 94 mph again, while his slider found the zone a lot, earning 38% CSW across 32 thrown. That’s the Keller we want to see and with Detroit ahead, I think I’m game for that one with this velocity and a decent feel for the breaker. But he had a poor WHIP! But he faced the ChiSox! It’ll be easier against Detroit.

Jakob Junis @ CWS (L) – 1.1 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 1 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 37 pitches.

Despite seeing Junis as the starter, this was a bullpen game and we’re going to move on. Junis could be sliding back into the rotation proper with Daniel Lynch heading back to the minors, but he’ll need to be stretched out + I’m still not seeing enough with just a cutter and the same ole meh heater.

Tyler Glasnow vs NYM (ND) – 8.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 10 Ks – 19 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 105 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. Whoa, eight innings?! Was Kevin Cash taking a nap or something? The slider hovered the zone and it created this wonderful day. It’s good to see him recover it after a brief hiccup.

Dean Kremer vs NYY (ND) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 22% CSW, 77 pitches.

Hey, that’s much better than we expected, though he’s still struggling heavily with his cutter and curveball. Sigh. Maybe we’ll see those pitches work again at some point. Maybe.

Zack Greinke vs TEX (W) – 7.0 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 103 pitches.

Yeah, you’ll take this from Greinke. It’s a solid WHIP and a sub 4.00 ERA, with a Win and a handful of strikeouts. Yes, I wanted more from Greinke against the weak Rangers, but you’ll take his 36% CSW fastball all day. He’s still a start against the Athletics, but I understand your hesitation against the Dodgers after.

Wes Benjamin @ HOU (L) – 1.2 IP, 3 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks – 2 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 49 pitches.

Yeaaaah the main story here is Hyeon-Jong Yang tossing 72 pitches for 4.0 innings, earning one strikeout (HAISTFMFWT?!as the False Starter. Remember when he had all the strikeouts? It’s not easy to do that with just 15% CSW.

Johan Oviedo @ SD (L) – 2.0 IP, 3 ER, 2 Hits, 5 BBs, 0 Ks – 1 Whiffs, 14% CSW, 57 pitches.

While I was hoping for more than 57 pitches, the Cardinals did the right thing pulling him after just two frames as he was getting overworked. I think he’s a Young Gun but for now, let’s just watch and hope he develops. The stuff is good, it’s just about commanding it. It’ll take some time.

German Marquez vs CIN (W) – 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 8 Hits, 3 BBs, 8 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 37% CSW, 93 pitches.

This is honestly just about what I expected from Marquez as he hosted the Reds in Coors. It’s great to see his slider and curveball doing wonderful things again – 40% & 50% CSW, respectively! – and it makes you think he can take down the Padres on the road next time out. Hey, you have him for his road starts, right? Shudders. 

Tarik Skubal vs CHC (L) – 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 95 pitches.

Blegh. An ER over the wretched PQS as Skubal stumbled in a pair of innings. Streaming Record: 27-14. At least it was a reluctant stream, right? The splitter was the #2 pitch again and despite the 35%+ CSW, I’m not in love with it being hung as often as it was. Same goes for the slider and he needs to get those pitches down if he’s going to go the high-fastball route. If everything is up, then is anything up? WHAT IS UP?! It’s a wonderful movie and a beautiful expression of grief and humanity. ANYWAY it’s likely the Mariners next and I could see that one going either way. Just because his slider and splitter were poorly placed here doesn’t mean it’ll stay that way. I’m leaning stream.

Corey Kluber @ BAL (W) – 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 85 pitches.

Ugggggh. So close. That fifth inning wasn’t pretty as Kluber didn’t have the command on his breaker to throw it for a strike, struggling against the Orioles’ right-handers – this included a gift from Maikel Francowho gave Kluber and out on ball four. The changeup that fueled his start against the Tigers wasn’t here – 1/17 whiffs = YIKES – though the breaker’s movement was better and cutters worked (save for that fifth frame). There’s still some polish left, but I’d feel good about this overall as it’s not a chaotic mess, it was just one inning where it came off a bit.

Matt Shoemaker vs OAK (L) – 6.0 IP, 5 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 92 pitches.

Yikes. Shoemaker leaned hard into that slider, which did return to him last time FWIW, and he had little else to support the pitch. Now it’s the White Sox and we’re out. By the way, if you’re wondering how I know all of these schedules, do yourself a favor and have this article bookmarked. It’s invaluable beyond belief. A new version is out every two weeks and while the rotations aren’t updated, you can mentally adjust quickly.

Lucas Giolito vs KC (L) – 6.0 IP, 5 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks – 18 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 98 pitches.

This started off rough with all 5 ER coming in the second and third and to Giolito’s credit, he settled down for a trio of shutout frames to help you manage those ratios. “What’s wrong with Giolito?” you ask. The quick answer is his inability to get his fastball up in the zone like he’s used to. The velocity was back up a full tick + his changeup was looking just like the glory days with 12 whiffs and 41% CSW. It’s just a question of that fastball command and you have to think he’ll get back to it. The return of his velocity makes me think this isn’t injury-related so yeah, we buy low and keep starting Giolito. This kind of tweak can happen overnight as we give him a TIARA.

Aaron Civale @ SEA (L) – 6.2 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 107 pitches.

Blegh. He was even gifted another strikeout from Angel Hernandez against Kyle Seagerbut it’s not like it saved him. Civale is still lacking that pitch his repertoire, with no offering earning more than three whiffs here as y’all know that the “kitchen sink” approach generally doesn’t speak to ace-dom. I should note, he had the Quality Start through six and had a Careful, Icarus as he had two more tacked on in the seventh. Cleveland giveth and taketh away. With that volume and general ability to not blow up (still a good WHIP!), I’m starting him against the Twins and consistently in the foreseeable future, but yeah, I don’t see the trajectory of an ace until he gets that legit secondary pitch.

Clayton Kershaw vs MIA (W) – 6.0 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 11 Ks – 23 Whiffs, 39% CSW, 105 pitches.

Look at Kershaw, earning a Golden Goal as he allowed 4 ER right after the Dodgers gifted him an 8-0 lead. You know, sometimes when you try to walk away, you stumble. It’s about the recovery, you know? This is still an ace-worthy outing given the 1.17 WHIP and 11 strikeouts, by the way.

Wade Miley @ COL (L) – 3.0 IP, 8 ER, 11 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 89 pitches.

This is what happens when you throw a no-hitter and then get Coors next. No-hitters generally = a higher pitch count = a tougher next start as you’re a little more gassed than usual. Pair that with Coors? A clear “Do Not Start.” Sadly the lefty-smashin’ Giants are next, but I’m very much down for the Brewers after.

Riley Smith vs WSH (L) – 3.0 IP, 8 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 0 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 67 pitches.

Do you the first pitcher listed here with 0 ER? Now we’re at the other side of it with the man Scherzer opposed. I think there are worse pitchers out there than Smith, but he didn’t have his stuff working here at all and he wasn’t going to get it done with just a 93 mph sinker. Nope, not gonna work.


Game of the Day 


Dane Dunning vs. Luis Garcia – I want to see more of Garcia as he could be in that rotation for a bit with both Jake Odorrizi and Cristian Javier banged up + I wonder if Dunning can pull this off.


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


Peter Joneleit/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.

6 responses to “Sandy Off Coarse”

  1. Floyd says:

    Yajure or Crowe?

  2. Gio Fan says:

    It’s worth noting that both the HR Giolito gave up were basically lazy fly balls that the wind carried out. Overall a much more encouraging start.

  3. DB says:

    Re: Kershaw & his 6 ER in 6 innings –

    “This is still an ace-worthy outing given the 1.17 WHIP and 11 strikeouts, by the way.”

    No, no it’s not.

  4. Lee Stoops says:

    Off course, not off coarse. Good grief.

  5. Bluebirds69 says:

    The fantasy gods were not smitten with your premature a AGA label bestowing. Thou shall be punished!!

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