Fantasy Baseball SP Roundup – Opening Crochet

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Thursday.

Welcome to the SP Roundup, my daily fantasy baseball article reviewing every starting pitcher’s performance from every Thursday game. I apologize for the jokes written in my delirium in advance. Have questions? Ask me during my office hours on Playback.tv weekday mornings from 10 am-12 pm ET.  

Garrett Crochet (CWS) vs DET (L) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 8 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 87 pitches.

Opening Day has a different air than it used to. Now with our gluttony of data and information, true surprises are few and far between, especially as we track players fervently through spring training, hoping to steal a glimpse of what’s new and exciting.

I was able to catch Garrett Crochet with a mediocre camera angle and no Statcast data across the last few weeks and I was left unimpressed. His heater looked hard and there were some good sliders, but the overall polish felt lacking, his former data suggested more hittable than ideal, and a two-pitch mix presented what I called “Michael Kopech as a southpaw”. The situation wasn’t ideal, either: The White Sox offense will limit his Win potential and after a likely limited pitch count in a good matchup against Detroit, he’d have to face Atlanta shortly after. It just didn’t add up.

Well, it isn’t that hard to add up 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 8 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 87 pitches in a start that had many buzzing. 97/98 mph heaters at a 75% strike rate paired with roughly 70% slider strikes demanded success from Crochet, who deserves all the credit for pounding the zone and overwhelming Tigers hitters constantly. Am I ready to call his fastball/slider an elite combo? Not quite yet as Crochet hasn’t had the greatest iVB or VAA marks in his past, but if he matches his 7+ feet of extension and improves either iVB or VAA, then I can get behind the 97+ mph…as long as the control is here to stay.

I’m a little more worried that he’ll be able to return close to the same strike rate on his slider, a pitch that never quite felt dependable to land where he wanted to (as evidenced by just 5/36), and I won’t buy into this control quite yet, especially when he faces a proper lineup like Atlanta.

And that’s the real problem. Crochet is the kind of pitcher I want to jump in on and take a shot that the control sticks around + he can fine-tune the slider + boast elite four-seamer numbers, but the situation. It’s not just that Atlanta is next. It’s a consistent array of tough matchups, including the Twins, Rays, Phillies, and Reds across the next month. Throw in the uncertainty of Crochet’s command with just a two-pitch mix and I’m not running to the waiver wire to add him tonight. You’re not starting him against Atlanta, right? But the Guardians are next! Honestly, I get that, but that’s really it. That’s the one start you’re chasing, the one in ten days. We can do better.


Let’s see how every other SP did Thursday:


Frankie Montas (CIN) vs WSN (W) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 81 pitches.

Hey, it worked! Montas was able to chuck enough splitters and cutters around the zone to keep batters off his 95 mph four-seamers and sinkers to keep the ball in the yard against a terrible Nationals offense. Mark this as a proper showcase of the Nationals’ bats + a level of competence for Montas when gifted a glorious matchup. Soooo, we’re not picking him up? With a date in Philly up next? No, no we are not.

Tarik Skubal (DET) @ CHW (W) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks – 20 Whiffs, 36% CSW, 83 pitches.

Aces gonna ace and earn a Gallows PoleThat four-seamer is not only a tick up, but also boasts more vertical break, allowing it to do more damage inside the zone even if he didn’t command it particularly well. And sure, this absolutely had some Blame it on the White Sox that makes me a bit skeptical that he can get away with the same inconsistent slider or changeup loosely hanging out in the zone against average lineups, but you need to take advantage of the matchups you get and Skubal sure did that. Who knows, maybe that changeup’s 11-12 mph difference from the heater allows it to live in the zone without precision down low?

Shane Bieber (CLE) @ OAK (W) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 11 Ks – 18 Whiffs, 37% CSW, 83 pitches.

I’m going to hate not grabbing more Bieber this season, aren’t I. Sigh. WHY COULDN’T WE HAVE DATA IN THE SPRING. To be fair, his four-seamer (92 mph, not 93) and slider (curve?) had many mistakes, but the cutter? Oh my, the cutter. 10/22 whiffs without a single ball in play with a 59% CSW. Sure, it’s Oakland and they amplified this evening, but duuuuuuude.

Pablo López (MIN) @ KCR (W) – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 37% CSW, 84 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. One terrible breaker left the yard, while Pablo returned 12/37 whiffs on his heater at a 57% CSW. Yeaaaaah, he’s dope y’all.

Corbin Burnes (BAL) vs LAA (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 1 Hits, 0 BBs, 11 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 39% CSW, 82 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. The Orioles sporting a legit ace on Opening Day is a feeling Baltimore fans haven’t had in a long time. Let’s be happy for them. Pretty fun to see Burnes wield his curve far better than his average 2023 outing, returning a 65% CSW across 20 thrown, catalyzing his first and likely not last King Cole of the season.

Tyler Glasnow (LAD) vs STL (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 22% CSW, 81 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. I sincerely hope when y’all think of Glasnow, you envision his slider. It’s one of the more underrated sliders in baseball and is the only reason he’s the guy you know and love.

Yu Darvish (SDP) vs SF (ND) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 78 pitches.

Okay this line is brilliant and I love it. AND ALSO Darvish’s command was kind all over the place. Four-seamers and sinkers blindly found the zone, breakers were hit-and-miss, and splitters were not consistent in the slightest. But hey, he got strikes! And returned seven punchouts in just 78 pitches. I’m glad he’s stretched out now and his ability to mix-and-match his arsenal isn’t turning into a cacophony of desperation. Oh dear oh dear, ummmm, maybe this will work?! You never want to hear that melody.

Zac Gallen (ARI) vs COL (W) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 90 pitches.

Aces gonna ace while sitting two ticks down across the board. Uh oh. Yeah, that’s a little scary and it was consistent throughout the start, not only when the Diamondbacks had a massive lead, nor after he rested for ages as his team scored fourteen runs in one inning. He also wasn’t as precise with his heater as we’re accustomed to seeing, and his slider + cutter is still terribly unreliable at just 7/20 strikes. That’s a 35% strike rate and not fun at all. I think the Rockies masked Gallen at his weakest and I’m scared he’s going to get exposed against the Yankees…or his velocity comes back up and everything’s fine. Please be fine.

Justin Steele (CHC) @ TEX (ND) – 4.2 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 67 pitches.

The good news: Steele was looking dope in this one as the Rangers couldn’t barrel his heater, nor handle his slider. The bad news: Steele left this game with a hamstring injury and will hit the IL. Why even mention the good news then. Because it was cool! It was great! I was actually falling for the guy! We don’t need to sulk, at least enjoy the nice moments when we have them. I hate this. I know. Me too.

José Berríos (TOR) @ TBR (W) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 91 pitches.

Huge props to Berríos in this one. The Rays are no joke and José located super well around the edges of the zone, mixing in his curveball effectively and saving the four-seamer for elevation or spotting it down-and-gloveside. Meticulous and with a purpose in each pitch. It’s not a version of Berríos I’m used to seeing and I sure hope it sticks around.

Cole Ragans (KCR) vs MIN (L) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 9 Ks – 19 Whiffs, 35% CSW, 97 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. Kinda. That 1.33 WHIP isn’t ideal and I still wish that 0-2 heater to Lewis was spotted better, but hot dang, if you watched Ragans, you know the stuff and command is real. He was punished on nearly all mistakes he threw and seeing him go a full six out of the gate should give the confidence that he’ll earn a fair number of Wins along the way. Pew Pew Pew y’all.

Logan Webb (SFG) @ SD (ND) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 97 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. Do y’all remember the one wish I had for Webb this season? To reply to your DMs and join you on the podcast? Do y’all remember the second wish I had for Webb this season? That he finds a way to get slider whiffs again? NAILED IT. FIRST TRY. But that wa–Webb went 6/26 whiffs on his slider here with a 35% CSW, boasting an extra four inches of horizontal movement paired with brilliant precision down-and-gloveside. This is it, Webb. After flailing around in Arizona for a month during spring training, you stuck the landing. YOU GOT THIS.

Nathan Eovaldi (TEX) vs CHC (ND) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 19% CSW, 88 pitches.

Welcome to the new age of Eovaldi. A world where four-seamers live about 40% of the time and a whole lot of junk fills the rest of the space. But, like, good junk, right? Some good, like 25% splitters, some bad, like 10/19 cutter strikes. But hey, he’s sitting 96 mph and if that velocity is stable, this should be fine.

Jesús Luzardo (MIA) vs PIT (ND) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks – 18 Whiffs, 35% CSW, 85 pitches.

Luzardo’s command was fantastic. Four-seamers belonging in pitcher group 7 executing the “7” – spotted upstairs + up-and-down armside with ease, while his slider and changeup mostly stuck to their spots under the zone. And yes, the Pirates strike out a lot, but if Luzardo doesn’t leak his slider over the middle often, he’ll have plenty more nights like this. Can’t promise that, though.

Brayan Bello (BOS) @ SEA (W) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 84 pitches.

I’ll take that all day. Bello has moved on from his four-seamer completely (THANK YOU) and went sinker/change/slider, which can absolutely work when Bello can nail front-hip sinkers to LHB. The problem? The secondaries need some work. The slider was unimpressive, returning 2/20 whiffs as he floated the pitch often, while his changeup (his far-and-away best pitch) returned a ghastly 13/28 strikes. That’s under 50% strikes. Naaaaaah, that’s not going to stick. Let’s be happy he grabbed a dub and solid ratios and look forward to the next one.

Framber Valdez (HOU) vs NYY (ND) – 4.2 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 6 BBs, 5 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 86 pitches.

The dude had some lovely curves and changeups at times, but hot dang, WHY JUST THREE CUTTERS?! You walked six batters, you couldn’t try something else for a moment? Sigh. It’ll be better, you know it will, and we’ll all be talking about Valdez’s walk rate in November by prefacing “If you remove his first start of the year…” Good ole anomalies. Acting like my teenage self and always forcing their way into conversation.

Patrick Sandoval (LAA) @ BAL (L) – 1.2 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 60 pitches.

This wasn’t a fun matchup for The Irish Panda, squaring off against what looks to be one of the premier offenses in the bigs. At least he flexed a tick extra velocity? Yay?

Mitch Keller (PIT) @ MIA (ND) – 5.2 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 85 pitches.

At least he spotted the sweeper well? He gets the Nationals next and believe it or not, they are a step down from the Marlins. He’s a Cherry Bomb and not a fun time for the full year, but you can at least hold on for that one.

Nestor Cortes (NYY) @ HOU (ND) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 37% CSW, 76 pitches.

Props to Cortes for settling down after a rough first to allow just one run on a solo shot in the following four frames. In short, that four-seamer was either way too high or right down the pipe in the first, then he was able to locate much better and look more like the Nestor we enjoy. I’m still not sold he has AGA-level ability still in that left arm of his, though he just got through the tough matchup and now gets the Sneks. You know, the team that just put up a 14 spot in one inning. It’ll be fiiiiine.

Luis Castillo (SEA) vs BOS (L) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 91 pitches.

Aces gonna…disappoint. He had some great classic Castillo moments with his heaters, changeups, and sliders, but the overall four-seamer wasn’t spotted upstairs like we know it should be, and turned into a scattershot of a pitch. It happens, we move on. It’s just cold weather Castillo. The roof was closed, but not temperature controlled, so it’s totally possible. In all honesty, don’t think about this start again. Seriously.

Miles Mikolas (STL) @ LAD (L) – 4.1 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 74 pitches.

I’ll take predictable lines for $400. This is what you’ll find on the letter Z in kindergarten. What are Zebra stripes? Correct, Nick, you have the board. I’ll take never starting Mikolas against pretty much any decent team, and especially the Dodgers. K thx.

Zach Eflin (TBR) vs TOR (L) – 5.2 IP, 6 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 81 pitches.

Well this was even worse than I expected. I had Eflin at the bottom of the top tier outlining a scenario where Eflin wouldn’t have his full arsenal in rhythm yet and that was certainly the case here. Far too many hanging sweepers, curves without precision, and just a whole lot of “oh no”. But don’t fret, it’s not so bad and he’s sure to get better in future outings as he ramps up in full.

Alex Wood (OAK) vs CLE (L) – 3.1 IP, 6 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 78 pitches.

Is this the Guardians not actually being a poor offense or is it Wood failing to be a legit MLB starter? Yes. Yeah, that’s probably the right answer.

Josiah Gray (WSN) @ CIN (L) – 4.0 IP, 7 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 36% CSW, 80 pitches.

What if we took Josiah, the man who is notorious for allowing home runs, and make him start in GABP, the ballpark notorious for allowing home runs? Uhhh, you might get home runs? Gray relinquished a pair of longballs, though his cutter and curve each had their moments with five whiffs apiece and solid CSW marks. But hot dang, that heater is hittable. Like 6-5 in blackjack hittable.

Kyle Freeland (COL) @ ARI (L) – 2.1 IP, 10 ER, 10 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 49 pitches.

Remember when I put out some tweet that I prefaced as the dumbest tweet I’d send all year wondering if Freeland and his extra 3-4 ticks of velocity this spring warranted a possible stream in Arizona to start the year? Yeah, neither do I.

Game of the Day 


Spencer Strider vs. Zack Wheeler – Guys. GUYS.

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

Have Questions? – Join my morning Playback.tv livestream! I answer all questions there for free: 10:00 am – 12:00 pm ET Monday through Friday.

Featured image 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.

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