Fantasy Baseball SP Roundup: Mr. Jones and Me

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Saturday.

Welcome to the SP Roundup, my daily fantasy baseball article reviewing every starting pitcher’s performance from every Saturday 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.  

Jared Jones (PIT) @ MIA (W) – 5.2 IP, 3 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 10 Ks – 22 Whiffs, 40% CSW, 89 pitches.

Did y’all watch Jared Jones pitch? You should watch him pitch. Jones made his MLB debut and absolutely destroyed the Marlins with a stunning 5.2 IP, 3 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 10 Ks – 22 Whiffs, 40% CSW, 89 pitches en route to a Win (hey, Pirates pitchers can earn those!) and you obviously need to have him rostered if there’s any chance he’s still on the wire. Oh, and a Golden Goal on his first day of work. Not bad.

The major question for Jones was about his repeatability – he wasn’t spotting heaters well in the spring and made me wonder if his electric stuff came at the cost of precision – and I’m more than relieved to see him look as precise as any arm out there, executing the BSB to near perfection.

He’s the real deal, featuring as elite of a four-seamer as you’ll find in the game. Seriously, it’s elite in everything. 97 mph, nearly 18″ of vert, 7 1/2 feet of extension (WHAT), and 95th percentile HAVAA. It’s absolutely bonkers, and the fact he’s able to locate it upstairs as he should is just dumb. But that’s not the craziest part – he pairs it with a 48% CSW slider he threw more than the heater. Batters can’t simply sell out for this pitch, they have to deal with sliders half the time, which, oh you know, held a 65% strike rate.

Go get him if you still can. I imagine he’s not around in many leagues after this one, but if there’s any window, you should go for it. The lower Win chance isn’t great, and it’s absolutely possible the command isn’t here to stay, but this is Strider. It was my comp in the pre-season with the only worry that his command wouldn’t be good enough for a moment, leading to diminished innings and few Wins. Looks like we can put those fears aside. Get pumped.


Let’s see how every other SP did Saturday:


Seth Lugo (KC) vs MIN (ND) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 34% CSW, 86 pitches.

He’s two ticks down and wasn’t nearly at his best, but threw enough competitive breakers to make it work. Sometimes guys just need to execute when they need to and it works out. Well, also the Twins are not a great offense without Royce involved. That too. Lugo is a Toby and don’t forget it.

Zack Littell (TB) vs TOR (W) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 92 pitches.

Atta boy Littell! I’ve been down on Zack for a few reasons, with a major one being “I don’t want to start this guy early against the Jays and Coors” and while that point still stands for next time, he sure made me look dumb here. Can we trust this though? I mean, 1-2 ticks down on everything while his slider was up up and up. Seriously, WHAT IS THIS. And then you realize, ohhhh, those act more like cutters and it’s Canibal McSanchezThose sliders made up 41% of all his pitches for a 74% strike rate and that’s pretty wild to say the least. I’m not sure I truly buy this as a sustainable approach, but then again, you see those results? I’ll have to dive deeper on this.

Marcus Stroman (NYY) @ HOU (W) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 101 pitches.

Whoaaaaa, 10/37 cutter whiffs?! That’s stupid amazing for Stroman, who will have many games with more strikeouts than whiffs. We’ve seen moments where a secondary comes alive in the past and this could very well be one of them, though the Yankees are fans of cutters and it’s possible they’re pushing the pitch more. At any rate, let’s be thrilled he exceled against the Astros and hope he can replicate against the Jays.

Kutter Crawford (BOS) @ SEA (ND) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 84 pitches.

Yeah this was cool. Eno mentioned that Crawford was getting even more iVB this off-season and he was right – 19.5″ of vert is bananas after earning a little about 18″ last year – and he kept the pitch up with 60% hiLoc as it should. The sweeper and kutter did the rest and we’re feeling good at the moment. I do wonder if he get away with so many secondaries comfortably over the plate in the future, but I’d rather too many strikes vs. too few with his stuff.

Yoshinobu Yamamoto (LAD) vs STL (ND) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 35% CSW, 68 pitches.

Ayyyyy, there we go! We have proper pitch data now and Yamamoto’s four-seamer is a flat offering with average extension and terrible vert. What does that mean? In short, it’s a pitch that needs to be upstairs. If it’s down, it’s actively detrimental for Yamamoto, while he can get away with some of the middle-height pitches. It went his way yesterday with sub 30% ICR (though 0/28 whiffs!) and his curve was the lovely support we wanted it to be. 4/20 splitter whiffs are fine (though a sub 50% strike rate), and I’m looking forward to seeing more than two cutters in the future. I still have some worry that his heater isn’t this dominant pitch at the moment and he’s an arm without elite SP #1 upside with a capped IP total this year.

Jordan Hicks (SF) @ SD (W) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 81 pitches.

So that sinker. We saw 95 mph in the spring and thought “yeah, makes sense”, but what we got here was 97 mph. That means the ICR is still low (25%!) while the secondaries…hmmm. His sweeper was so good in the spring but was barely over 50% strikes here, and the splitter held a 43% strike rate of its own, though it did come through for 4/14 whiffs. I guess I’m in to give this a whirl over Hall and probably Puk, too, but I do worry that we will see some high walk games in the future, especially if that velocity is an illusion fueled by adrenaline.

Hunter Brown (HOU) vs NYY (ND) – 4.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 88 pitches.

Hey, we’ll take this. The new cutter was precise down-and-gloveside, though just slightly off the plate. I think Brown is more comfortable with this cutter than his previous slider, making me believe he’ll improve with the pitch in time. Meanwhile, the four-seamer is living upstairs with 18″ iVB and decent extension and that works for me all day. This is progress.

Lance Lynn (STL) @ LAD (ND) – 4.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 70 pitches.

It ain’t easy dealing with the Dodgers and to see Lynn find his way through four frames by avoiding the heart of the zone and all of his pitches was a fun watch. We’re not buying it, though.

Logan Gilbert (SEA) vs BOS (ND) – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 91 pitches.

Well look at this. Gilbert’s four-seamer didn’t return the whiffs we’ve been dreaming of – 3/28 is under 11% – but he spotted it well, the slider landed comfortably for strikes, and his splitter did its job at 6/10 whiffs. I’ll take this version of Gilbert ALL DAY and if it means I’ve been ultra dumb this off-season calling Gilbert a pitcher without good command, then I’ll be ultra dumb. PLEASE BE DOPE.

Grayson Rodriguez (BAL) vs LAA (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 37% CSW, 84 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. I’m still very weirded out by Grayson’s command – many major four-seamer misses and curves all over the place – but he found the zone enough and kept his changeup relatively low (moreso than last year!). 48% CSW with 9/23 whiffs on said changeup, and kinda cool to see a cutter in the mix as he’s shelved the slider. It’s a great situation in Baltimore as well and we’re holding on tight, hoping that fastball can be wrangled over time.

Joe Ryan (MIN) @ KC (ND) – 5.1 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 81 pitches.

The velocity is not just holding, it’s now nearly 94 mph (92/93 last year!), while his splitter/slider/sweeper are all 3-5 ticks harder, too. He also located splitters down effectively with his heaters up, though there is still more polish to be had keeping his sliders and sweepers down. It’ll come, and I’m all for this version of Ryan. I expect the AGA tag by May 1st, if not sooner. What about the sinker? Nah, just two thrown. Not it.

Cody Bradford (TEX) vs CHC (W) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 76 pitches.

Is Bradford a budding Bailey Ober from the left side? He certainly has similar HAVAA and extension at just 90 mph, but he doesn’t quite paint the top of the zone red yet, nor does he have the same changeup. That said, Eno labeled him a deep league sleeper and I can see that, especially as he quietly snags Wins with the powerful Rangers offense behind him. I really wish he had just one more element working for him – either better four-seamer command or an improved changeup.

Hunter Greene (CIN) vs WSH (ND) – 4.2 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 4 BBs, 7 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 100 pitches.

You drafted Greene for the strikeouts. You got them. YOU MADE THIS BED. That said, the four-seamer shape is better than last year – flatter attack, an inch more vert (still under 16″), and better extension. So why was it just 3/43 whiffs then? Because he spotted it horribly, duh. This is somewhat promising, though. Here’s to hoping he makes the adjustment to get that pitch more in the zone.

Dylan Cease (SD) vs SF (L) – 4.2 IP, 2 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 85 pitches.

Yep, that’s Cease. Excellent four-seamer locations in this one, while he didn’t bounce as many wasted sliders as we normally see. No faith that’s real, but I’m happy it was there yesterday.

DL Hall (MIL) @ NYM (ND) – 4.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 73 pitches.

Ehhhhh. So he got a bit squeezed and didn’t deserve all those hits, but the whiffs are the big question. Hall is looking more like a Toby than a Spice Girl at the moment, especially with his fastball taking a massive nosedive. I’m not referring to the 92 mph velocity – we expected that dip from 95/96 as a reliever – but the HAVAA and iVB. I was stoked for Hall’s flat angle that would make the heater still thrive upstairs at a lower velocity, but it fell from 90th percentile to 59th, while he lost two inches of vertical break. No wonder it went 0/36 whiffs. I want to give DL the Hall Pass for this one, but that’s an alarming drop off that suggests he’ll have to be more craft with his curve, slider, and change to get his strikeouts back up, and I’m not sure we’re going to get that for a bit. Ugh. One day I’ll have full spring training data. ONE DAY.

Yusei Kikuchi (TOR) @ TB (L) – 4.1 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 90 pitches.

He just can’t get that dang heater upstairs and his overall command is lacking. There will be a time when he gets into a legit rhythm this year, it’s not wise to expect it now, especially with his tough early schedule. It really can be such a good four-seamer and hey! 8/49 whiffs showcase the potential. That’s a 16% SwStr rate, after all. Meanwhile, the new changeup went just 6/14 strikes and it feels a bit like the curve/slider combo may return from last year with the slowball failing him.

Ryan Weathers (MIA) vs PIT (L) – 4.0 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 94 pitches.

While Jones was earning the love of many, Weathers appeared sitting 96/97 mph with a flat angle and was able to get the heater in the zone constantly, while earning 7/35 whiffs on changeups. That’s right, not sweepers, but the changeup was the secondary of choice here, which made all the sense as his breaker was chaotic with just a 33% strike rate. The end result isn’t what we wanted for Weathers (the Pirates are messing up these Marlins arms a bit, eh?), but the skills are still far better than last year, especially with that changeup. Overall command does need some polish and it’s a coin flip for his start against the Cardinals – will the sweeper get there? Can he get more changeups down? – but his four-seamer certainly demands your attention. That’s a far better pitch than it was last year with two inches more vert, nearly two ticks more velocity, and a flatter angle. All the good things…and terrible extension, but that’s alright.

Tanner Bibee (CLE) @ OAK (ND) – 4.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 5 BBs, 4 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 88 pitches.

Bibee kept his changeup far too elevated, got punished for the pitches he left in the zone, and couldn’t get a reliable strike. The stuff is still great on his change and slider, though he has to figure out how to locate that heater to get strikes that set up those secondaries, especially when it’s sitting just 93.3 – the pitch averaged 95 mph in 2023. Here’s to hoping it’s just early rust.

Max Fried (ATL) @ PHI (ND) – 0.2 IP, 3 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 1 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 43 pitches.

Fried got absolutely hosed in the first, with a clear strike three call pulled away, leading to a walk and early hook. Funny enough, this is the third of four seasons where Fried has struggled in his first start of the year (it’s usually 2-4 of them) before going on a stupid good run. He also hit 97.8 mph and sat 97 mph in this first frame, so don’t worry about a thing.

Michael Soroka (CWS) vs DET (ND) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 0 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 77 pitches.

Well okay then. Here I was, thinking Soroka was a sneaky Toby for cheap and he showcased horrible fastball command and an unreliable changeup. At least the slider precision is great and we can hope it sticks while he figures out the fastballs, but we’re moving on to something else now. Remember, this is why we chase someone like Soroka – QUICK DECISIONS.

Austin Gomber (COL) @ AZ (ND) – 4.2 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 91 pitches.

COL story, bro.

Patrick Corbin (WSH) @ CIN (ND) – 4.1 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 69 pitches.

Hey I still like the cutter and everything he located down was effective. But what about the pitches middle and up. Well those were crushed, obviously. I’ll hold out hope he can find some sort of rhythm at some point. You’ve got a random fan rooting you on over here, peering in with a telescope to ensure he doesn’t get hurt along the way.

Griffin Canning (LAA) @ BAL (L) – 5.0 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 96 pitches.

It’s an even worse heater now as it sat nearly two ticks down, and obviously it meant he threw it nearly 50% of the time. I heavily suggest you chase something else, especially with Boston up next.

Tommy Henry (AZ) vs COL (L) – 4.0 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 80 pitches.

Two first names, y’all. BUT Mr. RYAN! We had a talk. He’s cool.

Kyle Hendricks (CHC) @ TEX (L) – 3.2 IP, 5 ER, 9 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks – 2 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 72 pitches.

Well, yeah. But he’s a tick harder! At 88.5 mph. Amazing.

JP Sears (OAK) vs CLE (L) – 3.2 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 83 pitches.

Womp womp. The four-seamer shape is great, but he didn’t spot super well and his sweeper was soooo hittable, even if he got it down. There’s still a ceiling here for Sears if he can pair his heater with a strong secondary, but we’re not quite there yet. He’s a Cherry Bomb at best currently as a ceiling play for strikeouts.

Luis Severino (NYM) vs MIL (L) – 5.0 IP, 6 ER, 12 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 88 pitches.

I’m sad to report that Severino’s four-seamer is not only not returning to its 2022 form, but it’s even worse than it was last season, with so little iVB that it has turned the pitch into a dead-zone fastball. Oh no. If he doesn’t have that heater, he doesn’t have my trust.

Kenta Maeda (DET) @ CWS (ND) – 3.1 IP, 6 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 71 pitches.

Maeda showed up with a cutter, which is actually a great idea for him – it makes the slider (and also sweeper now?!) act more like a whiff pitch out of the zone and masks his poor four-seamer even more. The problem? You gotta command everything better than this. The skills are still there, but Maeda is going to be a Cherry Bombespecially when his fastball is at just 89 mph. He gets Oakland next and even though this was the White Sox, it’s still a good shot Maeda is productive there. This isn’t who is every day.

Aaron Nola (PHI) vs ATL (L) – 4.1 IP, 7 ER, 12 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 83 pitches.

Jeeeeeez. Atlanta had his number, though Nola threw a ton of pitches over the heart of the zone and it felt like Atlanta punished every one of them. I wouldn’t read into this much, truly, and we move on. Whatareyagonnado.

Game of the Day 


Garrett Whitlock vs. Bryce Miller – I’m awfully curious about both these arms. They each have potential for more and now we can glean how much they’ve improved over the off-season.

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.

2 responses to “Fantasy Baseball SP Roundup: Mr. Jones and Me”

  1. Teddy R. says:

    JP Sears, lol. Still hyping that guy up as something more than an average pitcher!

  2. theKraken says:

    I am bit surprised to see that you have embraced the sweeper term. It is a slurve and it should still be the derogatory term it has always been. It is not a slider and it is not a curve it is just some mess of spin. Berrios is a good example of a guy who just spins it as hard as he can – he doesn’t know where it is going to end up and there is no approach with a guy like that. You can’t really improve if you don’t do things consistently. There is no game plan or execution. It is a lot like a dude who swings hard just in case he hits it. He may pull off some gif-worthy pitches but nobody knows what he is going to do from start to start. Just for fun I looked at his pitch data and he has not thrown a CB in years – they are all magically sliders now… and he doesn’t even throw a sweeper lol. The absurdity of pitch classification is only getting worse.

    There is also no way Grayson Rodriguez is an ace. I thought he was a great prospect and there is a lot to be excited about but ever since he suffered an injury a few years ago he has not been dominant. The guy has fewer than 10 QS and no double digit K games. I hope he improves but he is not an ace. I know it sucks for the sabermetric folks but all you need is WHIP and he hasn’t even good in that area last year. I would like to see it happen though.

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