Fantasy Baseball SP Roundup: Kenta Levee Breaks

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.

Kenta Maeda (DET) vs TEX (ND) – 2.2 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 63 pitches.

Entering the season, I was optimistic about Kenta MaedaHe had a fantastic run last year once he returned from an IL stint, has held a 25% strikeout or higher without fail, and the Tigers looked to have a soft schedule early in the year. And yes, even though today’s outing came with an expected bombardment from the mighty Rangers offense, Maeda’s performance reinforced what seems to be the truth: He’s lost a step and has become too risky to start. Come on, how bad could it have been? 2.2 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 63 pitches. Oh.

I watched every pitch live with the PL community in excitement for Jack Leiter’s debut (more on that below, duh) and it was rough. Maeda’s plan of attack is rooted in splitters and slider whiffs + weak contact out of the zone, while sneaking in four-seamers at the right times to swipe called strikes. Here? 39% four-seamer strikes. 4/39 splitter + slider whiffs. And a whole lot of punishment.

Even against a worse offense, Maeda didn’t look like he had a ton in the tank. Sure, Adolis García’s HR on a splitter that likely wouldn’t have gone out of the park against another hitter, but hot dang, his stuff was super hittable and he’s no longer the dastardly whiff machine we remember. Even with the Rays up next, I’d pass. The reward simply isn’t worth the risk any longer.


Let’s see how every other SP did Thursday:


Logan Webb (SFG) vs ARI (W) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 102 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. Webb is so stupid good at locating his changeup just under the zone. Seriously, it’s absolutely bananas how pristine his command is. What about the slider? Hey Annie, sadly just 3/21 sweeper whiffs here. Ah, so no Ks? Annie, no Ks, no Ks, Annie.

Ryne Nelson (ARI) @ SFG (ND) – 2.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 0 Ks – 0 Whiffs, 22% CSW, 27 pitches.

Nelson left this game early after taking a comebacker to the elbow. It’s being labeled as a contusion for now, and we hold our breath that he can make his next start. From the way he reacted, I wouldn’t be shocked if they skip his next one to be safe. I should note, he wasn’t pitching all too well before he was removed from the game (93.8 mph velocity, 0/27 whiffs overall), but who knows how this one would have turned out.

Brennan Bernardino (BOS) vs CLE (ND) – 2.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 43% CSW, 21 pitches.

Bernardino opened for Cooper Criswellwho was a desperate vulture Win candidate who…failed. 2.1 IP, 4 R (1 ER), 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 0 Ks. I think we can put this concept to rest for a moment.

Ryan Pepiot (TBR) vs LAA (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 92 pitches.

Hot dang, look at you! That’s a Golden Goal on a night without much contention, and he deserved it (well, against the Angels) with 10/38 slider whiffs at 39% CSW. Wait, not the changeup? Nope, he shelved the slowball and leaned heavily into the breaker, which I’m all for, though his command wasn’t nearly as polished as we’ve seen. In addition, his four-seamer wasn’t as magical as his previous outings and suddenly I’m thinking ohhhhhh Blame it on the Angels. But hey! A heavier slider focus! And it did well! Those are cool things and he should carve the Detroit lineup next time out.

Carlos Carrasco (CLE) @ BOS (W) – 5.2 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 89 pitches.

For a guy at just 90/91 mph and hoping to find outs on every slider and changeup he throws, this is a super impressive start inside Fenway. Enjoy the Win, Carrasco. You may not get many more.

Griffin Canning (LAA) @ TBR (L) – 5.1 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 84 pitches.

After a rough first frame, Canning settled down, returning 35% CSW on his slider, featuring a massive 93% strike rate on his changeup, and even got a little extra oomph back on his fastball to 93/94 mph. I’m still hesitant to rely on him outside of solid matchups given his questionable command inside the zone, and a date with the Orioles next time leaves him waiting on my waiver wires.

Jack Leiter (TEX) @ DET (ND) – 3.2 IP, 7 ER, 8 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 85 pitches.

Welcome to the big leagues. I can summarize this one pretty quickly: His four-seamer has legit potential with all the pitch shape attributes you want, but he needs to become more precise at the top of the zone to comfortably get outs. His slider is good and came with better control than the 10/23 strike rate and 0/23 whiffs would suggest — he barely missed the zone on many taken sliders across the patient Tigers lineup. There were some good changeups in the mix and he was able to lean on his curve more in the third and fourth to adjust, but without that four-seamer dictating the game, the rest falls apart. Oh, and please don’t throw Javier Báez a first-pitch meatball fastball with a man in scoring position. I’m not sure if the Rangers are shifting to a six-man rotation, but if they do, I’d expect a better outing against the Mariners next time out, with the assumption that the day’s adrenaline and nerves took his command down a notch. I’d say holding onto Leiter comes down to whether you believe he’ll be able to pinpoint his four-seamer and slider better moving forward. I’m leaning away from it right now, but you may not have a better upside play on the wire right now.


Game of the Day


Justin Verlander vs. MacKenzie GoreJV returns, + I would love to watch Gore coming through against the Astros.

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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