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Fantasy Baseball SP Roundup: Shawver Time

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.

AJ Smith-Shawver (ATL) @ CHC (ND) – 4.1 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 87 pitches.

We saw a bit of AJ Smith-Shawver in 2023, and we saw the 21-year-old hurl upper-90s heaters in spring training, creating anticipation for his 2024 MLB debut. The young right-hander stepped on the mound with Atlanta on his jersey for the first time today and gave a good-not-great performance: 4.1 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 87 pitches. 

Overall, he obviously has the stuff to make this work. His heater touched 99 mph (and perfectly spotted, too) with solid shape, a few changeups made Cubs batters flail, and his curve’s big break helped it earn a 39% CSW and a fantastic 14/18 strike rate. The command? It still has work to do.

It felt like an Effectively Wild situation. A perfect example was his second batter of the game, earning an 0-2 count on dotted heaters. He then spiked a changeup (slider?), missed with a heater, then lofted a changeup up and over the plate for a single. He earned the two-strike count, but didn’t have the consistency to get through to the finish line.

The question remains: Is he polished enough to become a worthy fantasy arm? It’s possible Atlanta keeps him in the rotation moving forward in Strider’s spot, which would make for a date with the Nationals up next. I’m intrigued (he could have been off more due to this being his season debut, though it does match what we saw in the spring), I also don’t want to assume he’ll find the polish so soon. If you have the spot for a spec add, his upside is better than what’s on your wire, especially with a spot on Atlanta. If not, I don’t think you move on from a solid arm in favor of AJSS quite yet.

 

Let’s see how every other SP did Thursday:

 

Luis Gil (NYY) vs SEA (W) – 6.1 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 96 pitches.

WE GOT STRIKES Y’ALL. 70%+ on the four-seamer. 65%+ on the changeup. 8/14 on the slider. Why did you stop doing percents. YOU KNOW WHY. Anyway, Gil destroys when he has his heater and at least one secondary pounding the zone and after struggling across the first few weeks of the season, he’s come into his own, looking like the guy we idolized in March. And guess what? Now he gets the Angels and Giants. GET. PUMPED.

Ryan Feltner (COL) @ OAK (ND) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 94 pitches.

The winner of the Gold Star tonight is clearly Feltner and let’s appreciate that he actually came through in an ideal matchup for once. His four-seamer is still flat at about 95 mph and I was happy to see it located pretty well in the top half of the zone, though without great extension and poor iVB, I don’t think we should expect its success to repeat. The rest…meh. I don’t think this is enough to endure Coors moving forward, sadly, as the Guardians should feast next time out.

Ben Brown (CHC) vs ATL (ND) – 4.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 66 pitches.

We didn’t expect Brown to go too long in this one, though props for earning six strikeouts across four shutout. It’s still four-seamer/curve (with a whole lot of wasted curves) and just one heater whiff that has me still avoiding him if he were to get an opportunity to start properly. If he sticks in the rotation, it’s the Brewers next and about 70-75 pitches, which isn’t super appealing in my book.

Paul Skenes (PIT) vs SFG (ND) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 93 pitches.

Hmmm. It’s obviously not bad, but a 1.17 WHIP and just three strikeouts are a bit underwhelming from Skenes against the Giants. Watching this one, he had some stupid filthy pitches while failing to put batters away with two strikes far too often. Just one of those days, he’s still a strikeout machine. Also, interesting to see a proper 89 mph changeup in the mix a few times, too. There is a place for it among the full mix.

Kevin Gausman (TOR) @ DET (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 10 Ks – 18 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 98 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. Thank you Gausman. We needed a Gallows Pole and a start of destruction from you. Way to show up.

Erik Miller (SFG) @ PIT (ND) – 1.2 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 41% CSW, 27 pitches.

He opened for 2.2 IP of disaster for Mason BlackCan I go now?

Zack Wheeler (PHI) vs TEX (W) – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 91 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. Even a tick up on the four-seamer in this one because why not.

Matt Waldron (SDP) @ CIN (ND) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 36% CSW, 90 pitches.

Hmmmm. His knuckleball is coming in harder now near 80 mph (almost three ticks up!), though he’s saving it more often with just 33% usage as he was able to go 50% CSW on sweepers + dance a bit around the zone with heaters. I still believe in the rule of Don’t Trust A Knuckleballer, but if you want to Vargas Rule this and believe in the knuckle, you do you. It could be something.

Luis Castillo (SEA) @ NYY (L) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 91 pitches.

Aces gonna do their best to survive against a hot Yankee offense. No one is safe. We move on.

Grayson Rodriguez (BAL) @ CHW (W) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 5 BBs, 7 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 94 pitches.

51% four-seamer strikes and he still fanned seven, got the Win, and allowed only 2 ER in five frames. Oh CrySox, never change. But the WHIP! Yeah, this should have been But the EVERYTHING but it wasn’t. Be happy that the slider was able to glide into the zone for 56% CSW and we recognize this game as an anomaly.

Jack Flaherty (DET) vs TOR (L) – 6.1 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 36% CSW, 103 pitches.

That’s a King Cole for Flaherty with a Careful, Icarus as the Jays swatted a two-run shot on Flaherty’s 103rd pitch. Sigh. Why not pull him after the first batter reached base?! Whatever, we keep rolling with Flaherty because duh.

Andrew Heaney (TEX) @ PHI (L) – 3.1 IP, 3 ER, 9 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 22% CSW, 82 pitches.

Blegh. There was more of a BSB here than his last start, but he was Singled Out by the Phils with a HAISTBMBWT?! and sometimes it’s just like that. He could have been a little more precise with the heater as many sailed far up and out of the zone, and it does make me believe he could be fine against the Sneks next time out. I think I’d avoid it in most 12-teamers, though.

Joey Estes (OAK) vs COL (ND) – 7.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 93 pitches.

It nearly worked. Estes got Rockie Road and featured a solid four-seamer and sweeper, though his command was a bit inconsistent with many hittable pitches that Colorado took advantage of. It’s possible he can take on the Rays next time out with a touch better precision, though I’d only save that for deeper leagues. 14 whiffs aren’t something we should expect with regularity.

Frankie Montas (CIN) vs SDP (ND) – 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 9 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 94 pitches.

Womp womp. A pair of tough innings to kick off the game messed up Montas as he was Singled Out and failed to impress. Maybe he will give us six frames of mediocre decency against the Cardinals next? Wow, what a ringing endorsement. Hey, he’s a QS Toby for deeper leagues, alright?

Mike Clevinger (CHW) vs BAL (L) – 4.2 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 98 pitches.

Stop thinking about Clevinger. You’ll be a much happier person if you do.

 

Game of the Day

 

Carlos Rodón vs. Yu Darvish – Can Carlos keep up the 96 mph heater and whiff-heavy slider? Is Darvish’s ER streak coming to an end?

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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