Fantasy Baseball SP Roundup – Blackburn After Starting

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 Twitch weekday mornings from 10 am-12 pm ET.  

Paul Blackburn (OAK) vs TB (ND) – 5.2 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 104 pitches.

Sometimes the Gold Star deserves more than just a sticker that gets lost in the laundry. Paul Blackburn had himself a night against an elite Tampa Bay offense, returning 5.2 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 104 pitches for daring managers and yeah, we gotta talk about this.

17 whiffs? Where did that come from? All over the place. The slider led the way with seven, but he earned four on heaters, two on changeups, two on the curve, and his final two on cutters. No more is this the slider & curve show, it’s the Chris Bassitt kitchen, Don’t Get Burned apron n all with the sinker replaced by four-seamers.

It’s not atypical for Blackburn to spread out across his arsenal, but there was a slider emphasis over the sinker that I hope sticks around…if he can continue to place the slider down-and-armside. With the Guardians next, it may be a fun time to chase Blackburn and hope there’s something sticky, though my best guess is it’s a little more pedestrian moving forward as this was one of those nights where a lot of his pitches were doing what he wanted…and he still wasn’t able to go a full six. Pesky Rays.

He’s a clear play in 15-teamers next time out, with a solid Questionable Start play for his next outing. I hope it’s real.


Let’s see how every other SP did Thursday:


Cristian Javier (HOU) vs WSH (ND) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 17% CSW, 92 pitches.

Aces gonna…be. Just 13/26 slider strikes while the Nats got a ton of pitches in the middle of the plate that returned outs. Seriously, a lot. It’s all about location in my book as the four-seamer still gets whiffs n all and at what point do we believe that Javier won’t regain the skills he had last year? It has to come back…right?

MacKenzie Gore (WSH) @ HOU (ND) – 5.2 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 95 pitches.

The man survived! He executed a BSB for the most part, even with some erratic heaters and a lot of bounced sliders & curves (just like Snell!). The curve was the winner with 38% CSW and if I could believe this would be Gore’s command and approach moving forward, then I’d be in. Sadly, he’s been chaotic all year and he’s still a Cherry BombDo it again. And probably another time. Or four.

Dylan Cease (CWS) @ LAD (ND) – 5.1 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 10 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 102 pitches.

THE SLIDER IS BACK. Well, mostly. Kinda weird locations, but 12/39 whiffs and 41% CSW is enough for us to get amped as he faced a strong offense. Awesome! Who does he get next? …Texas. Oh boy. Go for it, I think he’ll be there.

Tyler Wells (BAL) vs TOR (W) – 6.2 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 36% CSW, 90 pitches.

The PLV darling of the off-season can’t be stopped. I’m going to have to raise him on The List again and no one will argue with me. Incredible.

Marcus Stroman (CHC) vs PIT (W) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 96 pitches.

Yep, that’s Stroman. He kept the ball down all night with everything, earned his outs, and went home with a Win against a poor offense. Clock. Work. Yeah, he’s clearly not broken. That’s not what I—sure. I dig it.

Shohei Ohtani (LAA) @ TEX (W) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 19% CSW, 99 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. I think. Yeah, this was the Rangers, but he oddly went 47% four-seamers and just 28% sliders (relatively low slider usage, again) with the breaker returning just one whiff. The ratios are fine, but the process is still off. Good luck in Coors…

Yusei Kikuchi (TOR) @ BAL (ND) – 4.2 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks – 19 Whiffs, 34% CSW, 94 pitches.

That’s three in a row where Kikuchi has gotten strikes with the curve and slider over the plate and had success. This wasn’t a good outing. Okay, not the best ratios and a No Decision, but the skills are there. I’m buying into the Kikuchi resurgence now after three outings of the same approach – you don’t get a  share of the Gallows Pole being a poor pitcher. But The Irish Panda! THAT WAS DIFFERENT.

Taj Bradley (TB) @ OAK (ND) – 4.1 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 11 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 34% CSW, 88 pitches.

Here’s the deal. Bradley’s four-seamer is still super elite, and the cutter seems good enough to live inside the zone, but we’re waiting for his curve or changeup (very likely the curve) to step up as a trustworthy third pitch to really seal the deal. You see, he tossed 30 curves + changeups here and they returned…12 strikes. That’s a 40% strike rate, which pushes his pitch count through the roof, especially when he’s missing bats instead of getting quick outs in play. It’s kinda like Tyler Glasnow in this way where he didn’t truly soar until the slider was introduced to help the curve. He’ll get there.

Sonny Gray (MIN) vs DET (ND) – 4.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 4 BBs, 3 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 79 pitches.

A 35-pitch fourth inning did Gray in here as he just couldn’t do what he wanted to on the bump. The curve was gone and I’m so sad to see this relapse after his progress last start. Sigh. Welcome purgatory, all you can do is keep starting him and hope for the best.

Nathan Eovaldi (TEX) vs LAA (L) – 7.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 9 Ks – 18 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 105 pitches.

Splitter, I see you going 10/35 whiffs with a 43% CSW. Don’t ever leave us.

AJ Smith-Shawver (ATL) vs COL (W) – 5.2 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 99 pitches.

That’s a Philly but you got the Win, and the 17 whiffs should make you raise an eyebrow. Was it the four-seamer or the slider? Neither as each earned four. The curve? Nah, just three. Instead, it was the changeup earning 6/8 whiffs after throwing just six total in his first two games. I dug this outing a lot more from AJSS than last time as his four-seamer lived far more inside the zone and his secondaries were consistently in the lower half. There are still some adjustments to make with the exact approach as he chucked a ton of middle-middle heaters, but maybe it’s a Zac Gallen” approach in the end, relying on low called strikes with his heater and secondaries below it. It may be enough to hold him for another start against the Reds, even if the whiff total should be lower as he won’t replicate the same changeup efficiency. I’m intrigued.

Aaron Nola (PHI) @ ARI (W) – 6.2 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 37% CSW, 104 pitches.

Bleeeeeeggggh. A frustrating four-run third inning that was capped by a three-run blast was the only blemish here as Nola boasted a King Cole and nine strikeouts. It may sound like I keep making excuses for Nola and if you want to sell him, go ahead. I’m buying low as this is still productive despite the 4 ER. You got a Win, a near 1.00 WHIP, and nine strikeouts. The blowup inning is a weird thing and likely doesn’t repeat with this frequency and the whole “stop throwing sinkers” thing I’ve been yelling was ignored (and for the better) as Nola allowed just one hit on a sinker, and it was a 72 mph flare off the end of the bat, out of the zone. I’m still in – he’s unlikely to keep allowing HRs at this rate and his near 60% LOB rate is laughable at the 16th percentile in the majors.

Matthew Boyd (DET) @ MIN (W) – 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 19 Whiffs, 36% CSW, 84 pitches.

Despite the rough ratios, you got eight strikeouts and a Gallows Pole from Boyd as he returned to a precise four-seamer upstairs while spotting the secondaries down, including the slider that returned 43% CSW and six whiffs. That’s two-out-of-three games with this four-seamer paint and I sincerely hope it’s a believable trend – I had completely written it off as a one-time event and I’m so glad to be wrong. It’s still risky in my book, but at least we can agree there’s a believable chance of it sticking for the future. The Royals are next and that feels like a good enough floor to take a shot. THE BOYD BOYZ ARE BACK.

Michael Grove (LAD) vs CWS (ND) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks – 18 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 92 pitches.

Ummmmm. What. So, remember how I said Grove has a great slider? Yeah, so? Did you think I meant holding a 37% SwStr rate over 43 thrown and 47% usage? WHAT. Yeah. Unfortunately, he struggles to support the pitch with his four-seamer (it needs to be a 65%+ hiLoc pitch and it’s been 40% this season), but hot dang if he gets any support…you know, it’s kinda funny that he went opposite Dylan Cease in this one. He kinda mimics Cease in this way, though Cease’s four-seamer profiles out way better. Interesting. I’d avoid him moving forward as the White Sox’s weakness to RHP sliders catalyzed a bit of this, but keep an eye on Grove and see if anything changes with the fastball and curve.

Johan Oviedo (PIT) @ CHC (L) – 4.1 IP, 4 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 100 pitches.

He threw strikes, but not good strikes as the slider earned just 4/37 whiffs, and five fastballs were tagged for hits. This could have gone a little better if BABIP was more on his side. Clearly, the stuff is there (17 total whiffs) but those ratios will constantly be at risk until he can harness his pitches better. Welcome to PEAS land. Enjoy your home pod and steam bath.

Ryne Nelson (ARI) vs PHI (L) – 4.0 IP, 5 ER, 10 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 34% CSW, 82 pitches.

Ho boy. The Diamondbacks are considering ousting Nelson from the rotation now and with the way he’s lost his secondaries, I think it may be the right thing to do.

Logan Allen (CLE) @ SD (ND) – 3.0 IP, 5 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 2 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 77 pitches.

Yikes. The Padres are heating up and Allen needed to get his slider back. Narrator: He did not. The pitch went just 7/19 strikes and the changeup (which had saved him in previous outings) wasn’t the pitch he needed it to be. The good news here is OAK + @KCR are next in line, which make for solid Toby plays. So hey, at least he has that going for him.

Ryan Weathers (SD) vs CLE (L) – 1.2 IP, 6 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 43 pitches.


Kyle Freeland (COL) @ ATL (L) – 4.1 IP, 7 ER, 9 Hits, 3 BBs, 1 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 20% CSW, 86 pitches.

And this is why you always leave a note.


Game of the Day 

Shane McClanahan vs. Yu Darvish – Obviously.

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

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

Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire | Adapted 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 – Blackburn After Starting”

  1. Jim says:

    Dropped L Allen back to waivers and will Stream that slot goin go forward. He’s too volatile with a floor that is constantly getting lower.

  2. xdwm9525@gmail.com says:

    Can we talk about pitch patterns, Nick? The BSB has been around for a few years and I understand that well. In the AJSS write-up, you mention the Zac Gallen approach with “low called strikes with his heater and secondaries below it”. Is this a pattern for more than Gallen and AJSS? If so, may I suggest “Low Zac”?

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