Fantasy Baseball SP Roundup – AJSS Called To Say I Love You

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Friday.

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

AJ Smith-Shawver (ATL) vs WSH (ND) – 5.1 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 86 pitches.

The buzz of the week has been AJ Smith-Shawver getting an aggressive promotion from Atlanta and after a 2.1 IP relief appearance, he got his first start for the club against the Nationals on Friday evening. The result? Nothing to get excited about: 5.1 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 86 pitches.

I’ve seen some comparisons to Spencer Strider for a few reasons: Atlanta, starting off as a reliever, and being four-seamer + slider. The difference? AJSS doesn’t have an elite four-seamer (92.4 mph!) and his slider isn’t all that great. Well, I don’t want to completely lean into those statements as it’s incredibly hard to tell what would happen if he actually had good command, but what I saw yesterday were these moments of “oh hey, that’s a great pitch!” followed by a slider that slips out or a heater that lands far from where he intended.

I wonder what the fastball approach is that would lock him in. Is it the Zac Gallen approach of low heaters or the Strider BSB locations? Either way it requires a whole makeover of fastball ability + a slider that actually finds strikes instead of the 14/35 strike rate we saw yesterday…but then again, there has to have been jitters here and he could pitch again next week against Rockie Road with a different energy. He is just 20 years old, after all. And I really did dig his presence on the mound with a heater that feels like it plays better than the low velocity. It’s just hard for me to lean in heavily with a two-pitch pitcher (well, he did have a changeup that returned a few outs and for some reason, Savant doesn’t want to acknowledge it) that comes with the usual floor of a prospect arm without something that blows me away.

So we hold for Rockie Road and take it from there. One last thing, sorry about the deke in the headline. I just found it hilarious despite not being how I actually feel about him.


Let’s see how every other SP did Friday:


Jordan Montgomery (STL) vs CIN (W) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 35% CSW, 97 pitches.

Ayyyyyyy he came through! Not one of his 29 changeups was hit into play and earned a whopping 41% CSW with 10/29 whiffs. That’s the ticket – just dominate with your changeup. Every. Single. Night. That doesn’t seem sustainable. No, it doesn’t.

Sam Moll (OAK) @ MIL (ND) – 1.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 43% CSW, 23 pitches.

He opened for Luis Medinawho came through after a pair of rough outings with 5 IP of 2 ER ball and six strikeouts, earning a Win. Don’t write off Medina as a deeeep streaming option when he faces weak teams, like the Guardians in ten days.

Victor González (LAD) @ PHI (ND) – 0.2 IP, 0 ER, 0 Hits, 1 BBs, 0 Ks – 1 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 14 pitches.

This was Michael Grove in disguise as he followed for 4.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks. Cool cool cool, so we can keep ignoring that one.

Garrett Whitlock (BOS) @ NYY (W) – 6.1 IP, 1 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 18 Whiffs, 39% CSW, 88 pitches.

YES. This was the Whitlock I’ve been waiting for. His slider and changeup were low and tempting pitches on demand while the sinker was able to induce outs inside the zone. H*ck, he even got a bit Singled Out and I don’t care. The slider went 10/26 whiffs for 62% CSW while the change held a 53% CSW and seven whiffs on its own. And guess what? COL + @MIN + @CHW next. STRAP IN BOYS. Why are you talking about strapping young lads? What, the Devin Townsend band? No, his group from the late 90s you’re not a fan of, not his solo project. Sorry, that was for the very few of us who love Devin and you should join us. His solo stuff is wonderful.

Dylan Cease (CWS) vs MIA (ND) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 95 pitches.

Surprisingly, the slider wasn’t as dominant as we’ve seen, but the four-seamer fortunately returned 33% CSW and he was able to get his curve over the plate constantly. Phew. Get that slider slightly more in the zone please, thanks. A 30% zone rate is going to hurt him vs. 35-40% as the fastball/hook are often not as effective.

Tyler Glasnow (TB) vs TEX (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 1 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 84 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. Yep, he’s earned it and I don’t think you disagree. Did you want me to wait until his start against Oakland?

Ranger Suárez (PHI) vs LAD (ND) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 103 pitches.

Whoaaaaa that’s a Gold Staralright. His changeup returned seven whiffs, cutters were along the edges, the curve got called strikes, and the fastballs found the edges often. Yeah, that’s the ideal Suárez approach and I’m in for his start against the Diamondbacks. With three starts of great command from Ranger, we have ourselves a positive trend.

Eury Pérez (MIA) @ CWS (ND) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 82 pitches.

He’s really good, y’all and yet I’m annoyed. Why? Because the Marlins pulled him after five with 82 pitches. Let the guy go for six! Just pull him if he gets close to 95 in the inning. Anyway, the breakers were nasty with 10/38 whiffs, and he pumped healthy 97 mph four-seamers into the zone efficiently. He’s gonna go as a Top 25 SP in 2024, isn’t he?

Josiah Gray (WSH) @ ATL (ND) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 4 BBs, 6 Ks – 18 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 96 pitches.

Props to Josiah for making it through against Atlanta for five frames. The gameplan was just 33% fastballs in favor of 52 curves + sliders and it’s something we should be seeing more often from Josiah.

Sonny Gray (MIN) @ TOR (ND) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 76 pitches.

Phew. He spread out his pitches across all five – four-seamer, sinker, cutter, slider, curve – with the non-fastballs looking beautiful and the heaters hugging gloveside a ton. It’s good to see Sonny look more in control of his arsenal, though he still had a fair number of “oh well let’s try that again” pitches. Here’s to the respite that is Detroit up next.

Rich Hill (PIT) vs NYM (W) – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 119 pitches.

You know, despite the 4.23 ERA and 1.37 WHIP, Hill has only really had four poor outings this season, again the Giants, Blue Jays, Rangers, and a healthy White Sox from April. And the Brewers are up next. Hmmmm.

Marcus Stroman (CHC) @ SF (W) – 6.2 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 4 BBs, 5 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 91 pitches.

Four walks?! Stroman, all you have to do is throw sinker strikes and the defense does the rest. But fine, have your 58% sinker strike rate and get a Win. WHATEVER.

Tyler Wells (BAL) vs KC (W) – 6.2 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 92 pitches.

We keep dipping into the Wells and he’s given us no reason to stop. Like standing atop Taylor, ONWARD!

Anthony DeSclafani (SF) vs CHC (L) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 4 BBs, 2 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 93 pitches.

I was pessimistic that Tony Disco would fight through this one and those four walks vs. two strikeouts express that fear. But hey, he gave you solid ratios and we exhale. It may be tempting against the Cardinals next time out as his slider did return a 32% CSW, but I still think the sinker and four-seamer aren’t what we want them to be.

Gerrit Cole (NYY) vs BOS (L) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 35% CSW, 101 pitches.

Aces gonna mostly ace. The WHIP is a product of just a 15% CSW and 2/20 slider whiffs. Sigh. He could be far and away the best pitcher in the majors if he just had his old slider back. It’s down 10 points in CSW and 12 points in SwStr rate from 2022. It has to come back…right? Sticky stuff, dude. Ummmm it’s the same amount of movement and near identical spin. He’s just leaving it higher up more often (many pitches that were supposed to land low have now landed in the dreaded y-mLoc). Here’s to hoping.

Yusei Kikuchi (TOR) vs MIN (ND) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 82 pitches.

He did the thing again: curves + sliders in the zone as four-seamers were used selectively around the edges. I kinda think this works and if Kikuchi has figured out how to replicate this approach each game, he can take advantage of @BAL + @MIA + SFG up next.

Merrill Kelly (ARI) @ DET (W) – 6.1 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 92 pitches.

Oh. A near VPQS against a poor offense with just five strikeouts. There are times you don’t want to be reminded of the old days, you know? The changeup is still brilliant and everything else looks fine so I’m not sending off flares yet.

Luis Castillo (SEA) @ LAA (L) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 10 Ks – 26 Whiffs, 35% CSW, 109 pitches.

Aces gonna ace and earn a Gallows Pole as the four-seamer earned twenty whiffs. Did anyone tell Castillo it isn’t the summer yet? He’s boasting the third-best SwStr rate in the majors now, with a 2.70 ERA and 0.99 WHIP, and all of you who went for Castillo in your drafts in the fifth, I’m proud of you.

Daniel Lynch (KC) @ BAL (L) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 88 pitches.

VPQS ain’t so bad for Lynch, but seeing him throw just seven sliders and become a four-seamer/change arm is…weird. Is that really the future? He did carry seven whiffs on both the four-seamer and changeup each, but still. Really?

Shohei Ohtani (LAA) vs SEA (ND) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 3 Hits, 5 BBs, 6 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 97 pitches.

Aces gonna have a rough ERA again as his velocity dropped one to two ticks, and he used the sweeper just 18 times as he could only earn 50% strikes with it. Ho boy. I guess I have to lower Ohtani into tier 2 on Monday. Still love him, but he’s not locked in.

Andrew Heaney (TEX) @ TB (L) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 88 pitches.

He doesn’t have the slider command and it makes me terrified, even if he survived here. The four-seamer is getting spotted well, though, he just needs that slider (or changeup, really) to be a consistent pitch underneath. But 38% CSW! Yeah, I don’t think that’s sustainable if he isn’t locating like he did with the Dodgers.

Yu Darvish (SD) @ COL (W) – 5.1 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 4 BBs, 6 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 100 pitches.

Darvish does what he wants regardless of opposition, but he struggled to find the zone in Coors and it messed him up. Whatever, we move on.

Cristian Javier (HOU) @ CLE (ND) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks – 2 Whiffs, 17% CSW, 90 pitches.

Noooooo. The slider is still struggling to find the zone (52% strike rate) and while I expect that to get corrected over time, it turns into nights like these when Javier doesn’t have his best four-seamer. Seriously, that pitch was unruly and nothing like the pristine elevated pitch we normally see. He’s in a valley with his arsenal at the moment, expect it to come back in time.

Logan Allen (CLE) vs HOU (ND) – 6.0 IP, 5 ER, 9 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 85 pitches.

Even without Alvarez, this was still a tough one for Allen. Womp womp. His slider needs to be better as it failed to find the edges and returned just 9% CSW. I think that pitch changes everything when executed, and with the hangers, it made for a grind of a start. It’s okay to be cautious of the Padres next, I’m leaning start in the belief the breaker will be better.

Adrian Houser (MIL) vs OAK (L) – 4.0 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 4 BBs, 4 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 20% CSW, 93 pitches.

Womp womp. I had a small hope Houser would be able to pound heaters for outs as he does to my chagrin often, but as Houser said, this is the MLB and every team has a chance to mess you up if you’re not on point.

Michael Lorenzen (DET) vs ARI (L) – 6.2 IP, 6 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 86 pitches.

Womp womp. He was the guy against weak teams and while we may circle back in ten days against the Royals, I’m not sure it’s worth the stash with Atlanta. He’s a Toby at best with the floor above that will reveal itself more often than we want.

Ben Lively (CIN) @ STL (L) – 6.2 IP, 7 ER, 10 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 92 pitches.

This reads like “the slider was back to being great but the heaters were swatted” and in actuality, his slider went just 2/20 whiffs and the heaters missed bats. Well, they did allow most of the hits too, but the slide piece was the issue as it failed to dominate the way Raggedy Anne needed it to. Sigh. I really want him to be great.

Austin Gomber (COL) vs SD (L) – 4.0 IP, 7 ER, 11 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 85 pitches.

Coors is undefeated. Hmmm? You say something? I said Coors is und–WE’RE MOVING ON.

Tylor Megill (NYM) @ PIT (L) – 3.2 IP, 7 ER, 8 Hits, 3 BBs, 1 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 19% CSW, 79 pitches.

We’re all in agreement now, yeah? Okay. I really hope there’s a time when I can proudly wear my Tylord Megill shirt again. At least the velocity was up a bit…?


Game of the Day 

Bobby Miller vs. Aaron Nola – It’s Bobby’s World + Nola is moving away from his sinker and I love it.

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 courtesy of Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Aaron Polcare (@bearydoesgfx 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.

4 responses to “Fantasy Baseball SP Roundup – AJSS Called To Say I Love You”

  1. MF says:

    Good to see that Nick is a fan of the mighty Hevy Devy! And I agree: his solo stuff has been amazing, while SYL is basically unlistenable.

  2. Jim says:

    Josiah has been doing this nearly all year. Nothing new. Yet Nick dislikes him and tells his readers to avoid. Ooos.

    Smith-Shawver is one of a kind skill set and maturity mix that is rare. I trust the Braves brass over you, Nick. Sorry bro.

    Remember when you loved Manaea and kept telling us to deploy him? Remember Matt Strahm a few years ago in SD who also fell flat on your recommendations?

    Sometimes you gotta just ride the trend not hate on everything new and shiny.

  3. Mario Mendoza says:

    It IS a great headline

  4. Joe Mulvey says:

    Agree, clever headline.
    Disagree with bitter Jim. “One of a kind skill set and maturity mix..” Getting ahead of yourself after his first middling start, no?

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