Is Watkins A Sure Lock?

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Wednesday.

Welcome to the SP Roundup, my daily fantasy baseball article reviewing every starting pitcher’s performance from every Wednesday 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 9 am-11 am ET.  

Spenser Watkins (BAL) @ CHC (W) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 86 pitches.

Among the absolutely incredible 10-game winning streak from the Baltimore Orioles is Spenser Watkins returning his fourth straight game of 1 ER or fewer, including tonight’s 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 86 pitches affair against the Cubs. Pretty dang cool, but is it real?

Ehhhh kinda? I’m digging his four-seamer command armside paired with sliders and cutters gloveside with precision, but I don’t think the stuff speaks to immunity when the command begins to waver. In other words, the man is a Vargas Rule at best right now and will likely not stick around as a Toby for very long. Throw in some likely tough matchups in the AL East in the near future and you have yourself a highly suspect pickup to make tonight.

Still, monitor this stretch and if there’s a moment in August where Watkins gets a weak opponent without a string of clunkers behind him, you may be able to take advantage of a man in rhythm. Be aware of it.


Let’s see how every other SP did Wednesday:


Jon Gray (TEX) vs OAK (W) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 0 BBs, 9 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 36% CSW, 95 pitches.

Yessssss. Gray continues to dominate, albeit taking advantage of the gift that is the Oakland offense. Not only was the heater once again 96/97 mph, his slider returned — get this — 16/46 whiffs (that’s a 35% SwStr rate) and made it a frustrating night for the Athletics. And he likely gets the Marlins right out of the break and I don’t see this slowing down. Swoon.

Ross Stripling (TOR) vs PHI (W) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 38% CSW, 81 pitches.

Whoa, a near King Cole for Strip, but there’s some ridiculousness in that Angels vs. Astros game, stealing it away from him. Still, I’m heavily impressed he made it through seven frames in just 81 pitches with some stupid good command across the board. Look at this glorious pitch separation — it’s the best I’ve seen from Ross all season. And while the Phils are rocking their worst offense in a while — we saw what Berríos did on Tuesday, too — I’m more inclined to lift my skepticism of Stripling moving forward if he can replicate this.

JT Brubaker (PIT) @ MIA (ND) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 9 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 34% CSW, 99 pitches.

Hot dang, look at you! Coffee Cakes brought it against the Marlins, going 80% strikes on curveballs, and 9/36 whiffs with his slider + a lovely 38% CSW on his sinker rooted in stealing strikes in the zone. He’s capable of it, but it’s not something we can depend on. Worth a shot here and there.

Lucas Giolito (CWS) @ CLE (W) – 6.1 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 91 pitches.

The man got strikes as he kept the changeup and slider down and I’m loving this…except for his sitting just 91.8 mph. What has gotten into Lynn/Kopech/Giolito? All of them have dramatically lowered their heater velocities lately and I’m a little startled by it. I want to be more enthusiastic of Giolito being a second-half buy low, but if he’s hovering 92 mph, I’m not sure he’ll be able to dominate consistently — the heater sets the stage for the changeup. Maybe the break will help him get back on track.

Adam Wainwright (STL) vs LAD (ND) – 5.1 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 5 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 114 pitches.

He was able to finagle out of some jams to survive, and we can all collectively yell at the bullpen for blowing this dub. Don’t worry, he won’t need 114 pitches only to get pulled in the sixth next time out against the Reds.

Erik Swanson (SEA) @ WSH (ND) – 2.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 Hits, 0 BBs, 1 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 36% CSW, 25 pitches.

Swanson tossed two frames, Tommy Milone went for 3.1 and—oh, you’re already asleep. My bad.

John Brebbia (SF) vs ARI (ND) – 1.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 1 BBs, 0 Ks – 0 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 19 pitches.

He opened for 1.2 innings of Sam Long and unfittingly, that is the entire length of his blurb.

Aaron Civale (CLE) vs CWS (ND) – 1.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 1 Ks – 0 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 20 pitches.

Civale left this one early with a wrist injury and life is pain. Especially for Civale because, you know, the wrist injury.

Shane McClanahan (TB) vs BOS (W) – 6.1 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks – 18 Whiffs, 38% CSW, 85 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. I love how he simply doesn’t care this was Boston. Does. Not. Matter.

Chris Bassitt (NYM) @ ATL (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 99 pitches.

Yessss. Bassitt earned whiffs across all his pitches as he took down Atlanta. I see this stat line and feel as if he should do this every time out, which is a wonderful feeling to have.

Brady Singer (KC) vs DET (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 7 Hits, 5 BBs, 6 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 105 pitches.

Ayyyy it worked, even if it was a bit of a Dusty Donut with that 2.00 WHIP. Nothing new here, just Singer’s sinker/slider against the worst offense against right-handers.

Chris Flexen (SEA) @ WSH (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 22% CSW, 85 pitches.

Ayyy it was Flexen at the beach! “But sir! You only had one strikeout!”, they say, poking a pin at his inflated biceps. Flexen walks back to his towel, saggy plastic on his forearms. HAISTBMBWT?!, he asks, in dismay. I don’t know, Flexen. I don’t know.

Joe Ryan (MIN) vs MIL (ND) – 5.1 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 78 pitches.

He allowed a towering bomb to center on a solid high heater and that’s about it. Better heaters, still mediocre sliders, and I’m twiddling my thumbs hoping we see Ryan take the next step with said breaker. He’s not a bad play if he doesn’t have it working, but there will be plenty of turbulence if it stays like this.

Pablo López (MIA) vs PIT (ND) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 1 Hits, 4 BBs, 3 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 83 pitches.

Aces gonna…ace? The ratios are great, the strikeouts are few, and the walks are scary. I feel like he’s taken the reins from Buehler as the Ace of Very Good (AVG), but even he went 6+ frames more often. The thing is, Pablo isn’t doing a whole lot different than what we’ve seen in the past — it’s four-seamers with changeups, for the most part. Sure, he didn’t have his best overall command here, but it’s still the same ole approach. I imagine it’ll swing back with the walk rate as we hope the strikeouts improve.

Aaron Ashby (MIL) @ MIN (ND) – 4.1 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 101 pitches.

I’m shocked he tossesd 101 pitches after just 72 last time out and he’s not fully developed with his command yet — can’t say I’d anticipate that to arrive until August or so. Throw in the Twins being the Twins, and there’s your start. Let’s hope he clicks into place soon.

Mike Minor (CIN) @ NYY (ND) – 4.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 91 pitches.

Yes, it was just four innings, yes it was a 2.00 WHIP, but the man allowed just 1 ER! That’s a major Minor victory. Suitman whispers in my ear. Oh, it came with four unearned runs? Ahhhhh, now this makes sense.

Shohei Ohtani (LAA) vs HOU (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 12 Ks – 24 Whiffs, 43% CSW, 105 pitches.

Aces gonna ace as Ohtani earned himself another Golden GoalThis is getting absurd as his slider, once again, took the lead with a stupid good 55% CSW across 50% usage and it’s hard not to fall in love with the pitch. He needs to win MVP again. Seriously.

Zac Gallen (ARI) @ SF (ND) – 6.2 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 97 pitches.

Hmmmmm. So he’s tossing a ton of strikes with changeups and cutters, but getting few whiffs and I wonder if that’s something we should depend on or not. I miss the old Gallen, the Gallen Gal with legit whiff potential across all of his secondaries. I think nights like these are the realistic ceiling and we should accept that.

Erick Fedde (WSH) vs SEA (L) – 5.1 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 1 Ks – 2 Whiffs, 19% CSW, 85 pitches.

Remember kids, Don’t Trust The Feddes…even when he allows just two earned runs because you realize the WHIP was terrible and one strikeout ain’t gonna butter that toast — HAISTBMBWT?!

Justin Steele (CHC) vs BAL (L) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 85 pitches.

Steele was on a solid stretch where five of his last six games came with 2 ER or fewer, but then the Orioles and their winning streak showed up. Eh, if you ran with this, a PQS with a 1.17 WHIP ain’t so bad. At least y’all can stop beliving his recent strikeout surge isn’t here to stay with jsut 1/38 whiffs on the four-seamer.

Josh Winckowski (BOS) @ TB (L) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 92 pitches.

You added Winckowski as an option for a cheap Win, and what you got was a Loss with a PQS and while that isn’t so bad with a 1.00 WHIP, it’s not exactly what you can for. You can blame McShane being McShane on the other end — against a “normal” start, you could have stolen that dub.

Joe Musgrove (SD) @ COL (ND) – 5.0 IP, 5 ER, 9 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 88 pitches.

Aces gonna struggle in Coors. Why does that stupid place exist. Okay okay okay, it’s a lovely stadium, BUT YOU UNDERSTAND.

Chad Kuhl (COL) vs SD (ND) – 4.2 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 4 BBs, 2 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 22% CSW, 95 pitches.

Ohhh that Kuhl WHIP ruins the meal. What meal? Good point.

Cristian Javier (HOU) @ LAA (L) – 3.2 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 10 Ks – 19 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 92 pitches.

This is obviously a bummer as he needed 92 pitches for just eleven outs, but y’all should be thrilled it came with ten strikeouts. The best arms give you something to salvage in their poor outings. Blame the four-seamer for being a little too erratic in this one and while I know this is a pair of disappointments in a row after the two starts that turned our heads like owls, that ceiling is still very much present. Stick with this.

Tarik Skubal (DET) @ KC (L) – 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 94 pitches.

Womp womp. It was a Dennis after all and Skubal got hit across his pitches. I generally liked the slider command, but he allowed far too many hits on the pitch despite its down-and-gloveside location, his sinker is plenty worse than his four-seamer (maybe because he locates them middle horizontally?), and his changeup was banged when he floated them. Not great. The four-seamer is still good enough that if he found the feel for the rest of his arsenal that he could excel once again, but it may take a while until we see it. Some tweak needs to be made.

Luis Severino (NYY) vs CIN (ND) – 2.0 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 43 pitches.

Severino left this early with shoulder soreness as he was sitting 2.1 mph down on the heater. Noooooo. We were all excited for this one against the Reds and sometimes we just don’t get nice things.

Paul Blackburn (OAK) @ TEX (L) – 6.0 IP, 5 ER, 3 Hits, 4 BBs, 4 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 101 pitches.

Ahhh dangit. The Rangers have been a bit better as of late to the extent and they jumped Blackburn in the first for all five runs. Props to PB for rebounding with five scoreless after, but I am surprised to see just 13% curveballs in this one. Normally the fella hangs around a bit more. He gets a revenge game after the break and we saw both sides of the coin in this one. Who knows how that’ll go.

Charlie Morton (ATL) vs NYM (L) – 5.0 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 107 pitches.

Ouch. Morton has gone back-and-forth with our emotions over the last four outings and the Mets gave him a rough time with his breakers. Keep it cool, y’all, he could very easily get back on track next time as I didn’t see anything too alarming here. We’re not back to the days on April/May, I promise. Probably.

Josiah Gray (WSH) vs SEA (L) – 5.0 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 97 pitches.

Awww. His curveball was ridiculous at 49% CSW, but the fastball command was terrible (despite its elevated intent!)  and voila, that’s all (s)he wrote. At least you got seven strikeouts out of it, yeah? He’ll likely get the Diamondbacks after the break and we can hope he’ll get back on track there.

Tony Gonsolin (LAD) @ STL (ND) – 5.0 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 96 pitches.

I mean, the guy had to stumble once this year, right? Yes, you can blame me for this was the start after I gave him his AGA label. Obviously. I can’t thank him enough for doing what he can to make Sandy Alcantara the NL ERA leader entering the break (yes, I know this is the third straight roundup discussing Sandy. SUE ME.). The slider was off and he throws so many dang splitters and four-seamers over the zone. It happens.

Zack Wheeler (PHI) @ TOR (L) – 4.2 IP, 6 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 91 pitches.

Aces gonna be sad they weren’t an all-star and let it affect him. For real, though, this was an off day as his slider failed to return a single whiff, featuring too many hittable fastballs. Whatareyagonnado. He’s fine.


Game of the Day


Corbin Burnes vs. Carlos Rodón – Two all-star pitchers challenging each other? Absolutely.

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: 9:00 am – 11:00 am ET Monday through Friday.

Featured image by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 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.

3 responses to “Is Watkins A Sure Lock?”

  1. Nick watch the games says:

    Skubals defense did not have his back lol

    • Jojo says:

      Hahaha. I came here to say the same thing. If you watched the game, Skubal had great stuff yesterday and a bunch of those hits didn’t leave the infield, but his defense crapped the bed. If anything this may have been the best Skubal has looked in months, but his defense let him down.

  2. Southern Marylander says:

    I signed Bieber and Kopech to three year contracts over the offseason and resigned Giolito to just this year. I’m kind of happy that I unloaded them, because all three suffered awful velocity decreases and while they’ve mostly made it work, it was terrifying to have money committed to them.

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