The Cole Picture

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.  

Cole Irvin (OAK) vs HOU (W) – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 22% CSW, 99 pitches.

Baseball is a weird weird game. One element is the miraculous season of Cole Irvinwho, after tonight’s phenomenal 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 22% CSW, 99 pitches against the playoff-bound Astros, sports a 3.05 ERA with a 1.04 WHIP. Yeah, I know, this is wild. I’ve been out on Irvin through the year given the mediocre stuff, but after holding a 3.58 ERA and 1.28 WHIP, his recent stretch has forced me to dive into this more.

The first thing to note: Entering today, Irvin has tossed a four-seamer 32% of the time and it has held a .168 AVG (.218 xAVG) and a .219 BABIP. Yeah, that’s not gonna stick. The trio of four-seamer, sinker, and changeup carry hard contact rates of 30% or higher, with the slowball recording a paltry 23% CSW. The curve is better, but its .276 AVG and 60% strike rate is kinda meh.

And that’s the real story here, it’s all kinda meh. During this recent stretch, Irvin has relied more on the four-seamer, even earning some whiffs with six last time and seven here, though I’d wager that latter mark significantly drops in future outings. I’m glad Irvin’s .248 BABIP is allowing him to hold a 4.32 xFIP, but let’s be real, this isn’t something to lean on heavily.

So sure, the Angels could mean another start of success for Irvin up next, but be careful. He’s a Vargas Rule at best as he’s now allowed just 7 ER across his last five starts and I’m hesitant to go with that.


Let’s see how every other SP did Wednesday:


Max Scherzer (NYM) vs NYY (ND) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 99 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. What a fun game to watch, especially his final pitch to Aaron Judge on a lovely slider down-and-away. Baseball is so much better with Scherzer in it. Oh, and he held a 60% CSW on 30 sliders (with 10 whiffs) because Max is dope and makes us feel dope.

Tarik Skubal (DET) vs SD (ND) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 19% CSW, 98 pitches.

I’m thrilled this worked as Skubal had what may have been his final audition before the trade deadline. Oddly enough, his slider dropped three ticks in this one, which makes me wonder if he did some tweaking there to return 66% strikes. Anyway, I’m not ready to say Skubal is back to form (four whiffs?!), but he’s also dealing with some horrific defense behind him. Could be a massive boon to performance if he leaves town.

Janson Junk (LAA) @ KC (W) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 86 pitches.

NICK. I see it and don’t do anything silly. BUT I ALREADY DROPPED LODOLO FOR HIM. … great, you just got Junk male. I watched this one and this is so thoroughly Blame it on the Royals. I kinda dig the emphasis of sliders, and he had a few that looked pretty, but this is not a package that should return five shutout frames with eight punchouts. It’ll be the peak of the season for male Astrid Janson. Bonus points to whoever understands that terrible stretch of a joke.

Andrew Heaney (LAD) vs WSH (ND) – 4.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 71 pitches.

He returned and tossed just 71 pitches with four frames, and while it didn’t hurt, four frames aren’t really a whole lot to get excited about. The command was good enough to get my seal of approval – tons of fantastic elevated heaters and a fair amount of spotted sliders – and I’d start him against the Giants as he likely cruises past 80 pitches.

Adam Wainwright (STL) @ TOR (W) – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 8 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 38% CSW, 99 pitches.

Ummmm, did Waino and Gausman accidentally swap their pitching lines? Wainwright went against the hottest offense around and demolished them with a 53% CSW curveball and a 40% CSW cutter – I haven’t seen those two pitches work this well together in ages. It’s why you see that King Cole and he deserves all the love for this. And now he gets the Cubs? Sign me up.

Zac Gallen (ARI) vs SF (ND) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 93 pitches.

Atta boy Gallen. The curve + cutter + changeup combined for just four whiffs, but at least he got strikes on em. The changeup velocity was massively down once again (four ticks!) and I’m still betting on a new grip there. It does make for four distinct velocities now with the slider at upper 80s, curve ~80, change low/mid 80s, and mid-90 heaters. This could work, I’m curious to see more.

Yu Darvish (SD) @ DET (ND) – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 11 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 34% CSW, 106 pitches.

Okkkkkkkay, Aces Gonna Ace. Weird to do that against the worst offense against right-handers in baseball but it’s Rockie Road next and the dude deserves it. Please don’t make me regret this.

Marco Gonzales (SEA) vs TEX (W) – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 88 pitches.

Ayyy nice job getting back on track Gonzo. The changeup was perfection, the curve fell for strikes, the four-seamer elevated, and the cutter fell glove-side. It’s what you want. But he gets the Yankees next. It’s not what you want.

Kyle Gibson (PHI) vs ATL (W) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 96 pitches.

Hey Gibson, I’m happy for you. This is a productive outing across the board and as you shouted five seconds ago, heads for the Erick feds, or something like that. This start doesn’t mean it isn’t a coin flip again when you face Atlanta next Tuesday.

Drew Rasmussen (TB) @ BAL (ND) – 4.2 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 75 pitches.

Blegh. Velocity was down on the cutter and he abandoned the slider a lot here and I’m not in love with that. Now he gets the Jays and of course that’ll be the start he does well, but man this is awfully Toby like, isn’t it? You just don’t know if you should be dropping him or not. Narrator: Probably, if there’s anything that helps.

Domingo Germán (NYY) @ NYM (ND) – 4.2 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 82 pitches.

The curve and change were plenty better here and it propelled the strikeouts, but the Mets got to him a bit and I wonder if this is the last we’ll see of Domingo in the Yankee rotation for a bit with the trade deadline approaching. I wouldn’t hold for the potential Mariners start next Tuesday, even if he makes it. It could work, but the ceiling isn’t worth the potential of a trade that kicks him out of the rotation. Go get a beneficial start this week instead.

Luis Castillo (CIN) vs MIA (W) – 7.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 92 pitches.

Hey, I’ll take it, but I’m sad to see his heater sit just 95/96 mph in this one after he’s flirted with 98 mph for multiple starts. The changeup wasn’t nearly the pitch we know it can be, either, with just 1/20 whiffs and 15% CSW. Blegh. The slider was excellent, though, and I’m excited to see what he does next…for another team. Don’t expect that repeat Miami start to happen for Castillo.

Antonio Senzatela (COL) vs CWS (ND) – 6.2 IP, 3 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 91 pitches.

I feel like a tired father at the pool reading the paper whenever Antonio starts. LOOK DAD! LOOK AT MY START! Oh, woooow what a start Senz-A…

Brad Keller (KC) vs LAA (L) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 90 pitches.

Wow Keller, you just earned a streaming victory with a VPQS and I feel like I’m cheating. It’s the Angels without Trout, bucko. Like me hearing Funkytown, this should be your jam. 

Nathan Eovaldi (BOS) vs CLE (ND) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 9 Hits, 0 BBs, 1 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 95 pitches.

It’s a VPQS with one strikeout (HAISTBMBWT?!) as Eovaldi still sat sub 95 mph (he’s supposed to be 97+). Yeah, there is nothing good about this start. NOTHING. Things are bad here, y’all.

Corbin Burnes (MIL) vs MIN (W) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 11 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 102 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. That’s a Gallows Pole with an annoying third ER standing in the way of pure dominance. I’m sorry McShane, but I can’t demote this man.

Cristian Javier (HOU) @ OAK (L) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 92 pitches.

That third ER looks rough, but he’s essentially one hit away from a 3.60 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and six strikeouts. Baseball really does swing one way or another on one dang pitch. Javier let his four-seamer fall down from the top part of the zone a bit too much here, for what it’s worth, giving the Athletics a chance to mess up the day (which we’ve already gone over, they did), and I hope that pristine command returns next time against the Sawx. I’m doing it.

Lucas Giolito (CWS) @ COL (ND) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 4 BBs, 4 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 104 pitches.

He’s still at 91.8 mph two starts later. Sigh. I don’t care about the line – it was Coors and he was a sit given the velocity concerns – all I cared about was the velocity hitting 93/94 mph again. What do we do here? I don’t think you’ll get a whole lot with your leaguemates, meaning you’re best off holding for another start or two and crossing your fingers the velo climbs back up. The Royals are next and he could survive despite the worse heater – his changeup and slider were good here – but man does this feel icky.

Logan Webb (SF) @ ARI (L) – 6.1 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 94 pitches.

Blegh. That WHIP continues to stay up and he dealt with Careful, Icarus with his final two runs arriving in the seventh. I’m still starting him against the Dodgers and you should too. Don’t let that seventh inning change your mind.

Jon Gray (TEX) @ SEA (L) – 6.1 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 4 BBs, 8 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 36% CSW, 99 pitches.

Speaking of seventh innings ruining things, Gray allowed a hanging slider to Julio Rodríguezwho sent it far for three runs on the board. But boy was this a fun day. Why you ask? The man sat 98 mph on his fastball. This is a guy I’ve been stoked to see sit 96 mph for the last six weeks or so, and now he sits 98 mph?! DUDE. That dang final frame is messing up with your emotions because ya’ll should be STOKED. Gray’s stuff is as good as ever and portends dominance ahead. Go get the man if there’s any way you can. But what about the slider? Oh that? I dunno, just 10 whiffs and 46% CSW. HE’S REALLY GOOD.

Charlie Morton (ATL) @ PHI (L) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 84 pitches.

Blegh. I don’t think Morton was inherently bad, it just didn’t go his way here. Womp womp. Keep starting him.

Tyler Wells (BAL) vs TB (ND) – 4.1 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 69 pitches.

Wells left this one early with a back injury and I wish we could ink Wells in for his next start against Texas, but I’d wager now we won’t see it. Who am I kidding, I’d still put him in the fourth tier, I just had to make the joke. I’M SORRY, AT LEAST I’M HONEST.

Cal Quantrill (CLE) @ BOS (ND) – 5.1 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 95 pitches.

And here I am thinking Quantrill would have a decent chance against a battered Red Sox squad. I think it’s honestly time to stop labeling him a Toby and accept he got away with a lot of his previous success.

Braxton Garrett (MIA) @ CIN (L) – 5.0 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 87 pitches.

Is Garrett going to do well when he doesn’t face the Pirates? Nope. Well yes. But nope. He’s not earning sinker whiffs anymore (Gasp!), but the slider is still cooking at 10/30 whiffs and 53% CSW. It wasn’t all working in the first frame, though (4 ER, yikes), but props to him for recovering and giving managers four solid frames after. If those heaters survive, he can go off with the breaker. Let’s hope he does that hosting the Reds next time instead of dealing with GABP (even if he didn’t allow a HR here).

Kevin Gausman (TOR) vs STL (L) – 4.2 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 86 pitches.

Dude what is going on here. That WHIP continues to soar (did you realize it’s over 1.30 now?! I’ve been vastly overrating him, I APOLOGIZE A LOT). I think I need to remove the AGA label from Gausman after he couldn’t handle the Arenado/Goldschmidt-less Cardinals + the vaccinated Royals. Thing is, I believe he’s dealing with incredibly poor luck from his defense and I don’t inherently think he’s pitching poorly. He’s just more hittable than ever for some reason (10 hits per nine! A .385 BABIP on the year?!) and it’s just one of those things…? Baseball is weird. I’m still starting him but he’s gotta fall into 20s on Monday with that WHIP.

Chris Archer (MIN) @ MIL (L) – 3.0 IP, 6 ER, 3 Hits, 6 BBs, 2 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 78 pitches.

Ahhh yes, the horrible floor that makes us cling to the lantern chain as we yell at the low ceiling for never being enough. Who truly wants a popcorn ceiling!?

Patrick Corbin (WSH) @ LAD (L) – 0.2 IP, 6 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 0 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 13% CSW, 45 pitches.

Oh. OH. That plane ride with Soto is going to be so awkward.

Game of the Day 

Shohei Ohtani vs. Texas Rangers – The man is must-see TV.

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.

Photos by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire and Matt Dodd/Unsplash | Featured Image by Ethan Kaplan (@DJFreddie10 on Twitter and @EthanMKaplanImages on Instagram)

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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