Fantasy Baseball SP Roundup: Willy Wacha and the Glass Elevator

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 Playback.tv weekday mornings from 10 am-12 pm ET.

Michael Wacha (KCR) vs TBR (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 8 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 97 pitches.

I know we’re all focused on the young guys these days, but don’t forget about some of the veteran names like Michael Wacha who went 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 8 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 97 pitches against the Rays on Wednesday. That sole run came on a horrible changeup down the pipe in the first frame that Paredes took YARD and I sure hope you didn’t turn it off after that. Yes, that’s a Gallows Pole. Yes, he should be picked up in most leagues right now.

Put bluntly, when Wacha has his changeup cooking and is living along the edges with everything else, the man dominates. We see these stretches each year from him and this outing came with eight changeup whiffs with a 52% CSW, while the rest of his arsenal was as good as we see it. Cutters stepped up for strikes over the plate (70% strikes!), sliders went 4/14 whiffs, and his fastballs did exactly what they were supposed to do – avoid damage.

He’s locked in and with the Cardinals up next, I’m all for grabbing him and seeing how long he keeps it up. After all, he performed for most of 2023 and we’ve been waiting for this moment all season.


Let’s see how every other SP did Wednesday:


Joey Estes (OAK) vs LAA (W) – 9.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 92 pitches.

HA. Here I was thinking about Spence vs. Estes and thinking Spence had the upper hand after his outing. This was a game of four-seamer domination (11/56 whiffs!), which is a bit shocking when his fastball is not a dominant pitch. Gasp. I’m happy for him, truly, but this is “Blame it on the Angels” and obviously a revenge straight to Davis’ face for what he did last week. Duh. I don’t think he’s a great play against the Sawx up next.

Colin Rea (MIL) @ COL (W) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 97 pitches.

Hot dang, look at you! The Gold Star goes to Rea for seven shutout in Coors. It’s such a boring approach of sinkers and four-seamers over the plate (11/23 cutter strikes are not what you want) and if you must treat him like a mini Vargas Rule, you do you. I ain’t touching this.

Dean Kremer (BAL) @ SEA (W) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 36% CSW, 83 pitches.

Huge props to Kremer here, even against the Mariners. A dub in your Still ILL start with eight strikeouts and a near Golden Goal is fantastic. Great pitch separation with high heaters and low splitters that returned 15 whiffs between them, and his cutter and curve earned enough strikes around the zone to seal the deal. I’m not ready to say this is the Kremer we’ll always see, but at least there’s a decent chance for replication against the Cubs.

Brayan Bello (BOS) @ MIA (W) – 6.2 IP, 1 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 91 pitches.

OH THANK KOUFAX. The changeup was spotted low for 63% strikes, the slider was effective, and the sinker did enough. I’ve seen more precise overall games from Bello, but this was a massive gap from last week’s “I don’t know where it’s going and it’s ruining my relationship with my father” outing. With the Athletics up next, I think we should feel safe. Please don’t be a Dennis. That would be the worst.

Andrew Abbott (CIN) @ NYY (W) – 6.1 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 4 BBs, 2 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 98 pitches.

After allowing six walks and just fanning two, it’s wonderful to see Abbott take a step forward and only walk four batters while striking out two. HE’S SO WEIRD. It’s Rockie Road next in Cin City and I guess we’re just going to start this Cherry Bomb…? Or maybe not, I don’t know what to believe anymore. Is that sweeper going to generate so many outs in the future despite very hittable locations? Can he really return a 25%+ called strike rate on the four-seamer? SO MANY QUESTIONS. It’s just two questions, Nick. SO. MANY.

Chris Sale (ATL) vs SFG (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 9 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 103 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. The man just doesn’t stop.

Erick Fedde (CHW) @ CLE (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 15% CSW, 91 pitches.

Ayyyy, he survived after all! Maybe I was too harsh on Fedde entering Progressive Field, but then again, a 15% CSW isn’t the kind of mark that says “Oh yeah, he totally showed you, Nick!” Love the pitch separation across the board with changeups, cutters, and sweepers, too, and with Minnesota missing Royce, I’m cool starting him next week as he hosts the Twins.

Jared Jones (PIT) vs STL (ND) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 78 pitches.

Jones wasn’t getting the same iVB on his four-seamer still and…what’s this? He left the game with a LAT INJURY?! Baseball. BASEBALL. DON’T DO THIS TO US.

Keider Montero (DET) @ MIN (W) – 6.1 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 80 pitches.

He sat 95/96 with a pair of decent breakers. He’s not bad…though 0/35 whiffs should make you feel a little uneasy. He gave himself a chance by hurling a 77% zone rate fastball and it worked out as he slides into Mize’s spot in the rotation. For now. Get your Jackson Jobe siren ready.

Miles Mikolas (STL) @ PIT (ND) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 87 pitches.

After allowing 9 ER, it seemed reasonable to not go after this one against the Pirates. Narrator: It wasn’t. YES IT WAS, NARRATOR. I liked Mikolas more when the heaters stayed out of the zone (not an 80% zone rate, yeesh) with sliders doing the work for it, but at least we still got the breaker 33% of the time and earning strikes. A date with the Nationals up next ain’t so bad.

Zack Wheeler (PHI) @ CHC (ND) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 102 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. Don’t you just love when the SP #1 pitches exactly as they should?

Yusei Kikuchi (TOR) vs HOU (ND) – 5.2 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 95 pitches.

I know a full six frames or a slightly better WHIP or more than five strikeouts would have been better, but look at that! Kikuchi came through with his sli–oh. What. He split his secondaires evenly between change/curve/slider. And it worked, right? His changeup went 0/16 CSW. Not whiffs. CSW. What. It held a 25% strike rate. WHAT. Come on Kikuchi, stop throwing that dang thing! Your heater is as good as ever, you are SO CLOSE to being the man you’re supposed to be. Go take down the Giants and make us all proud.

Ronel Blanco (HOU) @ TOR (ND) – 5.2 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 99 pitches.

It’s not the prettiest, but he’s finding a way to get through games. This had weirder command than usual, but the slider and changeup still came through for him in the end while the curve got slightly involved too…it probably shouldn’t do a whole lot moving forward.

Ryan Pepiot (TBR) @ KCR (L) – 4.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 0 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 87 pitches.

Jeeeeeez that control was horrendous. This was a shotgun blast of pitches and we should feel lucky this wasn’t worse than it was. It’s frustrating to see after he dominated the Mariners and I’m concerned we may be starting to favor a Cherry Bomb tag for Pepiot. It doesn’t seem right given how uncharacteristic this outing was (three walks with a HAISTBMBWT?! is nothing we’ve seen outside of 2022) and you may want to bench him for his start against the Yankees next to make sure the ship is still on course.

Trevor Rogers (MIA) vs BOS (L) – 3.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 84 pitches.

He needed 41 pitches to complete the third and it forced an early hook. His heater did come in 1/2 ticks harder at 93/94, but I wouldn’t call this the best heater we’ve seen given its questionable command. The slider was a bit inconsistent as well and the change was generally in the right spot down, but not reliable for a strike. We’re not there.

Shota Imanaga (CHC) vs PHI (ND) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 86 pitches.

Aces gonna ace with two home runs. The longball is creeping in and while it’s frustrating, I’m not quite ready to confirm the “Joe Ryan of 2023″ prophecy where he has a tumultuous ROS now that the HRs showed up in any form. He’s at 17″ of iVB now, so I think we’re all good.

Carlos Rodón (NYY) vs CIN (L) – 5.1 IP, 3 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 95 pitches.

Two home runs were the sole issue here as Rodón’s changeup and slider were on point while the heater returned a fantastic 17/18″ of iVB. To see the southpaw throw his secondaries so often in the zone and save his heater for just 26% usage is bizarre to say the least, but he’s trying something new to combat the struggles of the past three weeks. Props to him for that, and honestly, this can work. At the very least, display that you have these pitches (not the curve. 3/13 strikes = lol) and then shift around each one’s usage per game. No, I’m not worried about the velocity dip to 94/95 mph.

Jordan Hicks (SFG) @ ATL (L) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 35% CSW, 89 pitches.

Whoa, a share of the Gallows Pole! Ahhh, the sweeper was the pitch with 10/32 whiffs, but he got Singled Out in the process, returning a 2.00 WHIP. You simply can’t have it all, can you? The strikeouts don’t make up for the poor ratios and if you want to take a chance that the sweeper can succeed a second time, go right ahead. I think I’m going to pass for now.

Dakota Hudson (COL) vs MIL (L) – 4.2 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 90 pitches.

COL story, bro.

Jon Gray (TEX) vs SDP (ND) – 4.0 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 77 pitches.

Blegh. It wasn’t a terrible approach, it was simply just a 15% CSW slider. That pitch has to dominate for this to work.

Christian Scott (NYM) @ WSN (ND) – 5.2 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 99 pitches.

Bleeeeegh. Scott went just 1/52 four-seamer whiffs while the sweeper couldn’t cover the slack and that’s your ballgame. Well, he was cruising until he allowed a three-run shot to Garcia in the sixth on his final pitch. Okay, totally fair – that’s a Careful, Icarus on a poor sweeper to a LHB. BUT STILL, he wasn’t dominating as he normally does and it’s hard not to be a little annoyed by it. He gets the Pirates next, though, so we keep it going and expect better moving forward.

Logan Gilbert (SEA) vs BAL (L) – 5.1 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 88 pitches.

Aces gonna disappoint against a tough offense. I kinda dug the whole approach, it just didn’t go quite as planned, with too many secondaries missing too far down and under the plate. I’m still a fan of the new Gilbert so let’s treat this like a One Night Bland against a legit offense.

Davis Daniel (LAA) @ OAK (L) – 5.1 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 22% CSW, 88 pitches.

Womp womp. He couldn’t do it a second time because…well…he’s not that great. He’s a Toby at best and I wouldn’t stream him against the Rangers. There’s just nothing that pops out here.

Adam Mazur (SDP) @ TEX (ND) – 4.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 74 pitches.

Nope, still waiting for that start to get us interested in Mazur. At least he’s trying to fill the zone with sliders and be precise upstairs with his heater – the Dancing With The Disco method and I’m here for it…if he can pull off the rest of his arsenal decently well. I’m sure we’ll see it soon enough if he keeps getting chances.

Cristian Mena (ARI) @ LAD (ND) – 3.0 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 70 pitches.

Blegh. Welcome to the bigs, Mena. The curve did its best but MLB debut jitters probably made this worse and, you know, The Dodgers. Let’s wait and see if Mena can be something of intrigue before doing anything here.

Gavin Stone (LAD) vs ARI (ND) – 3.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 77 pitches.

So he is mortal…When the changeup isn’t the main offering (21% usage and his least-thrown pitch), he usually has a bad time. It’s not like he placed it poorly, either, and the slider was lovely gloveside as well. It was just one of those days, y’all.

Mitchell Parker (WSN) vs NYM (ND) – 6.0 IP, 5 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 84 pitches.

The splitter came in two ticks harder and combined with the slider, they went 45% CSW across 29 pitches while the curve went 50% CSW across 18 thrown. The heater was that bad, huh? Nah, he just allowed a pair of home runs on it. Mitchell looked pretty great, honestly, and even that hook got laced for a tater, too. I’m still in against the Cardinals.

Gavin Williams (CLE) vs CHW (L) – 4.0 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 74 pitches.

Womp womp. I was hoping Still ILL wasn’t going to apply as Williams’ final rehab start made him look perfectly normal and while the velocity and extension were certainly elite, the iVB was not at sub 14″ levels. That’s not right, he should be around 16/17″ of vertical break and without it, his heater allowed five hits in the zone. His curve was surprisingly 7/10 strikes with some great chases down, though his cutter (formerly labeled as a slider) tried to be a decent strike pitch but wasn’t successful enough (sub 60% strikes) to help nullify the lack of heater domination. I don’t think he’s far off; just get the vert back and we’re solid. Take the shot against the Tigers.

David Festa (MIN) vs DET (L) – 5.0 IP, 7 ER, 9 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 81 pitches.

Well, shoot. Festa didn’t look nearly as bad as the line suggests and I actually really dug his approach of four-seamers upstairs and changeups + sliders underneath. However, he allowed a longball on each of his pitches (including a heater at the very top of the zone) and he featured too many pitches around the middle of the plate instead of the intended edges. This outing certainly feels like a blow and I know y’all want to drop him, but I’m sticking with the youngin’. He gets the CrySox next and I believe in his skills to make it work.

Game of the Day


Corbin Burnes vs. Bryce Miller – An ace and a young fella who just showed promise with his secondaries? Sign me up.

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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