Just How He Drew It Up

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 9 am-11 am ET.  

Drew Smyly (CHC) @ CIN (ND) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 9 Ks – 18 Whiffs, 36% CSW, 91 pitches.

Look, I wanted to go with Smyly Like You Mean It, but I did that three years ago and have wanted to do it every start after. There won’t be a better Drew Smyly headline. But why do you want to do a Smyly headline in the first place? Because the man dominated tonight via 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 9 Ks – 18 Whiffs, 36% CSW, 91 pitches, earning a Win among the corn. Yes, eighteen whole whiffs for Mr. Smyly.

First of all, I’m going to give you a terrible take. I don’t like the Field of Dreams game. Why? BECAUSE WE DON’T GET STATCAST DATA. Don’t worry, I watched all of this start, but I didn’t chart the dang thing, making it tougher to be exact and that’s annoying. I WANT MY DATA.

Ahem. I apologize for that. How did Smyly do this? Pretty simple – the same way he’s been returning 1 ER or fewer across now four of his last five games: lots of curveballs down in the zone. I saw him around 92 mph or so and trying to get that cutter inside to right-handers, but really, it’s the resurgence of his curve and with the Reds not in Cincy, it made for a lovely day in the cornfield.

What’s wonderful is his date with Natty Lite next. Yep, you’re free to pick him up for that start – the man is locked in with his breaker and let’s coast on this. No, it’s not the 2020 surge where he had a 94 mph heater, but a 20% SwStr curveball works against poor offenses. Take the chance.


Let’s see how every other SP did Thursday:


Framber Valdez (HOU) vs TEX (W) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 21 Whiffs, 39% CSW, 103 pitches.

There’s a part of me that wants to give Framber the AGA tag, but then I remembered he allowed 3 ER in each of his last three games, collecting a 1.25 WHIP across them. A Golden Goal start against the Rangers doesn’t cleanse the blemished record. Sweet curveball, though.

Zack Greinke (KC) vs CWS (W) – 6.1 IP, 0 ER, 9 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 95 pitches.

Hey, solid work Greinke. Can you limit the hits a bit in the future, though? K thx. Oh, wait wait wait. Don’t you dare start him against the Twins. Limit them after that start. K thx for real this time.

Edward Cabrera (MIA) @ PHI (W) – 5.2 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 91 pitches.

So the man had an 18% zone rate last time out and was able to stay along the edges this time without relying too heavily on O-Swing%, and I was pretty impressed by his slider returning 9/18 CSW for a luscious 50% clip (I know you can do simple math, but I’m here to help). If Cabrera can do that with any regularity, he already has the changeup and 95/96 mph velocity and he will continue to soar. I sure hope that’s the case.

Zach Plesac (CLE) @ DET (ND) – 6.1 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 100 pitches.

I’m proud of you, Plesac. It’s the Tigers and you did exactly what you should do against the Tigers. He was back to his old ways with a 74% strike rate on changeups + 6/14 whiffs with sliders. That’s the Plesac way and y’all should be thrilled he faces them again next week.

Dylan Cease (CWS) @ KC (L) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks – 19 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 94 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. The slider was…better, though he spiked far more than we usually see, but those he didn’t were glorious. So fine. I’m pretty sure I’m fading him next year as this season feels so dang strange with his inconsistency, and I really wish I could just join the party like everyone else. That said, I was obviously wrong about Cease this year and it’s fun to see him really lean into that slide piece. It’s a phenomenal pitch.

Garrett Hill (DET) vs CLE (ND) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 20% CSW, 89 pitches.

I’m not sure how to properly convey the eye roll I just gave looking at this line, so you’ll have to do with this horrid sentence instead. That’s a HAISTBMBWT?! as he survived five frames and I really just don’t care for it. We don’t chase these.

Germán Márquez (COL) vs STL (ND) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 103 pitches.

Márquez, you have to do a lot more than this to get us back on your side. It’s like stealing my bag of chips and offering a few back. Want a chip? Sure…WAIT. I WANT THE WHOLE DANG BAG.

Kyle Gibson (PHI) vs MIA (L) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 22% CSW, 90 pitches.

That WHIP ain’t fun against the Marlins but yeah, that’s alright with me. This is as Toby as they come.

JT Brubaker (PIT) @ ARI (ND) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 35% CSW, 92 pitches.

That’s production across the board as his sinker earned called strikes and the breakers returned nine whiffs (the curveball was especially lovely today). I’m glad it worked out for him this time, I’m not ready to start believing it’s consistent, though, especially with the Sawx next. Coffee Cakes may burn next time it’s battered up.

Dakota Hudson (STL) @ COL (ND) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 6 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 75 pitches.

Of course Hudson was going to survive Coors. It all makes sense now! No it doesn’t. No. No it doesn’t.

Josh Winckowski (BOS) vs BAL (ND) – 5.2 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 93 pitches.

Winck is a cheap Win option and he did his part, serving us a Phillybut he couldn’t get that final out to be in the game when the Sawx scored the fourth run, nor could he escape the sixth without allowing all three runs. So close, Winck. So close.

Merrill Kelly (ARI) vs PIT (ND) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 99 pitches.

It’s been a magical season and the Pirates are the team to make you stumble?! Really?! Okay fine, it was just a weird fourth inning that did him in, but still. He gets the Giants and Cardinals next and we’re still starting him, of course.

Dean Kremer (BAL) @ BOS (L) – 5.2 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 34% CSW, 87 pitches.

The heater performed far better than I expected at 46% CSW and eight whiffs, but there wasn’t anything proper to back it up – it’s the Girby problem. Don’t you mean Gilbert? No, I mean Girby. Kremer gets the Jays next and that’s an avoid, but I’m watching this for when he faces a weak team down the road.

Nick Lodolo (CIN) vs CHC (ND) – 4.2 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 4 BBs, 6 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 98 pitches.

Yeah this ain’t great. A fair amount of the damage came in the first after an 0-2 curve HBP, followed by three straight hits without a single ball thrown. Lodolo was multiple times one pitch away and the Cubs laced his stuff. Blegh. He never got properly settled after that and I regret everything. It doesn’t mean he can’t perform well against the Phils, but it feels a lot riskier after this. He’ll be at the bottom of the Questionable Start tier for that one, as he’s currently labeled as a Cherry Bomb.

Cole Ragans (TEX) @ HOU (L) – 4.1 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 1 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 18% CSW, 88 pitches.

I still dig the man’s mechanics, but the Astros are a tough draw and he’s not there with his stuff yet. He’ll click one day and turn into the streaming option we want him to be. You’ll see. Against the Athletics next week? There’s a chance, but that feels like not enough reward for the risk.

Game of the Day


Tyler Mahle vs. Patrick Sandoval – Mahle deserves a good outing + The Irish Panda could have his day of redemption.

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 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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