Fantasy Baseball SP Roundup – The Tanner Saga

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

Tanner Houck (BOS) vs NYY (W) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks – 19 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 105 pitches.

I remember when Tanner Houck was all the rage entering the 2022 season after giving us a lovely exhibition in the fall of 2021 with a 30% strikeout rate. The skills we saw then didn’t come to fruition in 2022 nor much of this year, but they were on full display against the Yankees on Thursday, catalyzing a lovely 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks – 19 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 105 pitches performance.

I’m talking about Houck’s glorious slider that returned 13 whiffs as it was finally turned to over 50% of the time at 34% CSW. It’s far and away his best pitch and I’m not sure why it took so long for him to feature it so heavily (okay, outside of the one outing against the Dodgers). Meanwhile, the sinker was decent, the splitter was blegh and…yeah this was just the slider.

That’s the problem here. It breaks the Huascar Rule and Ynoa better than trusting Houck implicitly moving forward. He’s a Cherry Bomb because of that slide piece and with a date against the Rangers next, I see that as a trap play. You’re fine targeting him for the White Sox after, but I don’t think it’s worth stashing on the bench for the next ten days to get it.


Let’s see how every other SP did Thursday:


Mitch Keller (PIT) vs WSH (W) – 8.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 92 pitches.

You see, Atlanta is an unstoppable force and once removed, things get back to normal. It’s a tough call against the Cubs and Phillies up next, but I think he’s been too successful against non-Georgia-based teams and you should at least test the waters with the Cubs.

Kodai Senga (NYM) vs ARI (W) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 10 Ks – 19 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 103 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. That’s another Gallows Pole for Senga with his forkball leading the way as you want it to. 11/38 whiffs is lovely, moreso is the 61% strike rate that masked the uncharacteristically unreliable cutter. Two more starts to go to cap a lovely season that I won’t be chasing in drafts next year.

Nick Robertson (BOS) vs NYY (ND) – 1.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 47% CSW, 15 pitches.

This was a bullpen game for the Sawx and I wish we saw Garrett Whitlock get some bulk innings. I miss him inside the rotation. 2024 sleeper SP incoming…

Reese Olson (DET) vs CIN (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 4 BBs, 7 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 94 pitches.

Atta boy Olson. Sure, we don’t like the walks and just four whiffs is awfully strange to see with seven strikeouts, and the changeup went just 19% CSW…and the curve was meh…and the slider was 1/27 whiffs…Wait, how did you do this? Ohhhhh Blame it on the Reds. It also was a well-spotted slider that earned plenty of outs, just not breezes filled with failure. What. That’s me describing a whiff. I’m sorry, I needed to project my insecurities with unnecessarily verbose writing for a moment. Don’t ask, egos are weird. ANYWAY, I can’t trust Olson against the Dodgers with these skills, but at least we can come back after for the Royals – he’s under 20% rostered, so he should still be on the wire.

Michael King (NYY) @ BOS (L) – 4.2 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 87 pitches.

Duuuude, is that truly a real thing now?! I guess I gotta do a video on him now, huh? It’s a lot of pounding the zone, but in different ways. Here with high four-seamers, sinkers low, and sweepers all across the bottom third. The changeup didn’t do as much as we’ve seen, but it should be more present in the future, especially now that he’s nearing 90 pitches. Soooo we’re starting him against the Jays now, right? I don’t think we have a choice.

Derek Law (CIN) @ DET (L) – 1.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 1 Ks – 2 Whiffs, 22% CSW, 27 pitches.

Two openers for Ben Lively didn’t help him prevent three runs in 4.1 frames. I don’t know why you’d chase this. The potential vulture Win! There has to be a better option.

Kenta Maeda (MIN) @ CWS (W) – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 105 pitches.

Ohhhhh snap you have to love seeing Maeda return 9/38 whiffs on his splitter with a 71% strike rate. He spotted it brilliantly, while his heaters were able to find the zone effectively enough against the White Sox. This also wasn’t Maeda’s best slider, but with a splitter that good, it didn’t matter. He gets the Reds and Oakland next and now I’m kinda tempted to start him against the Reds in Cincy. But the slider isn’t great and splitters are volatility! Okay, that’s a solid point. Go with your gut.

Josiah Gray (WSH) @ PIT (L) – 6.1 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 10 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 34% CSW, 88 pitches.

Well ain’t that a Gold StarHis sweeper and cutter dominated the Pirates and his sinker found gloves in play. It’s the dream for Gray – he had a near 70% strike rate! – and unlikely to be repeated. I hope you had some fantastic cake at your Birthday PartyIt was a sponge cake. Do people actually request that? “Hi, I’d like a cake that has less cake in it. Thanks.”

Adrian Houser (MIL) vs MIA (W) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 38% CSW, 82 pitches.

Look at Houser go in his return from the IL. A King Cole with production across the board despite still being boring is as Houser as it gets. It’s a coin flip against the Cards and Marlins (again) for his next two.

Nathan Eovaldi (TEX) @ TOR (ND) – 3.1 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 73 pitches.

I expected nothing and I’m still disappointed. At least he’s up to 93 pitches, but his heater sat 93.9 mph. We can’t live like this.

Clarke Schmidt (NYY) @ BOS (ND) – 5.1 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 88 pitches.

Womp womp. I heavily debated this one as we had to wait multiple days to finally see Schmidt make this start. I settled for the end of the Probably Start tier, and I obviously regret it. With the Jays up next, I want to say we still take a shot (you could argue the postponements threw off his rhythm), especially when you consider the Red Sox as an elite offense inside Fenway. Good luck, y’all.

Aaron Civale (TB) @ BAL (ND) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 87 pitches.

Oh snap, the beautifully done BSB returned! That’s two of Civale’s last three with cutters up and curveballs down, pulling off the Canibal McSanchez en route to eight strikeouts. But the ERA! You mean the most overrated stat in fantasy? It was one extra ER for a 1.00 WHIP and eight strikeouts. Be happy.

Eury Pérez (MIA) @ MIL (L) – 4.2 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 85 pitches.

It’s strange to see just 4.2 IP across 85 pitches for a guy throwing two-thirds strikes, but it was all fastball as the curve and slider combined for a 41% strike rate across 34 pitches. Yikes. That’s the Shag Rug showing up and it’s all kinds of annoying as we know how good Pérez can be. It’s right there, kiddo. This is how development presents itself: contorted and uncomfortable. It’s not all daisies and Chris Roses. That said, we keep holding Eury. He’s not this guy.

Kyle Bradish (BAL) vs TB (L) – 7.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 100 pitches.

It’s not as golden as we’ve seen from Bradish (10 balls in play off of fastballs isn’t ideal) and he battled for seven frames in a big game for the Orioles. It’s a tough call against the Astros up next, but I think we have to do it at this point.

Kevin Gausman (TOR) vs TEX (L) – 4.2 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 6 BBs, 5 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 109 pitches.

Aces gonna…WHAT IS GOING ON THIS WEEK. Ohhhh right, it’s playoffs time. Obviously all the guys who have carried you to the finish line are messing you up now. That’s fantasy baseball, Suzyn. You know, I remember an awesome reader sending me their thoughts about grading the Top 30 SP based on their September schedules – might as well favor those who have the best chance of helping at the end of the year, right? I think this week showcases how we cannot rely on September schedules too far in advance. It’s helpful, but the short term should always take preference.

José Ureña (CWS) vs MIN (L) – 6.1 IP, 6 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 8 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 90 pitches.

Pffffft, eight strikeouts?! His changeup and slider each returned six whiffs (somehow) and despite the massive whiffs, y’all know this ain’t it. Remember kids, If you start José, Ureña boatload of trouble.

Merrill Kelly (ARI) @ NYM (L) – 5.0 IP, 7 ER, 6 Hits, 4 BBs, 7 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 34% CSW, 98 pitches.

SEE?! Sure, Kelly isn’t on the same level as someone like Gausman, but he’s been such a rock for you all year and now he’s sitting just 90/91 mph and you have to hope he’s healthy and not fatigued through a long season. Whatever speculation I have here, it doesn’t matter – he gets the Giants + White Sox next and he’s not leaving your lineup if he’s on the bump.


Game of the Day


Bobby Miller vs. George Kirby – Now that’s some futures game fun.

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.

Photo by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire | Adapted 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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