Welcome to the SP Roundup, my daily fantasy baseball article reviewing every starting pitcher’s performance from every Saturday 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.
John Means (BAL) @ CLE (W) – 7.1 IP, 1 ER, 1 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 96 pitches.
We often see pitchers return from TJS in September, giving us a glimpse of what to expect in a full season round the corner. John Means has now made three starts and easily his most impressive was Saturday’s 7.1 IP, 1 ER, 1 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 96 pitches, flexing the Toby life he once lived. However, did it come with the skills we were looking for?
The Guardians helped Means out plenty. His first frame was just five pitches as they swatted a slider and two heaters into gloves, and it perfectly summarized all 96 pitches. Means didn’t pitch his best in the slightest – his changeup was floated to the heart of the zone a ton, his breakers were mediocre, and his 91/92 mph fastball held a sub 60% strike rate – but he challenged the Guardians enough to let their swing aggression beat them.
It’s not the blueprint I want from Means. He’s at his best spotting changeups and fastballs around the edges, and our excitement in 2022 came from the new polish on his secondaries. We’re not there yet, sadly, and starting him next weekend against the Red Sox still carries danger. We’re not out of the woods yet.
Let’s see how every other SP did Saturday:
Jordan Montgomery (TEX) vs SEA (W) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 102 pitches.
The curve showed up again, but the changeup returned nearly a 25% SwStr rate was the biggest improvement here. It’s lovely seeing The Bear come through when you’ve needed him most and there’s no reason to anticipate him failing you one more time in a repeat matchup.
Nick Pivetta (BOS) vs CWS (ND) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 92 pitches.
YES. Atta boy Pivetta. His four-seamer did most of the work as his breakers found strikes and the White Sox couldn’t handle it. It wasn’t the best work I’ve seen from Pivetta with his curve and sweeper/slider, but throwing solid breaking ball strikes with a great fastball is all you need to do against Chicago. The Orioles will be a bit tougher, but I think we roll with this.
Dylan Cease (CWS) @ BOS (ND) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 11 Ks – 23 Whiffs, 38% CSW, 108 pitches.
Hot dang, look at you! That’s a Golden Goal for Cease as he spotted fastballs beautifully upstairs (47% CSW, 14/55 whiffs is absurd) with his slider down + curves in the zone for strikes. This is the approach Cease should have every game. Unfortunately, while I believe he tries to do this when he’s on the bump, he’s normally not able to carry this precision.
Joe Boyle (OAK) vs DET (W) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 94 pitches.
Hey Boyole! I’m surprised the Althetics let him go 94 pitches after just three frames in his MLB debut and what we got was a slider that carried him through the game with a 70% strike rate + a 97 mph heater that could be a whiff machine if he’s able to get it upstairs as it comes with a ton of vertical break. Huh. This might be one of the fun sleepers of 2024. The major question is if we can rely on both his fastball and slider to earn enough strikes throughout a game + can he consistently get the heater upstairs. It’s hard to expect success as a two-pitch guy if we question his precision, though, so I’d love to see something else he can turn to when one of the heater and slider fail him (maybe the curve…? Just five thrown here). Fun stuff. He’s a Cherry Bomb play against the Angels this week as he obviously carries the Shag Rug.
Zack Littell (TB) vs TOR (ND) – 5.2 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 99 pitches.
Oh look, another solid game from Littell WITHOUT A WIN. This is your Gold Star with the stellar production against the mighty Jays and I loved seeing his splitter go 7/19 whiffs out of nowhere. What is it with these sneaky splitters? I’m looking at you, Quantrill. Anyway, he’ll get the Jays a second time and it wouldn’t be wise to anticipate the same production. In fact, I’d say this looked more like a good night with regression likely hitting the next time out. It’s a whole lot of sliders in the zone with surprise fastballs + splitters and it’s not something that we can rely on from Littell.
Kenny Rosenberg (LAA) @ MIN (W) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 91 pitches.
Look at that. A Win from Kenny for this discount Toby (I thought a Toby already was a discount) as his changeup + four-seamer did enough work to get through the Twins. Now he gets the Athletics and there’s a shot he gives you another Win or QS there. Gotta love those super under-rostered guys who can squeeze out some production this late in the season.
Clayton Kershaw (LAD) vs SF (W) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 76 pitches.
That’s TATIAGA for you. We knew it would be limited, though 76 pitches is a little more than I expected. He’s not the guy he used to be at just 88/89 mph and a 20% CSW slider (I really hope this isn’t the end), but he’s finding a way to make it work. One more start could be in the books inside Coors and that’s another Questionable Start. They’ll limit him again, especially with the playoffs around the corner.
Jordan Lyles (KC) @ HOU (W) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 20% CSW, 82 pitches.
I’m not only shocked this worked out, but it’s also what PL Bot streamed. Unreal. What a Werewolf.
Nick Martinez (SD) vs STL (ND) – 4.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 62 pitches.
You know, across the last four games Martinez has started for the Padres, he’s gone 17 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.65 WHIP, 17 strikeouts. JUST SAYIN’. Anyway, Pedro Avila followed for a pair of runs in 2.2 IP and didn’t secure a Win. Let Nick start FOR REAL.
Miguel Díaz (DET) @ OAK (ND) – 1.1 IP, 0 ER, 0 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 35% CSW, 20 pitches.
He opened for Joey Wentz, who came through for desperate managers via 5.2 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks across 80 pitches. Just four hard hit balls allowed as well and it’s a joy to see Wentz get an opportunity and flex 50% called strikes on his cutter + 7/20 whiffs on changeups. Lovely command all-around and it even makes me wonder if he can be sneaky value against a better team like Cleveland. Naaaaah, that’s pushing our luck too much.
Sonny Gray (MIN) vs LAA (L) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 8 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 93 pitches.
What a fantastic season this has been for Sonny, who could be argued as the Queen of the Hollys now that he has a 2.80 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and just under a 25% strikeout rate. One more game to go in Coors and we’re gonna do it, even if he only returned three whiffs on non-fastballs here.
Cal Quantrill (CLE) vs BAL (L) – 4.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 4 BBs, 4 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 93 pitches.
So the curve is now shelved, but the splitter was used 43% of the time and paired with his sinker. Why he’s avoiding his cutter is beyond me – 80% CSW across ten thrown?! – and if he gets the Tigers for one more outing, I’d give it a whirl. I can’t imagine he sticks with splitter/sinker nearly 80% of the time and resists that cutter.
Jake Woodford (STL) @ SD (ND) – 3.2 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 78 pitches.
The Amish Mustang hath returned! ON A SATURDAY. The Amish celebrate the Sabbath on Sundays, not Saturdays. Ahhhhhh. ANYWAY, um, well, there isn’t much to say. He’s not a guy to go for in your leagues and you already knew that. Welp, see ya later.
John Brebbia (SF) @ LAD (L) – 1.1 IP, 1 ER, 1 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks – 2 Whiffs, 35% CSW, 20 pitches.
We eventually got 80 pitches of Ross Stripling, who returned 4 ER in 4 IP. It’s the Dodgers, after all.
Logan Gilbert (SEA) @ TEX (L) – 5.2 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 4 BBs, 2 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 94 pitches.
Whoaaaaa, I never thought I’d see the day of 50% sliders from Gilbert, but I completely understand with his four-seamer letting him down in the second-half of the season. It was more of the same there with just 2/25 whiffs on the heater (even at 96/97!) and now he has one more game…against the same squad. Still a Cherry Bomb and I worry about that fastball for 2024.
Chris Flexen (COL) @ CHC (ND) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 17% CSW, 92 pitches.
Atta boy Flexen! We’ll absolutely take this, even if it’s a HAISTBMBWT?! along the way. When the locations are good, he can make it work for the smallest of ERA upside. But the WHIP, lack of Win, and just one strikeout makes this not worth it. I know, I know, but we have to celebrate the little things in life, you know?
J.P. France (HOU) vs KC (L) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 91 pitches.
Sure, it’s not a Win nor a good WHIP, but it’s much better than what we saw last time he faced Kansas City and his fastball did a whole lot of work here, paired with an array of secondaries. It’s still a coin flip for his start against the Mariners, though, and with the heightened energy of that game in Seattle, I’d honestly hold off on France. It’s gonna be intense.
Zack Wheeler (PHI) vs NYM (W) – 7.0 IP, 3 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 99 pitches.
Aces gonna have a stupid good four-seamer and nothing else. Seriously, 14/61 whiffs on the pitch and 0/38 on the rest. The man knows his strengths and powers through. Yes, I’m a little worried about his 1-2 tick drop in velocity, but we’ve seen that before from Wheeler only for him to get it back the following start. One more to go and we’re not holding back.
Connor Phillips (CIN) vs PIT (ND) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 9 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 99 pitches.
Awwww, so close to a solid stream here. The strikeouts are obviously fantastic, but the ratios pull this too far down, especially without a Win (I still can’t believe Cincy lost that lead). Consider him against the Cardinals as a Cherry Bomb – he breaks the Huascar Rule, but that’s for stability, not flash-in-the-pan moments of bliss that could be a gamechanger this late in the season. The strikeouts are real with a sweeper that returned 47% CSW here.
Jesús Luzardo (MIA) vs MIL (ND) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 86 pitches.
Ehhhhh, that’s two straight underwhelming outings against the Brewers and I’m blaming his four-seamer and slider for finding far too much of the plate here. But he walked three! That’s often how it is – you can’t sequence and spot pitches as you normally do, which creates worse at-bats overall. This was a weird one and I imagine his final game against the Pirates will be far better.
Marcus Stroman (CHC) vs COL (ND) – 3.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 20% CSW, 64 pitches.
Oh snap, he’s back! And not worth our time! What?! Why? Because he’ll get Atlanta next and he’s only at 64 pitches here, likely around 75-80 for his final start. Oh. Yeah, not fun.
Brandon Woodruff (MIL) @ MIA (ND) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 87 pitches.
Aces gonna come up short. He was over a tick down on everything while his command was horrible, even if the damage was really just a first-inning three-run shot. We’re talking sinkers down the pipe all day. Something was off in this one and as long as it’s not an injury, we’re brushing it off.
José Quintana (NYM) @ PHI (L) – 6.0 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 10 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 103 pitches.
So the ratios make all the sense against the Phils but ten strikeouts? TEN?! When the precision was there, he killed it. When his sinker landed in the heart of the plate (which it did a lot), he was punished for it. That’s Baseball, Suzyn. I’m not expecting the punchouts to return, while the ratios are still very much in jeopardy when he gets the Phillies a second time next weekend.
Hyun Jin Ryu (TOR) @ TB (ND) – 4.1 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 89 pitches.
Bleeeeegh. He’s a Toby and the Rays haven’t been an elite offense to fear. Ryu’s changeup was precise down-and-away and sometimes, things just don’t go your way. But his cutter had a sub 50% strike rate. Okay fine, sometimes things don’t go your way and you aren’t at your best. Thanks.
Bailey Falter (PIT) @ CIN (ND) – 2.0 IP, 8 ER, 9 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 57 pitches.
Ouch. I didn’t have a whole lot of hope here for Falter as he was destined to be on a pitch count of some kind, but 8 ER in 2 IP? Jeeeeeez. Welp, leave him on the wire, of course.
Game of the Day
But Nick?! Where are the streaming picks? – I’ve moved them to the daily SP Matchups & Streamer Rankings article.
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