Stale Coffee Cakes

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Tuesday.

JT Brubaker @ STL (L) – 5.2 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 22% CSW, 89 pitches.

Yes yes yes, something special happened tonight but before then, I feel we have to talk about the elephant in the room JT Brubaker aka Coffee Cakes and his frustrating 5.2 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks outing against the Cardinals. We had been celebrating a Vargas Rule through the year as it always seemed a bit… unnatural for Brubaker to perform this well and this could be construed as the figurative wall.

His slider earned seven whiffs, but just 24% CSW as batters made contact constantly inside the zone, while his four-seamer returned just a 15% clip and was more hittable than we want. His curveball and changeup barely did anything, though his sinker did help with a bevy of called strikes. The whole approach can work when the BABIP is a bit more favorable and I’m not sure I’m jumping off quite yet. It’s @ATL and Rockie Road next and imagining this as a two-start package, I think the Atlanta outing can be decent enough to justify the hold through the Rockies. Let’s just hope that BABIP is a little better next time.


Let’s see how every other SP did Tuesday:


Spencer Turnbull @ SEA (W) – 9.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 Hits, 2 BBs, 9 Ks – 19 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 117 pitches.

Okay, okay, we’ll talk about Turnbull now as he tossed a no-hitter against the Mariners as my streaming pick of the day. Streaming Record: 30-15. Pretty wild how that worked out and I have to think this is helping Turnbull get into his head that four-seamers + sliders are the way to go the pair made up 75% of his pitches in this one. His four-seamer is getting a bit more cut action than I expected to see, acting like a true cutter at times at 94 mph and helping him earn 12 whiffs across 50 thrown. That’s wonderful. What’s also fantastic is that we can keep holding onto him as he faces Cleveland next you know, the other team to get no-hit twice this season. Do I think Turnbull is now a must-own and en route to a breakout season? Probably not as it’s just those two pitches and I’m not sold they are as overwhelming as tonight’s line suggests, but hey he’s on a roll like butter and let’s see where this goes.

Hyun Jin Ryu vs BOS (W) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 100 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. He’s really doing wonderful things as he scoffs at Dunedin and the resurgent Red Sox lineup. Changeups and cutters got outs, while four-seamers earned a 44% CSW. Love that role reversal.

Zack Wheeler vs MIA (ND) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 10 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 38% CSW, 92 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. Wonderful to see him almost earn a King Cole when he’s been famously low on the CSW leaderboards so far. I kinda expect him to be down there as typically four-seamers aren’t CSW heroes secondary pitches are. But hey, here’s a 43% CSW night for his four-seamer and BAM! Seven shutout innings. It’s hard not to fall for that pitch.

Miguel Castro @ ATL (ND) – 1.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 Hits, 0 BBs, 1 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 55% CSW, 11 pitches.

Ladies and Gentleman, it’s bullpen night and I’m your MC for the evening, here to kick things off. Don’t worry, you’ll forget all about me. That’s my job.

Kris Bubic vs MIL (ND) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 85 pitches.

Hey, Bubic is back! And that changeup ain’t so bad. He’s still a bit all over the place, though, and I’d have my hesitations starting him next week, even if it is the Rays. Let’s wait and see a bit more first.

Cody Poteet @ PHI (ND) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 85 pitches.

Oh hey, Cody got the call for another outing and this one worked out a bit better for him. I stand by the original assessment that he ain’t so bad, but it’s like he’s squatting with how close he is to the floor. Why are you squatting? Don’t you know you can stand?!  He could get the banged-up Mets next but even there, I don’t think he’s worth the risk.

Anthony DeSclafani @ CIN (W) – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 107 pitches.

This was a tough matchup… right?! Okay, the Reds are a volatile offense, and they sure didn’t bring it tonight. That’s not to say that Tony Disco pitched poorly he didn’t but he’s not the ace this line suggests. This was fastball/slider with a decent amount of hittable sliders. Solid heater around the edges, though. But hey, that’s the Dodgers twice now, and that’s a naaaaah.

Austin Gomber @ SD (ND) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 96 pitches.

Hey, this is pretty dang impressive from Gomber. Sure, the Padres were still missing some key players in the lineup and it was outside of Coors, but you still have to pull it off. His slider and changeup combined for 11/41 whiffs and it’s making you consider next week as he heads to New York to face the Mets. It’s awfully tempting with their injured lineup + he gets the Pirates after…maybe just for deeper leagues.

Blake Snell vs COL (ND) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 11 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 34% CSW, 97 pitches.

No-hitter, schmo-schmitter, this is the wildest thing that happened tonight as Snell finally tossed six full innings. AND WE ALL REJOICED. He still didn’t get quite as many breakers in the zone as I would have liked, but he threw fewer mistakes with them, leading to 62% CSW on sliders and 38% on curveballs. That’ll work, especially against Rockie Road. Now he gets Milwaukee and good times should keep on comin’.

Brandon Woodruff @ KC (L) – 7.2 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 20% CSW, 98 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. Can I just get a few more ketchup packets strikeouts, please? I know it’s hard to do that when you earn 9% CSW on 33 sinkers and I get that a low CSW can mean more outs in the field –> 7.2 IP with fewer than 100 pitches, but still, we need to feast over here.

Julio Urías vs ARI (W) – 6.2 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 8 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 39% CSW, 92 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. That’s a King Cole for Urías as he essentially went two-pitch with four-seamers and curveballs. That new breaker is stupid good at 53% CSW and you gotta love his confidence to continue tossing it. Even with the Astros next, we’re feeling good here.

Justin Dunn vs DET (L) – 5.2 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 9 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 94 pitches.

With all the Turnbull hoop-la, I think this start may get a bit lost in the shuffle. Sure, it was against the Tigers, but Dunn sat 94 mph (great!) and earned 10 whiffs on 45 curveballs & sliders. That’s what we want to see, and we may be at the point where it’s worthwhile to start him against the Athletics next time out. I’d reserve that for deeper leagues but I wouldn’t be shocked if it worked.

Lance Lynn @ MIN (ND) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 22% CSW, 109 pitches.

Aces gonna somehow earn just two strikeouts. I’m glad we can trust Lynn to do everything in his power to go a full six frames and in no way are we upset, I’m just shocked he went 41% cutter in this one. The man is built on fastballs and earned…0/25 whiffs on four-seamers. Wild. He adjusted and made it work. That’s what aces do.

John Gant vs PIT (W) – 5.1 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 81 pitches.

It’s not supposed to keep working but it does. I’m not trusting him against the White Sox next, no way, not for me, he is getting too lucky now and it’s terrifying.

Zach Davies vs WSH (ND) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 77 pitches.

Blegh. Nothing about this start helped you as he earned just one strikeout with his measly four whiffs – HAISTFMFWT?! – and if you can’t start Davies against the Nationals, it makes his options incredibly limited. Not everyone can face the Mariners, sadly.

Luis Castillo vs SF (L) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 3 BBs, 11 Ks – 21 Whiffs, 37% CSW, 91 pitches.

Are you laughing? I’m laughing. You have to be able to laugh at this stuff. That’s a Gallows Pole with eleven strikeouts…AND IT WAS STILL FRUSTRATING. Changeups and sliders combined for 17 whiffs between them, but those nine baserunners don’t care. What else are we supposed to do but keep starting him? His secondary stuff is obviously back, I guess all that’s left is the heater. At least he’s giving you something now.

Tucker Davidson vs NYM (ND) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 72 pitches.

It’s a PQS for Tucker, who made his MLB debut via 1.2 frames last year. This was a true outing and I gotta say, that slider can demolish lefties. Just ask Dominic Smith in that first frame as he whiffed on three of them. Did he strike him out? Can you whiff a batter three times and not strike them out? Anyway, I wish his fastball was a little better as I wonder if it’s good enough to demand pair with the slider, but with the Pirates next, I’d consider Davidson for a deep stream. I should note this was a depleted Mets team he faced today.

Patrick Corbin @ CHC (ND) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 87 pitches.

Nooooo. Okay, so this was still better than his horrific starts earlier in the year, and he was Singled Out in this one, but the heater wasn’t as well commanded. Slider went 9/32 on whiffs, though, and while he’s throwing 1.5 ticks lower than the ridiculous 92.7 mph fastball he had last time, Corbin at 91 mph should still work well if his slider has those whiffs. Just command the heater a little better, okay?

Sean Manaea vs HOU (ND) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 10 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 22% CSW, 91 pitches.

VVPQS for Manaea with just three strikeouts ain’t what you want at all in your standard leagues, where a Quality Start means the same thing as a three dollar bill they’re both worthless. I’m a little worried to see his velocity drop to 90 mph (91 prior) while his changeup whiffs tanked and his curveball earned a 7% CSW. But hey, it’s the Astros and the Angels on Sunday should be easier to handle.

Corbin Martin @ LAD (L) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 6 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 96 pitches.

Hey, I remember that name! He was dealt in the Zack Greinke deal as he recovered from TJS and it’s cool to see him get another stab in the majors. Don’t roster him now (definitely not), but there’s a chance he settles in for Arizona with Gallen out for a bit. There could be something here over time.

Cristian Javier @ OAK (ND) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 95 pitches.

It’s a PQS as we didn’t see the slider earn the whiffs, but instead land for called strikes and set up high four-seamers effectively. Sure, I’ll take it. It’s been a weird experience with Javier thus far and it all seems a touch too fragile for me, but I’m cool riding this until we get a definitive reason not to.

Andrew Heaney vs CLE (ND) – 3.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 81 pitches.

Heaney tossed 81 pitches in three frames, forcing an early exit as he fanned just one. HAISTFMFWT?! is very much in order after he’s given us multiple ten strikeout games already this year. The man is as Cherry Bomb as it gets, well displayed here as he can perform against Houston, but not against Cleveland. You never know with Heaney and if you’re rostering him, you better be ready for the ride.

Bailey Ober vs CWS (ND) – 4.0 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 82 pitches.

It’s a Cup of Schmo who I’d give more information about, but I’m too busy imagining Bailey trying to communicate over a walkie-talkie. This is Bailey, Ober. Oh, the sensible chuckles I’m having.

Jameson Taillon @ TEX (ND) – 4.1 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 76 pitches.

Up there with Corbin for the most disappointing outing of the night. I let Taillon off the hook last time against the Orioles as he was still tweaking the slider, but this time it was both his slider and curveball failing. Blegh. Many are upset I have Taillon inside the Top 45 and very understandable so as he’s failed to come through in the ERA department thus far. While I’m not going to drop him dramatically down The List, seeing this much of a struggle with the secondary stuff does warrant a drop, likely into the 50s. Still, I think over time, Taillon will get more comfortable as he gets back into the swing of things, which will include nailing down his breakers. Meanwhile, his four-seamer is still doing great things nine whiffs and 36% CSW as he sat over 94 mph and it’s a foundation that he can quickly build a lovely home on.

Luis Patiño @ BAL (ND) – 3.1 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 82 pitches.

Hey, I know this ain’t great, but look at that mark on the far right: 82 pitches. Patiño could throw five full innings next time and that’s what matters. Nick, doesn’t, you know, being good matter?! Sure sure, that’ll come. First, we have to actually pitch enough. He’s tossing 95 mph with a decent slider and I’m intrigued. Maybe it’s not the same slider from San Diego, and it’s likely smart to just let him sit on the wire until he actually does something worthwhile, but I can see a squad holding onto Patiño if it’s a thin wire.

Mike Foltynewicz vs NYY (L) – 3.2 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 76 pitches.

Folty hasn’t been good and faced a strong Yankee lineup. HAISTFMFWT?! n all, but I feel weird doing that as you clearly weren’t relying on him for it.

Eduardo Rodríguez @ TOR (L) – 5.0 IP, 5 ER, 11 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 87 pitches.

The man went into Dunedin. WE DON’T START VISITING PITCHERS IN DUNEDIN. It’s hard to start the home team’s arms as well, but at least they don’t have to face the Toronto offense. Eduardo should be safe to start against the Phils next week, though.

Zach Plesac @ LAA (W) – 7.0 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 35% CSW, 98 pitches.

Blegh. His slider and changeup weren’t nearly as effective as we need them to be and I’m upset that I can’t be more excited by his 40% CSW curveball. It’s the pitch he needs against lefties! I know, I know, but that’s only a major point if the other pitches are working. At least he gets the Tigers next and that’s a clear auto-start. Figure it out Plesac.

Matt Harvey vs TB (L) – 1.2 IP, 6 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 59 pitches.

None of us really bought into the whole “Harvey is actually okay now” thing, right? Cool, no need to stick around, you’ve got places to be.


Game of the Day 


Aaron Civale vs Shohei OhtaniOne has volume, the other has strikeouts. This should be good.


But Nick?! Where are the streaming picks? – I’ve moved them to the daily SP Matchups & Streamer Rankings article.


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.

16 responses to “Stale Coffee Cakes”

  1. BP says:

    Nick….it’s time to let go of Patrick.

    • I Own Both (And Lose Pitching Categories Every Week) says:

      It’s time to let go of Taillon first…

      • theKraken says:

        I will take those two off of your hands. They may not be great but you don’t have better options. Fantasy championships are not won by the new shiny SP. If you are writing a blog about SP breakouts, then yes move on from those two. Both seem perfectly fine for back of the rotation options and they are probably cheap.

        • BP says:

          My other SPs are Beuhler, Rodon, Stroman, Urias, McCullers JR, McClanahan and Rich Hill. I’m pretty well stocked so I can afford to drop Corbin.

        • I Own Both (And Lose Pitching Categories Every Week) says:

          I’m holding on to Corbin, but I’m going to drop Taillon today for a streaming pitcher spot. As Nick said in the rankings this week, “…losing a player in the 50s doesn’t have a significant impact on your squad ROS.” He also said in the SP Roundup today that Taillon would be dropped to low 50’s come next Monday. Given that I own Bieber, Fried, Plesac, Rodon, Corbin, and Kluber (and have Sale, Severino and Syndergaard on the IL) I think I can afford to let him go.

  2. FML says:

    Started Brubaker, Taillon, Corbin and Plesac last night. Oh, and Will Smith also went in dry…where’s the bleach?

  3. Boom says:

    Pumping Taillon and giving Turnbull a shrug off is not good for your brand, Nick.

    • theKraken says:

      Not simply pimping the latest statistical nonsense is Nick’s brand IMO. Its why you are here and the rest of the rankings are worse.

  4. Floyd says:

    Between Corbin Martin, Tucker Davidson & Cody Poteet — who is the better pick-up? …not necessarily based on their next match-ups, but from pitch quality and command. I’m guessing not Martin due to command.

  5. theKraken says:

    Lance Lynn’s cutter is a FB. There are two kinds of cutters – SL thrown hard and the kind that is a FB variant. There is no reason at all to dig into Lynn’s pitch mix. Its three kinds of FB and a breaking ball that he uses sparingly. This is a good time to point out the regressive nature of modern pitching analysis. Lynn beats people with FB and he changes speeds and movement on them from pitch to pitch… you know, the art of pitching. It doesn’t really matter how the machine classifies them – Lynn is good at reading and beating hitters with various FB. Many of the great pitchers of my lifetime were FB artists – the classification of their pitches probably wouldn’t amount to anything. Lynn’s “cutter” is his FB that has some sink on it – its velocity varies quite a bit and it is his worst pitch when it is thrown slower more like a slider. It is effective when paired with his other FB that run and ride but not much of a pitch on its own, which is where the SL thing bites him. Many guys throw a hard slider that gets called a cutter. Cutters are the bane of pitch classification – all they do is make for worse analysis.

  6. theKraken says:

    Taillon has always had problems with pitching to hitters. He looks the part and even has the command but pitching has never clicked for him. That said, I think he is an easy top 50 arm regardless of how bad the results are. Ks and WHIP are assets for him which are great skills. He has never had any knack for not getting hit around though. Personally, I think that a guy who has no feel for pitching to hitters would be well served to simplify the pitch mix. He needs to learn to pitch to hitters – he has the whole bullpen thing down. I guess the only reason to knock him down is that NYY seems to be babying his pitch counts, which is a real problem. Perhaps I am unreasonably high on him, but I also am in no hurry to push up the next rookie or flash in the pan.

  7. theKraken says:

    Re: Patino – That sounds like an RP mix. He seems like he may be ditching his CH which probably cements him as a glorified RP. This is a good example of TB stunting development. If you don’t ask guys to learn to pitch and give them the opportunity to do so, then they probably won’t. It is sad to think that one of the games better SP specs is being used in a swing-man role and narrowing his mix. I get that the FB/SL mix gets results… in the short term. That is pretty close to the opposite of pitcher development though. You may as well just promote scrub SP and have them throw a FB and their hardest SL if all you care about is immediate results… and that is in fact the TB model. They should not waste real talent with actual potential on that role though.

  8. The Burger says:

    Be nice if you put team name next to pitcher you are critiquing. Makes for easier reading. CSW is what? Perxactly??

  9. EH says:

    Hi there,
    I enjoy your write-ups. Do you think is worth holding on to Ynoa? or just get over it and drop him…

  10. PC says:

    Streamed Turnbull and that was super lucky! Is it worth holding for Cleveland matchup (will most likely drop after that no matter what), or will he more likely disappoint and/or be on a pitch count just because he threw 117 pitches last night?

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