The Great Leon

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Friday.

There are some days when a pitcher just outright shocks you. Daniel Ponce de Leon started on Tuesday for the Cardinals and was asked to go on short rest yesterday against the Pirates. Short start, right? Maybe four innings and about 60 pitches? Nope.  5.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 9 Ks — 15 Whiffs, 33% CSW across 88 pitches. Incredible. That’s two straight starts of Ponce de Leon cruising and I think y’all need a mini-outline of the guy.

He’s a four-seamer heavy arm who elevates a ton, but is often wild, forcing inefficient starts since his secondary pitches frequently can’t execute effective strikes. Think a bit like Freddy PeraltaIn this one, Ponce de Leon was able to get his curveball over the plate often — 44% CSW! — allowing him to get 14 whiffs on his fastball. It’s fantastic when it works, the only question is how often it will. Keep in mind, he needed 88 pitches for just five innings here and this was him performing at his peak (yes, the last start was longer, but you get the idea). We also don’t know if he’ll get another start — maybe in Dakota Hudson’s spot, but that game would be with three days, again. I’m not sure the Cardinals allow that. At the very least, there’s a doubleheader on the 25th and he should get that start against the Brewers. I’m all for it, but just recognize the floor that comes with his curveball not working and failing to get enough strikes with fastballs.


Let’s see how every other SP did Friday:


Kyle Hendricks vs MIN (W) — 8.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 10 Ks — 18 Whiffs, 38% CSWIt’s so wonderful when things click for Hendricks on a given day. He got the Twins and it simply didn’t matter. 47% CSW on his sinker. 47%! Crazy.

Zach Plesac @ DET (W) — 7.2 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 11 Ks — 21 Whiffs, 33% CSW. Aces gonna ace. I feel he deserves that considering how easy it is to start him. That’s a Gallows Pole and you’re starting him against the White Sox next. That slider earned a 50% CSW across a fourth of his pitches. So good.

Zach Eflin @ TOR (W) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 9 Ks — 13 Whiffs, 33% CSW. It’s wild. You just don’t know which Eflin you’re going to get – Cherry Bomb! – and it’s always so wonderful seeing the sweet side. His curveball showed up here for 38% CSW across 16 thrown and his slider did a ton of work along the outside edge. His final start is against the Nationals and be aware, the risk is still there. It’s true because it rhymes.

Chris Bassitt vs SF (W) — 6.2 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks — 13 Whiffs, 34% CSW. Bassitt is something else. I have to believe he throws the #1 CSW sinker out there — 42% here — and often his secondary stuff is far behind it. Well, not in this one with his cutter cruising as well and it was a solid day on the bump. Even got five whiffs on four-seamers mixed in as well. Now he gets the easy start against the Mariners and that’s a simple choice.

Martín Pérez vs NYY (ND) — 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks — 8 Whiffs, 34% CSW. I gotta hand it to Perez. This Yankee offense has been on fire and he tossed some excellent changeups and cutters while sneaking in sinkers for called strikes to cruise through six frames. It’s another major gamble with the Braves next, though, and I think you have to sit that one out despite the command here.

Chris Paddack @ SEA (W) — 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks — 7 Whiffs, 31% CSWSuper weird outing here as Paddack sat low on his four-seamers and changeups, earning one whiff but 16 called strikes on his four-seamer. It’s not the Paddack we’re used to and it seems like he’s tinkering a bit from the high-and-tight Paddack we miss from last year. No matter, he gets the Angels next and you’re going to roll him out there.

Erick Fedde @ MIA (W) — 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks — 3 Whiffs, 24% CSW. Whoaaaa, six innings of shutout ball! And not a single pitch above 26% CSW! Remember kids, Don’t Trust The Feddes. This has Birthday Party written all over it.

Michael Fulmer vs CLE (ND) — 3.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks — 3 Whiffs, 23% CSW. Hey, he actually did okay. With sub 93 mph velocity. And poorly thrown secondary pitches. I’m so sad.

Jimmy Herget @ LAA (ND) — 1.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 Hits, 2 BBs, 0 Ks — 0 Whiffs, 20% CSW. Bullpen game here as Wes Benjamin got the bulk and allowed 2 ER in 4 IP. Cool.

Rich Hill @ CHC (L) — 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks — 5 Whiffs, 28% CSW. Sweet. This was the tough start for Hill and now he likely gets the Reds to end his season. He still had diminished velocity at just 86 mph and his curveball went 2/42 whiffs and it all makes me terrified, but it’s working and whatever, you let it ride.

Zac Gallen @ HOU (W) — 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks — 9 Whiffs, 28% CSW. You were scared after his last start and that poor inning against the Giants. Very understandable. He was able to get plenty more strikes with fastballs here that allowed him to expand the zone with cutters and changeups and us Gallen Gals cried out in joy. Aces gonna ace.

Tyler Mahle vs CWS (W) — 5.2 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks — 17 Whiffs, 35% CSW. We thought this would be Tejay Antone but surprise! It was Mahle who brought it. It’s the excellent pitch separation we’ve been seeing and while I think he got a bit fortunate with heaters in the heart of the plate, he overpowered the White Sox with a Philly and rewarded managers who took the last-minute gamble. He may get the Brewers next to end the season and I’m in for it.

Tyler Glasnow @ BAL (W) — 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 10 Ks — 13 Whiffs, 29% CSW. Aces gonna ace. Man, the Rays really don’t like to let their pitchers go a full six frames, do they.

Chad Kuhl @ STL (L) — 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks — 8 Whiffs, 29% CSW. This is much better than before with sliders getting a solid 6/30 whiffs, but with sub 94 mph velocity on his sinker, I’m still very much out.

Max Fried @ NYM (W) — 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks — 9 Whiffs, 28% CSW. Hot dang! I know it’s not an ultra sexy, but I had a lot of worry with Fried coming off the IL and facing the Mets. His velocity was still down at 92.1 mph on his four-seamer and he was limited at 80 pitches, but he powered through it. It’s the Marlins next and you’re safe there, despite the overall meh stuff here.

Carlos Martínez @ PIT (ND) — 3.2 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 4 BBs, 1 Ks — 4 Whiffs, 23% CSW. Nooooo, this isn’t what we wanted. His velocity was a tick harder, but he labored and needed 77 pitches to get pulled in the fourth. Against the Pirates. Ugggh. He likely gets one more start against the Royals and I still think he should be started for it, but man, this isn’t making me as confident as I want to be.

Jaime Barria vs TEX (W) — 6.1 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 8 Ks — 14 Whiffs, 32% CSW. Whoa, solid stuff Barria! He went 62% sliders (!) and it worked against the Rangers. It was his first start of six frames, first with more than six strikeouts, and first time I shouted BARRRRIIIIIAAAA! Welp, now it’s the Padres and this was cool if you took the chance.

Alex Cobb vs TB (L) — 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks — 11 Whiffs, 26% CSW. Nothing was overpowering here from Cobb, but he was able to ride six frames against the Rays. It wasn’t the picture of a man grooving in rhythm and I’d be cautious to start him against the Jays.

Adrian Houser vs KC (ND) — 4.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks — 4 Whiffs, 21% CSW. Houser couldn’t handle the Tigers and we’ve been out on him for a while. It’s normally a great CSW sinker with nothing else but in this one? 19% CSW on sinkers. Yikes. Don’t fall for this trap.

David Hale vs TOR (ND) — 3.1 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 1 Ks — 3 Whiffs, 26% CSWMostly a bullpen game here as somehow Hale earned 10 outs on just 34 pitches. Tell that to CarMart. I guess this deserves a HAISTFMFWT?! but that feels like cheating.

Zack Greinke vs ARI (ND) — 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 9 Ks — 12 Whiffs, 39% CSW. Greinke is absolutey fascinating to watch — aces gonna ace — and his ability to do the Keuchel of old with tons of pitches nibbling the bottom of the zone is so fun. Sure, it was just five frames and a poor ERA with a 1.20 WHIP, but nine Ks are great and you know he’s good for it next time. Cool to see him win a King Cole as well.

Daniel Castano vs WSH (ND) — 4.1 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 1 Ks — 9 Whiffs, 25% CSW. Oh hey, it’s Castano again. Cool, cool.

Ross Stripling @ PHI (ND) — 3.1 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks — 9 Whiffs, 25% CSW. Blegh. Just 65 pitches here as Stripling didn’t have his premier stuff. He could get it against the Orioles, but I’m leaning that you look elsewhere instead. He’s not locked in.

Alex Wood @ COL (ND) — 2.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks — 4 Whiffs, 24% CSW. Wood led off this bullpen game and was underwhelming. Sigh…

Jordan Montgomery @ BOS (ND) — 4.2 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks — 14 Whiffs, 30% CSW. Nooooo. His curveball was sharp and sinkers were well commanded, but changeups and cutters were meh and it unraveled. It’s looking like a Cherry Bomb situation of volatility and it’s up to you if you want to roll with this against the Jays. The strikeouts are likely to be there, if you need them.

Robbie Ray vs PHI (L) — 4.1 IP, 5 ER, 5 Hits, 4 BBs, 6 Ks — 14 Whiffs, 28% CSW. He got curveballs for strikes, but his fastball wasn’t close to its command from last time and it hurt. It’s a Cherry Bomb play each time. Understand the floor and ceiling here.

Trevor Williams vs STL (L) — 4.1 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks — 7 Whiffs, 27% CSW. Blegh. This matchup wasn’t ideal and while Williams had his slider, his four-seamer didn’t work well and this was far from what we wanted. It was a rough gamble, after all, and it’s another one with the Cubs next. No thanks.

Yusei Kikuchi vs SD (L) — 4.0 IP, 5 ER, 4 Hits, 6 BBs, 3 Ks — 14 Whiffs, 26% CSW. It was a poor matchup and missing his four-seamer command, this went terribly. His cutter was atrocious as well at just 14% CSW and it was a complete mess. It’s Oakland next and wild it could turn around for it, there’s a massive haze above that start.

Sixto Sánchez vs WSH (L) — 4.0 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks — 9 Whiffs, 24% CSW. Sixto nooooooo. He barely touched his four-seamer, electing to go 34% sinkers vs. just 7% four-seamers, and the pitch wasn’t very effective. His changeup didn’t dominate like we’ve seen and sliders were hung a bit. This was the worst we’ve seen of Sixto but it’s not a death sentence. Now it’s the Braves and I understand if you’re worried. I think you still go with it, though. He’s better than this.

Danny Duffy @ MIL (L) — 3.2 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks — 13 Whiffs, 30% CSW. Bleeeggggh. Streaming Record: 27-26. Duffy wasn’t his former self, possibly a product of his extra rest in between starts. He would get the Cardinals next and I think I’m out on that one as he threw just 63 pitches here.

Logan Webb @ OAK (L) — 3.1 IP, 6 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks — 7 Whiffs, 23% CSW. There just isn’t enough here to make Webb even a desperate stream against the Padres to end his season.

Steven Matz vs ATL (L) — 2.2 IP, 6 ER, 8 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks — 11 Whiffs, 30% CSW. Huh, this was pretty solid approach from Matz, but his curveball was meh, his sinker was too hittable, and it was the Braves. We didn’t have any expectations here as he rejoined the rotation and I wouldn’t consider him in the final week.

Jonathan Stiever @ CIN (L) — 2.2 IP, 6 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 0 Ks — 0 Whiffs, 17% CSW. Yikes. Not a single whiff or strikeout – HAISTFMFWT?! — and the White Sox may be looking for a different arm next time around. This JS just isn’t looking like the vicious snake we want prospects to be. Is that a programming joke? Absolutely.

Wil Crowe @ MIA (L) — 2.1 IP, 6 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks — 3 Whiffs, 19% CSW. Look at Wil, just another Crowe on the wire.

Ryan Castellani vs LAD (L) — 4.1 IP, 7 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 1 Ks — 9 Whiffs, 20% CSW. This was Casty in Coors against the Dodgers. Yeah, no. He gets the Giants on the road next time and that’s a very deep stream I wouldn’t chase in 12-teamers.


Today’s Streamer

For those unaware, I’m forced to make my streamer picks under the condition of sub-20% owned in Fantasy Pros’ consolidated ownership rates.



John Means vs. Tampa Bay RaysThere isn’t a clear pick, so I’ll go with the recent hot streak of Means.


Tomorrow’s Streamer


Brett Anderson vs. Kansas City Royals – Nothing is left. Dunning, Musgrove, Garcia, all owned above 30%, while somehow Brad Keller is at 60%. So there’s Anderson, I guess. I hate this.


Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer


Drew Smyly vs. Colorado Rockies – He fanned eight in fewer than four innings last time out and now it’s Rockie RoadThere’s a gamble as it could be just five innings or fewer, but it’s the most interesting low owned arm for the day.


Game of the Day


Patrick Corbin vs. Pablo Lopez — Let’s keep the PabLo train riding and Corbin is hopefully able to repeat what he did against the Braves.


(Photo by Juan Salas/Icon Sportswire)

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.

2 responses to “The Great Leon”

  1. Elliot says:

    I thought Bubic was today’s pick? To my understanding Means isn’t going till tomorrow.

  2. theKraken says:

    Rich Hill’s velocity is irrelevant! The only thing that matters is how many guys he walks. Yesterday was really weird if you didn’t watch. Through three hitters he had allowed 2 BB a hit and a run. He ensued to shut them out for 7 innings after that point. I though they should have left him in for the CG L. It is always scary to watch, but that is really just an illegitimate bias. If some guy who can’t pitch a lick is pumping mid 90s heat we feel more comfortable?

    Glasnow’s pitch count was pretty lofty – I wouldn’t blame the Rays. He is also injury prone which is on him. The Rays are a nice example (include the Dodgers) that short pitch counts don’t make your starters healthier or more effective. Crazy idea – someone has to monitor how things are actually progressing in real time on the field as opposed to adhering to some pre-game script. With a game like this, you have to figure that the inefficient Glasnow couldn’t really expect to go six with less than 110 pitches – I think that is defensible.

    I moved on from CMart a long time ago. I don’t see anything to suggest that he is currently valuable in any role. I think the potential exists for him to become a reliable bullpen arm or to reinvent something but this guy has been bad for years now. Even the young CMart wasn’t as good as he had an exciting FB that didn’t exactly play how we would like – the K were never even elite and that is the entirety of his potential. Career WHIP -1.29, which is good but not great. The only time he cleared 1.20 was last year out of the pen but he demonstrated plenty of times that he is not a legit back of the pen guy… he makes way too many mistakes for that role. The FB is now pedestrian and all we are left with is a kid who had a big arm that never really learned to pitch.

    I thought HOU should have stuck with Greinke. He threw well… sometimes all the damage comes at once and that was the case. If teams were smart, they would ride guys that know how to pitch and are not lost a lot more than they do. A 1.20 WHIP is not bad especially when you consider that most of it came an inning before he was lifted. A guy like Greinke is 100% different than a guy like Glasnow. Greinke can put together quick innings and doesn’t utilize an RP approach in general. Those are the type of guys that should throw more innings – Glasnow is a glorified RP – just like James Paxton always was. Rich Hill and Lance Lynn are in the fun to watch club as well.

    Can you imagine that Sixto isn’t an ace after 5 GS or that he may not grow up to be Pedro Martinez? There are so many great performances that happen on a daily basis, but we find ourselves obsessing over the youngest players. it is silly because they all become older at some point past where we have already moved on. Contrast the Rich Hill write up with Sixto lol. I get it but it really is sad how warped our perspectives are. Haha – I just figured out who the more appropriate comp on Sixto is…. Carlos Martinez! They have very similar velocity and the same pitches. CMart was a much better prospect as I don’t think many people expect Sixto to handle any kind of a workload. Both come complete with underwhelming K numbers and questions about durability. I hope Sixto is great but I watched him for an inning once and he sure looks like an RP to me – literally everything about him.

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