Uncanning Ability

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Monday.

It’s time we sat down to discuss Griffin Canning who couldn’t handle the Giants offense to the tune of 4.2 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 22% CSWThat’s not the Canning we know and love and it’s making us wonder if it’s time to let him go – Nick, it was time two starts ago! – That’s probably right, but we thought this Giants start would be way better given his stuff and ability…alright let me explain.

I’m surprised to see 0/18 whiffs here from Canning’s slider. That’s a legit 20%+ SwStr offering that wasn’t horribly located in this one and has been his bread-and-butter for ages. Four-seamers were focused on the top of the zone, and curveballs were located effectively down-and-away. It’s downright weird to see his struggles given his locations, but looking deeper, things are amiss.

Four-seamer velocity is down 1.5 ticks and his slider has dropped 12 points in O-Swing and returned only a 9% SwStr rate (22% last year!). That’s…not great at all. Those two have led to a near 4 point drop in overall SwStr, a giant boost in HR/9, and a near two-point hike in H/9 as he flirts with the ghastly double-digits. Canning’s soft contact this year? 5.6%. 

So yeah, we drop him. I think his stuff is better than the results, but it’s not the rhythm we want, his velocity is down, and he’s not earning whiffs. I don’t think is a forever problem, but given the PRP injection and the fact that we’re likely not rostering him for much more of this season (can you really trust him after his last three starts?), I worry not for just 2020 but also 2021 and beyond. It really stinks, I still see a little Shane Bieber in him given that repertoire.


Let’s see how every other SP did Monday:


Matt Wisler vs KC (ND) – 2.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 43% CSW. This is cool Wisler, you know that since you’re actually a reliever we can’t be friends, sadly. I know. What a cruel world we live in.

Alex Reyes vs CHC (ND) – 0.2 IP, 0 ER, 0 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 33% CSW. It’s cool seeing Reyes return and as a “starter”, but this isn’t a starter and this isn’t Alex “the wunderkind” Reyes. Maybe there’s a shot for 2021, but certainly not 2020.

Zac Gallen vs OAK (ND) – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 31% CSW. Aces gonna ace. That’s the Dodgers, Astros, Coors, and A’s that Gallen has cruised through now. If you’re not enamored, I question your capacity for love.

Brandon Bielak vs COL (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 1 Hits, 4 BBs, 4 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 33% CSWOur backup streamer did good things hosting Rockie Roadsecuring another Win despite four walks in the books (at least he’s true to his BB name). I know it’s weird for me to rank Bielak above Framber, but I think his repertoire speaks to a higher floor than the Cherry Bomb nature of Valdez, allowing for more overall value as a cheap ratio/Win Toby

Hyun Jin Ryu @ BAL (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 21% CSW. It’s far from sexy, but Ryu is making it work after a rough start to the year. He’s pushing for the Spider-Man award and you should be happy about that.

Jordan Montgomery vs BOS (ND) – 3.2 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 39% CSW. If not for a rain delay, I think this would have been The Bear’s proper breakout start that we’ve been waiting for. Breakers were solid, fastball velocity was there, and I’d be thrilled owning JorMont moving forward.

Kwang Hyun Kim @ CHC (ND) – 3.2 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 23% CSW. It shouldn’t be much a surprise that Kim went sub 60 pitches here – the Cardinals rotation as a whole will need some time to ramp up – but the line looks kinda typical for Kim. I don’t you should give him a whole lot of consideration until we see him go 80+ pitches and at that point, he’s a Toby at best. A decent streamer, maybe, but nothing more.

Robert Gsellman @ MIA (ND) – 1.2 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 19% CSWSlow and steady, Gsellman will get to be a starter in full. It’s like you’re inviting your friend from out of state whenever you host a party. If they ever want to show up, cool, you’re welcome Robert, but we’re not going to you and I’d be shocked if I see you.

Kyle Freeland @ HOU (L) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 24% CSWDespite facing the Astros, Freeland, once again, looked like a solid TobyThat’s a 2.56 ERA for the year as he’s continued to lean on his changeup and slider, even throwing in a ton of curveballs here as well. However, my favorite stat of the night may be his sub 30% fastballs thrown. That’s how’s it’s done. Still too risky for not enough reward to start him against the Dodgers on the road next, but he heads to Arizona after and that’s cool.

Gio Gonzalez vs DET (ND) – 4.2 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 10 Ks – 19 Whiffs, 36% CSWI’ll be honest, I’m a bit happy GG didn’t earn the other GG (though, no run at the King Cole with just 4.2 IP), as this was just weird and silly and as clear of a Birthday Party as you’ll find. Enjoy that Gallows Pole though, I doubt you’ll be able to earn 15 whiffs on curveballs and changeups again. That’s just…not you.

Kris Bubic @ MIN (L) – 4.1 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 4 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 25% CSW. He’s had a rough go of it facing the Twins n all and he hadn’t pitched above High-A before this season. Ooof. No reason to go after Bubic these days, let him blossom in his own time and return to the farm in the future.

Tyson Miller @ STL (ND) – 2.0 IP, 2 ER, 1 Hits, 3 BBs, 0 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 19% CSW. With Tyler Chatwood off to the IL and a doubleheader on their hands, the Cubs looked to Tyson to make his MLB debut in a limited “start”. Decent sinker and slider on him, but yeah, this is a Cup of SchmoYou already knew that.

Kyle Hendricks vs STL (L) – 6.1 IP, 3 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 32% CSWSolid stuff from Hendricks, despite a blegh ERA, and we’re all a little upset he wasn’t able to go two more outs for another “complete game.” 16 whiffs is oh-so-pretty and y’all know the drill. Don’t stop starting Hendricks.

Chris Bassitt @ ARI (ND) – 5.1 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 25% CSW. Blegh. Bassitt’s sinker is still doing unreal things (38% CSW!), but some games he doesn’t get enough from his secondary stuff and it lands flat. I think you should keep starting Bassitt moving forward, but yeah, I want more.

Zach Davies @ TEX (W) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 31% CSWThis may have been a deep streaming option against the Rangers and for what it’s worth, I think Davies did what you’d expect with good changeups down and even flashing a decent cutter. He’s a streaming option and a Toby at best, so don’t consider Davies for all that much.

Anibal Sanchez @ ATL (ND) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 19% CSW. Sanchez is so far away from the pitcher he resembled in 2018. I mean, seriously? One strikeout? HAISTFMFWT?! Don’t consider him as a streamer, it’s too risky.

Matthew Boyd @ CWS (L) – 4.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 9 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 29% CSW. Of course Boyd allowed a pair of HRs to start his game for the second start in a row. Thing is, he was kinda great after, featuring the best slider we’ve seen all year – FINALLY – at 41% CSW, paired with four-seamers exclusively up in the zone at 92 mph. Changeups were decent as well and…okay I’m not going full Boyd Boy again but at least this is better than before! He needed 90 pitches for four innings, but there’s a part of me that thinks he’s going to be a sneaky stream against the Indians next time. Yes, “stream” as I imagine he’s been dropped in most leagues now.

Martin Perez @ NYY (L) – 3.0 IP, 3 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 1 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 28% CSWIt’s not a happy state of affairs in Beantown and luckily for Perez, the rain showed up and stopped this one from getting worse. It’s a HAISTFMFWT?! because of it, and I feel a little weird handing it out given the circumstance, but whatever, there you go Perez.

Jordan Yamamoto vs NYM (L) – 1.1 IP, 3 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 1 Ks – 1 Whiffs, 23% CSW. He’s a kitchen sink guy that sometimes needs the bathtub and that’s a hard thing to lug around. Just one strikeout (HAISTFMFWT?!) and all the disappointment on the back of that one manager who actually started Jordan. I hope for better days from him, but it’s hard to expect them soon.

Touki Toussaint vs WSH (ND) – 3.0 IP, 4 ER, 2 Hits, 6 BBs, 4 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 27% CSW. I’ll be honest, I’m not too shocked with this one, but still wanted to take the chance that we saw good Touki instead of this Touki. Streaming Record: 13-11. His splitter command was blegh, his four-seamer, while not located often in the heart of the plate, is still badly commanded, and his curveball wasn’t enough to survive. Six walks Touki…six walks…He hosts the Phillies next and while I’m not completely against it, that’s not a locked start.

Alex Cobb vs TOR (L) – 6.2 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 32% CSW. We saw “The Thing” working well (that’s his splitter’s name, for the initiated), but his four-seamer was all over the place, preventing the BSB from working and it fell apart, even with decent curveballs for strikes. He’s still a sleeper streamer, though, so don’t rule Cobb out in deeper leagues.

Tyler Anderson @ LAA (ND) – 5.0 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 47% CSW. Well this is something. Anderson made it the full five frames to earn himself the King Cole as he dominated not just with changeups (13/36 whiffs!) but earning a whopping 59% on 34 four-seamers. Whoaaaaa. His tossed heaters effortlessly in the zone and like an Amish wagon on highway, the Angels elected to let them pass. 16/34 called strikes on that fastball and I simply don’t see that repeating. He seemed to toss his changeup at the right time in each at-bat and yes, this is a clear Birthday PartyCool to see Tyler be somewhat relevant again, though. Remember those times 3/4 years ago when he was a Rockie? Sigh…

Jordan Lyles vs SD (L) – 4.0 IP, 6 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks – 2 Whiffs, 26% CSWWe’re all hoping for Lyles to be that arm with curveballs down and fastballs up, but he’s just not there yet. It’s like me staring at that EZ-Bake oven as a kid. I just wanted it to be ready and I felt like it never was when I wanted it to be.

Ross Stripling vs SEA (ND) – 3.0 IP, 6 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks – 1 Whiffs, 26% CSW. Stripling, what is this. You got the Mariners and your curveball, one of my favorite hooks to watch in the game, was…bad. 0/22 whiffs with just 18% CSW, allowing your heater to get smacked around. Against Seattle. Uggggh. I’m not actually scared about Stripling’s ability to rebound, I’m more worried that the Dodgers will do something silly and not keep him in the rotation if Gonsolin does what he should do tonight. I wouldn’t bet on that, but, you know, Dodgeritis is dumb. Hold for now.

Justin Dunn @ LAD (ND) – 2.0 IP, 6 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks – 2 Whiffs, 19% CSWYeaaaaah, I wonder if he’s a Young Gun and could be something down the road, but for now we just have to give him support as Dunn does his best to get accustomed to the bigs. Keep fighting.


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.



David Peterson vs. Miami Marlins – Sure, let’s do it again. Looks like the Dodgers are rolling Tony Gonsolin out there again as he faces the Seattle MarinersYes. Please.


Tomorrow’s Streamer


Patrick Sandoval vs. San Francisco Giants – I think it’s time to take a chance on Sandoval’s solid secondary stuff over Alec Mills‘ (vs. Cardinals) meh overall repertoire.


Day After Tomorrow’s Streamer


Chad Kuhl vs. Milwaukee Brewers – Now’s the time. That slider is solid and he’s stretched out properly.


Game of the Day


Tarik Skubal vs. Dylan Cease – Yes, I’m doing a GIF Breakdown, even if it’s only 40-50 pitches. It’ll be out around 10pm EST so enjoy the late-night read.



(Photo by John Cordes/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.

11 responses to “Uncanning Ability”

  1. Firtree baseball says:

    I’m starting to wonder whether Touki’s struggles is because he doesn’t have a good rapport with Travis D’Arnaud. The CERA difference between D’Arnaud and Flowers is large. Not sure whether to read into it or just small sample size.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      I’ve watched all three outings and this was easily the wildest. I don’t think that was a product of his catcher, to be honest. There could be intangibles about confidence and pitch calling, but what we saw yesterday was a clear indication of Touki’s floor.

      • Firtree baseball says:

        Thanks! I didn’t watch the start but it just struck me how the one Touki start we got excited about was when Flowers caught. Then, I checked and saw the CERA of D’Arnaud is twice that of Flowers. I started to wonder maybe the short season is affecting catchers in their first season with a franchise/pitching staff.
        Touki gets one more start from me and then I probably need to drop him for a non-Cherry Bomb.

  2. Triumph the Dog says:

    Not entirely but maybe somewhat surprised that you have Bielak above Framber.
    Advanced stats seems to like the latter so much more no?
    But I look at the recent tier 8 to 9 maybe even 7 range and I tell myself that Framber could maybe hang there no?
    Yeah that 1st inning vs SEA was not great at all but he def settled down thereafter.
    Not saying I’m comfortable starting him @COL but still hoping he proves his worth there

    • Nick Pollack says:

      The problem with Framber for me is that I don’t trust his sinker to be successful, with a very low floor we saw in 2019.

      There’s a reason he had a 5.86 ERA last season with a 1.67 WHIP and through his 23.2 IP this year, I’m not seeing enough of a difference to believe that it’s gone.

      Bielak isn’t thrilling either, but he’s more well rounded that makes me consider him more as a consistent streamer.

  3. cypher930@gmail.com says:

    You should do the GIF Breakdown live. Show the process.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      I actually tried to talk it out with the Singer one inside of Discord, but it was just a lot of mumbling by me as I type as fast as I can.

      It’s mainly two hours of a sprint, typing what I see while trying to clip the pitches I want to feature fast enough so I’m caught up by their next inning.

  4. cypher930@gmail.com says:

    Hate to cut Canning, but its time. Feel like he’s gonna do well against Oakland though. Depending on how he does, I’ll scoop him back up. Need a line of 6IP, 2ER and 8Ks with no more than 2BBs tho.

  5. Winkers Neck says:

    Adding Kuhl where I can. Like his upside…but are you concerned Nick with the amount of hard contact and barrels he gives up? His sinker gets obliterated.

    • Nick Pollack says:

      The sinker is certainly the major question mark, I think his slider usage increasing can nullify it.

      It’s no slam-dunk, but I think he’s worth the play at least on Thursday and to go from there.

  6. Perfect Game says:

    What would you do with Clev? Trade him or dare I say drop him in a 6-team league? Not much interest in him in my league.

    He’s been dead weight taking up a spot and not sure when/if he comes back…maybe only if the Tribe trades him.

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