Wacha the Line

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Wednesday.

Michael Wacha vs CLE (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 90 pitches.

This one is going to be quick. Michael Wacha did some wonderful things tonight against Cleveland — 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks (17 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 90 pitches) — and now that the Rays are letting him toss 90 pitches, there could be something to it. His changeup was just like old times with 12/30 whiffs, while he elected to go heavy on cutters over one-third of the time to get his strikes in the zone (with some whiffs as well). It worked against Cleveland, it likely won’t against a stronger team.

Either way, the fact that Wacha has a longer leash and can be effective when his slow ball works is enough for us to upgrade him in a streaming option down the road. Tuck it away for a rainy day.


Let’s see how every other SP did Wednesday:


Brett Anderson @ NYM (ND) – 4.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 1 Ks – 2 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 44 pitches.

I mean, I guess this is cool? It’s four frames and a HAISTFMFWT?! but that’s okay, right? I feel if I have to ask this, it’s enough reason for you to avoid it. This blurb seems like it has no direction. Yeah, like someone who thinks this is what a B.A. degree is — the small degree of difference Brett makes for your fantasy teams. Touché.

Collin McHugh vs CLE (ND) – 2.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 52% CSW, 27 pitches.

It’s cool to see McHugh put on the starter’s hat once again, but it was just 27 pitches. It was a really cool hat, though, as the cutter went 7/9 whiffs. Love it.

Humberto Castellanos vs COL (ND) – 4.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 60 pitches.

It was Rockie Road and I just don’t see enough here to make me consider him for your 12-teamers. A 5% SwStr rate ain’t it.

Brady Singer vs CIN (ND) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 95 pitches.

Wow, Singer actually went 95 pitches and six full innings and did so while helping across the board. Props to you Singer, I didn’t think the Royals would let you. Can’t say it means I’m jumping to grab you off the wire — the stuff is pretty much the same — but I’m impressed. Show me again.

Alex Wood vs STL (ND) – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 34% CSW, 94 pitches.

The slider is back and he’s sitting at 92 mph. Yep, like a beaver, WOOD IS BACK ON THE MENU.

Corbin Burnes @ NYM (ND) – 5.2 IP, 1 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 8 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 87 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. He’s turning to curveballs a lot more — shocking when his slider is the one with the stupid SwStr rates but what do I know — and it’s paying off. I’m all for the variety now that his cutter is performing a touch worse than before & the approach is clearly working. Now the question is how much more we’ll see of Burnes now that he’s nearing 90 innings. Given the expected 150-160 limit, that’s roughly 12 more starts, roughly taking him the start of September. Maybe they’ll rest him between now and then, maybe they push him with their playoff hopes. We’ll see.

Lance Lynn @ MIN (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 102 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. Lynn was pushed into the second tier this week and while there is some fear about the spin rate drops, Lynn is still chucking over 100 pitches per start and forcing his way through six frames to your benefit. Appreciate the dang man as he secured yet another win.

Hyun Jin Ryu @ BAL (W) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 35% CSW, 86 pitches.

You see the line and I’m sure you exhaled. He’s back. Phew. Wellllll about that. The cutter definitely returned and the Orioles let Ryu throw a ton of fastballs over the plate for strikes, yes, but his changeup? 4/18 CSW. That’s it. Just a 22% mark as his #2 pitch and we’re not out of the woods yet. Be careful with Ryu, if managers think this is the return of a former ace, I’d sell. I need to see that changeup returning before he jumps back up The List.

Nick Nelson @ SEA (ND) – 0.2 IP, 1 ER, 0 Hits, 3 BBs, 1 Ks – 2 Whiffs, 19% CSW, 32 pitches.

Wow. The Yankees elected to have Domingo Germán not just follow in this one, but double-follow as Luis Cessa tossed 3.1 scoreless frames after Nelson. And hey, it worked — 3.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks — albeit with three unearned runs to his name off a tater. It really should shake up our perspective of Domingo, though, and I’d be dropping if I rostered him for this one. It doesn’t seem like the Yankees have a whole lot of faith in him at the moment and a trade before the deadline looms on the horizon. UPDATE: I am really dumb and I apologize profusely – I missed the fact that German had an emergency root canal and Boone said he’d come in relief. That explains it. He’s likely not starting until the Monday after the deadline, though, and it’s not like he’s a must-hold anyway, but still, really sorry about that. Don’t know how I missed it.

Jake Reed @ MIA (ND) – 1.0 IP, 1 ER, 1 Hits, 0 BBs, 0 Ks – 1 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 12 pitches.

This was a bullpen start. Sooooo yeah, sup Jake. Sup.

Luis García vs OAK (ND) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 88 pitches.

Yeah, I’ll definitely take this from García. His cutter return and was filthy — 9/24 whiffs — while his curveball and changeup earned plenty of strikes. This works, and I’m glad to see García step back in the right direction against a solid A’s squad.

Casey Mize @ TEX (ND) – 4.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 50 pitches.

Welp, we knew the Tigers were limiting Mize and we’re just sad to see it. Props to Mize for making it through four frames on just fifty pitches, but let’s be honest, this didn’t help out at all. It’s kinda useless rostering Mize at this point and it’s sad to say that out loud type those words.

Sonny Gray @ KC (W) – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks – 16 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 99 pitches.

And here I was suggesting Gray would be a bit limited in his second start back. Nope, the man had his breakers + 4/10 whiffs on changeups as he coasted through seven frames. Well aren’t you a Sonny delight. Feel confident in Gray moving forward, he’s clearly on the right path.

Wil Crowe vs ATL (ND) – 4.2 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 97 pitches.

I had a touch of excitement last time out as Crowe earned at least seven whiffs on both his slider and changeup and here? At least four on each. Not the worst, but not enough as he was terribly inefficient with his heater and slider. It was a desperate idea that I was hoping would continue trending up, but alas, the peak was steep. I don’t like steep peaks, at least not since their third album. They’ve really lost their way. RIGHT?!

Robert Stock vs MIL (L) – 4.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 68 pitches.

Hey, this ain’t so bad. He was called upon to keep the Mets in the game and allowing just two ER across more than half of the game (doubleheader, yo) works. He’s no Tylor Megillbut props to him for this random start.

Johan Oviedo @ SF (ND) – 4.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 4 BBs, 3 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 80 pitches.

This doesn’t help at all. He’s a Young Gun, and we can pretty much ignore Oviedo for the season. Bummer, I had a deep hope he could do good things in Oracle Park. The command just isn’t there yet.

Patrick Corbin @ SD (ND) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 106 pitches.

He’s at 92/93 mph & his slider is looking decent. It’s not at the level of ace-dom, though, and we’re still in this purgatory. I’m still out for now, but I’d consider it if the matchups work out in Corbin’s favor.

Jacob deGrom vs MIL (ND) – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 10 Ks – 18 Whiffs, 40% CSW, 85 pitches.

Aces gonna ace and earn a Golden Goal. He was forced to allow a pair of homers to ensure he wouldn’t get the Win despite removing the bullpen from the equation before extras. Them’s the rules.

Alec Mills vs PHI (W) – 5.2 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 95 pitches.

It sure wasn’t the strong performance from last time as Mills faced the Phils and served…a Philly, but hey, this ain’t so bad. Can’t say I’m too enamored by his repertoire, though, but maybe he’s good for a stream down the road. Streaming Record: 55-40.

Sean Manaea @ HOU (L) – 6.2 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 92 pitches.

We had some unearned runs + a Careful, Icarus in the seventh to make this a weird one for Manaea, though that’s just four baserunners to his name as he sat at 93 mph and made me all kinds of excited. I have him ranked as high as he’s ever been and this start is keeping him locked in place with that heat. I will say, though, just 1/32 changeup + breaker whiffs is a bit disappointing. For his next start, it’s simple: Leave the secondaries, take the cannoli velocity.

Andrew Heaney vs BOS (W) – 5.1 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 22% CSW, 107 pitches.

This is a rather…pedestrian start for the ultimate Cherry Bomb, even if the ratios are in fact poor for your teams. It’s just not disastrous, you know? Anyway, he’s obviously too dangerous to trust on your teams these days.

Drew Smyly @ PIT (W) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 9 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 88 pitches.

Smyly got the Pirates and while he salvaged this disaster with a win, it’s still dirty as h*ck with a 2.40 WHIP and 5.40 ERA. Yikes. He really shouldn’t be rostered in 35% of leagues.

Antonio Senzatela @ ARI (ND) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 105 pitches.

Sure, the ratios aren’t great, but a PQS from Senz-a? Sure, why not. It’s a positive thing, and we normally don’t get those from Antonio.

Zack Wheeler @ CHC (L) – 5.2 IP, 4 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 97 pitches.

Aces gonna get Singled Out and let down a bit by his defense. See this face? This is the face of a man who isn’t concerned. Annoyed, but not concerned.

Eduardo Rodríguez @ LAA (L) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 9 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 87 pitches.

Blegh. Ohtani did Ohtani things, but Eduardo did have his four-seamer cooking — 45% CSW! Eight whiffs! — but the changeup and cutter weren’t good enough to keep it all together. He’s close, y’all, and if he faces mediocre squads, I’m in. No, that doesn’t include the Angels.

Sam Hentges @ TB (L) – 4.1 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 86 pitches.

Nope. There’s a hint of bliss in those breakers, but he’s too far away now. This is a Young Gun in its rawest self and I hope he blossoms at some point in the future.

Yusei Kikuchi vs NYY (ND) – 5.0 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 22% CSW, 94 pitches.

Noooo Kikuchi! He hasn’t had a stumble like this for ages and it just wasn’t his day. The sweeper was ineffective while his cutter just couldn’t steal strikes like it normally does. Throw in a four-seamer sitting 94 mph instead of 96 mph, and yeah, you have a disappointing day. I am a little worried about that velocity dip, but I’ll give Kikuchi the benefit of the doubt after just one evening instead of reacting too strongly. Monitor it moving forward.

Michael Pineda vs CWS (L) – 5.1 IP, 5 ER, 12 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 82 pitches.

Welcome back Pineda, you gotta figure out that slider as just 21% usage for three whiffs ain’t gonna cut it. The fact that you threw more changeups says a whole lot and it’s not a speech I want to hear. I’m out until you fix this.

Kyle Gibson vs DET (L) – 6.1 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 98 pitches.

Oh no. The man actually stumbled — against the Tigers! Okay okay, the Tigers have been a better offense as of late, BUT STILL. Gibson’s sinker wasn’t as effective as it normally is and it just didn’t go his way. No, we’re not changing course, the man has earned the standard three-start confirmation before we make a move. Don’t panic.

Ross Detwiler vs LAD (ND) – 2.2 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 22% CSW, 64 pitches.

Trust me, you don’t want the Deets. You really don’t. Jordan Holloway followed for 60 pitches on his own and earned a blistering 40% CSW, heavily reliant on a slider he threw half the time for 48% CSW as he went 4.1 scoreless frames with six strikeouts. I’ve already expressed some intrigue there and I wonder if he can be a streamer if he gets a true opportunity.

Matt Harvey vs TOR (L) – 3.2 IP, 6 ER, 9 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 75 pitches.

I mean, did you expect any different? Why?

Jean Carlos Mejía @ TB (L) – 2.2 IP, 6 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 73 pitches.

Womp womp. I wonder if Cleveland is going to do something at the deadline to replace some of these starters. Mejía just doesn’t have the command to make this work this season.

Chris Paddack vs WSH (ND) – 2.0 IP, 8 ER, 9 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 75 pitches.

Wow. Paddack made some mistakes on heaters and changeups and they were crushed. There’s not a whole lot more to say than that. His curveball couldn’t save him — 2/15 CSW — while the changeup earned just 2/25 whiffs. It’s been a struggle all year trying to figure out if Paddack was going to turn the corner or not, and it sure looked like he was on the verge of it three weeks ago. Now we’re in this tough place, and I’m totally fine moving on if you have good options. In the end, I think Paddack will have plenty of great starts ahead, though it would be foolish to suggest more bumps in the road aren’t coming. He’s just not a finished product. Up to you what’s best in your situation.


Game of the Day 


Julio Urías vs Sandy Alcántara – Sandy, it’s your time. Julio, don’t let us down. Nick, focus on the notes.

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

Have Questions? – Join my morning Twitch livestream! I answer all questions there for free: 9:00 am – 11:00 am EST Monday through Friday.

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.

4 responses to “Wacha the Line”

  1. BB says:

    To put the German appearance in perspective, he was scratched from the start because of an emergency root canal but was feeling good enough later to pitch in relief.

    • theKraken says:

      Good information. I have not known the context and overreacted many times myself. Strange that he wasn’t good enough to start but good enough to pitch. I can’t say that I think that makes sense, but ti does explain the usage.

  2. theKraken says:

    Dodgers analytics department deserve some recognition for their embarrassment yesterday. They went with the bullpen all day and lost to the lowly fish. In the process they managed to burn Kenley in a meaningless appearance along the way. How can a fringe-dynasty hemorrhage this much talent this quickly? All of those scrubs that were supposed to be better than Kenley are now looking like the weak links in the bullpen and they are right back to leaning on the one reliable guy they have in Kenley… and Joe Kelly is still on the roster. If I know the the Dodgers they will be looking to undermine Kenley soon enough – it is about that time of year. At this point, take a moment to think about all of the Twitter trash about how Kenley needs to go and wasn’t their best option for years now. I am sure when he blows a save in September, we will start to hear about it. Beyond the bullpen, how about that rotation, which is thin. Not a good pairing with a bullpen that the front-office will annihilate by design. Offensively, they have studs like 40 y/o Pujols and Steven Souza who I am surprised are on anyone’s roster… let alone what was one of the better teams in the history of MLB. Matt Beaty and McKinstry are defensive liabilities who rotate around the field killing the squad on a nightly basis, with the upside of being poor offensive players as well. Neuse is just as bad or even worse but doesn’t play every day. There is good news though – Will Smith is getting plenty of rest. The fact that the decision makers for this team are not publicly thrown under the bus is telling of the current state of MLB. Things are getting worse quickly and the fans and the players lose. It is cheaper to pay a few kids to look at spreadsheets and throw darts at a board than it is to pay players. It is the fans that have to hold them accountable for what they are doing to the on field baseball. The alternative is the blind trust that this game is better than ever before. I can’t imagine the foundation for that belief but it exists. Its not hitting, pitching, defense or base-running. If the past year has taught us anything it is that people making decisions don’t really know what they are doing. As we rely on selective data and arbitrary analysis of said flawed data we just make more absurd decisions as people now hide behind science. Calling something science doesn’t make it right, even if there are computers involved… super computers. Whatever tools LAD is using are broken, but I am pretty sure they are not alone. If the league can collectively play worse players and let the better players play less where they should be playing, then the entire league becomes more competitive and payrolls decline while worse players have a better chance of short-term success. Notice how that is what we have for the most part is short term “breakouts”. Very few quality players are exhibiting anything resembling sustainable growth. For the first time in a decade, we are not talking about a generational crop of youth. That would be a stretch even for the social media hype machine. Of course, Vladito is the one exception that I can think of. This is a dark era for baseball. There is not a strong crop of HOF talent beyond the guys taking a victory lap. You can already see the group of kids who were promoted really young not getting better and beginning the Bryce Harper, Jason Heyward regression plan. As it turns out, handing kids jobs as opposed to focusing on development is not in anyone’s best interest except for someone seeking to maximize profits and maybe water down MLB talent at the same time. Strangely enough, the Dodgers manage to get older and worse… which is difficult to do in this era. Changing the rules on pitcher mid-way through the season along is a ploy to compensate for the de-juiced balls. This generation of players needs league intervention to do anything noteworthy and that is truly sad. As long as the focus is on analytics over baseball, this should continue. Nobody could be watching the Dodgers regularly and not have concerns about the guys in the field and it isn’t just the Dodgers. Defensive highlight are becoming OF that are terrible out there flaiing around to catch balls that a real OF would catch routinely – I suspect that Statcast loves this which is how Kyle Tucker and Belly would be great OF. If you think that things are not getting worse, then watch a Dodgers game. There is no way that you won’t be scratching your head.

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