Why Gant We Be Friends?

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Wednesday.

John Gant @ CWS (W) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 94 pitches.

We have to have a chat about John GantThe man just went 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks against the White Sox and now holds a — I can’t believe I’m typing this — 1.81 ERA across nine starts. What in the name of Sandy Koufax is going on here?

It’s unsustainable luck. Pack it up, we’re done here. No, seriously, it’s wild. That low ERA comes with a stupid high 1.56 WHIP as he’s walking more batters than Dallas Keuchel is striking out with his walk rate hovering 15%. Meanwhile, the man is avoiding home runs like he knows a guy, with just one on the entire season. ONE. Fine, but surely his stuff is decent, right? It’s a 91 mph sinker and a slider that went 0/30 on whiffs in this game. Oh. At least his changeup is decent — 40% CSW across 15 thrown — but this is black magic and I won’t stand for it. I don’t even want to call it a Vargas Rule because it’s more obvious than Matt Holliday never touching home plate. We know the truth, there’s no reason to live your life feigning ignorance.


Let’s see how every other SP did Wednesday:

Joe Ross vs CIN (ND) – 4.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 35% CSW, 55 pitches. This one will be resumed tomorrow, effectively ending this start for Ross. It’s not fair as his slider was legit — 6/26 whiffs as he featured the pitch nearly 50% of the time. It’s great watching him feel the pitch like the good ole days. It’s Atlanta next, though, and I ain’t trusting him there. Too much lava on that floor.

Jeff Hoffman vs WSH (?) – 1.1 IP, 2 ER, 2 Hits, 5 BBs, 0 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 15% CSW, 46 pitches. Yup, a ? decision as this game was suspended and he could still get the loss. If the five walks didn’t telegraph it enough, Hoffman left this one hurt and those that stuck with him after earning you a solid stream last time, well, you can stop doing that now.

James Kaprielian vs SEA (W) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 94 pitches.

Mmmm now that’s a lovely stream. Streaming Record: 36-16. The man did it with just four whiffs to his name, getting it all done with four-seamers in play. The BABIP gods can be merciful. His whole shtick isn’t doing it for me as a long-term add, but hey, he gets the Mariners again next week if he doesn’t get booted for Jesus Luzardo and I’m down to do this again.

Jose Urena vs CLE (ND) – 5.2 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 81 pitches.

Ureña got it done with sinkers for outs and sliders to strikes — it sure wasn’t his 9% changeup across the 22 thrown, that’s for sure. This is essentially the ceiling you were chasing with this outing, and let’s all give a lovely golf clap for those who succeeded. Clapclapclap. That’s enough.

Triston McKenzie @ DET (ND) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 73 pitches.

McKenzie got the start as Plesac was sent to the IL and opened the door for an early return. I didn’t expect McKenzie to pitch the best game of the season after being shoved to the minors and quickly returned, but I guess it’s what the kid needed…? Meh, maybe it was just the Tigers. I didn’t think he’d be able to go a full five given how erratic he’s been, either, so yeah, I’m shocked here. He gets the White Sox next, though, so you can leave him on the wire.

Tyler Glasnow vs KC (ND) – 8.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 11 Ks – 25 Whiffs, 38% CSW, 102 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. The slider was alive as Glasnow featured it nearly 50% of the time for 11 whiffs and 35% CSW, propelling the Golden Goal. Just 10 curveballs here as the slider did everything the curve wanted to be….yet it earned 6/10 whiffs because sure, why not. Life is so much better when Glasnow is cruising.

Luis Garcia vs LAD (W) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 34% CSW, 100 pitches.

Hot dang! García was dealt a tough hand against the Dodgers and after getting the green light from the Astros to stick in the rotation (so sorry Cristian Javier), García exploded for seven strikeouts without a single earned run. Incredible. I’m still a little pessimistic his fastball is this good, though his slider and cutter were solid enough to find the zone and get outs. So, this means he’s worth an add? Naaaah, I know this line is pretty and it’s the Dodgers, but he has to do it again versus the Red Sox, Jays, and Twins. No thanks.

Chris Paddack @ MIL (ND) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 2 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 68 pitches.

We’ll take it, but we wanted to be happier about the status of your stuff. A 21% CSW with just four whiffs? Jeez Paddack, are you trying to put me to sleep?! So many induced outs that allowed him go six frames on just 68 pitches as Stephen Lyman’s words ring in my head: Pitching is attrition. Good for the Padres to save a few bullets here.

Eric Lauer vs SD (ND) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 85 pitches.

Wait what. Lauer’s cutter did legit damage here, though it sat 90 mph instead of the exciting 92 mph we saw a few weeks back. However, his heater managed to go 9/28 whiffs, which I still can’t quite grasp. This is Lauer, right?! BSB all day here with sliders and changeups sitting low to emphasize that high heater, and I guess that’s cool. I really don’t buy this sticking, sadly.

Trevor Williams @ PIT (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 37% CSW, 71 pitches.

I’ve been done with T-Dubs this year, and I’m happy he was able to get his act together for the Pirates. Sure, it relied a ton on called strikes, but whatever, Pittsburgh lets that happen. Props to y’all that earned this start, now throw him back to the wire with Pads up next. But I want to bench and hold! What, for the Giants and Cardinals? NAY! Don’t be so easily seduced. You’re better than that.

Michael Pineda vs BAL (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks – 19 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 101 pitches.

Pineda had one outing where his slider wasn’t there and everything else has been business as usual. He’s possibly the most underrated starter so far, holding a 2.62 ERA and sub 1.00 WHIP through eight starts.

Carlos Rodon vs STL (L) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 1 Hits, 0 BBs, 10 Ks – 22 Whiffs, 37% CSW, 94 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. I don’t have a choice, he’s at 96.2 mph now and his fastball earned 16 whiffs here. The man has arrived.

Aaron Nola @ MIA (ND) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 97 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. Phew, at least he can handle Miami. His curveball and changeup were filthy and should make you feel okay with Cincy and Atlanta next. Let’s just push the Dodgers start out of our minds for now.

Nick Neidert vs PHI (ND) – 4.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 78 pitches.

Hey, this was serviceable! Well, for the Marlins, not your fantasy team. Sorry, I don’t see that changing any time soon.

Mike Minor @ TB (ND) – 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 4 BBs, 9 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 96 pitches.

Whoaaaa, another heavy strikeout game from Minor! Surely he’s pumping gas agai— nope. 90.8 mph. Excellent command of the pitch as he jammed it up-and-in to right-handers constantly, though, and if he can command that well, sure, this will stick. However, I’m pretty skeptical Minor can do that, even against the Pirates next. Fine, that’s a start, I guess, but definitely not the Twins after unless the velocity returns to 92/93 mph.

Merrill Kelly vs SF (ND) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 37% CSW, 81 pitches.

That’s two straight impressive performances from Kelly, once again getting it done across his repertoire. The main shocker is the 7/14 whiffs on his changeup, though, as the Giants let him sling sinkers and four-seamers over the plate with ease. Now aligned for an evening against the replaceMets, you should be holding Kelly.

Trevor Bauer @ HOU (L) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 3 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 100 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. He was definitely underwhelming with a 1.33 WHIP and just three strikeouts, but he toughed it out to still give you a solid ERA. That’s what aces do — they give you something to salvage on days when it just isn’t there.

Jorge Lopez @ MIN (L) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 4 BBs, 3 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 93 pitches.

If you somehow went with JorLó, you should be stoked with a PQSkinda. I mean, that’s a 4.50 ERA and 1.33 WHIP with just three strikeouts. That’s not actually good in any standard 12-teamer. Soooooo yeah, this is as awkward as saying goodbye and walking in the same direction.

Wil Crowe vs CHC (L) – 1.1 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 49 pitches.

We expected nothing and we’re still disappointed. It hurts to see a guy go through this, you know?

Griffin Canning vs TEX (W) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 92 pitches.

Ehhhh, I’ll take the dub and seven Ks, but a PQS in my standard leagues ain’t our jam. Weird seeing his changeup act the primary secondary pitch in this one — that’s supposed to be the slider and if that doesn’t work, the curveball. Like my first goldfish, this is Fishy and may not last long. He gets the Giants in Oracle Park next and that could work. A bit iffy still.

Johnny Cueto @ ARI (ND) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 8 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 85 pitches.

Blegh. He surprisingly got some whiffs on his 92.4 mph heater and his changeup was working, but he made some mistakes, the Sneks hit them, and there’s your ball game. It all needs to go the right way for Cueto to roll through lineups, and he’s still just a decent streamer.

Nick Pivetta vs ATL (W) – 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 9 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 102 pitches.

Hey, that’s nine strikeouts and a VPQS with an extra ER. Nick, those ratios are terrible. Yeah, yeah, I know, but this was Atlanta! And his slider went 8/30 whiffs! It’s kinda coming together! And who is he pitching against next? …Houston. And then? …the Yankees. And THEN? …Toronto. FINE I’LL JUST IGNORE THIS. Smart man.

Robert Dugger @ OAK (L) – 3.1 IP, 5 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 1 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 59 pitches.

Remember when Dugger got some starts for the Marlins and actually produced? Wild times those were, now he’s allowing five earned runs and striking out one batter a game. One strikeout?! HAISTFMFWT?!

Dane Dunning @ LAA (L) – 4.0 IP, 7 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 68 pitches.

Oh no. Dane, when we said you were DD, we meant the Designated driver, not the Designated diver. Dunning plummeted your ratios if you trusted him here, relying too heavily on his sinker and had nothing else in the tank to help him. And now it’s Coors? Yikes. Hopefully he’s decent enough there that we could consider him for the Rays the start after.

Drew Smyly @ BOS (L) – 5.1 IP, 7 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 86 pitches.

Yikes. We didn’t expect Smyly to dominate the Red Sox as he’s been the same disappointing self with a sub 93 mph fastball and decent curveball all season long, but 7 ER? Yeah, that’s a little harsh, don’t you think? No reason to trust Smyly until he hints at his 94/95 mph self from September.


Game of the Day 


Alek Manoah vs New York YankeesOkay, okay, for real this time. I’ll be handling the GIF Breakdown duties now, and here’s to a fun article ahead.


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.

4 responses to “Why Gant We Be Friends?”

  1. DB says:

    Gant did a really, really good job as a reliever for at least one season. Just sayin’.

    • Levi says:

      Schildt’s take was that he usually came on out of the bullpen with runners on, so he was accustomed to dealing with traffic. I think he even called him “Frogger.”

    • theKraken says:

      I do believe that he has some legit BABIP suppression skill. It sure looks that way in his stats.

  2. theKraken says:

    I suspect that Luis Garcia might have a little JF in him. JF doesn’t have a great FB just looking at it, but it plays well off of his SL. I agree that the FB doesn’t look great, but it sure as heck played last night. I remain frustrated that he is not throwing the CH as it seems like the perfect complement to his arsenal. I am concerned that all he is throwing is two versions of a SL and a FB. I do not approve of his hard slider – the real slider is a much better pitch. His CB has always impressed me and the numbers back that up as well. In short the man is not throwing his best two pitches. He could be good, but he needs to drop the whole power pitcher arsenal thing. He resembles JF in that regard as well. JF is at his best when he is mixing in something else. I suspect that we are in an era where pitchers are favoring the power stuff so much that they are hurting themselves. Look at JF for instace – why not throw the CB more often? I think that there is mindless analysis going on that favors velo/spin over quality actual pitches. Check out the wRC+ on his pitches if you haven’t. As lifelong baseball fan, I am not shocked that slow quality breaking balls are effective… both in their own results and how they play with the rest of the arsenal.

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