Yusei Yes, I Say Go Go Go

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Thursday.

Yusei Kikuchi @ TOR (W) – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 99 pitches.

It’s proper time I gave a lead to Yusei Kikuchi who has done nothing but dominate for seven straight starts, including tonight’s 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks (15 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 99 pitches) against the mighty Blue Jays. That’s a 1.67 ERA with a 0.92 WHIP and 40 strikeouts in 43 1/3 frames and hot dang, that’s amazing.

He does it with a four-seamer at 96 mph, a cutter that earns outs, and a slider that…normally has an elite ~40% CSW but went missing tonight (hey, his cutter was that good!). It’s a repertoire filled with strikes, whiffs, and heat, and we need to stop waiting for the shoe to get DFA’d drop. Kikuchi may not be a Top 15 ace with his sub-30% strikeout rate, but he’s looking like an excellent #3/#4 SP for the year. Go take down those Yankees next time out.


Let’s see how every other SP did Thursday:


Dane Dunning @ OAK (ND) – 4.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 68 pitches.

The Rangers elected to pitch Dunning in tandem with John King and it paid off…just not for our fantasy leagues. It’s not like Dunning was a major option in the first place, though. It’s pretty obvious you’d rather have a good night with your buds than pairing with the DD.

Nathan Eovaldi vs KC (W) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 84 pitches.

Eovaldi is a Cherry Bomb and has his fate dictated by the secondaries clicking or not, which essentially show up roughly 65% of the time. Yes, they obviously clicked tonight, and while the odds say they will next against the Angels, who knows. Who knows…

Corbin Burnes @ PIT (W) – 7.1 IP, 1 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 94 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. Burnes was pulled in the eighth due to an arrow soreness in his knee, but is optimistic he’ll make his next turn in the rotation. Meanwhile, his spin rates weren’t as dramatically low as before, while he elected to turn to more of his repertoire. Kinda wild to see him go just 32% cutters, favoring curveballs, sliders, and changeups for a whopping 54% usage in total. What did they return? Why a neat 30% CSW. That works for me, go forth and prosper, young one.

Victor González @ WSH (ND) – 0.2 IP, 1 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 0 Ks – 1 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 7 pitches.

The Dodgers elected to go with two openers before Tony Gonsolin showed up, who tossed just 3.0 innings and 52 pitches (1 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks) before he was relieved and should be forgotten about on your teams. This game as a whole ended early, though, suspended after just five frames due to a legit torrent & a tornado warning, so hey, maybe that had something to do with it. Still, this is #Dodgeritis at work and it’s too much of a headache for me. Oh, and his slider was meh. MEH.

Ryan Weathers @ CIN (ND) – 4.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 4 BBs, 5 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 83 pitches.

He returned and was as blegh as we remember. Just 2/21 slider whiffs as I’m waiting for the pitch to transform into a legit secondary offering before reconsidering the add. Oh, and, you know, not needing over 80 pitches to toss just four frames. That would be cool too. How on Earth was I ever into you?

Adam Wainwright @ COL (ND) – 8.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 110 pitches.

I didn’t have a whole lot of faith that Waino, and while his cutter wasn’t quite as good, the curveball was, and he coasted. There have been few surprises more welcome than Wainwright’s renaissance and here’s to it continuing through to the end.

Antonio Senzatela vs STL (ND) – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 87 pitches.

Wait what. Wow, the Cardinals are really that poor of an offense, aren’t they. Noted.

Framber Valdez @ CLE (W) – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 5 BBs, 6 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 107 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. It feels a little dirty with five walks along the way, but Framber managed to pull it off once again. He wasn’t able to find the zone a whole lot with his heater and both his changeup and curveball had plenty of wasted pitches, but hey, he made it work. It does get a little harder now with Oakland, but he should be fine.

Ian Anderson vs NYM (ND) – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 22% CSW, 97 pitches.

It’s odd to see Anderson put out such a Toby outing, but hey, I’ll take those ratios all day. He got a bit lucky, though, featuring a changeup that was hung up in the zone a ton, and somehow found gloves. He’ll get Pittsburgh next, so no reason to panic. He should adjust.

Wil Crowe vs MIL (L) – 4.2 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 95 pitches.

Hey, 17 whiffs is nothing to ignore and I love how Crowe showcased not one, but two secondary pitches earning at least seven whiffs in this one via his slider and changeup — 40% CSW on 25 slow balls! — and it makes me wonder if there’s a world where Crowe turns this into legit production. It is a 94 mph heater, after all. Command is still a bit of a problem, but hey, if Crowe has two legit whiff pitches, I’d consider him NL-Only leagues.

Jacob deGrom @ ATL (ND) – 7.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 14 Ks – 27 Whiffs, 45% CSW, 93 pitches.

I’m amazed he allowed three ER (all in the first), but not that he earned a Golden Goal. He has a higher SwStr rate than Zone rate on his slider, as the pitch has a 34% SwStr for the season. That’s absurd. But in the end, I’m sorry deGrom. You’re still five whiffs short of the Panada.

José Berríos @ CWS (ND) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 10 Hits, 1 BBs, 0 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 89 pitches.

Jeeeeeeeez, Berríos gave you literally nothing to salvage in this one. Seriously, not even a single strikeout. HAISTFMFWT?! The curveball failed to earn a single whiff and like a Metapod without harden, it was a struggle. Don’t worry, by season’s end Berríos always finds a way to give you a ~3.70 ERA + ~1.15 WHIP with a 23% strikeout rate and hey, the Royals and Tigers are up ahead. Surely they can help!

Luis Castillo vs SD (ND) – 6.1 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 103 pitches.

Awwww, this was a Careful, Icarus as Castillo allowed his final two runs and four baserunners in the seventh frame. Booooooo. I wish I could see his changeup performance and fix my attitude, but sadly, just 4/25 changeup whiffs as I’m still in purgatory. Really cool to see his heater sit 98 and touch 100, though. Oh, and 9/23 slider whiffs? I’m all about that. Just get the slow ball on track and we’re golden.

Merrill Kelly vs SF (W) – 7.0 IP, 3 ER, 7 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 34% CSW, 92 pitches.

Ayyyy, it worked! Streaming Record: 51-38. Kelly didn’t have his premier velocity, but his curveball and cutter did enough to weave through the Giants and help across the board. He’s been rewarded with Rockie Road and honestly, I think I kinda like that. Not necessarily worthy enough to hold across the next week, but he could be the streamer that day.

Sean Manaea vs TEX (L) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 9 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 19 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 94 pitches.

Noooooo. Manaea leaned heavily on that changeup again and it simply wasn’t the pitch we’ve seen it to be for most of the year. You know what’s crazy though? 16 whiffs on sinkers. THAT’S CRAZY. Too bad that changeup couldn’t do enough to prevent a 103.5 KTU as the hits kept on coming. His fastball is still 92 mph and with those whiffs, you best not let go.

Hyun Jin Ryu vs SEA (L) – 4.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 Hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 85 pitches.

Man, this should really be the eye-opener for many. Ryu once again didn’t have his changeup — 1/12 CSW! — and his cutter failed to get effective strikes either — 2/24 CSW — and it’s just all pain. I’m not saying Ryu will stay this way, but he’s on a poor path at the moment and will likely need some time to get his stuff back. This ain’t it.

Carlos Rodón vs MIN (ND) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 9 Ks – 23 Whiffs, 38% CSW, 97 pitches.

Despite hitting 100 mph and back to averaging 96/97 on his heater…and earning 23 whiffs…and a 38% CSW, this ace failed to give you the ERA you deserve. Are you worried after two underwhelming starts? Don’t, that would be absolutely ridiculous. The man increased his four-seamer spin rate in this one, after all, while jumping a tick back up in velocity and, once again, TOUCHING 100. Hold the dang door.

Kris Bubic @ BOS (L) – 4.0 IP, 5 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 3 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 71 pitches.

There was a moment when he came in as a reliever where he had it: That changeup feel I’ve been chasing and believe is there somewhere across a full start. I dream of that moment.

Johnny Cueto @ ARI (L) – 5.0 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 23% CSW, 90 pitches.

He didn’t even get whiffs on his four-seamer. HOW COULD HE DO THAT TO US. But seriously, let’s not trust Cueto save for a desperate stream in deeper leagues. We’ll be better off mentally, you know?

Patrick Corbin vs LAD (L) – 4.2 IP, 5 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 97 pitches.

This game ended after five frames due to the weather, shortly after Corbin allowed a grand slam. He sat 92/93 mph with a decent (but not elite) slider and I’m kinda willing to just forget about the whole thing. Sadly it’s the Padres + Giants next, though, so yeah, we’re still out.

J.C. Mejía vs HOU (L) – 4.0 IP, 6 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 87 pitches.

The man has a lively sinker and a solid slider and that’s just not enough against the strong bats of Houston. The Royals are next and while he’s a deep option there as he hovers 90 pitches, I don’t think he has the stuff to make anyone truly target it.


Game of the Day 


Julio Urías vs Max ScherzerNew school vs. Old school. I dig it.

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.

Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire | Adapted 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.

One response to “Yusei Yes, I Say Go Go Go”

  1. BP says:

    I will NEVER stop believing in RODAN

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