Zach Fly

Nick Pollack reviews every starting pitcher performance from Friday.

Zach Plesac @ DET (W) – 7.2 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 9 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 36% CSW, 101 pitches.

It’s felt a whole like a lost season for Zach Plesac before tonight. His ghastly 4.84 ERA and 16% strikeout rate (despite an oddly solid 1.14 WHIP) made many managers do their best to erase any emotion tied to the Cleveland starter but a glisten of hope may twinkle on the horizon after tonight’s Win against the Tigers: 7.2 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 9 Ks – 13 Whiffs, 36% CSW, 101 pitches. Is that King Cole a sign of redemption or a moment of bliss?

A little of both? Plesac succeeded here by earning a ton of called strikes with his heater – a whopping 34% called strike rate – while his breakers and changeup weren’t exploited by the Tigers. It’s something that can certainly work, but I do wonder what happens if his four-seamer foundation is faulty on a given day. Does his slider or curveball step up? Maybe the changeup? Plesac’s four-seamer has been the weakest link of his repertoire in the past and this seems awfully fragile to base an argument for stability. At the same time, it’s not like his secondaries were poor, in fact, they performed well and could still be this good moving forward, regardless of the heater.

We get a solid test next time out against the Twins and I’m awfully curious what we’ll get. He’ll be in tier three then and I kinda hope his four-seamer isn’t great, but the secondaries more than make up for it. That’s an argument I can buy.


Let’s see how every other SP did Friday:


Julio Urías @ NYM (ND) – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 82 pitches.

He’s not performing at a level that demands an AGA label, but it’s solid and we take solid. The heater and curveball were fantastic, though I was sad to see the changeup still fail to come to light. If he has all three working on a given night, Urías is good as any.

Zack Greinke @ LAA (ND) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 26% CSW, 94 pitches.

Whoa, seven strikeouts?! Easy now Greinke, you’re supposed to be the quiet ace, not the actual ace.

Jack Flaherty @ KC (W) – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 81 pitches.

All I want to do is grab Flaherty’s hand and show him around my fantasy lineups. This is Patrick, he didn’t do so well tonight, but trust me, you’re going to love him. Wow, you’ve been gone so long and missed so much! What a welcome sight he is. There was one questionable element, though: his lack of slider. The four-seamer did most of the work here and traditionally, secondary command is the last facet to return. Let’s hope it does soon.

Tyler Mahle @ PHI (W) – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 Hits, 0 BBs, 7 Ks – 17 Whiffs, 33% CSW, 108 pitches.

There’s a lot of hoopla being about Mahle’s home/road splits and I get it – the guy is a flyball pitcher and Cincy attracts homers like Nintendo fans to HD remakes. I’m generally inclined to steer clear of home/road splits (they’re generally just noise and a product of random small sample size grouping), but I get that logic and if you want to lean that way moving forward, by all Johns means. I’d start him at home against the Cubs at the very least, though.

Nick Pivetta vs BAL (W) – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 2 BBs, 8 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 93 pitches.

Pivetta realized Chris Sale was returning tomorrow and wanted to make a good impression. Beat that, Chris! Pivetta shouted as he returned to the dugout. Oh, just you wait, Chris replied. Just you wait. Props to Pivetta for taking advantage of this matchup, by the way. That curve was looking puuurty.

Dane Dunning vs OAK (ND) – 4.2 IP, 2 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 6 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 74 pitches.

Ehhhhhh this ain’t it chief. I’ve been sitting on “Hot Dane!” for so long and I’m getting more frustrated with each start as I patiently twiddle my thumbs. It’s not easy and the resentment grows thicker. It can be thick? Sure, why not.

Shane McClanahan @ MIN (W) – 5.1 IP, 2 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 101 pitches.

He got a bit Singled Outbut the rest is solid as my love for McClanahan is still there, but a little tested. He’s not getting the massive whiffs I think his slider should be getting (3/27 here) and I’ll be paying close attention to it down the stretch. He has the ceiling of a Top 10 arm, it’s just a matter of development and volume.

Robbie Ray @ SEA (ND) – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks – 18 Whiffs, 32% CSW, 90 pitches.

Aces gonna ace. That’s a Gallows Pole for Ray as he did exactly what he was supposed to do against the Mariners. I’m flat out amazed he went 50% sliders in this one, making a solid adjustment as he was down a tick on his heater. It may be a slight cause for concern, but nothing I’d consider actionable. Just smile and nod for now.

Madison Bumgarner vs SD (ND) – 6.2 IP, 2 ER, 9 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 103 pitches.

I’ve been throwing so much shade toward Bumgarner as he hovers 90 mph – It’s not 91/92 mph! – and all he’s done is produce, regardless of his tough schedule. Shows what I know. Vargas Rule this one all you want.

Blake Snell @ ARI (ND) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 28% CSW, 101 pitches.

It’s not the amazing seven performance we saw last time – not even close – and I’m a little sad to see that he re-introduced his curveball instead of going just four-seamer/slider like last time. To his credit, the curve performed better than the sweeper, and something needed to step in as the four-seamer command was all over the place. I’m back to being a bit scared here and with Coors up next, I’m avoiding that one completely. Ugh, I really want Snell to have that command again.

Anthony DeSclafani vs COL (ND) – 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 4 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 82 pitches.

For a debatable Still ILLthis is pretty dang good for Tony Disco. He got Rockie Road in Oracle Park and it seemed relatively safe, but he didn’t have his best stuff and labored a bit. The Mets are next and I’d imagine I’d still start him there as he should be a bit better than what we saw here.

Charlie Morton @ WSH (ND) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 95 pitches.

Does Morton deserve the AGA label? I’ve been inclined to limit how many starters get them after my horrific track record handing them out this year (sorry Chris Bassitt, it’s nothing personal!), but he’s stepped it up with a 3.45 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and 28% strikeout rate across 128 innings entering today. That curveball has been one of the best in baseball. Let me know what y’all think on Twitter.

Chris Flexen vs TOR (ND) – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 3 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 21% CSW, 73 pitches.

Hey, I’m impressed. I sure didn’t expect Flexen to survive against the Jays, but here he is, getting it done with…four whiffs. Y’all know this BABIP luck ain’t gonna hold, right?

Tylor Megill vs LAD (ND) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 11 Whiffs, 24% CSW, 92 pitches.

This started well and eventually the Dodgers got to him for three runs. Still, six strikeouts ain’t so bad, so at least he has that going for him. He heads to Oracle Park next and I’ve learned my lesson trusting starters against the Giants. That’s a no-go for me.

Josiah Gray vs ATL (ND) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks – 12 Whiffs, 30% CSW, 87 pitches.

On one hand, a 4.50 ERA isn’t great, but a PQS with a sub 1.00 WHIP and six strikeouts for a young guy like Josiah is promising in my eye. That curveball was ridiculous with a 48% CSW here as he pushed the slider aside for its slower and better brother. It looks like the Brewers are next and I wouldn’t hold back Josiah where I have him.

Mike Minor vs STL (L) – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 102 pitches.

Ayyyy he followed “The Cardinal Rule”! The heater was bad, the secondaries were not, and Minor made it work for a PQSNow forget all about this as he gets Houston next. But—I SAID FORGET IT.

Cole Irvin @ TEX (L) – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 8 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks – 7 Whiffs, 16% CSW, 87 pitches.

Irvin is a Toby and this was a start made for him, so of course it didn’t go well. Ugh, why can’t he just follow the rules like Minor? He gets the White Sox next and that’s a miss like it’s a piggy. Apologize. Okay okay, I’m sorry for that one. Mostly.

Zack Wheeler vs CIN (L) – 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – 14 Whiffs, 27% CSW, 94 pitches.

Blegh. Wheeler allowed a pair of longballs that tallied up to all four runs, including a…deep fly to left field from Nicholas Castellanos that made it a 4-0 ballgame. I kid you not. It’s not what you wanted, but hey, that WHIP is still glorious + six strikeouts make it a Dusty DonutAces find a way to salvage poor outings.

Michael Pineda vs TB (L) – 2.2 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 3 Ks – 10 Whiffs, 39% CSW, 46 pitches.

If Pineda has his slider, everything is fine. He didn’t have his slider. He was not fine.

Tyler Alexander vs CLE (L) – 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 4 Ks – 4 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 77 pitches.

Oh hey, it’s a T-Lex. There was a time this was a destructive force, but that day is so far away. It feels like that moment belongs in a museum.

Patrick Sandoval vs HOU (ND) – 4.2 IP, 4 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 25% CSW, 83 pitches.

Bleeeeegh. I really hoped The Panada would show up and display how his stuff plays regardless of opponent, but here’s Mr. 32 Whiffs earning just five on the evening, four of which coming on fastballs. Fastballs! What I would call his worst pitch. At least we’re going to get a start against Detroit next where he should feast, but I won’t forget this one, Patrick. You disappointed me. I just want you to be the dopest, you know that, right?

Austin Gomber @ SF (ND) – 4.0 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 2 Ks – 8 Whiffs, 31% CSW, 78 pitches.

I was hoping it would be a revenge game for Gomber but nope, sadly this was just more of the same. We stepped into the same bear trap we worked so hard to get out of months ago. But this time I’ll be prepared! What a naive man I was. And now he has to get San Diego?! So cruel.

Jesús Luzardo vs CHC (W) – 5.0 IP, 5 ER, 6 Hits, 4 BBs, 6 Ks – 15 Whiffs, 29% CSW, 106 pitches.

The stuff is still good, the command is still oh-so not. He’s the truest PEAS we know and we’re gonna have to sit on our hands and wait for it to show up. And by sit on our hands, I mean remove said hands from any association with us completely until Luzardo demands they return to us. You get it.

Adbert Alzolay @ MIA (L) – 1.1 IP, 6 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 1 Ks – 5 Whiffs, 20% CSW, 46 pitches.

Oh no. Oh no no no no. Streaming Record: 71-52. What happened to you Alzolay?! YOU WERE THE CHOSEN ONE. The command was off, the Marlins connected, the history was rest. That’s not how it goes. NONE OF THIS IS HOW IT GOES. Obviously we can’t trust Alzolay at all now until further notice, so make sure he’s nowhere near your squad now.

Spenser Watkins @ BOS (L) – 4.0 IP, 6 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 1 Ks – 3 Whiffs, 18% CSW, 87 pitches.

Would have you started J.A. Happ against the Red Sox? So why would you start Watkins. You’re just going to lean into this comp, aren’t you. Hey, the man served a “HAISTBMBWT?”, I don’t have a choice. But he actually tossed just 41% four-seamers instead of the 70%+ we see from Happ. I DON’T HAVE A CHOICE.


Game of the Day 


Chris Sale vs. Baltimore Orioles – It’s time. IT’S TIME.

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

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Featured image by Quincey Dong

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.

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