The Pitches Powering the CSW% Leaderboard

After covering some of the whiffiest pitches around last time out, let’s dig a little deeper on the starting pitchers with the highest CSW% in 2022, looking at which pitches in their arsenals are driving the overall upgradde in results.

Here is the CSW% leaderboard for starting pitchers (min 75 batters faced), listing the players currently above the 50th percentile. Also included are SwStr% and CallStr% for 2021 and 2022.

2022 CSW% Leaderboard
Name 2021 TBF 2022 TBF 2021 CSW% 2022 CSW% CSW +/- 2021 SwStr% 2022 SwStr% 2021 Call% 2022 Call% 2021 K-BB 2022 K-BB
Shohei Ohtani 533 108 28.8 37.7 8.9 12.9 17.5 15.9 20.2 21.0 33.3
Shane McClanahan 517 128 31.5 35.8 4.3 14.8 16.4 16.7 19.4 20.1 29.7
Lucas Giolito 720 79 29.8 35.0 5.2 15.3 16.9 14.5 18.1 20.7 30.4
Corbin Burnes 657 146 33.8 34.9 1.1 16.6 18.5 17.2 16.3 30.4 28.8
Joe Musgrove 748 151 31.4 34.1 2.7 12.7 13.6 18.8 20.4 19.9 25.2
Jesus Luzardo 437 105 27.4 34.1 6.7 13.2 13.2 14.2 20.9 11.4 21.9
Kevin Gausman 775 147 31.0 33.3 2.3 15.3 18.9 15.7 14.4 22.8 30.6
Kyle Wright 35 121 27.8 32.4 4.6 9.8 12.9 18.0 19.5 2.9 24.8
Paul Blackburn 175 92 23.6 31.9 8.3 6.0 12.1 17.6 19.8 9.1 21.7
Jordan Montgomery 661 124 28.4 31.8 3.4 13.7 14.5 14.7 17.3 16.8 16.1
Pablo Lopez 418 137 27.8 31.6 3.8 11.8 13.4 16.0 18.2 21.3 19.7
Gerrit Cole 726 125 32.1 31.5 -0.6 14.5 15.1 17.6 16.4 27.8 20.8
Aaron Nola 749 132 31.2 31.2 0.0 12.8 11.5 18.4 19.6 24.6 26.5
Chris Bassitt 637 145 28.1 31.1 3.0 10.1 11.1 18.0 20.1 18.8 20.0
Carlos Rodon 534 111 30.3 30.9 0.6 15.0 14.2 15.4 16.7 27.9 27.9
JT Brubaker 538 115 28.6 30.7 2.1 12.0 11.7 16.6 19.0 16.9 13.9
Alex Wood 585 104 32.3 30.4 -1.9 12.5 10.4 19.8 20.0 19.3 18.3
Matt Brash 95 30.4 10.7 19.7 2.1
Yu Darvish 681 137 30.3 30.2 -0.1 12.1 10.9 18.2 19.2 22.8 13.1
Eric Lauer 489 116 26.2 30.2 4.0 10.6 14.7 15.6 15.5 15.5 29.3
Dylan Bundy 397 107 29.9 30.1 0.2 9.5 12.5 20.4 17.7 12.6 15.9
Max Scherzer 693 143 31.6 30.0 -1.6 15.9 14.6 15.7 15.3 28.9 28.0
Nick Martinez 112 30.0 11.9 18.1 8.0
Dylan Cease 708 137 30.3 29.9 -0.4 14.8 14.6 15.5 15.3 22.3 24.8
Joe Ryan 100 106 29.4 29.9 0.5 11.9 12.7 17.5 17.2 25.0 19.8
Logan Webb 596 150 30.9 29.8 -1.1 12.4 11.4 18.5 18.4 20.5 12.7
Rich Hill 661 88 30.3 29.7 -0.6 9.8 7.0 20.5 22.7 14.4 11.4
Dane Dunning 511 135 28.6 29.7 1.1 10.1 9.3 18.5 20.4 13.9 14.8
Josiah Gray 307 131 28.5 29.6 1.1 14.3 11.3 14.3 18.4 14.0 13.7
Carlos Carrasco 237 121 26.4 29.6 3.2 12.4 13.8 14.1 15.8 13.5 18.2
Freddy Peralta 580 101 31.3 29.5 -1.8 14.5 12.6 16.8 16.9 24.0 19.8
Corey Kluber 341 105 29.2 29.5 0.3 12.5 12.7 16.7 16.8 14.4 18.1
Max Fried 667 142 27.9 29.5 1.6 11.1 13.0 16.8 16.4 17.5 23.2
Noah Syndergaard 8 96 26.9 29.5 2.6 11.5 11.6 15.4 17.9 25.0 9.4
Clayton Kershaw 488 109 32.7 29.4 -3.3 16.7 12.0 16.0 17.4 25.2 26.6
Chad Kuhl 349 111 27.6 29.3 1.7 10.9 13.4 16.8 15.9 9.5 11.7
Steven Matz 647 119 27.8 29.2 1.4 9.4 12.1 18.4 17.1 15.6 18.5
Patrick Sandoval 363 112 31.0 29.1 -1.9 15.2 11.7 15.9 17.4 16.0 13.4
Luis Garcia 633 111 29.7 29.0 -0.7 13.4 12.2 16.3 16.8 18.5 18.9
Ross Stripling 431 88 26.3 29.0 2.7 9.8 11.5 16.4 17.5 14.8 18.2
Brandon Woodruff 708 104 30.0 28.9 -1.1 12.9 13.6 17.2 15.3 23.7 22.1
Julio Urias 745 94 29.8 28.9 -0.9 11.2 9.0 18.6 19.8 21.1 11.7
Bruce Zimmermann 285 125 27.3 28.8 1.5 10.8 12.0 16.6 16.8 11.9 17.6
Hunter Greene 103 28.6 12.7 15.9 17.5
Kyle Gibson 754 133 27.0 28.5 1.5 10.3 13.3 16.7 15.2 12.1 12.8
Tylor Megill 379 130 26.8 28.3 1.5 12.1 13.3 14.7 15.0 19.0 21.5
Patrick Corbin 751 135 26.5 28.3 1.8 11.2 9.3 15.3 19.0 11.1 9.6
Vince Velasquez 417 99 27.0 28.1 1.1 11.7 12.2 15.3 15.9 12.5 12.1
Nestor Cortes 374 97 26.4 28.1 1.7 10.1 9.1 16.3 19.0 20.9 24.7
Adam Wainwright 828 140 29.8 28.0 -1.8 8.1 5.9 21.6 22.1 15.0 10.7
Kyle Freeland 515 140 26.6 28.0 1.4 8.5 10.7 18.1 17.3 13.0 12.1
Martin Perez 509 109 26.5 28.0 1.5 8.3 8.5 18.1 19.4 12.0 10.1
Zack Wheeler 849 111 28.0 27.9 -0.1 12.4 10.7 15.6 17.2 23.7 14.4
Walker Buehler 815 147 29.6 27.7 -1.9 11.6 13.0 18.1 14.6 19.6 15.6
Kyle Hendricks 785 134 27.5 27.6 0.1 8.9 10.7 18.6 16.9 11.1 8.2
Tarik Skubal 634 111 27.4 27.6 0.2 11.4 12.4 16.0 15.2 18.5 23.4
Tyler Mahle 759 139 29.3 27.4 -1.9 11.4 10.6 17.9 16.8 19.2 10.8
Tony Gonsolin 239 90 28.4 27.3 -1.1 12.6 13.6 15.8 13.6 13.0 10.0
Erick Fedde 590 131 25.1 27.3 2.2 9.0 7.1 16.1 20.3 13.6 8.4
Frankie Montas 778 143 29.2 27.2 -2.0 13.7 13.1 15.5 14.1 19.3 19.6
Sean Manaea 754 147 28.6 27.2 -1.4 12.3 12.4 16.2 14.8 20.3 17.7
Marcus Stroman 730 108 28.5 27.2 -1.3 11.6 7.3 16.8 19.9 15.6 13.9
Chris Paddack 459 93 27.3 27.2 -0.1 11.2 10.4 16.2 16.9 16.8 19.4
Zach Thompson 315 96 27.1 27.2 0.1 11.7 11.6 15.4 15.6 12.1 9.4

We should probably cut Shohei Ohtani some slack about not yet dominating hitting as he did in his 2021 MVP campaign considering that he’s currently trying his hand (arm) at being one of baseball’s best pitchers, running a 3.08 ERA (1.54 FIP) and 38.0% K% through his first five starts.

Ohtani leads our board with a 37.7% CSW that is up nine points from 2021, with his curveball and slider leading the way on individual increases. The curveball has the biggest increase but is more lightly used (and more to LHH). The slider, however, has a slightly bigger increase and has been utilized 31% in 2022, up 10 points from last season. Being thrown harder (like the rest of Ohtani’s mix), the slider has been dominant so far with the extra usage, running a 24.6% SwStr% that is the fifth highest among all pitchers and third among starters (min. 100).

I’m surprised Paul Blackburn is still available in 50% of leagues on Yahoo but pitching for one of baseball’s black holes can be a good reason to be shy, I suppose. Blackburn now has a 2.22 ERA (2.11 FIP), 0.95 WHIP, and a 21.7% K-BB% over his first five starts, even managing to pick up three wins for Oakland. A 31.9% CSW% is up eight points, with both his cutter and four-seamer increasing the most.

A majority of the increase on his four-seamer is from a higher CallStr% (location is always nice!) but the cutter, in addition to seeing an eight-point increase in called strikes, has an absurd 24.1% SwStr% that is up 19 points over 2021. The usage has dropped but it’s being deployed nearly equally to both hands and it’s hard to argue with the results so far.

Blackburn’s next start is in Detroit, facing a Tigers team that has a .277 wOBA (25th) and 24.2% K% (10th) vs RHP in 2022, so maybe it’s time to get him off the wire for good.

I’m seriously regretting completely missing out on Shane Mclanahan, who most recently held the Mariners hitless in his last start until a home run by Jesse Winker in the fifth and who now has a 3.06 ERA (3.13 FIP) and 29.7% K-BB% through six starts and 32.1 IP.

His slider is running the highest CSW% (and is one of the few ahead of Ohtani in SwStr%) but the changeup has made the biggest jump (19 points), with the usage also doubling over his rookie season. I suppose I’ll just have to take solace in grabbing it in the last round of our staff pVAl draft but wish I would’ve paid his affordable cost in normal leagues.

While much of the fantasy community had Aaron Ashby pegged as the next great starter in Milwaukee, it’s been Eric Lauer who has snuck right on in the side door, posting a 1.93 ERA (2.50 FIP) and 0.99 WHIP in his first four starts, with a 36.6% K% and 31.2% K-BB%.

The usage has dropped on his four-seamer but he’s added a tick to his velocity while keeping what was already excellent movement on both plains and getting 0.6 inches more horizontal break vs average pitches thrown at similar velocity and extension. It’s 36.6% CSW% is up seven points with all of the increase coming from more whiffs – a 22.4% SwStr% is first among all pitchers (min. 125) and Brandon Woodruff in second place is way back at 18.1%.

Lauer’s fantasy value takes a hit from Milwaulkee kind of running a six-man rotation but the talent looks real enough to make him valuable enough to hold as opposed to streaming. His next start is in Atlanta, who have a top-10 wOBA vs LHP but also the fifth-highest strikeout rate. After that, it’s to Miami, who have a bottom-five wOBA and a 29.6% K% vs LHP which is the worst in baseball.

**Update**
Lauer was again excellent facing Atlanta on Friday, allowing 2 runs (1 ER) over 6.1 IP, striking out eight, and picking up the win.

You might have drafted him in hopes of ascension to Boston’s closer but those rostering Garrett Whitlock still have to be pumped about what they’ve gotten so far and will likely from his future in the rotation. Whitlock has a 1.25 ERA for the season and a 1.50 ERA in his three starts, building up to five innings in his most recent after three and four inning outings in the first two.

The strikeout rate hasn’t dipped with his move to starting and in his most recent outing, striking out out nine while allowing two earned runs versus an Angels team that has a top-3 wOBA vs RHP. He has three pitches with over a 30% CSW% but the slider has been the deadliest, running a 45.8% CSW% which is up 10 points, and a 33.9% SwStr% that is up over 17 points. The shape has also shifted significantly, becoming more an up-and-down piece with less horizontal movement.

Here it is 2021:

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And again in 2022:

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The slider was the key to leveling him up in 2021 and things are looking even better in 2022 as the Rule-5 pick looks to continue dominating in the rotation, jabbing his thumb in the eyes of a Yankees team that mistakingly left him unprotected in 2020.

You tell me New York fans, on a scale of 9 to 10, just how angry will you be if someone who was stolen by those rotten Red Sox winds up as a dominating ace? I say 10 but I’m from flyover country so my opinion (obviously) cannot be trusted.

Wink.





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skillflukedmember
7 days ago

Justin Verlander is notably absent from this list. SwStr%/CSW% would be his lowest since 2014/2015 and is not close to his previous Astros numbers. Do you have any insight as to why? Is it only because his fastball spin rate is down? Any concerns moving forward?