Jesus Luzardo, Miami Marlins - All-hail the concept of throwing your best pitch the most often. On a day of great pitching performances, Jesus Luzardo might take the top spot. Luzardo allowed just one run over five innings against the Angels and he allowed just two hits and struck out 12 batters. This is the most strikeouts in Marlins history over a five inning outing. Somehow as well Luzardo managed to strikeout 12 batters on just 76 pitches in the outing. There was a drastic change in Luzardo's pitch mix as he threw his curveball over 50% of the time and he generated a NINETY-TWO percent whiff rate on the pitch. 13 total swings on the pitch and 12 whiffs, along with another nine called strikes to push the CSW to 55% on the pitch. He also posted a 50% CSW on his sinker and overall it was 45%. This was a masterclass first outing by the former top pitching prospect in baseball and I'm 1000% buying in. Luzardo has had the arm talent and he's landed in an organization that is thriving in the area of pitching development. '
Bryce Elder, Atlanta Braves - Bryce Elder picked up the win in his major league debut on Tuesday allowing three runs over 5.2 innings while striking out four batters. Elder allowed a run after a bunt single and a few ground balls, but then proceeded to blank the Nats over the next few frames before Juan Soto and Josh Bell took him deep in the 6th inning. Overall he allowed six hits and the three runs but didn't walk a single batter and posted a solid, but unspectacular 25% CSW. Some room for intrigue there though is that three of the four pitches (CH, Sinker, SL) all posted CSW rates of 28% or higher, but is was the cutter that had a 4% CSW that tanked his overall rate. Elder is likely going to get another turn in the rotation after a dominant 2021 in Gwinnett, and there's enough of intrigued here to warrant a roster spot in deeper leagues but I'd still like to see some extra swing and miss added in, and the Nats made a ton of loud contact against him as well.
Alex Cobb, San Francisco Giants - The latest Giants pitching project is Alex Cobb and he tossed an absolute gem against the Padres Tuesday night. Cobb struck out 10 batters over five innings, walking two and allowing just two earned runs. The Padres didn't hit the ball well when they were able to make contact with just three batted balls over 95 MPH. I'll start with this. Just add him. The reports of increased velocity in camp ended up being completely true and they've carried over to the regular season. Both his sinker/fastball and splitter both are up around two MPH on average, and that puts his already impressive splitter at 90 MPH. Cobb ran a 37% CSW and none of his pitches ran a CSW under 30% (league average). It's one start but this has the completely look of this year's Guasman for the Giants.
Luis Robert, Chicago White Sox - Robert has come out to start the season absolutely blazing at the plate, posting a 1.037 OPS over his first 17 plate appearances. Robert is smoking the ball with a max exit velocity of just under 110 MPH and his xwOBA is sitting at an absurd .531 early on. Robert has yet to strikeout this season, but also has yet to draw a walk. The decrease to his strikeout rate over the years (32%-to-20.6%-0% early on this year) reminds me a bit of the progress Acuña has made at the plate over the years but Robert still expands the zone too much for a true 1-to-1 comp there. The best part of all this is Tony La Russa is letting Robert run. A lot. He's swiped four bags already on four tries and it looks like the team has given him the greenlight to run whenever he wants. It's going to be a fun season on the Southside.
Matt Brash, Seattle Mariners - Matt Brash tossed a gem against one of the strongest offenses in the league early on this year, allowing just two earned runs over 5.1 innings with six strikeouts. There was a lot of hard-contact against him but it didn't result in much damage as he allowed just four hits. Brash posted a 31% CSW in the outing, but his knuckle-curve and slider already look like impressive offerings. Both pitches had whiff rates over 30%, 33% for the curve and 38% for the slide, but he was able to throw the curve for strikes without a swing to boost his CSW on the pitch to 41% while the slide he was unable to get a strike on if there wasn't a swing. The fastball though needs some work and will be what decides his success going forwards. A 27% CSW on the offering isn't a bad spot but if you look slightly further into it you'll see on 12 swings that there's not a swing whiff on the pitch, and the exit velocity numbers against it were huge. A 107.1 MPH max exit velo against it was actually the lowest of the three pitches but a 96.4 MPH min exit velo keeps the average right at 100 MPH for the game while is off-speed pitches has low exit velos of 49.3 MPH and 75.2 MPH. His next start most likely comes against the Astros on Sunday afternoon.