Alex Fast and the folks over at Pitcherlist showed last season that you can get an edge over just swinging strike rate by factoring in called strikes. They termed the resulting metric Called Strikes + Whiffs (CSW). CSW% gives a more true representation of the optimal pitch result: the batter fails to make contact on a strike. The PL guys define these CSW% bins: 40+% elite, 30-35% good, < 25% is a red flag. The season is young but your window for adjustments is also ending very soon. Let’s examine the pitchers doing the most to give you safe outcomes.

Here’s the CSW% leaderboard with a 25 pitch minimum.

  • Dylan Bundy may be turning a corner with the move to LA. It’s only two starts, against two questionable offenses (OAK, SEA), but he’s going to be on this leaderboard even with a modest regression. He’s tweaked his pitch mix, using a fastball that leads to trouble less in favor of some nasty breaking stuff a la Patrick Corbin .

  • If you drafted Shane Bieber you’re probably in first place, at least in pitching points. He’s come out of the gate mowing hitters down. This is what happens when a pitcher with elite control figures out how to strike out batters at an advanced rate.

  • Captain Jack Flaherty has been limited due to the Cardinals COVID-19 issues. He appears to be picking up where he left off in 2019. Keep that in mind as the team is allowed back on the field.

  • Seeing Aaron Nola miss bats is encouraging. He’s a pitcher that gets into trouble when he falls behind. The breaking stuff isn’t as devastating as many of those on this leaderboard. He needs to be sharp to thrive.

I also want to look at the pitchers with the largest sample of pitches. These may hold truer.

  • Sonny Gray seems to be all the way over the arm troubles that almost cost him his career a few years back. He’s dropping hammers with pitch movement for two straight seasons now. Here’s hoping it’s always sunny for Sonny.

  • If you took the gamble that the gains Frankie Montas made in 2019 weren’t a product of PEDs but rather because of the devastating splitter he added, it’s paying off.

  • Brady Singer has shown he’s ready to pitch at this level. At least by missing bats and getting strikes.

  • Kyle Hendricks gets the job done with control. The Brewers couldn’t figure out the zone and got K’d 9 times in the opener. He’s modestly struck out 3 in each appearance since. That’s likely to be were his K total resides.

There isn’t a site currently publishing the CSW% stat. It’s an easy one to calculate on your own using baseball savant. Give yourself an advantage over your leaguemates and fellow DFSers. It’s going to be the kind of season that requires such ingenuity.