Charge the Mound: Week 8
A little change in format from here on out. I’m not sure that going all the way to 120 is really beneficial to anyone. It’s really difficult to discern the relative value of Rick Porcello compared to Ricky Nolasco. And frankly, who really cares? So I’m going to limit the list to the top 20 starters and then add some comments on some guys who are performing well that you want to keep an eye on, or guys that aren’t performing well and you might want to think of getting rid of.
I have really liked what I have been seeing from Adam Wainwright. He climbs up to the #3 spot this week. Justin Verlander and Felix Hernandez have faltered of late and I need to see them get back on track before I put them back up toward the top of the list. Some new faces round out the top 20 this week. Shelby Miller and James Shields have earned their way onto the list. I’m also keeping and eye on Kevin Gausman, Brandon Beachy and Patrick Corbin.
- Clayton Kershaw
Kershaw brought his record to 5-2 in Milwaukee as he went 9 strong innings only surrendering 3 hits. His ERA now stands at 1.35 and his WHIP is 0.82. Over his last 5 games he’s given up a total of 4 runs and sports a .147/.183/.221 slash line against. His pitch totals have been a little on the high side. Last season he threw over 100 pitches in 78.7% of his starts. This year he’s at 80%. It’s nit-picky, but that’s something to watch for.
- Yu Darvish
Darvish took the hard luck loss against Oakland on Tuesday. He only gave up 5 hits, 3 walks and 1 earned run over 6 innings. He struck out 5. As expected his strikeout totals have begun to come back down to Earth. His K% over his last 3 starts is 22.6% while it was 40.4% in his first 7 starts of the season. No one expects him to keep up that ridiculous K%, but it was sure fun to watch.
- Adam Wainwright
Wainwright is limiting his walks and striking out more batters this season. His career BB% is an already low 6.4%, while this season it’s an unbelievable 2.1%. He’s given up 6 walks in 72 innings of work. Incredible. He’s also striking guys out at a 24.8% clip, which is up from his 20.6% career K%. He takes his dominant self to Kansas City for his next start.
- Justin Verlander
Three straight starts giving up 3 or more earned runs. You have to go back to April 2011 for the last 3 game stretch where Verlander gave up 3 runs in 3 consecutive starts. This run is very much out of character. We was facing Cleveland and Texas over the 3 games so he was facing very potent lineups. He faces a significantly less potent Pittsburgh lineup at home in his next start. There’s no indication that he’s hurt, so I expect that Verlander will be back to his normal dominant self.
- Madison Bumgarner
Let’s call it the Coors effect. After Bumgarner’s Mile High implosion, he returned to his normal self. In his last start, he faced the Nationals. In the game, Gio Gonzalez was pretty much his equal. They put up nearly identical lines for the game, both gaving up 4 hits, 1 earned run, 2 walks and striking out 5. Gonzalez did account for one of the hits off a Bumgarner. Neither pitcher factored in the decision. Bumgarner will face the A’s in his next start.
- Felix Hernandez
It looks like Felix’s back issued may have played a roll in his implosion against the Indians on Sunday. He gave up 8 hits, 2 walks and 5 earned runs in only 5 innings. He did strike out 8, but it was his shortest outing of the year. This weekend he comes home to pitch against Derek Holland and the Rangers on Saturday. Hernandez struggled against Texas in his first start against them this season. He gave up a season high 10 hits, as well as 3 earned runs while taking the loss on April 11th.
- Stephen Strasburg
Hey folks, Strasburg is back. In his last 3 starts he has a 0.90 ERA with 18 Ks. The big difference in the long ball. In his first 7 starts Strasburg gave up 5 home runs. In his last 3, zero. His K% has stayed fairly consistent (about 23%) over the entire season.
- Cliff Lee
Complete game, 3 hit shutout… no big deal. He’s Cliff Lee (and it was the Marlins). Coming into May his ERA was at 3.03, since May 1, he has a 1.95 ERA with a 3-1 record. Lee will face a much more difficult assignment in his next start. He’ll face the Red Sox next Tuesday. He has a career ERA of 3.81 and 3-5 record against Boston.
- Jordan Zimmermann
A lack of run support bit Zimmermann in his last outing. He gave up 2 runs (1 earned) against the Padres and took the loss. He went 8 innings and gave up 7 hits and didn’t walk anyone. He’s been pretty much league average with his Ks, but his WHIP and ERA are approaching elite levels.
- Max Scherzer
Eight strong from Scherzer in his last outing. He only gave up 2 hits and 1 earned run and struck out 7. He just keeps rolling and his next start is against the Twins. He struck out 10 in his last outing against Minnesota.
- Johnny Cueto
Cueto didn’t sparkle in his return, but he was effective enough to get the win. He gave up 3 earned runs and 4 walks. I’ll chalk that up to rust. I don’t expect his BB% to be 18% the rest of the way. His next start is at home against the Cubs.
- Matt Moore
Moore is 8-0, with a 2.29 ERA and 1.09 WHIP, how isn’t he in the top 5? He limited his walks allowed to 1 for only the second time this season in his most recent start against the Orioles. He’ll climb back into the top 10 when he can bring his BB% below 10%. Is that too much to ask?
- Hisashi Iwakuma
Iwakuma had a rough outing in his last start. He gave up 5 earned runs for the first time in his MLB career. He did strike out 6 in the effort and he didn’t factor in the decision. His next start is against Texas on Sunday.
- Clay Buchholz
Bucholz took care of his business against Chicago in his most recent start. He went 7 innings giving up only 1 earned run. He didn’t strike out too many (4) and he did give up 3 walks (for the 3rd straight game). But he was able to buckle down and get out of jams.
- Gio Gonzalez
As I mentioned earlier, Gio went toe to toe with Madison Bumgarner and the Giants in his last start. They both had excellent outings and neither got a decision. Next up for Gonzalez is Baltimore on Monday.
- Jon Lester
Lester got pounded by the White Sox in his last start. He surrendered 5 earned runs on 7 hits and only struck out 2. His next start is against a tough Indians offense. I’m not in love with him for that start, but I do think Lester will continue to deliver wins and good ratios this season.
- Matt Harvey
His performance has dipped a bit recently but he’s still keeping his team in the ballgame. He hasn’t been as dominant since his 9 inning 1 hit no decision against the White Sox. In Harvey’s 3 starts since, his ERA is 3.48 and his K% is 18.6%, down from his 32.5% rate in his first 7 starts. As he makes his 2nd starts against teams, it’ll be interesting to see if he loses a bit of his effectiveness.
- Chris Sale
Sale has allowed 1 earned run over his last 24 innings. The only reason he’s not climbing on this list is his recent bout with shoulder tendonitis. Injuries scare me, especially with guys who have had some issues before. When healthy, he’s absolutely dominating.
- Shelby Miller
Miller gave up 3 earned runs in 5.2 against the Padres. He’s struggled to go deep since his 1 hitter against the Rockies on May 10. In his last 2 outings Miller has averaged 101 pitches and has only managed to get through 5.2 in each of those starts. He’s still having a spectacular rookie campaign. He’s a guy I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes on as the season wears on. His next start is at the Dodgers.
- James Shields
How can a guy who’s 2-5 be in the top 20? He has a 2.47 ERA and 0.96 WHIP and a 24.5 K%. Yes please. I’ll take that, even with a 2-5 record. He has a tough start against the Cardinals next, but Shields is all that the Royals could have hope for when they gave up their top prospect to get him.
Keep an Eye On
- Kevin Gausman
A bit of a fantasy crush here.
- Brandon Beachy
Before he went down last year with elbow issues, Beachy had a 2.00 ERA and 0.96 WHIP over over 81 innings. He’s on his way back from Tommy John surgery and figures to play a large role in the Braves rotation.
- Patrick Corbin
Can’t bring myself to put him in the top 20, but h’s 7-0 with a 1.44 ERA and 0.98 WHIP. He’s clearly got something working right. He’s a guy that I’m going to keep an eye on. I don’t totally buy him for the long haul, but I’m open to him working his way into my heart.