Charge the Mound: Week 9
This week we see 3 additions to the top 20. Mike Minor, Patrick Corbin and Hiroki Kuroda all made their debuts on the list this week. I hadn’t been a believer in Corbin until recently and he just keeps proving that he belongs. I have seen Kuroda and Minor as solid starters but they’ve emerged as top starting pitcher options.
- Clayton Kershaw
In his last start, Kershaw fell victim to the Cardinals, who own the best offense (4.77 runs per game) in the National League. He gave up 4 runs, 7 hits and 3 walks over 7 innings. His next start doesn’t get any easier. It will be Friday in Colorado.
- Yu Darvish
Darvish eclipsed the century mark in strikeouts this season on Monday when he struck out 14 Diamondbacks. This was the third time this season that Darvish fanned 14 guys, and his 5th of 10+ Ks. He did give up 4 earned runs over 7.2 innings. He didn’t allow a walk for the first time since his first start of the season against Houston (also a 14 K performance). Darvish will go up against the Royals on Sunday.
- Adam Wainwright
The Cardinals ace brought his record to 7-3 against KC this week. He surrendered 12 hits and 3 earned runs, but continued his dominance of the strike zone, not allowing a walk. His walk total for the season still sits at 6 walks over 80 innings which is good for a 0.7 BB/9 and 1.9% walk rate.
- Justin Verlander
Again, Verlander has given up 3 or more earned runs in, now, 4 consecutive starts. For 4 in a row, you need to look all the way back to Verlander’s first 4 starts on 2010. He did strikeout 13 Pirates over 7 innings on the way to his 6th win of the season. He will face Baltimore who ranks 2nd in runs per game. Thankfully for Verlander, his Tigers are in the top spot.
- Stephen Strasburg
Strasburg has put together a string of dominant performances. Over his last 4 starts (28 innings) Strasburg has a sparkling 0.96 ERA and 0.92 WHIP with 27 Ks. Opposing hitters have a .191/.267/.234 slash line against him. Granted it hasn’t been against offensive powerhouses (Cubs, Padres, Giants and Phillies), but dominance is dominance.
- Felix Hernandez
I was able to put my eyes on Felix in his start last Saturday in Seattle against the Rangers. He didn’t look right to me. I’m not a scout by any stretch of the imagination, but he looked uncomfortable on the mound. That game he gave up 11 hits and 5 earned runs over 5.2. He did strike out 9. He had a super high pitch count very early in the game so I wasn’t surprised to see him get the hook relatively early. In his most recent outing Thursday against the Padres, he was back to his dominant self. One earned run, 3 hits over 8 innings. He struck out 6 in the win. Next up for Felix is the White Sox at home on Tuesday.
- Cliff Lee
Lee continues to deliver solid results in the Phillies rotation. His last outing against Boston was an 8 inning, 1 earned run, 0 walk 8 strikeout performance. The win took his record to 6-2 for the season. Last year Lee didn’t tally his first win until September 17th. Surprisingly he’s getting less run support this year (3.34 runs/game), compared to last year (3.53). Lee will face the Brewers next.
- Madison Bumgarner
Bumgarner has been struggling a bit of late. He tucked a strong 7 inning no decision inbetween his Coors implosion and a rocky start against Oakland. He gave up 4 earned runs on 4 hits and 5 walks. Oakland is a tough offense, but walks will kill you. He’s limited his walks to zero twice this year. First in a win against the Dodgers where he struck out 6 over 8 innings and the second time was against the Padres when he struck out 10 and got the win.
- Jordan Zimmermann
Zimmerman was pounded for the first time of the season when he faced the Orioles this week. He gave up 7 earned runs over 6 innings. If you think Zimmermann’s owner might get scared off by this bad start, jump on him, fast. He’s going to be super solid all season long. If you can, grab him before he embarrasses the Mets when he faces them on Tuesday.
- Max Scherzer
Scherzer has given up 3 or fewer hits (yes hits) in 3 of his 5 starts in the month of May. The other 2 starts, he only gave up 5. In May he struck out 26.1% of the batters he faced. He’s had a few bumpy starts this season, giving bunches of runs, but the Tigers amazing offense is bailing him out. His stuff helps to bail him out as well.
- Johnny Cueto
In his last start against the Cubs Cueto went 7 strong innings only giving up 1 earned run. He only struck out 2 and didn’t get the decision when the bullpen blew the lead. Cueto tried to send a message with a pitch over Cubs outfielder David DeJesus. The pitch sparked a minor war of words between Cubs pitcher Matt Garza, Dusty Baker and Cueto. Hopefully the non-game related chatter won’t affect Cueto in his start Friday at Pittsburgh.
- Matt Harvey
Eight innings, 1 earned run, no walks and 10 Ks against the Yankees. This guy has some serious stones. When a pitcher has the confidence that Harvey has and the stuff to back it up, that’s when you see something special. That’s what we’re seeing with Harvey right now.
- Matt Moore
Moore pitched 6 innings against the Yankees last weekend, only giving up 1 earned run. He didn’t factor in the decision. He gave up 2 walks and only struck out 2 in the game. Tampa Bay has shifted their rotation around due to a minor injury to Alex Cobb, so Moore will start against the Indians this weekend.
- Hisashi Iwakuma
Iwakuma will start on Friday against Minnesota. Kuma’s last start he gave up 2 earned runs on 5 hits over 8 innings. He struck out 8 and didn’t surrender a walk. He still sports a 2.35 ERA and 0.84 WHIP.
- Mike Minor
Minor has strung together a seriously good season so far. Coming into the year, most of the hype was with his teammate, Kris Medlen, but Minor has shown that he can deliver a 23.6% strikeout rate along with a 2.48 ERA and 0.92 WHIP.
- Chris Sale
Over Sale’s last 6 starts he has a 4-1 record, with a 1.40 ERA, 0.75 WHIP and a 26.5% strikeout rate. In his last outing against the Angels he struck out 12 and gave up 0 earned runs and only 3 hits.
- Shelby Miller
Miller’s struggles continue post 1 hit shutout. In his last start Miller gave up 3 earned runs and 7 hits over 5.1. He didn’t factor in the decision and the 3 Ks is his lowest strikeout total this season.
- Clay Buchholz
Bucholz has been suffering with some collarbone issues of late but is slated to start on Sunday against the Yankees. Because of the collarbone, he hasn’t pitched since 5/22.
- Patrick Corbin
I give in. He’s been brilliant this season. He doesn’t have a great strikeout total, but he’s striking out 20.9% of the batters he faces and has a 1.71 ERA and a 1.024 WHIP. I don’t think he’ll keep this up all year, but he’s not giving me a ton to argue against.
- Hiroki Kuroda
The 38 year old Kuroda has been the Yankees best pitcher this season. He has a 2.39 ERA and 1.00 WHIP to go with his 6 wins. He’s not going to pad your strikeout totals, but you should be able to count on Kuroda for innings and good ratios.
Keep an Eye On
- Tyler Chatwood
The 23 year old Chatwood has impressed this year in his 5 starts. In his previous 2 stints as a starter, last year in Colorado and 2011 in Los Angeles, Chatwood had pretty rough results over 37 starts. Over those 2 years his ERA was 4.96 and struck out 12.4% of opposing batters. This season his strikeout rate is at 21.3% and his ERA is 2.12. You never love to hitch your wagon too closely a Rockies pitcher, but Chatwood might be someone you want to look into.
- Julio Teheran
Teheran got off to a pretty brutal start this season. Over his first 3 starts his ERA was 7.31, since then his ERA has been 2.23 and has brought his season ERA all the way down to 3.67. Over his most recent 6 starts, opposing batters are hitting .271/.302/.361 with a .302 BABIP. He hasn’t struck out a ton of guys (14.1% of opposing batters), but he’s limited his walk percentage too (3% walk rate).
- Michael Wacha
Wacha dominated in his first career start. Long term, I’m not super excited about Wacha. He may put up some good numbers the first time around the league, but when he starts to face batters a second time, I think his youth will show.