Charge the Mound

Charge the Mound: Week 12

Another week where it’s been difficult to decide between number 1 and number 2. Adam Wainwright missed out last week to Yu Darvish and this week, Clayton Kershaw takes the top spot. Never fear, I’m sure that at some point, Wainwright will prove worthy of the top spot. He’s just too consistent and too good to be held down for long.

A couple new faces on the list this week with Lance Lynn and Bartolo Colon making appearances. In other list news, Justin Verlander dips down to number 6 on the list, while his teammate Max Scherzer climbs into the top 5.

  1. Clayton Kershaw
    Recently there have been leaks in the ongoing contract negotiations between Kershaw and the Dodgers. Kershaw claims that now that it’s out in the open that it’s become a distraction. Kershaw takes the hill tonight for the first time since this news was reported. We’ll see if he is as sharp as usual of if this has thrown him off a bit. He’s been dealing as of late. In his last 10 starts his ERA is 1.71 and his OPS against is .522. His record over that stretch is 3-2 which speaks to the tepid run support Kershaw has been getting.
  2. Adam Wainwright
    Wainwright gave up 4 earned runs, which is the most runs he’s given up since May 4 against the Brewers. It’s only the second time all season that he’s given up more than 3 earned runs in a start. Next up for Wainwright and the Cardinals are the Rangers on Sunday.
  3. Yu Darvish
    Darvish has seen his share of troubles of late. He’s still pitching very well, but he’s been giving up too many home runs. He’s giving up home runs to 2.7% of the batters he faces. That’s a full percentage point higher than his rate last season. These are pretty minor changes, but these struggles are what bring him down from the top spot.
  4. Cliff Lee
    Cliff Lee is a workhorse. He’s logged over 200 innings 7 of the last 8 years. He leads the league with 110.1 innings pitched. He also has a stretch of 9 quality starts going. His next opponent will be the Padres in San Diego. You’ve gotta love that matchup.
  5. Max Scherzer
    Scherzer climbs above his teammate Justin Verlander for the first time. Scherzer is having an amazing season. His K% is still over 30% at 31.4% after 14 starts. He has a 10-0 record and a 0.913 WHIP as well. He’s brought his BB% down to 6.5%. Over the previous 5 years (2008-2012) his BB% was 7.9%. Even with these dominating ratios, he still has a 3.08 ERA and that’s mostly due to the 4 outings where he’s given up 4+ earned runs. The last of those outings was on May 15th against the Astros. Since then his ERA is 1.93 and his OPS against is .435.
  6. Justin Verlander
    Verlander is still struggling. After 7 shutout innings against the Royals, he came back with a 5 inning outing against the Orioles where he gave up 5 earned runs, 7 hits and 4 walks. His next start comes at home against Boston on Sunday. In 10 career starts against Boston he is 3-4 with a 3.93 ERA. He’s your ace and you have to start him, but I don’t expect a great outing against the Red Sox this weekend. After that, he’ll face the Rays in Tampa Bay. I’m not jumping off of Verlander, but if you have any interest in dealing him, his next solid start would be the right time.
  7. Felix Hernandez
    Felix got pounded by the Angels, giving up a season high 12 hits and 7 runs (6 of them earned). Even with the 6 earned runs, his season ERA is 2.71 and his WHIP is 1.094. I think Felix will be fine. He’ll give you elite ratios and Ks and a decent amount of wins.
  8. Jordan Zimmermann
    Zimmerman was coming off a 5 inning 6 earned run start against the Indians this week when he faced the Rockies. Against Colorado, he went 8 innings giving up 1 unearned run and struck out 9. The 9 Ks was a season high. The Nationals have given Zimmermann good run support this year (4.74 runs per game), which is 1.21 runs more per game than their season average.
  9. Hisashi Iwakuma
    Iwakuma faces Oakland on Friday as he tries to erase the memory of the 5 inning, 4 earned run loss the same A’s, his last time out. I don’t like to start pitchers when they face a team for a second time in a row, but I think with someone of Iwakuma’s caliber, you can be comfortable starting him.
  10. Matt Harvey
    Just when I thought the fairytale ride was over, Harvey comes out and pitches a gem against the Braves. It was the front end of a double header where top prospect Zack Wheeler was going to make his first MLB start. Seemed like Harvey didn’t want to be upstaged by Wheeler so he went out and pitched beautifully. He struck out 13 Atlanta batters and had a no hitter into the 7th inning. He was charged with 3 earned runs, but I’d put those runs on Mets manager Terry Collins for leaving the kid in there too long. He sent him out for the 8th inning after he’d already throw 103 pitches. He let him load the bases in the 8th. When Harvey was walking off the field he look like he had just given up 9 earned runs in 1 inning and his super model girlfriend just left him for Justin Bieber. I just don’t understand how a manager can do that.
  11. Shelby Miller
    Miller continues to impress. He shut out the Cubs for 5 innings before being lifted from the game because of cramping in his leg. It’s not considered a long term issue, Miller is slated to start against the Rangers on Saturday.
  12. Mike Minor
    Minor gave up  3 solo shots in his last start against the Mets. He’s given up 4 earned run in both of his last 2 starts. He’s limited the walks (5.2% in 2013 compared to 7.7% in 2012) and increased the strikeout percentage (23.7% in 2013 compared to 19.9% in 2012). I like the underlying numbers and I’m not too worried about this mini slump.
  13. Chris Sale
    Sale has strung together 4 straight losses, which is never good. But I can’t fault Sale too much. His ERA over those 4 games is 3.08 with an OPS against of .566. The run support in those games has been an atrocious 2 runs per game.
  14. Hiroki Kuroda
    Kuroda faced his former team, the Dodgers, on Wednesday, getting the win with 6.2 innings of work. He gave up 8 hits, 2 earned runs and 1 walk while striking out 2. Kuroda has stellar ratios, a 2.78 ERA and 1.06 WHIP and has contributed 7 wins, but only has 62 strikeouts in 94 innings of work. You don’t expect much from a guy with a career 18% strikeout rate, but his 16.4% this season is low even for him.
  15. Madison Bumgarner
    It looks like Bumgarner is getting himself back on track for the Giants. He’s reeled off 3 straight wins. In those wins he’s struck out 31.4% of the batters he’s faced and opponents are hitting a measly .159 against him. Next up for Bumgarner are the hated Dodgers on Monday.
  16. Lance Lynn
    Shelby Miller (and Michael Wacha to a lesser extent) has gotten a lot of the publicity about young St. Louis pitchers, but Lynn has delivered some serious stats this year. He’s tied for most wins in the NL (10) and has a 3.42 ERA and 1.16 WHIP and he’s striking out 24.7% of the batters he faces.
  17. Matt Moore
    Moore is coming off an extremely bumpy 3 start stretch for Moore where he saw his ERA climb from 2.18 on May 31 to 4.12 after his start on June 14th. In that 3 game stretch opponents were hitting .448 against him and his ERA was 13.86. Not good… at all. In his most recent start, Moore got back on track, and back in the win column with 6.1 innings against the Yankees where he gave up 3 earned runs. He did walk 3 and strike out 4 in the win.
  18. Matt Cain
    He makes an appearance back on the list. His start to 2013 hasn’t been pretty but he’s come on of late. In his last 3 starts Cain has been back to his old self. Over the 3 games, he’s pitched 20.2 innings with a 1.31 ERA and a 22.6% strikeout rate. Next up for Cain are the light-hitting Marlins.
  19. James Shields
    In Shields’ last 10 starts he’s given up more than 2 earned runs only once (6 earned runs on May 27th against the Cardinals). Over that span he has an ERA of 2.54 and opponents are hitting .234 against him. He’s striking out 22.1% and walking 7.3% of the batters he faced in those 10 games.
  20. Bartolo Colon
    The 41 year old former All Star is having a fantastic season. He leads the league with 2 complete game shutouts and is the owner of a 2.89 ERA and 1.096 WHIP. He’s not striking anyone out (just 14.6% of batters), but he’s also not walking anyone (just 2.8% of opposing batters). He takes the hill on Friday against the Mariners and Hisashi Iwakuma.

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