Charge the Mound

Charge the Mound: Week 14

Max Scherzer continues to show himself as an elite starter and his teammate Justin Verlander is getting back on track. David Price makes a triumphant comeback and sits at #12 on the list. I expect him to move up the list as he proves he’s back and healthy. Some strange faces down at the tail end of the top 20 this week. We see the first, of many I’m sure, visit from Jose Fernandez and a personal favorite, Bud Norris.

  1. Clayton Kershaw
    Kershaw dropped a complete game 4 hit shutout in Colorado in his last start. His ERA is 1.93, his WHIP is under 0.93 and he’s striking out guys at a 25% clip. He’s dominant.
  2. Adam Wainwright
    Wainwright gave up 4 earned runs in his most recent start against the Angels. He left the game with a 5-3 lead and a man on first that he was responsible for. The next batter up, Josh Hamilton, took Cardinals closer Edward Mujica deep to tie the game. Wainwright didn’t factor in the decision. He gave up 1 earned run in each of his previous 2 starts.
  3. Max Scherzer
    Scherzer continues to dominate opposing batters. 31.1% of the batters he faces walk back to the dugout with their head down after striking out. Throw in his 5.8% walk percentage and you see why Scherzer has climbed into the elite starter category. He’s tinkered with his pitch mix over the last 2 years and has found serious success. He’s added a curveball to the mix this season to go along with his fastball, slider, change up arsenal.
  4. Justin Verlander
    Verlander has said that he noticed a mechanical issue with his delivery and is fixing it. The results have shown that whatever it was that was off, he’s getting back on track. Over his last 2 starts, opponents have a .615 OPS. He hasn’t recaptured his strikeout groove quite yet, but I expect that back soon. Next up for Verlander is a start against the White Sox.
  5. Yu Darvish
    Darvish’s win on June 30 against the Reds was his first win since May 16 against the Tigers. That’s 7 starts. The Wins stat is obviously flawed. Darvish’s ERA in that 7 start stretch was 2.93 and he was striking out 29.8% of the batters he faced. There wasn’t ever anything wrong with Darvish, he just fell upon some off games for the Rangers offense.
  6. Cliff Lee
    Lee shut out the Braves through 6 innings on Friday. It was the 7th inning that didn’t go as well for Lee. He gave up 4 earned runs in the top of the 7th. Because the Phillies offense had staked him to 5-0 lead, Lee still picked up the win.
  7. Felix Hernandez
    Felix has become a great pitcher. Previously he had great stuff, but didn’t have the pitchability that you see in the greats like Maddux and Glavine. Despite the lowest velocity of his career, his strikeout percentage is the highest of his career (26.5%).
  8. Stephen Strasburg
    After coming off the DL on June 16th, Strasburg’s ERA is 1.38 and opponents have a measly .473 OPS against him. In those starts he’s striking out 24.7% of the batters he faces, which is line with his season K% of 24.6%, but below his career rate of 29%.
  9. Matt Harvey
    Arizona waited out a 2 hour rain delay in order to drop 5 earned runs on Harvey. It was the most runs he’s given up all season. He did still manage to strikeout 9 Diamondbacks in the loss. Even with the 5 earned runs over 6 innings, Harvey’s ERA still sits at 2.27 and his WHIP is 0.91.
  10. Jordan Zimmermann
    Zimmerman has failed to put up a quality start in only 4 of his starts this season. He’s still not striking many guys out which is what’s keeping his ranking lower that his other numbers would indicate. I don’t see that changing so Zimmermann will have to settle for being just outside the elite ranks.
  11. Madison Bumgarner
    Bumgarner has 4 quality starts in a row and over those starts has trimmed his ERA down to 3.08. Bumgarner will face the Dodgers on Saturday. His last time out against the Dodgers, he gave up just 2 earned runs in 7 innings and took the loss.
  12. David Price
    I’m a huge believer in David Price. He made his first start Tuesday against the Astros, after coming of the disabled list. It was a soft landing for sure, but he went 7 shut out innings and struck out 10. You can’t hope for a better return from the DL. Price will face the White Sox on Sunday.
  13. Chris Sale
    Four of Chris Sale’s last 6 starts have been quality starts, and he has 5 losses to show for it. Over that stretch he’s striking guys out at a 30.8% clip, so he’s doing his part. He’s not even walking guys. His BB% over his last 6 games is just 5.2%.
  14. Hisashi Iwakuma
    Four straight 4 earned run outings are making me start to wonder if Kuma can keep up his dominance. I think he’s still top 20 worthy, but I need to tap the breaks a little bit.
  15. Shelby Miller
    Miller’s last 5 starts are cause for concern. He’s lost 3 and out up a 5.55 ERA over that stretch. Now that’s a little bit deceiving because in his start against Oakland, he gave up 5 earned runs in only 1.2 innings. Still counts though. Miller isn’t going deep into games. He’s averaged just 5.2 innings per start. He’s going to be really good, but I worry that he’ll start to fade even more as the season wears on.
  16. Matt Moore
    Moore is  back on track, and he’s dominating. Three straight quality starts where he’s struck out 24 in 19.1 innings. Walks are still a huge issue for Moore. He’s walking 12.6% of the batters he faces and leads the league with 51 free passes on the season.
  17. Gio Gonzalez
    Gio has 7 straight quality starts. He gave up 3 earned runs in 6.2 on Friday night against the Padres. He’ll take on the Phillies next Wednesday.
  18. Jose Fernandez
    As a 20 year old, Fernandez is putting up some crazy numbers. His ERA is at 2.72 and his WHIP is 1.058. He’s striking out 25% of opposing batters and walking 8.8% of them.
  19. Bartolo Colon
    Colon isn’t going to win any strikeout titles, but what he does give you is a workhorse who will protect your ratios. On the season he has a 2.78 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP over 113.1 innings.
  20. Bud Norris
    I have long been a Bud Norris believer. I think he brings really solid skills to a terrible ball club. I think that problem will be solved in the coming weeks. I expect to see Norris dealt to a contender before the end of the month. When that happens I won’t have the ‘terrible team’ crutch to rely on, and Norris won’t either. In his last 9 starts, he has a 2.29 ERA with a .645 OPS against. His strikeout totals are way down this year. If he can bring those back up to his career averages, he will prove to be a very valuable starter for the rest of the season.

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