Charge the Mound: Week 18
Clayton Kershaw takes the top spot again. One surprise addition to the top 10 is Yankee’s starter Hiroki Kuroda. He’s been strong all year and his consistency is what is bringing up in the ranks. We are starting to see guys fall in the rankings due to potential innings caps. The more information that comes out about those, the more they’ll affect the rankings from here on out.
- Clayton Kershaw
Kershaw has only given up more than 3 earned runs twice this season and over his last 3 starts he hasn’t given up a walk. He is flat out dealing. He’s brought his ERA down to 1.87 and his WHIP sits at 0.861. While he’s striking out fewer batters per nine innings than in the past, his 25.1% K% is just 0.3% down over last season. He’s now walking fewer guys than he has in his career. In 2012, his BB% was 7.0% and this season it’s 5.5%.
- Yu Darvish
The strikeouts. Oh baby, the strikeouts. Darvish leads the league with 186 Ks through 138.2 innings, that’s a 33.4% strikeout rate. Sick.
- Adam Wainwright
While he’s still an ace, Wainwright has been slipping a bit lately. In July his ERA was 3.77 and his OPS against was .702. They’re not terrible numbers, but it’s also not performing at the elite level of these other guys. He still owns a tidy 2.61 ERA for the season and he’s on pace to log 250 innings and strike out 224 batters. He still deserves to be in the top tier here.
- David Price
In contrast to Wainwright, Price had a spectacular July. His ERA was 1.68 and batters were only able to eek out a .516 OPS against him. Most impressive though is that since returning from the disabled list, Price hasn’t logged over 100 pitches in any of his starts. Not even his 3 complete games. He’s averaged just 90 pitches per game over an average of 8 innings per start. His strikeout totals aren’t super hot but I expect that he’ll have some gas in the tank for the Ks as the season wears on.
- Felix Hernandez
Oh Felix. The curse of pitching for a bad team. His last 2 starts Felix posted a 1.13 ERA and struck out 32% of opposing batters and the Mariners blew both of the games. So it goes for Felix though. He’s pitching great this season. He is in the discussion for AL Cy Young. Even though he’ll probably struggle to win more than 15 games this season.
- Max Scherzer
Scherzer had a one hitter going through 6 innings but he got the hook because the Tigers had a 10-0 lead. With that performance, Scherzer earned his league leading 15th win and brought his ERA down to 3.01. He’s been dominant this season and brings a ton of strikeouts to the table every start.
- Justin Verlander
I can’t give up on Verlander yet. He’s been so solid for so long. I think he’ll get himself back on track. At least enough to have value as a top 10 pitcher. And I think next season he’ll be right back near the top of this list.
- Hiroki Kuroda
I don’t think it’s heresy to have Kuroda over Matt Harvey here. In his last 10 starts, Kuroda has a 2.16 ERA and a 1.025 WHIP. Not a super strong strikeout guy, Kuroda’s striking out 18.4% of guys which is enough when he’s sporting such strong ratios.
- Stephen Strasburg
I have some worries about Strasburg’s durability. Not that he’ll get hurt necessarily, but rather his endurance. He posted at 4.62 ERA in July. He’s still going deep into games, but he’s been less and less effective. Something to watch as we turn to the dog days of summer and the Nationals are 11.5 games behind the Braves in the NL East.
- Matt Harvey
Innings limit. In about 3 starts Harvey will surpass his previous innings max. He’ll keep pitching after that, but I expect that the Mets will get creative (or at least as creative as Terry Collins can get) with their usage of Harvey. If you’re in a redraft league, his value will start to plummet. He’s still valuable, but I don’t expect too many starts after Sept. 1.
- Madison Bumgarner
Since June 1, Bumgarner has a 2.38 ERA and a 6-3 record. For the season his ERA is 2.76 and his K% is 24.5%. He’s been the most consistent starter in the Giants rotation.
- Jered Weaver
Weaver had a great July. He had a 1.32 ERA and opponents only managed a .530 OPS against him in the month. In July, Weaver faced the Cardinals, Red Sox, Mariners, A’s, Twins and Rangers. There are a couple softies in there, but for the most part he went up against very stout opposition and ont gave up 6 earned runs (4 of them to the Mariners). He’s been dealing.
- Cliff Lee
Lee didn’t change addresses at the trade deadline. It’s still possible that he moves in a waiver deal, but I would say it’s unlikely. He hasn’t made a start since July 21st. He’s been dealing with a stiff neck. He’s supposed to make his next start this weekend.
- Chris Sale
Sale got slapped around a bit by the Indians, but other than that start, he’s been really solid all season. He’s got a 27% strike out rate to along with his 2.92 ERA and 1.049 WHIP. He’ll likely log around 200 innings this season after going 192 last year.
- Mike Minor
I’m a huge fan of Mike Minor. I just don’t have the stones to put him higher on the list. He’s been all that you could want from a top of the rotation starter this season. A 2.75 ERA, 1.007 WHIP, he’s striking out 23.6% of the batters he faces and only walking 4.9%. The walk rate is the best of his career by over 2.5 percentage points. So I would expect that to regress a little. But all of his other numbers are consistent over the years.
- Cole Hamels
He has a terrible 4-13 record this season, but his numbers look pretty decent other than that. Especially lately. Hamels has a 2.09 ERA since July 1st. I expect Hamels will continue to pitch well, even if he doesn’t get the support he needs to rack up the wins.
- Hisashi Iwakuma
After a bumpy stretch in late June/early July where Iwakuma gave up 4+ earned runs in 5 straight games, he’s returned to form. In his last 4 starts he has a 1.75 ERA and a 24% strikeout rate.
- Julio Teheran
Teheran’s ERA is creeping slowing to the 3.00 level. Add that to his 1.18 WHIP and 21.5% strike out rate and the Braves have themselves a top starting pitcher. And he’s only 22. He’s getting close to surpassing his career high for innings pitched so he’s another young pitcher that you’ll need to watch. I haven’t heard that the Braves are going to give Teheran a hard cap, but with the division pretty firmly in hand, I would imagine that he’ll get skipped a couple of times as the season grinds on.
- Anibal Sanchez
Since returning from the disabled list on July 6th, Sanchez has a 2.15 ERA. He hasn’t really been striking guys out but he’s not letting them on base. Opposing batters have a .624 OPS against Sanchez over that span.
- Jose Fernandez
Even though he’s going to have limited innings as the season wears on, he’s just been dominant. In his last 10 starts his ERA is 1.87 and his OPS against is .471. He’s striking out 28% of the batters he faces. So much for the book being out on him as he makes his way through the league a second time. He’s on pace to log 204 innings. I hope that the Marlins have a shred of sanity somewhere and shut him down well before he hits that threshold. He’s too good to waste his arm on meaningless games at the end of a meaningless season for the Marlins.