Charge the Mound: Week 20
A couple new faces in at the tail end of the list. Jhoulys Chacin makes his first appearance here and Matt Cain earns his way back onto the list, and soon into our hearts. Not a whole lot of shuffling up at the top. There’s a reason these guys have been there and will continue to be. They’re really, really good. So here we go with the top 20 starting pitchers in baseball.
- Clayton Kershaw
With 8 innings only allowing 1 earned run (2 runs total), Kershaw brought his ERA down to 1.88 for the season. To illustrate just how amazing a season Kershaw is having, through 25 starts, his ERA has crept over 2.00 only 4 times, the peak being April 24th after the Mets tagged him for a whopping 2 earned runs in 5 innings.
- Yu Darvish
Watching Yu Darvish pitch makes me giggle. The way he can manipulate the ball and make it do other-worldly things is poetry in motion. As he took a perfect game into the 8th against Houston this week, it looked effortless. No question he got jobbed by umpire Ron Kulpa, but he kept his cool (even when his catcher got tossed for no apparent reason). He’s as smooth as they come and continues to gain finesse in his pitching approach.
- David Price
Not sure what’s going on here folks. The Mariners touched up Price for 4 earned runs in his most recent outing. Nothing to worry about, he’s still David Price. His next matchup is a bit of a tough one. He’ll face the Orioles in Baltimore. The Rays are playing well, and Price is their horse.
- Felix Hernandez
Felix shut down the woeful Brewers last weekend, going 8 innings without giving up an earned run. He struck out 9 and picked up his 12th win in the outing. Next up for Felix will be a road start against a Rangers team that has won 9 of their last 10. He’s pitched slightly better on the road this season (2.17 ERA on the road compared to a 2.39 ERA at home).
- Matt Harvey
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Harvey will be capped at around 210-215 innings this season. The Mets will finagle the rotation so he’ll be able to remain active for the duration of the season (gotta fill the seats). With that news, Harvey will remain near the top of this list for the rest of the season. I expect that he’ll tire a bit and we’ll see his production slip a bit, but I could very easily be wrong about that. Harvey seems to exceed expectations, that’s just what he does.
- Adam Wainwright
He’s been fine for the past few starts, but hasn’t been as sharp as he was for the first half of the season. His last start was pushed back to give him some extra rest. He came out gave 7 innings, giving up 3 earned runs and an uncharacteristic 3 walks against the Pirates. Wainwright needs a really solid start to get his season back into dominating form. Thankfully for Wainwright owners, he’ll face the Cubs on Sunday in his next start.
- Madison Bumgarner
Bumgarner gave up just 1 earned run in a rain delay shortened outing on Tuesday. He has a 2.73 ERA and 24.6% strikeout rate this season. His next start will come on Sunday against the Marlins.
- Max Scherzer
Scherzer will attempt to win his 18th game of the season when he takes on the Royals this weekend. Over his last 10 starts, Scherzer’s K% is 24.9%, which for most mortals is a plus ratio, but his K% in his first 14 starts of the season was 31.4%. While all of his numbers are still good, he’s not quite up at the elite level any more.
- Hiroki Kuroda
The guy is a machine. He’s been by far the best player on the Yankees this season. Over his last 10 starts he has a 1.74 ERA and a 1.01 ERA.
- Stephen Strasburg
Ok, ok, I’ll start to buy into Strasburg again. He still has the ability to just lose his stuff and do some major damage to your ratios, but his 28.2% strikeout percentage and 6.7% walk percentage over his last 10 starts, help ease the occasional pain of 5+ earned runs in a game. For me, he’s still not established himself as an ace.
- Chris Sale
Durable is not typically the word most closely associated with Chris Sale, but he leads the league with 4 complete games this season. Now, I can’t tell you exactly how that will affect his arm next year, but this year he’s on pace to log 245 innings, win 17 games and strike out over 250 batters. Just beware of his 2014 stats, I don’t believe they’ll be anywhere near his 2013 numbers.
- Justin Verlander
I never thought I’d have Verlander outside of the top 10, but just when you think Verlander is back on track he gives up 4 earned over 7 innings to the Yankees. His next start is against the Royals on Friday. His last start against the Royals on 7/20, he gave up 5 earned runs, on 8 hits and 4 walks. His inconsistency is still my biggest problem with him.
- Jered Weaver
Giving up 9 earned runs in 5 innings of work is something that will make me lose faith pretty quickly. I still believe in Weaver, but the scale at which he blew up is a cause for concern. He faces the fading Indians on Monday where he can hopefully keep it together.
- Cole Hamels
Since July 1st, Hamels has been pitching out of his mind. He has a 1.98 ERA over that stretch, but the Phillies have only managed a 4-4 record in those starts. At the end of July Hamels ERA was over 4.00 and since then he’s brought it down to 3.65 in just 3 starts. Don’t let the win loss record fool you. Hamels is dealing.
- Mike Minor
Minor picked up the win in his last start against the Marlins, but he gave up 4 earned runs in 7 innings of work. His next start will come against the Nationals, a team that he held to 2 earned runs on 8 hits on 8/5. I’m usually wary of pitchers facing a team for the 2nd time in a short time span, but Minor is arguably Atlanta’s best pitcher and the Braves offense should be able to carry Minor anyway.
- Anibal Sanchez
Sanchez has been solid for the Tigers this season. He hasn’t given up more than 2 earned runs in his last 6 starts. He hasn’t been as heralded as Scherzer or Verlander this season, but his contribution to the Tigers and fantasy teams has not gone unnoticed.
- Jose Fernandez
He’s likely got about 5 starts left in him this season. They will be glorious, but the fun will come to an end early September for Fernandez. I would happily use Fernandez for 5 starts and take whatever is on the waiver wire to fill in the blanks after he’s shut down. He’s that dominant.
- Matt Cain
Cain has posted 4 straight quality starts and has 1 win to show for it. Over those 4 games he has a 2.17 ERA and 22.7% strikeout rate. The strikeout rate is right inline with what’s he’s done all season (22% on the season), while his season ERA sits at 4.44. He hasn’t lost the skills that have made him one of the most solid and consistent starters over the last 7 years. He’s inline to eclipse 200 innings for the 7th straight year.
- Mat Latos
Latos’ last outing was 8 innings of shutout ball against the Cubs. He also recorded 9 strikeouts against Chicago. This weekend, Latos leads the Reds up to Milwaukee where he’ll face the Brewers on Saturday. The 25 year old has been on a tear of late. Over his last 10 starts, he’s struck out 27.5% of the batters he’s faced.
- Jhoulys Chacin
Chacin brought his streak of quality starts to 7 in a row when he 8 innings, giving up 1 earned run against San Diego. On Sunday, the Rockies top starter will take on the Orioles in Baltimore.