by Ray Kuhn
After setting your lineups for just three days, we are now back on track with a standard week of baseball ahead of us. With teams having the All-Star break to set their rotations to begin the second half, there aren’t many aces taking the mound twice this week. Of course that doesn’t mean we are without some solid options. Let’s take a look at how they rank.
- Jacob deGrom – New York Mets – at Washington; vs. LA Dodgers
- Gerrit Cole – Pittsburgh Pirates – at Kansas City; vs. Washington
- Carlos Martinez – St. Louis Cardinals – at Chicago White Sox; vs. Atlanta
- Matt Harvey – New York Mets – at Washington; vs. LA Dodgers
- Danny Salazar – Cleveland Indians – at Milwaukee; vs. Chicago White Sox
- A.J. Burnett – Pittsburgh Pirates – at Kansas City; vs. Washington
- Gio Gonzalez – Washington Nationals – vs. NY Mets; at Pittsburgh
- Alex Wood – Atlanta Braves – vs. LA Dodgers; at St. Louis
- Kendall Graveman – Oakland A’s – vs. Toronto; at San Francisco
- Andrew Heaney – LA Angels – vs. Minnesota; vs. Texas
- Brett Anderson – LA Dodgers – at Atlanta; at NY Mets
- Nathan Eovaldi – New York Yankees – vs. Baltimore; at Minnesota
- Kyle Gibson – Minnesota Twins – at LA Angels; vs. NY Yankees
- Matt Shoemaker – LA Angels – vs. Boston; vs. Texas
- Ian Kennedy – San Diego Padres – vs. San Francisco; vs. Miami
- Yordano Ventura – Kansas City Royals – vs. Pittsburgh; vs. Houston
- Matt Moore – Tampa Bay Rays – at Philadelphia; vs. Baltimore
- Brian Johnson – Boston Red Sox – at Houston; vs. Detroit
- Rubby De La Rosa – Arizona Diamondbacks – vs. Miami; vs. Milwaukee
- Tim Hudson – San Francisco Giants – at San Diego; vs. Oakland
- Matt Garza – Milwaukee Brewers – vs. Cleveland; at Arizona
- Michael Lorenzen – Cincinnati Reds – vs. Chicago Cubs; at Colorado
- Jeremy Hellickson – Arizona Diamondbacks – vs. Miami; vs. Milwaukee
- Brandon Beachy – LA Dodgers – at Atlanta; at NY Mets
- Odrisamer Despaigne – San Diego Padres – vs. San Francisco; vs. Miami
- Clayton Richard – Chicago Cubs – at Cincinnati; vs. Philadelphia
Coming out of the All-Star break, the Mets took the opportunity to stack their rotation to face the division rival Washington Nationals. That means we get to see Jacob deGrom take the mound twice this week on the heels of his 10 pitch, strike out the side performance in the All-Star game. To say that deGrom has been dominate as of late would be an understatement and the All-Star game was just a continuation of that. Over his past three starts, deGrom has a 1.27 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 21.1 innings. On the season deGrom is sporting a 2.14 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP with just about a strikeout an inning; 112 in 113.1 innings. The only bad thing you can say about deGrom is the lack of run support he gets from the Mets lackluster offense, although the right-hander does have a 9-6 record.
There’s no better way to move up quickly in the standings, then to have a pitcher like Danny Salazar take the mound twice. In 98.2 innings, Salazar has 116 strikeouts and this season he also shown the ability to limit the base runners with just a 1.15 WHIP. The issue with Salazar is his ERA of 3.74 as in today’s climate of standout pitching it is a little on the high side. However, it is something I would expect to see decrease over the second half as Salazar has a FIP of 3.37 and an xFIP of 2.94. The strikeouts should not come as a surprise for Salazar but he has made strides this season with his walks; just 2.37 per nine innings.
The time Andrew Heaney spent in the minors this season has certainly done him wonders. Well at least so far it has as Heaney has four straight quality starts and three straight victories. After kicking off his time with the Angels by throwing six innings of one hit ball against the Astros, Heaney averaged seven innings in each of his next three starts with four earned runs in total. With a FIP of 2.77, you have to expect Heaney’s ERA of 1.32 to rise, but this performance is not completely coming out of nowhere. Heaney has the pedigree of a top prospect, and you have to withhold judgement of his 4.71 ERA in AAA this season as it compares to his WHIP of 3.10. Heaney won’t continue have a 94.1% strand rate, but that doesn’t mean we should expect the worse.
Alex Wood is in a slump. It is hard to ignore an ERA of 8.79 over his past three starts. For the season, Wood has an ERA of 3.76 which could actually be a lot worse considering he sports a WHIP of 1.45. It has been an up and down season for Wood who started off with a 4.03 ERA in April but then improved in May and June with ERA’s of 2.88 and 2.72 respectively. And then came July where Wood fell victim to a .442 BABIP. On the season Wood has walked 2.56 batters per nine innings, so control hasn’t exactly been the issue. Things really can’t get any worse than Wood’s last start in which he allowed seven runs in Coors Field. I wouldn’t hold it against him this week.
One pitcher who I do need to see a little more from, depending on your league format, is Matt Moore. It has not been easy so far for Moore in his return from Tommy John surgery. Moore hasn’t exactly gotten blown up in any start, but 12 runs in 14 innings is far from desirable. With 4.50 walk per nine innings and a 1.93 WHIP, I would give Moore a little more time to find his footing before truly relying on him at this point.
And once again we have a prospect making his debut, and this week it is Brian Johnson. Johnson will start in Houston and then at home against the Tigers during his first week as a major leaguer. For the most part this season, prospects and young pitchers in general have had success in their debuts, and Johnson appears set to continue down that path. In 16 starts this season in AAA, Johnson has a 8-6 record to go along with a 2.73 while striking out 8.5 batters per nine innings.