by Ray Kuhn
Now that the All-Star break is in our rear view mirror, we are back. With a little more than a week before the trading deadline action will be coming fast and furious as teams, both MLB and fantasy, prepare for the stretch run. Let’s take a look at the pitchers who will be taking the mound twice in this upcoming week and how they rank:
- Corey Kluber – Cleveland Indians – vs. Pittsburgh; at Detroit
- Aaron Nola – Philadelphia Phillies – vs. LA Dodgers; at Cincinnati
- Luis Severino – New York Yankees – at Tampa Bay; vs. Kansas City
- Blake Snell – Tampa Bay Rays – vs. NY Yankees; at Baltimore
- Patrick Corbin – Arizona Diamondbacks – at Chicago Cubs; at San Diego
- Jose Berrios – Minnesota Twins – at Toronto; at Boston
- Kyle Hendricks – Chicago Cubs – vs. Arizona; at St. Louis
- Julio Teheran – Atlanta Braves – at Miami; vs. LA Dodgers
- Rick Porcello – Boston Red Sox – at Baltimore; vs. Minnesota
- Zack Wheeler – New York Mets – vs. San Diego; at Pittsburgh
- Cole Hamels – Texas Rangers – vs. Oakland; at Houston
- CC Sabathia – New York Yankees – at Tampa Bay; vs. Kansas City
- Carlos Rodon – Chicago White Sox – at LA Angels; vs. Toronto
- Andrew Suarez – San Francisco Giants – at Seattle; vs. Milwaukee
- Joe Musgrove – Pittsburgh Pirates – at Cleveland; vs. NY Mets
- Zach Eflin – Philadelphia Phillies – vs. LA Dodgers; at Cincinnati
- Felix Pena – LA Angels – vs. Chicago White Sox; vs. Seattle
- Yefry Ramirez – Baltimore Orioles – vs. Boston; vs. Tampa Bay
- Jamie Barria – LA Angels – vs. Chicago White Sox; vs. Seattle
- Jason Vargas – New York Mets – vs. San Diego; at Pittsburgh
- Kevin Gausman – Baltimore Orioles – vs. Boston; vs. Tampa Bay
- Trevor Williams – Pittsburgh Pirates – at Cleveland; vs. NY Mets
- Jose Urena – Miami Marlins – vs. Atlanta; vs. Washington
- Drew Pomeranz – Boston Red Sox – at Baltimore; vs. Minnesota
- Mike Minor – Texas Rangers – vs. Oakland; at Houston
- Lucas Giolito – Chicago White Sox – at LA Angels; vs. Toronto
- Heath Fillmyer – Kansas City Royals – vs. Detroit; at NY Yankees
- Burch Smith – Kansas City Royals – vs. Detroit; at NY Yankees
- It has not been an especially successful season for Kyle Hendricks, but you also can’t turn your back on a relatively established pitcher with a 3.99 ERA. Before you fully jump in there is a little of risk as that is the right-hander’s career high ERA, and his FIP is 4.62. In his last start before the All-Star break he was lucky to only allow three runs, in just 4.2 innings, as he allowed nine hits and one walk. Despite that, at 1.23, Hendricks’ WHIP is respectable because he has kept his walks down at a 2.50 BB/9. One of the issues is that he really doesn’t strike anyone out, 6.81 per nine innings, and his ground ball rate is down to 46.1%. Additionally he has already allowed a career high 18 HR thanks to a home run to fly ball rate of 16.7%. That is very much inflated compared to his career rate of 11.8%, but not that much off from last year’s 14.8%. I’m still starting Hendricks, but I’m doing so very carefully.
- At this point it’s not a secret, but there is clear risk in starting Cole Hamels. The question is just how much? For starters we likely can expect to see Hamels dealt before July 31st, the question is when? Should this week go on as scheduled the match-ups aren’t all that inviting for the southpaw as he faces the A’s and Astros. Hamels didn’t exactly reach the All-Star break from a position of strength as he allowed 18 runs in his last 17 innings over four starts. Overall he has struck out 109 batters in 109.1 innings, but he has also allowed 106 hits and sports a 4.36 ERA and 1.34 WHIP. While the WHIP is what it is, and that is not very good, his ERA could go in either direction thanks to a 5.06 FIP and 4.12 xFIP. The bottom line is that there is risk, and a lot of it can be traced back to his issues with the long ball. After allowing 1.09 home runs per nine innings last season, and owning a 1.04 career average, that has jumped to 1.73 thanks to a 20.2% home run to fly ball rate (career mark of 11.7%).
- Now that he is healthy, once again, could we finally be seeing a breakout from Carlos Rodon? If you watched his last start against the Cardinals, the answer would be an affirmative “Yes”. The left-hander didn’t allow a run in 7.1 innings of work as he got 12 ground ball outs, struck out seven and allowed just three hits and two walks. When it comes to Rodon, after we talk about his health, the conversation then goes to his control and that is fair after he walked six batters in Houston two starts ago. It was a good sign to see him minimize the damage and still make it through six innings of work allowing just two runs. So far this season he has made seven starts, but there is a troubling disparity between his 3.56 ERA and 5.04 FIP. That is what a .225 BABIP will do for you. With the sample size so small I would look at what he did in his last start and feel comfortable with him this week as he faces the Angels and Blue Jays.
- Through nine starts Musgrove is striking out close to a batter per inning, 8.49, while keeping the walks down (2.72). With a 44.4% ground ball rate he does a solid job of keeping the ball on the ground, but he is currently being adversely impacted by a .331 BABIP. That helps to explain his 4.08 ERA as compared to his 3.68 FIP. Either way the sample size is small, and the right-hander has shown the ability to get outs at the major league level. In his last start against the Brewers Musgrove cruised through the first seven innings, until running into trouble in the eighth inning. This week his first start in Cleveland could get a little hairy, but facing the Mets will make up for it.
- Just keep on going. Don’t over think things. Just because Lucas Giolito had his first scoreless start of the season before the All-Star break, it doesn’t mean he should end up in your lineup this week. While the former first round pick was a top prospect, 6.1 innings of not allowing a run to the Royals isn’t going to impress me much. Before I buy into the right-hander I need to see consistency and right now the only consistency we have seen is that he matches walks with strikeouts; 103.1 innings, 63 strikeouts, 60 walks. With a 6.18 ERA and 1.51, just keep on going past the right-hander even if he does have some name recognition.
- As we get further on down the list of options the outlook isn’t that attractive. If you must, maybe take a closer look at Jason Vargas? Yes, his ERA in his last three starts is 8.76 as he makes his way back from the DL, but there is some semblance of a track record. Through 37.2 innings this season, some of those early starts were really like extended spring training for Vargas, his ERA does sit at an unsightly 8.60. However if you are looking for optimism, his xFIP is 5.07 as he has had to deal with a .367 BABIP. The fact that he faces the Padres in his first start of the week is also a plus.
Make sure to check out all of our Midseason Prospect Rankings: