After a mid-season respite for the All-Star game, we are back and ready to go. With two and a half weeks to go until the Trade Deadline things are really going to start heating up. All you can do is take it one game, or week, at a time and continue to trust yourself. While it might not seem so, there is still a lot of baseball left to be played. Let’s take a look at how our options rank among those pitchers who are taking the mound twice this week:
- Clayton Kershaw – LA Dodgers – at Philadelphia; vs. Miami
- Walker Buehler – LA Dodgers – at Philadelphia; at Miami
- Blake Snell – Tampa Bay Rays – at NY Yankees; vs. Chicago White Sox
- Luis Castillo – Cincinnati Reds – at Chicago Cubs; vs. St. Louis
- James Paxton – NY Yankees – vs. Tampa Bay; vs. Colorado
- Brandon Woodruff – Milwaukee Brewers – vs. Atlanta; at Arizona
- Lucas Giolito – Chicago White Sox – at Kansas City; at Tampa Bay
- Jack Flaherty – St. Louis Cardinals – vs. Pittsburgh; at Cincinnati
- German Marquez – Colorado Rockies – vs. San Francisco; at NY Yankees
- Joe Musgrove – Pittsburgh Pirates – at St. Louis; vs. Philadelphia
- Zack Wheeler – NY Mets – at Minnesota; at San Francisco
- Max Fried – Atlanta Braves – at Milwaukee; vs. Washington
- Kyle Hendricks – Chicago Cubs – vs. Cincinnati; vs. San Diego
- Michael Pineda – Minnesota Twins – vs. NY Mets; vs. Oakland
- Jordan Yamamoto – Miami Marlins – vs. San Diego; at LA Dodgers
- Adam Plutko – Cleveland Indians – vs. Detroit; vs. Kansas City
- Anthony DeSclafani – Cincinnati Reds – at Chicago Cubs; vs. St. Louis
- Dylan Cease – Chicago White Sox – at Kansas City; at Tampa Bay
- Jeff Samardzjia – San Francisco Giants – at Colorado; vs. NY Mets
- CC Sabathia – NY Yankees – vs. Tampa Bay; vs. Colorado
- Michael Wacha – St. Louis Cardinals – vs. Pittsburgh; at Cincinnati
- Trent Thornton – Toronto Blue Jays – at Boston; at Detroit
- Daniel Mengden – Oakland A’s – vs. Seattle; at Minnesota
- Framber Valdez – Houston Astros – at LA Angels; vs. Texas
- Bryse Wilson – Atlanta Braves – at Milwaukee; vs. Washington
- Adrian Houser – Milwaukee Brewers – vs. Atlanta; at Arizona
- Jake Junis – Kansas City Royals – vs. Chicago White Sox; at Cleveland
- Glenn Sparkman – Kansas City Royals – vs. Chicago White Sox; at Cleveland
- Drew Pomeranz – Colorado Rockies – at Colorado; at NY Mets
- As we start the second half of the season, perhaps James Paxton will get on track. Partly due to his struggles the Yankees will likely be in the market for starting pitching at the trade deadline, but Paxton turning things around would be a welcome development. In his last three starts the left-hander’s ERA sits at 4.96, and for the season it’s 4.01. While it’s not ideal things could be worse, and it isn’t exactly what was expected, Paxton does have a 3.63 FIP. As far as buy-low candidates go I would look at adding the southpaw with the hope that he turns things around. The strikeouts are there, 11.20 per nine innings, so we have a nice floor but the major issue has been the walks with 3.54 per nine innings. Luck, a .358 BABIP, also hasn’t worked in his favor, but with both starts coming at home he might begin to move things in the right direction.
- There were few pitchers better at the start of the season than Lucas Giolito. He was in danger of being referred to as a failed prospect, and he was essentially a non-factor in drafts. Instead he’s finally showed what he is capable of as he earned himself an All-Star birth. With a 5.52 ERA in his last three starts, also nine walks in 14.2 innings, you have to wonder whether or not Giolito is simply regressing. Talent was never an issue, but it is now clear he simply needed a little more time to put everything together. Overall Giolito’s 3.15 ERA and 3.20 FIP support his success, but his 3.91 xFIP serves as a cautionary tale. Even though he has improved walks (3.42 per innings) are still an issue. Despite the quality of his stuff he did struggle in each of the last two years to strike batters out at the big league level, but he has been able limit the home runs; 1.40 down to 0.81. Aside from appearing to simply become a pitcher, Giolito has also been able to add close to two miles per hour to his fastball and I wouldn’t be too concerned about his recent struggles. If you can deal without a discount, that might not be such a bad idea either.
- Just because he is retiring at the end of the season I wouldn’t write CC Sabathia off just yet. It’s not as pretty as it once was, he is averaging just over five innings per start in his 14 starts this season, but there are still solid results. Overall he has a 4.03 ERA and 1.34 WHIP, but you can’t dismiss the fact that he will give you a legitimate chance at two victories this week. Sabathia takes a 2.84 ERA in his last three starts into two home match-ups against Tampa Bay and Colorado. He now has three straight quality starts under his belt and with close to a strikeout per inning, there is a solid base line.
- In four of Michael Pineda’s last five starts he has allowed just one run, as it appears he might be hitting his stride. While his 4.56 ERA might scare away some suitors, health has been perhaps the biggest concern and Pineda looks to be moving in the right direction. With 8.16 strikeouts per nine innings he is a little behind his career pace, but I am the most impressed by the fact that he is allowing just 1.55 walks per nine innings. Considering he is allowing 1.55 home runs per nine innings, Pineda needs to limit the traffic on the base paths as much as possible. His 1.18 WHIP is very respectable, and while he may never be a dominating ace there is no reason why he shouldn’t be in your lineup this week. Also, with the Mets and A’s as his opponents Pineda is in a prime position to continue his recent success.
- If we want to talk about health, that has certainly held Anthony DeSclafani back over the last few years. With a 4.26 ERA and 1.35 WHIP in 17 starts this season no one is going to confuse him with being an elite option, but he is striking out just over a batter per inning. If we take a look at his last seven starts, he has just one blemish. It is clear that the home run is DeSclafani’s downfall, 1.77 per nine innings, but he did have a 3.08 ERA in 26.1 June innings. This week he faces the Cubs and Cardinals, so there is some stress involved, but if you are hunting wins and strikeouts you can do worse.
- Taking a trip down in the ownership numbers, Adam Plutko is owned in just 23% of CBS leagues. Based on the match-ups he is my favorite streaming target of the week, but for the season I still have DeSclafani slightly higher. With a 3.14 ERA in his last three appearances Plutko is entering the week on a good note, but he hasn’t gone more than six innings with the Indians yet this season and he can’t be expected to pitch deep into a game. On the season his ERA is 4.95 in 36.1 innings with 26 strikeouts. Never considered a top prospect Plutko has had some success in his career at the minor league level, but he has yet to put anything together on a sustained level. It does work to his advantage that this week he faces the Tigers and Royals.