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There are all kinds of ways I could choose to look at pitchers. I threw a dart and made a decision. Where did the dart land? Try on Sunday August 10th. Therefore, I'm breaking down a whole host of starting pitchers that took the hill on that day. Which guys are trending in a positive or negative way?Anyone you should be pumped to own, while conversely, are there any arms it would be wise to try and move on from before the proverbial rug is pulled out from beneath their feet?
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Johnny Cueto improved to 14-6.
Did you see that Cueto has been as good as Clayton Kershaw this year (check out my Did you Know? piece for the data). Cueto already has the second most wins of his career (14). He's the owner of a 2.05 ERA. Know what his ERA is since the start of the 2011 season? How about 2.45. The only starting pitcher better is Clayton Kershaw at 2.14. In fact, the third place man is Cliff Lee at 2.89 (minimum 600 innings pitched). Cueto is 6.1 innings from reaching the second highest total of his career (he's at 179.2). His 9.07 K/9 rate is vastly superior to his 7.35 mark and his 2.35 BB/9 rate is the second best of his career. Add in his 1.50 GB/FB ratio and you've got a guy who is looking like a top-3 NL Cy Young candidate.
Rubby De La Rosa improved to 4-4.
Through 11 starts RDLR has a 3.21 ERA and 1.29 WHIP. That will play. However, he's also walked 2.94 batters per nine, basically the league average, well a little better, and his 6.42 K/9 mark is poor. He's just not able to put batters away despite averaging 94-95 on the heater. In fact, batters have hit .265 off his heater this season and they've also managed a strong .366 OBP. He does a solid job with the old ground ball – 48 percent of the batted balls – but he's still homer prone a bit cause when he gets the ball up in the zone it goes a long way (1.07 HR.9 mark despite a mere 30 percent fly ball rate). Not a huge fan at the moment.
Danny Duffy improved to 7-10.
The record doesn't speak to what is happening. Duffy has a 2.57 ERA and 1.09 WHIP over 115.2 innings, a rather remarkable effort. He's lost the big whiff ball, but his 7.08 K/9 mark is still passable. His walk rate isn't, 3.42 per nine, but he's been able to flirt with danger and escape virtually all year. Here are his earned runs marks over the past two months: zero, 2, 1, 1, 4, 1, 1, zero, 1,1 and 4. He gives up way too many fly balls – his 48 percent fly ball rate is literally 50 percent higher than the normal – but he's been extremely lucky with a HR/F mark of just 5.8 percent. It could all come crashing down as his 4.35 SIERA and 4.52 xFIP suggest. He's simply not pitching well enough to deserve the ratios he owns.
Kevin Gausman fell to 6-4.
The youngster averaged 9.25 strikeouts per nine last season. This year that mark is 6.18. That is terrible. His heater is the same though at 95 mph so it's not a velocity issue. It's a location thing. Gausman has struggled to pinpoint all his pitches this season. Not only has he lost strikeouts but he's added nearly a full batter to his walk rate this season at 3.36 per nine innings. He's also been fortunate with a 4.2 percent HR/F ratio. Bottom line is threefold. (1) He's still supremely talented. (2) His performance to this point isn't wholly warranted, and he already has a 3.90 ERA and 1.42 WHIP. (3) It's uncertain how long he will remain in the Orioles' rotation.
Phil Hughes improved to 12-8.
Hughes has won his last two outings and he's thrown 3-straight quality starts. He's also, remarkably, walked just 15 batters this season. That's truly impressive. His 8.00 K/9 mark is better than his career mark of 7.63 and would be his first time over 7.80 since 2009. Oddly, despite all the success he has a six year worst .344 BABIP and 23.9 percent line drive. If he hadn't kept the walks in check, while posting the best HR/9 rate of his career (6.0 compared to 9.6 for his career), the results would likely be spotty.
Dallas Keuchel fell to 10-8.
Through 22 starts Dallas owns a 3.07 ERA and 1.22 WHIP. Considering that he may have been drafted in about five percent of 12 team mixed leagues that's a fantastic effort. However, he's just 10-8 and his 6.75 K/9 rate isn't going to help anybody. Unfortunately, he's been visited by the regression monster over his last nine outings as he's started to look decidedly blah with a 2-5 record, 4.14 ERA, 1.55 WHIP and just 5.68 strikeouts per nine innings. Don't mistake what Keuchel is. He's been a fantastic bargain, zero doubt there. Can he be counted on at ace-like levels the rest of the way? You're joking right? Honestly, he's barely been league average for two months now so he's not even a must start in many mixed leagues.
Tim Lincecum fell to 9-8.
The Freak was awful. Then he was great. Now he's back to being... just barely average – OK, awful. The bottom line is that through 24 starts Lincecum simply hasn't gotten it done. Period. No sugar coating it. Unless he finds the mojo he apparently lost yet again, this is going to go down as the 3rd straight effort of blah city, and if that's the case even the most ardent Lincecum supporter there is, me, will have to consider jumping ship. Lincecum still strikes guys out with an 8.24 mark per nine, and his 1.34 WHIP is barely worse than average, but the total package stinks when you toss in a 4.52 ERA. Oddly, his 48.4 percent ground ball rate is a four years best while his .295 BABIP is a three year best.
Lance Lynn improved to 12-8.
Dude gets no respect. For the third straight year he's on his way to 15 wins, 175 innings pitched (145.2 currently) and 175 strikeouts (he has 133 in 145.2 innings). Why don't more talk about this guy? Heck, he's even sporting the best ERA of his career at 2.97. Yeah he's gonna walk guys, and yes his WHIP isn't going to be strong (1.30 this year, 1.31 last year, 1.32 in 2012), but that doesn't mean this guy isn't a very useful piece... even if most don't seem to recognize that fact.
Charlie Morton fell to 5-11.
The 3.62 ERA plays, as does the 1.23 WHIP, and I'll even give him credit for bumping his K/9 rate to a career best 7.05. But this guys one redeeming trait continues to be the ground ball, something he excels at (55.2 percent this season). With the grounders has often avoids the big inning and the big fly, just nine homers this season, but with a 3.13 BB/9 rate he still issues too many free passes to take the next step in his game. Was nails there for a bit, but in three of his last four outings it's been four, four and five earned runs allowed.
Rick Porcello fell to 13-7.
A slightly younger/better version of Morton. For the first time since 2009 Porcello appears likely to finish a season with an ERA below 4.30. In fact, he would need to be a catastrophic failure to see four (it's currently 3.11). His 1.14 WHIP is also a career best (it's never been below 1.28). However, he's back down in the K/9 column at 5.57 per nine, but unlike Morton, and one of the keys to his success, he doesn’t walk anybody at only 1.92 walks per nine (again a career best). Oddly, all this success is coming despite a 48.9 percent ground ball rate, the worst of his career (52.3 percent). A bit worried that everything is a career best – HR/9, HR/F, BABIP, LOB% etc... but he is pitching well, no doubt about it.
Alex Wood improved to 8-9.
The 3.08 ERA and 1.23 WHIP are good numbers. Ditto the 2.54 BB/9 mark. The 9.15 K/9 rate is borderline elite. The 1.23 GB/FB plays well. So my question is – why do people still send questions about this guy? Compare Wood's numbers to Cole Hamels.
Wood: 9.15 K/9, 2.54 BB.9, 3.61 K/BB, 44.4 GB-rate, 1.23 GB/FB, 79.1 LOB%
Hamels: 8.98 K/9, 2.68 BB/9, 3.35 K/BB, 47.3 GB-rate, 1.48 GB/FB, 80.1 OLB%
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