It’s another fairly strong pitching day as we get the weekend going, with a quartet of aces in isolation and another two seasons vets who we’re keeping an eye on. Check ’em out!
Aces in Isolation
RHP Carlos Carrasco (CLE) -versus Kansas City’s RHP Jason Hammel
Cleveland won all five of Carrasco’s starts in May. And, he’s run his season ERA down to 2.89 as he rebounded from a tough pair of starts with a good one last time out. After the Reds and Rays got to him for a combined nine runs over 10 innings, Carrasco held down the A’s for seven strong innings with two earned runs, seven strikeouts and just one walk. The only real issue was that both runs scored on home runsa��his second multi-homer effort of the season. He’s eighth in the AL in ERA, fourth in WHIP (0.92) and has held opposing batters to just a .194 average. This Royals matchup is a great one as well. They’ve been among the worst offenses in the game all season long.
LHP Jon Lester (CHC) versus St. Louis’ RHP Mike Leake
The ERA marks have only been so-so (3.68 in April, 4.00 in May), but there’s plenty to be enthused about when looking at Lester’s secondary numbers. That’s especially true in May, as he fanned 41 batters in 36 innings across six starts. His May numbers also look bad because he was roughed up in his final start of the month, allowing six earned runs to the Dodgers in just 3.1 innings. That represents about 40 percent of the earned runs he allowed all month (16) and half the home runs he allowed (two of four) in an otherwise really, really solid month. His ERA is still residing close to 4.00a��perhaps too close for comforta��but this looks like a pitcher who is ready to fire off a half-dozen solid starts to get back to where we’re accustomed to seeing him at, stats-wise.
RHP Lance McCullers Jr. (HOU) versus Texas’ RHP Andrew Cashner
The reigning AL Pitcher of the Month in May earned that distinctiona��no questions asked. During that month, McCullers posted a ridiculous 0.99 ERA (four earned runs in 36.1 innings) while allowing just two home runs. He was so good all month that the only earned runs he allowed came in the first and last starts of May. In the four middle starts, McCullers tossed 24 scoreless innings with a K/BB ratio of 19-6. He’s also inducing grounders like crazy with very few walks. Or in other words, nailing the perfect pitcher trifecta (grounders, strikeouts, no walks). McCullers is fourth in the AL in ERA (2.48), fifth in WHIP (1.06) and sixth in strikeouts (73). This is probably your sleeper in the AL Cy Young race.
RHP Ervin Santana (MIN) versus Los Angeles’ RHP Matt Shoemaker
Santana heads back to his old stomping grounds to get a look at a slumping offense missing the best player in the game. So far, that has come at a good time, as the Twins have rebounded from the thrashing they took at the hands of the Astros to grab the first two games of the series. This bodes well for the Twins, as the final two games will be started by the best they have to offer pitching-wisea��Santana and JosA� BerrA�os. Santana has been incredibly difficult for hitters to solve this season (.140 batting average), helping him sustain a sub-2.00 ERA virtually all season despite not having ridiculous strikeout rates (56 in 77 innings). After an absurdly good (0.77 ERA) month of April, he was merely terrific (2.57) in May. He leads the AL in WHIP (0.84), is second in ERA (1.75) and third in innings (77).
We still love Johnny Cueto, but there’s no denying it hasn’t been a terrific season for him so far. He’s got a 4.37 ERA, but had a much better May (3.83 ERA) than April (5.10). Still, that’s not exactly the Cueto we’ve come to know and love. He did, however, post a 44-8 K/BB ratio in 40 May frames. So maybe he’s on the right track. The Phillies offense might be just what the doctor ordered.
He’s on a pitch count, but we’ll be watching David Price closely as he makes just his second start of the season. Price threw 88 pitches in his first starta��a 5-4 loss to the White Soxa��and manager John Farrell told media that he probably won’t go much higher than that this time out against the Orioles, who are a much tougher offensive matchup than the White Sox. Still, as we’ve noted before, once Price gets going, good luck against that lefty trio of him, Chris Sale and Eduardo RodrA�guez.