The pickings are pretty slim on this baseball Sunday. Still, you may be able to find some individual matchups you’ll enjoy as we wrap up another week across MLB:
Carlos Carrasco (CLE) vs. Kyle Lobstein (DET)
1:08 p.m. ET
Carrasco came back healthy after a line drive to the face chased him from the previous start to throw five innings of one-run ball with eight strikeouts. Perhaps just as importantly, Carrasco did so against the same White Sox team that forced him from that game exactly one week prior. There aren’t enough superlatives to sum up how fantastic Carrasco has been for Cleveland, as he’s gone 2–1 with a 2.38 ERA and has fanned 18 batters in 11.1 innings (14.3 K/9). Add to that just one walk, and it’s no surprise his FIP is a sparkling 1.28. Carrasco is throwing gas (94.9 mph average heat) while adding a slider and a changeup most frequently. Under the hood, Carrasco has obscene whiff rates on everything but the four-seamer. Seriously: slider (21.2 percent), changeup (32.3 percent), two-seamer (12.5 percent) and curve (28.6 percent). It’s very possible he’s simply just legit.
Lobstein has taken a couple of turns through the Tigers rotation and hasn’t embarrassed himself, allowing just four earned runs over 11 innings (3.27 ERA). Some of the peripheral stuff isn’t good—six strikeouts against six walks in 11 innings, 1.55 WHIP—but for the most part he’s been decent between this year and last, spanning just over 50 big-league innings. Lobstein isn’t a flamethrower; in fact, to the contrary as he averages just 86 mph on his four-seamer. He throws a sinker at 85.5 and will mix in a changeup he really likes as well as a cutter and an infrequently used curve. He’s about a league-average groundball type, with his curve, changeup and heat all having pretty healthy groundball rates. He’s got pretty good whiff rates on a lot of his secondary pitches too, so this is a guy to keep an eye on.
It’s been a bizarre season for Jason Marquis, who’ll face Travis Wood (1–1, 3.24 ERA) and the Cubs at home today. Marquis has fanned 21 batters in 15 innings (12.6 K/9), but has gotten pretty much peppered across the board otherwise, with a 7.20 ERA and three home runs over 15 innings.
Gio Gonzalez versus Dan Haren is moderately intriguing. Haren is sort of on the same track as Jered Weaver, continuing to pitch well as his velocity bottoms out. Haren’s a bit faster than Weaver—but still just in the mid-80s—but he’s still managed to post decent stats. Advanced stats hate him, thanks to a .128 BABIP and a 100 percent strand rate. When those regress, look out! Gonzalez is off to an uneven start, with a nice 3.44 ERA but rates that are a bit shaky outside of grounders. It’s still early, of course.
Mark Buehrle versus Chris Archer is also pretty interesting. Buehrle has made some noise about retiring after this season, and if his results start matching his peripherals—3.5 K/9, 1.5 HR/9, .311 BAA, 1.50 WHIP, 83.0 mph average heater—that might make that an easier decision. Still, to be able to hack it in any form in the big league with that kind of stuff takes serious guts. Archer has already made four starts, which makes him deserving of a red badge of courage in a beleaguered Rays rotation. He’s fanned nearly 11 per nine, and has a 1.07 ERA. He’s cruising.
We’ll definitely be watching as Edinson Volquez takes on John Danks and the White Sox, especially after his role in the brawl on Thursday night. Volquez was levied a five-game suspension, but can pitch in the finale since he’s appealing it. Whatever bad blood doesn’t spill over into Sunday will still be worth monitoring, as we’ll keep an eye on the “Royals vs. the world” storyline that seems to be developing early this year.
If you want an underrated pitching matchup, Texas’ Nick Martinez versus Los Angeles’ Hector Santiago might be as good of one as you’ll find today. Martinez has been great three trips through the rotation, allowing just one earned run (0.45 ERA) through 20 innings. His peripherals (9-to-6 K/BB rate) don’t really back that up, but he did induce 17 (!) groundball outs last time out, and that’s a pretty sustainable thing for success usually. The heavily tattooed Santiago has been really good for the Angels, especially the last two times out: 13 innings, two earned runs, and a 13-to-5 K/BB rate.
Your nightcap comes via the Subway Series, as the unassuming Jonathon Niese takes on fireballing righty Nathan Eovaldi on ESPN. Niese does a little bit of everything, and rarely has a start blow up in his face, while Eovaldi is volatile, throwing hard but at times getting absolutely battered. So far it has been good Eovaldi for the Yankees, as he’s posted a 3.12 ERA and allowed just three earned runs in his last two starts after allowing three in his first start.