We come roaring back with a solid Sunday slate here as there are plenty of aces in actiona��both individually and squaring off against one another. Check ’em out!
Chris Archer (TBR) versus Jordan Zimmermann (DET)
1:10 p.m. ET
It’s been an up-and-down year for Archer but he seems to be back on track for the most part. His ERA peaked at 7.32 in late April, but over his last five starts he’s allowed two or fewer earned runs in four of them. He’s striking out everyone in sight (61 in 49.1 innings) but like a lot of pitchers this year he’s having trouble keeping the walks down. He’s handed out 25 free passes which is a huge reason his WHIP is a worrisome 1.52. That part of his game has gotten worse instead of better lately; he’s walked four batters in three of his last four starts. He’s too good to struggle like this for too long.
Zimmermann came into his last start against the Twins having allowed eight earned runs all season (1.50 ERA) and was gifted an eight-run lead that he could not hold. The Twins pecked and pecked until it was 8-7, and then J.D. Martinez dropped a fly ball in right field to allow the tying run to score. Fortunately for Zimmermann, the day wasn’t all for naught as Nick Castellanos hit a home run in the bottom half of the inning to allow his pitcher to still win, but it was a sloppy effort all around. Zimmermann allowed two home runs, but also had nine strikeouts, no walks and 15 grounders. Overall, it was a weird outing that jumped his ERA to 2.45a��still a perfectly reasonable figure.
Aces in Isolation
Noah Syndergaard (NYM) versus Milwaukee’s Chase Anderson
Thor was spotless last time out in outdueling Max Scherzer, as the latter allowed solo home runs to Curtis Granderson and Michael Conforto while the former went seven solid, scoreless innings, scattering five hits with 10 strikeouts and no walks. It was Syndergaard’s second double-digit strikeout game of the year, and pushed his K/BB rate to a staggering 65-9. That’d get a lot more play if Clayton Kershaw wasn’t doing what he’s doing, but it’s still impressive nonetheless. Thor has allowed just four earned runs over his last three starts combined, reducing his ERA from 2.58 to 2.19. When it’s that low, it’s hard to keep diving.
Max Scherzer (WAS) versus Miami’s Adam Conley
Scherzer was by no means bad last time out against the Metsa��see abovea��as he also fanned 10 batters but allowed a pair of home runs. That runs his season total to 13 home runs allowed, and he’s allowed an incredible eight over his last three starts. That’s the continuation of a troubling trend from the second half last year. Scherzer allowed just 10 home runs in 132 first-half innings last year, and then 17 in just 96.2 innings after the break. That pace has worsened this year, as he’s allowed an NL-high 13 through 58.1 inningsa��a rate of two per nine innings. It’s a weird juxtaposition with his 11.7 K/9 mark, but I suspect he’ll get it under wraps sooner rather than later.
Madison Bumgarner (SFG) versus Chicago’s Kyle Hendricks
The Giants have won Bumgarner’s last five starts, as he’s cruised with two or fewer earned runs in each to lower his ERA from 3.91 to 2.45. He’s got an incredible 71 strikeouts in 58.2 innings, and is holding opposing batters to a .228 batting average. It almost feels like he does it quietly, which is hard to believe on a team with recent championships (plural), but he’s in the same league as Thor, Kershaw and others. Oh well, he’s awesome.
Danny Salazar versus Rick Porcello will provide contrasting styles but ought to be a pretty good matchup. Salazar bounced back from a weird outing against the Astros (10 strikeouts, six walks) to hold down the Reds for 7.1 innings of one-run ball. He’s got 61 strikeouts in 50 innings. Porcello’s solidness is a bit more understated. He’s striking out nearly a batter per inninga��something he’s never really donea��and is working with a league-average groundball rate and very good control. Right now he’s the steady No. 2 kind of guy the Red Sox thought they were signing.
Cole Hamels versus Dallas Keuchel is a matchup of Texas lefties that would be a premium duel if the latter hadn’t struggled so much this season. Hamels has been solid (51 strikeouts in 49.1 innings, 3.10 ERA, .249 BAA) but like so many other good pitchers he’s battled control issues so far this season (19 walks). He’s been better in that respect over his last three starts with just four walks. Keuchel (5.43 ERA) is all out of sorts right now. His ERA hasn’t been under 4.00 after a start since late April, and he’s allowed five or more earned runs in four of his nine starts. That’s not a recipe for success.