We dive headfirst into the first day of June with a bunch of aces toiling in isolation and one pretty intriguing pitching matchup. Check ’em out!
Masahiro Tanaka (NYY) versus Aaron Sanchez (TOR)
7:07 p.m. ET
Tanaka has quietly been very good for the Yankees this year, and is coming off one of his best starts of the season. Last time out, Tanaka held the Rays to just two hits in seven shutout innings with four strikeouts and a total of 10 grounders induced. Tanaka has induced double-digit grounders in seven of 10 starts, which pairs nicely with his fantastic 54-12 K/BB ratio through 65.1 innings. After a rough stretch in which he gave up 10 earned runs in a pair of starts in mid May, Tanaka has rebounded to allow just one earned run over his last two startsa��spanning 14 innings and lowering his ERA from 3.51 to 2.89. He’s put together a really solid season.
Sanchez has been inducing grounders like crazy. Of his 10 starts, he’s produced double-digit grounders in nine of them, and his rate for the season is a stunning 59.7 percent. Paired with his 8.0 K/9 and low-for-him 3.2 BB/9, that’s a pretty good marriage. He’s mostly a fastball-curve guya��and relies heavily (70-plus percent) on the heata��but he’ll mix in a change from time to time. His two-seamer (62 percent groundball rate) and curve (72 percent) are absurdly heavy, and the latter is inducing swinging strikes 15.8 percent of the timea��a big jump from the 9.3 percent mark last year. He appears to be figuring it out.
Aces in Isolation
Jacob deGrom (NYM) versus Chicago’s Miguel Gonzalez
deGrom’s lack of strikeouts has been openly lamented in a number of places, but over his last two starts he’s got a much more a�?like hima�? 14 strikeouts in 12 innings. Nothing about deGrom’s numbersa��2.81 ERA, .246 BAA, 1.19 WHIPa��screams anything is terribly wrong, and the trademark velocity that was lacking earlier in the year has crept up start by start. He was throwing just 92.3 mph on average in his first start in early April, and last time out against the Dodgers was up to 95 mph. He’s getting awfully close.
Cole Hamels (TEX) versus Cleveland’s Trevor Bauer
It feels like Hamels just quietly goes about his business with the Rangers, and when you look him up you’re a bit surprised more people aren’t talking about his season. The 3.34 ERA is just fine, but he’s allowing opponents to hit just .248 with 67 strikeouts in 62 innings. The walks have been worrisome (23) and it’s what by and large has contributed to an iffy 1.32 WHIP, but he’s been far, far more good than bad this year. He is coming off a rough start against the Pirates last time out, where he failed to complete five innings for the first time all season while allowing six runs (five earned) and a pair of home runs. The home runs have also been an issuea��he’s allowed 12 (!) in 10 starts.
Max Scherzer (WAS) versus Philadelphia’s Adam Morgan
Speaking of home runs allowed.. Scherzer has made 11 starts this year and has allowed at least one home run in nine of them. He’s allowed an NL-high 15 this year, and in the past two years Scherzer is tied with James Shields for the second-most allowed behind AnA�bal SA?nchez. SA?nchez took the lead from Scherzer and Shields in Tuesday night’s game, by the way. It’s not all bad with Scherzer, or even remotely close to it. He’s still striking out everyone in sight, as only he, teammate Stephen Strasburg, JosA� FernA?ndez and Clayton Kershaw have 90 or more strikeouts in baseball this year. The home run thing is a bit strange, but he’s by and large still solid.
Jon Lester (CHC) versus Los Angeles’ Mike Bolsinger
You can catch this game on ESPN, as Lester looks to continue his strong second season with the Cubs. Opponents have hit just .226 off Lester, and the Cubs are 7-3 in his starts. Nothing about Lester’s season is too out of the ordinary, though his groundball ratea��which spiked at 48.9 percent last year for a three-year higha��is back down in the lower 40s. Other than that, Lester is in search of his third straight five-win seasona��via fWARa��and appears to be pretty close to that pace.
We’ll keep an eye on Chris Archer as he’s on the comeback trail against the Royals and lefty Danny Duffy. Every time we think Archer is headed back down the right path he has a blow up. In his penultimate start against the Tigers he allowed six earned runs in just three frames, and followed it up with eight pretty good innings against the Yankees. Last time out, Archer allowed just one earned run to the Bombers (four total), with seven strikeouts and three walks in eight innings. That’s not a vintage Archer start, but it’s maybe a stepping stone. Facing an embattled Royals offense might be a good way to get him going.