It’s a strong baseball Sunday with plenty of aces in action, though they’re all mostly in isolation with the exception of a decent, nationally-televised duel to close the night. Check ’em out!
Aces in Isolation
Cole Hamels (TEX) versus John Lackey (CHC)
2:20 p.m. ET, TBS
Hamels’ ERA inflated more than a half run in his final two starts of the first half, as the Minnesota Twins took him to the woodshed a bit with 10 earned runs on 15 hits over just 8.1 innings. From time to time, Hamels will get out of sorts like that. In fact, he not only allowed the runs and hits, but had a spotty 7-9 K/BB ratio. It’s also strange because it came off such a good stretch, as he’d fanned seven with just one walk in his start against the Yankees to close out June. Furthermore, before allowing the first five-run game to the Twins, he’d allowed a total of four earned runs in his previous five startsa��COMBINED. Overall the numbers are still good, but he’s allowed a few too many walks (1.33 WHIP) and home runs (16 in 112 innings) than one might like from an ace.
Julio Teheran (ATL) versus Colorado’s Jon Gray
Teheran’s recent action is strangely similar to Hamels’. And while he’s managed to throw a few more frames (12.2), he’s allowed five earned runs in each of his last two starts as wella��losses for the Braves to the Marlins and White Sox. The long ball was one part of ita��and kind of has been all seasona��as he’s allowed 16 in 118.2 innings and three over his last two starts. However, prior to this last two-starts stretch Teheran was working on another one where he’d allowed three or fewer earned runs in 13 straight starts, dating back to allowing six to the Nationals back in mid-April. The results haven’t exactly been prettya��Teheran is just 3-8a��but he’s done everything he can to give his team a chance to win on nearly every night he’s pitched. It’ll be interesting to see if he’s moved at the deadline, because based on pitching prices he’ll bring back a haul.
Max Scherzer (WAS) versus Pittsburgh’s Chad Kuhl
Scherzer went into the break on a very strong stretch, as he’s allowed just one earned run total over his last three starts spanning 20.1 innings. That’s lowered his ERA nearly a half-run, from 3.52 to 3.03, and most importantly he’s allowed just one home run in that stretch. That’s been the primary, and basically only struggle for Scherzer this year, as he’s got the solid ERA, a fantastic 164-34 K/BB ratio in 127.2 innings but has allowed 21 home runs. The strikeouts have come fast and furious over the last eight starts, as he has five outings with at least 10 whiffs in that time frame and at least six strikeouts in all of those games. You’d have to go back to late April to find a Scherzer start with fewer than six strikeouts.
Jacob deGrom (NYM) versus Philadelphia’s Zach Eflin
deGrom’s last eight starts have been fantastic, as he’s allowed three or fewer earned runs in each (2.25 ERA) with a terrific 61-11 K/BB ratio. Opposing batters have hit just .218/.267/.340 against him in that time frame, and other than allowing a few home runs (six), he’s been pretty much nails. His velocity has progressed month-by-month this season, to the point where he’s been in the 94s and 95s more recently, which is much more like he was last year (typically 95-97) than he was earlier this season (92s and 93s).
Johnny Cueto (SFG) versus San Diego’s Edwin Jackson
Cueto didn’t fare too well in the All Star Game, but in games that have actually mattered* he has been wonderful. After a bit of a rough two-start patch, Cueto pitched into the break with a complete game five-hitter against the Rockies, allowing just one earned run with eight strikeouts, just one walk and 11 grounders induced. We’ve mentioned this before, but he continues to be absolute death to opposing batters (.224/.269/.314).
The nightcap this evening is the nationally-televised (ESPN) matchup between David Price and Masahiro Tanaka. The two have gone in sort of separate directions this year, as Price has put together a more iffy season overall (4.34 ERA) with a fantastic K/BB ratio (140-27 in 124.1 innings) while Tanaka has done the opposite with a 3.23 ERA, but just 93 strikeouts in 117 innings. He too has kept the walks in check (just 22), but he hasn’t had the dominating stuff of years past.