Despite the typical short Thursday slate, there are plenty of interesting pitching options with games ranging all across the afternoon and deep into the night. Check ’em out!
Aces In Isolation
JosA� FernA?ndez (MIA) versus St. Louis’ Michael Wacha
FernA?ndez put together a really nice start last time outa��two earned in seven innings with a 7-2 K/BB ratioa��to take down the Mets, and now has been solid in three straight since the Braves surprisingly popped him for six earned runs in 5.2 innings back on July 2. His last 10 starts have been nothing short of fantastic, as he’s allowed more than two earned runs just twice and issued more than two walks just once. Here are his overall numbers over that time frame: 2.15 ERA, .533 OPS against and 97-11 K/BB ratio in 67 innings. Insert fire emojis here.
Cole Hamels (TEX) versus Kansas City’s Yordano Ventura
After the Twins bamboozled him for 10 runs in a two-start span earlier this month, Hamels has rebounded with a pair of clean starts against the Cubs and Royals. He’s allowed zero earned runs total over those 13.1 innings, with an 11-3 K/BB ratio while lowering his season ERA to 2.87 in the process. Hamels has been tough to crack when he’s been around the strike zone (.234 BAA), but his K/BB ratio this season in 125.1 innings is 120-50. That’s a career-worst 3.6 BB/9, and more walks total than he had in all of 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2011, and the same number of free passes he had in 33 starts in 2013. He’s only made 20 so far this season.
Chris Sale (CWS) versus Chicago’s John Lackey
There sure is a lot going on here. Not only is it another iteration of the Windy City Showdown, but we’re also looking at Sale making his first start since being suspended for going all Edward Scissorhands on the throwback uniforms the team was supposed to wear over the weekend. The trade potential for Sale is probably overblown due to the likely price to acquire him, but there’s also that wrinkle as well; if he were to be moved by the deadline, this would be his last start in a Pale Hose uniform. It’s been a mixed bag for Sale of late; in his penultimate start he was shellacked by the Braves for eight earned runs in five innings. Then, the next time out he held down the Mariners for eight shutout innings with six strikeouts and three walks, as he allowed just one hit total. He’s been very good, if not vintage Sale, this season.
Jacob deGrom against Tyler Anderson gets us underway early this afternoon. And while deGrom (2.73 ERA, .236 BAA, 103-24 K/BB ratio in 105.2 innings) is the obvious headliner, don’t sleep on Anderson. Survival in Coors Field is no joke, but through eight starts Anderson has done a nice job with a 3.56 ERA (3.20 FIP), 7.7 K/9 and just 1.9 BB/9. Like many good Rockies startersa��or at least relatively speakinga��Anderson has gotten by with tons of grounders, as his 56.6 percent rate would put him just outside the MLB’s top five among starters if he were qualified. He’s a fastball (four-seam)-slider-changeup guy, though PITCHf/x sees his slider as more of a cutter. For a four-seamer, Anderson’s fastball is very heavy (60.3 percent GB rate) but literally every pitch he throws regularly has a 50 percent or higher groundball rate. He’s sneaky good.
Johnny Cueto against Tanner Roark is a solid matchup, and is the last one to get underway this evening. Cueto has been nails all season (2.53 ERA, 128-28 K/BB ratio), and was phenomenal in a takedown of the Yankees last time out: six innings, one unearned run and 9-1 K/BB ratio. We haven’t spilled much digital ink on Roark this seasona��he gets overlooked by Stephen Strasburg, among othersa��but he’s quietly done a very nice job for the Nats this year. He’s got a 3.05 ERA and has held opposing batters to a .240/.306/.322 batting line through 21 appearances (20 starts). Roark had a really nice season for the Nats in 2014, but he’s amped up the strikeouts a bit (career-high 7.6 K/9), which obviously pairs well with a career-best 51.5 percent groundball rate. He might be one of the best back-end starters in the game.