The first day of August brings us another promise of seeing Mr. Kershaw, and a few intriguing aces in action. Check ’em out:
Andrew Heaney (LAA) vs. Clayton Kershaw (LAD)
3:05 p.m. ET
Heaney’s first six starts with the Angels have been positively sparkling. The Halos have won all six, and Heaney has allowed just eight earned runs (1.79 ERA) with a 31-5 K/BB ratio and an opponents’ batting average of just .204. Of note is Heaney’s slider, which has been downright nasty thus far with a 29.1 percent whiff rate. Opponents are hitting just .188/.212/.188 off it as well, as he’s allowed just six singles in the 33 instances in which it has been put into play. Fantastic. The slider was big for him even when he struggled in his cup of coffee last year, so this looks like it could be a relatively predictable pattern. For anyone wondering, he’s a basic fastball-slider-changeup guy.
After a couple false starts, Kershaw is finally lined up to face another Angels lefty after being bumped from Friday night’s start against Hector Santiago. On Friday, we took a look at how pitchers had thrown over the last 365 days by ERA. Kershaw ranks third on that list, with a 2.23 ERA that trails just teammate Zack Greinke and last year’s Rookie of the Year, Jacob deGrom. Kershaw has been so good lately that he’s slashed over a run off his season ERA over his last 10 starts. Considering we’re just starting August, that’s no small task. Kershaw had a 2.16 ERA in June and a staggering 0.27 in July, and over those 10 starts which brought his ERA from 3.86 to its present 2.51, he did this: 1.33 ERA, .463 OPS and 102-11 K/BB ratio in 74.2 innings. If it weren’t for Greinke, we’d be talking about a third straight Cy Young for this guy.
Here’s a look at today’s a�?aces in isolation:a�? Gerrit Cole (opposed by Cincinnati’s Raisel Iglesias), Dallas Keuchel (Arizona’s Jeremy Hellickson), Lance Lynn (Colorado’s Jorge De La Rosa) and Cole Hamels (San Francisco’s Chris Heston). Cole’s Cy Young-worthy campaign continues undeterred, as he posted a 2.40 ERA in July. He won’t garner too much consideration with the ridiculousness that’s going on in Los Angeles, but have a look at his month-by-month ERA marks: 1.76, 2.43, 2.35 and 2.40. That’s remarkably consistent.
Keuchel slipped ever so slightly in July (3.71 ERA) but still managed to put together an impressive 30-3 K/BB ratio with 43 groundballs in 26.2 innings. After fanning just 22 batters back in April, he’s been right around a strikeout per inning in each month since. That makes him scary good.
Lynn ranks 10th in the NL in ERA (2.71), and has pitched better as the season has worn on: 3.63 ERA in April, 3.29, 1.09 and finally 2.61 in July. Lynn has fallen off the groundball express a bit (40.8 percent is a career low), but he’s made up for it with career bests in whiff and walk rates. He’ll easily post a new career-best fWAR provided he remains healthy and even reasonably consistent. He’s at 3.0 right now, with a 3.7 mark as his best back in 2013.
The book closed on Hamels’ career with the Phillies, and boy was it a good one. Not only did he punctuate it with a no-hitter, but he finished 114-90a��reminder: #KillTheWina��with a 3.30 ERA, 8.6 K/9 and a 1.15 WHIP. He also dutifully pitched as a good soldier over the last three seasons, which couldn’t have been easy with a 3.19 ERA and just a 23-30 record.
Joe Ross versus Jacob deGrom may be more exciting than the premium duel today, but it’s really just a toss of a coin. Ross has just crushed people with his sinker-slider combo, and the latter has a 30.5 percent whiff rate and the former is inducing a 55.3 percent groundball rate while coming in hot at an average of about 93 mph. But can his heat match deGrom’s? That’s unlikely, as the defending Rookie of the Year has been reaching 95 regularly, and is doing so with a double-digit whiff rate on it. That’s right, he’s got an 11.2 percent whiff rate on his four-seam fastball. Incredible. Of the five pitches deGrom has thrown more than 100 times this year, all but one have a double-digit whiff rate. The other? A two-seamer at 9.2 percent with a 51.7 percent groundball rate. He’s pretty good.