It’s an action-packed Saturday slate with a handful of aces in action as well as a couple youngsters worth monitoring as well. Check ’em out!
Aces in Isolation
Masahiro Tanaka (NYY) versus Tampa Bay’s Matt Andriese
After allowing six earned runs in his previous start to the Mets, Tanaka got back on track against the Indians last time out. The 27-year-old righty twirled six strong innings, allowing just one run and six hits while fanning eight and walking none. That ran his season K/BB to a sterling 120-27, and his strikeout rate has crept up a bit as time has gone on. He had a 26-8 K/BB ratio in July (29.1 innings) and so far sits at 12-0 in 12.1 innings this month. Don’t sleep on Andriese, either… he’s having a pretty nice season as well: 2.90 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 62-18 K/BB ratio.
Aaron Sanchez (TOR) versus Houston’s Collin McHugh
The strikeouts have flattened out quite a bit for Sanchez in recent weeks. In eight starts since mid June, Sanchez has fanned just 32 batters in 54 innings (5.3 K/9); in the 14 starts prior to that, he was at 8.8 K/9. To his credit, with or without the strikeouts he’s been fantastic in the former stretch. He has a 2.17 ERA in those eight starts, with a .560 OPS against and just 11 walks and two home runs allowed. It’s hard to know if the six-man rotation is doing right by Sanchez until something else does or doesn’t happen, but it seems like a reasonable plan to limit his innings without shutting him down altogether, especially since there’s no real proof that helps much, if at all.
Gerrit Cole (PIT) versus Los Angeles’ Brandon McCarthy
Since his complete game win over the Mariners to wrap up July, Cole has just been OK in August. He’s failed to complete six innings in both starts, combining for 10.2 innings with five runs allowed (4.22 ERA) with a so-so 10-5 K/BB ratio. Nothing to write home about, really. In 17 starts this year he’s just not back to his 2015 form, as he’s seen decreases across the board in strikeout and walk rate, BABIP and groundball rate. He’s gotten stingier at allowing home runs, but that wasn’t an issue at all in 2015 and points to this year’s rate (0.28 per 9) as being possibly a fluke. Basically, it’s awfully hard to allow just three home runs in nearly 100 innings on a regular basis.
Jacob deGrom (NYM) versus San Diego’s Jarred Cosart
It sure seems like deGrom is heating up, as he’s now allowed just one earned run over his last three starts combined to lower his ERA from 2.73 to 2.35. The strikeouts took a bit of a tumble against the Tigers last time out (3-2 K/BB in 6.2 innings), but he pulled out the 3-1 win and has now presided over Mets wins in six of his last eight starts. He can bring the Mets back to .500 with a win today, and while that’s not the best news for a team that has been in seemingly constant turmoil all season long, it’s at least a step in the right direction.
Cole Hamels (TEX) versus Detroit’s Matt Boyd
Hamels has allowed three or fewer earned runs in each of his last five starts as the left-hander has lowered his ERA to 2.89 from the 3.21 mark he started that stretch with. The control still comes and goes at times, but over long enough stretches it always seems to even out one way or another. For instance, over the five-start stretch he’s got a 35-9 K/BB ratio in 34.1 innings, with walk outputs of 0-3-1-4-1 as far as on a game-by-game basis. Basically, every time his free passes get out of hand, he finds a way to reel it back in with a game or two where he walks virtually no onea��usually with a bunch of strikeouts too.
Tyler Anderson is going for the Rockies today, and he’s crept up on folks to be a pretty solid pitcher this year. The profile is a lot of funa��some strikeouts, no walks, tons of groundersa��which should play better than just about any other at Coors Field on a regular basis. His mound opponent is Jerad Eickhoff, who’s had his moments this year as well (3.78 ERA, .257 BAA).
Another guy worth watching is Luke Weaver, who is making his MLB debut for the Cardinals against an unenviable opponent in the Cubs. Weaver has never been a top-100 prospect, but was the Cardinals’ first-round pick in 2014, and it’s pretty hard to ever bet against their pitching prospects. Weaver absolutely crushed his first go-round at Double-A Springfield this year (1.40 ERA in 12 starts with 10.3 K/9 and just 1.2 BB/9), and also won his only Triple-A start as well. Complicating things for Weaver on this day is that he’s facing Kyle Hendricks, who has low key been one of the best starters in the NL all season. He’s second in the league in ERA (2.17), fifth in WHIP (1.02) and has a solid 112-35 K/BB ratio in 133 innings. Good luck, young buck.