Finally! We have another pitching duel to write about, since there has been a paucity of them all season long. In addition, we have a couple other chuckers we think you should keep an eye on. Check ’em out!
RHP Chris Archer (TBR) versus RHP Michael Fulmer (DET) – 4:10 p.m. ET
For the season, Archer has been a horse—perhaps to the surprise of no one. He’s third in the AL in innings pitched with 92.1, and is second in the league in strikeouts with 114. Overall, he’s done a great job, with a WHIP of 1.18 and BAA of .228. Though, his ERA hasn’t exactly cooperated (3.80). His FIP agrees that better days are upcoming (2.87), as he’s keeping the ball in the yard (0.78 HR/9) even if he isn’t keeping it on the ground as much as he usually has (42 percent GB rate this year, 46.2 percent career). He’s not getting a ton of help from his defense (.316 BABIP this year, .291 career). So between that and absurd strikeout rates (11.1 K/9), there’s still plenty of room for his numbers to improve.
Fulmer’s numbers are up as he’s gotten beaten around a bit over his last two starts. Both the White Sox and Angels—also-rans among offenses in the AL—got to him for five earned runs apiece in the last two outings, pushing his ERA from 2.65 to 3.40 in the process. The strikeouts haven’t necessarily been there (60 in 79.1 innings), but he doesn’t walk anyone (16 BB). And as a result, Fulmer has still maintained a steady 1.16 WHIP. He’s also not rolling as many grounders as last year (48 percent versus 49.1 percent in 2016), but he’s managed to keep the ball in the yard a lot better this year (0.45 HR/9) than last (0.91). His walk rate is better than last year, and he’s not benefiting as much from his defense (.268 BABIP last year) this time around (.295). In other words, what he’s doing is still pretty impressive.
Aces in Isolation
RHP Marcus Stroman (TOR) versus Chicago RHP Mike Pelfrey
Stroman’s strikeout rate is slowly creeping up. But, he hasn’t exactly pitched deep into games lately. Last time out against Seattle was the first time he got outs in the seventh inning since April 28 against the Rays. As a result, what looks like a so-so game with five strikeouts is actually helping him creep closer to a whiff per inning, which would look really good with his insane groundball rates. Stroman’s up to 61.2 percent with his groundball rate, with the strikeouts nearly crept up to last year’s rate. He’s on the right track.
RHP Stephen Strasburg (WAS) versus New York RHP Seth Lugo
Strasburg struggled against the iffy Braves offense last time out, allowing six earned runs over five innings including three home runs allowed in an 11-10 loss (a no-decision for him). Even amidst the relative struggles—it was the first time all season he’d allowed more than one home run in any game—he still fanned 10 batters and walked just one. He’s got seven or more strikeouts in five straight starts and is top-10 in the NL in whiffs (eighth) and WHIP (sixth). He also had an ERA under 3.00 until last time out. So far, there’s a lot to like about Strasburg this season.