It’s not exactly a sturdy Saturday slate of pitching. But, we do have four guys all over the map who are worth keeping an eye on. Check ’em out!
Ace in Isolation
LHP Rich Hill (LAD) versus New York RHP Seth Lugo
It’s sort of been the same old song and dance with Hill, who has been brilliant when he’s able to stay on the mound. However, that’s led to just 78 innings this season, as the tall lefty has battled various maladies which have cost him time in April and May. He’s been healthier of late, and is coming off an absolutely fantastic July. In five July starts—all Dodgers wins, which is really no surprise—Hill posted a 1.45 ERA with 40 strikeouts and just five walks in 31 innings. Opposing batters hardly had a chance against Hill in the month, with him allowing just 19 hits for a slash line of .171/.220/.288.
The Dodgers have a formidable quartet of Clayton Kershaw, Yu Darvish, Hill and Alex Wood. That is probably as good as any we’ve seen in quite some time heading into October. Now the question is: how many of the four will be healthy?
LHP Danny Duffy (KCR) versus Seattle RHP Marco Gonzales
After missing all of June, Duffy barely skipped a beat with a stellar July. The 28-year-old lefty tossed 39.1 innings, allowing just 13 earned runs (3.20 ERA) with 31 strikeouts and a meager four walks. It comes at a good time for the Royals, too. They’re hanging in there in the AL Central (3.5 games out) and a half-game up on the Rays for the second Wild Card spot at present. Oddly, in a year where the ball has been flying out of the park, Duffy has managed to allow just seven bombs over 108 innings. That’s a 0.58 HR/9 mark, almost one-third his 1.35 rate from last season. The strikeouts haven’t been there to this point—7.1 K/9 this year, 9.4 last—but keeping the ball in the yard has helped him greatly.
Don’t be surprised if the strikeouts creep up as the season wears on. His overall swinging-strike rate is still a healthy 11.3 percent.
Gerrit Cole isn’t exactly where he’d like to be right now (3.97 ERA). But after a tough start to finish June—seven earned in 5.1 innings against the Giants—the 26-year-old righty was stellar in the month of July. Cole only allowed eight earned runs all month (2.25 ERA) as the Pirates won all five of his starts. Cole completed six innings in each—all quality starts—as he compiled a 34-7 K/BB ratio and held opposing batters to just a .230/.277/.352 slash line over 32 innings. The Pirates aren’t completely out of it yet—4.5 games behind the Cubs coming into Saturday. Getting a rejuvenated Cole could help a great deal.
Nothing about Danny Salazar’s numbers jumps off the page—4.63 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, .245 BAA—but he’s been tremendous in the two starts since returning from a seven-week long absence. In the two games since returning—both Cleveland wins—Salazar has pitched 13 innings, allowed just four hits and two earned runs and has a 16-2 K/BB ratio. Strikeouts have never been the issue. And, he’s fanned 93 batters in just 68 innings this season. But if Salazar can keep rolling in tandem with what Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco have provided all season, it’s hard not to love the Indians by about eight or 10 games in the Central.