After one of our finest pitching days of the year—including a duel that turned into an epic slugfest at Fenway—we come back with a more muted day, with three aces in isolation to keep an eye on. Check ’em out!
Aces in Isolation
RHP Ervin Santana (MIN) versus San Diego RHP Luis Perdomo
Perhaps more than any pitcher in the big leagues this season, Santana has been either way on or way off. He’s allowed five or more earned runs seven times. And, he’s allowed zero earned runs seven times as well. In other words, one-third of his starts have been scoreless. One-third have been five-plus earned runs. And the other third have been right in the middle. July was not particularly kind to the right-hander, however. He posted a 4.68 ERA as well as 18 strikeouts and nine walks in 25 innings. On the heels of an even rougher June—6.03 ERA in six starts—it’s clear that Santana has not been particularly good for a while now.
But for the season, he’s still posted a 3.37 ERA. That just goes to show just how good he was to start the season. At least the Padres are one of the worst offenses in the game. So, this should be a good bounce-back slot for him.
RHP Jake Arrieta (CHC) versus Arizona RHP Zack Godley
The numbers still aren’t quite there for Arrieta, but he’s on the cusp of getting his ERA back into the 3.00s (4.03) for the first time since April 22. After posting three straight months with an ERA in excess of 4.50, Arrieta was very good in July: 2.25 ERA, 23-9 K/BB ratio in 32 innings and just 18 hits allowed. The strikeouts are still worryingly low, but he at least appears to be headed in the right direction. He’s been better about inducing grounders lately as well. But, could use some improvement in that department too (45.5 percent this year, 50-plus percent each of the last two seasons).
LHP Dallas Keuchel (HOU) versus Tampa Bay RHP Austin Pruitt
Speaking of grounders, we come to Keuchel—the king of worm-burners. As a matter of fact, Keuchel has taken that to a whole different level this season. Two-thirds of his batted balls against have been on the ground. That’s a big reason why Keuchel has posted a 1.94 ERA. But the rest of his secondary stuff has been terrific as well. He’s fanning 8.2 batters per nine, walking just 2.4 and on the rare occasion that an opponent hits the ball in the air, he’s allowing just 0.8 home runs per nine. That’s even with a HR/FB rate that is a bit elevated (19.4 percent, compared to a career rate of 14.8 percent).
FIP may say he’s overachieved (3.32), but it’s hard to argue against results like this when a team needs to string two or three hits in a row to scratch a run across against the guy. When that’s coming at a .235 BABIP and a batting average against of .194……good luck.