We come back with another awesome quintet of starters. This includes the best pitcher in the world—when healthy. And, another guy looking to pitch his team to a 20-game winning streak. Check ’em out!
Aces in Isolation
LHP Gio Gonzalez (WAS) versus Atlanta RHP Julio Teherán
We haven’t given Gonzalez much love here, but now it’s ignoring him at our own peril. We honestly should have given him a look sooner, though. That’s because his last two starts have been wholly mediocre. Still, he’s down to a 2.50 ERA and has 163 strikeouts in 179.2 innings. Most notably, he’s allowed just 136 hits—a .211 BAA that drives his success. That’s especially true when considering he’s allowed the second-most walks in the NL—a not-so-nice 69—but has still managed to keep his WHIP at a solid 1.14.
For the year, Gonzalez is third in the NL in ERA, fifth in WHIP and sixth in innings. And, is a low-key huge reason why this Nationals team has kept cruising despite missing some big-time players for long swaths of this season.
RHP Corey Kluber (CLE) versus Detroit LHP Matt Boyd
The new leader in the clubhouse for the AL Cy Young award—at least by our reckoning—was absolutely terrific last time out. This time Kluber would toss seven innings of two-run ball with 13 strikeouts and a walk. That win pushed his team’s winning streak to a then-franchise-high 15 games. And nothing has changed in the meantime as the veteran ace looks to push that to 20 now. The Indians have taken over the top spot in the AL as far as home-field advantage—a 1.5-game lead over the Astros as of this writing—and can put some more distance between the clubs as they send Kluber out to attempt for his ninth start in a row of three or fewer earned runs.
Kluber’s ERA is down to an AL-best 2.56. Plus he also leads the league in WHIP (0.88) and is second in strikeouts (235 in 175.2 innings). He may have missed a month earlier in the season, but he clearly did not skip a beat.
RHP Sonny Gray (NYY) versus Tampa Bay LHP Blake Snell
Gray has been magnificent for the Yankees. So far he’s allowed two or fewer earned runs in six of his seven starts with the club. This includes last time out against the Orioles. Gray held the Birds to just one unearned run over 5.2 innings with five strikeouts, two walks and 13 grounders from the 18 batters he did not strike out or walk. That’s a positive sign, as Gray has induced at least nine g rounders in five of his seven starts with the Yankees—a trait that’ll play up with the increasingly small Yankee Stadium coming into play this October.
For the year, Gray has a 3.22 ERA, .223 BAA, 1.17 WHIP and 134-46 K/BB ratio in 139.2 innings.
RHP Justin Verlander (HOU) versus Los Angeles RHP Garrett Richards
Verlander’s first start with the Astros went about as well as could be expected. In it, he would toss six innings of one-run ball in a 3-1 win over the Mariners. Verlander fanned seven batters, walked just one and the only damage he suffered was a solo home run at the hands of Kyle Seager. Verlander was bailed out by a two-run homer from former Tigers teammate Cameron Maybin, and was on the way to a win in his first start with the ‘stros. For the year, Verlander’s ERA is down to 3.74—it was encroaching on 5.00 entering July—and he’s got 183 strikeouts in 178 innings with a 1.28 WHIP and .235 BAA.
He’s not the Verlander of old, but he’s still damn good.
LHP Clayton Kershaw (LAD) versus San Francisco RHP Johnny Cueto
Even Kershaw hasn’t been immune to the tough stretch for the Dodgers, lasting just 3.2 innings last time out against the Rockies. Kershaw allowed four earned runs on six hits and threw 86 pitches as he got just 11 outs on the way to just his third loss of the season (16-3). He’ll have a fairly good chance to get his team back on track against the awful Giants offense, of course. But that’s not the first time we’ve said this over that stretch.
The only win for the Dodgers this month came when Kershaw outdueled Dinelson Lamet at Petco Park on Sept. 1. A loss here would mark 12 in a row for the Dodgers, who are still FORTY games over .500.