What a grand way to wrap up a weekend. We’ve got a quintet of aces in isolation and a really, really nice duel featuring an ace and an interesting up-and-comer. Check ’em out!
Aces in Isolation
RHP Corey Kluber (CLE) versus Tampa Bay RHP Austin Pruitt
Kluber posted his second straight complete game, holding down the Rockies in a 4-1 win. The games were nearly carbon copies of one another, as each were nine innings with three hits and an earned run—which came on a solo home run. Each also featured 11 strikeouts from Kluber, with a walk against the Yankees in the previous start being about the only difference. Cleveland has won Kluber’s last four starts. And he has been brilliant since returning from the disabled list: 1.70 ERA, 142-15 K/BB ratio in 95.1 innings and .472 OPS against. If anyone can make it a race for the AL Cy Young award, it’s him.
RHP Ervin Santana (MIN) versus Detroit LHP Matt Boyd
Santana has been huge for the Twins, completing five games himself. And, has been a huge reason why they’ve hung in the thick of things after a 100-plus-loss season last year. He has more complete games than most teams, a 3.27 ERA and has allowed just a .214 BAA. Homers can be an issue—25 in 151.1 innings—but otherwise he’s been able to limit the damage. For the most part. He’ll also get a lineup without Ian Kinsler and Miguel Cabrera, so that should be helpful in him being a stopper after a backbreaking loss Saturday night on a walk-off home run from Justin Upton.
LHP Dallas Keuchel (HOU) versus Texas RHP Andrew Cashner
Kid Keuchel got blasted last time out—eight earned in four innings against a woeful White Sox team in a series sweep on the south side—but it speaks to how good he has been this year that his ERA is still just 2.87. He’s still fighting a losing battle to be qualified for the ERA title—only 87.2 innings with just 46 games remaining. But when he’s been healthy, he’s been terrific. Unfortunately, that’s been the primary issue for most of their rotation this year, as Collin McHugh, Lance McCullers Jr. and Charlie Morton have all lost time to injuries. Facing a Texas team that is more or less out of the race should be a good bounce back proposition. He handled them well back on June 2: six shutout innings, three hits, seven strikeouts and a pair of walks in a 7-1 win.
RHP Max Scherzer (WAS) versus San Francisco LHP Matt Moore
After a neck injury bounced him from his previous start against the Marlins, Scherzer got back at them in a big way with seven innings of two-run ball in a 3-2 win (no-decision for the righty). Scherzer struck out nine batters and walked just two as he ran his season ERA to 2.23. Scherzer is at or atop the NL leaderboard in nearly all significant pitching stats. He’s first in strikeouts and WHIP, second in ERA and third in innings. This is your Cy Young winner, and I don’t think it’s particularly close.
LHP Chris Sale (BOS) versus New York LHP Jordan Montgomery
Speaking of a Cy Young award that isn’t particularly close….hi Mr. Sale! Say what you will about the limitations of fWAR, but nobody is even close to Sale. He’s at plus-7.0 fWAR—and no other pitcher is above 5.0. He’s at 7.0—and 13 MLB teams (!) have compiled a lower mark on the whole from their rotations. This should be a fun matchup on ESPN. Though, Montgomery is coming off getting hit on the head during batting practice while signing autographs.
Jake Arrieta against Zack Godley is a fun matchup later this afternoon. Arrieta’s ERA peaked at 4.67 a bit over a month ago. But, he’s allowed three or fewer earned runs in seven straight starts to get it back down to 3.83. He’s got almost a strikeout per inning (129 in 134 innings) and is starting to look a bit more like the Cy Young candidate he was in previous seasons. It’s time to give Godley his due, too. He’s got a 2.94 ERA that is no fluke (3.18 FIP) and he’s fanning a batter per inning with a groundball rate in excess of 55 percent. That’s ace-level stuff. We’ll see if he can sustain it.