There are no day games and no overwhelmingly strong aces going today. But, it’s still a slate that has some really nice depth to it as we have really, really nice pitching from top to bottom. Check ’em out!
RHP Charlie Morton (HOU) versus LHP Cole Hamels (TEX) — 8:05 p.m. ET
The reinvention—or is it just the straight up invention?—of Morton has been fascinating as the 33-year-old righty continues to fire bullets this season. Right now, he’s got the ERA under 3.78. And, is averaging well over a strikeout per inning (9.8 K/9) which is three whiffs and more above his career rate. He’s been especially good since returning from a lat issue which cost him all of June, making six starts since: 3.35 ERA, 39-13 K/BB ratio and .182/.266/.328 line against. This’ll be his second look at Texas this year. He held them to just one earned run on five hits in six innings back on May 3. He also struck out eight batters and got 14 swinging strikes on 99 pitches that day. This should be a fun matchup.
There have been a few bumps along the road for Hamels. But since returning from injury after two months off, he’s been fairly solid. Last time out he was absolutely devastating, tossing a complete game at Target Field over the Twins with five strikeouts and a walk. His changeup was particularly devious, including one instance where he struck out Eddie Rosario on three straight changes—all on swinging strikes. Pitchers rarely like to double up on a pitch—especially a changeup—let alone tripling up, but Hamels was in that kind of a groove. That lowered his season ERA by almost a half-run. And now, he’s comfortably in the mid-3.00s for the first time in almost a month.
The Rangers desperately missed him, though. They’re five games under .500 and buried in the West. It’s hard not to think about what could have been if he and Adrián Beltré had stayed healthy.
Aces in Isolation
RHP Marcus Stroman (TOR) versus Pittsburgh RHP Jameson Taillon
Stroman has been a little off his game of late. His last three starts have each had their warts. First, he lasted just 4.2 innings against the A’s with blister issues in his final start of July. August opened with a seven-inning start against the White Sox where he allowed four earned runs. And last time out, Stroman allowed a stunning 11 hits in 6.2 innings in a 7-6 Blue Jays loss to the Astros. Sure Stroman skated by with two no-decisions and a win in that stretch. But, it just wasn’t the type of effort we’ve grown accustomed to from the 26-year-old righty. He’s induced 10 or more grounders in eight straight starts and nine of his last 10. And, he ranks fifth in the AL in ERA (3.17) and sixth in innings (145). The Pirates (89 wRC+) aren’t a bad offense to attempt a rebound against.
LHP Danny Duffy (KCR) versus Chicago RHP Reynaldo López
For the most part it has been a fairly good season for Duffy. But, he’s been a bit all over the map of late. Despite having a 3.48 ERA, he’s fanned just 93 batters in 113.2 innings and is allowing opponents to hit .266. His penchant for allowing home runs returned in a big way last time out, as the Mariners got to him for three homers in an 8-7 loss at home. Duffy hadn’t allowed a home run in nearly a month. But prior to that his previous outing with home runs allowed was also a three long-ball night against the Dodgers. He’s had recent games with high earned runs and lots of strikeouts, low earned runs and very few strikeouts and everything in between.
Now would be a good time for consistency, though. The Royals have relinquished second place in the division to the Twins by a half-game and are now without Trevor Cahill for at least the next 10 days. They need some stability.
LHP Rich Hill (LAD) versus San Diego LHP Clayton Richard
Speaking of stability, or lack thereof, we have Hill. With Hill, the Dodgers have found an amazing pitcher who hasn’t been able to quite stay healthy. That’s a big reason they had to go out and get Yu Darvish. Considering Clayton Kershaw, Alex Wood and Hill all have their own issues, Darvish is the ultimate insurance policy and one that could really pay off if all four stay healthy through October. As if the offense this team has wasn’t enough, right? Hill has been terrific of late. His ERA swelled to 5.14 in mid-June, but he’s been bonkers since: 2.25 ERA, 63-11 K/BB ratio in 48 innings and an OPS against of .596. He’s allowed three or fewer runs in all of those starts. Will these Dodgers ever lose again?
Carlos Carrasco versus Jacob Faria is a fun secondary matchup. Carrasco’s been off his game lately, allowing five earned runs in three of his last five starts to push his ERA up over 4.00. He’s still having a solid season overall, with 142 strikeouts in 130.2 innings and a 1.16 WHIP, but he’s just hit the skids a bit of late.
Faria is a youngster making just his 12th MLB start, but the first 11 have been pretty terrific: 2.81 ERA, .281 BAA and 67-24 K/BB ratio in 67.1 innings. How do the Rays keep finding these guys?