You’ll have to wait until the evening to get into this jam-packed MLB slate. But, it’ll be worth your wait as we have all sorts of stuff to keep an eye on. A slate that includes a nationally-televised duel that looks pretty good. Check ’em out!
RHP Tanner Roark (WAS) versus RHP Matt Harvey (NYM) – 7:10 p.m. ET, MLBN
Two of Roark’s three starts to open the season have been quality starts. And so far, the right-hander has done a fairly good job backing up last season’s strong numbers. He has a 3.50 ERA, 12-2 K/BB ratio and has induced a total of 33 grounders from a total of 73 batters faced for a 53.7 percent groundball rate. In all, Roark is doing exactly what he does when he’s at his best. That’s inducing grounders, limiting walks (1.0 per nine), keeping the ball in the park and mixing in a strikeout here and there. He won’t make you forget about Stephen Strasburg or Max Scherzer, but he’s a helluva consolation prize.
With Jacob deGrom getting pushed back due to a spell of neck stiffness, everyone will get a good look at how Harvey is progressing after surgery to repair thoracic outlet syndrome. Harvey was originally tabbed to start on Saturday against Gio Gonzalez, but will instead look to improve on his 2.45 ERA a day earlier. Through three starts, Harvey has a 15-3 K/BB ratio, 0.98 WHIP and a .224 BAA. It’s worth wondering how useful an extra day of rest early in the season would have been for Harvey. But Terry Collins likely doesn’t have that luxury with Seth Lugo and Steven Matz both injured.
RHP Corey Kluber (CLE) versus LHP José Quintana (CWS) – 8:10 p.m. ET
Due to a rain-out in Minneapolis, Kluber was pushed back to starting against the White Sox. Though, it’d be hard to differentiate the offenses as the Twins have hit the skids of late. Kluber could use some positive mojo. He’s got a 6.38 ERA and has allowed five home runs through three starts (18.1 innings). Despite a solid 18-6 K/BB ratio, opponents are hitting a robust .270 against him, which has pushed his WHIP up to a shaky 1.42. He can get going at any time, and the White Sox offense might be just what the doctor ordered.
Quintana (6.75 ERA) is also off to a shaky start. And, is coming off getting beat up a bit by the Twins after facing them for a second straight time (five earned, five walks and five strikeouts in 5.2 innings). He did settle in to throw 4.2 scoreless innings after a five-run first in Minneapolis, however. So perhaps he’s on the verge of putting things together? Through three starts though, virtually all of his numbers are thoroughly unimpressive: .271 BAA, 1.62 WHIP and nine walks in 17.1 innings. With that said, this has the makings of a 2-1 game, right?
Aces in Isolation
RHP Dylan Bundy (BAL) versus Boston’s LHP Drew Pomeranz
Here’s a chance for a little revenge for Bundy, who gave up three of the four earned runs he’s allowed this season (1.86 ERA) to the Red Sox in his penultimate start. The early returns have been impressive on the 24-year-old righty. He has a 17-3 K/BB ratio and 0.98 WHIP through 19.1 innings. We don’t know if it’s a cutter or slider he throws for sure, but we do know it’s been wrecking people. It has a 33.3 percent swinging strike rate as hitters have just one hit against it all season—a measly single.
LHP Jon Lester (CHC) versus Cincinnati’s RHP Tim Adleman
Lester’s off to a brilliant start for the Cubs with a 1.00 ERA, 17-5 K/BB ratio in 18 innings and a WHIP of 1.06. That’s to the surprise of absolutely no one, as he’s one of the most steady pitchers in the game. This, despite not being talked about as much as he probably deserves. Here’s an interesting point made by ESPN Fantasy Baseball: might this be a ploy to get Lester a start in Boston next week? He was originally slated to face the Pirates on Wednesday, but manager Joe Maddon moved him with Jake Arrieta now taking the Saturday start vacated by the lefty.
LHP Cole Hamels (TEX) versus Kansas City’s RHP Nathan Karns
Hamels is off to a quiet, decent start through three starts even though the Rangers have lost all three. Don’t blame Hamels, who hasn’t taken the decision in any of them. And, has a 3.50 ERA thus far. He’s held opponents to a .234 batting average and has a 1.22 WHIP, though his 11-7 K/BB ratio in 18 innings is a bit iffy. He’ll look to get on track against a Royals team in a bit of transition, as they sent out Paulo Orlando and Raul Mondesi early in the day.
RHP Justin Verlander (DET) versus Minnesota’s LHP Hector Santiago
This one could get ugly, as the Twins are averaging under 2.5 runs per game during their current homestand. Prior to his last start, Verlander was absolutely terrific. He’d posted a 1.35 ERA and 14-4 K/BB ratio in 13.1 innings. Everything came loose last time out against the Indians—who just left Target Field—as he allowed nine earned runs, including three home runs in just four innings in a 13-6 loss. He’ll have a good shot to get back on track against a punchless Twins offense seeking an identity.
RHP Johnny Cueto (SFG) versus Colorado’s RHP Tyler Chatwood
The Shimmy King is off to a solid start, as he’s won all three of his starts to this point with a decent 3.79 ERA and respectable rates across the board: 18-6 K/BB ratio in 19 innings, 1.21 WHIP and .233 BAA. The challenge here will be facing the Rockies for the second time in a row. He held them down for two earned runs in seven innings last time out. But, they’re notoriously better at Coors Field than on the road. Like way, way better. He’ll have to be on top of his game.