Happy Labor Day, everyone! Our gift to you is a quartet of aces in isolation. And, a lefty duel to wrap up the evening. Check ’em out!
LHP Robbie Ray (ARI) versus LHP Rich Hill (LAD) — 8:10 p.m. ET
Ray hasn’t missed a beat since returning from a comebacker/concussion issue. He’s tossed back-to-back stellar starts to lower his season ERA back below 3.00, where it has spent a significant chunk of time this season. Over his two starts since returning—spanning 11.2 innings—Ray has allowed just two earned runs on six hits—the runs coming on solo homers—with 19 strikeouts and four walks. We all kind of saw this coming with Ray. His breakout started last year but has really taken off with better defensive catchers behind the plate. But when this guy is on, he’s unbelievable. Behind Zack Greinke, Ray might be the guy who starts a Game 2 in the playoffs. Assuming there is one, of course.
That Game 2 might come against the Dodgers, though not likely against Hill. Still, if the Dodgers can get any combination of even three of Clayton Kershaw, Alex Wood, Hill and Yu Darvish going, they’re going to be a formidable foe in October—regardless of the current rough patch they’re in that seems to have ruffled the feathers of some fans out west. Hill was brilliant in July (1.45 ERA) and had been on a pretty good roll in August before allowing six earned runs in 3.2 innings in his last start—also against the Diamondbacks. This will be a good spot for some revenge.
Aces in Isolation
RHP Jake Arrieta (CHC) versus Pittsburgh RHP Chad Kuhl
Arrieta has been red-hot of late, allowing two or fewer earned runs in each of his last nine starts to lower his ERA from 4.35 to 3.36 over that stretch. Here’s what a run like that looks like at that part of the season, since lowering an ERA nearly a run is no small task: 1.59 ERA, 51-17 K/BB ratio in 56.2 innings and .189/.260/.313 line against. It’s not enough to pitch him back into the NL Cy Young mix, sure. But it’s a lot bigger than that. Arrieta is cruising at a time where the Cubs need him most. And, he has a looming payday that’ll hinge a lot based on how he pitches down the stretch. So far, so good.
RHP Carlos Martinez (STL) versus San Diego RHP Luis Perdomo
Martinez had a really strange start last time out in a 6-5 loss to the Brewers. The righty accounted for all six runs allowed—just three earned, but two home runs—with seven strikeouts, no walks but also 10 hits allowed in 5.2 innings. The season numbers for Martinez are rather good. But, he’s still far too often coming up with uneven results which is more frustrating than any 3.50 ERA pitcher usually is. He seems like the NL’s answer to Danny Salazar.
LHP Dallas Keuchel (HOU) versus Seattle RHP Erasmo Ramírez
It’s kind of amazing, but Keuchel’s ERA has raised more than a run despite the fact that he’s allowed three earned runs eight times over the last 10 starts. There are a couple factors in play here. First of all, Keuchel was operating with a sub-2.00 ERA in the first place—an extremely difficult number to sustain. In addition, Keuchel’s two outliers over that 10-start span were also a six- and eight-run blow-up against Texas and the White Sox. In short, he hasn’t pitched all that poorly over that stretch. But, most of the damage has been pop-up storms. Know what I mean?
RHP José Berríos (MIN) versus Tampa Bay RHP Alex Cobb
It’s hard to know exactly who has the upper hand when a pitcher faces a team in back-to-back starts. Believe us, we’ve tried to figure it out. But last time out, it was clearly Berríos. After the White Sox beat him 5-1 with 5.1 iffy innings on the south side of Chicago, Berríos was absolutely dazzling last time out against the Pale Hose, tossing seven shutout innings with 11 strikeouts, one walk and just four hits allowed in a 11-1 thrashing at Target Field. After a tough July (5.79 ERA) and an iffy start to August, Berríos rebounded nicely to post a 3.89 ERA over the month with 37 strikeouts and just 24 hits allowed in 34.2 innings.