It’s another jam-packed day of pitching, even on a Thursday where there are only 11 games scheduled. So buckle up and dive in as we look to find you the best matchups of the day. Check ’em out!
RHP Aaron Nola (PHI) versus RHP Noah Syndergaard (NYM) – 7:10 p.m. ET
After a rough end to last season, Nola has been fairly solid through two starts. He’s got a 3.27 ERA, 13-2 K/BB ratio in 11 innings and has allowed just four earned runs total. Some of the underlying stuff is a bit more worrisome, though. He’s allowing a batting average of .302 so far this season and has a 1.36 WHIP. I like to think of WHIP as a pitcher’s blood pressure. In this case, Nola might need to get that checked sooner rather than later. He’s also yet to throw more than 90 pitches, so that’ll be something to keep an eye on as he looks to attack the Mets offense.
First a blister was problematic for Syndergaard, now it’s a torn fingernail that shortened his outing last time out against the Marlins. As long as the blister stays at bay, Thor should be OK. But for all the injury “woes” so far, Thor’s been absolutely unhittable. He’s got a 20-0 K/BB ratio through three starts, has allowed just two earned runs (0.95 ERA) and is holding opposing batters to just a .225 batting average so far this season with no home runs. It’s Syndergaard season, folks. Hold on tightly.
Aces in Isolation
LHP Chris Sale (BOS) versus Toronto’s RHP Marco Estrada
It’s a bit more obvious in the absence of David Price, but Sale has been exactly what the doctor—pun not intended—ordered in Boston so far through three starts. He’s holding opposing batters to a ridiculous .149 batting average, and has 29 strikeouts in 21.2 innings with just five walks. Sale has been magnificent, leading the Red Sox to a pair of wins and a tough-luck 2-1 loss to Detroit in the creme filling of his three-start Oreo sandwich to start the season. He gets a Toronto team hungry to turn things around, but this feels like a good bet for Sale to keep on rolling. Maybe he won’t improve on his 1.25 ERA, but we’ll see.
RHP Ervin Santana (MIN) versus Cleveland’s RHP Trevor Bauer
Santana’s start to the season has been incredible, as he was a key cog in the Twins leading all of MLB in ERA heading into Tuesday’s action. That took a hit as the Twins allowed 11 runs on Tuesday, of course, but don’t blame Santana, who has a 0.41 ERA in three straight wins to get his season underway. Last time out, Santana was absolutely magical. He posted a 92 game score on Baseball Reference—one of the 15 best in Twins history. How’d he do it? Oh, just by facing two batters over the minimum in a complete game shutout win over the White Sox, whom he was facing for the second time in a week. “He put his slider wherever he wanted,” said catcher Chris Gimenez after the game.
Complete command over a pitch that carries a 20.4 percent whiff rate? Yikes. Sounds dangerous. He hasn’t gone nuts with whiffs, but all three of his starts have looked good. It’ll be interesting to see how strong his trade market is this summer.
RHP Stephen Strasburg (WAS) versus Atlanta’s RHP R.A. Dickey
Strasburg has posted three straight quality starts to open the season (3.00 ERA), with all three coming against divisional foes. That’ll continue this time around, as he’ll get Dickey and the Braves just one start after Dickey wore No. 42 and started as a 42-year-old on Jackie Robinson Day. Have to believe that hasn’t happened much, huh? Nevertheless, Strasburg has a solid 19-5 K/BB ratio through 21 innings. And, is holding opposing batters to a .208 batting average. If he can stay healthy, it should be a big year for the 28-year-old righty. That’s always a fairly big if, though.
LHP Danny Duffy (KCR) versus Texas’ RHP Andrew Cashner
Duffy also has three straight quality starts to open the season (1.80 ERA) with a 17-7 K/BB ratio and just 14 hits allowed through 20 innings (1.05 WHIP). That means he’s been tough on opposing batters, who have hit just .203 but have gotten a couple home runs thus far. That’s pretty much the only thing that trips him up. Otherwise, he’s dealing with a mid-90s fastball and good secondary stuff as he’s the de facto ace of the Royals rotation. After losing to the Twins in Duffy’s first start, they’ve won each of his last two as he’s appeared fairly locked in. He’s induced 21 grounders from 53 batters over the last two games—a trend that should help him be successful if it continues.
RHP Carlos Martinez (STL) versus Milwaukee’s RHP Zach Davies
Call it questionable pitching, questionable command or quite frankly questionable managing, but the guy they call “Tsunami” lived up to his nickname with 11 strikeouts and eight walks in just 5.1 innings last time out against the Yankees. In a 3-2 loss, Martinez threw an unthinkable 118 pitches while accounting for nearly all of his nine walks on the season. In fact, he came in with a 13-1 K/BB ratio on the season. So, this comes out of right field. If he can avoid Eric Thames, he has a fairly good shot at being successful today. Then again, how likely is that, really?
Matt Shoemaker against Lance McCullers Jr. is a nice secondary duel. Plus, the good thing is that it starts a tidy five hours before the primary game of the day. YOU CAN WATCH BOTH. The start to the year hasn’t been pretty for Shoemaker, who has lasted past five innings just once—last time out (5.1 innings)—with an ugly 6.14 ERA and 1.43 WHIP. The primary culprit has been the long ball, as he’s allowed four through just 14.2 innings.
McCullers was rolling before his last outing (2.77 ERA going in, 4.67 coming out) as he allowed five earned runs—and two home runs—against the A’s in a 10-6 win. He’s got a shiny 23-3 K/BB ratio to boast. However, he’s also allowed four homers in 17.1 innings. And, opposing batters are hitting .271 against him. That simply won’t do.
Seattle’s James Paxton is interesting, as he’s been remarkable through three starts with a 22-4 K/BB ratio in 21 innings while averaging 106 pitches. Oh, did we mention he hasn’t allowed an earned run yet? That seems fairly important. He’s allowing opposing hitters to bat just .113 and has a WHIP of 0.57. That’s right, about a runner every other inning. He’s been so nasty so far. Left-handed hitters better pack a lunch; they’re a collective 1-for-14 (.071 against him this season). But righties (.123) aren’t faring too much better.