Ray's Ramblings - Pitcher Report - 8/11
MadBum is back to dominating. Cahill might be at his end of useful work this season. Conley just can't locate the consistency bug in Florida. Cotton continues to struggle for the Athletics. Eickhoff may not be a standout, but he's consistently producing successful outings. Gausman is all over the place, and not trustworthy in the least. Hendricks isn't being allowed to go deep into games, despite his success. McHugh is struggling to find his footing in Houston. Newcomb has a big arm, but he often fails to locate his pitches. I can't figure out Tanaka. Vargas has disappeared from relevance. Verlander is on quite the roll for the Tigers. Trevor Williams has pitched very effectively for the Pirates for months now.
Madison Bumgarner has allowed just three runs his last three starts – each lasting exactly seven innings. The outing before that he allowed one run over five innings. He has two wins to show for it with the listless Giants. He certainly appears to be recovered from the accident that injured his shoulder.
Trevor Cahill has been sent to the DL with a right shoulder impingement. It’s unclear how much time he will miss, but he’s been a mess his last four starts, allowing 15 runs over 14.2 innings. Don’t know why so many folks were counting on him. It’s like no one bothered to look at his track record, which is spotty at best.
Every time I start to get mildly interested in Adam Conley, he does what he did in his last outing: 11 hits, three walks, five runs over five innings. The lefty is talented; I’m not trying to take that from him, but he’s also a mixture of talent and ineffectiveness at the moment. That said, he still has a 3.48 ERA his last five starts with just 2.32 walks per nine. That level plays. However, he’s also allowed 36 hits in 31 innings, while striking out 6.10 batters per nine. For now, he’s a risky streamer on the road where he has a .321 wOBA, a 3.21 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP.
Jharel Cotton is someone I’ve warned folks about since the preseason. I never understood the industry wide love – and it was everywhere – for Cotton. Through 17 starts, he’s 5-9 with a 5.72 ERA and 1.48 WHIP for the Athletics. He’s been particularly horrible at home with a 7.74 ERA and a 1.66 WHIP over 47.2 innings. Yikes.
Jerad Eickhoff’s last four starts for the Phillies: 2-0, 3.04 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP. Taking things back further, over his last seven starts, he’s still undefeated at 3-0 with a 3.10 ERA and 1.30 WHIP while punching out 38 in 40.2 innings. The walk rate is too high, 3.76 per nine, but the rest of his game is looking pretty sharp. Moreover, he’s gone at least five innings in all seven outings and has allowed more than three runs just one time. In the modern environment, that makes Eickhoff a valuable arm.
Kevin Gausman was my guy this preseason. I stuck by him for months. He failed, and I finally had to bail. A few starts later – magic occurred. From July 19th to August 4th, he made four wondrous starts covering 27.2 innings. He went 3-0 with a 0.65 ERA; he allowed two runs, while punching out eight batters in each outing for a total of 32 strikeouts in 27.2 frames. Everyone jumped back on board. Did you? If you did, you were rewarded with yet another lackluster effort of 10 batters allowed to reach base and four runs allowed in 5.1 innings against the Angels. Folks, you just can’t here. There’s no discernable pattern to follow. Over his last nine outings, he’s had six outings of zero or one run allowed. The other three outings have resulted in 17 runs over 12.1 innings. Don’t know how you can trust that.
Kyle Hendricks has made four starts since his lengthy time on the DL with a hand issue. In those four outings, he’s posted a 2.57 ERA with a 1.38 WHIP. He’s got the K/9 rate back up, 7.71 per nine, and his walk rate is down to 2.14. However, he keeps getting pulled early by Joe Maddon, who seemingly doesn’t believe that Hendricks can roll through lineups three and four times. In two of the four outings, he’s been pulled at less than five innings even though he allowed just one run in each effort. In another game, he allowed one run and was pulled after five innings. That’s 3-of-4 outings with one run allowed, yet he was allowed to throw a total of just 21 total innings in four outings. It’s no wonder he’s winless in the four starts.
Collin McHugh didn’t make his first start till late July because of health issues. He’s made two strong starts and had two poor efforts since. In total, the four outings have resulted in a 5.32 ERA, a strikeout an inning, a 1.64 HR/9 rate and a 1.36 WHIP. He’s an adequate pitcher, in the mold of an Ian Kennedy, but he’s nothing special. He will need to improve or he could lose his spot in the rotation.
Sean Newcomb has made 11 uneven starts for the Braves, as expected. When he gets ahead, the strikeouts follow (he has 61 in 58.2 innings). When he falls behind in the count, it gets messy (5.06 walks per nine). You can’t be successful as a starting pitcher walking more than five batters per nine. Just doesn’t happen. He’s got a nice arm, an impressive one in fact, but he’s not refined enough at the moment to consistently produce high-end results.
Masahiro Tanaka had 29 strikeouts and zero walks in three starts from July 16th to July 28th. In two starts since then, he has nine strikeouts and has walked five batters. The guy is everywhere. He will dominate one night. He will get lit up another. A constant has been that when he’s just off his game, he gets blasted with big flies, up to 28 in 23 starts now. He’s a confounding own. The best time to deploy him is at home where he has a 4.03 ERA and a .302 wOBA.
Jason Vargas allowed six runs the last time out, and it’s three homers and nine runs his last 9.2 frames. He continues to spiral downwards after his amazing start to the season. Over his last six outings, Vargas has been torched for nine homers (2.46 per nine); he’s walked 4.13 batters per nine; and his WHIP is 1.84. He held on a lot longer than I thought he would, but major regression was always coming.
Justin Verlander is pitching well with 5-straight quality starts. He’s also posted a 1.91 ERA his last seven starts after allowing seven runs in an outing to the Indians. Still walking too many guys, 3.06 per nine the last seven, but he’s pushing hard to remind folks that he is indeed more than a league average producer (his league average effort includes a 3.97 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 1.06 HR/9, 3.91 BB/9 etc.).
Trevor Williams has allowed three runs his last three starts. He’s also allowed three or fewer runs in 9-of-10 outings, during which time he’s posted a 3.39 ERA. He’s pitching pretty well. Same time, he has only two wins in those 10 outings; his K/9 rate is just 6.84; and though it’s great to see two homers allowed, you have to know that even as a ground ball arm (56 percent), the mark should be higher than that. He’s in a rather nice grove at the moment though.
Vance Worley has allowed one run his last two starts – both against the Nationals. He pitches for the Marlins by the way. He doesn’t miss bats, and isn’t overly talented, but he’s looked pretty sharp the last two times out.
Ray Flowers can be heard Monday-Friday, 8-10 PM EDT on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87). You can also hear Ray Sunday nights at 8 PM EDT PM on the channel talking fantasy sports. Follow Ray’s work on Twitter (@baseballguys).