We’re back at it again, checking in on the American League starting pitchers.
The top tier continues to get it done, and as a result, there is no movement. Scherzer has posted nearly identical skills this year, but the luck pendulum has swung back the other way. His BABIP has shot up from .259 last season to an inflated .336 mark this year. His SIERA hasn’t changed, so it’s just a matter of getting better defensive support.
Speaking of changing fortunes, Price exited May with an uncharacteristic 4.27 ERA, despite a 2.84 xFIP. Since then, he has posted a 2.12 ERA, driven by a ridiculous 63/8 K/BB ratio over 46.2 innings. His HR/FB rate remains inflated, but better defensive support and a higher rate of stranding runners contributed to the results turnaround.
Tanaka just keeps rolling along, having not posted a monthly ERA above 2.27 yet. He sits third in baseball in SIERA, fourth in strikeout percentage, second in K-BB% and is way ahead leading baseball in SwStk%. He’s had some homer issues and has surprisingly allowed line drives at a rate that ranks fourth highest in the league. But those problems haven’t mattered and until batters figure out how to make contact with his splitter, he should continue to sail.
Weaver’s HR/FB rate is at a career high and the first time it has sat above 9%. Is this the first sign of decline or just a small sample blip? We might not know for sure until next season ends. For now, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt as everything else is fairly normal.
Kluber’s fantastic overall season has been buoyed by an insane May, when he posted a 1.79 xFIP with a Priceian 60/8 K/BB ratio. He’s still been excellent in the other two months, just not other-worldly.
Verlander drops another tier as things haven’t gotten much better. His velocity remains at a career low and hasn’t improved throughout the season. While his skills did improve and were at their best of the season in June, they still pale in comparison to vintage Verlander level.
Anibal also drops a tier as his skills surge of last year is looking like a fluke. His velocity spike hasn’t been sustained and his SwStk% is at its lowest mark since 2007. He’s getting by right now thanks to a microscopic 2.4% HR/FB rate and low .243 BABIP. He’s a supreme sell high candidate.
If Iwakuma’s strikeout rate was a tick higher, he’d be due for a promotion. His skills are fantastic, but the strikeouts are a bit low.
Dickey drops yet another tier as his skills have been rather consistent the last two months, but haven’t taken the leap I have been expecting. He’s also on pace for exactly 200 innings, which is well below what he recorded the last two seasons and takes a bit out of his value. Part of my argument for Dickey’s placement in previous tiers was due to all the innings he would throw that would boost his win and strikeout totals. So with that perhaps out the window, we’re left with the hope of a high-3.00 ERA and a 1.25-1.30 WHIP, which is fine, but not too exciting.
I got beat up for ranking Gray down here, but I argued he had been extremely lucky so far. Sure enough, he has posted a 5.40 ERA after departing May with a 2.31 mark. The vast majority of pitchers simply cannot fend off the luck dragons from taking away what they had giveth. The same should be said of Kazmir whose ERA has risen since I traded him, but it still has room to go.
Richards and Keuchel jump a tier as their breakouts are supported by skills surges. It’s unlikely that selling high would net the type of value to make it worth it, so owners should probably just hold on for the ride.
Peavy drops a tier as he hasn’t posted an xFIP below 4.22 in any month. You can never be sure if the man is completely healthy and he’s become a rather blah pitcher who is only a matchup play in shallow mixed leagues, if he’s owned at all.
After returning from his elbow injury, Ventura’s strikeout rate has plummeted and we really don’t know for sure what kind of short or long-term effects the injury is going to have on his health and performance. His strikeout potential was the most intriguing facet of his game, so without it, he loses much of his luster.
I shared my thoughts on Odorizzi recently and he’s given up just one run over two starts since. He remains quite a risk given his extreme fly ball ways and reliance on the called strike, but with a SIERA nearly a full run below his actual ERA, there is upside here over the rest of the season.
Walker finally made his Mariners debut this year, and his fastball velocity was only down a tick from last year. This was a good sign given the amount of time he missed due to a shoulder injury.
Buchholz is back and his velocity has been better, which is a good sign. Of course, that didn’t help his strikeout ability, as he punched out just four batters over 13.2 innings. But his ERA should fall quickly and he should return to providing AL-Only league value and perhaps become a streamer candidate in mixed leagues.
What’s Buehrle drinking and where can I get my hands on this magical elixir? His skills are mirror images of what they have always been, with a SIERA the same as usual. The clock will strike midnight soon and he’ll be worthless again in mixed leagues.
Peacock is the only guy here with any real upside. He somehow managed to post a 2.91 ERA in June, despite a gruesome 11/10 K/BB ratio over 21.2 innings during the month. But at least he’s shown some strikeout ability and better control in the past provides reason for optimism.
The Jerry/Gary/Larry Gergich Injury Tier
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