This week’s two-start group is a right-handed trio of entirely new faces. Reminder: number in parentheses is wOBA versus all pitchers of that handedness.
RHP Scott Feldman (9.5 percent ESPN/12 percent Yahoo!) – v. BAL (.309), v. MIN (.313)
Feldman’s season on the whole has been pretty uninspiring (sub-.500 record, ERA over 4.50, below average K rates), but there’s a good amount of positivity to be gleaned from the 29-year-old’s season, especially the past few weeks and the weeks to come. Not only is Feldman supported by the world-beating Rangers offense, he also gets a couple of nice matchups this week, as the O’s offense is pretty lousy on the whole, and the Twins offense — which is otherwise very good — is absolutely dreadful on the road (.296 wOBA).
The turning point for Feldman was getting pummeled by the A’s for eight earned runs over 1.2 innings pitched on June 4. Since then, Feldman has been on point. Over that span — 11 games, 10 starts — Feldman has spun 63.2 innings of 3.68 ERA, 6.8 K/9, 5.3 K/BB, 1.21 WHIP ball. That’s borderline number-two starter stuff, even before considering he’s got the great offense (he’s 6-4 in that time frame). Grab him for a couple starts this week, but also consider holding onto him for the pennant race.
RHP Mark Rogers (0.3 percent ESPN/1 percent Yahoo!) – v. CHC (.302), @PIT (.305)
Rogers is a former top-prospect — top 100 in Baseball America in 2005 and ‘06 — whose star faded but has rebounded in recent months. Rogers has a big-time arm — routinely clocked in the upper-90s with an average heater of 94.1-mph this year — but what has gotten him into trouble in the past on the field has been the free pass. Rogers has done a good job keeping those to a minimum in the major leagues, walking only 6.7 percent of batters in his two brief cups of coffee — this year and 2010 — despite double-digit walk rates all the way through the Brewers system. Luckily for Rogers, the Cubs are the least patient team in the major leagues (5.9 percent walk rate), and the Pirates aren’t much better (6.8 percent), which is nothing to say of how the offenses have performed all season, which has also been pretty weak. As a result, Rogers should be able to hold his walk regression under wraps for at least this week. Beware, however, as walks may rear their ugly head after that. Remember: Walks will haunt!
RHP Lucas Harrell (6.1 percent ESPN/12 percent Yahoo!) – @STL (.331), @NYM (.321)
Astros starters have been easy to overlook this season since the team has been so bad, but somehow Harrell has been good enough to maintain a winning record (10-8), and in doing so has accounted 25.6 percent of the team’s wins (jumps to 40 percent when considering J.A. Happ and Wandy Rodriguez have been traded). Nothing about his stats really jump out, as he carries pretty much league-average marks across the board in whiff rate (6.3 per 9), strand rate (69.2 percent), and BABIP (.286). As a result, his pitching-slash is 3.81/3.73/3.91, and he’s been a 2.2-win pitcher. In other words, he’s been really valuable by just being pretty much ordinary, and nobody knows because he plays on the worst team — no disrespect to former colleague Mike Fast, who is doing some good work with Jeff Luhnow and company — in the senior circuit. The Cardinals aren’t a great matchup for anyone, though they’ve been a bit worse in the wake of Fat Elvis’ injury (.321 wOBA in the past fortnight), and the Mets are about league-average. Don’t expect wins with Harrell — though I suppose he has delivered some semblance of those this year — but if you’re looking for someone to rack up safe innings (80-plus pitches in EVERY start, with only one start I’d really deem poor), Harrell should be a good bet.
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