This week’s two-start starters is a groundball-heavy bunch, featuring a trio of the game’s best worm-burner inducing hurlers.
RHP Jake Westbrook (29.0 percent ESPN/29 percent Yahoo!) – v. SF (.299), @PHI (.316)
Among qualified starters, Westbook is third in ground ball rate — behind recent DFA Derek Lowe — proving he’s again up to his old tricks. Soon-to-be 35, Westbrook has bested his career marks in K/9, BB/9, HR/9, strand rate, and is hurling at an ERA which is a half-run better than his career mark. Essentially, Westbrook is getting better with age, and it’s no mirage, as his 3.79 ERA is complimented nicely by a 3.74 xFIP. Essentially, Westbrook is who he says he is. This week, he gets a weak Giants offense that was bolstered at the expense of the second team he gets, a stripped-down Phillies offense (.281 wOBA over the past week). So not only does Westbrook get a couple of nice matchups, but he’s also supported by one of the finest offenses in the league (third in wOBA in MLB), so while he won’t ratchet up the K’s, he’s a good bet to nab wins (10 so far) and keep your other rates in check.
LHP Scott Diamond (36.4 percent ESPN/43 percent Yahoo!) – @CLE (.289), v. TBR (.295)
This is it. As a Twins-backer, I’m finally starting to buy a bit into the Diamond hype. After seeing other contact-inducing pitchers ride the roller coaster in Minneapolis the past decade, it was a tough pill to swallow. However, Diamond seems to have a good feel for pitching, working the corners and inducing weak contact, including an incredible number of grounders (56.5 percent, as only Henderson Alvarez stands between Diamond and Westbrook on the leaderboard). True enough, Diamond has been a bit lucky, as his strand rate is over 75 percent and his HR rate and BABIP may be a bit low, but even if he doesn’t maintain his sub-3.00 ERA, his FIP and xFIP are still in the mid-3.00s, which is a pretty nice pickup in the Rule-5 draft (and even when you consider the Twins dealt Billy Bullock to retain his rights). Cleveland and Tampa have both scuffled this year against lefties, so with Diamond backed by a suddenly-potent Twins offense (most runs scored in MLB in July, ninth best wOBA last 30 days), it would seem likely that the Canadian southpaw would be a good pickup.
LHP Ross Detwiler (19.3 percent ESPN/24 percent Yahoo!) – @HOU (.269), @ARI (.349)
With all the notoriety the Nationals rotation has received — deservedly, of course — Detwiler has just been another cog in the capital city pitching machine. Detwiler has been in and out of the Nats’ rotation all season long, tossing 104.1 innings over 22 appearances (16 starts) while generally doing a very good job. With the uncertainty around Stephen Strasburg’s innings limit this season, it would seem likely that Detwiler will remain in the rotation for the duration. And while Detwiler doesn’t quite possess the velocity of Gio Gonzalez or Stephen Strasburg, the consistency of Jordan Zimmermann, or the stuff of Edwin Jackson, the 26-year-old port-sider shown a good grasp of a nearly 93-mph heater, 79.3-mph curve, and and a show-me changeup that checks in at 84.5. That three-pitch mix has allowed Detwiler to fan only 6.0 per 9, and that, coupled with a 2.6 BB/9 rate and a .274 BABIP make his pitching triple-slash look like 3.02-3.69-4.15 (ERA-FIP-xFIP). The Astros present a better matchup this week (.290 wOBA past 30 days) than the D-Backs do (.341), which will come to no one’s surprise, but Detwiler is also supported by a Nationals offense that has been pretty good in that time frame as well (.331 wOBA). In fact, the two matchups this week present Detwiler with polar opposites, as the Snakes are the best team in the MLB against lefties, and the Astros are the worst.
Deep League Consideration:
LHP Patrick Corbin (0.3 percent ESPN/1 percent Yahoo!) – @PIT (.313), v. WAS (.312)
A 22-year-old left-hander who handled the insane offensive environment that is the PCL (9.5 K/9, 3.44 ERA), Corbin has been very good in the big leagues as well, and gets a couple of average matchups this week.