This week’s two-start group features a pair of senior circuit hurlers and a junior circuit southpaw.
LHP Ross Detwiler (28.0 percent ESPN/33 percent Yahoo!) – v. CHC (.273), v. MIA (.294)
Detwiler’s been one of the better under-the-radar hurlers in the NL this season, tossing 133 frames of 3.32/3.66/4.21 baseball at a 2.0 WAR clip. And while there’s plenty of room for regression in his numbers — particularly the .265 BABIP, 0.61 HR/9 rate, and 52.0 percent worm-burner rate — it would appear he’s piggybacking a really good 2011 with this season’s run. The most interesting aspect for Detwiler going forward will be whether or not he can continue his ground-balling ways, because if he can, I could envision him being one of the “consistently outpitch your FIP” types. Similarly, I could see the Nationals trading him in the offseason to clear their starter logjam, and make a pretty good profit off him (though not re-signing Edwin Jackson also helps). But that’s neither here nor there; Detwiler gets a couple terrific matchups this week, as both the Cubs and Marlins are lousy against southpaws (second and sixth-worst respectively), and have essentially packed it in for the season (.291 and .308 wOBA last 30 days, respectively).
RHP Ricky Nolasco (20.6 percent ESPN/22 percent Yahoo!) – v. MIL (.319), @WAS (.315)
Likely toeing the rubber opposing Detwiler will be Nolasco, who hasn’t exactly lived up to his billing (stats) or his billing (salary) this season. Nolasco started out well, carrying a 3.65 ERA into mid-May, but tumbled relatively quickly — almost reminiscent of his club — in seeing his mark soar to 5.16 just five weeks later. To Nolasco’s credit, he didn’t pack it in, and has whittled his ERA down to a still-unsightly 4.78 by tossing a pretty good August (2-2, 4.36 ERA, .700 OPS allowed). The biggest thing for Nolasco has been suppressing extra-base hits, because the triple-slash he’s allowed in August (.285/.338/.362) would still be a pretty good mark as far as 700 OPSers are concerned. Strangely, he did this improving while pitching away from home more often than not, including one trip to the ever-cavernous Coors Field. Nolasco’s matchups this week aren’t ideal by any means; both offenses are about league average against northpaws (.315 is the league average wOBA if anyone is wondering), and the Brewers are absolutely pounding the ball of late (.339 wOBA last 30 days, fourth best). But Nolasco gets the nod this week for me due to reliability (fifth-straight season of 25-plus starts), which to me is more valuable at this time of year (read: crunch-time with fantasy playoffs coming up) than it would the rest of the season (when I’m basically strikeout crazy).
LHP J.A. Happ (3.6 percent ESPN/8 percent Yahoo!) – v. BAL (.314), @BOS (.339)
Ah yes, the one the Phillies “should of” never let get away. Twitter memes aside, Happ — like former teammate Bud Norris — is that strikeout-type that I just can’t let go of. Since moving to the junior circuit, the 29-year-old has somehow found whiffs easier to come by (9.4 per 9 versus 8.5 per 9 with the ‘stros), and has slashed his WHIP while working as a swingman between the rotation and pen. Now a starter for the duration, Happ is supported by an otherwise-solid Jays offense that has fallen on hard times of late (MLB-worst .272 wOBA over the past 30 days), leaving the club 12 games under .500 despite playing good ball early on. As a result of this tumble, I’d normally be pretty bearish on Jays starters, but I think the combination of Happ pitching and the fact that the Jays can’t possibly fan 27.2 percent of the time going forward should mean the offense is due to pick it up, if only just a bit with Brett Lawrie and Jose Bautista out. If this offense was healthy, Happ would be owned in three or four times as many leagues, I’m almost positive.