• Last week of the regular season. Playoff teams may decide to adjust or sit their starters as they lock up their position and start getting ready for the playoffs. Did my best to recognize the 2 starters as best I could here.
  • There’s still some questions about who will start, but the situations I couldn’t nail down were:
    • Baltimore: Dylan Bundy is in line to start, but there’s a chance that Chandler Sheperd gets a chance in that spot instead.
    • Mariners have Marco Gonzales down to pitch both Sunday and Tuesday. It could be Tommy Milone or Justin Dunn if Marco goes Sunday.
    • The Reds could throw Kevin Gausman as an opener or could let Sonny Gray take the spot on Tuesday.
  • Oakland and San Diego are likely running a 6 man rotation.
  • Cincinnati may run a 6 man rotation, but have to monitor that situation.
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Starter Notes for Week 24…

    • The Padres and Athletics are both throwing a 6-man rotation this week.
    • The Dodgers are giving Hyun-Jin Ryu a pass on his next start, but haven’t announced when he will make the next one yet, or how the rotation will work this week. While Ryu will be skipped, the Dodgers are also getting Rich Hill back this week, which could maintain the 6 man rotation.
    • How the Dodgers handle the rotation means that Walker Buehler may or may not have 2 starts this week. The good news, of course you’re starting Walker Buehler. The bad news, not sure that he’s getting 2 starts, but he’d be a ‘No Doubt’ guy if he does.
    • The Yankees Tuesday starter has yet to be announced, but should be a 2 start option whoever they throw. My best guess right now is that it’s a bullpen game with Chad Green starting.
    • Please, blog, may I have some more?

Trying to track rotations in September is similar to watching the Cha-Cha Slide at a wedding. Pitchers slide to the right…slide to the left…criss cross…CHARLIE BROWN. September brings so much rotational uncertainty with call-ups, 4 man, 6 man and even 7 man rotations utilized with spot starts out of the blue.

Here are my best guesses and some 2 start notes to help you find 2 start options this week.

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No Doubt

Name Team 1st Opp. 2nd Opp.
Shane Bieber CLE @NYM KC
Clayton Kershaw LAD TOR NYY

For the second straight year, the Topps card company struggled to remember which Bieber plays baseball and which one is a pop star. At least Shane seems to take it all in stride, just look at his uniform from last year.

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No Doubt

Player Team Opp. 1 Opp. 2
Gerrit Cole HOU @CHW @OAK
Clayton Kershaw LAD @MIA @ATL

It wasn’t worth the effort to paste Gerrit Cole’s head on the GIF, but you get it, Cole is about to dive straight into a pile of money as he enters free agency next season.

After getting off to a rough start, Cole keeps cruising with a 1.98 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 36% K rate along with a 6.3% BB rate since his May 27th start. He may be getting a little lucky, but you have bigger concerns than whether he should be in your lineup.

Clayton Kershaw has been great this season as well, and performing even better since July started. 1.66 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, and a 32% K rate. As Mark Twain was famously quoted as saying, “Rumors of my death are greatly exaggerated.” The back has held up this season and we’re getting a (potentially last) look at vintage Kershaw down the stretch.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

No Doubt

Name Team Opp. 1 Opp. 2
Justin Verlander HOU @CLE SEA
Shane Bieber CLE HOU LAA
Patrick Corbin WSH ATL @ARI

The Biebs has been getting plenty of attention since throwing his complete game shutout that was almost a perfecto. Let’s take a look at the ridiculous stuff that Patrick Corbin has been doing though.

He had a bit of a rough patch at the end of May/start of June, but has pulled it together since then, and has only allowed more than one ER in 2 out of his previous 7 starts, and only gave up 2 ERs and 3 ERs in each. He’s gone at least 6 innings and all but one of those starts to the tun of a 1.60 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 6.3% BB rate, and a b-e-a-utiful 32.8% K rate.

It’s not some crazy lucky streak either as we’re looking at a .317 BABIP, 2.00 FIP, and only 3 of the starts against below average offenses.

Here’s how the rest of the tiers look…

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No Doubt

Team Player Opponent 1 Opponent 2
BOS Chris Sale TEX @BAL
LAD Hyun-Jin Ryu @LAA CHC
TB Charlie Morton OAK LAA
NYY James Paxton NYM @CWS

If you ask Trevor Bauer, it’s no coincidence that Charlie Morton took a big jump forward upon arriving in Houston in 2017. Then again, maybe Trevor Bauer should ask for a trade to the Astros to get himself right, but I digress.

Charlie Morton is throwing his curve more than ever before (36%) and it’s yielding phenomenal results. On the surface, he has career best ERA, WHIP, and K rate (30.4%). The curve is getting a 20% whiff rate (best of his career), 55.74% GB rate, .110 batting average against, and a .153 slugging against. Keep throwing those Uncle Charlies up there, Charlie.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Masahiro Tanaka’s first 11 starts have been about as good as you could’ve hoped when you drafted him around the 30th-40th SP off the board. It felt like he was being ignored in some leagues and came at quite the value. He’s a no doubt starter this week with the way he’s been performing, but it may be a good opportunity to sell high on the veteran pitcher.

Most of the numbers are in line with his career (GB rate, LD rate, K rate, BB rate, 1st strike rate). However, there are a few indicators that he’s been a little lucky and his stuff may not be quite what it has been in previous seasons, specifically his moneymaker, the splitter.

His swinging strike rate is down to 11.1% from 14.1% in 2017 and 15.1% in 2016. His 77% contact rate is the 2nd worst of his career along with career worsts in hard hit rate, launch angle, and average exit velocity allowed. 80.6% left on base rate isn’t completely unsustainable, but it would be the highest of his career.

It’s my belief, and the numbers back me up, that the splitter is not the pitch we’ve seen in previous seasons (below), which is leading to less swing and miss, and harder contact. The vertical movement on the pitch is the worst we’ve ever seen from Tanaka. His swinging strike and K rates are down, and of his 3 primary pitches (FB, Slider, Splitter), the splitter is the only one that has a worse whiff rate at 11.69 down from 22.99 the previous season and easily the worst of his career. The batting average against the split finger is .333 this season compared to .220 and .191 in the previous 2 seasons. Similarly, the slugging percentage is up to .560 this season vs .344 in 2017.

I don’t believe that Tanaka is just going to fall apart and if you need a steady arm to balance your roster, I think he’s fine, but with his current numbers I believe you may be able to sell him high compared to what he provides the rest of the season.

Please, blog, may I have some more?