For the first time since I can remember (which isn’t that long really, thanks vodka) I added far more players back to the list than I took off. Huzzah! It felt good to not have to scrap for back-end-non-difference-makers. We even got Michael Kopech, finally! It even sounds like Eduardo Rodriguez should be back this week, although the same cannot be said about teammate Chris Sale or not-teammate James Paxton. Michael Fulmer returned after a lengthy absence and tossed 4.2 scoreless innings, which gives me hope that down the stretch he can pitch more like the player we expected back in March. Dylan Bundy, unfortunately, put up another dud and is completely off the list. You simply cannot deploy him right now. Here are some of the other notable starters from this past week of action.
- Zack Wheeler, NYM (+11) – OK, so I won’t go on too long about Wheeler because I’ve done enough of that recently. However, he got another sizable bump because he just keeps slaying. I never would have imagined him approaching the top 20 back in March, but thanks to an overall horrid season for pitching and him revamping his arsenal of late, here we are. He should be universally started against the Giants in his next start.
- Mike Minor, TEX (+12) – Minor has fluctuated in a major (sorry) way this season. He strung me along with a 2.08 ERA in June only to make me feel foolish with a 5.04 ERA in July. Well, the pendulum hath swung again, as he has posted a 2.41 ERA in August. I’m feeling trustworthy with Minor again, thanks in part to his fastball clocking in at a season-high 94.5 MPH in his last start. That start, by the way, was six one-hit innings with four K’s and one walk. Not bad, especially considering it was against an A’s offense that is surprisingly potent. Unfortunately he’s got the Dodgers and Angels coming up on his schedule, which limits his streaming appeal.
- Alex Cobb, BAL (+15) – Even more surprising than Wheeler approaching the top 20 is Alex Cobb rising to 85!! Granted, it’s not the world’s most prestigious honor (Razzball Writer Of The Year is), but considering his ERA is still 5.00, it’s a testament to how good he’s been lately. He tossed 35 innings in August with a 1.80 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP! His hard contact has dropped to a mighty fine 28%, and he has induced 25% pop-ups. Those numbers support the ERA, and his pitch mix supports the peripherals. He went from 7% splitter usage in June (6.67 ERA) to 26% in July (4.34 ERA) to 37% in August. The strikeout upside is still nil, which limits his upside, but he’s at least into streaming territory now.
- Marco Gonzales, SEA (-23) – “Marco?” “Polo!” “Marco?” “Gonzales!” *Children all scream and swim away* Yes, Marco has been terror inducing of late. Marco has a 10.35 ERA *woman shrieks in background* over 20 August innings “pitched”. Halloween has come early for Gonzales owners – and he’s not dishing out treats. Please say that last sentence in your best movie trailer voice. Every single one of his pitches has given up a .389 average or higher this month. Yikes. He’s impossible to trust right now, so needs to be benched until he can set himself straight and put together a strong start or two. Fortunately he gets the Padres next, which is as good as it gets in terms of trying to straighten out your season.
- Gio Gonzalez, WSH (-24) – I really shouldn’t have to explain this beyond Gio’s second most recent box score, which read 8 ER, 10 H, 4 BB, 5 K, 4.2 IP…against the Marlins. Well, the box score didn’t have the dramatic ellipses, but you get the idea. He did follow it up with seven strong innings against the Mets, but the Mets are an ideal matchup for lefties and I still can’t forget his blow-up against the Fish. That, and his 6.00 second half ERA have me completely uninterested the rest of the way. He’s a total grenade with a bad walk rate and doesn’t have the K’s he once did to offset the walks. Check, please!
- Michael Kopech, CHW (SP29) – YES!! FINALLY! HE’S HERE!! I’ve been waiting all season for Kopech, but to defend the White Sox for a minute, they did need to hold him down as long as they did. He has had insane walk issues all season, but over his last seven starts at Triple-A he had just four walks total. Of course, the baseball gods can be cruel, and they limited him to two innings because of a rain delay. He has a truly exciting four-pitch mix that will have no issue piling up the K’s the rest of the way. He will also have plenty of plus matchups against terrible AL Central opponents, making him an all-formats add. I eased him into the top 30, but if he carries over his improved control he could weasel his way into the top 20 by seasons end. I expect him to be a top 20 starter for a very long time.
The Top 100 Starting Pitchers
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