Over the past several weeks, I’ve talked about teams and players who might be able to give you an angle as we head into the home stretch of the baseball season.
With prices rising as high as $4 on some pitchers lately, you have to be able to dig out the best value on certain pitchers and understand when it is appropriate to either lay the run line or a price with heavily favored starters.
Through Monday night’s games, there were 11 pitchers with a season-long ERA less than 3.00. Over the previous 30 days, eight of those remained consistent with an ERA with the same parameter. Not surprisingly, five of those pitchers came from the two teams everyone expects to meet in the World Series: Los Angeles and Houston.
The other three, however, are the pitchers I want you keeping an eye on through the end of the month.
Let’s take a look at why Atlanta’s Mike Soroka, Cincinnati’s Sonny Gray and the Mets’ Jacob deGrom are certainly worth a look the next couple of weeks.
Soroka ranks second in the league with a 2.41 ERA and has been even stingier more recently with a 2.23 ERA the last 30 days, over five starts. Interestingly, he doesn’t have a decision in that span.
I know he is scheduled to pitch Thursday against the Marlins, but an upcoming six-game road trip is where you’ll want to look for Soroka, as he’s 6-0 with a 1.32 ERA on the road in 13 starts this season. And in 22 starts in 2019, the right-hander has surrendered more than three earned runs just three times.
For the Mets, deGrom has been a big reason for their recent surge with a 3-0 mark and stingy 1.09 ERA in five starts since July 21, much improved from a league fourth-best season ERA of 2.61. He’s also sporting a .178 opponents’ batting average during this recent 30-day span, 40 points better than the season batting average (.218) foes are hitting.
deGrom has also been somewhat of a road warrior for the Mets, going 5-3 with a 2.30 ERA with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 103-to-19 while ordering room service. He is 1-2 against the Braves this season, with a 3.73 ERA. He’ll get the nod at least once during this weekend’s home series with Atlanta, and with a playoff berth looming, you may find value with the right-hander.
Finally, with Gray, he’s emerged as the team’s most consistent pitcher — more so than Luis Castillo, whom I previously reported last month. Gray continues to deal with a stellar curveball, while doing a good job of keeping the ball in the park. The right-hander has a 2.98 ERA this season, but since July 21 that number improves to 1.53. He’s also 3-0 in five starts in that time frame.
Gray has limited left-handed hitters to a bleak .192 batting average and does a good job with runners in scoring position, stifling hitters to a .151 clip. His favorite mound is his own, as he’s 7-2 in Cincinnati, but the wild thing is his 3.15 ERA is higher at Great American Ballpark, than his road ERA of 2.81.
The good news for him is his teammates have improved at the plate, with a league ninth-best batting average of .274 in August. The run support will certainly help. Gray pitched Tuesday against San Diego and won’t likely see action until Monday.
Remember the importance of value this late in the season, especially with teams vying for a playoff berth, and those with pitchers who have remained consistent all season.
Off a brutal 0-3 showing last week, so let’s buckle down and gear up for a winning week with these three plays:
Yankees at Athletics: We may be looking at great value with the Yankees here, as right-hander Masahiro Tanaka faces Athletics righty Tanner Roark, who labored impressively against Justin Verlander his last time out, turning in six innings of two-run ball in a win over Houston last Friday.
Roark has a 2.55 ERA in three starts since joining the A’s via trade, so the Yankees could be laying a decent price, and I’ll lay it. Tanaka has looked good in his last two, with a 2-0 mark and 1.26 ERA. YANKEES
Blue Jays at Dodgers: As of Tuesday, the Blue Jays didn’t have a proposed starter. And that’s likely because they’ve been one of the handful of teams who regularly use openers, rather than starters. But with a staff whose ERA ranks in the bottom half of the league, the Dodgers will have their way at the plate.
On the flipside, I actually expect the Jays to respond against L.A. starter Kenta Maeda, who has looked shaky with his fastball lately, and who has a 4.18 ERA on the year. I’m looking for a slugfest at Chavez Ravine here. OVER
Rockies at Cardinals: In the second game of a four-game series, I like the Cardinals in this spot with Jack Flaherty on the hill. The St. Louis right-hander has been one of baseball’s best starters since the All-Star Break and will continue his domination. The 23-year-old has posted a sterling 0.89 ERA over 50 1/3 innings during his last eight starts. In that span he’s struck out 61 and allowed a mere 25 hits during that stretch. CARDINALS
Last week: 0-3