It’s time to zero in on starting pitchers who are dealing.
I never advocate to list pitchers on every wager. It’s a ridiculous theory when certain systems have nothing to do with pitchers. But there are times when I absolutely insist on listing one or both scheduled pitchers. Especially after investigating how starting pitchers have performed during a recent 30-day span (June 24-July 23), as I looked for starters with an ERA below 2.50 combined with an opponent’s batting average less than .190 (with a minimum of 20 innings pitched).
Washington’s Max Scherzer, Cincinnati’s Sonny Gray and Luis Castillo, Philadelphia’s Aaron Nola, San Francisco’s Tyler Beede and Houston’s Wade Miley were the stingiest starting pitchers in that span, with a combined 1.67 ERA and an opponent’s batting average of .169.
That was heading into Monday’s action, which saw Gray take a no-decision after allowing one earned run in six innings on four hits in Cincinnati’s 6-5 win. Miley and Nola took the mound Tuesday night.
Fact is, when looking for the right pitcher to lay a price with, you want to make sure a heavily priced team has a starting pitcher with the durability to last, and who can neutralize lineups, especially if the run line comes into play.
Here is a closer look at each one:
Scherzer — Along with a 3-0 mark in as many starts during that span, the right-hander twirled an impressive 23 innings and produced an incredibly low 0.78 ERA and .160 batting average. His strikeout-to-walk ratio was 35-to-1, he allowed just two earned runs and one home run and a total of 15 baserunners.
Gray — Through Monday, he is 2-1 in his last five starts with a 1.62 ERA and limited teams to a .167 batting average. His curveball has been a stellar out pitch for him, while he’s done a fantastic job of keeping the ball in the park. His only problem has been a lack of run support.
Nola — Philly’s most consistent starter was just 2-0 in five starts during this stretch. Despite three no-decisions, the righty still produced a stingy 1.65 ERA and an opposing batting average of .155. He tends to walk a lot, however, which is probably his only downfall. While he has struck out 138 this season — 14th-best in the league — he has walked 51, eighth-most in the bigs.
Castillo —The Reds’ right-hander not only had a superb 1.69 ERA and opposing batting average of .174 during this span, he was the only pitcher in the majors that fell under the prescribed criteria for the entire season, with a 2.36 ERA and a .180 clip at the plate. If the Reds could hit the ball, they’d be a legitimate threat in the National League Central.
Beede — San Francisco’s emerging right-hander was just 3-3 with a 4.70 ERA on Tuesday morning, but over the 30-day period he was 2-1 in four starts with a 2.00 ERA. He stifled hitters to just 18 hits while striking out 19 and keeping opponents to a paltry .186 batting average. He’s a big reason the Giants have erupted in July for a 15-2 run.
Miley — Houston must be pleased to finally get production from their 32-year-old southpaw, as the Astros need added support for aces Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander. Miley, who was 8-4 with a 3.25 ERA on Monday, was sporting a 2-0 mark, 2.25 ERA and .170 opponents’ batting average since June 30. He’s another one who’s done a good job of keeping the ball in the park, with an 0.85 home run per game ratio.
Keep an eye out for these red-hot pitchers, and if you must lay the run line, feel confident these starters will do their part.
Now on to the good stuff. I went 2-1 last week, and I’m aiming for the 3-0 sweep this week:
Indians at Royals: I’m taking the Indians in this spot, as the teams just met last weekend, when the Tribe took two of the three in Cleveland. Adam Plutko enjoyed one of his best performances of the season Saturday, when he allowed just one run on two hits over seven innings against these same Royals.
Meanwhile, Mike Montgomery made his Royals debut on Friday, and was on a pitch count against the Indians, who will know what to expect and should have a better crack at the left-hander this time around. INDIANS
Yankees at Red Sox: Once again, the greatest rivalry in sports is upon us, and I’m taking the road team here. As of deadline, there was no concrete decision on a starter in pinstripes, but the Red Sox appear to be throwing Rick Porcello and I think he’s going to get roughed up.
The veteran right-hander has a 10.57 ERA in his last five starts, and the last time he faced New York he was tagged for six runs in London. I have an Empire State of Mind in this series opener. YANKEES
Rockies at Reds: I just gave you the goods on Castillo earlier in this column, and he’s scheduled to start against the Rockies, who will face the dominating right-hander for the first time this season.
In addition to what I’ve already told you, Castillo has been stellar at home with a 1.67 ERA this season. He’s limited opponents to a .155 batting average and struck out 72 over 70 innings in 11 starts at Great American Ball Park. Easy choice here. REDS
Last week: 2-1
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