We'll take a look at five pitchers who toed the rubber on Monday. What is the outlook of this five-some – Bedard, Cain, Capuano, Diamond and Tillman – the rest of the way? We'll then touch on two bullpen arms that are dominating – Street and Betancourt – before detailing a couple of other arms that are headed in opposite directions (Colon and Wilson). Don't worry fans of offense, we've also got a breakdown of Cespedes, LaHair and Rutledge for you.
MONDAY NIGHT PITCHERS – OUTLOOKS?
Erik Bedard: 6-12, 4.53 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 105 Ks
He's been a big time disappointment this season, odd to say too since he has been healthy (usually he performs well but is always hurt. This year it's been the reverse). Bedard dominated the D'backs in his last start tossing seven scoreless innings allowing only two hits and not issuing a single walk. At the same time that sparkling effort comes on the heels of a disastrous outing against the Cubs (8 ER, 4.1 IP). In his last four starts, even with that one beating, he's been the type of hurler we expect when healthy as he's sported a 3.60 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 27 Ks in 25 innings. Really though, there's a whole lot of “normal” Bedard stuff going here, sans the results in the ratio categories. He still has an impressive K mark (8.49 per nine), and has a near league average K/BB ratio (2.23) and GB/FB rate (1.19). He's also got a .306 BABIP, his career mark is .301, and his HR/F ratio is within one percent of his career rate. If he keeps pitching this way it would seem like a solid bet that his ERA and WHIP would come down. Regardless, dude is a must start at home where's he's held batters to a .192 average while sporting a 2.38 ERA and 1.06 WHIP over 10 outings.
Matt Cain: 10-5, 3.01 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 142 Ks
A month ago Cain was killing it at 10-3 with a 2.56 ERA. Now he's lost his last two decisions and seen his ERA go up a half a run over four starts. What the hell is going on here? How about some perspective. Cain started out this season as well as could possibly be expected. As a result he got off to a start that simply wasn't sustainable, meaning, regression was coming. Even with his lousy work of late, 15 earned runs in 25.2 innings, Cain's ERA is still barely a tenth above his career best mark set last season (2.88). Second, even with all the base runners he's allowed of late his 1.03 WHIP would still be a career best (his WHIP has been 1.08 the past two years). Even with the lack of victories he's just three off the average win total he's posted the last two years. Even with all the hits he's allowed of late his .224 BAA is still below his career .227 mark. Sorry to break it to you, but Cain has been as good as always, it's just been utter dominance followed by middling work from him this season. Overall, he's still a total stud.
Chris Capuano: 10-8, 3.29 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 125 Ks
I've gotten questions from people who are dropping Capuano because of the downturn in his performance. Is that warranted? In three of his last six outings he's allowed five or six earned runs, an as a result his ERA has gone from 2.62 to 3.29. Sure he's also gone 1-5 in his last seven starts, but he hasn't been atrocious, despite a few rough outings. In his last seven outings he's struck out 36 batters and walked just 11 in 42 innings pitched. Sounds good to me. Sure his ERA is 4.71 and his WHIP is over 1.50, but what's wrong with just benching him for a bit? If you're through with him, try dealing him, though an astute owner will notice a couple of main facts. (1) His performance has dipped of late. (2) Though he tossed 186 innings last year, his total of 142.1 innings is already the second most he's thrown in five years. In fact, he tossed 66 innings in the bigs from 2008-10. (3) His current ERA is a run better than his career rate (4.25) and his WHIP would be a career best. We've likely seen the best that Capuano has to offer this year, but that doesn't mean he should be cast adrift in a 12 team mixed league.
Scott Diamond: 10-5, 2.91 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 62 Ks
Over his last five outings Diamond has alternated wins (three) and loses (two). Still, he's posted a 3.57 ERA and 1.16 WHIP showing few signs of really cracking. However, the numbers don't portend success moving forward to match the success that he has flashed to this point of the season. Diamond's fastball rarely breaks 90 mph, and that's one of the reasons that K's are hard to come by. Given his totally deficient 4.88 K/9 mark, if his ERA and WHIP don't continue to be borderline elite numbers, it would be pretty impossible to continue to run Diamond out there in mixed leagues. Diamond doesn't beat himself walking just 1.26 batters per nine, a hallmark of Twins pitching, and he generates a ton of grounders with an impressive 56 percent ground ball rate, but this simply isn't a dominating skill set, nor one that I would be overly excited to roster in mixed leagues. Guys can have extended runs of success pitching this way – think Kyle Lohse – but guys like Trevor Cahill and Jake Westbrook are more indicative of this type of skill set in that they get locked in for a month, and then struggle to keep the hits in check the next.
Chris Tillman: 5-1, 2.38 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 25 Ks
A second round draft pick in 2006, it's taken forever for Tillman to come around to the level of being a productive big league hurler. I'm not kidding either. Look at the first 36 starts he made from 2009-11: 7-15, 5.58 ERA, 1.58 WHIP, 1.45 K/BB. Yeah, to say he wasn't even an average big league hurler was being kind. Through six starts this year he's killing all of those numbers, including that 2.50 K/BB ratio which is obviously a huge boost in what he had been providing the Orioles previously. Still, that 6.62 K/9 mark right now is a hair under his 6.68 mark last season, and it remains to be seen if he will be able to continue along walking a full batter less per nine than he did in his first three seasons. He's actually been rather fortunate too, that HR/9 mark of 0.53 is light years below his 1.30 career mark, an I'm not exactly in love with his 1.00 GB/FB ratio either. You can take a shot and hope the good times keep rolling, but other than the unlikely to continue reduction in his BB/9 mark things haven't changed a whole lot this season for Tillman meaning he's probably best left as an AL-only option.
Rafael Betancourt doesn't get as much love as he should. I mean, the guy is one hell of a pitcher. He's converted 19 of 23 saves chances this year while sporting a 2.70 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. He's also picked up 39 Ks in 40 innings while walking 10 batters leading to an impressive 3.90 K/BB ratio which is actually well below his career rate of 4.60. If you got him in your bullpen, you're in good shape.
Yoenis Cespedes continues to miss games with injury which is becoming very annoying, but he continues to dominate pitchers when he's on the field. With two hits, a steal and a run scored Tuesday, Cespedes continued him out of this world domination since the All-Star Break: .409/.458/.648 with five homers, 18 RBIs/Run and four steals in 23 games. The guys has been everything the club could have hoped for when they gave him that four year, $36 million deal. Double his work this year, he's appeared in 77 games for the Athletics, and he'd produce a season of .308-28-108-74-20.
Bartolo Colon hasn't been scored on in 20.2 innings as he's lowered his ERA down to 3.38 as he's given the Athletics everything they could have possibly hoped for when they signed him this offseason. Moreover, in seven of his last 10 outings he's allowed zero or one run as he's obviously on pace to have his best season since, dare I say it, 2005.
Remember back in April when Bryan LaHair was the bees knees hitting .390 with five homers, 14 RBIs an a 1.251 OPS? Remember in May when I told you to trade him? Remember when you didn't listen? Over his last 48 games he has gone deep just three times hitting .216. Now comes word that he will be a reserve the rest of the way as the Cubs are committed to Anthony Rizzo at first and Brett Jackson in the outfield. Hope you listened.
Josh Rutledge... wow. With four more hits Tuesday night (including three doubles), the youngster continues to defy all the odds as he's hitting as if he was Todd Helton in his prime. Through 22 games he has six homers and 18 RBIs, and the .356 average also really stands out. You know it won't last, but ride this Rockie middle infielder until things slow.
Speaking of the Rockies, anyone been paying attention to the work of Huston Street? Besides picking up his 20th saves Tuesday he also pushed his scoreless streak to 20.1 inning. As a result, he's lowered his ERA to 0.77 and his WHIP to 0.54. Oh yeah, batters have hit .096 against him. He's give up 11 hits in 35 innings. He's been the third most dominating relievers in baseball behind Aroldis Chapman and Craig Kimbrel.
C.J. Wilson has been awful lately. AWFUL. Over his last 29.2 innings he's allowed 24 earned runs (7.28 ERA). Obviously he's in a massive funk, one that is causing some mild panic among his owners. I'm not saying that you shouldn't be considering placing him on the bench for a start or two, but let's keep our perspective here. On the year he has a 3.34 ERA. His career mark is 3.55. His WHIP is 1.30. His career mark is 1.29. His K/9 rate is 7.66. For his career it's 8.02. His 4.14 BB/9 rate is high, but that mark was 4.10 in 2010 an is 3.82 for his career. His GB/FB ratio is 1.72 and his career mark is 1.69. Honestly, everything that's going on here with Wilson is right on par with his career levels. It's just hard to tell after he was so dominating early an has been so bad of late. Proceed with some level of caution but realize that through 24 starts Wilson has produced exactly as should have been expected.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87, Monday through Friday, 7-10 PM EDT. Ray's baseball analysis can be found at BaseballGuys.com and more of his musing canbe located at the BaseballGuys Twitter Page.
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