For many, only a few weeks remain until the playoffs begin. Hard to believe how quickly a season can go by! Small samples are hard to judge, but they are relevant in short time periods. It is why we all constantly make moves for players like Manny Machado. The feeling is that in a vacuum he should be able to help for a short period of time without having flaws exposed. It might not be something we say about veteran pitchers with much regularity, but they can have the same short-term impact.
Look at the run of Paul Maholm. There is not one person that could have called this. Not with the way he has pitched in Pittsburgh and Chicago over the last few seasons. With favorable matchups or a run of unexplainable success, a pitcher can make a major difference in a week. How critical can this be? Here are some of the things you need to know down the stretch for your pitching staff in this weekâ€™s edition of the HVaC.
All numbers through games on August 13th and are for the last 15 days.
- 17 of the top-30 pitchers have a WHIP under 1.00 in the last two weeks. Of those 17 pitchers, nine have an ERA under 2.00 in this time. While you may not be able to own Roy Halladay at this point in the season, you can probably find a way to grab Alex Cobb, Clay Buchholz, or maybe even Maholm still. Buchholzâ€™s 2.5 points in the two categories over the last two weeks is a better mark than both Jered Weaver and Clayton Kershaw in that stretch. Meaning? More value here.
- Odd to continue to see A.J. Burnett at the top of the pitching ranks. Burnett though is a driving force behind the Pittsburgh staff. His 25 strikeouts put him second behind Justin Verlander while his WHIP and ERA are both near elite levels compared to the rest of the field in the last two weeks.
- There has been plenty of conversation surrounding Stephen Strasburg and his innings limit. While this is certainly an important factor, there are some interesting flags in his numbers that could help drive head-to-head owner decisions down the stretch. While still a top-30 pitcher, Strasburg has just 15 strikeouts and a 3.94 ERA despite two wins. His 15.41 HVaC score puts him behind Erik Bedard, Jake Peavy, and Chris Capuano. Strasburgâ€™s strikeout value has been down in every iteration of this since the All-Star break and it brings his value-add to a lineup down significantly as well.
- Top reliever in the stack? Not Craig Kimbrel or Jonathan Papelbon, but J.J. Putz. Putz has three saves, a 0.00 ERA, and a 0.21 WHIP to lead all relievers. Fernando Rodneyâ€™s seven saves are certainly nice, but his WHIP and ERA suffer compared to the rest of the pack and keep him outside the top-50.
- It still amazes me that we all heaped such heavy expectations on to Yu Darvish. Though barely performing as a top-50 pitcher in this sample, Darvishâ€™s 7.85 ERA in this stretch and 1.96 WHIP completely eradicate the benefits seen from his strikeout totals. In fact, by those two factors alone, Darvish would be 136th overall right now. It says a lot for how dominant he has been in strikeouts, but just as much on how he needs to refine his game.
- While you will not find him in the top-50, owners should give Clayton Richard a look-see. Richard has been putting up strong WHIP and ERA numbers to go with two wins in the last two weeks. The problem for him has been strikeouts. Normalize for this statistic and Richard has provided top-10 value. Even with a rough outing on Tuesday night (not included here) Richard has shown remarkable consistency over the last two months. We all like strikeouts, but something to be said for a starter that can lower your WHIP and ERA.
- Why is it hard to chase wins? The best total for any pitcher over the last two weeks is three wins. Thatâ€™s it. And it means that the pitcher won all three starts. Focusing on the other three categories for starters is just as if not more important and why we need to look at value-add across the board.
- Who could fall over the next few weeks? Jason Vargas (32) has nice WHIP and ERA numbers but sustainability would be a concern. Given his low strikeout numbers, his ranking could be in trouble. Edwin Jackson (40) has been struggling and is propped up only by his strikeout numbers.
- Players ready to climb? Felix Hernandez is outside the top-50 only due to putting up nine strikeouts. That will change. Ryan Vogelsong (43) has pitched well all year and should see changes in his ERA and WHIP numbers that will bring him back inside the top-20.
Here’s the rest of the Top-50 Pitchers for the last two weeks: