We’re back at it after an up-and-down start to Week 3, but I think we have a fairly good trio — including oddly enough, a holdover — heading into Week 4. Let’s dive right in.
Here’s how we’re doing so far this season (through half of Week 3):
7 quality starts
Here are this week’s recs (with team wRC+ for this season in parentheses):
LHP Hector Santiago – 23.9% ESPN – v. OAK (106), v. BOS (99)
Santiago’s one of those guys who won’t wow you on the mound, but you look up in the fifth and you’re down 4-2 and aren’t sure how he’s kept you at bay. He works high in the zone with a low-90s fastball and doesn’t have especially good control, but just battles with every pitch and executes when he needs to. He’s been a consistent FIP beater for his entire career, which makes it sort of crazy that he was traded for Ricky Nolasco — among others — considering the latter does the exact opposite. What stands out for Santiago this year — in addition to improved walk rates — is that he’s changed his changeup grip and it appears to be working wonders. It has a little less fade than his screwball — which he still throws — and that allows him simply another look with which to attack batters. So far, that changeup has a 14 percent whiff rate this season — well above the 9.6 percent mark he’s had on it over his career.
RHP Robert Gsellman – 14.1% ESPN – @ATL (88), v. MIA (93)
I know the Braves pummeled him last time out — Kurt Suzuki? C’mon man! — but I’ll always gamble on the talent, and I love Gsellman in that respect. He’s still striking out a batter per inning and putting the ball on the ground (57.1 percent), and even despite the fact that he’s facing the Braves for a second time in a row, I think he can beat up on both of these teams. If you like someone else better that’s fine, but I’ll always, always gamble on the talent in these things.
LHP Daniel Norris – 11.9% ESPN – v. CLE (112), @OAK (106)
I really liked Norris last year — 9.2 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, 3.38 ERA — and think he’s bound to round into form here eventually. This is another “gamble on the talent” kind of guy, with a higher groundball rate and lower home run rate than last year. To me, those things are tougher to correct than walk and strikeout rates, where he’s faltering compared to last season. His velo is up and he’s throwing more sliders….I think the strikeouts are just around the corner.