Pitcher Spotlight: Eight Pitchers Worth a Second Look by Paul Sporer August 3, 2017 We are in the dog days of the season now. Some of you have already transitioned to fantasy football (how dare you!), some of you are trying your best to stay engaged, but summer activities are tough to ignore, and then the rest of you are fully engaged – meticulously staying abreast of every bullpen change, every lineup move, and prospect call-up. I want to take a quick look at eight interesting starters and even those of you in the latter group hopefully garner something useful about these intriguing names. German Marquez | Rockies Let’s start with Marquez and just kind of get him out of the way because I’m going to refer you to my piece on him from earlier in the week. Some of you may have already ready it, but I was really intrigued by Marquez after doing a deep-dive so I wanted to bring him up again for those who missed the piece initially. Pitching half of his games in Coors cuts off some of the upside his raw talent portends, but I think he has the skills to merit consideration even for some home starts. Brent Suter | Brewers Suter was knocked around for the first time this year in his start last night against St. Louis (5.3 IP/5 ER, but also 7 Ks and just 1 BB), but it still pushed his ERA to just 3.04 and only 2.93 as a starter. The 27-year old throws just 86 mph, but his fastball has actually been his pitch. He gets an above average volume of both called strikes (42%, 35% lg. average) and chase rate (28%, 23% lg. average) with the fastball. He backs it with a decent slider that stifles lefties, but neither the slider nor the changeup is super-reliable against righties. He works quickly, pounds the zone, and hits his spots. The margin for error is thin because of the stuff, but I think he can continue to be good more often than not in the vein of a Jason Vargas. Zack Godley | Diamondbacks Godley has been tremendous this year with a 26% K, 8% BB, 56% GB, and 14% SwStr rates in 94.3 innings. He’s added some velocity and shifted to more sinkers over the cutter while also amplifying his curveball usage en route to this breakout season. Godley has all the elements to maintain a high level of success here and I believe in the 27-year old’s emergence, even in a tough venue like Arizona. I took a deeper look at Godley back in mid-June and I’m even more interested in him now. Kenta Maeda | Dodgers Maeda’s had a topsy-turvy season as he struggled to get going as a mostly-five inning arm, which left him with a 5.21 ERA in nine starts through May. After mixing in a short bullpen stint throughout most of June, he’s been a fixture in rotation over the last month-plus. All told, he has a 2.31 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 24% K, and 6% BB in 46.7 IP since June 1st. He’s still a five-and-dive, but on that Dodgers team he can continue to rack up wins with the minimum innings. His only bad start in the run was a 5 ER dud at San Diego because baseball likes to troll us. His skills are strong so if you can overcome the lower innings threshold, he’s your guy. Brad Peacock | Astros The silver lining to the Lance McCullers injury is that Peacock gets to stay in the rotation. He has been tremendous this year with fantastic skills support. He’s essentially a two-pitch pitcher with a devastating fastball-slider combo while mixing in a curveball and changeup to lefties with mixed success (mostly with the curve). A 13% BB rate is his only blemish right now, but he allowed just 41 hits in 55.3 IP as a starter that helps offset the potential pain of the walks. Even if his role changes again upon McCullers’ return, just hang onto Peacock because they’ll look for ways to keep him in the rotation. Carlos Rodon | White Sox Did we see a turn from Rodon last time out? He slogged through his first five starts with a 6.29 ERA (even with a couple good ones mixed in) before looking sharp against Cleveland back on July 30th. The slider was at its best in this outing. The Indians were 0-for-7 with four strikeouts on 35 sliders, his second-most thrown (37 against the Dodgers on July 19th). His slider is a plus-plus monster at best so when his fastball is working, he’s got fantastic upside. There are real risks with Rodon, but you’re not going to find much better upside on the wire in early-August. I’d take a shot. Parker Bridwell | Angels I wrote a bit about Bridwell in a Roto Riteup this past weekend after he notched his fifth win: His slider has been his best pitch all year and it’s driving his success along with his fastball’s best month of the season (.159 AVG, 11% K in 47 PA). The 25-year old one-time Orioles prospect was traded for cash in mid-April and could be a backend rotation piece for the Angels. He looks like a deep league streamer at best. He actually throws tonight against Philly and I’ll be tuning in to a get a better read on him. Paul Blackburn | Athletics Blackburn is my Paul DeJong for pitchers in that I just don’t trust the success. Dammit, these guys have an amazing first name, why can’t they have foundational skills to back up their fast starts at the major league level. By the way, a 3-for-21 in his last 25 PA has already started DeJong’s return to Earth. Blackburn has an impossibly low 11% K rate with a 6% SwStr rate that does offer a ton of hope for more. Blackburn hasn’t topped a 9.6% SwStr in any of the last three seasons spent in the minors. He’s a groundball, sinker-slider guy, which is a profile that can work (see also: Chacin, Jhoulys – especially at home), but not like this. His 3% K-BB rate is sixth-lowest among starters with at least 30 IP this year (Eddie Butler has a 0.9% mark!). Hard pass. — If I’m ranking this group, I’d go: Godley, Peacock, Marquez, Maeda, Rodon, Suter, Bridwell, and Blackburn.