Leading up to game one of the ALCS all the talk was about the Boston Red Sox and not about the defending champions the Houston Astros. After game one the wind has shifted.
Houston came out and stunned Boston beating them 7-2 behind a great showing from Justin Verlander and a not so great start from Chris Sale.
Verlander held Red Sox hitters to just two hits over six innings and allowed two runs. While Sale only lasted four innings giving up two earned runs. Yes the stat line doesn’t look very different for the two starting pitchers, but the reality was Sale just was not at the top of his game.
Astros’ high powered offense was on full display with home runs by Josh Reddick and
Yuli Gurriel. Gurriel’s three run home run put this game out of reach in the ninth inning and deflated the Red Sox who couldn’t fight their way back from a five run deficit. Missing in action from this game was Boston’s offense being held to only three hits and no long balls.
Game two will have Gerrit Cole facing off against David Price on Sunday in Boston and it will be a chance for the Red Sox to heat up their cold bats. While Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman will try and get their first hits of the ALCS and join the hot offense that surrounds them.
Sunday’s game could be a turning point in this series and if Houston could win it could be all but over for Boston.
If you haven’t been paying close attention you probably have no idea who the Cy Young favorites are in the American League. I don’t blame you as there really is no clear cut choice. Of the contenders the two most likely to win it are Justin Verlander and Corey Kluber. Others who have received honorable mention have been Danny Duffy, Aaron Sanchez and Michael Fulmer. One name though that should be in consideration is David Price. Yes, the same David Price who through the first two months of the season had a 5.11 ERA.
After Price’s last start in May on May 29th he had an eye popping 5.11 ERA, an 8 – 3 record and 79 strikeouts in 68.7 innings. Why was the ERA eye popping? Because David Price was supposed to be an ace this season and not be sub leaguer average in ERA. He got off to a horrible start in 2016 by giving up 5+ earned runs in four of this first 11 starts. He seemed off and he noticed it. Teammate Dustin Pedroia noticed it too and told Price he wasn’t bringing his hands up as high as he use to, at least that is the story we were told.
If that was the difference or not I couldn’t tell you, but what I do know is that something changed after May. From July 5th on Price has had an ERA almost two runs lower than that 5.11 with a 3.21 ERA. He has only had two games since then where he has give up 5+ runs, half as many as he had in the first two months of the season and he has continued his above average strikeout rate. Looking at his last nine games he has been even better with a 2.47 ERA.
Why though should he be considered for the Cy Young? Even with the horrible start Price got off to he has managed to get his season long ERA down to 3.87 and if the trend continues it will only get lower. He has won 15 games, pitched 197.7 innings and has 201 strikeouts. He is an innings eater going 7+ innings in 17 of his 30 starts. No his ERA is not down to Kluber’s 3.05, yet, but he won’t finish the season far from that number if he keeps up what he has been doing.
When thinking about who should be the Cy Young I ask myself this question, all things being equal if I had one game to win who do I want on the mound? For me I would choose Price over Kluber or Verlander with Kluber being a close second and Verlander a distant third.
With the 2016 season coming to a close soon and rosters expanded finding quality two-start pitchers who are available is becoming more and more difficult. Especially when you take in to account that this time of year managers are known to throw in a random starter at any point during a week that could push a pitcher out of a two start week. Below are out picks for two-start pitchers the week of September 12th.
Former Orioles starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez is lined up to face Cleveland and Kansas City in the upcoming week. And though the Indians are a touch match-up the Royals have been up and down offensively. He may have a hard time getting a win facing Carlos Carrasco and Danny Duffy, but he should give you good enough ratios and innings to have a shot at the win in both games. Over his last 9 starts Gonzalez has pitched extremely well with a 2.38 ERA and 1.057 WHIP. One of his best starts in that span was his last one against the Tigers where he tamed them to the tune of 6.3 innings, 6 hits, 0 walks and 0 earned runs. If he can hold down that offense, then he may have a shot to keep Cleveland’s power bats at bay as well.
Overshadowed in the Detroit Tigers rotation by Michael Fulmer and Justin Verlander has been the well performing Matt Boyd. Acquired from the Blue Jays Boyd took a while to get going this season, but is now firing on all cylinders. He will face a lack luster hitting Twins lineup to start the week and then go to Cleveland to face the always dangerous Indians. Both teams he faced before in 2016 and over three combined games against these two rivals he has pitched 16.7 innings and given up 10 hits, 5 walks and only 3 earned runs (all came in one game against Minnesota). Boyd’s season totals are not overly impressive but since July 9th he has had a n outstanding 2.56 ERA with a 1.154 WHIP. If he can keep his walks down, like he has so far against these two advisories this season, then he has a chance to put up good numbers in a week where two start pitchers are not easy to find.
There are some other, young, desirable options for two start pitcher in the coming week like Jose De Leon and Lucas Giolito but with the way schedules fall and the time of the year it may be hard to trust that both of these pitchers get their two starts.