There is a statistical jungle in baseball, filled with so many numbers it’s easy to get lost. You’re a busy person – there’s no time for you as a fantasy owner to go out and discover the statistical gold. That’s where I come in. Every week, I’ll be out there for you, looking through stats and information databases to find the three starting pitcher matchups that stand out from the rest. They won’t always be the best pitchers and won’t always be streamers, but these are my “Matchups of the Week.”
Some pitchers I just love to watch. Of course there are the Chris Sales and Clayton Kershaws of the world, but I do enjoy starts by pitchers who don’t have the most outstanding “stuff” in the league and still function as average-to-good pitchers such as Mike Fiers. Smyly is also one of those pitchers. He doesn’t possess a nasty Fastball or a waterfall Curveball, but what he does well is locate his pitches and keeps batters off balance with his three pitch mix. The young lefthander loves to throw his mid 80’s Cutter inside to right-handed batters and jam them when they’re expecting his tailing Fastball. As a result, he’s limited right-handed batters to a .229 batting average in a limited sample size since his return from the DL. What also makes this matchup enticing is that the Minnesota Twins aren’t exactly world-beaters on offense as well. They’ve been an average team and Smyly will have the extra benefit of playing in pitcher-friendly Tropicana Field this Thursday.
With all of the funky deliveries in the majors, you would’ve thought that no one would have batted an eye about Aaron Nola’s delivery. Known for his low 3/4 arm slot, scouts were concerned that Nola would not be able to last long in the league because of the extra stress that he put on his arm. While it remains to be seen if he will stay healthy for the majority of his career, the other 6 teams selecting before the Phillies in the 2014 MLB Draft must be kicking themselves for not selecting the LSU product. Nola’s best pitch is his Curveball and man is it good. It reminds me of Jose Fernandez’s sweeping Curveball where it can just make batters look silly. While Nola doesn’t posses the velocity or control of Fernandez quite yet, the Phillie right-hander is just straight filthy. Unfortunately, this game will be played in Philadelphia (where the Mets somehow hit 8 homeruns in one game), but Nola gets to face a Padres offense that is not intimidating. He should have a good outstanding this week and continue to amaze us.
Nathan Eovaldi is a walking contradiction and it’s tough to anticipate how he will perform. Somehow, Eovaldi is 13-2 with a 4.00 ERA. He averages 97 MPH on his Fastball yet strikes out less than 7 batters per game. He has all of this great stuff, but he doesn’t posses anything to really put away batters without them hitting it. But something is happening with Eovaldi as we speak. On June 16th, Eovaldi held a 5.12 ERA and was handed his second loss of the season in which he gave up 8 ERs while failing to get out of the first inning. Since that point, Eovaldi has turned into a whole new pitcher, posting posted a 2.93 ERA and 8 wins in that time span including 8 innings of shutout ball in his last start against the Astros. Not only has his pitching improved, his velocity has risen as well over the past two months including in his last two starts where he’s been averaging over 99 MPH on his Fastball. If you remove Aroldis Chapman from the rankings of fastest pitches thrown in the MLB this season, Eovaldi has 7 of the 10 fastest pitches thrown while the 6 highest this season were all thrown in the Yankee righthander’s last two starts. And, he’s been throwing a lot of pitches as well. On August 19th, Eovaldi’s last pitch, his 120th, was recorded at 101 MPH. What?!?! That’s unheard of! I don’t exactly know what’s going on with Eovaldi and what’s causing his velocity to spike upwards, but man, I’m buying it. I’m all in on Eovaldi right now and should be moved higher on the list next week after what should be a very good start against the Atlanta Braves this week.