Three weeks of MLB action have shown some surprises in regard to what many may have predicted or expected. Our Week 4 breakdown addresses several facets:
- Opponents that are hot at the plate (The Marlins have a better OPS than the A’s right now.)
- Lineups that could surge forward with respect to 2019 performance (Milwaukee has the 27th-best OPS this year, and it could only be a matter of time before Christian Yelich goes off again.)
- Teams that face a grueling road ahead with rescheduled games (See below: an unusual Thursday doubleheader gives Toronto’s Chase Anderson a tough week.)
Plenty of statistical trends are going like many could have predicted, too; our Week 4 breakdown takes it all into account.
German Marquez (Colorado Rockies)
Marquez will go up against the Rangers on Saturday. His next opponent looks to be the Astros (8/20), but he manages an easier schedule in an otherwise strenuous stretch for his team.
Colorado begins seven consecutive games against the Astros and Dodgers on Monday. Marquez will avoid multiple appearances over that seven-game span; his only start in that stretch lines up to be on Thursday when the Astros visit Denver (8/20). Beyond his presumed outing against Houston, he will take on the Diamondbacks on the road (8/25). Texas and Arizona rank 28th and 22nd in wOBA, while Houston is currently 14th. Colorado bats rank 2nd, suggesting Marquez will have ample run support.
Sean Manaea (Oakland Athletics)
Manaea will take on the Giants on Sunday afternoon. His future starts will feature the Angels at home (8/21) and the Rangers on the road (8/26). If he stays true to this schedule, he won’t be in line to face Houston from August 28-30.
His next three starts and their team OPS rankings: Giants, 23rd; Angels, 13th; Rangers, 28th.
Jacob deGrom (New York Mets)
The Mets open a series against the Phillies tonight with deGrom on the mound. He will await the Marlins on Wednesday (8/19); had he thrown yesterday, he would face the Nationals on Tuesday.
After his Wednesday start, he likely won’t pitch in a weekend series with the Yankees. His next start would again be against Miami (8/25), The Marlins rank 21st in wOBA.
Kyle Hendricks (Chicago Cubs)
The Cubs await the Cardinals on Monday, depending on if St. Louis is able to return to play by then. Hendricks will presumably open the series (8/17), and the Cardinals’ hitters haven’t seen game action like the rest of the league.
Hendricks’ later starts will be more difficult, however; the White Sox (8/22 or 23) and Reds (8/28) are next in line. He doesn’t look to pitch in a three-game set in Detroit from August 24-26.
Griffin Canning (Los Angeles Angels)
Canning is coming off a four inning, four earned run performance against the A’s on Wednesday. He will avoid a weekend series with the Dodgers and instead look to face the Giants next week at home (8/18 or 19).
The Angels had the day off on Thursday. Manager Joe Maddon may opt to keep a starter other than Canning on a true five-day cycle, which would push Canning’s start back. If he pitches on Tuesday, he will face Oakland again (8/23). If he pitches on Wednesday, he would be in line to face Houston (8/24).
The A’s and Astros currently rank 21st and 18th in OPS, after ranking 10th and 1st a year ago.
Lance McCullers Jr. (Houston Astros)
McCullers’ start against Seattle on Sunday (8/16) pushes him out of a potential outing at Coors Field. He will instead look ahead to the Padres (8/21) and will likely see the Angels after that (8/26).
Seattle ranks 25th in wOBA, and is 3-7 in their last 10 games. McCullers schedule isn’t exactly easy after that, but he will avoid the second highest team in wOBA at high altitude. He will take on the sixth and 11th best after that.
Houston does not have another scheduled off-day until September 11, which may lead manager Dusty Baker to have a predictable schedule for all of his starters.
Kenta Maeda (Minnesota Twins)
Minnesota’s road ahead features the Royals for four, Brewers for three, Royals for three, and Indians for three. Maeda could avoid the Milwaukee and Cleveland series.
He will likely finish a series with Kansas City on Monday (8/17). Assuming Maeda will pitch next Saturday against the Royals (8/22), it will push him out of the Brewers series. He will then look ahead to the Tigers (8/27), an opponent ranking 30th in strikeout percentage. Detroit currently ranks second in the AL Central however, and their .319 wOBA is a better mark than some may have projected. Kansas City has an identical wOBA, but their 8-11 record places them last in the division.
Randy Dobnak (Minnesota Twins)
His next start is scheduled for Sunday against Kansas City (8/16); he will follow that up with the Royals again next Friday (8/21) on the road. Dobnak appears to be in line for the Indians (8/26) in the series that Maeda isn’t in line to pitch in. Compared to 2019, Cleveland has dropped from 17th to 30th in wOBA.
Robbie Ray (Arizona Diamondbacks)
Ray will presumably throw in games that bookend a four-game set with Oakland. He will face the Padres on Sunday (8/16) and the Giants on Friday (8/21).
San Diego is 3rd in the NL West, Arizona is 4th, and San Francisco is 5th; these divisional opponents aren’t quite as hot as the Rockies and Dodgers are. Ray’s outings could serve as some of Arizona’s best chances to gain divisional ground.
The Padres do manage the sixth best wRC+, but the Giants rank 21st. Ray will go to work against the Rockies the following week (8/26; 12th in wRC+), but the game will at least be in Phoenix instead of Denver.
Touki Toussaint (Atlanta Braves)
Toussaint will face the Marlins in Miami this Sunday, meaning he won’t square off against the Nationals next week. Both opponents have near-identical wOBA this year, but while one those opponents hoisted the Commissioner’s Trophy last year, the other lost 105 games.
Atlanta has several off-days coming up that will make it tough to predict exact dates for starts. Toussaint will be on the ‘poor’ schedule list for next week either way; his opponents to come are either the Phillies twice, or the Phillies and Yankees.
Anibal Sanchez (Washington Nationals)
After pitching on Wednesday night, Sanchez won’t throw again until Monday when the Nationals visit the Braves. A normal five-day cycle will push him out of Washington’s current series against Baltimore, where the two will play four games in three days.
Sanchez lines up to face the Marlins next week (8/22), but could line up to see the Phillies in consecutive outings after that (8/27, 9/1). Atlanta holds the 10th-best OPS; Philadelphia has the fourth-best.
Nathan Eovaldi (Boston Red Sox)
Boston opens a three-game set in the Bronx tonight, and Eovaldi kicks it off. He looks ahead to the Phillies next week (8/19), and Boston will begin a four-game set against the Orioles the next day. Eovaldi will instead look ahead to the Blue Jays in Buffalo (8/25).
The Yankees and Phillies are in MLB’s top third for all three batting slash figures.
Kyle Freeland (Colorado Rockies)
The Rockies will begin a four-game stretch with Houston on Monday. Freeland will open the series, and will then have the Dodgers on the road (8/22). The seven straight games with the Astros and Dodgers reason as the most difficult stretch of the year for the Rockies.
Kevin Gausman (San Francisco Giants)
Both teams in the Bay Area will square off against each other this weekend, and Gausman has the Saturday start. He’ll face two divisional opponents in the Diamondbacks (8/20) and Dodgers after that (8/25 or 26). Arizona has the coldest bats of the three opponents (22nd in wOBA), but the A’s and Dodgers are two of three teams that have won 13 games so far.
The offense for the A’s and Dodgers hasn’t shown up quite like it did in 2019 (19th and 8th in wOBA; 10th and 4th last year), but it could only be a matter of time for both teams to return to previous form.
Nate Pearson (Toronto Blue Jays)
After pitching Wednesday against Miami, Pearson will avoid a three-game set with the Rays beginning this evening. He will instead have the Orioles on Tuesday (8/17 or 18) and they have won five in a row—against the Nationals and Phillies.
Pearson will likely face the Rays beyond that (8/23), with Baltimore next on the horizon (8/28). Tampa Bay has managed the ninth-highest wRC+ in baseball.
Austin Voth (Washington Nationals)
With a doubleheader on Saturday and more of them potentially coming, it is conceivable that Voth will remain in the Nationals’ rotation. Washington skipper Dave Martinez sent Voth to the mound on Thursday against the Mets for his third start of the year.
Strasburg and Scherzer will face Baltimore on Friday and Sunday, while Voth will instead face the Braves on Tuesday (8/18). Atlanta currently ranks 10th in wOBA.
Tyler Glasnow (Tampa Bay Rays)
His next four starts: Yankees (8/18), Blue Jays (8/23), Marlins (8/28), Yankees (early September).
Glasnow isn’t in line to face the Orioles after his first Yankees start. The Blue Jays and Marlins rank 24th and 21st in wOBA, while the Yankees have the best mark out of any team (.350).
Lance Lynn (Texas Rangers)
Lynn will start against the Rockies inside Coors Field this evening. He will presumably face San Diego next Wednesday (8/19), and Oakland next Monday (8/24). The Rockies and Padres have the third and eighth-best OPS, and Oakland ranked 10th a year ago.
Chase Anderson (Toronto Blue Jays)
The rescheduled Phillies contests aren’t working in Anderson’s favor; after his start against the Rays on Saturday, he will await Philadelphia in one game of a doubleheader (8/20).
Toronto will have three plane trips in as many days, with a single game in Baltimore, doubleheader in Buffalo and single game in Tampa Bay from next Wednesday to Friday. If Anderson has the 1:05 start on Thursday, it will be even more challenging.
Any Pitcher for the Cardinals
St. Louis continues a dismal stretch of postponements. The Cardinals have played a mere five games this year, the lowest total in the league. The team hasn’t seen a single game since July 29, and hopefully their staff won’t see any serious injuries upon returning to action.
The Cardinals will look to reschedule their postponed games, which would run their pitching staff through a gauntlet of work in a short timeframe.
Graphic by J.R. Caines (@JRCainesDesign on Twitter)