RA Dickey - Looking to build off back-to-back good outings, RA Dickey faced the Athletics on Sunday and allowed 3 ER on six hits with six strikeouts and two walks over seven innings. Dickey's struggles this season (4.44 xFIP, 4.49 ERA prior to Sunday) can be mainly attributed to an inability to miss bats at the same rate as he did in 2012. Last season, the knuckleballer struck out nearly a batter per inning and owned a 25% K%. This season he's striking out fewer than seven batters per nine innings and his K% is down to just 17%. All those extra balls in play are costly and it doesn't help that Dickey's HR/FB% has slightly increase from 11% to 13%. I'm intrigued by his three straight quality starts, but he will need to miss more bats to have a chance at being a consistently effective starter down the stretch.
Justin Verlander - Justin Verlander faced the Yankees on Sunday afternoon and gave up 4 ER on seven hits while striking out nine in seven innings. The right hander entered Sunday's outing with a 3.74 ERA and 3.75 xFIP. He's been dealing with an inflated BABIP of .322 (compared to .273 in 2012 and .236 in 2011) and he's striking out slightly fewer batters while seeing a small uptick in his BB%. Otherwise, Verlander's other peripheral stats looks in line with his past seasons and I expect positive regression assuming his BABIP normalizes moving forward.
John Lackey - John Lackey tried to slow down the red-hot Royals on Sunday and yielded 4 ER on seven hits over seven innings. He struck out five. I wrote about Lackey a couple months ago, pointing out that he was, at the time, posting the highest K% and lowest BB% of his career. Well, we're now in mid-August and the right hander's still got career-bests in both stats (23% K%, 5% BB%). Those excellent numbers have enabled Lackey to own a 3.21 ERA and 3.21 xFIP prior to Sunday's start. He's also done an incredible job of improving his GB% from 40% in 2011 to 50% this season. All told, Lackey's peripherals back up his traditional stats and point to a very solid fantasy SP.
Bud Norris - Bud Norris took on the Giants on Sunday and allowed 2 ER on six hits over five innings. Norris entered Sunday's start with a 3.78 ERA, but his 4.37 xFIP was worse than a season ago and he's not striking out nearly as many batters in 2013 compared to 2012. This season, Norris' K% has fallen 5% while his swinging strike % has dropped from 10.4% to 9.5%. He's also managed to slice his HR/FB% from 12% to 7.6% and considering his career mark is 11%, I expect to see more balls leaving the yard off Norris in the coming weeks. There are a lot of warning signs here and that sub-4.00 ERA doesn't seem sustainable.
Justin Masterson - Justin Masterson allowed 4 ER over 4 1/3 innings on Sunday against the Angels. He struck out five and walked four. Masterson owned a 59% GB% to go along with a 3.27 xFIP and 3.46 ERA prior to Sunday's outing. He's also drastically improved his K/9 from 6.94 in '12 to 9.13 this season and his K% from 17% to 24%. Against his nemesis, the left handed batter, Masteron has lowered his xFIP from 4.77 in 2012 to 3.97 this season, which clearly has a huge impact on his overall performance. He's not an ace yet (nor do I think he has the stuff to be one), but Masterson is pitching very well and missing a lot of bats.
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