Mike Fiers (SP-HOU) - Fiers dropped to 7-8 on the year Thursday against the Diamondbacks. Fiers allowed three runs (two earned) over 5.1 innings with an impressive seven strikeouts to two walks. Once again, home runs were the big issue, as Fiers allowed a pair of home runs for the fourth consecutive starts. For the year in 133.1 innings now, Fiers has allowed a whopping 30 home runs. He'll get perhaps seven more starts, putting him on track for 40+, but he'll really have to pick things up to approach Bert Blyleven's 50. All joking aside, Fiers' 8.8 K/9 is solid and though his 3.6 BB/9 isn't great, if he could just cut down on the home runs, we could at some point trust him. Fiers somehow went all of June without allowing a home run, leading to a 2.32 ERA, so there's hope that he can do a better job keeping the ball in the park going forward, but when you have an 89.7 mph average fastball, you can't afford to make as many mistakes in or near the strike zone.
Matt Belisle (RP-MIN) - The Twins' closer carousel continued Thursday as Matt Belisle struck out the only two batters he faced to record his third save. This comes four days after Trevor Hildenberger recorded his first save and after we thought Taylor Rodgers may have a shot at the closer role. Hildenberger is the team's best reliever given his 2.96 ERA and 27:3 K:BB in 24.1 innings, but Hildenberger was used in the seventh inning Thursday after the Indians got a man on base. Could manager Paul Molitor have actually been cognizant of this being a higher leverage situation and used his top reliever? Seems possible but unlikely. Belisle has a 4.63 ERA, but he's also allowed just two runs in his last 18.1 innings with a 22:3 K:BB. Figure he's the guy for now, but things could change quickly.
Tyson Ross (SP-TEX) - Remember when Ross looked like he had a long and prosperous career ahead of him? That was San Diego and this is Texas. Ross Thursday allowed five runs (three) earned on five this with six walks and two strikeouts. On the plus side (sort of), that one allowed Ross to watch his ERA drop from 7.11 to 7.02 in 42.1 innings. His 31:31 K:BB offers zero encouragement that things will change anytime soon or that Ross will even stick in the rotation beyond this start. Ross' velocity is down thre mph from his peak and his 1.2 GB/FB ratio represents a career worst. Maybe his career isn't over yet, but his recovery from thoracic outlet syndrome surgery isn't going well.
Byron Buxton (OF-MIN) - After hitting .387/.457/.516 in 31 July at-bats before getting hurt, Buxton seems to have picked up where he left off in August. Buxton was 1-for-3 with a walk and home run #7 on Thursday, lifting his overall line to just .234/.306/.366. In August though, Buxton sits at .319/.377/.468 with four stolen bases. Buxton obviously has yet to live up to the wild expectations we all have for him, but he's certainly capable of doing exactly what he's doing right now. I'm not totally bought in, but I'm getting there.
Luis Severino (SP-NYY) - When you're coming off an eight-run outing against the Red Sox and you see the Mets next up on your schedule, well, let's just say that you're thankful. Severino improved to 10-5 with 6.1 innings of one-run (unearned) ball with three walks and nine strikeouts on Thursday. It was the fourth time in five starts that Severino notched 8+ strikeouts and left him with a 3.18 ERA and a 10.5 K/9. He's been good for one bad outing a month, but his overall body of work is certainly a bright spot for a broken-down Yankees rotation. Severino is averaging an elite 97.4 mph while posting a solid 2.5 BB/9, so there's a decent chance that he gets his ERA under 3.00 with 225+ strikeouts. Pretty strong rebound after last year's 5.83 ERA.
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