Nathan Eovaldi (SP - BOS) - Lost in the offensive barrage in Boston on Wednesday was a fantastic outing by Nathan Eovaldi, who struck out 10 in 7 innings while allowing just 3 hits and 1 run. There's some pretty odd stuff in Eovaldi's stat line this season, probably the least interesting of which is his 7th straight year of underperforming his xFIP. He's changed as a pitcher during that time as well, so it's pretty bizarre that none of the control improvements and pitch arsenal changes have fixed that. No, the real interesting thing for me are his home/road splits. We certainly don't think of Fenway as a pitcher's park, but Eovaldi has been significantly better at home. 6 of his 8 QS have been at Fenway, and his home/road ISOs were .111 and .201 coming into Wednesday's game, respectively. Looking at his Statcast page, there are only a couple stadiums where he would have allowed fewer homers than in Boston (one of which is Coors, which is odd as well), and some where he would have allowed almost twice as many as he has. The GB rate has dropped a lot this season (over 6%), so this HR data could prove to be pertinent down the stretch....except his schedule is actually quite favorable after a matchup at Yankee Stadium next week that I would probably choose to avoid. On the whole, I still have Eovaldi somewhere in the upper 40's among SPs, and there are only a few spots that I would choose to bench him typically.
Alek Manoah (SP - TOR) - They aren't all as pretty as Wednesday's outing (6 2/3 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 11 K), but Manoah has gone 6 straight starts without allowing more than 2 ER. He actually only allowed a HR in a game for the 3rd time in 11 starts on Wednesday, so that HR rate seems like it may continue to come down a bit, and the bat-missing ability is borderline elite. The control is pretty solid too.....I'm really excited about this kid. The quibbles here are minor: that changeup could stand further development, and how many innings are they going to let him throw? The first issue is just a statement, but the second one is an open question. Manoah had 17 innings at A-ball in 2019, then 18 innings at AAA this year before being brought to the majors. He's just under 60 innings with Toronto now....would they let him throw over 100? What if they are in the playoff picture in another few weeks? I could easily see him skipped once or twice down the stretch, or even shut down if they fall completely out of the race. That's the one thing that keeps me from ranking him as a top-30 SP for the remainder of 2021, but he's certainly there for 2022.
Cal Quantrill (SP - CLE) - Quantrill tossed his 6th QS in the past 7 starts on Wednesday, holding the A's to 2 runs on 3 hits with 3 walks and 5 strikeouts. He's been very solid in the 2nd half, although he has benefited from quite a bit of good fortune as well....the xFIP of 3.96 since the break heading into Wednesday's game was a far cry from the actual ERA of 0.90. However, we've seen a sizable uptick in swinging strike rate, soft contact rate, and GB rate, with a much smaller bump in BB rate on the negative side. I feel like there has been some significant improvement here, and I definitely feel like Quantrill is among the current top 60 SPs....5 of his past 6 outings were against top-half offenses, so the schedule wasn't the thing at all. I'm not getting carried away here, but I would currently value him as a worthy addition to a rotation in standard leagues for sure.
Tarik Skubal (SP - DET) - I really do like Skubal, who has a nice combination of bat-missing ability and decent control. He was great on Wednesday against Baltimore, throwing 6 shutout innings while allowing 5 singles and a walk with 6 K's. I don't mind using him for his next start against the Angels, but after that we run into a possible innings cap and two straight starts against the Blue Jays, one of the top hitting teams in the majors against LHP. The combination of those two items plus the increased HR rate and hard contact% as the season has progressed make me a bit leery about trusting him for the next few weeks. The September schedule looks pretty favorable after a start in Cincinnati Labor Day weekend, but we will have to see just how far the Tigers want to push him before deciding about that. I think he's a very promising young lefty with an SP2 ceiling, but past next week I may very well be out on him for the remainder of 2021.
Tanner Houck (SP - BOS) - Houck will be moving into the Boston rotation for the indefinite future, with Garrett Richards joining Martin Perez in the ranks of the recently demoted to relief duty. Houck has been very effective through 25 2/3 innings so far this year for the Sox, showing improved control and his typically solid level of strikeouts and GBs. He hasn't offered a lot of length, but that's not atypical of any younger starters nowadays....I do think he's worth a roster spot, and with a reasonable schedule over the coming weeks, he probably should find his way into your rotation quite a bit as well.
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