Jerad Eickhoff: Another Phillies emerging ace?
Until his recent bad stretch, Phillies young starter Aaron Nola was considered one of the better starters in the game and an emerging ace. They might have another one in their rotation in the name of Jerad Eickhoff. On Saturday night, Eickhoff faced off against the Mets looking to bounce back after getting battered for 8 runs vs the Braves in his last outing. Eickhoff limited the Mets to 2 runs on 5 hits, a walk and 3 strikeouts in a no decision.
Through his 19 starts this season, he is 6-10 with a 3.76 ERA, 4.00 FIP, 1.24 WHIP and a 20% strikeout rate vs a 6% walk rate. He pitched very well in June, giving up just 9 earned runs in 36.1 innings across six starts, with a strikeout rate of 22%. He has given up some strikeouts for more contact, and more ground balls this season, leading to a much lower hard contact rate, as his hard contact rate has dropped from 36% to 30% this season.
Eickhoff has given up two earned runs or fewer in 11 of his 19 starts, and has had just two disaster starts all season, one in Milwaukee and one in Colorado. He owns an excellent 2.45 ERA in 66+ innings at home this season, and with more experience, his 5.51 road ERA should normalize.
The Phillies are in a rebuild right now, but with Nola, Eickhoff and Vince Velasquez, they have the makings of a solid top three in their starting rotation.
On Sunday, Rockies starter Jon Gray turned in yet another solid outing, limiting the Braves to just 5 hits and 3 walks while striking out 8 in 7 shutout innings. Gray left with the scored tied at zero, and is now 5-4 on the season with a 4.33 ERA, 3.90 FIP, 1.17 WHIP and a solid 103-32 strikeout to walk rate in 95.2 innings this season. After a rough few starts in April, Gray has pitched very well over the last two plus months, and has seen his ERA drop in each of the last three months. He has given up two runs or less in 10 of his 16 starts this season, and with the caveat that he pitches in Coors Field, Gray is showing the skill set of that of an ace. He is striking out more than a batter per inning, walking just around three batters every nine innings and is keeping the ball on the ground, a very good thing when half of your starts are at Coors, at a 48% clip thus far. He will have his disaster starts here and there, but overall, he has the skills to be a solid fantasy starter for the rest of the season and next year.
On Saturday night, Angels starter Matt Shoemaker had perhaps his best outing of his major league career. Shoemaker tossed a complete game six hit shutout vs the struggling White Sox, walking none and striking out a season high 13 batters. The win moved his record to 5-9 with a 4.08 ERA, 3.37 FIP, 1.26 WHIP and a solid 110-33 strikeout to walk rate in 106 innings pitched. He is striking out more than a batter per inning, walking fewer than two batters per nine innings, and limiting hard contact to 30% this season. He is prone to the long ball and the disaster start more than you would like, but his advanced stats show he is pitching better than his 4+ ERA indicates.
Rays third baseman Evan Longoria almost became an afterthought on draft day with so much talent at the third base position this season. With everyone focusing on Josh Donaldson, Kris Bryant, and Nolan Arenado, Longoria fell on draft boards this season. On Sunday, Longoria went 2-4 with 2 solo home runs in the Rays 5-2 win over Dylan Bundy and the Orioles. Longoria is having a bounce back season in 2016, hitting .286-.336-.533 with 21 home runs, 49 runs scored and 49 RBI. He has equalled his 21 home runs he hit all of last season, and is well on his way to his first 30 home run season since 2013. I have to imagine at some point the Rays front office ponders what it would take to deal him, as he is approaching 31 years of age, and his decline years are ahead of him.
The Dodgers are leading the wild card race in the National League, but I am not sure if they would be if it wasn’t for Justin Turner and Corey Seager from the offensive side of their lineup. Turner had a big day at the plate on Sunday, going 2-5 with a home run and 4 RBI in the Dodgers 6-5 loss to the Diamondbacks. After starting the season hitting .227 in April and .225 in May, Turner is back to the Turner we saw in 2015. He is now hitting .261-.341-.462 with 15 home runs, 41 runs scored and 50 RBI, and is on pace to hit 25+ home runs and drive in over 80 runs. If you need a replacement hitter for a hitter landing on the disabled list, there are worse choices than Turner.
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