As we approach the final stretch of the MLB season, it's important to zero in on pitchers who can give us the best bang for our buck.
I'm not a huge advocate of listing pitchers on every wager. I've always been of the opinion when specific systems leave pitchers out of the equation, you have to insist on "action only."
Other times, it makes sense to list the pitchers. But who are the right ones?
I researched starting pitchers during a 30-day span (June 26-July 25), honing in on starters with an ERA below 2.50 combined with an opponent's batting average less than .200, provided the pitchers have thrown a minimum of 20 innings.
Chicago White Sox's Dylan Cease, Miami's Sandy Alcantara, Arizona's Merrill Kelly, Cleveland's Triston McKenzie, and Houston's Jose Urquidy have been the stingiest starting pitchers in that span, with a combined 1.64 ERA and an opponent's batting average of .170.
And allow me to point out, these guys are lasting an average of 6 2/3 innings per outing, which is imperative to also apply to your handicapping when looking at these pitchers. After all, it's important to know a heavily priced team has a starting pitcher with the durability to last late into games so they can neutralize lineups.
Here is a closer look at each one (L30 Days):
Cease (5-1, 0.74 ERA, .182 OBA) - Forget 30 days, over his last 11 starts, the right-hander is 6-2 with a grubby 0.42 ERA, while the White Sox are 9-2 in those games. Teams are hitting a meager .179 against him and he's registered strikes with 61% of his pitches. He also has a 2.7-to-1 strikeout ratio, with 83 strikeouts vs. 30 walks. BE WARY: if he faces the Red Sox, as he's 0-1 in two starts with a 9.00 ERA against them this season.
Alcantara (2-1, 1.42 ERA, .164 OBA) - The Miami right-hander has allowed more than two earned runs just twice this season and is sporting a ridiculous 1.81 ERA in 20 starts this season. Teams have a paltry .187 batting average against him, while he has a very stingy 3.6-to-1 strikeout ratio, with 133 strikeouts vs. 36 walks. BE WARY: in Interleague play, as he's 1-1 with a 3.29 ERA in two starts this season and 4-7 with a 3.33 ERA lifetime in 16 career starts.
Kelly (4-0, 1.57 ERA, .175 OBA) - After rough months in May and June, the Snakes' right-hander has been lights out in July with a 4-0 mark in five starts and a 1.57 ERA. He's limiting lineups to a .175 batting average and a .214 on-base percentage. He's also done a good job of keeping the ball in the park, allowing just two home runs. BE WARY: against the Dodgers, who have beaten him in all three of his starts against them (0-3, 9.69).
McKenzie (3-0, 2.20 ERA, .184 OBA) - After an atrocious June that saw the Guardians' righty hammered to the tune of a 6.44 ERA, McKenzie has allowed just one earned run in July and is 3-0 with a 0.34 ERA. He's shut down the Yankees, Royals, Tigers, and Chisox, holding them to a combined .146 batting average and allowed 0 HRs. BE WARY: when he faces the Twins, as he's 0-2 with an 8.31 ERA in three starts against them.
Urquidy (3-0, 2.43 ERA, .149 OBA) - Houston's right-hander has been spotty at times, but he's durable and has a decent lineup backing him up. Since June 21, spanning his last six starts, he is 4-1 with a 2.29 ERA and has quieted hitters to a .153 batting average and .210 on-base percentage. BE WARY: when he faces the Mariners, as he's 1-3 with a 7.58 ERA against them.