STARTERS: BPV leaders, July 2017

Let's continue our monthly look back at the starting pitchers who posted the best skills during the previous month.

First, here were the aggregate stats and skills posted by starting pitchers in July 2017, segregated by league:

July 2017 Baselines*

Lg  ERA   WHIP | Ctl  Dom  HR/9  GB% | H%   S%   hr/f | FAv   SwK%  FpK%  Ball% | BPV
==  ====  ==== | ===  ===  ====  === | ===  ===  ==== | ====  ====  ====  ===== | ===
AL  4.75  1.37 | 3.2  8.0   1.4  42% | 31%  69%   14% | 92.7 10.0%   60%    37% |  77
NL  4.30  1.34 | 3.0  8.2   1.2  45% | 31%  72%   14% | 92.8  9.8%   61%    36% |  89
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
MLB 4.53  1.36 | 3.1  8.1   1.3  43% | 31%  70%   14% | 92.7  9.9%   61%    36% |  83
*starting pitchers only

***

Let's dig deeper into these aggregate stats to find the SP who posted the best skills in July.

Here were the most skilled starting pitchers in July:

100+ BPV, July 2017*

Name            Lg  Ctl  Dom   HR/9  GB%  H%/S%   hr/f  FAv   SwK%  FpK%  Ball%  BPV
==============  ==  ===  ====  ====  ===  ======  ====  ====  ====  ====  =====  ===
Kluber, C       AL  1.8  14.7   1.1  44%  36/80%   17%  92.7   19%   67%    33%  237
Sale, C         AL  1.6  14.5   0.5  30%  32/92%    5%  94.0   15%   65%    31%  228
Tanaka, M       AL  0.6  11.5   1.6  51%  30/67%   21%  92.0   16%   61%    33%  220
Kershaw, C      NL  1.4  11.9   0.4  56%  27/94%    6%  92.7   19%   71%    31%  209
Hill, R         NL  1.5  11.6   0.6  41%  26/86%    8%  89.0   13%   65%    29%  188
Paxton, J       AL  1.4  10.5   0.0  52%  28/81%    0%  95.6   14%   66%    33%  183
Nelson, J       NL  1.8  11.2   1.2  51%  32/75%   20%  94.2   12%   63%    33%  182
Scherzer, M     NL  3.4  14.2   1.4  38%  31/83%   19%  94.0   17%   71%    33%  180
Godley, Z       NL  2.6  11.8   0.7  53%  33/64%   15%  90.2   15%   59%    38%  175
Nola, A         NL  2.1  11.4   0.5  46%  29/90%    7%  92.6   13%   62%    33%  172
Wacha, M        NL  1.4  10.2   0.6  47%  27/80%    8%  95.0   12%   63%    35%  171
Quintana, J     NL  2.8  12.6   1.3  42%  32/75%   15%  92.6    9%   60%    37%  169
Carrasco, C     AL  1.7  10.7   1.1  41%  34/76%   13%  94.1   14%   59%    35%  167
Marquez, G      NL  1.9  10.5   1.1  48%  31/71%   17%  95.4   12%   61%    33%  165
Gausman, K      AL  2.9  11.7   1.3  42%  36/78%   20%  95.5   15%   67%    35%  163
deGrom, J       NL  1.3   9.3   1.3  43%  28/83%   13%  94.9   12%   67%    30%  155
Archer, C       AL  3.7  13.1   1.1  36%  40/80%   13%  95.8   16%   68%    35%  150
Greinke, Z      NL  1.3   8.7   0.8  49%  25/81%    9%  90.7   12%   69%    33%  148
Cole, G         NL  2.0   9.6   0.8  50%  31/84%   10%  96.0   10%   59%    36%  147
Severino, L     AL  2.6  10.8   0.5  41%  34/79%    6%  97.4   13%   67%    32%  144
Samardzija, J   NL  1.2   8.6   1.5  43%  36/60%   14%  94.2   10%   69%    31%  143
Gray, S         AL  2.6   9.3   0.4  59%  27/87%    7%  93.5   14%   64%    38%  134
Fiers, M        AL  3.9  12.9   1.3  27%  32/83%   13%  89.5    9%   61%    36%  132
Wainwright, A   NL  1.1   7.6   1.1  47%  29/65%   14%  90.0    8%   68%    34%  132
Lester, J       NL  2.0   8.5   2.3  53%  26/71%   29%  91.4   11%   54%    37%  131
Darvish, Y      NL  2.4   9.9   2.1  39%  36/54%   19%  94.8   14%   65%    30%  130
Castillo, L     NL  2.4   8.9   1.0  55%  27/69%   13%  97.6   11%   52%    38%  129
Walker, T       NL  2.4   9.7   1.5  41%  26/73%   17%  93.6    8%   66%    34%  128
Tomlin, J       AL  0.9   7.8   1.2  36%  24/67%   14%  87.8    9%   66%    33%  128
Corbin, P       NL  3.1  10.6   0.9  44%  39/83%   12%  92.3   14%   66%    36%  128
Price, D        AL  2.5   9.7   0.4  43%  36/81%    4%  93.2   12%   71%    32%  127
Gray, Jon       NL  2.5   9.5   1.4  45%  42/62%   15%  95.8    8%   63%    34%  127
Nova, I         NL  1.3   7.5   2.5  46%  34/64%   30%  93.1   11%   66%    32%  126
Rodon, C        AL  4.9  13.2   2.4  37%  38/69%   26%  93.4   13%   52%    40%  121
Miranda, A      AL  2.1   9.8   2.5  21%  28/50%   16%  92.5   14%   59%    34%  121
Hamels, C       AL  1.6   7.3   1.1  52%  24/66%   14%  92.2   10%   57%    35%  118
Suter, B        NL  1.5   7.5   0.3  45%  29/86%    4%  86.2   10%   70%    31%  118
Duffy, D        AL  0.9   7.1   0.7  35%  31/72%    6%  92.7   11%   67%    30%  116
Porcello, R     AL  1.3   6.9   2.0  43%  23/85%   19%  91.8    7%   67%    32%  110
Sanchez, A      AL  2.0   8.1   1.0  38%  37/61%    9%  90.7    7%   56%    37%  110
Garcia, J       AL  2.4   7.8   0.0  55%  36/67%    0%  90.9   11%   62%    36%  109
Morton, C       AL  3.2   9.4   1.2  49%  21/72%   13%  95.4   10%   70%    36%  109
Wood, A         NL  2.6   8.4   1.1  48%  31/70%   15%   n/a   12%   61%    33%  108
Kennedy, I      AL  2.5   8.6   0.9  40%  29/70%    9%  92.0   10%   59%    36%  106
Pivetta, N      NL  2.5   8.4   2.0  41%  22/52%   17%  94.8    9%   69%    33%  104
*min 20 IP

Let's take a closer look at a bunch of noteworthy skill performances in July, while putting our usual focus on buying opportunities on guys who might be available in deep leagues.
 

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Chris Archer (RHP, TAM) posted a rough 1.42 WHIP in July, but that mark was driven by a crazy 40% H%, the highest hit rate of any SP in the AL. His underlying skills were ace-like: 13.1 Dom, 3.7 Ctl, 36% GB%, 150 BPV. And they came with the backing of an excellent 16% SwK% and 68% FpK%. Archer has the goods to post a 3.00 ERA over the final two months.

Parker Bridwell (RHP, LAA) quietly had a big month in July, albeit over a small four-start sample (1.69 ERA, 0.90 WHIP in 27 IP). A closer look reveals that a 22% H% and 86% S% were the primary drivers of his elite stats. His base skills were more average than impactful: 6.8 Dom, 2.0 Ctl, 41% GB%, 86 BPV. However, his command sub-indicators did give some reason for hope (11% SwK%, 65% FpK%), so he could be worthy of speculation at the back of your rotation in deep AL-only leagues.

Mike Clevinger (RHP, CLE) is another deep-league speculative target. While his overall stats (1.54 WHIP) and skills (36 BPV) weren't very appealing in July, he continued to miss bats a high clip (11% SwK%). A low volume of strikes thrown (42% ball%) helped to drive up his WHIP and caused him to be volatile. With top-flight swing-and-miss stuff, Clevinger is a decent play in very deep leagues for those needing a push in strikeouts over the final two months.

Kevin Gausman (RHP, BAL) started to put everything back together in July (3.63 ERA, 1.30 WHIP). And those marks weren't flukes. His base skills were fantastic: 11.7 Dom, 2.9 Ctl, 52% GB%, 163 BPV. And they were fully supported by a 15% SwK% and 67% FpK%. If his 36% H% and 20% hr/f were more normalized, his surface stats would have been much better. Gausman is a premium risk/reward play for the balance of the season.

Ariel Miranda (LHP, SEA) had a rough 6.55 ERA over four starts in July. But his skills were actually intriguing over that small sample: 9.8 Dom, 2.1 Ctl, 21% GB%, 121 BPV. He also posted an attractive 14% SwK% and 34% ball% that month. As an extreme flyball pitcher, you'll want to avoid using him in HR-friendly parks. And his near-5.00 xERA confirms he's got some significant downside. But he's another arm worthy of consideration if you play in an extremely deep league.

James Paxton (LHP, SEA) has delivered on his breakout potential so far in 2017 (2.68 ERA, 1.10 WHIP in 107 IP). July was his best month yet, both on the surface (1.37 ERA, 0.79 WHIP) and beneath it: 10.5 Dom, 1.4 Ctl, 52% GB%, 183 BPV. And supporting those skills were a 14% SwK%, 66% FpK%, and 33% ball%. If he can stay healthy, Paxton should continue to be a difference-maker down the stretch.

Carlos Rodon (LHP, CHW) was more famine than feast in July, at least on the surface (6.23 ERA, 1.65 WHIP). But those needing to gamble on a SP down the stretch could do worse than speculating on Rondon. His skills in July were very good (121 BPV), even if his wildness (4.9 Ctl) was predictable given his ugly 52% FpK% and 40% ball%. Still, his 38% H% and 26% hr/f that month likely won't repeat, and if he can tighten up his control a bit, his swing-and-miss stuff still gives him upper-tier potential.

Anibal Sanchez (RHP, DET) had another rollercoaster month in July (5.53 ERA, 1.41 WHIP in 27 IP). Again, his skills were much better than his stats (110 BPV). But taking away another layer from his skill foundation reveals some big warts: 7% SwK%, 56% FpK%, 37% ball%. He didn't miss any bats or get strike one at a high rate in July. He should be left only for speculation in the very deepest of AL-only leagues.

Masahiro Tanaka (RHP, NYY) got on a roll in July. He improved his ERA for the second straight month (3.82 ERA), and his skills were the second-best in the AL: 11.5 Dom, 0.6 Ctl, 41% GB%, 220 BPV. His 16% SwK% and 33% ball% fully supported his top-tier command too. A 21% hr/f was the only reason his ERA hovered close to 4.00. Tanaka has a great shot at finishing strong.
 

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Luis Castillo (RHP, CIN) is a rookie pitcher who looked like an impact hurler in July (3.62 ERA, 1.04 WHIP). And those marks weren't flukes; they came with strong skills support: 8.9 Dom, 2.4 Ctl, 55% GB%, 129 BPV. However, the risk-averse should note that he had some big struggles getting strike one (52% FpK%) and throwing a high volume of strikes (38% ball%). Those are weaknesses that likely will lead to his control eroding down the stretch.

Patrick Corbin (LHP, ARI) had a weird stat line in July (3.10 ERA, 1.52 WHIP). Blame a 39% H% for his high WHIP and a friendly 83% S% for his low ERA. In aggregate, his skills were very strong: 10.6 Dom, 3.1 Ctl, 44% GB%, 128 BPV. As were a couple of his command sub-indicators: 14% SwK%, 66% FpK%. There's some good upside here if you can handle his volatility.

Yu Darvish (RHP, LA) struggled through a really rough July before being traded to the NL (7.20 ERA, 1.47 WHIP in 30 IP). Or did he? His underlying skills remained excellent: 9.9 Dom, 2.4 Ctl, 39% GB%, 130 BPV. He was victimized by a 36% H%, 54% S%, and 19% hr/f. His command sub-indicators were excellent too: 14% SwK%, 65% FpK%, 30% ball%. The gopheritis that has plagued him at times this season should be much less of a risk now that he's pitching in the NL West.

Jacob deGrom (RHP, NYM) looked like an ace again in July, as he combined elite surface stats (2.52 ERA, 0.95 WHIP) with top-tier skills: 9.3 Dom, 1.3 Ctl, 43% GB%, 155 BPV. They had the full support of his command sub-indicators too: 12% SwK%, 67% FpK%, 30% ball%. With a 114+ BPV in each month this season, deGrom should finish the season strong if he can stay healthy.

Zack Godley (RHP, ARI) was so-so on the surface in July (4.07 ERA), but his underlying skills were firmly electric: 11.8 Dom, 2.6 Ctl, 53% GB%, 175 BPV. His excellent 15% SwK% supported his high level of strikeouts too. Just bear in mind that walks could derail his recent surge, as his 59% FpK% and 38% ball% combo in July suggests that his sub-3.0 Ctl probably isn't sustainable.

Rich Hill (LHP, LA) looked like a legit ace in July. His stats were superb (1.45, 0.77 WHIP), and his skills fully backed them up: 11.6 Dom, 1.5 Ctl, 41% GB%, 188 BPV. As did his sub-skills: 13% SwK%, 65% FpK%, 29% ball%. He's a stretch-run health gamble with good upside.

German Marquez (RHP, COL) is putting up a 4+ ERA in his sophomore campaign, so he's not owned in a lot of leagues. But at age 22 and with a 104 BPV for the season, Marquez certainly has made some nice strides so far in 2017. He put everything together in July (3.51 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 165 BPV). He also has made some really nice gains against lefties (1.8 Cmd vL in '16, 2.9 Cmd vL in '17). He's another good high-risk, high-reward speculative target.

Jimmy Nelson (RHP, MIL) continues to be on a roll. He put up a 3.23 ERA and 1.04 WHIP over five starts in July, and his skills portfolio keeps suggesting that we should continue to invest: 11.2 Dom, 1.8 Ctl, 51% GB%, 182 BPV. His 12% SwK%, 63% FpK%, and 33% ball% confirm that he's not someone you should be selling high on.

Nick Pivetta (RHP, PHI) has not produced consistent results during his rookie season (5.42 ERA, 1.38 WHIP). That said, the skills he posted in July were the best we've seen from him all season: 8.4 Dom, 2.5 Ctl, 41% GB%, 104 BPV. Furthermore, his big control gains were supported by some very good control sub-indicators: 69% FpK%, 33% ball%. If he can make strides to limit the power that RHers show against him (.991 OPS vR), Pivetta's usability would expand to more shallower formats.

Jeff Samardzija (RHP, SF) had another rough month on the surface in July (5.64 ERA). That said, buy-low targets still don't get any better than Samardzija. His skills in July continued to scream buy: 8.6 Dom, 1.2 Ctl, 43% GB%, 143 BPV. And they received full support from his 10% SwK%, 69% FpK%, and 31% ball%. A 36% H% and 60% S% teamed to torpedo his surface stats.

Brent Suter (LHP, MIL) looked like an upper-tier SP in July, at least on the surface (1.50 ERA, 1.00 WHIP). His underlying skills were intriguing too: 7.5 Dom, 1.5 Ctl, 45% GB%, 118 BPV. With soft-tossing stuff and elite first-pitch strike ability (71% FpK%), Suter is looking like a lefty version of Josh Tomlin (RHP, CLE). Which means you should use him as a WHIP target instead of an ERA one, as it's likely he will go through stretches where he is hit hard.

Michael Wacha (RHP, STL) seemingly got a new shoulder in July. His four-seam fastball sat in the mid-90s, which helped him produce excellent stats (1.93 ERA, 0.83 WHIP) and strong supporting skills: 10.2 Dom, 1.4 Ctl, 47% GB%, 171 BPV. His 12% SwK%, 63% FpK%, and 35% ball% all gave pretty solid backing to his command. He remains someone who could go down with a significant injury pretty quickly given his prior shoulder woes, but if you can take on that risk, keep riding him.


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.