STARTERS: BPV leaders, August 2018

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 August 2018, segregated by league:

August 2018 Baselines*

Lg   ERA   WHIP | Ctl  Dom  HR/9  GB% | H%/S%  hr/f | FAv   SwK%  FpK%  Ball% | BPV
===  ====  ==== | ===  ===  ====  === | ======  ===   ====  ====  ====  ====  =====
AL   4.81  1.36 | 2.9  7.9   1.3  42% | 31/68%  13% | 92.7   9.6%  61%    36% |  83
NL   3.75  1.25 | 2.6  8.1   1.1  44% | 30/74%  12% | 92.5  10.1%  63%    35% |  96
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
MLB  4.26  1.30 | 2.8  8.0   1.2  43% | 31/71%  13% | 92.6   9.9%  62%    36% |  90
*starting pitchers only, thru August 29

It was a bad month to roster AL SP, as they produced stats and skills that were much worse than their NL counterparts.

***

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

Think skills don't matter? Starting pitchers with a 100+ BPV during the month of August posted an average of a 3.26 ERA and 1.11 WHIP. The stats posted by sub-100 BPV starting pitchers? A 4.59 ERA and 1.36 WHIP.

Here were the most skilled starting pitchers in August:

100+ BPV, August 2018*

Name            Lg  Ctl  Dom   HR/9  GB%  H%/S%   hr/f  FAv   SwK%  FpK%  Ball%  BPV
==============  ==  ===  ====  ====  ===  ======  ====  ====  ====  ====  =====  ===
Carrasco, C     AL  1.2  11.5   0.5  55%  33/83%    8%  93.8  15.5%  62%    31%  210
Corbin, P       NL  0.8  11.1   0.3  46%  32/68%    4%  91.0  16.3%  66%    34%  202
Verlander, J    AL  1.3  13.0   3.0  25%  36/72%   24%  95.3  14.2%  67%    30%  201
deGrom, J       NL  1.9  12.4   0.2  46%  35/88%    3%  96.5  15.3%  68%    31%  197
Cole, G         AL  1.8  12.3   0.6  43%  38/63%    8%  97.0  11.6%  63%    32%  192
Fiers, M        AL  1.0  10.0   1.0  51%  25/94%   15%  90.1  10.8%  69%    32%  181
Snell, B        AL  2.1  11.8   0.7  44%  19/93%    8%  96.4  17.5%  64%    35%  178
Porcello, R     AL  1.7  10.7   2.0  42%  21/50%   23%  91.3   8.0%  71%    30%  167
Scherzer, M     NL  2.1  11.6   1.2  35%  23/88%   13%  95.0  13.3%  54%    33%  164
Bieber, S       AL  1.6  10.2   1.3  43%  34/72%   14%  92.8  11.2%  63%    34%  161
Kershaw, C      NL  0.8   8.5   0.5  50%  27/78%    8%  90.6  12.4%  74%    29%  160
Price, D        AL  1.5   9.9   0.6  44%  28/80%    9%  92.5  12.8%  59%    32%  160
Marquez, G      NL  2.1  10.6   0.3  46%  29/77%    4%  94.9  13.4%  68%    33%  157
Lucchesi, J     NL  2.9  11.4   1.0  43%  38/80%   15%  90.9  10.7%  64%    35%  149
Flaherty, J     NL  2.5  10.7   0.6  43%  19/90%    9%  93.4  15.8%  61%    34%  145
Lynn, L         NL  3.0  10.9   0.3  49%  39/65%    4%  93.6  10.0%  52%    37%  142
Glasnow, T      AL  3.4  12.2   1.1  36%  25/65%   14%  96.7  12.7%  58%    39%  141
Castillo, L     NL  1.7   9.0   2.1  45%  31/62%   23%  96.6  11.8%  72%    30%  139
Musgrove, J     AL  0.4   7.1   1.1  43%  28/70%   11%  93.6  12.2%  78%    27%  139
Junis, J        AL  2.0   9.3   0.5  45%  33/75%    7%  91.0  10.9%  62%    36%  138
Godley, Z       NL  2.0   9.4   0.3  43%  33/59%    4%   n/a  10.6%  64%    34%  137
Kluber, C       AL  1.6   8.6   0.5  45%  33/70%    7%  91.8   9.3%  62%    36%  136
Happ, J         AL  2.6  11.1   1.1  28%  27/81%   10%  92.2  13.2%  66%    32%  135
Hendricks, K    NL  1.1   8.0   0.3  45%  34/69%    3%  87.3   9.9%  67%    31%  135
Foltynewicz, M  NL  2.2   9.9   0.6  37%  27/89%    6%  96.1   8.8%  57%    36%  134
Tanaka, M       AL  1.9   8.8   1.6  48%  37/75%   17%  91.8  13.1%  66%    33%  134
Wheeler, Z      NL  2.2   9.3   0.3  47%  27/90%    4%  96.5  12.3%  55%    34%  133
Name            Lg  Ctl  Dom   HR/9  GB%  H%/S%   hr/f  FAv   SwK%  FpK%  Ball%  BPV
==============  ==  ===  ====  ====  ===  ======  ====  ====  ====  ====  =====  ===
Leake, M        AL  0.7   7.1   0.7  46%  31/69%    8%  89.3   7.8%  60%    30%  133
Pivetta, N      NL  1.9   8.9   1.3  43%  31/66%   15%  95.0   9.9%  68%    33%  129
Nola, A         NL  2.4   9.3   0.3  48%  27/90%    5%  92.7  13.4%  71%    32%  129
Buehler, W      NL  3.4  10.7   0.9  49%  24/92%   16%  96.5  11.0%  60%    35%  129
Severino, L     AL  2.6  10.5   1.7  30%  37/71%   18%  97.4  11.3%  66%    35%  127
Harvey, M       NL  1.7   8.4   1.0  40%  39/72%   10%  94.0   7.7%  66%    36%  124
Sanchez, A      NL  2.8   9.2   1.1  57%  26/75%   17%  90.5   7.6%  64%    38%  124
Hamels, C       NL  2.5   8.8   0.0  56%  28/92%    0%  93.1  12.3%  60%    37%  123
Giolito, L      AL  2.9   9.3   1.2  55%  27/63%   17%  93.6  10.2%  60%    35%  122
DeSclafani, A   NL  1.1   7.1   0.8  45%  28/77%    9%  93.5   9.2%  63%    32%  122
Heaney, A       AL  1.8   8.2   1.2  46%  37/53%   14%   n/a  10.8%  61%    34%  122
Gonzales, M     AL  1.4   7.7   1.8  40%  46/49%   15%   n/a   8.6%  73%    30%  119
Taillon, J      NL  1.7   7.7   0.7  47%  32/83%    9%  95.2  12.0%  58%    35%  118
Chen, W         NL  2.3   8.9   1.2  41%  24/95%   10%  91.9   9.5%  67%    36%  117
Syndergaard, N  NL  2.4   8.1   0.2  55%  35/62%    4%  98.0  13.9%  59%    35%  114
Freeland, K     NL  3.6  10.0   0.5  52%  32/84%    7%  92.3   9.8%  69%    36%  114
Gray, J         NL  1.3   7.2   1.6  41%  26/68%   18%  94.1  13.1%  66%    35%  113
Mikolas, M      NL  1.0   6.4   1.2  46%  32/78%   15%  93.9   9.6%  67%    32%  112
Gaviglio, S     AL  2.3   8.0   1.3  48%  36/70%   16%   n/a  10.3%  66%    36%  110
Buchholz, C     NL  1.5   7.0   0.8  46%  26/94%    8%  90.0   9.7%  70%    31%  109
Sabathia, C     AL  4.7  11.8   0.3  44%  30/77%    4%   n/a  12.3%  58%    33%  107
Vargas, J       NL  2.6   8.4   0.6  47%  32/70%    8%  86.0  12.6%  63%    39%  106
Erlin, R        NL  1.1   6.3   0.7  43%  35/68%    7%  90.8   8.1%  64%    33%  106
Anderson, B     AL  0.6   4.6   0.3  61%  21/70%    6%  91.0   7.7%  65%    33%  105
Eflin, Z        NL  2.5   8.0   1.2  48%  35/68%   12%  94.8   8.8%  73%    32%  103
Keller, B       AL  2.8   8.3   0.9  49%  32/80%   11%  93.9   9.9%  60%    38%  102
*min 20 IP, thru August 29

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

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Shane Bieber (RHP, CLE) posted a so-so 3.81 ERA in August, but his base skills warranted a much better fate: 10.2 Dom, 1.6 Ctl, 43% GB%, 161 BPV. A 34% H% was the reason for his near-4 ERA. While he doesn't have the pedigree of other young SP, he remains a good hold down the stretch due to his overlooked skills and command-heavy profile.

Carlos Carrasco (RHP, CLE) was the most skilled starting pitcher in the game during August: 11.5 Dom, 1.2 Ctl, 55% GB%, 210 BPV. He missed bats at an elite clip (15.5% SwK%) and kept the ball over the plate (31% ball%). With his combination of strikeouts and groundballs, Carrasco continues to flash ace-like upside.

Gerrit Cole (RHP, HOU) has transformed himself into an ace in 2018. While he didn't seem to look the part in August (4.30 ERA), his skills were some of the best in the game: 12.3 Dom, 1.8 Ctl, 43% GB%, 192 BPV. He missed bats (11.6% SwK%) and kept the ball over the plate (32% ball%).

Mike Fiers (RHP, OAK) is a veteran pitcher who quietly looked like a rotation anchor in August. He had a 1.38 ERA and 0.81 WHIP that month. While those stats were aided by a friendly 25% H% and 94% S%, his skills were firmly some of the best in the game: 10.0 Dom, 1.0 Ctl, 51% GB%, 181 BPV. The key for him was pounding the strike zone (69% FpK%, 32% ball%).

Lucas Giolito (RHP, CHW) finally started to show flashes of his upside in August. He refined his pitch mix in August, a tweak that saw his skills surge: 9.3 Dom, 2.9 Ctl, 55% GB%, 122 BPV. A 63% S% and 17% hr/f kept his 4.35 ERA higher than it should have been. We need to see more to believe he's back on his prior high-upside path, but if you play in a deep keeper league, his recent flash is worthy of your attention.

Tyler Glasnow (RHP, TAM) continues to tease us with his upside. He showed glimpses of his potential as a SP in August (3.80 ERA, 0.97 WHIP), a surge that was very evident in his elite rate of strikeouts: 12.2 Dom, 3.4 Ctl, 36% GB%, 141 BPV. He has a fresh start with a new club and still has the pedigree to make an impact. But he needs to show these kind of skills for an extended period as a SP to stick in that kind of role, and even when he was good in August, he struggled to keep the ball over the plate (39% ball%). He's a high risk/reward speculation down the stretch.

Marco Gonzales (LHP, SEA) put up a horrible 10.35 ERA and 2.05 WHIP over four starts in August. Those who dumped him after that bad stretch likely will regret it in September, as his August skills were really good: 7.7 Dom, 1.4 Ctl, 40% GB%, 119 BPV. Few pitchers got more strikes early (73% FpK%) and often (30% ball%) than Gonzales did.

J.A. Happ (LHP, NYY) can look like an impact SP when he's commanding his fastball. Such was the case during his first four starts in August: 11.1 Dom, 2.6 Ctl, 28% GB%, 135 BPV. As a flyball pitcher in Yankee Stadium, he'll continue to be prone to blowups. But if you have a weak staff, Happ can still be a worthwhile upgrade.

Andrew Heaney (LHP, LAA) is being dumped in some leagues after the rough 6.67 ERA and 1.42 WHIP he posted during the month of August. Don't follow suit. His skills that month were rock-solid: 8.2 Dom, 1.8 Ctl, 46% GB%, 122 BPV. A 37% H% and 53% S% conspired to torpedo his surface stats.

Lance Lynn (RHP, NYY) delivered marginal results in August, at least on the surface (4.61 ERA, 1.39 WHIP). Those looking to speculate on a SP in September could do worse than taking a shot on Lynn though. His skills in August were really good: 10.9 Dom, 3.0 Ctl, 49% GB%, 142 BPV. Just keep him on the bench against lefty-loaded lineups, as his chronic struggles against them aren't showing any reason for improvement.
 

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Jack Flaherty (RHP, STL) looked like a budding rotation anchor in August. He had a 1.13 ERA and 0.72 WHIP that month, marks that were backed by a strong collection of skills: 10.7 Dom, 2.5 Ctl, 43% GB%, 145 BPV. Few pitchers missed more bats in August than Flaherty did (15.8% SwK%). We can't expect him to put up another 19% H% or 90% S% like he did in August, but there's also no reason to sell high here.

Cole Hamels (LHP, CHC) turned back the clock a bit in August. He had a nifty 0.69 ERA and 1.00 WHIP over 39 IP in August. Those marks were deflated by a 92% S% and 0% hr/f. But he did generate swinging strikes at a high rate (12.3% SwK%) and kept the ball on the ground (56% GB%). He's a good stretch-run hold.

Joey Lucchesi (LHP, SD) is a young lefty whose upside came out during the month of August. He had a good 3.18 ERA over 28 IP, a mark that came with good support from his skills: 11.4 Dom, 2.9 Ctl, 43% GB%, 149 BPV. With a 3.0+ Cmd against lefty and righty bats and a 100+ BPV over three separate months, Lucchesi will carry some breakout appeal heading into 2019.

German Marquez (RHP, COL) continued his second half surge for most of August. He posted an elite 2.12 ERA and 0.94 WHIP that month, both of which came with the backing of some elite skills: 10.6 Dom, 2.1 Ctl, 46% GB%, 157 BPV. His top-tier 13.4% SwK%, 68% FpK%, and 33% ball% supported his excellent command too. Early 2019 breakout targets don't get much better than Marquez.

Joe Musgrove (RHP, PIT) had a strong 3.38 ERA and 0.96 WHIP in August. The reason for his elite stats can be credited to pinpoint control. No pitcher threw more first-pitch strikes (78% FpK%) or a higher volume of strikes (27% ball%) than Musgrove did. And he also kept hitters off balance (12.2% SwK%). A healthy Musgrove is another pitcher who will carry breakout potential heading into next season.

Aaron Nola (RHP, PHI) firmly looked like an elite pitcher in August (1.06 ERA, 0.94 WHIP). While we can't expect his 90% S% and 5% hr/f to repeat, we can't argue with his skill foundation: 9.3 Dom, 2.4 Ctl, 48% GB%, 129 BPV. His command sub-indicators were even better: 13.4% SwK%, 71% FpK%, 32% ball%. With a 125+ BPV in three of the last four months, Nola should finish strong and is setting himself up to be a legitimate top 50 draft pick in 2019.

Zack Wheeler (RHP, NYM) is another pitcher who tapped into his former upside in August. He had a 1.09 ERA and 0.94 WHIP that month. And those stats were supported by very good skills: 9.3 Dom, 2.2 Ctl, 47% GB%, 133 BPV. His fastball velocity was good (96.5 mph) and he was hard to make contact against (12.3% SwK%). In fact, his fastball velocity, swinging strike rate, and first-pitch strike rate all have never been better.


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