Pitching fans rejoice. For all the talk about MLB wanting to revitalize offense, 2021 is playing out more like the Deadball Era part two. At this point it seems almost guaranteed that one of this week’s top pitching matchups from May 9-May 15 will feature yet another no hitter. Note that all game times are in EST and each matchup is subject to change.
Kicking things off with an NL East showdown, Nola (2.89 ERA) enters this week primed for another thrilling outing against the Braves. In addition to having great career numbers against Atlanta, he is also fresh off a 10-strikeout performance last week against Milwaukee. His opponent is no slouch, however, as Ynoa (2.36 ERA) is finally breaking out for the Braves. Last week, he had the best start of his young career, firing seven innings at Washington without giving up an earned run.
Speaking of long awaited breakouts, Gibson (2.40 ERA) is finally coming into his own this year. For the second time this season, he went eight innings in his last start, giving up a couple of home runs, but striking out eight. Wood (1.96 ERA) has similarly rediscovered his old self. While he wasn’t at his best in Colorado last week (two runs, five innings), he dominated the Rockies a week earlier at home, striking out nine over six innings.
One of the pitchers to throw a no hitter this season, Means (1.37 ERA) is making an early case for AL Cy Young consideration. Even before his historic, 12-strikeout performance last week, he was completely shutting down the competition, winning back-to-back decisions against the Athletics. Stroman (2.12 ERA) is also doing his best to potentially sneak onto a few NL Cy Young ballots by season’s end. Though he’s coming off a couple rough outings, if the Mets defense can support him, results should be more in line with his one-run, eight-inning outing at Colorado on April 18.
A duel between a couple more darkhorse Cy Young hopefuls, Happ (1.91 ERA) is making a solid case for the award with his unexpected age-38 resurgence. After two straight starts of at least seven innings, he took a step back last week going just 5.1. Still, he only surrendered one run on four hits. As for Cease (2.37 ERA), he’s coming into this game riding high on two of his best starts yet. After striking out nine over seven shutout innings against Detroit, he followed this up with an 11-strikeout, six-inning shutout of the Reds last week.
Cole (1.61 ERA) comes into this matchup leading the league with an unreal 22.00 K/BB. Though he only struck out four in a solid seven-inning performance against the Astros last week, he reached double digit Ks in three straight outings before that. Fleming (2.81 ERA) is like the polar opposite to Cole, as the groundball pitcher owns 1.50 K/BB. That hasn’t stopped him from achieving success, however, as he’s yet to give up more than three runs in any outing this year.
Making the most in his first year as a starter since 2018, Gant (2.15 ERA) has given up just four runs over his last 21.1 innings. His league-worst 24 walks may be concerning, but if he can keep finding ways to get out of trouble he might just make it. There won’t be much room for error against Woodruff (1.73 ERA), though, as Milwaukee’s ace continues to make a mockery of the league’s best hitters. Last week was especially noteworthy as he struck out 11 batters, his most since 2019, over 6.2 innings of one run ball in Philadelphia.
Another marquee matchup between the Cardinals and Brewers, this duel is contingent on Burnes (1.53 ERA) coming off the injured list in time, which is anything but guaranteed. Sidelined with an unannounced injury since April 29, the decision is expected to be made shortly. If Burnes does return, he will finally get another chance to break Kenley Jansen‘s record for the most consecutive strikeouts without a walk to begin a season (51). Meanwhile, Flaherty (2.83 ERA) is looking for a repeat of his excellent start last week. Taking on the Rockies, he went seven scoreless, complete with six strikeouts vs. only three hits.
In a showdown of old vs. young, the 36-year-old Scherzer (2.54 ERA) is taking on the 26-year-old Widener (2.82 ERA). Scherzer is red hot after firing nine impressive innings against the Marlins last week, only to follow that up with a 14-strikeout game against the Yankees. Widener, on the other hand, is coming off his worst yet, giving up four earned over 5.1 innings. Luckily, the first year starter has alternated between good and bad starts, so there’s hope for him to get back on the plus side this week.
Huascar Ynoa (ATL) vs. Eric Lauer (MIL) 7:10 PM
Ynoa winds up bookending this week. If his outing on Sunday goes well, he’ll enter this start with a lot of momentum at a time when both he and the Braves need it most. As for Lauer (1.64 ERA), he’ll hope to continue his unexpected success after making his debut on April 29 in place of the injured Brett Anderson. He was great in his first start, going five scoreless against the Dodgers, and put up solid numbers against Philadelphia last week as he struck out seven over six innings.
Featured Image Courtesy of Jon Meoli/Baltimore Sun.
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