Phillies, A’s lead the way in rotations ERAs

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It should come as no surprise, but the Phillies are the one team in baseball with a rotation ERA under 3.00 halfway through the season. Here’s how the starter ERAs rank, 1-30.

1. Phillies – 2.97
2. Athletics – 3.11
3. Mariners – 3.19
4. Braves – 3.30
5. Giants – 3.35
6. Angels – 3.43
7. Padres – 3.616
8. Rays – 3.618
9. Rangers – 3.64
10. Pirates – 3.68
11. Nationals – 3.69
12. Mets – 3.81
13. Yankees – 3.83
14. White Sox – 3.857
15. Cardinals – 3.865
16. Dodgers – 3.91
17. Brewers – 3.96
18. Twins – 4.01
19. Diamondbacks – 4.02
20. Tigers – 4.06
21. Red Sox – 4.07
22. Rockies – 4.12
23. Indians – 4.21
24. Marlins – 4.31
25. Orioles – 4.38
26. Reds – 4.47
27. Blue Jays – 4.48
28. Astros – 4.59
29. Royals – 5.09
30. Cubs – 5.36

Obviously, there’s no accounting for ballpark effects or anything else there.

Those of you with long memories may recall I did an article “ranking the rotations” back in January, going strictly off my fantasy projections.  Rating the pitchers by wins, ERA, WHIP and strikeouts, I came up with the following top 30. I’ll present the list, compared to the current ERA rankings.

1. Phillies – 1
2. Giants – 5
3. Dodgers – 16
4. Red Sox – 21
5. Rays – 8
6. Marlins – 24
7. Brewers – 17
8. Cardinals – 15
9. Braves – 4
10. Tigers – 20
11. Angels – 6
12. Athletics – 2
13. Cubs – 30
14. Yankees – 13
15. Rockies – 22
16. White Sox – 14
17. Twins – 18
18. Reds – 26
19. Padres – 7
20. Rangers – 9
21. Mariners – 3
22. Blue Jays – 27
23. Astros – 28
24. Mets – 12
25. Diamondbacks – 19
26. Nationals – 11
27. Orioles – 25
28. Indians – 23
29. Pirates – 10
30. Royals – 29

Not too bad so far.  Had I been trying to rank them strictly on ERAs, the A’s and Padres certainly would have been higher, though not quite so high in either case.  I didn’t expect the Mariners and Pirates to be nearly as good.  The Dodgers and Red Sox have disappointed, but they were ranked higher for non-ERA reasons (the Dodgers because of their quality WHIPs and strikeout rates, the Red Sox because I expected the starters to win a heck of a lot of games).

Red Sox even ALCS 1-1, defeat Astros 7-5 in Game 2

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Game 2 of the ALCS, held Sunday night in Boston, was a play in three parts. For the first three innings, it was a back-and-forth affair between the offenses of the Red Sox and Astros. The middle three innings involved both team’s pitching staffs calming things down. The final third of the game saw the Red Sox add insurance. Ultimately, the Red Sox went on to win 7-4 to even the ALCS at one game apiece.

The Red Sox opened the scoring in the bottom of the first inning, with Andrew Benintendi and Rafael Devers hitting RBI singles off of a shaky Gerrit Cole. The Astros returned the salvo in the top of the second against David Price as George Springer fisted a double that just barely stayed fair down the right field line to plate two runs to tie the game. Marwin González broke the 2-2 tie in the top of the third, turning on an inside cut fastball for a two-run homer over the Green Monster. In the bottom half of the third, the Red Sox put together a rally, loading the bases with one out. After Ian Kinsler struck out, Jackie Bradley, Jr. drilled an opposite-field double off of the Monster with the carom taking left fielder Marwin González back towards the infield, allowing all three runs to score, putting the Red Sox back on top at 5-4.

Price, whose postseason woes are well-publicized, pitched better than his line indicated. He was on the hook for four runs on five hits with four walks and four strikeouts. His counterpart, Cole, went six frames, on the hook for five runs (four earned) on six hits and a pair of walks with five strikeouts.

Once Price was out of the game, Matt Barnes got four outs with nary a scrape. Ryan Brasier worked around a two-out walk in the seventh for a scoreless frame. In the bottom half of the seventh, facing Lance McCullers, Jr., Mookie Betts led off with a walk. As Benintendi struck out, Betts moved to second base on a wild pitch. During J.D. Martinez‘s at-bat, Martín Maldonado allowed a passed ball, which gave Betts the opportunity to move to third base. Martinez struck out, but Maldonado was unable to handle a pitch from reliever Josh James, so Betts ran home to score a crucial insurance run.

Rick Porcello took over in the eighth, setting down Tony Kemp, González, and Carlos Correa in 1-2-3 fashion, striking out the latter two. In the bottom half of the eighth, Betts added yet another insurance run with an RBI double to right-center.

Kimbrel has had a rough postseason thus far, giving up a run in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Yankees followed by two more in Game 4. Those struggles continued on Sunday. He got Evan Gattis to pop up, then struck out Josh Reddick. So far, so good. Unfortunately for Kimbrel, Springer poked a double to left field, then advanced to third base on a wild pitch while José Altuve batted. Altuve then ripped a single off of the Monster to bring the tying run to the plate in the form of Alex Bregman. Mercifully, for the Red Sox and their fans, Kimbrel got Bregman to fly out to Benintendi just in front of the Monster in deep left field.

David Price’s team won a postseason game he started for the first time. This was his 10th postseason start and he had been 0-8 with one no-decision.

With the ALCS tied up at one game each, the Red Sox and Astros will take Monday off to travel to Houston. Game 3 is slated for a 5:09 PM ET start on Tuesday. The Red Sox haven’t yet named a starter but the Astros will go with Dallas Keuchel.