At long last, Ranger Suarez had the start I was waiting for.
I presumed it would happen last time out. He was finally stretched out enough to go lengths required of a starting pitcher and happened to be facing the bottom-feeding Diamondbacks. But he got singled to death, had some trouble finding the strike zone and ended up with a crooked stat line.
No, it took a meeting with the first-place Rays for him to achieve his final form, allowing one run in 6 2/3 innings. He struck out seven and walked just one, bringing his season line to this:
Just to keep things in perspective, I will note that the first 27 of his 32 appearances this year came in relief, where a pitcher's repertoire isn't tested to nearly the same degree. It's not uncommon for a reliever to lose something when stretched beyond an inning or two, if not stuff-wise then certainly stats-wise.
And yet Suarez's velocity has held fairly steady. His ERA in his five starts is still only 2.14. The big test was whether he could do it over a full-length start, and for him to pass that test against the Rays of all teams is doubly impressive.
But it's 2021, right? We know better than to think ERA is predictive. Suarez's K/9 rate is only 8.8. That's barely passable these days.
Ah, but for a pitcher who succeeds mostly by putting the ball on the ground, it's outright stellar. Generally, they're pitch-to-contact types who succeed by avoiding the worst form of contact. In an era when runs are scored primarily by way of home runs, generating ground balls is a world-beating skill.
And few do it better than Suarez, whose 67.2 percent ground-ball rate would rank a distant first among qualifiers. Combined with a strikeout rate that's halfway respectable, you can understand how he's keeping runs off the board. It's the same formula that's worked for Framber Valdez.
It doesn't mean Suarez can realistically sustain an ERA below 2.00, but it does mean he's legit enough to pick up in the 61 percent of CBS Sports leagues where he's still available.
Let's see who else you might consider adding ...
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Akil Baddoo CF
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