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August is approaching and with it the tsunami that is football.

I will offer up three arms in this edition of Missives from the Mound, all armed with devastating breaking balls.

These pitchers can be classified as one who has arrived, one who offers hope in the desert and another who is figuring out Coors Field?

There is also the ERA minus FIP table below, which include additional arms of interest to speculate on.

Let’s get to it!

Futures Market

Lance McCullers, RHP, Houston Astros

After missing the first month of the season, this stud’s game is ascending leaving McCullers on the cusp.

Lance is armed with a crazy good curve which has become his primary pitch in terms of usage (48.62%) and his whiff pitch (21.59%) in 2016, he is also equipped with a mid 90’s heater but his fourseam has decreased in usage from last season (53.33% vs 41.28%).

One major flaw has been control, as is the case with the vast majority of young pitchers who struggle with commanding their pitchers and this twenty-two year old is no different. His big league resume while brief is very impressive and if McCullers was a stock I’d be buying up shares on the futures market.

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Career Statics:

• 35 GS
• 202.0 IP
• 229 K
• 26.9 K%
• 10.2 BB%
• 50.4 GB%
• 3.21 ERA
• 3.07 FIP
• 3.47 xERA
• 1.32 WHIP

2016 Season:

• 13 GS
• 76.1 IP
• 100 K
• 30.1 K%
• 13.3 BB%
• 57.5 GB%
• 3.18 ERA
• 2.76 FIP
• 3.23 xERA
• 1.53 WHIP

2015 Season:

• 22 GS
• 125.2 IP
• 129 K
• 24.8 K%
• 8.3 BB%
• 46.5 GB%
• 3.22 ERA
• 3.26 FIP
• 3.48 xERA
• 1.19 WHIP

Robbie Ray, LHP, Arizona Diamondbacks

The Diamondbacks rotation has been a disaster with Greinke on the disabled list, Shelby Miller just being all sorts of miserable and Rubby De La Rosa succumbing to injury but Ray has offered hope. Now with his third organization, this twenty-four year old has found a home in the desert.

Ray relies heavily on his fastball @ 70% clip, fourseam (48.58%) and sinker (21.99%) but his slide piece is the swing and miss pitch (22.49%). Robbie has struck out 143 batters in 115 innings pitched this season, good for 27.7 K% and combing that with 45.6 GB% has made him a very interest arm.

Also of note, is his 4.70 ERA but Ray’s ERA indicators are very encouraging with 3.68 FIP and 3.51 xERA on the season.

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2016 Home Stats:

• 55.2 IP
• 61 K
• 24.3 K%
• 7.6 BB%
• 45.5 GB%
• 14.0 HR/FB
• 5.17 ERA
• 3.82 FIP
• 1.53 WHIP

2016 Away Stats:

• 59.1 IP
• 82 K
• 30.8 K%
• 9.8 BB%
• 45.8 GB%
• 16.7 HR/FB
• 5.17 ERA
• 3.54 FIP
• 1.47 WHIP

Jon Gray, RHP, Colorado Rockies

Colorado’s first round pick and the third overall selection in Major League Baseball’s 2013 June Amateur Draft is starting to fulfill his promise.

Coors Field has always been the place where starting pitchers eventually implode but Gray has held his own with impressive underlying skills in this house of horrors. Jon throws his 96 mph fastball over 50% of the time, four-seam (47.36) and sinker (7.87) but the lethal weapon is his slider and the whiff master (26.22%).

This is one Rockies starting pitcher who should remain on your radar.

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2016 Season:

• 18 GS
• 109.2 IP
• 114 K
• 25.4 K%
• 7.8 BB%
• 46.3 GB%
• 3.94 ERA
• 3.80 FIP
• 3.41 xERA
• 1.15 WHIP

2016 Coors Field

• 49 IP
• 55 K
• 27.4 K%
• 5.0 BB%
• 51.9 GB%
• 20.6 HR/FB
• 4.22 ERA
• 3.61 FIP
• 1.08 WHIP

Here are some additional arms of interest when playing the futures market and measuring out the metrics with ERA minus FIP.

ERA minus FIP Table

PlayerTeamIPERAFIPE-FxERA
Aaron NolaPHI111.04.783.07 1.71 3.18
James PaxtonSEA65.14.273.091.183.74
Michael PinedaNYY113.15.003.861.143.37
Robbie RayARI115.04.703.681.023.51
Marcus StromanTOR135.14.923.930.993.63
Matt ShoemakerLAA118.24.173.290.883.81
Sean ManaeaOAK86.24.633.960.674.02
Lance McCullersHOU76.13.182.760.433.23
Jon GrayCOL109.23.943.800.143.41
Steven MatzNYM113.03.353.350.003.50

Matthew Modica
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Matthew Modica

Writer at CTMBaseball.com
Matt Modica enjoyed a decade-long career on Wall St. and then embarked on a second career in film production, while living in Los Angeles and Hawaii. Matt is currently the author of the 2015 Starting Pitching Index at CTMbaseball.com and he's a high stakes Fantasy enthusiast.
Matthew Modica
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