Hopefully you were able to read last week’s article in which I pegged a Top Five Starting Pitchers to Watch from Losing Teams. Four of those guys got starts between Wednesday and Sunday, and all four of their teams won those respective games, including two as underdogs. I’ll look to achieve the same success level this week as I pick out five different starting pitchers that are veterans and seem to have been rejuvenated in 2019. To make this list, the pitcher has to be off to a good start after coming off lackluster season(s). Some of these pitchers are one of the top reasons why their clubs are off to unexpectedly strong starts. Judge for yourself whether or not you think this success can last based upon my explanation and jump on them if the price warrants it in upcoming starts.
1. JAKE ODORIZZI (MINNESOTA)
Odorizzi’s last few seasons weren’t bad, but becoming a second ace of the Twins in the early going would have been certainly hard to predict. He has put together eight very good starts so far in 2019, and boasts a 5-2 record along with an ERA of 2.32 and WHIP of 0.94. That last category is about .4 points better than a year ago. He also has 43 strikeouts in 42 2/3 innings. Odorizzi’s numbers are even better when you consider that he has faced the Astros twice and the Yankees and Phillies once. He’ll take a current 20-inning scoreless streak into his start Wednesday night against the Angels. He is just one of the reasons why the Twins find themselves at the top of the AL Central standings midway through May.
2. TYLER GLASNOW (TAMPA BAY)
One of the other teams in the league at the top of their divisional standings unexpectedly are the Tampa Bay Rays. Their pitching has been stellar in the early going, anchored by the potent starting trio of Blake Snell, Charlie Morton and Tyler Glasnow. The contributions of the first two might have been expected, that of Glasnow to date certainly wasn’t. The fourth year pro came over from Pittsburgh last season and had a combined record of 4-16 with an ERA of well over 4 and WHIP of 1.50 . So far in his eight 2019 starts, Glasnow has gone 6-1 with a sparkling WHIP of 0.91 and 55 K’s in 48 1/3 innings. He has also walked just nine guys. He is a very hard thrower and thus has the capability of dominating games. Up until this season, he hadn’t really realized that potential.
3. LUKE WEAVER (ARIZONA)
Weaver isn’t the first pitcher out of the St. Louis farm system that has emerged as a quality starting pitcher, but he is among the rare group of hurlers that the Cardinals may have given up too soon on. After a lackluster season in 2018 in which he was 7-11 with an ERA of 4.95 & WHIP of 1.5 in St. Louis, Weaver was dealt to Arizona in the Paul Goldschmidt trade. Weaver has responded big in Phoenix, with an impressive 8-game starting stretch to the season. He has struck out 50 hitters in 45 innings to go along with a WHIP of 1.06. The D-Backs are in the thick of things in the NL West Division and they’ll need Weaver to continue to produce well to stay there. Alongside Zack Greinke & Robbie Ray, he’s part of a strong trio anchoring the rotation.
4. JERAD EICKHOFF (PHILADELPHIA)
Eickhoff has been battling injury woes for much of the last couple of seasons but in his last full load of work in 2017, he was just 4-8 in 24 starts for the Phillies with a WHIP of 1.52. Since making his first appearance in 2019, Eickhoff has sparkled in five appearances, including the last four as starts. Not exactly known as a dominant arm, he has struck out 31 hitters in 30 innings, accumulating an ERA of 1.50 & WHIP of 0.97. His emergence is perhaps one of the more unexpected reasons why Philadelphia leads the NL East at this point. He is part of a deep rotation and with a lineup that rivals any other in the National League, the Phillies figure to be a legitimate postseason threat.
5. JORDAN LYLES (PITTSBURGH)
Pittsburgh is the fifth team that Jordan Lyles has been with and owning a career ERA well over 5.00 prior to this season, it’s easy to see why he has not stuck anywhere. Perhaps Pittsburgh is where he’ll make a long-term home, as he has enjoyed great success in the early going and should continue to at pitcher-friendly PNC Park. That said, Lyles’ numbers have actually been slightly better on the road so far. Overall, he boasts a 3-1 record with an ERA of 2.09 and WHIP of 1.09. He has four starts already in which he went 6 or more innings and yielded one or fewer runs. Pittsburgh has spent some time a top the NL Central in the early going and remains within striking distance among the favorites, Chicago, Milwaukee and St Louis. Lyles has been a big part of that.