By David Ferris
Brandon League, RP, Dodgers: It's been a smooth landing in LA, as League has his mechanics back in order and a key role in the bullpen. He's fashioned nine straight scoreless innings - along with 15 strikeouts - and he's become the head of the closer committee since Kenley Jansen (irregular heartbeat) hit the disabled list. Forget the bad ending in Seattle; League can get us those critical handshakes down the stretch.
A.J. Griffin, SP, Athletics: What's not to like here? He's yet to allow more than three runs in any Oakland turn, and he's collecting four strikeouts for every walk. A platoon split hasn't shown up yet, as righties and lefties are both hitting under .200 against Griffin. The deep Oakland pitching depth strikes again. Griffin's next two starts are on the road, not that we're worried about the environments in Seattle and Anaheim.
Zach Britton, SP, Orioles: When he initially hit the scene we thought he'd be more of a pitch-to-contact arm than anything else, so it's encouraging to see 29 strikeouts for Britton over his last 28.2 innings. The 0.94 ERA over that span is obviously unsustainable, but we're not going to sweat his challenging division for the balance of the year. Britton helps himself when the batters do make contact, inducing ground balls a whopping 60 percent of the time.
Tommy Layne, RP, Padres: His checkered minor-league history is a thing of the past, as the Friars have made Layne into an intriguing lefty specialist. The strikeout numbers jump off the page (17 whiffs in 10.1 innings), and he's picked up a win and two saves because he's being used in high-leverage spots. And obviously Petco Park will hide most of his mistakes; at least, they stay in the park.
Ubaldo Jimenez, SP, Indians: The strikeout numbers haven't been bad, but we're still not buying; his high-maintenance mechanics haven't been repeatable for a couple of years, and the wide swings in velocity also have us concerned. And when Jimenez is forced to work in the middle of the zone, he routinely gets pounded; his best stuff isn't swing-and-miss stuff unless it's perfectly located. The Indians will regret the Jimenez trade for the balance of the decade.
Trevor Cahill, SP, Diamondbacks: It's all about the schedule with the sinker-ball specialist - Cahill is trustable on the road (2.91 ERA, 1.13 WHIP) but he hasn't figured out how to manage Arizona's park yet (5.331.58). He's working at home next week (perhaps for two starts) so make sure Cahill isn't in your plans.
Eric Stults, SP, Padres: A 1.93 ERA and 1.01 WHIP over the last month will get your attention, but Stults only has 14 strikeouts over that 32.3 inning sample and he's been fooling the batted-ball gods all summer (.250 BABIP). This Cinderella will turn into a pumpkin any moment. We hear Eric Stoltz will play him in the movie.
Ryan Vogelsong, SP, Giants: He's been batting practice for a month, but when you pop the hood and look at the underling numbers, things don't appear so bad. Vogelsong is still recording three strikeouts for every walk, he's been hurt by an unlucky .365 BABIP, and one of the messy turns came in Colorado. Alas, he has to work in Coors early next week, but we'll ride him out after that. Most of the NL West is favorable to a pitcher.