Charge the Mound

5 Pitchers that will be in the Top 20 at the End of the Season

Name 1st half WAR
Adam Wainwright 4.6
Matt Harvey 4.2
Felix Hernandez 4.1
Max Scherzer 4.0
Clayton Kershaw 3.9
Derek Holland 3.8
Chris Sale 3.3
Cliff Lee 3.1
Justin Verlander 3.0
Yu Darvish 3.0
Mat Latos 2.9
Homer Bailey 2.9
Jhoulys Chacin 2.8
Jordan Zimmermann 2.8
Patrick Corbin 2.8
James Shields 2.7
Bartolo Colon 2.7
Doug Fister 2.6
Justin Masterson 2.4
Jorge de la Rosa 2.3

Today I’m going to take a look at pitchers who are not in the Top 20 (according to FanGraphs WAR) as of the All Star break, but who will have Top 20 WAR over the 2nd half of the season. To the right, you’ll see the list of the Top 20 starters from the first half. Whether it’s because of injury or poor performance, at least 5 of the guys on this list will not be there at the end of the season. I have to wonder if guys like Bartolo Colon can maintain his amazing season or if Patrick Corbin is a legitimate top of the rotation guy. Let’s move on to the guys that are not of the list.

1. Stephen Strasburg (1.7 WAR)

Strasburg got roughed up in his last 2 outings in the first half. He gave up 11 earned runs in 8 innings. In his 10 starts before that he had a 1.71 ERA and was striking guys out at a 25.6% clip. He’s made exactly half as many second half starts as first half starts in his career. Obviously this is because of innings limits and injuries. I don’t have those concerns with Strasburg right now and I think that he will finish the season strong and end up delivering Top 10 numbers in the second half.

2. Matt Moore (1.7 WAR)

I’m a huge fan and believer in Matt Moore. It’s the walks that have severely limited his capability to put up monster numbers. In his 5 starts leading up to the All Star break, Moore posted a 1.91 ERA and struck out 30.7% of the batters he faced. The problem is that he gave up a walk 12.3% of the time. His first half WHIP was 1.286 which isn’t as poor as his 2012 WHIP of 1.348, but there is room for improvement. If he can make just a slight improvement in his walk rate and maintain his performance everywhere else, he will be in the Top 20 for sure.

3. Cole Hamels (1.9 WAR)

Hamels suffered from some terrible run support. The Phillies offense has put up just 3.35 runs per game for Hamels in 2013, while in 2012 they delivered 4.86 runs per game. Hamels hasn’t performed as well as he did in 2012 either. His ERA is a full run higher (4.05) than it was last year (3.05). Early struggles are responsible for getting his composite numbers out of whack. He’s made 20 starts and 6 of them have seen earned run totals over 3. On the flip side, that means that in 14 of Hamels’ starts he has given up 3 or fewer earned runs. He hasn’t given up more than 4 earned runs since May 31st. Hamels is an ace, no question about it.

4. Rick Porcello (1.8 WAR)

When you give up 9 earned runs in 0.2 of an inning, like Porcello did in April against the Angels, your ERA is going to take a major hit. Since that outing he’s made 14 starts with a 3.86 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP. Over that same 14 start stretch, he’s walking 4.5% of opposing batters and striking out 22% of them. Both of those numbers are extremely attractive. Porcello is a very polarizing figure throughout the fantasy community. Either people have given up on him, or they have hope that he will deliver on his early season hype. They guy is just 24 years old and he’s rounding into a very good pitcher.

5. Matt Cain (0.4 WAR)

I’m just as confused about Matt Cain as everyone else. Just when he seems like he’s getting it back on track with 5 straight quality starts (from June 7 – June 29) he goes out and gets bombed by the Dodgers to the tune of 8 earned runs in 2.1 on July 5th. Then he follows that up with 3 earned runs in 0.2 innings against the Mets. Not a good stretch. As I’ve mentioned previously, Matt Cain is not done as a fantasy ace, he’s just taken the first half of 2013 off. He will return to form in the second half and make good on his fantasy ace potential.

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