Ahead of the Curve: Soft Spots for TJ Survivors

BOOM.

History has a way of repeating itself, regardless of whether the idea in the first place is any good. Right now, the NFL draft is going on and for the first time in at least 15 years or so, I haven't watched any of the coverage. To be perfectly honest, outside of Andrew Luck and RGIII, I don't know any of these guys. So I checked my reliable sources on the interwebs to see who the Jets had taken in the first round and found out they took Quinton Coples, a defensive end from UNC. Unfortunately, it was also accompanied by the phrases "boom or bust", "physical freak" and "sometimes lacks motivation". Did the Jets just draft Vernon Gholston again? Is this a lesson the front office is just not learning? Why on Earth am I talking about football right now?

That's good question, but the point is moot as the mini-excursion is now over. There are more than a few ways that history is repeating itself so far this season, some to the detriment of those who thought otherwise, but for the purpose of getting the actual content of this post, we'll just focus on one. The value of starting pitchers is very much tied to their innings. We know this, and yet every year owners reach for guys who are looking at innings limits. This year's two biggest examples just happen to be the first two names on this list, and you know who they are without me even mentioning them in this paragraph. Will they throw 160 innings? Will they throw 200 innings? How will they hold up if they're pushed in their first full season back? Only time will tell, but things are going to have to break right for these guys to create the value needed based on where they were drafted.

THE POTENTIAL OUTPERFORMERS

Adam Wainwright (PIT, @HOU, ATL, @SF, SD, PHI, @NYM, @HOU)

Wainwright finally has his first good outing of the season this past week against the Cubs, allowing 1 run in 6 innings with 7 K's. But even that sentence is deceiving. Wainwright has 9.6 K/9, 2.3 BB/9 and a ground ball rate of 52.5% so far this year. That's holy trinity territory. But this stretch of schedule over the next six weeks or so, could be just what he needs to align his xFIP (2.71) with his ERA (currently 7.32).

Stephen Strasburg (@LAD, PHI, @PIT, SD, BAL)

Here is a guy for which, admittedly, inclusion on this list is pretty useless. When he's on, it doesn't matter if he's pitching against an inter-galactic all-star team from the future or your local high school's JV team. He can also impregnate any woman in the first five rows of the stadium just from throwing his changeup. Or so I've heard.

More after the jump..

Ervin Santana (@CLE, TOR, @MIN, OAK, @SD, @SEA)

Outside of possibly Progressive Field (is it even still called that?), what do you notice about the stadiums that Big Erv will be pitching in over the next six starts? If you answered "they all sell fish tacos," then I am not only impressed by your knowledge of major league park concessions, but I also have no idea if you're right. Actually, the parks all suppress HRs, and no one needs that more than Santana, who's given up 10 so far this year.

Brandon Morrow (SEA, @LAA, @OAK, TB, NYM)

Raise your hand if you thought Brandon Morrow would have a lower strikeout rate through 4 starts than Jake Westbrook. Or Lucas Harrell. Or Tom Milone. So while this may not look like the breakout season people were anticipating, maybe Morrow just needs a little R&R to get back on track -- and there's not much better for R&R than dates with the Mariners, A's and Mets.

Drew Pomeranz (NYM, LAD, @SD, @SF, SEA)

This may not be an ideal schedule, but for a pitcher in Colorado, this may as good as it gets for a while. Outside of the date at home vs Los Angeles, this is a nice stretch to get him settled into the rotation. I'm still optimistic on Pomeranz for this season, but if he can't take advantage over the next few weeks, it may raise some red flags for 2012.

Other potential outperformers:

Tommy Hanson (PIT, PHI, @CHC, @STL)
Bronson Arroyo (CHC, @PIT, WSH, @NYM)
Mat Latos (HOU, @PIT, WSH, @NYM)
Rick Porcello (KC, @SEA, @OAK, MIN)
Justin Verlander (@NYY, KC, @SEA, @OAK, MIN)
Dan Haren (@CLE, TOR, @MIN, OAK, @SD, @SEA)
Mark Buehrle (ARZ, @SD, NYM, @ATL, COL, SF)
Ricky Nolasco (@SF, @SD, NYM, @ATL, COL, SF)
Randy Wolf (@SD, @SF, CHC, @HOU)
Roy Halladay (CHC, @ATL, NYM, SD)
Jeremy Hellickson (SEA, OAK, @BAL, BOS)
Matt Moore (SEA, OAK, @BAL, BOS)

POTENTIAL UNDERPERFORMERS

Ted Lilly (@COL, SF, COL, STL, @ARZ)

Lilly's gotten off to a very nice start this year, but some ugliness may be just around the corner. Lilly's K-BB rate so far this year has been 1.38, which is not a good sign as it's been at least 2.88 every year since 2006. Maybe it's a statistical anomaly, but if it's not, watch out -- especially with five tough match-ups in a row.

Tom Milone (@BOS, @TB, DET, @TEX)

Yea, this whole 2.00 ERA and 0.85 WHIP is totally not going to last.

Ivan Nova (DET, BAL, TB, SEA, CIN, KC)

This one is less frightening and just more interesting (but still a little frightening). Due to a quirk in the Yankees schedule, Ivan Nova (assuming the schedule holds) will be making his next SIX starts at the hitter-friendly confines of Yankee Stadium. Nova's strikeout rate has been great so far this year (9.5 K/9) and his walk rate's been even better (1.0 BB/9), but I do not expect either of those two rates to last at that sort of pace, schedule or not.

Other potential underperformers:

Jason Hammel (@NYY, @BOS, TB, @KC, BOS)
Brian Matusz (@NYY, TEX, TB, @KC, BOS, @TOR, @TB)
Randy Wells (@PHI, @CIN, ATL, @STL)
Paul Maholm (@PHI, @CIN, ATL, @MLW)
Jake Peavy (BOS, @DET, @CLE, DET)
Gavin Floyd (BOS, @DET, @CLE, DET)
Ubaldo Jimenez (@CHW, TEX, @BOS, @MIN)
Luke Hochevar (@DET, NYY, @CHW, BAL, @NYY)
Luis Mendoza (@DET, NYY, @CHW, BAL, @NYY)
Kevin Millwood (@TOR, @TB, DET, @BOS, @COL)
Blake Beavan (@TOR, @TB, DET, @NYY)
Jeff Niemann (@TEX, SEA, @NYY, @TOR)

#STREAMEROFTHEDAY UPDATE

As you may know, I post a streamer of the day owned in less than 10% of leagues on a daily basis at @tfw_bret on Twitter. And as a staple of this column, I'm going to review my picks as the season goes on. Here are the final numbers for the past seven #streameroftheday picks:

3 wins, 4.50 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 27 K's in 42 innings.

And the details (including the prettiness of Phil Humber's perfect stat line):

Date Pitcher Opp IP ER H BB K ERA WHIP Dec
20-Apr Hector Noesi CHW 1 1/3 6 6 2 1 40.50 6.00 L
21-Apr Phil Humber SEA 9 0 0 0 9 - - W
22-Apr Jeff Niemann MIN 5 1/3 2 3 2 5 3.38 0.94 W
23-Apr Dillon Gee SF 6 2/3 7 12 1 5 9.45 1.95 L
24-Apr Henderson Alvarez BAL 7 2 5 2 0 2.57 1.00 L
25-Apr Juan Nicasio PIT 6 2/3 1 9 1 5 1.35 1.50 ND
26-Apr Felix Doubront CHW 6 3 5 3 2 4.50 1.33 W
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