We'll start off with the sad news -- this will be the last Ahead of the Curve column until after the All-Star Break. By the time next Friday rolls around, pitchers will only have three starts at most before we recess for the mid-summer classic, and after the break rotations will lineup in ways that we can only imagine at this point. But now the good news -- in keeping with the prospect ranking update theme here at Fake Teams, I will be posting a mid-season Top 50 Dynasty League prospects update. So stay tuned for that!
Speaking of the All-Star game, I want to go on a little bit of a rant. I do not understand why the fans are not allowed to vote for pitchers to make their respective All-Star Teams. It seems crazy to me. We should be able to vote for three starting pitchers, and then those three will be the first ones out of the gate for their teams -- with whatever process for determining which of the three will start. Don't care, just let me vote for Chris Sale. Let me vote for Stephen Strasburg. Let me vote for R.A. Dickey. That's all I ask. Anyway, rant over. Onto the meat you've come here for!
THE POTENTIAL OUTPERFORMERS
Max Scherzer (COL, @PIT, @TB, MIN, KC)
Mad Max has been an incredibly frustrating pitcher to own this year. The 5.76 ERA, the 3.45 xFIP, the .376 BABIP, the 11.3 K/9 rate and the 17.3% HR/FB rate are all interesting things to look at, but sometimes inconsistency can trump regression. Sure, he's probably gotten a little unlucky as those numbers would indicate, but the numbers don't tell you the whole story. He's getting lit up by lefties to the tune of .333/.418/.553 and it's at least partially because his change-up isn't where he needs it to be. But he can turn it around, he has the skills for it. So if he passes through this stretch with flying colors, believe it because you believe it, not because regression told you so.
More after the jump..Tim Lincecum (@SEA, @OAK, LAD, @WSH, @PIT)
What can you say about Lincecum that hasn't already been said this year? This is not the first easy stretch he's gone through this season, but it's safe to say that if he can't look better against these opponents, there's no hope for him the remainder of the year. This is as close to cake as a schedule gets. Mmm...cake.
Adam Wainwright (KC, @KC, PIT, COL)
Finally, moving on to a guy who looks more like himself as we get further into the season. After having only two quality starts in his first eight tries, he's now at three in his last five. He's still not at Adam Wainwright level (and may not really get there until next season), but he doesn't have to be to have success. Wainwright claims himself to have "finally turned a corner," and I think this stretch allows him to continue showing that.
Clay Buchholz (MIA, ATL, @SEA, @OAK)
If you're not paying attention to him, you'd have no idea that Buchholz is one of the hottest pitchers in baseball right now. Over the last 15 days, he's only behind Mr. Perfect Game (Matt Cain), Mr. Almost Perfect Game (R.A. Dickey) and Mr. Perfect (Stephen Strasburg) on the ESPN Player Rate. He not only has four straight quality starts, but they've been high quality starts as well (all 7+ innings, 2 or fewer runs). The feel for his world-class change-up is back and he's poise to continue that run through the ASB and into the 2nd half.
Big Fat Bartolo Colon (SD, SF, @SEA, BOS, SEA)
Soak in that schedule - the only half-decent offensive team he gets is the Red Sox, who come to Oakland. And the one time Colon has to leave the comforts of the Coliseum, he travels up to the one park which is even more destructive to offenses -- Safeco. He's a sneaky play the next four weeks, that is if it's possible for a 300 pound behemoth of a man to be sneaky.
Other Potential Outperformers:
Jason Hammel (@ATL, WSH, CLE, @SEA, @LAA)
Josh Beckett (@CHC, ATL, @SEA, @OAK)
Homer Bailey (@NYM, MIN, MLW, @LAD, @SD)
Johnny Cueto (@NYM, MIN, @SF, @LAD, @SD)
Mat Latos (@CLE, MIN, @SF, @LAD)
Mike Leake (@CLE, MLW, @SF, @SD)
Wandy Rodriguez (KC, SD, @CHC, @PIT)
J.A. Happ (KC, CLE, @CHC, @PIT)
Clayton Kershaw (CHW, @OAK, @SF, NYM, @ARZ)
Nate Eovaldi (@OAK, @SF, NYM, @ARZ)
Dillon Gee (CIN, BAL, @CHC, @LAD, CHC)
Johan Santana (BAL, @CHC, @LAD, CHC)
Cole Hamels (COL, TB, @MIA, @NYM)
Joe Blanton (COL, PIT, @MIA, ATL)
All Giants starters (@SEA, @LAA, @OAK, LAD, CIN, @WSH, @PIT)
Kevin Millwood? (SF, @SD, OAK, BAL, @OAK)
Joe Kelly (KC, @KC, @MIA, COL, MIA)
THE POTENTIAL UNDERPERFORMERS
Carlos Zambrano (@TB, @BOS, STL, @MLW, @STL)
Big Z has really resurrected himself in 2012, beyond anyone's expectations. His magical season hit a big rough patch when he allowed 7 runs in less than 3 innings against Tampa Bay this past week, and unfortunately it probably won't be the last rough outing he has before the break. That being said, he's still a guy who I like to have some value the remainder of the year. Yes, he walks too many guys, but he's keeping the ball on the ground at around a 50% clip - his highest rate since 2005. He's not a stud, but he shouldn't be forgotten about in mixed leagues if he struggles in this stretch.
Luis Mendoza (@STL, STL, @MIN, @TOR, @DET)
Don't pick up Luis Mendoza. This will not end well. I don't want to hear anything about spring training or his last start out against the Brewers. Don't do it.
Liam Hendriks (MLW, @CIN, CHW, @DET, @TEX)
He's been throwing well in the minors over the past six weeks, but this is going to be a slightly stiffer test. In time, he could be a decent AL-only play, but this is not going to be that time.
Other Potential Underperformers:
Josh Tomlin (CIN, @NYY, @BAL, TB)
Christian Friedrich (@DET, @TEX, WSH, @STL, @WSH)
Bruce Chen (@STL, STL, TB, @TOR, @DET)
Anibal Sanchez (@TB, TOR, STL, @MLW, @STL)
Edinson Volquez (TEX, @HOU, @COL, CIN)
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:
0 wins, 7.25 ERA, 1.86 WHIP and 29 K's in 36 IP
And the gory details:
|12-Jun||Alex Cobb||NYM||6 2/3||5||7||3||6||6.75||1.50||L|
|13-Jun||J.A. Happ||SF||3 1/3||8||11||1||5||21.60||3.60||L|
The week was not going particularly well, and then got worse when J.A. Happ-ened and completely blew my ratios out. There was just no reason for that. On top of that Alex Cobb and Michael Fiers both pitched better than their final lines indicate (though it doesn't matter since that won't erase the starts from any of our teams' stats). Next week will be a better one, I can feel it..
Follow me on Twitter at @tfw_bret