Ahead of the Curve: Oh Please Let the Games Start Again

The man.

This break is turning into more than I can handle. I've now gone 92 hours without meaningful baseball as I'm typing this. I can't believe I've made it this long. Only 18 more to go. I'm resorting to desperate acts. I'm cleaning and doing laundry. I'm getting to sleep early. For goodness sake, I watched the ESPYs. The ESPYs!

But today. Oh today there is baseball. The Cubs-Diamondbacks game will be a sight for sore eyes, although that's the only thing which will be able to hold me over until tonight. Tonight when we have a full slate of games. I imagine that the look on my face once these games start will be similar to the one on Hurley's face when he stumbled upon the food pantry in the hatch for the first time.

As of last night (which is right now in real time), there are still a few teams who have not announced their full post-break rotations, so there may be some instances below where you see "Kansas City 4th starter" instead of a name. This is just to provide you all with as much information as possible as of the time I publish this -- since once those assignments are announced, you can just match up the pitcher to the spot and it'll be like I had it in here all along.

It's good to be back, so let's not waste any more time. After the jump we go...

THE POTENTIAL OUTPERFORMERS

R.A. Dickey (@ATL, LAD, WSH, @SF, @SD)

One of the big questions on everyone's mind as we blow by the Mid-Summer Classic is whether Dickey can keep this up. Let's start with the obvious, he's unlikely to win another 12 games. He also may not continue striking out more than a batter an inning. But if even he doesn't do either of those things, he can still anchor your staff. Add in the Mets saying that they want to throw him more often during the 2nd half, and you get the potential for even more by way of counting stats. If you have him, pat yourself on the back for a few minutes, and ride him until the end of the season.

Ben Sheets (NYM, @WSH, @MIA, MIA, HOU, @NYM)

I'll be perfectly honest, this is a name I never thought I'd be able to write again in a column like this. Seeing Sheets return to the major league bump will make me smile, although we're all kidding ourselves if we think we know what Sheets will do (hence the fun poll). Fortunately for him, he'll have a pretty soft schedule to come back to -- which upgrades him from an NL-only pickup to a guy I'd think about stashing in 14-team mixed and deeper. Anything shallower than that, owners should be in wait and see mode.

Chris Capuano (PHI, @NYM, @SF, ARZ, COL, @PIT)

Another first half stud, Capuano is the 16th ranked SP on the ESPN Player Rater through the break. Unfortunately for Capuano, he's the same guy he's been the last two years. His last three years of xFIP: 3.90, 3.67, 3.85. His last three years of K/9: 7.4, 8.1, 8.1. So what's been the culprit for Capuano's success this year? A little luck in a few places (BABIP, strand rate, HR/FB rate). However, with six straight match-ups in pitchers parks, he may be able to keep this up for a little while longer.

Clayton Richard (@LAD, HOU, @SF, @MIA, NYM, CHC)

Richard is a guy you never want to start outside of a pitchers park. However, this stretch will see him take the mound six consecutive times in strong pitchers parks. This could be useful.

Jason Vargas (@KC, @TB, KC, TOR)

And while we're on the subject of guys you probably don't want to start outside of a pitchers park. Vargas is a slightly better pitcher than Richard is, but they're similar for fantasy purposes. And to open the second half, Vargas draws two of the worst teams against lefties (in slight pitchers parks to boot) and then two home starts (including one against one of the same teams which struggle against lefties). The start against Toronto isn't great, but at least he's at home.

Other Potential Outperformers:

Trevor Cahill (@CHC, HOU, COL, @LAD)
Tommy Hanson (NYM, @WSH, @MIA, MIA, HOU, @NYM)
Ben Sheets (NYM, @WSH, @MIA, MIA, HOU, @NYM)
Miguel Gonzalez (@MIN, @CLE, TB, @NYY, SEA, KC)
BAL 5th Starter (@MIN, @CLE, TB, @NYY, SEA) - could it be the return of Zach Britton?
Paul Maholm (ARZ, MIA, @PIT, PIT, @LAD)
Josh Tomlin (@TB, BAL, @MIN, @KC, MIN)
Kansas City 4th Starter (SEA, MIN, @SEA, CLE) - Jonathan Sanchez?
Kansas City 5th Starter (SEA, MIN, @SEA, CLE) - Everett Teaford?
Josh Johnson (WSH, @CHC, ATL, SD, @WSH, @NYM)
Freddy Garcia (LAA, @OAK, @SEA, BAL, SEA)
Alex Cobb (CLE, SEA, @LAA, @OAK)
Edwin Jackson (@MIA, ATL, @NYM, PHI, MIA)

THE POTENTIAL UNDERPERFORMERS:

Bronson Arroyo (ARZ, MIL, @COL, SD, @MLW)
Homer Bailey (ARZ, MIL, @COL, SD, @MLW)

I'm going to group these two together since they not only have the same match-ups, but they justify the same reasoning. All five of these starts are going to come in ballparks that exacerbate the long ball. Arroyo and Bailey are two starters who exacerbate the long ball themselves. This not the world's greatest combination.

Jered Weaver (@NYY, TEX, KC, @TEX, @CHW)

Weaver is just one of those guys who consistently outperforms his peripherals and expected ERA. In fact, since 2006, his ERA has been above either his FIP or xFIP only once (2008). However, this year, there's an even larger gap than normal here and something's gotta give. Weaver cannot continue to have a .223 BABIP against (.272 career) and 4.5% HR/FB rate (7.4% career) -- especially while seeing his lowest swinging strike rate of his career. If you're looking to deal pitching for the stretch run and are thinking about putting Weaver out there, do it now before his shiny ERA gets tarnished and his perceived value starts to trickle down.

Other Potential Underperformers:

Aaron Cook (CHW, TOR, @NYY, DET, TEX) - assuming he survives the dreaded 6-man rotation..
Gavin Floyd (@BOS, @DET, @TEX, @MIN)
Philip Humber (@BOS, @DET, @TEX, LAA)
Jeremy Guthrie (PHI, PIT, @ARZ, CIN, STL)
Detroit 4th Starter (LAA, CHW, @TOR, @BOS, NYY, @TEX) - Double ouch if this is Rick Porcello..
Vance Worley (@COL, SF, MLW, @WSH, ATL, STL)
Henderson Alvarez (@NYY, @BOS, DET, @OAK)

#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 days of #streameroftheday picks:

2 wins, 2.30 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and 21 K's in 15 2/3 innings.

And the details:

Date Pitcher Opp IP ER H BB K ERA WHIP Dec
6-Jul Drew Smyly KC 6 2 6 0 10 3.00 1.00 W
7-Jul Homer Bailey SD 6 2/3 2 7 0 8 2.70 1.05 W
8-Jul Marco Estrada HOU 3 0 0 1 3 - 0.33 ND

It was only three starts because of the break, but excuse me while I separate my shoulder patting myself on the back. The only hiccup here was the last-minute Greinke bait and switch on Sunday so that contender scouts could get a look at him - although Estrada did come on in relief and looked great doing it.

Follow me on Twitter at @tfw_bret

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