Ahead of the Curve: The Season Finale

Dude, how did I get in the post-season chase?

If this were television, I'd start this post off with a sweeping montage of all of the great highlights from this season of Ahead of the Curve. It would be mostly spotlights that were particularly prescient, sprinkled with a few ones that did not end particularly well for a little humor and brevity. Then there would be lots of hugs. And I'm not just talking about regular TV hugs, I'm talking about in-the-dugout trade deadline HUGS. And then we'd leave off the a cliffhanger. Is it a glimpse of a column from next April? The pen is blocking the first name, you can't tell if it's Casey Kelly or Joe Kelly. Or maybe there's another Kelly you've never even heard of yet. I guess you'll just have to stay tuned to find out.

In all honesty, it's been fun to bring you this column for the entire year -- and I hope you've found it at least a little helpful. As the title suggests, this will be the last Ahead of the Curve column for the 2012 season, as once we get to next Friday, there will be only 12 days left in the season, which means that only a few lucky pitchers will have three starts left in the tank. Of course, I'll still be carrying on with my #streameroftheday picks until the very last day of the season at @dynastyguru on Twitter. So save your undeniable sadness for when that comes to an end.

But enough with the harsh reality, let's carry on like no one knows the party's ending.

THE POTENTIAL OUTPERFORMERS

All Cardinals starters (@LAD, HOU, @CHC, @HOU, WSH, CIN)

This schedule could not be any better for the members of the Cardinal rotation. They get, in order, a Dodger team mired in a huge slump, two series against the worst team in baseball that sandwich one against the second worst team and two division winners at home who should be resting their starters and prepping for the playoffs. So while the Cards starters have struggled lately as a unit, you may be rewarded handsomely for sticking with them.

More after the jump...

Cole Hamels (@HOU, @NYM, WSH, @WSH)

If you had told me a few weeks ago that Hamels would be pitching meaningful games in September, I would have assumed that some other team claimed him off waivers. However, the Phillies are charging hard for the final wild card spot, and they'll need ace-like performance from all of their aces. Hamels gets two teams crawling to the finish line and then two starts against the likely-to-be-clinched Washington Nationals. Sometimes I'm not sure whether it's a better match-up to be facing a division winner that's already clinched or a terrible team playing for nothing. Either way, as a Hamels owner, you like it.

All Tigers starters (@CLE, OAK, MIN, KC, @MIN, @KC)

AL Central living, isn't it the best? Outside of a 3-game home series against Oakland, it's all division cellar dwellers until the season ends.

Zack Greinke (@KC, CHW, SEA, @SEA)

Quietly, Greinke's won four starts in a row, allowing 6 ER total -- including two wins over the Tigers. And fortunately for him, he won't have to make another regular season appearance that's not in a pitchers park.

Tim Lincecum (COL, SD, @SD)

With quality starts in 6 of his last 9 starts, Lincecum has more closely resembled his old self since the end of July than he has all year. Of course, he's also walked 16 guys in his last 4 starts. All that said, he's got a nice path to finishing the season out on a high note. Lincecum will most definitely be a hotly debated name, as far as value, in the spring.

Other Potential Outperformers:

Tyler Skaggs (SF, SD, @SF, CHC)
Kris Medlen (WSH, @MIA, MIA, @PIT)
Paul Maholm (@MIA, MIA, NYM)
Joe Saunders (@OAK, @SEA, TOR, BOS)
Jose Quintana (@MIN, @LAA, CLE, @CLE)
Mike Leake (@CHC, LAD, @PIT)
Drew Pomeranz (@SD, @SF, CHC, @LAD)
CJ Wilson (@KC, TEX, SEA, @SEA)
Marco Estrada (@PIT, @WSH, HOU, SD)
Yovani Gallardo (@PIT, @WSH, HOU)
Wandy Rodriguez (@CHC, @HOU, @NYM, ATL)
Madison Bumgarner (COL, SD, @SD, @LAD)
Scott Feldman (SEA, @SEA, OAK, @OAK)

THE POTENTIAL UNDERPERFORMERS

Edwin Jackson (@ATL, MIL, @PHI, PHI)
Gio Gonzalez (@ATL, MIL, @PHI, PHI)

I'm going to group both E-Jax and Gio together since they both have the exact same schedule and I want to make a larger point about how quickly these outlooks change, especially as we get closer to the end of the year. This stretch would have been average, at worst, if it were looked at even two weeks ago. But now, the Brewers and Phillies are suddenly the two hottest teams in baseball (both 9-3 in September). You can only use the term "gauntlet" so seriously when it comes to the senior circuit, but these two Nationals starters look like they're going to hit the wrong teams at the wrong time.

Jason Vargas (@TEX, TEX, @LAA, LAA)

If you're a pitcher in the AL West, there are two teams you don't particularly want to face. Vargas gets the pleasure of facing these two teams every start for the rest of the season. Avoid where you can.

Other Potential Underperformers:

Aaron Cook (@TB, BAL, @BAL)
Felix Doubront (@TB, BAL, @BAL)
Chris Rusin (PIT, CIN, @COL, @ARZ)
Justin Germano (CIN, STL, @ARZ)
Justin Masterson (DET, @KC, @CHW, CHW)
Jeremy Guthrie (LAA, CLE, @DET, DET)
Will Smith (LAA, CLE, @DET, DET)
Ervin Santana (TEX, CHW, @TEX)
Jarrod Parker (BAL, @NYY, @TEX, TEX)
Dan Straily (BAL, @NYY, @TEX, TEX)
David Price (@NYY, BOS, @BOS, @CHW)
Henderson Alvarez (@NYY, @BAL, NYY)

#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 @dynastyguru 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:

3 wins, 5.19 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and 28 K's in 34 2/3 innings.

And the details:

Date Pitcher Opp IP ER H BB K ERA WHIP Dec
7-Sep Andrew Cashner ARZ 5 2 4 0 5 3.60 0.80 ND
8-Sep Daisuke Matsuzaka TOR 1 1/3 5 5 1 2 33.75 4.50 L
9-Sep Pat Corbin SD 5 1/3 3 6 2 3 5.06 1.50 L
10-Sep Eric Stults STL 5 1/3 3 5 1 5 5.06 1.13 W
11-Sep Mike Leake PIT 7 3 9 1 3 3.86 1.43 W
12-Sep Travis Wood HOU 7 2/3 1 4 1 6 1.17 0.65 W
13-Sep Tyler Cloyd HOU 3 3 5 0 4 9.00 1.67 ND

Looks like I picked a bad week to stop sniffing glue. Airplane quotes aside, it was a disappointing week overall led by my misguided belief that Dice-K could acquit himself nicely against a badly struggling Blue Jays lineup. Outside of that, it was a relatively good effort. Here's my updated track record since the All-Star Break:

32 wins (in 62 starts) with a 3.01 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 288 K in 368 2/3 IP.

Follow me on Twitter at @dynastyguru.
Check out more of my stuff at The Dynasty Guru.

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