Roto Roundup: Justin Verlander, Yovani Gallardo and Others

Jonathan Daniel

Ray Guilfoyle highlights some of the top fantasy performers from Thursday;s roto action, including thoughts on Justin Verlander, Yovani Gallardo and others.

Midseason Fantasy Position Rankings

In case you missed our Midseason Fantasy Position Rankings, here are links to each of our rankings published thus far. Our Consensus Starting Pitcher rankings published earlier this morning, and concludes our Midseason Position Rankings.

Justin Verlander: No longer an ace?

Tigers ace Justin Verlander was one of the top ranked starters in fantasy drafts this season, and coming into this season, his owners expected him to pitch, well, like he has every other season. That hasn't happened, and Verlander is certainly not the same pitcher he has been in the past.

Yesterday afternoon, Verlander was knocked around for 7 runs on 11 hits, 2 walks and just 4 strikeouts in 6 innings in the Tigers loss to the White Sox. Verlander owns a solid 8.63 K/9 right now, but the K rate is declining over the last few months. Here is a look at his strikeouts, walks and innings over the last few months:

April: 41-11 K-BB over 39.1 innings

May: 41-12 K-BB over 26.2 innings

June: 32-16 K-BB over 39.0 innings

July: 14-10 K-BB over 26.2 innings

His walk rate is up from 2.27 BB/9 in 2012 to 3.33 BB/9 this season, and as you can see, his K/9 is dropping over the last two months. Over his last four starts, he has given up 17 runs on 32 hits over 25+ innings, including four home runs. His fantasy owners counted on ace-like stats from him this season, and thus far he is 10-8 with a 3.99 ERA, 1.41 WHIP and a 132-51 strikeout to walk rate over 137.2 innings. He has mixed some dominating performances with some blowups over the last month and half, and I wondered out loud on Twitter yesterday whether he is the new Tim Lincecum.

For more on Verlander's struggles, and the Tigers, check out Bless You Boys, SB Nation's Tigers fan site.

Friday morning update, courtesy of Buster Olney blog:

27.3 -- Percentage of Verlander’s starts this season in which he has allowed at least five earned runs. His ERA now stands at an uncharacteristically high 3.99, good for just 58th among 91 qualified starters.

.306 -- What opponents are hitting versus Verlander’s fastball this season. They hit just .233 versus the pitch in the previous two seasons. Verlander’s fastball is averaging 92.7 mph, down from 94.5 over the previous two seasons.

8 -- Consecutive starts in which Verlander has struck out five or fewer batters, tying the longest such streak of his career. He’s averaging just 5.5 strikeouts per 9 innings over that stretch, which ranks 89th among 110 qualified starters.

Is he still an ace for you?

Yovani Gallardo has another maddening start

Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo was once one of the top young starters in the game, and a possible trade candidate this month, but yesterday's performance may have taken his name off the trade market. Yesterday, Gallardo got knocked around by the Padres at home, giving up 6 runs on 8 hits, 3 walks and 4 strikeouts in just 3.2 innings in the Brewers 10-8 loss. Gallardo is now 8-9 with 4.88 ERA, 1.46 WHIP and a 100-48 strikeout to walk rate in 123.2 innings of work.

He has seen his ERA jump by over a run per nine, from 3.66 last season to 4.88 this season, and has seen his strikeout rate drop from 9.00 per nine to 7.28 per nine. Part of the reason for the drop in his strikeout rate could be attributed to a drop in fastball velocity, from 91.8 mph to 90.7 mph.

For more on Gallardo, make sure you check out Brew Crew Ball, SB Nation's Brewers fan site.

Round'em Up

Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is one of the more exciting power hitters in the game, and it was on full display yesterday, as he hit a walk-off game winning two run home run in the Nationals 9-7 win over the Pirates. Harper went 3-5 with a HR, double, 3 runs and 2 RBI and is now hitting .271-.375-.524 with 14 HRs, 42 runs, 31 runs and just 6 stolen bases. He will have some work to do to reach my preseason 25-25 projection, as he is on pace for 22 HRs and 10 stolen bases. Maybe my projection was too aggressive, but he has played just 64 games this season, and is dealing with a knee injury.

Mariners catching prospect Mike Zunino is going to be one of the many sleepers at the catcher position this coming offseason, as he is the Mariners catcher of the future who possesses power and a solid hitting tool. Last night, he went 1-2 but left the game early after taking afoul tip off his left hand. He is currently hitting .242-.315-.343 with 2 HRs, 13 runs, 10 RBI and a 26-9 K-BB rate in 99 at bats thus far. The strikeout rate is very high, and is a concern especially after seeing that he struck out at an even higher rate in AAA this season.

Reds starter Mat Latos had never won a game in Dodger Stadium heading into last night's start, but you couldn't tell with the way he pitched last night. He limited the Dodgers to just two runs, one earned, on 8 hits, a walk and 4 strikeouts over 7.2 innings in the Reds 5-2 win last night. Latos is now 10-3 with a 3.39 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and a solid 136-41 strikeout to walk rate over 132.2 innings this season. We ranked him as out 15th ranked starting pitcher in our Consensus Starting Pitcher rankings earlier this morning.

I have been pretty vocal about how underrated Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda is, and he showed why in his start yesterday afternoon. Kuroda shut out the Rangers on 6 hits, a walk and 3 strikeouts in 7 innings of work yesterday to move his record to 10-6 with a sparkling 2.51 ERA and 1.04 WHIP. He has given up two runs or less in seven of his last ten starts.

The Blue Jays have struggled in a big way over the last few week, and hopefully they can build up a streak after Mark Buehrle tossed a complete game shutout of the Astros last night. Buehrle limited the Astros to two hits, 2 walks and struck out 9 to move his record to 6-7 with a 4.50 ERA and 1.33 WHIP.

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