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Breakout/Surprise Pitchers in 2008-NL

Every year around this time I like to take a look at what pitchers and hitters have outperformed the "experts" expectations this year, so I can be better prepared for next year's drafts. These are the players who will be the difference between being "in the money" and playing for next year. I will take a look at pitchers first, and since I play in NL-only leagues, I will focus my attention there.

Here are some NL starting pitchers who, in my opinion, have exceeded expectations, or "broken out":

Player GS QS W K ERA WHIP
Lannan, John 23 17 6 87 3.4 1.3
Dempster, Ryan 25 16 13 139 2.92 1.16
Volquez, Edinson 24 16 14 146 2.86 1.32
Cook, Aaron 25 15 14 79 3.87 1.3
Nolasco, Ricky 24 15 11 126 3.88 1.2
Jurrjens, Jair 23 14 11 103 3.18 1.32
Lohse, Kyle 26 14 13 88 3.92 1.28
Billingsley, Chad 24 13 11 157 3.07 1.28
Jimenez, Ubaldo 26 13 8 122 3.94 1.47
Maholm, Paul 24 13 8 113 3.69 1.24
Wellemeyer, Todd 24 12 10 95 3.79 1.26
Pelfrey, Mike 23 11 10 82 4.11 1.46

When looking at starting pitchers, you also want to look at which pitcher has a strong bullpen behind them. Strong bullpens will not blow leads for their starting pitchers, and will strand alot of baserunners. The stronger bullpens this year have been the Phillies, Dodgers and Diamondbacks. As you can see from the list above, John Lannan has had a quality start in 74% of his starts, yet only has 6 wins. This could be due to a bad bullpen, or a lineup that doesn't score many runs, which is the case with the Nationals. Aaron Cook has had a good year and is the beneficiary of Colorado's strong lineup and bullpen anchored by Manny Corpas, Taylor Buchholz and closer Brian Fuentes.

Who would have thought Ryan Dempster would pitch so well starting for the Cubs after closing for the last 3 years. And Kyle Lohse who hasn't won more than 10 games since 2003, winning 13 games under the tutelage of Dave Duncan in St. Louis.

In 5x5 leagues, Billingsley, Volquez, Nolasco and Dempster will have extra value due to their high number of strikeouts. Some of these pitchers may be one year wonders, while others should continue their success in coming years.

l will take a look at breakout hitters in the near future.