Tag Archive | "David Price"

Stephen Strasburg – Is he a keeper?

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Stephen Strasburg – Is he a keeper?

Posted on 30 March 2013 by Trish Vignola

Stephen Strasburg – Is he a keeper?

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Well, I guess that’s too late to figure out now. I kept him. He’s now the “ace” of my fantasy baseball team. I know what you might be thinking. Keeping Strasburg? Isn’t that a no-brainer? He’s already been named the Nationals’ Opening Day starter. However, you are talking to the same woman who had Joey Votto on her team last year. The same Joey Votto who missed like a third of the season due to injury.

In fantasy baseball, I’m kind of the kiss of death.

Last Friday, Strasburg yielded 3 runs in 6 innings of pitching to the Tigers. All right that’s pretty average. Actually, that’s pretty good by mid-season standards. He only walked one person and he struck out five, which is even better. Then Strasburg took a comebacker off his thumb. Yes, it was his non-throwing thumb but shades of Joey Votto flooded my nightmares for the next half of week.

Yes, my nightmares are of the fantasy baseball variety.

There are positives though. He’s not Johan Santana and he’s not signed by the Mets. Seriously though, Rotoworld ranks him 5th. Only Clayton Kershaw, Justin Verlander, David Price and Cole Hamels are ranked higher. ESPN ranked him lower but still in the top 20. The key to Strasburg’s success though is pretty obvious. It comes down to two words…

Innings… Count…

Is there one or not? The Nationals ended Strasburg’s season in early September last year at 159 1/3 innings pitched. Their concerns about Strasburg’s health in his first season following Tommy John surgery seemed to trump the importance of their first trip to the playoffs. It seems ludicrous. However, think about the situation with Johan Santana. After throwing the Mets first no-hitter, coming off of a season ending surgery, he’s now headed again towards… you guessed it… season ending surgery.

Based on how the Nationals treated Jordan Zimmerman’s rehabilitation, there will be a watchful eye but no official innings count. I am essentially banking on Strasburg giving me 190 innings, give or take, in order to get me out of the fantasy cellar. (No, that’s not something from “Fifty Shades of Grey.” I’m that bad in fantasy baseball.)

ESPN is projecting that if Strasburg can give me (yes, me personally) about 196 innings, his line would look something like 16 wins, 244 strikeouts, a 2.94 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. That would pretty much keep him in the elite of fantasy statistics amongst starting pitchers. That also gets me out of the proverbial cellar. If he “Joey Votto”’s me, I’m going to start testing for mold because I will be living in the cellar for the rest of the season.

If Strasburg stays healthy, he could be the best keeper you or I could have ever traded for. A healthy Strasburg has tremendous upside. He’s only 24 and has an entire career ahead of him. Regardless of the little knock to his finger, Strasburg is projected to have no issue in completing the season. If that is the case, he might help me out of the cellar to at least the middle of the pack of my head-to-head league.

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Fantasy Forecast

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Fantasy Forecast

Posted on 22 February 2013 by Nick Schaeflein

In Florida and Arizona all spring training camps are now kicked into gear. Along with that, Fantasy Baseball leagues are forming and drafts are being prepped for.

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This year, my fantasy career becomes a teenager. I have been competing in various fantasy leagues since the year 2000, and with that I have managed several championship teams, have also had a few down teams, and a whole bunch in the middle with heartbreak and triumph.

For me, fantasy football and baseball leagues have always been about fun. The chance to have bragging rights over friends, maybe win a few bucks, and watching the games from a different perspective is a great learning tool. I can still remember having those drafts in friend’s basements and jokingly hearing from the peanut gallery that every player would be a bust. Or, making a draft day trade that was crazy ridiculous, yet still managing to win a championship that same year. Gathering around big boards with magazines fanned out and a dozen pizzas ordered, hoping that you will create that winning club for the upcoming season are like mini Christmas’ for some.

With that in mind, here is a little forecasting to hopefully set the 2013 season off on the right track. For me, the top pick overall this season has to be a guy that has yet to play on an Opening Day. The Angel’s Mike Trout is the guy this season. His rookie season was one of the best seasons in history and not just by a rookie. He is a five tool player. Trout edges out the Detroit Tigers’ Triple Crown man, Miguel Cabrera. Rounding out my overall top 5 would be Robinson Cano, Albert Pujols, and Andrew McCutchen.

Next on the clock, the top pitcher would be Justin Verlander of the Tigers as well. He just turned 30 but he is a true ace. He wins games, eats up innings, and dominates the strike outs. Two other aces to headline a staff would be the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw or the Rays’ David Price. Stephen Strasburg, while he is a star attraction, is not quite a top three pitcher just yet. Personally, I still have questions about his arm. Coming out of college I suspected that he may be prone to a major surgery and that is what happened a few seasons ago. After last year’s well publicized inning limit he should have a solid season and hopefully will pitch a full year. The top catcher would definitely be the Giants’ Buster Posey and top closer to rack up saves would be the Braves’ Craig Kimbrel.

Many times, seasons are won and lost on those draft day risks and reaches. The sleepers or rookies you hope will pan out because you want to jump at them first before the guy on his ninth slice of pizza does. These picks may have you booed into the next beverage run, but they could also lead to a victory dance at the end of the season too.

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On the mound, sleepers may include the White Sox Chris Sale who last year was a starter, then closer, then starter again and turned in a heck of a season. This year he will likely be the ace and have another good season while many still may have doubts. Also, Madison Bumgarner continues to develop and improve out by the bay. He is overshadowed by others out there but his talents and skills are right up there. Mike Minor in Atlanta could also put together a nice season as well.

Offensive sleepers include the Houston Astros Jose Altuve. When it comes to the Astros, there are not very many good things but Altuve is one. From another club that could struggle all year is the Colorado Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario. Finally, it may be my turn for the drink run, but Anthony Rizzo of the Cubs will be a guy to get dibs on. I am confident in that. Let the big names go early, sit back, wait, and grab Rizzo mid draft.

The top rookie on draft day will likely be the closer of the Tigers, Bruce Rondon. He is a young flame thrower and will surely get plenty of chances with that offense in support. Also, likely making a debut this year will be the New York Mets top prospect pitcher Zack Wheeler.

As draft days near, may the force and luck be with you. Best of luck constructing that winning club, but most importantly have fun! The best thing about baseball is that it is everyday for 162 games and the weather is mostly sunny.

Feel free to comment with your thoughts for draft strategies and Play Ball!

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Bud Norris Is My Home Boy

Posted on 12 September 2012 by Will Emerson

If you are an avid reader of Field of Streams here at Full Spectrum, and you really should be, you have probably read just how ridiculously good Bud Norris has been at the Juice Box this year. You may also know that I adore pitchers with high Ks/9. The K/9 is why I have always liked Buddy Boy Norris. His career K/9 of 8.83 is quite tantalizing and that is why I have stuck by him, sort of, waiting for a breakout season. The long and short of it is, I am still waiting. His 3.77 ERA last season made it seem like he was turning the corner a bit, but this season has looked, well, not so hot. He is 5-12, but with the Astros and the light hitting lineup they have been trotting out onto the field for a large portion of the season, I would not hold too much stock in the win-loss record anyways. Let’s look at some other numbers, like his less than impressive 4.93 ERA and his subpar 1.42 WHIP. Not so good Al. The Ks are still flowing like wine, but he has not looked so good overall…..except when he pitches at home.

At home this year, Bud has been virtually lights out! His ERA is 1.90, his WHIP is 1.04, his K/9 is 10.18 and his K/BB ratio is 4.41. And this is not all smoke and mirrors, although he does have a BABIP of .280 and an 85.9 LOB %, his xFIP at home is 2.96. These are some extremely good numbers, but many pitchers are generally better at home, right? Right. But Bud is pitching in Houston, a somewhat notorious hitter’s park and look at how he stacks up against other starters at home. Here are the top five ERAs at home by starting pitchers whom have thrown more than 50 innings at home this season:

David Price (TB)- 1.66

Justin Verlander (DET)- 1.70

Chris Sale (CWS)- 1.72

Kris Medlen (ATL)- 1.75

Bud Norris (HOU)- 1.90

That is some pretty good company for Bud, but these guys generally also pitching fairly decently elsewhere as well. Below is the difference between home and road ERAs for these same pitchers:

Price: -1.70

Verlander: -2.32

Sale: -2.29

Medlen: .23

Norris: -5.44

5.44! That is an eye-popping difference! No need to do the comparisons for WHIP, but let’s just say there are probably not a ton of starters that have a WHIP that is .68 lower at home than it is on the road. Also, his K/9 is 2.4 higher at home than on the road, and hitters are hitting at a .210 clip, which is .84 points lower than it is on the road. The comparisons can go on and on, I’ve got plenty of statistics available, but I think you get the point. It is not just that he is dominating at home, but the fact that he is pitching so much better at home. So how in the heck is he doing it?

Well, Norris is walking half as many batters at home and somehow his strand rate at home is almost 25% higher. It also helps that at home he is indcuing more ground balls by an eight percent margin. So more walks, less strikeouts and fewer groundballs would tend to lead to more runners and more runs. His HR/FB ratio is twice as high on the road. With less grounders and more flyballs, but a similar line drive rate we can pretty much make the leap that more hard hit balls are getting hit in the air on the road leading to the uptick in the homers. So you can see how the numbers are happening, but it does not explain why. No starter in the majors has such drastically better numbers at home this season, so what is up with Bud?!  Is he changing his approach on the road? Well let us look at his pitch breakdown for home and road starts.

On the road Bud seems to be mixing his pitches less and relying more on his fastball. On average he is throwing the heater 58.93% of the time on the road, as opposed to 53.07% at home. In fact, in over two-thirds of his road starts he has used his fastball more than 59% of the time, while doing that in only 10% of his home starts. At home Bud is using his slider about four percent more and his changeup around two percent more. The more steady diet of fastballs he is feeding hitters could certainly be the reason for more flyballs and the much higher HR/ FB rate on the road. Hitters are certainly not chasing as much on the road that is for darned sure. At home, on average, throwing less fastballs and a better mix of pitches, batters are chasing balls out of the zone about 34% of the time as opposed to about 28% on the road. That is a somewhat significant difference. It would make it seem that he is not mixing his pitches as much on the road and thus fooling batters less, right? While I do not have a home-road breakdown of his pitch movement, considering that when batters are chasing these pitches they are making contact 10% more on the road it would appear that either he is not mixing his pitches as well or he is not getting as much movement or perhaps a combination of both. Whatever you may think, Norris is clearly not fooling hitters as much on the road and the pitch selection and movement could be the biggest difference. So what does this mean for Bud Norris in the future?

Well, his home-road splits have not been this drastic in previous seasons, so there is a chance this is a big anomaly or fluke this season. In all likelihood Norris will still be better at home next season, but I would guess you would not see this large of a difference in the numbers. Look for a bit of regression in the home numbers next season as well as the road numbers improving a bit. However, if the start of next season resembles this year’s ridiculous splits, then the Astros may want to possibly hire a hypnotist to trick Bud into thinking he is pitching in Minute Maid Park every time out. They may want to avoid the one from the Simpson’s that made Roger Clemens think he was a chicken however.

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Who’s Hot: Tampa Bay Rays rotation

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Who’s Hot: Tampa Bay Rays rotation

Posted on 21 August 2012 by Chris Caylor

Let’s throw a little change of pace into this week’s edition of Who’s Hot, Who’s Not. Instead of individual players, we will touch on the starting rotations that have been the best (and worst) of the past month. Not surprisingly, the teams with quality starting pitching the past few weeks are in the playoff mix (with one exception), while the team on the “Not” list slides into oblivion for 2012.

Hottest of the Hot: Tampa Bay Rays

It has nearly become as certain as death and taxes: great pitching by the Tampa Bay Rays. Over the past month, the Rays’ starters have compiled a 6.2 WAR – far above any other team in baseball. Thanks to the sturdy starters, they were able to tread water until Evan Longoria returned from injury; since then, the Rays have made their move, soaring into first place in the Wild Card standings (and only five games behind the New York Yankees entering Monday’s games). This past weekend, the Rays crushed the Los Angeles Angels, outscoring them 37-14 in a four-game sweep.

At the front of the rotation, David Price has to be considered a leading candidate for the AL Cy Young Award, with a 16-4 record, 1.10 WHIP and WAR of 5.0. Price has been particularly dominant in the past month, going 3-0 while averaging over 7 innings, 10 strikeouts and under two walks per start. It’s safe to say he has blossomed into the ace folks envisioned as a rookie during the 2008 World Series run. At 26, he will only get better.

Matt Moore tantalized everyone in 2011 with his shutout of the Texas Rangers in the ALCS, but 2012 had been a roller coaster ride for 23-year-old southpaw. Until the All-Star Break. Since then, Moore has been nearly as unhittable as Price, winning 4 of 5 starts and averaging 9 Ks per start. A 1-2 punch like that would be tough enough to beat, but the Rays have more pitching to throw at their opponents.

“Big Game” James Shields has shaken off the trade rumors that swirled in July and lived up to his nickname, winning 3 of 5 starts with 9.25 K/9 and 1.75 BB/9 ratios. Last Wednesday, when the Rays were prey to Felix Hernandez’s perfect game, Jeremy Hellickson pitched seven terrific innings of his own, giving up five hits and the game’s only run. Earlier this year when injuries struck the Rays’ rotation, Alex Cobb came up from the minors and held his own. His xFIP (Expected Fielding Independent Pitching) is 3.29, which is well above league average and more than a run lower than his ERA.

All five Rays’ starters have a HR/9 ratio of 1.00 or less. Further, Moore’s BB/9 ratio of 2.31 is the highest of the bunch. When you keep the ball in the park and don’t issue free passes, good things happen. Fantasy owners have no doubt appreciated their consistency all season.

The Rays have still more pitching depth. One of the pitchers Cobb replaced is Jeff Niemann, who currently is on a Triple-A rehab assignment recovering from a broken right fibula. When healthy, Niemann is a proven major-league starter. Finally, let’s not forget about Wade Davis, who likely would be starting for about two dozen major league teams. Davis is averaging over a strikeout per inning (and has done so all season). He is a weapon out of the bullpen and valuable insurance in case of injury.

Who Else is Hot?

Seattle Mariners – The Mariners are turning into a classic spoiler team. They might be too far out of contention for 2012, but with their rotation pitching as well as it has for the past month, they will be a thorn in their opponents’ sides. At the top of the rotation, of course, is Felix Hernandez, who pitched a brilliant perfect game against the Rays last week. He is a nightmare for anyone, but he has had help. Jason Vargas has been every bit as good as King Felix the past month, averaging over 7 innings per start and winning 4 of 6 outings. However, Vargas’ run is likely unsustainable, given his too-good-to-last home run to fly ball ratio of 2.4%. He might have good control, but that type of luck is bound to run out. If you own him in your fantasy league, hopefully you have reaped the benefits of Vargas’ good fortune. Blake Beavan has turned his season around after a difficult start, while Hisashi Iwakuma has also pitched well. Kevin Millwood hasn’t been great, but he hasn’t been terrible, either.

Los Angeles DodgersClayton Kershaw is well established as the Dodgers’ ace, but Chad Billingsley has been better than Kershaw the past month. Billingsley has teased the team (and fantasy owners) for years; has he finally turned the corner? The jury is still out, in my opinion. Billingsley needs to be active in all fantasy formats while he pitches this well. In the meantime, the Dodgers’ relatively low-profile offseason signings have paid off handsomely. Chris Capuano has a 24-to-5 K/BB ratio over his past 22 innings pitched, while Aaron Harang has tossed three straight quality starts this month. Both Capuano and Harang have greatly benefited from pitching their home games at Dodger Stadium. They aren’t as easy on ERA or WHIP for fantasy owners, but they are great matchup plays. With Ted Lilly’s return delayed, the Dodgers acquired Joe Blanton from Philadelphia, but his two starts have been atrocious. Blanton isn’t worth owning in any leagues right now.

St. Louis Cardinals – The Cardinals are one of baseball’s more enigmatic teams. Over the past month, they have gotten outstanding starting pitching from Adam Wainwright, Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook, yet they have actually lost ground in the NL Central. Wainwright struggled at times in the first half of the season, but he has come on strong the past month. He hasn’t allowed more than two runs in a start since July 18, with an ace-like 40-to-6 K/BB ratio. Lohse boasts a microscopic 0.46 ERA in the month of August to go along with a 1.11 WHIP. Pretty good time for a career-best year, what with Lohse being a free agent at season’s end. I consider him a must-start in all formats. Lance Lynn has struggled the past month – probably due to his workload increasing drastically – but he has been a rock of consistency for St. Louis through the year. Not much was expected of rookie righty Joe Kelly when he took Jaime Garcia’s place in the rotation, but Kelly has been respectable. Garcia’s return to the rotation Sunday couldn’t have gone much better – 8 shutout innings, career-high 10 strikeouts. If he is able to maintain that type of quality, the Cardinals will be a dangerous team over the season’s final six weeks. Starts like that would be a huge boost to fantasy owners over the remainder of the season.

Washington Nationals – With the Nats, it’s been all Stephen Strasburg or Bryce Harper this season. But the rest of the rotation has been terrific for Washington this season. Before Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann was the stud young pitcher on the team. He has returned from his own Tommy John surgery to post numbers every bit as strong as Strasburg. Zimmermann has no innings restriction this season. Over the past month, he has averaged a strikeout an inning, while walking just one batter per 9 innings. Strasburg, of course, has been sensational, striking out 10 batters per 9 innings. There has been plenty of debate about the impending shutdown, but Strasburg has helped pitch the Nationals to the best record in the National League. Gio Gonzalez has tailed off a bit from his first half, but he still has been worth 1.0 WAR over the past month. Edwin Jackson has pitched well (10 Ks per 9 innings, 3.05 xFIP), but has been especially prone to the long ball over the past month, with a 22% HR to fly ball ratio. His strikeouts make him a worthy start, especially in rotisserie leagues. Ross Detwiler has pitched much better than an average fifth starter, despite a low K/9 ratio.

Who’s Not: Los Angeles Angels

Okay, I give up on this team. A few weeks ago, Albert Pujols was on fire and the Angels were seemingly primed to make a move in the AL West after trading for Zack Greinke. Instead, it’s been all downhill. Greinke has been terrible since switching leagues, getting lit up to the tune of a 6.19 ERA and 20% HR to fly ball ratio. In fact, the Angels pitching staff as a whole has been the worst in either league the past month. Worse than the Rockies, the Astros, the Twins. Everyone. Even Jered Weaver has not been immune. The Rays pounded him for 9 ER during the four-game sweep over the weekend. C.J. Wilson has averaged less than 6 innings per start while his BB/9 has gone up. Dan Haren has been so awful that the Angels are going to skip his turn in the rotation in an attempt to “work on his release point,” according to the Orange County Register. In terms of WAR, the Halos’ best pitcher over the past month has been reliever Kevin Jepsen, who has pitched only 12 1/3 innings. Not a good sign for the team. You have to believe that Weaver and Wilson will improve, but Greinke and Haren are larger conundrums for fantasy owners. Do you risk cutting them or trading them, only to watch them get it together for the final few weeks of the season? Or do you watch them torpedo your season? Situations like this are tricky for fantasy owners. The Angels don’t have a choice but to keep running them out there and hope the results improve.

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Starting Pitching Valuation (SPv) Leaderboard

Posted on 16 August 2012 by Dylan Cain

Loyal Full Spectrum Baseball readers may remember an article I wrote a while back about an innovative new stat, one I call Starting Pitcher Valuation (SPv).  For a brief introduction to the statistic for those who have not read the article, SPv is a stat that encompasses 1) the number of base runners a starting pitcher has allowed, 2) how many earned runs he’s allowed, 3) how many batters he strikes out as opposed to how few batters he walks 4) and how well he can lead his team to a victory.

I have taken all these stats and “blended” them together, creating a pitching stat that ranks starters (not relievers) on a scale of 100%-0%. This gives analytically-minded  fans like you the chance to see one stat that is “easy-to-digest” as opposed to reading a long line of the 10-15 most commonly used statistics.  I wrote this article in hopes of providing a weekly “leaderboard” of SPv and to also give my opinions and some notes about how they (starting pitchers) have done of late.  Here are your season-to-date SPv leaders (as of  August 12th). Enjoy!

1) Jered Weaver (84.87%)- The Angels’ ace has been dealing this year, even in an offensive powerhouse division like the AL West. He’s only lost one game this year and with the offensive production of the Halo’s lineup, he doesn’t seem to have that much pressure on him.  With guys like Mike Trout (.340 AVG) and Albert Pujols (Did you hear about his 24 homeruns?? Talk about coming back after a slow start…), any pitcher would feel relaxed on the hill.  His fastball isn’t Aroldis Chapman caliber but it’s enough to get the job done.

2) R.A. Dickey (81.19%)- The Tim Wakefield impersonator has looked slightly more human of late, with his ERA going up .74 points since his second consecutive one-hitter.  Remember, he still has the best SPv in the senior circut, meaning he is on track to have the best season a knuckleballer has ever had, statistically. His 15 wins are tied for the most in the the bigs, he still makes batters look silly, and he is still very likely in line to win the NL Cy Young Award.

3) Chris Sale (80.96%)- The lanky southpaw for the Chicago White Sox has given his rotation a big boost, even with his young, inexperienced arm.  He puts on a show with the radar gun and can shutdown powerful lineups.  He does have an advantage of facing some weaker offensive teams in the AL Central, however.  Six of his 13 wins have come against the Royals, Indians and Twins.  He is a great pitcher but needs a little more experience to convinced me. The addition of Jake Peavy helped him greatly and Francisco Liriano will give him more of an advantage.

4) David Price (79.77%)- The three-time All-Star is on pace to get the most wins of his career and as far as the AL Cy Young Award voting is concerned, he is breathing down the neck of Sale and Weaver.  The only thing he actually lacks is a big bat to support him offensively.  Evan Longoria coming back will hopefully help with that problem.  If any pitcher can help Tampa Bay get a playoff spot from the A’s it will be Price.  He WILL have a Cy Young Award on the wall before his career is done.

5) Justin Verlander (78.62%)- Finally on the list, Verlander comes in at fourth place in the junior circuit, quite surprising for the Detroit Tigers ace. In my opinion, he is the most overrated pitcher in baseball.  Sure, he has a blazing fastball. Sure, his ERA is under two and a half.  But, he has been inconsistent at moments and is on pace to have the most losses in his career since 2008.  I will give him credit, however, because he tends to dominate one of my favorite statistics (WHIP).

6) Stephen Strasburg (77.71%)- The Strikeout king is now on the list and he is very deserving.  In seven of his twenty three games this year, he has struck out nine batters or more!  That is 30.4% of the time.  Looking for a whiff?  He’s the guy you have to call.  His innings limit has been in the news lately and I think if the Nationals want to keep winning he must be in the rotation. We’ll have to wait and see how this all plays out.

7) Matt Cain (76.7%)- “Mr. Perfect”, “Cain-O Insane-O”, “The San Fran Man”…regardless of what you call him, he is still a dominant force on the hill out on the west coast.  His ERA is under 3 for only the second time in his career but he’s currently regarded as the best pitcher in the Giants’ stacked rotation.  This is due mostly to Tim Lincecum‘s recent struggles, and the fact that most of the rotation is considerably “young talent”.  One of his statistics which catches my eye the most is the fact that his walks per 9 is the lowest in his career.

8) Felix Hernandez (76.44%)- “King Felix” is one of my favorite pitchers and I feel he is very underrated.  Although he may only have 10 wins, he already has 3 shutouts, leading the league.  He continues to strikeout batters (he is nearing his 1,500th strikeout) and his ERA is staying low.  His division rivals include the Texas Rangers and the LA Angels, two huge offensive teams.  Hernandez continually gets the job done, though.

9) Madison Bumgarner (76.4%)- When looking at the ERA leaders, you could easily think his fellow teammate Ryan Vogelsong has the edge. However, Bumgarner has a higher SPv for a couple of reasons.  One, he strikes out more batters and walks less, as opposed to Vogelsong.  And secondly, Bumgarner has a better WHIP.  Walks plus Hits divided by Innings Pitched is a crucial statistic in the makeup of SPv.  The first round pick in the 2007 draft is off to a good start in his career and he makes a good #2 behind Matt Cain.

10) Kyle Lohse (76.27%)- I was very surprised when I realized Lohse had made the Top 10. When we look at his stats, he has the second most wins on the St. Louis Cardinals staff (12, just behind Lance Lynn‘s 13) against only has 2 losses.  He hasn’t had much popularity since 2008 when he had 15 wins but the baseball community should know that Kyle still has his stuff.  His WHIP and ERA are at career bests and along with Jake Westbrook and Lance Lynn, they are filling the hole left by the Chris Carpenter injury quite nicely.

11) Johnny Cueto (76.18%)- I can truly say that in my mind, Cueto is the best pitcher in the packed NL Central.  I say this because he doesn’t allow many base runners, keeps batters guessing and even when things do get out of hand, he can still often get the win.  This is because of an offense led by Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, and Brandon Phillips.  These athletes, led by Cueto, will help the Reds gain an even larger lead over Andrew McCutchen and the Pittsburgh Pirates as the season winds down.

12) Jordan Zimmermann (76.14%)- I know I say the word underrated too often, but it’s one of the few words that describes Zimmermann accurately.  The reason I feel he hasn’t had instant stardom is due to the fact that, earlier in the year, he lacked run support.  At one point he had a losing record with an ERA under two and a half.  He doesn’t strikeout very many batters but he doesn’t walk many either. This keeps men off the base, keeping his WHIP low.  If anyone on this list will win the NL Cy Young Award in dramatic fashion, it’s Zimmermann.

13) Cole Hamels (75.75%)- This southpaw has been the talk of trade rumors year in and year out, but he remains in Philly, being the only pitcher to have double-digit wins for the Phillies.  He also has the most strikeouts, most innings pitched, leads in ERA+ and the lowest hits per nine innings.  Once the #2 pitcher to Roy Halladay, he is now the ace of the struggling team.  He just signed a huge, $153 million contract, so expect him to stick around for a while.

14) Clayton Kershaw (75.17%)- “The Claw” is the same man as he has been his whole career but isn’t quite as dominant as he was last year.  He is in the very pitching dominant NL, hurting his chances of winning back-to-back Cy Young Awards.  He strikes out a whole batter less per 9 inning than he did last year but he still has a WHIP of 1.027.  He leads the league in shutouts (2), is still the ace for the NL West leading (tied) Los Angeles Dodgers and no longer has to face Melky Cabrera due to a 50 game suspension.

15) CC Sabathia (75.06%)- CC has been on the DL for an extended period of time.  I think the Yankees are in a good enough position to where they can retain first place in the AL East without him.  If you asked me a year earlier, I would’ve told you that New York couldn’t have competed without Mariano Rivera and with Sabathia out, however, that’s exactly what they are doing.  Yankees’ fans just need to hope that C.C. can bounce back from the injuries, and continue on the pace where he left off.

16) A.J. Burnett (74.81%)- I would’ve expected the Pirate’s righty to be higher on this list, with 14 wins and a new beginning in Pittsburgh, however, he is not.  Like many of the pitchers ranked above him, he doesn’t possess a high number of K’s.  Through 21 starts, he already has the most wins in his career since 2008 in Toronto.  Not only does he have a career low WHIP (with 21+ games started), but he has a one-hitter under his belt.

17) Ryan Vogelsong (74.64%)- The reason this guy may not quite be a household name is because he hasn’t performed in the past, as he is just showing signs of greatness.  The last season that he had 25 or more starts before San Fransisco, he had an ERA of 6.50 with a 6-13 W-L record. He has redeemed himself, however, in his second stint for the Giants.  His two years back have been astounding, posting 249 strikeouts and a 23-13 record.  He does walk a few too many, but nothing to worry about. Expect him to have more than one all star selection in his career.

18) Scott Diamond (74.35%)- I consider this young man the only “stud” in the Minnesota Twin’s rotation.  He isnt like many of the guys on this list as far as strikeouts are concerned (5.0 strikeouts per 9 innings), but he makes up for it because he doesn’t walk many either (1.3 walks per 9 innings, a league lead).  He’s only pitched 18 games, and I really don’t expect the trend to continue, as he allows almost a home run a game.  That’s low enough to be a quality pitcher, but not to consistently be on this list.

19) Gio Gonzalez (74.15%)- Gio is one of the best parts of the Washington Nationals “Big 3″ (Strasburg and  Zimmerman included).  He has the most wins out of all of them (15, 2 away from a career high), he has the league lead in home runs per 9 innings (0.4), and the league lead in hits per 9 innings (6.9).  His wicked curveball is similar to those of fellow teamate Stephen Strasburg and Barry Zito.  With Strasburg supposedly being out of postseason play, Gio is the man who needs to step up even further, if possible.  This would be by walking less and staying consistent.

20) Ryan Dempster (73.62%)- The Texas new-comer is lucky to even be on this list.  His ERA has gone up 79 points in 4 games, but I think he still has some success in him.  He is aging, however, and is struggling to get wins.  He is a great #3 or #4 in the Rangers rotation, and run support won’t be an issue anymore, as it was with the Cubs.

Think one of your favorite pitchers deserved to be on the list or would you like to just discuss Starting Pitching Valuation, contact me on Twitter @pitchingstats or use the comments section below. I’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have about about this list, how to calculate SPv and/or how to apply its usage to fantasy baseball. Thanks for reading and be sure to check back next week.

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