Let's jump in with
some of my random thoughts/analysis: Gio Gonzalez has been
special this season, but it's part of the honeymoon experience...and his
.230 BABIP (Batted Average on Balls Hit Into Play - Average ~ .290)
is sure to regress....still a top 12 however. Dan Haren has
lost 2 MPH on his fastball over the last 2 years, it hasn't been a + pitch
for him since his days with the D Backs. Despite this, his K/I has
increased from .77 to .93 this season, yet he's not made the right pitches
when it counts, upward regression expected. We expected Brandon Beachy
to be a top 30 heading into the season, but he's over exceeding his
ceiling as a top 10, his .206 BABIP is over 100 points below his norm.
Zach Grienke has been sporting a very unlucky .368 BABIP, but that
won't last. Brandon Morrow was stunning in May with a $40
valuation, but his BABIP has been a lucky .235 verses a .279 4 year
average. I've never been a big Cliff Lee fan, but he's currently
undervalued as the 47th best pitcher. Lee has a history of strong second
halves and his skill set is still solid. James Shields is also a
buy now candidate, he hasn't made the right pitches in critical situations
as evidenced by his sub par .70 Strand Rate, look for that to change.
We liked Chris Capuano coming into he season, but as a top 90 pitcher...not a top 12. There is some serious regression to the mean that lies ahead here, as evidenced by his lucky .235 BABIP (verses his .299 2 year average). Yovanni Gallardo pitched like a $30 pitcher in May, obviously worth much more than his present 79th ranking. We preached on how underrated R.A. Dickey was this preseason, but his current $38 value is due for some regression. However his K/I rate of .95 does offer some hope that he can maintain himself as a top 30 pitcher. Jake Peavy's fastball and cutter have both re-established themselves as + pitches for him. He's obviously got top 10 talent...but staying healthy will remain his primary hurdle. Ian Kennedy looked brilliant in his last start, and his peripherals are in line with his 2011 season (outside of a elevated BABIP +30), so there is good reason to expect an upward climb in his production.
Adam Wainwright's inconsistency is much in line with the typical Tommy John 18 month rehab cycle (currently month 16). His fastball is down 1+ MPH, and his slider and curveball have yet to re-establish themselves as his + pitches. That said, he had a strong May (top 15) and he could immerge in the second half. Johan Santana has been amazing this season, but it's not the Cy Young Santana that we all remember with the Twins. His fastball is off by 4-5 MPH, he's benefited from a lucky .253 BABIP, and very low 5.3 HR/FB rate...he's still a top 60 pitcher, but not a top 25. As with last month's rankings, I can't find any glaring indicators in Jeff Samardzija's peripherals to say that he shouldn't be a top 50 pitcher. He's currently a top 25, but that's going to be difficult to maintain.
This just in: Pitching in
Petco verses Great American can be detrimental for a flyball pitcher.
Matt Latos posted a 7.3 HR/FB rate last season and he's posting
a 15% HR/FB rate this season. On top of that his BABIP is 20 points higher
than normal....obviously he's dealing with some bad luck, and there will
be an revision with his HR rate...which should level off at 10-11%. Max
Scherzer had a great May, valued at $34, but his BABIP was so unlucky
in April that he's still showing a .380 BABIP. Look for that ERA to settle
down...he should be a high 3 ERA guy the rest of the way.
We made the mistake of ranking him as a top 25 in the preseason, but I'm very concerned that the old Tommy Hanson isn't coming back. His fastball is off by 3 MPH verses what it was in 2010. What was once considered a ++ pitch for him is now a -- pitch. He's worth $17 YTD, but I don't see much upside at this point. Wait until his next good start or stretch and unload. Matt Garza imploded in May, but a closer look shows that his ERA should be 3.30 instead of 4.10. A pitcher with a 1.0 K/I ratio should not be sporting such a poor strand rate (.68). Big Carlos Zambrano is benefiting from a lucky BHIP rate of .237, regression ahead.
Tim Lincecum is striking out more hitters than norm, but it's because he's facing more hitters than norm thanks to his a absurd 4.75 BB/9! His fastball (and well documented loss of speed) is dangerously close to no longer being a + pitch. The velocity loss has made it almost a neutral pitch, which has diminished the effectiveness of his changeup (which was once even more devastating/effective than his fastball). Only bit of good news is that he's been unlucky on balls hit into play (.326)...He's been a personal favorite of mine, but I'm losing faith quickly in Lincecum...
I don't see anything that causes me to think that Jon Lester's horrible start to the season is anything more than an aberration. His K/I is off significantly (.98 vs .77), but his fastball although slightly slower than last year (92.4 vs 92.6) is still within range. The only thing that sticks out right now is the effectiveness of his cutter which was once a ++ pitch for him, and it's now a -- pitch...meaning it's below average. It could be as simple as he's tipping it off or he's tossing it in predictable situations. Either way he's worth a gamble if he's cheap. I still think that Josh Johnson has top 30 ability, sure his FB is 2 MPH less than it's peak, but at 93-94 it's still good enough to get big league hitters out. Glaring out at us is Johnson's bad luck on Balls hit into play (.373 BABIP), the regression here will mean more outs.
If you have been riding the Jason Vargas train, it time to get off and cash in his current top 10 value. He's greatly benefited from a lucky .223 BABIP.
Other unexpected fast start pitchers who have us concerned because of a lucky BHIP% are: Brandon Beachy (.206), Neftali Feliz (.209), Ted Lilly (.221), Carlos Zambrano (.237), Jake Peavy (.239), Barry Zito (.243), and Jeremy Helickson (.242)
Pitchers who are underrated/undervalued because of a unlucky BABIP (BHIP%) include: Max Scherzer (.380), Juan Nicasio (.374), Zach Greinke (.368), Ivan Nova (.353), Jamie Garcia (.351), Luke Hochevar (.348), and Tim Lincecum (.327)
Good luck with your trade offers!- Anthony