Ervin Santana - Ervin Santana drew a tough matchup to open his second half of the season, facing the Tigers on Friday, but he was up to the task giving up 0 ER on two hits in 7 1/3 innings. He struck out six and walked one. Will Santana regress in the second half, considering he posted a 3.37 ERA and 3.57 xFIP after owning a 5.16 ERA and 4.48 xFIP in 2012? Looking at his numbers, I don't think he will regress too terribly much. If you take away his 2012 campaign, Santana posted 3.92 and 3.38 ERAs in 2010 and 2011. His xFIP marks those two seasons were 3.93 and 4.31, so clearly 2013 is the right hander's best season since his 2008 campaign with the Angels. That said, Santana's been a decent pitcher in the past and now that he's cut his walk rate (career-low 5%) as well as lowered his HR/FB rate from 18% in 2012 to 13% this season, he's been much more effective. Santana's also managed to improve his GB rate by 5% to 48% and lower his overall FB%, which helps limit HRs as well. I expect Santana to continue to be a solid fantasy starter in the second half with an ERA in the mid-3.00s.
Felix Doubront - Last season, Felix Doubront had a 4.86 ERA in 29 starts, which, on the surface, looks pretty bad. But the lefty also owned a 3.81 xFIP, 9.34 K/9 and 24% K%, indicating that, with a bit more luck, he could be a very intriguing fantasy starter in 2013. Fast forward to this season and Doubront, who tossed 6 1/3 innings and allowed 1 ER against the Yankees on Friday, has a 3.94 xFIP, 8.37 K/9 and 22% K%. But he's now lowered his ERA to 3.76, making him a worthwhile cheaper play in daily fantasy baseball and a pitcher that should definitely be owned in AL-only and 12-team mixed leagues. The biggest reason for the drop in Doubront's ERA is his improved HR/FB%, which has fallen from 16% in 2012 to just 8% this season. He's also improved his LD% by 3%. With the high strikeouts, Doubront has the upside to have a very productive second half for his fantasy owners.
Jacoby Ellsbury - Jacoby Ellsbury went 2-for-3 with a HR on Friday against the Yankees and is now batting .308 in 89 games this season. Ellbsury had a solid, although not spectacular, first half of the season, posting a .305/.368/.422 slash line to go along with 36 steals and 59 runs, but just three homers. Obviously, the steals are great, but Ellsbury's lack of power is disappointing. No one necessarily expected him to be a consistent 30-homer guy like he was in 2011, but he is simply not driving the ball. Ellsbury's ISO is only .124 and his SLG% isn't anything special. In the 163 games Ellsbury has played since 2011, he's hit all of eight homers and driven in 60. Clearly, he's a guy that provides elite steal totals and above average runs scored totals, but isn't going to show much pop.
Brad Miller - The Mariners' rookie shortstop, Brad Miller, cracked his first and second major league homers on Friday against the Astros and finished the game 3-for-5 with 5 RBI. Miller is handling major league pitching just fine for his first time in the big leagues, posting a .273/.351/.500 slash line in 74 plate appearances. He's also got a .227 ISO and is showing a decent eye with an 11% BB%. Considered Seattle's shortstop of the future, Miller batted .356/.426/.596 in 26 minor league games at AAA this season before being called up. He's a good option in keeper leagues and you could do a lot worse than having Miller as your shortstop in one-year leagues too.
Scott Kazmir - Scott Kazmir allowed 0 ER on two hits over six innings against the Twins on Friday and now owns a 4.30 ERA and 3.94 xFIP in 92 innings this season. Kazmir faced the minimum through 5 2/3 before an Indians' error opened the door for Minnesota to score two runs. Prior to the All-Star break, Kazmir had posted some solid peripherals, specifically a 3.90 xFIP and 22% K%. On the flip side, Kazmir's HR/FB% was 14% and ERA was 4.60. Looking deeper into the numbers, we see that Kazmir's been pretty solid since May 1, recording xFIP marks of 3.61, 4.02 and 3.63 for May, June and July. If he can maintain sub-4.00 xFIP marks, his ERA should start to reflect that performance moving forward. Kazmir's struggling against right handers as they are posting a .385 wOBA against the lefty (compared to left handers owning a .238 wOBA versus him). He's also managed to limit his BB% to just 8%. All told, Kazmir is showing signs of putting together a nice second half with a solid whiff rate and slightly above average ERA.