Mike Leake - Mike Leake faced the Cubs on Wednesday and yielded 0 ER on four hits and four walks. He struck out six over 5 2/3 innings. After a stellar first half of the season, Leake's been inconsistent in the second half as his ERA has slowly started to rise to be in line with his xFIP. The right hander entered his start with a 3.46 ERA and 3.96 xFIP. That xFIP mark is actually the highest since his rookie season in 2010. He continues to strike out fewer than six batters per game, but has done a good job to cut down on the number of long balls that he's allowed. After posting HR/FB rates of 13%, 14% and 17% the previous three seasons, Leake has an 11.5% mark in 2013. As a pitch-to-contact guy, it will be critically important that Leake continues to limit the homers if he wants to remain successful.
Jeff Samardzija - Jeff Samardzija tried to bounce back after a rough outing in his last start when he faced the Reds on Wednesday afternoon. The right handed failed as he ended up striking out five and allowing 6 ER through 5 2/3 innings of work. Prior to Wednesday, Samradzija owned a 4.29 ERA, but his xFIP remained very god at 3.47. He's striking out about the same number of batters as he did in 2012 (23% K%), but has experienced a slightly higher BABIP (.313). Looking at his numbers between the past two seasons, I believe Samardzija will be undervalued heading into 2014 because of that 4.00+ ERA. However, his peripherals indicate that the former football player is actually pitching just as well as he did in 2012. He should provide decent ERA and WHIP marks next year, while also striking out about a batter per inning.
AJ Burnett - The Pirates' AJ Burnett drew a tough matchup against Texas on Wednesday. He ended up allowing 5 ER on six hits over 6 1/3 innings. The right hander also struck out seven and walked two. Entering the start, Burnett had an impressive 3.31 ERA to go along with an even better 2.96 xFIP. He has struck out more than a batter per inning while posting the lowest HR/FB% (9%) since his 2004 season and tallying an excellent 56% GB%. Burnett's peripherals back up his excellent performance and he's been one of the best starters in fantasy baseball this season. While he may regress a bit in 2014, Burnett is someone I'd target early in drafts to add to my pitching staff.
Yusmeiro Petit - Coming off his last start where he was one pitch away from a perfect game, Yusmeiro Petit tossed 5 2/3 innings and allowed 3 ER against the Rockies on Wednesday. Petit has posted an excellent strikeout-to-walk rate (6.16) in limited action at the big league level this season (32 innings). His major league K/9 and BB/9 marks are in line with the numbers he posted at AAA this season, although he owned just a 4.52 ERA in 87 innings. The biggest difference between Petit's performance in the majors and minors has been his ability to keep the ball in the yard. At AAA, his HR/9 was 1.64, but he's translated that into a 3% HR/FB% and 0.34 HR/9 prior to Wednesday's outing. Those HR rates aren't sustainable so expect some regression in 2014. That said, the strikeout totals are elite, making Petit worth a look in even 10-team NL-only leagues next season.
Dan Haren - Dan Haren faced the Mets on Wednesday and gave up 0 ER on one hit over six innings. He struck out eight and walked one. Haren entered this start with a 5.23 ERA, but his xFIP of 3.78 indicates he's pitched much better than most assume. Haren's 21% K% is his highest mark since 2010, while his GB% has fallen to a career-low 34%. The right hander's 1.62 BB/9 matches his 1.62 HR/9, which is never good, although his HR/FB% is up by fewer than a percentage point in 2013 compared to 2012. While I am certainly leery of Haren heading into 2014, he should be an undervalued back end SP in deeper leagues as his peripherals aren't as bad as his ERA.
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