by Ray Kuhn
Hopefully the All-Star break treated you right, but four days without baseball was a little too much. At the same time it was nice to have the opportunity to take a closer look at your team to evaluate it for the second half. As we get rolling once again, let’s take a look at our options among the pitchers who are taking the mound twice. The problem, though, is that there are not that many strong options.
- Clayton Kershaw – Los Angeles Dodgers – at Chicago White Sox; vs. Atlanta
- Stephen Strasburg – Washington Nationals – at Cincinnati; at Arizona
- Zack Greinke – Arizona Diamondbacks – at Cincinnati; vs. Washington
- Marcus Stroman – Toronto Blue Jays – at Boston; at Cleveland
- Lance McCullers – Houston Astros – vs. Seattle; at Baltimore
- Michael Wacha – St. Louis Cardinals – at New York Mets; at Chicago Cubs
- J.A. Happ – Toronto Blue Jays – at Boston; at Cleveland
- Julio Teheran – Atlanta Braves – vs. Chicago Cubs; at Los Angeles Dodgers
- Ivan Nova – Pittsburgh Pirates – vs. Milwaukee; at Colorado
- Adam Wanwright – St. Louis Cardinals – at New York Mets; at Chicago Cubs
- Tyson Ross – Texas Rangers – at Baltimore; at Tampa Bay
- CC Sabathia – New York Yankees – at Minnesota; at Seattle
- Ariel Miranda – Seattle Mariners – at Houston; vs. New York Yankees
- Zack Wheeler – New York Mets – vs. St. Louis; vs. Oakland
- Scott Feldman – Cincinnati Reds – vs. Washington; vs. Miami
- Sean Newcomb – Atlanta Braves – vs. Chicago Cubs; at Los Angeles Dodgers
- Dylan Bundy – Baltimore Orioles – vs. Texas; vs. Houston
- Jake Odorizzi – Tampa Bay Rays – at Oakland; vs. Texas
- Eduardo Rodriguez – Boston Red Sox – vs. Toronto; at Los Angeles Angels
- Brent Suter – Milwaukee Brewers – at Pittsburgh; at Philadelphia
- German Marquez – Colorado Rockies – vs. San Diego; vs. Pittsburgh
- Chad Kuhl – Pittsburgh Pirates – vs. Milwaukee; at Colorado
- Matt Moore – San Francisco Giants – vs. Cleveland; vs. San Diego
- Josh Tomlin – Cleveland Indians – at San Francisco; vs. Toronto
- Chris Tillman – Baltimore Orioles – vs. Texas; vs. Houston
- Rafael Montero – New York Mets – vs. St. Louis; vs. Oakland
- Jordan Zimmermann – Detroit Tigers – at Kansas City; at Minnesota
- Andrew Cashner – Texas Rangers – at Baltimore; at Tampa Bay
- Ty Blach – San Francisco Giants – vs. Cleveland; vs. San Diego
- Sal Romano – Cincinnati Reds – vs. Arizona; vs. Miami
- Tom Koehler – Miami Marlins – vs. Philadelphia; at Cincinnati
- There is no questioning the talent that Lance McCullers has, but the issue in the second half is going to be stamina. In his last three starts he made it through just 14.1 innings and saw his last outing disintegrate in the fifth inning (after cruising through the first four innings Toronto got to the right-hander for five runs). In 16 starts McCullers has reached seven innings three times, but he does have 106 strikeouts in 91.3 innings. For the most part the Astros have been able to lift McCullers before he gets into much trouble, which has helped to manage his ERA (3.06) and WHIP (1.14).
- Going back to 2015 the future was bright for Michael Wacha as he was just 24-years old and finished the season with a 3.38 ERA. Last season didn’t exactly go according to plan as he put up a 5.09 ERA and 1.48 WHIP in 138 innings. He wasn’t helped by a .334 BABIP and he was also the victim of a 64.7% strand rate, which led to his 3.91 FIP and 4.05 xFIP. Once again Wacha is struggling with his BABIP (.347) but his strand rate has improved to 70.9% and his season is going better. While his FIP and xFIP still show room for an improvement compared to his ERA, he is in a better place (4.10 ERA with a 3.51 FIP and 3.84 xFIP). The one clear difference in 2017, which has also helped his fantasy value, is that he is striking out 9.04 batters per nine innings compared to 7.43 last season. In his last three starts before the All-Star break Wacha was 3-0 with a 1.53 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 17.2 innings. I would expect to see him continue that positive momentum as the second half begins.
- One young pitcher who you have to be concerned with in the second half is Dylan Bundy. After getting off to a strong start he has seen his performance suffer heading into the All-Star break. In his last three starts Bundy has a 7.88 ERA, though he does have 19 strikeouts in 16 innings. What is interesting is that in his 18 starts he has factored in the decision in 16 of those, going 8-8 after being victorious in five of his first decisions. The problem lately, which I’m not sure will improve, is that he has allowed at least one home run in each of his last 11 starts. After finishing May with a 2.89 ERA, Bundy’s ERA now sits at 4.33 with a 1.25 WHIP. He has benefited from a .271 BABIP, helping to explain his 4.87 FIP and 5.12 xFIP, I would exercise some caution.
- Returning from any surgery isn’t an easy process, but some surgeries (such as thoracic outlet syndrome) are a little harder to than others. It might be too soon to declare Tyson Ross fully back and recovered, but he certainly is trending in the right direction. At just 37% ownership in CBS leagues, he is worth a closer look. In five starts since his return Ross is 2-1 with a 5.33 ERA and 1.26 WHIP as he continues to work through some rust. His third start in Cleveland has been his best work as he limited the Indians to just one run in six innings of work. The main culprit in his performance thus far has been the seven runs he allowed over three innings to the Blue Jays. Ross will need to improve his control, 4.62 walks per nine innings, but the veteran starter does have a track record that is better than a lot of other streaming options available.
- At 11% ownership and a 2.25 ERA in his last three starts, Chad Kuhl does stand out as a sleeper option for this week but I’m not sure how heavily I would want to invest. In 14 starts last season he was a solid option as he had a 4.20 ERA along with a 1.32 WHIP. However, through 18 starts so far this season he has just 69 strikeouts in 85.3 innings and he has to tame Coors Field this week. This season hasn’t be as kind to Kuhl, a 4.96 ERA and 1.48 WHIP, but the majority of the damage has come in five starts. If it wasn’t for Coors Field then I would feel more comfortable, but without the strikeout upside it’s not a risk worth taking.