Found August 18, 2012 on RotoStars.com:
PLAYERS: Adam WainwrightMatt MooreClayton KershawRA DickeyMadison BumgarnerJordan ZimmermannRoy HalladayCliff LeeTim HudsonMax ScherzerPedro MartinezNolan RyanDwight GoodenKerry WoodJeremy HellicksonWandy RodriguezLucas HarrellBrandon McCarthyMark BuehrleTim LincecumScott FeldmanGavin FloydRicky RomeroMike LeakeJoe SaundersHomer BaileyFreddy GarciaMiguel GonzalezDerek HollandMark RogersErvin SantanaJustin GermanoWill SmithBrian DuensingAaron CookUbaldo JimenezAlex WhiteJeff FrancisJustin VerlanderFelix HernandezCole HamelsDavid PriceMatt CainJered WeaverStephen StrasburgJohnny CuetoGio GonzalezJosh JohnsonMat LatosJames ShieldsChris SaleJake PeavyCC SabathiaDoug FisterHiroki KurodaYovani GallardoPaul MaholmAJ BurnettZack GreinkeKyle LohseBen SheetsJon NieseDanny HarenMichael FiersRyan VogelsongBartolo ColonKris MedlenDan StrailyMatt HarveyJose QuintanaPatrick CorbinCole Devries
TEAMS: Arizona CardinalsChicago BearsSt. Louis CardinalsTampa Bay RaysTexas RangersLos Angeles DodgersNew York MetsSan Francisco GiantsWashington NationalsPhiladelphia PhilliesAtlanta BravesDetroit TigersBoston Red SoxChicago CubsPittsburgh PiratesHouston AstrosOakland AthleticsMiami MarlinsChicago White SoxToronto Blue JaysCincinnati RedsArizona DiamondbacksNew York YankeesMilwaukee BrewersLos Angeles AngelsKansas City RoyalsMinnesota TwinsCleveland IndiansColorado RockiesSeattle Mariners

“They are who we thought they were.”

Those were the infamous words that former Arizona Cardinals head coach Dennis Green screamed at reporters following a 2006 loss to the Chicago Bears. However, it is also a perfect description of Adam Wainwright and Matt Moore – two starting pitchers that were considered fantasy disappointments early in the season, but have recently proved their worth. Wainwright and Moore were both taken among the top 25 starting pitchers in ESPN drafts this spring but got off to rocky starts and have only in the last month gotten their respective ERAs under 4.00. However, the fantasy baseball playoffs are just around the corner, and owners who spent an early pick on either pitcher should be excited to have them on their roster during the stretch run. Indeed, they are who we thought they were.

Wainwright appears to have put his Tommy John surgery behind him

In 2009 and 2010, Wainwright was a top ten fantasy starting pitcher – posting seasons of 19 and 20 wins to go along with sub-2.75 ERAs. That was the type of upside that fantasy owners were hoping for when they drafted him this spring following his recovery from Tommy John surgery. Like most pitchers recovering from TJS, Wainwright took some time to regain his form as he struggled in April and early May. Through his first 8 starts, Wainwright owned a putrid 5.77 ERA and 1.53 WHIP to go along with a 3.30 BB/9 – which was not terrible, but nearly a full walk per nine innings higher than his career average. The most notable trend over this stretch was that Wainwright was not relying on his curveball – his signature pitch – as much as he had in the past. He threw good ole Uncle Charlie just 20.9% of the time over his first 8 starts compared to the 26.4% frequency that he threw it with over his previous two seasons.

Since then, Wainwright has more closely resembled the pitcher that he was pre-surgery. In 16 starts since May 22nd, the St. Louis hurler has a 3.06 ERA, and a 1.09 WHIP to go along with an 8.53 K/9 and 1.76 BB/9 – strikeout and walk rates that outpace his career marks. More notably, his curveball selection of 25.1% looks a lot more similar to what it was before he went under the knife. It may have taken a handful of starts this season, but Wainwright appears to be more comfortable relying on his curveball. Wainwright has come into his own even more of late and has been brilliant over his last six starts – the owner of a 1.90 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, and a 40:6 K:BB ratio over 42.66 innings.

Wainwright’s poor start out of the gate has certainly skewed his overall numbers. His ERA for the season currently sits at a mediocre 3.87 and his 1.22 WHIP doesn’t scream top fantasy pitcher. However, 16 starts is a considerably large in-season sample size and I think it’s fair to assess that the 3.06 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in those starts resembles the type of pitcher we can expect from Wainwright down the stretch. With every passing start, Wainwright moves farther away from his TJS procedure last February and with two full years of recovery under his belt next spring, he could easily be drafted as a top-12 starting pitcher.

There was lots of hype surrounding Moore coming into this fantasy season based on his performance against the Texas Rangers in the 2011 playoffs, his high praise among major league scouts, and his ungodly minor league statistics. It was enough for owners to draft him as the 20th starting pitcher on average in ESPN leagues despite the fact that the 22-year-old had pitched less than 20 total innings in the majors before the 2012 season started. Moore was very inconsistent throughout the first half of the season and struggled with his command. Through his first 18 starts of the season, Moore had a 4.39 ERA and 1.46 WHIP through 104.66 innings. He did have a very solid 8.51 K/9, but he also sported a terrible 4.72 BB/9 through those first 18 starts. Up until that point in the season, Moore’s only fantasy value came through the strikeouts he provided.

Moore's wicked slider has helped him put together his best run of the season

In his last five starts, Moore has been a completely different pitcher. He has limited the number of free passes that he has handed out en route to a 1.10 ERA and 0.95 WHIP in 32.66 innings. Over that span, he owns a very impressive 34:8 K:BB rate. The most noticeable underlying statistic that stands out about Moore’s recent run is the effectiveness of his slider – the pitch that had scouts raving throughout his minor league career. In his first 18 starts of the season, Moore threw the slider 13.9% of the time, inducing a swing on 34.9% of those pitches and generating a swing-and-a-miss just 6.3% of the time. In Moore’s last five starts, he’s thrown the slider more (no pun intended) – 20.3% of the time. One of the reasons the Tampa Bay southpaw may be throwing the pitch on a more regular basis is that he has netted much better results as he’s gotten batters to swing at it 49.5% of the time and come up empty 18.4% of the time. While the last five games have been a much smaller sample size than the previous 18, Moore’s improvement and increased usage of his slider may be an indication that he is finally harnessing a pitch that scouts always thought had high potential.

The hype for Moore this spring definitely went a little far. He just turned 23 years old in August and while he has a lot of raw talent, he’s proven that he needs some time and major league experience to sort it all out. While he may not have been worth the 7th or 8th round pick that owners spent on him in drafts, the silver lining is that he could be very helpful if you are currently making a run at your league’s playoffs. His year-to-date ERA and WHIP sit at an uninspiring 3.60 and 1.34 , which may make him an interesting value in drafts next season. He has shown over the past month that the upside that pushed him so high in drafts this season is legitimate. With a year of experience under his belt, Moore should be able to take that next step over the course of a full season in 2013.

 

Double-Start Pitchers

 

Set It and Forget It

Clayton Kershaw (SF/MIA)

R.A. Dickey (COL/HOU)

Madison Bumgarner (@LAD/ATL)

Jordan Zimmermann (ATL/@PHI)

Roy Halladay (CIN/WSH)

 

After going through a bit of a rough patch, Dickey has regained “set it and forget it” status. He has a 2.48 ERA over his last four starts and has proved that his elite strikeout rate is totally legit. He’s struck out at least eight batters in 12 of his last 17 starts and gets a pair of dream matchups this week – one against the hapless Astros and the other against the Rockies, who rank last in runs scored on the road this season.

 

Solid Plays

Adam Wainwright (HOU/@CIN)

Cliff Lee (CIN/WSH)

Tim Hudson (@WSH/@SF)

Max Scherzer (TOR/LAA)

Scherzer is putting together one of the most impressive K/9 rates in histor

 

Speaking of guys with elite strikeout rates, Scherzer has fanned at least eight batters in each of his last six starts. Even more impressive is that his last six starts have come against the Twins, Rangers, Indians (x2), Red Sox, and Angels. With Scherzer, you’re always at risk of seeing your ratios balloon, but he’s actually been pretty good of late, with a 3.29 ERA in the aforementioned six starts. Scherzer’s real value comes in his strikeouts, as his current K/9 of 11.39 has only been sustained over the course of a full season by five other men since the turn of the 20th century: Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Nolan Ryan, Dwight Gooden, and Kerry Wood.


Middle of the Pack

Jeremy Hellickson (KC/OAK)

Wandy Rodriguez (@SD/MIL)

Lucas Harrell (@STL/@NYM)

Brandon McCarthy (MIN/@TB)

Mark Buehrle (@ARI/@LAD)

 

McCarthy has been solid upon his return from the disabled list – posting two quality starts against the White Sox and the Royals. He’s a middling option for strikeouts, but he provides sturdy ratios and with the A’s making a push for the playoffs, he should get fantasy owners a handful of wins before the end of the season. He gets a real nice weekend start against a Rays team that has been struggling on the offensive side of the ball.

 

AL/NL Only

Tim Lincecum (@LAD/ATL)

Scott Feldman (BAL/MIN)

Gavin Floyd (NYY/SEA)

Ricky Romero (@DET/@BAL)

Mike Leake (@PHI/STL)

Joe Saunders (MIA/SD)

Homer Bailey (@PHI/STL)

Kevin Millwood (CLE/@CHW)

Freddy Garcia (@CHW/@CLE)

Miguel Gonzalez (@TEX/TOR)

Derek Holland (BAL/MIN)

Mark Rogers (CHC/@PIT)

Ervin Santana (@BOS/@DET)

 

 

You can’t be THIS desperate for a two-step?

Justin Germano (@MIL/COL)

Edison Volquez (PIT/@ARI)

Will Smith (@TB/@BOS)

Brian Duensing (@OAK/@TEX)

Aaron Cook (LAA/KC)

Ubaldo Jimenez (@SEA/NYY)

Cole De Vries (@OAK/@TEX)

J. Chacin (@NYM/@CHC)

Alex White (@NYM/@CHC)

Jeff Francis (@NYM/@CHC)

 

Single-Start Pitchers

 

Top 30

1. Justin Verlander (TOR)

2. Felix Hernandez (CLE)

3. Cole Hamels (CIN)

4. David Price (KC)

5. Matt Cain (@LAD)

6. Jered Weaver (@BOS)

7. Stephen Strasburg (ATL)

8. Johnny Cueto (@PHI)

9. Gio Gonzalez (@PHI)

10. Josh Johnson (@LAD)

11. Mat Latos (STL)

12. James Shields (KC)

13. Chris Sale (NYY)

14. Jake Peavy (SEA)

15. Matt Moore (OAK)

16. Jason Vargas (@CHW)

17. CC Sabathia (@CLE)

18. Doug Fister (LAA)

19. Hiroki Kuroda (@CLE)

20. Yovani Gallardo (CHC)

21. Paul Maholm (@WSH)

22. A.J. Burnett (@SD)

23. Zack Greinke (@DET)

24. Kyle Lohse (HOU)

25. Ben Sheets (@SF)

26. Jon Niese (HOU)

27. Dan Haren (@BOS)

28. Michael Fiers (@PIT)

29. Ryan Vogelsong (ATL)

30. Bartolo Colon (@TB)

 

Down by the river stream

(Pitchers owned in less than 30% of ESPN Leagues)

 

Last Week

Kris Medlen: W, 9 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6

Lucas Harrell: W, 8 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K

Dan Straily: W, 6.33 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K

 

This Week

Matt Harvey (COL)

Jose Quintana (SEA)

Patrick Corbin (SD)

 

If you need strikeouts, Harvey is available in plenty of leagues

Harvey twirled a gem against the Reds last week – striking out eight and giving up just one earned run over 7.66 innings. Many fantasy owners jumped ship on the Mets highly-touted prospect after a pair of mediocre starts against the Padres and Braves, making him available in over 70% of ESPN leagues. Harvey has high strikeout potential, as he has recorded 34 Ks over his first 30 major league innings, and draws a soft matchup at home against the Rockies.

 

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