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Starting Pitchers: The Real Deal, The Falling Star and The Rising Sun 

 

My grandpa used to always tell me a story and in short went like this. In our lifetime, there will always be someone who everyone wants to be #REALDEAL, there will always be someone who is declining #FALLINGSTAR, and there will always be someone trying to be better than the next #RISINGSTAR. This can easily be translated into fantasy sports as nothing remains constant and forever changing. The goal is to anticipate the future before it happens and that is what is being accomplished in this article. Here are the current top five rated pitchers beginning of May 21st.

1. Clayton Kershaw, LAD- 5-2 (T-4th), 1.35 ERA (1st), 0.82 WHIP (2nd), 72 K’s in 73.1 IP

2. Matt Harvey, NYM- 5-0 (T-4th), 1.55 ERA (3rd), 0.72 WHIP (1st), 68 K’s in 63.2 IP

3. Yu Darvish, Tex- 7-2 (2nd), 2.97 ERA, 0.92 WHIP (T-5th), 86 K’s in 60.2 IP

4. Jordan Zimmerman, Was- 7-2 (2nd), 1.62 ERA (4th), 0.87 WHIP (T-3rd), 45 K’s in 66.2 IP

5. Patrick Corbin, Ari- 7-0 (2nd), 1.44 ERA (2nd), 0.98 WHIP (8th), 51 K’s in 62.1 IP

2011 NL Cy Young Award Winner Clayton Kershaw is no stranger to putting a team on his back. He leads the NL in ERA, innings pitched and second in complete games with two (pitched 8 2/3 innings in another win). Kershaw has now allowed one or fewer earned runs in his last five starts going at least 7 IP and has not allowed more than three earned runs in any one start this season. He will face St. Louis at home on Sunday where he is 4-1 with a 0.80 ERA in six games started. Beginning in June, the Dodgers play division opponents 29 of their last 41 games before the break. Good news for the lefty as he has dominated NL opponents throwing sub 2.00 ERA against Arizona, San Diego, and San Francisco during the last three years. #THEREALDEAL #RISINGSTAR

In his first full season, Matt Harvey has awed fans and stifled hitters leading the league in WHIP, winning percentage and opponent BA (1.49). He has a better strikeout rate (9.61 K/9) than Kershaw and is still learning how to pitch. Only till recently has he allowed multiple earned runs in back-to-back games pitching at least seven innings in seven of nine starts. If you’ve seen Harvey, then you know the potential. Harvey has the arsenal to work with, it’s just whether he can stay mentally focused down the stretch. #THEREALDEAL

I want to take the moment to thank Japan for the gifts of Yu Darvish and Ichiro Suzuki. Obviously Suzuki is past his prime but in comes league leader in strikeouts Yu Darvish who will have as much affect on the game as Suzuki did. When discussing types of pitches Yu Darvish doesn’t have an arsenal, he has more of a small army as the only pitcher to strike out double-digit batters in four starts. He did struggle post All-Star break last season with a 4.26 ERA but still maintained his strikeout rate. Darvish is another pitcher who plays in a soft hitting division and because of it should keep his ERA low and his 12.76 K/9 ratio around the same. #THEREALDEAL

The No.3 pitcher for the Nationals is the fourth-rated pitcher in all of baseball. Pitching in his fourth full season, Jordan Zimmerman’s strikeout rate has fallen from 9.07 K/9 to 6.08 K/9, but his ground ball to flyball ratio is the best it’s ever been (103 GB-97 FB= 1.07 GB/FB ratio) which manager Davey Johnson could live with. The fact that he faces other No.3′s in the rotation helps his winning percentage, but he is still facing the same batters who have been hitting a measly .202 against him on the season. Among pitchers with more than five wins, Zimmerman is the only with under 10 walks allowed holding a 5-1 strikeout (45) to walk ratio (9). With his strikeout rate down, it will be difficult to remain in the top 5 #FALLINGSTAR through the All-Star break but he is still #THEREALDEAL as the Nationals look to have the best 1-2-3 combo in the league.

Patrick Corbin is the only top 5 pitcher to allow no more than two earned runs in any start. He just pitched his first complete game at Coors Field striking out 10 batters and opponents are only hitting .194 against the south paw. Here are some interesting stats to go gaga over, Corbin only the 11th pitcher to throw a nine-inning complete game while allowing three or fewer hits at Coors, which opened in 1995. It was also the third time any opposing pitcher threw a complete game at Coors Field using fewer than 100 pitches, and only five other pitchers have tossed nine-innings at Coors while reaching double digits in strikeouts. The Diamondbacks have won all nine games Corbin has started. Can the streak continue? Baseball odds are sure to catch up as they do to most 23 year olds, knocking him out the top five by All-Star break. #FALLINGSTAR The lefty has only thrown more than 100 pitches in one outing and walked three or more batters in four of the nine starts, but has found ways to escape danger. #THEREALDEAL but not for long. #SellHigh

On the Rise

The road (3.48 ERA) to home (1.45 ERA) split is the only thing keeping Adam Wainwright out the top 10 (ESPN Ranked No.12). The strikeout rate is best its ever been 8.77 K/9 and his ground ball to fly ball ratio (1.10) is one of the tops in the league. After missing the full 2011 season due to Tommy John surgery, it has taken a while for Wainwright to regain his control, velocity and bite on breaking balls. In nine starts this season, Adam has had the right stuff with baseball’s best strikeout (63)-to-walk (5) ratio (12-1) only allowing more than one walk in one game but has had a tendency of leaving the ball up leaving his hits (60)-to-innings pitched (64.1) relatively high. The eight-year veteran gets stronger as the season moves along and will no doubt be a top 10 pitcher by All-Star break. #RISINGSTAR

Fourth-year pitcher Chris Sale out of Florida Gulf Coast (ESPN Ranked No.11) has put together eight quality starts in nine appearances. If it wasn’t for his 8 earned run outing against Cleveland, the lefty’s numbers would tell a different story. He has been heavily relied on as he has gone at least 7 innings in eight starts with the White Sox winning the last five games Sale has pitched. He the No.2 pitcher in the rotation so the pressure remains on Peavy to produce, but only in his second year as a starter his small sample size has top 10 pitcher written all over it. #RISINGSTAR

San Diego State Alumn, Stephen Strasburg, came back to San Diego and pitched a career-high eight-inning gem for only his second win on the season. Other than the 2-5 record, the numbers are still there with a relatively low 2.83 ERA and 1.12 WHIP along with a career best ground ball to flyball ratio (0.98). His 8.63 K/9 ratio is a decline from his 11.13 ratio last year, but in the same boat as Wainwright has found a groove late in his second season from Tommy John surgery. Expect good things to come from the 24 year old who is currently out of the top 30 and will be battling for top 10 rights by the All-Star break. #RISINGSTAR

San Francisco pitcher Matt Cain is on pace to start in more than 30 games for the eighth straight season. There is no way that Cain will stay out of the top 50 (ESPN Ranked 70) as the Giants rely on the No.1 with a 4.2 WAR average in the past six seasons. Cain is currently on a three game winning streak and has allowed five or less hits in five of his nine starts to begin the season. With opponents only hitting better than .250 once in his career and the soft NL West on deck, Cain is sure to be a #RISINGSTAR #BuyLow

On the Fall

In 10 career starts, Shelby Miller is 6-3 with a 1.66 ERA and 0.92 WHIP with opponents batting .187. #REALDEAL In his first full season as a starter it will be difficult to maintain the numbers as he had his most difficult outing against the Padres in his last start after pitching 15 scoreless innings. He simply relies on his fastball too much and with a low ground ball to flyball ratio (0.77), the Cardinal pitcher still has growing pains to experience. #FALLINGSTAR #SellHigh

Brewer pitcher Yovani Gallardo has a career 3.69 ERA and has struck out 200 batters or more in the last four seasons. With his strikeout rate the lowest it’s ever been (6.67 K/9) and opponents hitting a career high .282 against him this year, Milwaukee’s Ace has yet to find his groove. His 4.50 ERA and 1.47 WHIP are sure to improve, but Gallardo will need to find a way to break his four start winless streak. #FALLINGSTAR #BuyLow

I know his velocity is down and he has allowed double-digit hits in his last two outings, but Yankee pitcher C.C Sabathia is notoriously a slow starter. It takes the 6’7 frame to warm up with the weather as he has combined for a 2.48 ERA during June and July during the past three seasons. #RISINGSTAR He is still throwing below his career 3.50 ERA with a 3.43 ERA, but his ground ball to flyball ratio is at a career low (0.77) which would explain the nine home runs in 10 starts. In five of his first six starts, the Pinstripes Ace threw at least seven innings. In his last four, Sabathia has failed to reach the seventh. #FALLINGSTAR