You will regularly see articles about first and second half splits in Fantasy Baseball. Well, what about second half of the first half splits? Confused? Often, owners will have missed the window or waited too long on players while looking for these three-month (pre and post All Star) splits. Every year, there are pitcher trends within parts of the season alerting us to regressions or breakouts. With that in mind, we’re going to look at four pitchers (three good, one… not so much) that have interesting SOBBs since May 16 – or, the second half of the first half of the season. Plus, we have your pitching streamers for next week in SOBB Your Way to Success.
As always, we use SOBB (breakdown here) as the initial base when projecting a pitcher’s future performance.
Range of starting pitcher SOBBs (K-BB%) and the values they hold.
Range of relief pitcher SOBBs (K-BB%) and the values they hold.
Cheers or Tears
Brad Peacock, HOU –Peacock’s first three starts after moving into the rotation left plenty to be desired, but you can’t ask for much better when it comes to strikeouts over his last two starts. Peacock has 18 strikeouts in just 10.1 innings in those starts and has the sixth highest SOBB (25.2) since May 16. The one issue with Peacock is his inability to pitch deep into games. Peacock’s last start against the Athletics was his longest outing at just 5.2 innings. Nevertheless, you aren’t going to get much more bang for your buck than Peacock, as he has a 3.81 ERA and 14.0 K/9 as a starter. For reference, Jose Fernandez led everyone with a 12.5 K/9 last year. Obviously, Peacock carries more weight in a points league or rotisserie with K/9 over total strikeouts, but he’s a must-own and must-start at this point. Get him in the lineup for Thursday’s rematch against the Athletics.
Dinelson Lamet, SD – Lamet is just behind Peacock in SOBB (24.6) since May 16, but he’s way behind in ERA with a 6.60 mark. The good news is that Lamet’s xFIP is 4.04, and aside from two terrible starts, Lamet has been solid; he allowed three earned runs or less in each of the other four games. While you can’t ignore those two tough outings, you also can’t ignore Lamet’s strikeout potential. Not only is Lamet’s SOBB terrific, he’s carrying a 12.6 K/9, which helps lessen the concern of his mediocre 3.0 BB/9. Lamet’s main issue is home runs, as he’s given up eight already, a rate of 2.4 HR/9. The good news is that Lamet flashed the ability to carry a HR/9 at or under 1.0 throughout the minors, so he is likely still adjusting to the majors. Once Lamet refines his approach and learns to avoid the big hits, he could be a Top 40 starter based on strikeouts alone. Pick your spots for now and avoid power-hitting lineups, but Lamet is worth owning for his high ceiling.
Jimmy Nelson, MIL – Nelson is just outside the Top 10 in SOBB with a 23.2 mark since May 16, and he has a nice 18.2 season SOBB. When Nelson arrived in the majors, the excitement was over his ability to strike out batters. However, his first three seasons saw him flash a few games of high-strikeout potential but struggle overall with an ERA over four and a K/9 under eight. This year, Nelson has a 3.50 ERA (3.49 xFIP) and 9.3 K/9, and those numbers improve to a 3.14 ERA and 10.5 K/9 over his last eight starts. The best part is that Nelson has greatly improved his control with a terrific 1.7 BB/9 during that stretch. Even better is that Nelson has actually been a tad unlucky with a .370 BABIP during that span. Nelson looks to have finally taken that step forward thanks to his career best marks in SwStr% (11.1), F-Strike% (63.6) and BB/9 (2.4). His SwStr% in June is up to 14.0 and not far behind league-leaders Corey Kluber (18.3), Chris Sale (17.2) and Masahiro Tanaka (16.8)… oh, hey there Tanaka! Back to Nelson, if you had any lingering doubts based on his checkered past, you can wash them away and buy into Nelson as a Top 30 starter in Fantasy Baseball.
Taijuan Walker, ARI – Don’t look now, but all of those warm, fuzzy feelings that Walker might finally have his breakout season might be fading away. Since May 16, Walker has a 3.9 SOBB, which is the 11th lowest mark among starters, sandwiched between Matt Boyd and Kyle Gibson. Walker’s 3.50 ERA looks solid, but he’s given up nine runs (seven earned) in his last three starts with zero strikeouts against the Cardinals. Walker’s xFIP is nearly a full run higher at 4.43. Looking deeper, he is allowing one-third of the number of home runs he did last year (per nine innings). You might think that’s good, but it’s actually concerning, as Walker is allowing the highest Hard% of his career and has regularly allowed well over a home run per nine innings pitched. Pitching in Arizona makes regression more likely given its hitter-friendly nature, and Walker is walking more batters than ever while striking out fewer over the last few weeks. There are signs here telling us it would be a good time to sell high on Walker.
Streaming Pitchers to Target Next Week (Last 30 Days Stats)
Padres: 19.6 SOBB, 28.0 K%, 93 wRC+
Trevor Bauer, Josh Tomlin, CLE; Nick Pivetta, Aaron Nola, PHI
Rangers: 19.4 SOBB, 28.2 K%, 96 wRC+
Rick Porcello, BOS; Alex Meyer, LAA (if you’re bold)
Athletics: 18.7 SOBB, 27.0 K%, 107 wRC+
Carlos Rodon, CHW, James Shields, CHW (both dicey); Ariel Miranda, Felix Hernandez, SEA
Orioles: 18.2 SOBB, 24.5 K%, 99 wRC+
Matt Garza, MIL; Hector Santiago, MIN