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Joe Nelson - Blogs

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FOUR TO FADE: NATIONAL LEAGUE

By Joe Nelson
Posted 07/15/2012 at 09:04 PM

The second half of the MLB season is underway and it is time to look at four National League starting pitchers who may be due for a negative adjustment in the second half. The starters below have delivered solid results in the first half but there is reason to be wary of the numbers. In many situations and pricings these may be pitchers to consider fading in the second half.

Aaron Harang, Los Angeles Dodgers

The burly veteran went 14-7 last season with a 3.64 ERA pitching for the Padres but his numbers were certainly aided by Petco Park. This season Harang is enjoying a ballpark advantage again at Dodger Stadium and riding his way to another solid season. Harang has just six wins but an ERA of 3.53, numbers just about any team would love to have in the back of the rotation. Harang saw his numbers start to fade in late July last season and he could be on similar path in 2012. The Dodgers have lost four of his last five starts and he has allowed three or more runs in four of those five outings. Harang owns a 2.97 ERA at home but his season WHIP is 1.37 as walks have been a bit of a problem. Harang is featuring a worse than 2:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio and for the year he has an xFIP of 4.63, a figure significantly higher than his ERA and actually the eighth worst in all of baseball among qualified starters. Harang has only allowed ten home runs this season, a number quite out of line with his career averages so a few rough outings may be ahead.

Ryan Vogelsong, San Francisco Giants

Ryan Vogelsong had an impressive breakthrough season in 2011 and he is on an even better pace this season for the Giants, featuring a 2.36 ERA to be among the league leaders. Vogelsong incredibly owns a 4.48 xFIP however; a figure over two runs higher than his ERA. He has benefited from an extremely low .250 BABIP which is the fifth lowest in baseball among qualified starters. Vogelsong is only producing about six strikeouts per nine innings while walking nearly three batters per nine innings as he has not had dominant stuff. Vogelsong has allowed just eight home runs in over 110 innings this season and AT&T Park has also played a huge role in his success as he owns an incredible 1.43 ERA at home. Only once in 16 starts has Vogelsong not had a quality start this season, a run that will simply be too hard to keep up especially considering he will be due to pitch on the road several times in the coming weeks. Vogelsong has one of the best runners-left-on-base percentages in baseball which has also boosted his cause. The numbers simply donít add up for Vogelsong to continue this brilliant run.

Tommy Hanson, Atlanta Braves

On the periphery it looks like Tommy Hanson is having a fine season with a 10-5 record but he has been consistently mediocre. Hanson has allowed at least two runs in nine consecutive outings and it appears that for the third straight year his season ERA will rise following his great rookie campaign in 2009.The Braves are 7-1 in his last eight outings but Hanson has allowed 26 runs in those eight games and he has benefited from strong run support with over 4.7 runs per game in his starts. Hanson has allowed 17 home runs in 19 starts and he has allowed almost a hit per inning on the season. His season FIP of 4.47 is even higher than his average 4.02 ERA and opponents are batting a solid .256 against him despite a well below average BABIP. A big reason for his success has been his ability to strand runners with nearly 78 percent of base runners failing to score, one of the better marks in the NL. With his strong record Hanson is going to be overvalued in the coming weeks and he has resembled a league-average pitcher far more than the Atlanta ace many have expected him to be.

Kyle Lohse, St. Louis Cardinals

Since coming to the Cardinals Kyle Lohse has resurrected his career, now 48-34 in St. Louis but it has been with some inconsistency. Lohse had a brilliant 2008 season but then really struggled in 2009 and 2010 before bouncing back with strong numbers in the World Series championship season in St. Louis last year. This season Lohse has pitched incredibly well, going 9-2 with a 2.80 ERA. Lohse has always had excellent control and this season he walked just 21 batters in 122 innings, one of the lowest walk rates in the National League. Lohse owns a xFIP of 4.24 however suggesting that he has been very fortunate so far in 2012. His .261 BABIP is extremely low, even lower than last season when he was very fortunate and he is getting more groundballs than you would expect based on his recent past seasons. He is also allowing far fewer home runs than earlier in his career. Lohse has just 70 strikeouts this season so he has been far from overpowering and he has not had more than six strikeouts in any game this season. Lohse has great numbers in St. Louis despite high scoring numbers overall at Busch Stadium this season. Road trips to Milwaukee, Colorado, Philadelphia, and Cincinnati are on the horizon in the next several weeks so Lohse could see his numbers swell in the second half.

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