Posted 07/17/2012 at 04:46 PM
The second half of the MLB season is underway and it is time to look at four American 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.
Jeremy Hellickson, Tampa Bay Rays
Jeremy Hellickson has only four wins on the season so he won’t exactly be overvalued but with a 3.48 ERA and coming off his rookie of the year campaign in 2011 Hellickson demands some attention, particularly at home where is numbers are pretty strong. The Rays are a losing team behind the 25-year old right-hander however and Hellickson is holding a 5.45 FIP on the season. He has benefited from a .254 BABIP and last season he had an incredibly low BABIP at .223. Some of that comes from a low-scoring home park and that won’t change but Hellickson is getting less than six strikeouts per nine innings and he has battled with walks in recent games with four or more walks in three of his last five starts. Facing off with some of the big bats in the AL East in the second half won’t help his cause and his season may start to look like a real sophomore slump in the coming weeks. The Rays do have a strong bullpen that can help to ward of some problems for Tampa Bay starters but the offense continues to provide minimal support as Tampa Bay seems to be slowly sinking out of the playoff race.
Jarrod Parker, Oakland Athletics
The 23-year old rookie leads Oakland in ERA at 3.16 and he has made the most of his low scoring home ballpark with a 2.45 ERA in home games. Jarrod Parker has just six wins on the season and his last two starts have been pretty marginal, leading to some possible concerns ahead. Parker already has 91 innings under his belt after pitching a total of around 136 innings last season between Arizona and the minors. Control has not always been there for Parker this season even with his strong overall numbers as he has walked 41 batters in 91 innings and has a less than 2:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Parker owns a xFIP of 4.28 suggesting that the could be some negative adjustments to his numbers ahead, benefiting from a .271 BABIP so far this season while also incredibly allowing only four home runs. Even the best pitchers in baseball don’t have home run rates that low and Parker could regress to the mean in the coming weeks. Oakland has shown more promise on offense of late to help Parker’s cause, netting him a win in a marginal outing in his first start of the second half but with the Angels and Rangers in his division there are likely to be some rocky outings in the coming weeks.
C.J. Wilson, Los Angeles Angels
The Angels have surged to the thick of the AL West race after an awful start to the season and C.J. Wilson has been a rock for the Angels in the rotation all season long. His 2.43 ERA is one of the best marks in baseball and only four of his 19 starts have not been quality starts. The Angels have gone 13-6 in his starts this season as Wilson has pitched extremely well away from home with a 2.07 ERA and his team going 9-3 in those twelve starts. Wilson is well off his strikeout pace from last season however when he averaged 8.3 strikeouts per nine innings. His 7.2 mark this season is nothing to scoff at but Wilson has been pretty fortunate this season. His .241 BABIP indicates a great deal of luck and his season xFIP is 4.04, suggesting a much more average pitcher than what his conventional numbers suggest. In the last month that figure rises to 4.50 with his strikeout-per-nine rate down to less than 5.3. Wilson has always walked more batters than ideal and this season that has been no different, allowing 51 free passes for a less than 2:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio and he has not yet been hurt significantly by the extra base runners. That could change in the months ahead if the numbers even out and Wilson really has pretty average numbers at home this season. Wilson is starting to see pretty steep favorite lines and he may not be worth the upcoming pricing.
Wei-Yin Chen, Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles are probably a fade team in the second half and while the Taiwanese import Wei-Yen Chen has been a pretty reliable starter for Baltimore in his first MLB season there is reason to skeptical of him moving forward. Chen has benefited from a .264 BABIP this season and his xFIP of 4.42 is dramatically higher than his 3.80 ERA. Chen has strong control which has helped his cause in many outings but he also has been prone to allowing home runs with 15 surrendered in 18 games. Baltimore’s bullpen had some of the best numbers in baseball in the first half of the season but in the last few weeks the unit has started to slide a bit. Recent struggles in the starting staff have contributed and the injury to top starter Jason Hammel will only make matters worse as the workload is likely to increase for the relievers. Baltimore also got by with a solid winning record in the first half of the season despite being a negative run differential team and the offense is not producing in line with its current record. The Orioles actually have the second worst run differential in the entire AL despite having a winning record. The home run pace for the Orioles will likely slow and the defense has been very poor in recent weeks, now with the most errors committed in baseball and poor defense will take a toll on the entire pitching staff. Opponents will no longer be seeing Chen for the first time in the second half of the season as well.