MLB Handicapping: Pitchers to Watch Post All-Star Game
by Trevor Whenham - 7/18/2013
As we finish off the MLB all-star break and get ready for the second half of the season (more like the last third, really), it’s a good time to be on the hunt for pitchers who should be able to perform better down the stretch than they have up to this point. Of particular interest are pitchers who have big names but who have been disappointing to bettors — so disappointing that frustration is mounting and public bettors are turning against them. If they can perform well from here on then they can deliver profits at nice prices and help fatten the bankroll down the stretch. Here are three top-level pitchers with a chance to finish strong:
Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants
Lincecum threw about as well as he — or any pitcher — can last week when he recorded the second no-hitter of the season. He threw approximately a million pitches while striking out 13 and getting 29 swinging strikes. It was like a glimpse to the past for a guy who has seen his accuracy, velocity, and general terror-factor fade dramatically in recent years. The guy still knows how to win, and this kind of performance could give him the swagger he needs to again become effective. He won’t ever win a Cy Young again, but there is still a lot of room for improvement from where he has been in recent years.
Besides the confidence factor, the other thing to consider is that Lincecum has been getting hit much harder with men on base than without. So has Matt Cain, so there is at least a chance that this is as much a San Francisco problem as an individual pitcher problem. It’s also the kind of problem that doesn’t tend to persist, so things could level out to a more reasonable level in coming weeks, and the results for Lincecum could follow. On top of all that, the Giants are playing in an overachieving division and are playing well below capabilities — two things that should reverse themselves through the rest of the season.
Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies
Hamels, much like the rest of his team, has had a disastrous year. He is just 4-11, and his stats have been far below what is expected of him — and certainly below what he is being paid to provide. When you look at his numbers, though, there are three things that stand out. First, as a power pitcher, strikeout numbers are significant, and his are just slightly down from recent levels. In fact, he has had more strikeouts per nine innings this year than in 2011, and he went 14-9 that year. That means that he is at least reasonably effective — much more effective than his record has indicated so far. Second, Hamels has looked his best in his last three starts. He has recorded two wins and the team has won all three outings. He has been effective, and that will build his confidence going forward. Finally, and perhaps most significantly, he has had lousy run support from his team — just 3.2 runs per outing. That’s well below what the team is capable of and a good deal below what we can expect the rest of the way. Nine times this year he has allowed three or fewer earned runs yet his team has lost the game. If just a few of those games go the other way in the second half, he will be at least respectable, and quite possibly even better.
Jon Lester, Boston Red Sox
Lester is a pitcher who depends on the efficiency of one pitch — his cut fastball. His problem this year, then, has been simple — guys are hitting his cutter like crazy. In the six years before this season hitters had a paltry .262 slugging percentage against Lester’s cutter. This year that number is way up at .439. The decline has actually been gradual since the start of last year, and that’s why his numbers these last two seasons have been far below what they were in the previous four stellar seasons. That’s a real concern. What we have seen this year despite that issue, though, is that while he has lacked consistency, he can still be effective — he was 6-0 to start the season before going just 2-6 since. Despite the problems with his key pitch, there are also a number of luck factors that have not gone his way recently. If those return to expectations then we should see Lester have some stronger results down the stretch again.
Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
Most Recent Baseball Handicapping
- 2020 World Series Predictions with Expert Analysis
- Free MLB Picks Thursday 10/1/2020 and Opening Line Report
- Free MLB Picks Wednesday 9/30/2020 and Opening Line Report
- Free MLB Picks Tuesday 9/29/2020 and Opening Line Report
- Free MLB Picks Saturday 9/26/2020 and Opening Line Report
- Free MLB Picks Friday 9/25/2020 and Opening Line Report
- Free MLB Picks Thursday 9/24/2020 and Opening Line Report
- Free MLB Picks Wednesday 9/23/2020 and Opening Line Report
- Free MLB Picks Tuesday 9/22/2020 and Opening Line Report
- Free MLB Picks Saturday 9/19/2020 and Opening Line Report