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Mound Musings: Let's Hand out the Hardware

David Regan

David Regan

David Regan is a five-time Fantasy Sports Writers Association award winner, and was named the 2010 Fantasy Baseball Writer of the Year.

The final three weeks of Mound Musings we'll look, for the most part, forward toward 2011, but first it's time to hand out a little hardware. As a part of this week's piece, I'd love to read your comments in the comments box. Who's hurt you this year? Who did you target as a sleeper who worked out (or didn't)?

AL CY YOUNG

The competitors:

David Price –
Why he could win: He's new, he's exciting and he has 17 wins with a 2.75 ERA. Why he might not: Nearly 40 fewer innings than the two guys we'll discuss next, and his 73 walks are the fifth most in the AL.

CC Sabathia –
Why he could win: Two more wins (19) than any other pitcher, a lot of innings (217) and a solid 179 strikeouts. Why he might not: Four AL starters have a better ERA than Sabathia's 3.03, and he's alternated between dominant and mediocre in his last four starts.

Felix Hernandez –
Why he could win: Leads the AL in ERA (2.39), innings pitched (225.1) and strikeouts (214). Why he might not: fair or not (it's not), voters are going to have a hard time looking past his 11-11 record.

Who will win:
Sabathia. He'll reach the magical 20-win plateau and seems likely to finish with a sub-3.00 ERA. That should be enough.

Who should win:
Hernandez. No, ERA isn't perfect, but we're far from the point where this race will be decided by advanced metrics. I will note that Jon Lester's 3.20 xFIP is the AL's best, but while Lester deserves a top-five finish, thee three guys above are the clear 1-2-3. Hernandez gets my vote because he's been a horse and has allowed, by far, the fewest runs per nine innings.

NL CY YOUNG

The competitors:

Adam Wainwright –
Why he could win: Tied for first in wins (18), fourth in ERA (2.50), fifth in strikeouts (199 – though the leader has just nine more) and second in innings with 216.1. Why he might not: A 4.91 ERA in his last five starts could indicate he's fading a bit.

Roy Halladay –
Why he could win: Tied for first in wins (18), third in ERA (2.44), second in strikeouts (201), just 28 walks all year and he's first in innings with 228.2. In fact, he's gone fewer than six innings in a start just once all year, and in that case, he was just one out short of that mark. Why he might not: only a poor finish or an injury is keeping him from the trophy.

Who will win:
I also gave consideration to Mat Latos, Josh Johnson, and Ubaldo Jimenez, but Wainwright and Halladay really stand out. Heath Bell probably gets a few votes, but unless a closer is having a Dennis Eckersley or Eric Gagne 2003 type season, I'll take the guy with 170 more innings. Who will win? It's close, but Halladay gets the nod here on Sept. 16, but there's still time for Wainwright to state his case.

Who should win:
Halladay.

BREAKOUT PERFORMERS

American League

Brandon Morrow –
So that whole “change of scenery” thing – fact or fiction? Moving from a pitcher's park in Seattle to the unfriendly confines of the AL East = 2010 breakout for the pitcher formerly best known for being drafted ahead of Tim Lincecum and Clayton Kershaw.

Trevor Cahill –
Now the poster child for throwing pitchers into the fire before they are ready and reaping the benefits the following year, Cahill sits on 16 wins with a 2.61 ERA. Given his mediocre 98:56 K:BB in 172.2 innings, he has to continue to develop next year to maintain anything near a 3.00 ERA, but he certainly can, given he's still just 22.

Clay Buchholz –
15 wins and a 2.53 ERA have him at least on the fringe of the Cy Young discussion, and while he won't win, at least he won't have to fight for a rotation spot next year.

C.J. Wilson –
From solid reliever to legitimate No. 3 starter. If you were fortunate enough to open the year with Wilson on your roster, you've received a ton of value for his 14 wins, 3.25 ERA and 150 strikeouts. No reason to think he can't do it again. You could also list his teammate, Colby Lewis, here as well.

National League

R.A. Dickey –
Dickey's ability to sustain this level of success in 2011 is questionable, but 11 wins and a 2.80 ERA in 23 starts comes as quite the surprise given his pre-2010 career 5.43 ERA in more than 400 big league innings.

Mat Latos –
Latos rocketed through the minors, and we knew he had talent, but after 50.2 uneven big league innings a year ago, a season of 14 wins, a 2.43 ERA and 174 strikeouts wasn't something anyone saw coming. Only injuries and the Padres' status as a small-market team will prevent Latos from competing for Cy Youngs the next several years. He'll look good in Pinstripes in 2016.

Jaime Garcia –
Took me about four months to correctly spell his first name consistently, but I know it now thanks to his 2.70 ERA and probable top-two NL ROY finish. He should be a solid No. 3 starter for the Cardinals next year.

ROOKIE PITCHERS OF THE YEAR


National League

Jaime Garcia – see above.

American League


There really isn't an obvious choice in the AL, where Neftali Feliz is probably the winner over Wade Davis and Brian Matusz. Matusz has been better over the second half, but still, a 4.68 ERA and 1.40 WHIP aren't getting him any awards. Davis has been better with a 4.24 ERA, but he also has a 1.40 WHIP and a K/9 of just 5.9. Feliz gets this by default, though 36 saves with a 9.6 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 are pretty nice numbers. I'd still like to see the Rangers try him as a starter, but with the success he's had in the pen, they might not be too motivated to do so.

FANTASY KILLERS

We won't include injured pitchers here, but rather pitchers who've tossed at least 100 innings and not lived up to pre-draft/auction expectations.

American League


Zack Greinke –
A 3.90 ERA with 164 strikeouts isn't a terrible season by any means, but if you would up with Greinke after your draft, chances are you overpaid based on his 2009 success. It would take a huge package to pry Greinke out of Kansas City, but look for a team to try and try hard this winter.

Scott Baker –
I'm officially done with you Scott Baker. A 4.60 ERA for a pitcher who has a perennially strong K:BB (132:38 this year) is enough for me to look elsewhere next year. That said, look for a huge breakout in 2011.

A.J. Burnett –
10 wins and 132 strikeouts isn't exactly what Burnett's fantasy owners had in mind. Same for the 5.13 ERA. Burnett also has a 6.70 ERA since the end of July and has seen his strikeout rate decline for the third straight year. Best of all, Burnett turns 34 in January and still has three overpaid years left on his contract.

We'll give Scott Kazmir a very honorable mention here …

National League



Randy Wolf –
The change in ballparks from Dodger Stadium to Miller Park hasn't gone well. Wolf sits with a 4.53 ERA, but it's been the 81 walks that's been the killer. On the plus side, he's been better lately (3.07 ERA in nine starts), so perhaps this momentum will make him a bounce-back candidate in 2011.

Jair Jurrjens –
I've intentionally left injured pitchers out of this section, but even when healthy this year, Jurrjens has been a disappointment. A year after a 2.60 ERA in 215 innings, Jurrjens has a 4.64 mark in 115.1. Jurrjens' K/9 is actually up a couple ticks from 6.4 to 6.7, so considering he'll still be just 25 for all of 2011, let's not kick him to the curb just yet.

Joe Blanton –
At 29, we've probably seen Blanton's best years, but seven wins and a 5.00 ERA? Didn't see that either. On the plus side, a 6.6 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 are solid ratios, so some improvement next year wouldn't be a surprise.

SECOND-HALF STUDS


American League


Jeremy Guthrie -
The Orioles have several more interesting pitchers, but Guthrie continues to fulfill the reliable innings-eater veteran role. Since the break, he's been more than that, going 7-2 with a 2.29 ERA. A 46:18 K:BB in 78.2 innings indicates his usual lack of dominance, but teams could do a lot worse next for a No. 4 starter. Expect the Orioles to field trade offers for Guthrie this winter, but bringing him back given the lack of experience in the rotation wouldn't be a bad idea either.

Gio Gonzalez -
Gonzalez has a 3.47 ERA overall, but we've seen continued progress in the second half, as he's posted a 3.01 ERA while dramatically reducing his walk rate (1st half: 4.5 BB/9, 2nd half: 3.3 BB/9). He's primed for an even better year in 2011 in this writer's opinion.

Max Scherzer -
His 4-4 record aside, Scherzer has a 2.43 ERA in 12 starts. It's a bit surprising given his stuff that he has "just" a 74:28 K:BB in 81.1 innings, and he's been a bit hittable lately, but this is still a guy who should post a 200-strikeout season very soon.

National League


Carlos Zambrano
- Big Z has gone 5-0 with a 1.85 ERA in 10 games (seven starts), though a 43:29 K:BB in those 48.2 innings indicates some luck has been involved. Still, we've seen enough to at least have some optimism for his 2011.

Wandy Rodriguez
- W-Rod is 5-1 with a 2.15 ERA and an even more impressive 77:16 K:BB in 75.1 innings. He's primed for a career year in 2011, though do the Astros cash in while his trade value is high?

Dan Hudson -
Hudson has been lights out since coming over from the White Sox, going 7-2 with a 2.12 ERA in the Senior Circuit. He's always posted a solid K:BB, and this year, more of the same - 69:20 in 76.1 innings. He's a solid No. 3 starter and perhaps with more development, a bit more.

Second Half Duds


American League


Javier Vazquez -
A severe dip in velocity has to be at least partially to blame for Vazquez's poor season, as his fastball has averaged just 88.7 mph vs. the 91-plus we've seen throughout his career. Over the second half, he's been even worse, with a 6.20 ERA and more than a hit an inning. It's pretty much a given we'll see a return to the NL next year, where I'd expect he's fare much, much better.

Philip Hughes –
Loving the 5.37 ERA. That just means I'll be able to grab him cheaper next year.

Doug Fister –
Guessing our savvy readers saw his 5.00 ERA coming a mile away.

National League


Yovani Gallardo –
Now, we really have no way of developing a metric to measure a player's psyche, but I can't help but wonder whether being held at gunpoint has something to do with Gallardo's second-half fade. Upon further review, however, his fade began several starts prior to the Aug. 27 incident. Gallardo has posted back-to-back solid outings, making it less likely he'll be a bargain headed into 2011.

Edinson Volquez –
After hitting 98 mph in his rehab from Tommy John surgery, we were pretty excited about Volquez's return, but things haven't gone as planned. Still, despite the 5.14 ERA, we've seen signs, including a 7-1-0-0-1-10 start against the Pirates recently. An offseason to recovery certainly won't hurt, but we simply don't know who's going to come back strong right away post-Tommy John, and who will take a couple years (or more).

Tom Gorzelanny –
It's been a tale of two halves for Gorzelanny this year – 3.16 ERA, 9.2 K/9, 4.4 BB/9 in the first half, 6.1 K/9, 3.9 BB/9. The drop in walks is nice, but the lack of missed bats is clearly troubling. I think he winds up as someone's No. 5 starter next year, with his fantasy value likely to vacillate wildly again in 2011.