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Circling the Bases: Second-Half ERA's

Ray Flowers

The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: M-F at 5-8 PM EDT), Ray Flowers has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. You can follow Ray on Twitter (@BaseballGuys), he never sleeps, and you can also find more of his musings at


I'm going to run through some numbers that pitchers posted in the second half, and I'll focus on the ERA category. I know that ERA isn't the end all be all when breaking down pitchers performance, an I know that you know that as well as astute readers, but it's still pretty interesting to use ERA as a guide for some second half efforts on the bump.

*NOTE: Minimum of 80 innings pitched to be included in the discussion.

0.94 ERA – Kris Medlen
2.10 – Clayton Kershaw
2.16 – Mike Minor
2.27 – David Price
2.45 – Cliff Lee
2.50 – Hisashi Iwakuma
2.67 – Doug Fister
2.69 – Max Scherzer
2.73 – Justin Verlander
2.80 – Jeremy Hellickson

Medlen was amazing. I won't even bother breaking down his performance because we all know, right?, that this was just one of those halves that happens sometimes. I'm pretty sure he's not the second coming of Dwight Gooden.

Kershaw did his best to lift the Dodgers to the playoffs and to give himself a chance at the Cy Young award. He struck out 110 batters with a 0.98 WHIP over his final 107 innings, numbers that are hardly surprising given his season long work (2.53 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 229 Ks in 227.2 IP). He's as dominating as they come.

If not for Medlen, Minor might be the star of the Braves as his effort in the second half was special. His WHIP nearly matched Medlen's (0.87 to 0.82) and he also had an impressive 4.19 K/BB ratio as well. How he went 6-4 you'll have to ask his teammates.

Price went 9-1 with a 0.99 WHIP and a nearly 5:1 K/BB ratio (100 Ks, 22 walks). Will that run be good enough to get him the AL Cy Young Award?

Lee was 5-4 despite an all-world ERA, WHIP (1.05) and 13.63 K/BB ratio (the guy only walked right batters in his last 16 starts). Don't sleep on Lee next year by focusing too much on his 6-9 record.

Iwakuma is the “smallest” name on this list which only means he will be a potentially strong end game grab next season. He isn't going to extend the ERA into next season, but a 1.23 WHIP and nearly 3:1 K/BB ratio signify that he should still be successful.

Fister had a 2.67 ERA and 1.04 WHIP in the second half this season. Maybe he has a thing for second halves. I know there is no quantifiable reason to believe that a player is a “second half” guy, but it's worth noting that Fister was even better in the second half of 2011 (2.47 ERA, 0.91 WHIP).

Scherzer certainly finished with a flourish. Given his stuff, and talent, it's not inconceivable that if he could add in some consistency that he could post 200-innings with a 2.69 ERA and 1.15 WHIP next season. Not likely of course, but possible.

It's not often that Verlander is third on his own staff in anything. His 2.73 ERA and 1.19 WHIP were actually worse than his first half numbers: 2.58 ERA, 0.95 WHIP.

Hellickson is about to the point where I'm just going to stop trying to figure him out and just say he has some innate ability to post numbers that are better than the individual skills that he possesses. A prime example of a pitcher who simply knows how to pitch.

For those of you who don't know, I work from home (yeah, I'm that guy who works from home in his slippers). I bring this up because there is a house being built two lots down the street from my place and I swear, at least once a week the fella building the place sets off his car alarm. At least once a week. Beyond the fact that I'm concerned for his mental well being, how hard is it to push the button on your control pad? Also, the alarm always blares for at least 20-30 seconds. Does it really take that long to get your keys out of your pocket or to find the right button to deactivate that sucker? Sorry for the turn away from baseball, but I just had to vent since this has, literally, been going on for like five months. If it was later in the day I might turn to the bottle for relief. As it is, I'm stuck swigging a virgin Arnold Palmer which, truth be told, isn't half bad.

Now those that struggled in the second half...

4.89 ERA – Josh Beckett
4.92 – Bruce Chen
4.93 – Roy Halladay
5.07 – Travis Wood
5.23 – Jon Lester
5.27 – Mike Leake
5.51 – Henderson Alvarez
5.54 – C.J. Wilson
5.60 – Justin Masterson
6.39 – Luke Hochevar

Beckett actually had a 4.65 ERA which is odd to say given that he had a worse ERA in the second half, especially when his ERA over his last seven starts with the Dodgers was 2.93. Beckett just isn't the pitcher he once was, but he also doesn't profile as a below league average arm either.

Chen is terrible. I could sit here and try to formulate some off the wall theory supported by some twisting of the numbers, but facts are facts. He's nothing other than an innings eater. For his career his ERA is 4.60 and his WHIP 1.38. After 351 games, 203 starts, I think we can close the book on Chen.

Halladay is no longer an ace. Let's admit it. Is he still capable of getting batters out? Of course he is. Halladay, even in his broken down state in the second half, still had a decent 1.29 WHIP with an impressive 8.14 K/9 mark that is light years above his career 6.92 mark. He also had a solid 2.35 BB/9 mark that most hurlers would kill for, even if that mark would be his highest mark since the 2004 season (he finished the year at 2.07, his first time out of the 1's since that same '04 campaign).

Wood had a nice run of success, but that only fooled people into starting him on their fantasy squads far longer than they should have. Wood went 2-10 in the second half with that five ERA, but he also didn't truly deserve those marks as he had a 1.24 WHIP and a decent 7.37 K/9 mark.

Lester was a mess virtually all season, and things didn't get any better in the second half when his ERA and WHIP (1.42) were simply terrible. Given his season long struggles – including a 4.82 ERA and 1.38 WHIP – it's fair to wonder what Lester will offer in 2013. It's also troubling to see his K/IP mark the past three years dip all the way down to 7.28 per nine innings this season.

Leake is the classic innings eater. He took the hill 14 times for the Reds in the second half going 5-3, but his WHIP (1.46) and K/9 ratio (5.49) signify that Leake is nothing more than an end of the staff option in mixed leagues.

Alvarez wasn't very good this season, and that’s an understatement. I wasn't at all shocked given my stated position prior to the start of the season.

Wilson killed many in the second half, including yours truly, as he morphed into a pitcher he had never been before. We found out after the season that he had a wonky elbow, one that required surgery. Hopefully he will be back at 100 percent by the time the 2013 season starts.

Masterson was impressive in 2012, but his 2013 effort was less than impressive. He was hit hard in the second half, 104 hits in 91.2 innings, leading to a pathetic 1.58 WHIP. He also had a terrible 1.61 K/BB ratio over his last 16 starts making him a tough pitcher to count on in mixed leagues at the start of next season.

Hochevar, just like his teammate, Mr. Chen, isn't good. He has stretches where he performs well, and looks like he might develop into something, but in the end it's always disappointment after disappointment. Through 132 games, 128 of which have been starts, Hochevar owns a 5.39 ERA and 1.40 WHIP with a 2.07 K/BB ratio. Toss in a 38-59 record and there isn't anything Hochevar is doing that is even league average. Hochevar was taken first overall in 2006, one spot ahead of Greg Reynolds. Think the Royals and the Rockies would have rather drafted Brandon Morrow (#5), Clayton Kershaw (#7), Tim Lincecum (#10) or Max Scherzer (#11)?

Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87, Monday through Thursday at 7 PM EDT and Friday's at 9 PM EDT. Ray's analysis can be found at and his minute to minute musings can be located at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account.