This week’s Top 10 Starting Pitchers are highlighted by a couple of guys making their way back from injury, two pitchers from New York, and an ace in Florida who continues to get overlooked by just about everyone. Here is this week’s Top 10 Starting Pitchers…
1.Tim Lincecum, SP SF: 10-4, 2.94 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 136 K
Lincecum once again looks like the two-time CY winner that fantasy owners know and love. Over his last two outings, he’s allowed just one earned run in 16 innings and has struck out 15 over that span. It looks as though he’s back to his elite status and poised to dominate the second half. He’s more than 100 IP under his workload from last season and obviously has the ability to pitch just as well as anyone in the game. Start him with great confidence heading into next week as a two-start pitcher.
2.Edinson Volquez, SP CIN: 1-0, 1.50 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 9 K
Just 11 months removed from his Tommy John Surgery, Volquez made his first start of the season Saturday and looked absolutely electric. Better known as “the other guy” in the Josh Hamilton trade, Volquez quickly reminded opposing hitters that he’s certainly no slouch. Regularly hitting 96 MPH on the radar gun, Volquez looked as poised as ever and appears ready to contribute in a big way. If he can build on this performance and return to his 2008 form, Volquez can be an elite SP down the stretch for any fantasy team. Make sure he’s not mistakenly floating on your waiver wire. He deserves to be active in every fantasy league this week as he takes on the Nationals.
3.Josh Johnson, SP FLA: 10-3, 1.62 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 130 K
Johnson is just about the hottest pitcher on planet Earth right now, which comes as no surprise given that he’s pitching in South Florida. All jokes aside, Johnson is just eating up opposing hitters right now. Despite having five less wins than Jimenez, Johnson is making a strong case to be considered the early favorite for the NL CY this year. He boasts a ridiculous 0.45 ERA in July and has an MLB-best 1.62 ERA overall, making him an absolute fantasy beast. He’ll look to keep his brilliant season rolling as he takes on the Rockies in his next scheduled start. He’s 2-0 with a 1.04 ERA in three career appearances against them. Take a look at his utter dominance this season, detailed here.
4.Cliff Lee, SP TEX: 8-4, 2.59 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 97 K
There are not many words to describe the spectacular season of Cliff Lee, so instead let’s use statistics. Lee possesses a ridiculous 97:7 K:BB ratio and an unheard of 0.94 WHIP. On top of that, the lanky lefty has gone nine innings in each of his starts since June 18th except for one start where he only pitched eight. Despite what uniform he wears, all Lee seems to do is find remarkable success. He’ll be one of the most sought after (if not the most sought after) free agents after the season, and should be active on every fantasy roster in every format possible. If you’re fortunate enough to have him on your roster, do not let go unless offered Albert Pujols. Seriously, that’s how good this guy can be.
5.Adam Wainwright, SP STL: 14-5, 2.02 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 130 K
Wainwright has just been remarkable this season. In fact, one could argue that he’s more deserving of the CY than either Jimenez or Johnson. All this guy does is rack up quality starts, strikeouts, and wins, and it appears he’s not going to be done doing so any time soon. He is tied for the most QS in the MLB with Johnson & King Felix, is second in wins, tied for fifth in strikeouts, and ranks third in IP. It seems that the new ace of St. Louis seems to get stronger as the days get warmer, so fantasy owners should feel more than comfortable trotting him out there week in and week out.
6.Clay Buchholz, SP BOS: 10-4, 2.45 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 64 K
Buchholz was enjoying a breakout season before landing on the DL with a strained left hamstring. He’s finally healthy and ready to roll for the second half of the season which should be music to fantasy owners’ ears. The young right-hander has a chance to win 15+ games and with just 92 IP under his belt for the season, his workload shouldn’t be a concern heading into the second half. He’ll make his return against Oakland this week in what seems like a very favorable fantasy matchup.
7.Carl Pavano, SP MIN: 11-6, 3.48 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 77 K
Pavano has been nothing short of outstanding this season and is all the Twins could’ve hoped for after re-signing him this off-season. He’s been a model of consistency (oddly enough, considering his stint in NY) and is showing no signs of wear and tear. Perhaps his new friend atop his upper lip (his legendary ‘stache) has added to his poise and confidence on the mound, or perhaps he’s just finally learned how to pitch without overpowering stuff. With solid command and his ability to limit his walks, Pavano makes for a fine play this week at Baltimore.
8.Wandy Rodriguez, SP HOU: 6-11, 4.97 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, 77 K
My sleeper pick of the week, Mr. Rodriguez has been much better of late than his season numbers would have you believe. He’s pitched at least 6 innings in each of his last four starts and has given up just 5 ER over that span of time (26 IP). The lefty seems to have an air of confidence about him that he just couldn’t find for most of the first half. He’s a two-start pitcher this week against the Cubs and Reds and is worth a look for those still hoping to find a diamond in the rough.
9.Phil Hughes, SP NYY: 11-2, 3.65 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 91 K
Like Buchholz in Boston, Hughes is the Yankees’ breakout performer of the rotation this season—and thankfully so. In a year that has seen AJ Burnett struggle mightily, Hughes has really elevated his game to the next level. Despite being the losing pitcher for the AL in the All-Star game, his confidence should remain quite high for the second half. He’s already surpassed his career high numbers in terms of workload, so while that limits his appeal slightly, Hughes should be a lock to win 15+ games on a very good Yankees squad.
10.Johan Santana, SP NYM: 7-5, 2.98 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 83 K
Just a few weeks ago, I never thought I would see Santana’s name back on this list. He was tipping his pitches terribly, giving up hit after hit, and had his velocity sitting in the Oliver Perez range. Since that time, Santana has made the necessary adjustments to reclaim success in an emphatic faction. As he continues to build up strength in his elbow after off-season surgery, Santana is beginning to look more and more like the second half stud that fantasy owners know him to be. In fact, Santana has a career record of 61-19 after the ASB, so owners should be very aware that he’s capable of rattling off gem after gem from here on out.