10 Fantasy Pitchers Who Improved In May

Brian already took a look at ten hitters who improved in May after subpar Aprils, so now let’s do the same with the guys on the mound.

Scott Baker

A: 4.28 xFIP
M: 3.67

Amazingly, Baker’s batted ball data was practically identical in the season’s first two months, but he beefed up the strikeouts (7.82 K/9, up from 6.35) and cut down the walks (1.89 BB/9, down from 2.54). The result was a 3.55 ERA that’s much more indicative of his true performance than his 5.72 April mark. (R) ZiPS sees a 3.88 FIP and 7.00 K/9.

Chad Billingsley

A: 4.36 xFIP
M: 3.50

The ace version of Billingsley showed up in May, flashing an 8.77 K/9 and a 2.31 BB/9, which are much better than what we’ve seen out of him over the season’s first month and the end of last year. (R) ZiPS calls for a 3.49 FIP with 8.60 K/9.

Jeremy Bonderman

A: 4.43 xFIP
M: 3.65

Still just 27, Bonderman might have a big second half contract push in him. The K/9 and BB/9 both improved by more than one in May. (R) ZiPS sees a 4.42 FIP and 6.50.

Johnny Cueto

A: 4.87 xFIP
M: 3.21

Sure, his .244 May BABIP is low, but he increased his K/9 by more than four strikeouts (up to 9.79) and knocked more than a full walk off his BB/9 (down to 1.85). (R) ZiPS projects a 4.17 FIP with 7.62 K/9.

Aaron Harang

A: 4.16 xFIP
M: 3.62

The Harangatang hasn’t been himself for over a year now, but he still has strikeout value. Once he starts stranding more than 6% of the runners that reach base, his 5.48 ERA should start to resemble his defense-independent numbers. His homerun rate returned to normal in May, which is always welcome. (R) ZiPS projects a 4.12 FIP and 7.51 K/9.

Rich Harden

A: 6.82 xFIP
M: 4.63

Yeah, he’s the least economical pitcher in the game at 19.7 P/IP (one-tenth of a pitch ahead of Charlie Morton!), but he stopped walking everyone and their mother last month: his BB/9 rate went from an ungodly 8.75 to a much more reasonable 3.91. (R) ZiPS projects a 4.10 FIP with 9.78 K/9.

Edwin Jackson

A: 4.28 xFIP
M: 3.63

Jackson won’t return to first half of 2009 levels anytime soon, but his strikeout rate jumped up from 5.40 K/9 in April to 9.60 in May, and his BABIP fell back to a more reasonable level (.305). Not all the way there yet, but it’s progress. (R) ZiPS predicts a 4.32 FIP and 6.98 K/9.

Jake Peavy

A: 5.84 xFIP
M: 3.03 xFIP

The former Cy Young Award winner’s ERA was still bad this month (5.09), but Peavy’s K/9, BB/9 and GB% went from 6.91, 6.28, and 31.5% in April to 8.85, 1.11, and 48.3% in May, respectively. He’s not quite there yet, but at least there’s signs of improvement. (R) ZiPS calls for a 3.89 FIP and 8.69 K/9.

Ervin Santana

A: 4.12 xFIP
M: 4.00

The strikeouts climbed to 8.44 K/9, the walks dropped to 2.32 BB/9, and the homerun rate leveled off at 10.0% HR/FB. The (R) ZiPS survey says … 4.10 FIP and 7.98 K/9.

Ben Sheets

A: 5.35 xFIP
M: 3.92

Apparently everything that was wrong with Sheets in April was corrected in May when the A’s realized he was tipping his curveball. Sure enough, his K/9 (9.42) more than doubled last month, and the rest of his peripherals look more like the Ben Sheets we all know and love. (R) ZiPS predicts just 4.31 FIP with 6.24 K/9. I’ll take that bet.




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Mike writes about the Yankees at River Ave. Blues and baseball in general at CBS Sports.

9 Responses to “10 Fantasy Pitchers Who Improved In May”

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  1. Jason B says:

    Santana really didn’t have much variation at all between his April and May, at least not judging by the xFIP numbers shown (< 3% variance).

    I would imagine Cueto's and Peavy's "true selves" lie in between their yucky April numbers and their stellar May ones.

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  2. airlifting says:

    start sheets @bos tonight?

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  3. Nick B. says:

    I just picked up Harden as basically a throw-in as part of a big deal…I was thinking of dropping him for Ervin Santana or Cueto once the trade clears…Who would you rather own of the 3?

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  4. nate says:

    gowith cueto… he gets the astros, pirates, & cubs in the division (santana has to pitch in arlington against the rangers and harden has to pitch in arlington against, well, it doesn’t matter b/c that park makes offenses better).

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  5. Dan says:

    How in the heck is AL Pitcher of the Month Jon Lester not making that list? Come on people, Bill James isn’t walking through that door, and if he is he’ll be gray and old. He was awful in April and POM in May!

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  6. justin says:

    anyone who believes in Rich Harden at this point deserves what he or she gets.

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