We’ve reached the halfway point. With the All-Star game looming just around the corner, there’s probably not much to debate with most of the National League pitcher rankings. The biggest areas of contention of the struggling studs and the surprising breakouts. While July seems like a long way through the season, smart owners know that luck can carry this far into the season. Struggling studs will rebound, and early breakouts will turn into flameouts. How should we value these players? Let’s turn to the rankings. This month, the tiers will be characters from the show Lost, one of my first television obsessions.
Tier 1: John Locke (not Jeff, the pitcher. He comes later)
Matt Harvey and Cliff Lee jump into the elite tier this month. Harvey may lack the track record of these guys, but his performance can’t be ignored at this point. It will be fun to see him start the All-Star game in his home park. The only thing holding him back would be a potential innings limit, but there doesn’t seem to be too much of a concern about that yet. There should be no argument with Lee being here. He’s as consistent as they come.
Tier 2: Ben Linus
Madison Bumgarner basically joins the next group of guys, as his performance has not been far and away better than most players in this list. After under-rating Jordan Zimmermann last month, he jumps into a crowded second tier. There’s some concern that he won’t get as many strikeouts as the other players in this tier, but he shows a tremendous mastery of his stuff and deserves to be here.
Tier 3: James “Sawyer” Ford
This tier is slightly more thinned out. The biggest additions were Matt Garza and Julio Teheran. Garza has pitched well upon returning, and there’s no reason to expect that to stop. Teheran has really come around since a rough start to the year, though home runs still remain an issue. I’m still holding out some hope for a Cole Hamels revival.
Tier 4: Desmond Hume
Matt Cain drops another tier, putting him in some strange company. Andrew Cashner may have altered his approach in order to become a successful starter, but the lack of strikeouts has made that swap a lot less exciting. Travis Wood is basically in the same boat. He’s effective, but won’t give you strikeouts. Tony Cingrani has a chance to rise, but it will depend on whether he can remain in the rotation.
Tier 5: Daniel Faraday
There’s an argument to be made that Francisco Liriano is way too low. He’s been great this year, and should be higher based on his performance. But there’s a major question about whether he can sustain it. Given his past tendencies to turn from stud to waiver-wire material in a few starts, I’m cautious to put him much higher yet. I feel the same way about Tyler Chatwood. The rest of the guys are solid, but don’t typically provide strikeouts.
Tier 6: Jack Shepard
There are a lot of problematic guys here with a few promising pitchers mixed in. The three that could move higher in future tier posts are Tim Lincecum, Ross Detwiler and Gerrit Cole, in my mind. Lincecum has been on fire lately, and needs to show he can still produce despite diminished stuff. Both Detwiler and Cole need more time to prove themselves this year, and could use some more strikeouts.
Tier 7: Hugo “Hurley” Reyes
Jhoulys Chacin and Jorge de la Rosa rank much higher according to FIP, but I can’t buy into the abnormally low home run rates. Their strikeout and walk rates are fine, but you expect more long-balls from Colorado pitchers. Regression hasn’t hit Jake Westbrook hard yet, but it will. That will happen when your strikeout and walk rates nearly match. Edwin Jackson is likely by both FIP and xFIP, but he’s done himself no favors thus far.
Tier 8: Richard Alpert
The players in this tier just don’t do enough to make them worth rostering consistently. They can be useful in short stretches.
*And, of course, the final tier is reserved for players who are still proving themselves in the majors.
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