These tiers are a bit later than the rest of the crew, as my vacation delayed my writing. All can breathe easily now as they have finally arrived! You can check out my June update here. A quick note: I have removed pitchers who were demoted to the minors since I have no idea when and if they will be returning to the Majors.
No movement here aside from a departure you will find below. Amazingly, a loss of velocity has no hurt Felix at all, as his strikeout rate is at a career best and his SwStk% is up from last year and in line with previous seasons. I’d bet the strikeout rate dips below 9.0 throughout the second half though as none of his underlying metrics suggests a career high strikeout rate is sustainable. Weaver has a sub-2.00 ERA over nearly 100 innings, yet his SIERA is worse than both his 2010 and 2011 marks and approaching 4.00. If you’re in need of hitting, he makes a nice piece to dangle in search of a top masher.
Man, the luck dragons really have it out for James Shields. His SIERA has barely budged since 2010, yet his ERA has jumped all over the place. It would be easy to recommend buying at a potential discount, but he’s finished several seasons where his so-called luck has not neutralized, so who knows if it will this year. Lester is fine. Since June his strikeout rate is back to normal and his xFIP has hovered around 3.00. With an ERA that remains above 4.00, he’s an excellent acquisition target. Darvish has displayed much more acceptable control since the first two months of the season and it would be reasonable to think that his control problems from April and May are behind him for the most part.
Chris Sale finally joins the second tier. As most of you remember, I loved him in the pre-season, but no one could have expected him to be this good. Of course, some luck has been on his side, as his SIERA sits a full run above his actual ERA. However, he still ranks second in the American League in SIERA, so he has legitimately been fantastic. A potential innings cap looms, but depending on what you can get in return, he’s not necessarily a sell high. Dan Haren and his back injury get him dropped to the bottom of the second tier. No word yet on when he returns so this ranking may still be optimistic.
Matt Moore still remains up and down, but as expected, his ERA improved dramatically in June as he posted a 3.16 mark, even though his skills according to xFIP were nearly identical to his month of May when he posted a 4.83 ERA. Though his F-Strike% suggests a league average walk rate, this simply has not happened and he continues to struggle with his control. It’s enough to convince me to drop him a tier. Scherzer’s luck is slowly turning, as he posted ERAs around the 4.00 plateau in both May and June after a wretched 7.77 mark in April. His ERA should continue to drop. Beckett’s strikeout rate and velocity have been down all year and so I dropped him to the bottom of the tier. His SIERA is above 4.00 for the first time since 2006 and only the second time in his career, so it hasn’t just been bad luck leading to his mid-4.00 ERA.
This tier got a bit smaller this month after a couple of disappointments departed. Peavy has been a bit lucky and an injury could strike at any time, but he has been legit good. Hammel’s skills have remained pretty consistent month to month and he has maintained a strikeout rate over 8.0 every month as well. Oswalt joins the ranks and he has been victimized by a laughably high .451 BABIP. His SIERA is almost identical to last year, and it’s clear his best days are behind him. But, his velocity has been fine and all his other underlying metrics look good, so he’ll have value even in mixed leagues. I left Floyd in this tier because his SIERA has remained pretty darn constant since 2009, but he’s just had a bit worse luck this year. A career high SwStk% suggest some K/9 upside, or at the very least, his current career high strikeout rate is sustainable.
Fister’s SIERA is nearly identical to last year, but now the luck pendulum has swung the other way. His SwStk% has taken another step up and his control is as good as always. He doesn’t have a whole lot of upside so he isn’t much of a target in mixed leagues, but you can probably get him cheaply in a deep mixed or AL-Only league. Ivan Nova hops a tier as he has maintained the improved strikeout rate and actually has his SIERA below 4.00. Masterson climbs all the way from the bottom tier as his xFIP has declined every month so far. His control is back to normal after posting a walk rate of 5.1 in April, so he should be fine the rest of the way. Alex Cobb also jumps a tier as his skills have been very solid, but problems with runners on base have inflated his ERA. Chris Tillman joins the tiers and I have tentatively thrown him here. Check out my more in-depth thoughts in yesterday’s waiver wire post. I have also added Jose Quintana who has been quite the surprise so far. His peripherals have been solid enough to register a sub-4.00 SIERA, but the interesting thing is his 10.2% SwStk%, which suggests major strikeout rate upside. Ervin Santana and Ricky Romero continue to stink up the joint and it’s hard to find any metric that would lead to some optimism.
Is Ubaldo back? His walk rate was around 3.0 in June and his xFIP has been around 4.00 since, compared to marks over 5.00 in both April and May. Velocity is still down, so he still has a ways to go, but he’s clearly not as bad as he looked at the start of the year. Matt Harrison as an All Star is hilarious given his mediocre skills. Given the poor strikeout rate, he remains stuck in this tier. Tom Milone has the BABIP Gods to thank so far for a sub-4.00 ERA…then again, it could be the combination of a pitcher friendly ball park with a ton of foul territory. Still, a poor strikeout rate and a weak offense offering sun support means he’ll likely be just a WHIP contributor. Jarrod Parker is doing it with smoke and mirrors so far as his line drive rate is higher than his BABIP! You don’t see that magic act very often. Combine that with his poor control and something’s gotta give. I’m betting it’s the ERA rising way up.
Alvarez, Williams, Humber and Danks all dropped from earlier tiers. Whether it be poor performance back by weak skills or injuries, they don’t belong near your fantasy teams. Vargas has a 3.51 xFIP at home and 4.96 away. I always advise against owning a player you’ll only play half the time, and he is no exception.