STARTERS: Skills surgers and faders, 2018 1H-2H

Our last column of the season with a 2018 focus takes a look at starting pitchers whose skills have surged or dived since the All-Star Break.

  • BPV Surgers & Faders, 2018 1H-2H*
    
    Name                League  BPV Pre-ASB  BPV Post-ASB  Diff
    ==================  ======  ===========  ============  ====
    Giolito, Lucas          AL       -25          103      +128
    Bailey, Homer           NL        24          108       +83
    Snell, Blake            AL       108          183       +75
    Keller, Brad            AL         4           79       +75
    Matz, Steven            NL        80          155       +75
    Marquez, German         NL       104          174       +70
    Castillo, Luis          NL        91          160       +69
    Godley, Zack            NL        73          141       +68
    Chacin, Jhoulys         NL        44          111       +67
    Lynn, Lance             AL        45          111       +66
    Hendricks, Kyle         NL        78          140       +62
    Hess, David             AL         4           64       +59
    Carrasco, Carlos        AL       140          197       +57
    Richards, Trevor        NL        43           93       +51
    Corbin, Patrick         NL       154          205       +51
    Roark, Tanner           NL        68          118       +50
    DeSclafani, Anthony     NL        74          123       +49
    Fiers, Mike             AL        86          133       +48
    Wheeler, Zack           NL        92          139       +47
    Boyd, Matt              AL        64          111       +46
    Leake, Mike             AL        69          114       +45
    Lucchesi, Joey          NL       100          139       +39
    Minor, Mike             AL        83          121       +38
    Verlander, Justin       AL       167          204       +37
    Junis, Jakob            AL        97          132       +35
    Porcello, Rick          AL       116          150       +34
    Price, David            AL       105          139       +34
    Clevinger, Mike         AL        96          129       +33
    Chen, Wei-Yin           NL        49           81       +33
    Anderson, Chase         NL        46           78       +32
    Sabathia, C.C.          AL        78          109       +31
    Archer, Chris           NL       104          135       +31
    Cole, Gerrit            AL       151          181       +30
    -----------------------------------------------------------
    Name                League  BPV Pre-ASB  BPV Post-ASB  Diff
    ==================  ======  ===========  ============  ====
    Estrada, Marco          AL        62          -36       -98
    Nova, Ivan              NL       109           17       -93
    Cashner, Andrew         AL        46          -21       -67
    Cahill, Trevor          AL       127           68       -60
    Peralta, Freddy         NL       110           50       -59
    Wood, Alex              NL       121           62       -59
    Gray, Jon               NL       156           97       -59
    Velasquez, Vincent      NL       115           59       -55
    Morton, Charlie         AL       140           86       -54
    Suarez, Andrew          NL       122           70       -53
    Gonzalez, Gio           NL        63           11       -53
    Urena, Jose             NL       101           50       -51
    Richard, Clayton        NL        64           15       -49
    Berrios, Jose           AL       124           80       -45
    Eflin, Zach             NL       124           82       -42
    Ray, Robbie             NL       120           86       -35
    Eovaldi, Nathan         AL       132           99       -33
    Colon, Bartolo          AL        71           39       -32
    Kluber, Corey           AL       152          122       -30
    Gausman, Kevin          AL       106           76       -30
    *min 30 IP each half

Let's take a closer look at some second half surgers worth owning down the stretch and heading into 2019.
 

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Matt Boyd (LHP, DET) has been good in bursts this season. After a near-5 ERA before the All-Star Break, Boyd has posted a 3.29 ERA and 0.99 WHIP after it. Those marks certainly have been aided by a 26% H%. Still, Boyd's skills in the second half have been very good overall: 8.2 Dom, 1.7 Ctl, 29% GB%, 111 BPV. The key for him has been throwing a lot more strikes early (56% FpK% in 1H, 63% FpK% in 2H) and often (38% ball% in 1H, 35% ball% in 2H). As a flyball pitcher with marginal stuff, Boyd doesn't have a high ceiling, but he's still on a growth curve.

Mike Fiers (RHP, OAK) has been one of the AL's better pitchers in the second half. After putting up so-so skills in the first half (86 BPV), Fiers has improved them greatly in the 2H: 8.8 Dom, 1.7 Ctl, 43% GB%, 133 BPV. Naysayers will point to his friendly 27% H% and 89% S% as reasons to believe his post-ASB 2.57 ERA and 1.07 WHIP are flukes, but all of his command sub-indicators are surging (9.9% SwK%, 70% FpK%, 33% ball in 2H), so he remains a good stretch-run target.

Lucas Giolito (RHP, CHW) has improved his skills more than any other SP from the 1H to the 2H. He was horrible in the first half: 5.5 Dom, 5.2 Ctl, 40% GB%, -25 BPV. His command ratio and groundball rate have both soared in the second half: 9.4 Dom, 3.5 Ctl, 51% GB%, 103 BPV. He'll still be prone to blowups until he shows better command against lefties (1.2 Cmd vL), but at age 23, he's a good buy-low target in keeper leagues.

Mike Leake (RHP, SEA) wouldn't seem to be a mid-rotation SP worth using in September given his marginal-to-poor stats since July 1 (4.26 ERA, 1.45 WHIP). Shrewd owners will tuck away his surging skills since the ASB though: 6.2 Dom, 0.8 Ctl, 46% GB%, 114 BPV. While he isn't missing many bats (7.5% SwK% in 2H), he's back to throwing a ton of strikes again (29% ball%), which makes him appealing to owners looking for WHIP help down the stretch.

Blake Snell (LHP, TAM) has shown no signs of shoulder issues since coming off the disabled list. Few pitchers have been better than Snell post-ASB, both on the surface (1.10 ERA, 0.80 WHIP) and beneath it: 11.9 Dom, 1.9 Ctl, 44% GB%, 183 BPV. In addition, he has missed more bats in the 2H than any other SP in the game, and it hasn't been close (18.4% SwK%). Snell remains a budding ace if he can stay healthy.

Justin Verlander (RHP, HOU) has been the AL's most skilled starting pitcher in the second half: 13.6 Dom, 1.8 Ctl, 30% GB%, 204 BPV. His near-4 ERA in the 2H has been the product of a 39% H% and 21% hr/f. His elite command sub-indicators support his skills growth: 15.0% SwK%, 70% FpK%, 31% ball%. Don't be surprised if he has a big September.
 

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Homer Bailey (RHP, CIN) was horrible in the first half (6.68 ERA, 1.69 WHIP in 62 IP). On the surface, he has been bad in the second half too (5.26 ERA, 1.58 WHIP). But a closer look gives reason for optimism down the stretch. His poor skills in the 1H (24 BPV) have shown renewed signs of life in the 2H: 7.6 Dom, 1.8 Ctl, 43% GB%, 108 BPV. After struggling to miss bats and throw strikes in the first half (7.5% SwK%, 60% FpK%, 35% ball%), he has been able to do both post-ASB: 10.6% SwK%, 65% FpK%, 31% ball%. A 37% H% and 22% hr/f in the second half have produced his bad stats.

Luis Castillo (RHP, CIN) did not show any signs of fulfilling his pre-season breakout intrigue in the first half (5.49 ERA, 1.38 WHIP). But his skills pointed to improvement (91 BPV), and he has delivered on it in the second half (3.15 ERA, 1.00 WHIP in 40 IP). His skills have gone from solid to elite: 10.4 Dom, 1.8 Ctl, 44% GB%, 160 BPV. The key for him has been throwing more strikes (60% FpK%, 35% ball% in 1H; 64% FpK%, 33% ball% in 2H). The window to buy low on Castillo is closing quickly.

Patrick Corbin (LHP, ARI) firmly has been one of the NL's best pitchers in the second half. His elite 2.63 ERA and 0.92 WHIP have been backed by similarly elite skills: 11.4 Dom, 1.1 Ctl, 50% GB%, 205 BPV. And those marks have the support of excellent sub-indicators: 17.4% SwK%, 67% FpK%, 33% ball%. No reason to sell high here.

Anthony DeSclafani (RHP, CIN) remains available in many leagues after the 5+ ERA he posted in the first half as well as his chronic trouble to stay healthy. He has been healthy in the second half, and his results have followed (3.47 ERA, 1.20 WHIP in 40 IP). He's another pitcher whose skills have shown across-the-board improvement: 8.5 Dom, 1.9 Ctl, 45% GB%, 123 BPV. Staying healthy will help him consolidate the skill flashes he has shown in recent years. Check out his K/BB against lefties the last four seasons: 7.0, 2.0, 4.6, 2.8 Cmd. Let's look at the same mark against righties: 4.0, 4.7, 2.6, 4.3. The seeds of an impact pitcher are there.

Zack Godley (RHP, ARI) is on pace for another big finish. After posting an elite 131 BPV in the 2H of 2017, Godley has been even better in the 2H of 2018: 10.3 Dom, 2.5 Ctl, 45% GB%, 141 BPV. He's missing more bats (11.6% SwK% in 1H, 13.1% SwK% in 2H), getting strike one at an escalated rate (58% FpK% in 1H, 65% FpK% in 2H) and throwing a higher volume of strikes (39% ball% in 1H, 34% ball% in 2H). With improved command against lefties (2.0 Cmd vL), Godley would be able to sustain the sub-4.00 ERA he posted in 2017.

Joey Lucchesi (LHP, SD) has made some substantial gains in the second half which bode well for his September outlook, as well as value heading into 2019. Lucchesi's skills have gone from good in the first half (100 BPV) to very good after it: 10.7 Dom, 2.7 Ctl, 42% GB%, 139 BPV. That surge has been backed by big gains in his command sub-indicators. They were all marginal in the 1H (9.7% SwK%, 56% FpK%, 37% ball%). Each has improved in the 2H (10.9% SwK%, 65% FpK%, 35% ball%).

German Marquez (RHP, COL) harmed his owners in the first half (4.81 ERA, 1.39 WHIP in 101 IP), but his skills (104 BPV) suggested there was better to come. That has happened after the ASB. Marquez has been a frontline SP since then (2.79 ERA, 0.99 WHIP), and those shiny surface stats are no flukes. His skills have been firmly elite over that period as well: 11.5 Dom, 2.2 Ctl, 49% GB%, 174 BPV. Few pitchers have displayed better command sub-indicators that Marquez too: 14.2% SwK%, 68% FpK%, 33% ball%. Early 2019 breakout targets don't get much better than Marquez.

Steven Matz (LHP, NYM) provided good results in the first half (3.38 ERA, 1.25 WHIP) but didn't carry the skills to support those stats (80 BPV). His ERA has ballooned in the second half (6.61 ERA) but his skills have soared: 10.7 Dom, 2.2 Ctl, 43% GB%, 155 BPV. His command sub-indicators all have gotten better too (12.0% SwK%, 62% FpK%, 35% ball% in 2H). He'll remain a wildcard given his arm issues, but he's a good buy-low flyer down the stretch if he's available.

Joe Musgrove (RHP, PIT) is another pre-peak pitcher who has shown skills growth late in the season. After posting a marginal 4.08 ERA and 1.38 WHIP in the first half along with solid skills (102 BPV), Musgrove has been much better in the second half (3.40 ERA, 0.97 WHIP). No other pitcher in the game is throwing more strikes than Musgrove (73% FpK%, 27% ball% in 2H). And those gains have come without any erosion in his swinging strike rate (10.8% SwK% in 1H, 10.9% SwK% in 2H). He's a good bet to have a strong September and carries some nice post-hype appeal in keeper leagues.


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.