The all-star break is a very good time to evaluate what we have seen so far, and what we might expect going forward. As a bettor the thing I am most interested in is to spot pitchers who are going to have the potential to produce profits in the second half. One of the best ways I know of to do that is to look for pitchers who aren’t likely to be as productive and profitable in the second half as they were to start the season. If a pitcher has been steady and profitable to start the season then the public is going to be drawn to them. If those pitchers don’t quite measure up to their earlier levels of production then there is going to be value to be had. Here are five guys who could be poised for a downward adjustment in the second half:
Ubaldo Jimenez, Colorado Rockies – This one is an automatic. Jimenez in on pace to finish at 28-2. His career best is 15-12. He’s obviously extremely talented, as his stuff is as dirty as it comes. It’s just not reasonable to assume that he will stay as hot as he has been, though. There are already signs of problems – his last start was the only time in his last four outings that he managed a quality starts, and he allowed 18 earned runs in less than 26 innings over that stretch. 20 wins is virtually a given, but there are going to be far more opportunities to bet against him in the second half than there have been so far.
Brett Cecil, Toronto Blue Jays – I really like a lot of what Cecil has done this year. He has pitched solidly, and the team is a nicely profitable 10-5 behind him. It’s just not going to last, though. First of all, Cecil is only 24, and he only started 17 games last year, so by the end of July he will be in uncharted territory. He’s already at the same inning count as he last season. More significantly, the Blue Jays are in full sell-off mode, so they are likely to lack jump, and their home run dependent offense can’t be counted on to provide run support like they have so far.
Freddy Garcia, Chicago White Sox – Garcia is 9-3 so far, and the team is 12-4 when he starts. I’m just not buying it. There are a few reasons for my pessimism, including the fact that the White Sox just can’t stay as hot as the 25-5 they have been in their last 30, and that will impact Garcia. More significantly, though, his results have exceeded his performance statistically. His ERA is 4.36, his K/BB ratio is much lower than it has been in the past, and his WHIP of 1.32 is solid but not good enough to support this record. Garcia is 33 years old and has started a combined 23 games in the three seasons before this one, so it is far from certain that he is physically capable of staying sharp, or that he’ll stay as lucky as he has been.
Trevor Cahill, Oakland A’s – The A’s are 11-4 when Cahill starts, and that obviously means that he has been solidly profitable. I really enjoy watching Cahill pitch, and I think he’s got a solid future as a reliable mid-rotation starter for years to come. That being said, Cahill is a 22 year old who pitched 179 innings as a rookie last year, so it’s hard to believe that what we have seen is entirely sustainable for the rest of this year. He has been reliable and statistically sound, but physical and mental fatigue are sure to be issues as the season wears on, and I expect him to be somewhat less reliable – especially because his team is far from dominant.
Tommy Hanson, Atlanta Braves – I’m bullish on the Braves this year, and on Hanson long term. He’s been very useful this year as well – the Braves are 13-5 and nicely profitable when he starts. I’m not convinced that he’ll be as strong in the second half as he has been, though. He’s 23 and in his second year in the majors. In most cases like that you see a pitcher take a step forward statistically. The opposite has happened here. Last year he started 21 games, and this year he has started 18 so far. Over that time his ERA has climbed from 2.89 to 4.13, he has already given up more hits even though he has pitched 25 fewer innings, and his WHIP has jumped from 1.18 to 1.37. H has had two rough outings in his last four starts, and has only survived beyond the sixth inning twice in his last six. Hanson looks like he is understandably starting to tire, and the Braves are a very well run team so they are going to do whatever they have to to protect this asset long term. That could mean that his second half isn’t nearly as stellar as the first half was.