AccuScore, a company that specializes in thorough game simulations, has made a few on-the-fly revisions to its seasonal projections.
These 35 starting pitchers, based on AccuScore projections, will register at least 12 victories from this point forward (May 23 to Sept. 30):
1. Justin Verlander, Tigers—15
2. CC Sabathia, Yankees—14
3. Cole Hamels, Phillies—14
4. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers—14
5. Johnny Cueto, Reds—14
- Verlander (5-1, 2.14 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 68/14 K-BB ratio) will remain a strong candidate for back-to-back Cy Young awards all season, an amazing feat given the prodigious hitting talent in the American League. So, 15 wins (and 20 total) seems like a fair projection for the Tigers' runaway ace. One last thing: Verlander has surrendered only 40 hits in his first nine starts, for an average of 4.4 per game.
- I cannot support AccuScore's 14-win projection for Cueto (5-1, 1.97 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 38/12 K-BB ratio), through no fault of the Cincinnati ace. Here's my concern: In his nine starts, the Reds have scored only 3.8 runs per game, a stat that minimizes Cueto's margin for error in just about every start. Yes, the National League tallies fewer runs than the AL because pitchers bat, but 3.8 runs per game is still a low figure. And it screams at least four or five "no decisions" for Cueto from this point forward.
6. Matt Cain, Giants—13
7. Ted Lilly, Dodgers—13
8. Jered Weaver, Angels—13
9. Brandon Beachy, Braves—13
10. James Shields, Rays—13
11. Zack Greinke, Brewers—13
12. Colby Lewis, Rangers—13
13. Doug Fister, Tigers—13
14. Madison Bumgarner, Giants—13
15. Jaime Garcia, Cardinals—13
16. Cliff Lee, Phillies—13
17. David Price, Rays—13
18. Tim Hudson, Braves—13
19. Roy Halladay, Phillies—13
- Of the 14 pitchers listed in this stanza, Jered Weaver (6-1, 2.80 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 53/13 K-BB) has the greatest upside for 15 victories from this point forward. He's had the occasional so-so outing this season, but the Angels are simply too good and too experienced to be mired in last place in the AL West much longer; and Weaver should reap the benefits of that turnaround every fifth day (and maybe every fourth day in August/September).
- Thirteen wins is an ambitious projection for Doug Fister and Jaime Garcia, for separate reasons. Fister (0-2, 1.59 ERA in four starts) may be a steady victim of the Tigers' run-scoring woes all season; plus, there's the tenuousness of a costochondral strain injury from April. Of course, Fister could have another crazy run of fantasy excellence from June through September, like 2011; but 10-11 victories seems like a more feasible assumption.
- Regarding Garcia, his current marks with ERA (3.55), WHIP (1.41) and K/9 (6.6) aren't that of an elite-caliber pitcher, so he'll need a ton of run support from the St. Louis hitters (and possibly without Lance Berkman) to reach 13 wins (16 total) by season's end. That said, Garcia is an ideal No. 3 asset in fantasy circles.
20. Anibal Sanchez, Marlins—12
21. Kyle Lohse, Cardinals—12
22. Jake Westbrook, Cardinals—12
23. Wandy Rodriguez, Astros—12
24. Ian Kennedy, Diamondbacks—12
25. Chris Capuano, Dodgers—12
26. Brandon Morrow, Blue Jays—12
27. Henderson Alvarez, Blue Jays—12
28. Mark Buehrle, Marlins—12
29. Adam Wainwright, Cardinals—12
30. Yu Darvish, Rangers—12
31. Derek Holland, Rangers—12
32. Ricky Romero, Blue Jays—12
33. Shaun Marcum, Brewers—12
34. Tommy Hanson, Braves—12
35. Jeremy Hellickson, Rays—12
- Miami's Sanchez (2.32 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 55/14 K-BB, 9.1 K/9) has been awesome this season in every category but wins (two). So, why would AccuScore project him for 12 additional victories (14 total)? It's a bit of a risk. I couldn't imagine someone placing a big-money bet on that in Vegas.
- Brandon Morrow (5-2, 2.63 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 54/17 K-BB for the season) has been a top-five pitcher since April 23—and that includes one clunker start against the Rays on May 14 (six runs allowed). In his last six starts, Morrow has blanked opponents three times and allowed one run twice; he's also racked up seven-to-10 strikeouts five times.
- Not to be the male version of Debbie Downer here, but Henderson Alvarez, despite his many gifts, has no shot of registering 12 more wins in the next four-plus months. He has a middling 3-4 record as of May 23; and his 2.7 K-BB ratio is not the stuff of a pitcher who'll finish with 15 victories. On the positive side, he could reach that figure next season.
Jay Clemons can be reached on Twitter, day or night, at @ATL_JayClemons.