Fantasy Baseball: 10 Breakout Pitching Candidates for the Month of June

Eric Matula@EricMatula11Contributor IIJune 5, 2012

Fantasy Baseball: 10 Breakout Pitching Candidates for the Month of June

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    So, some of your pitchers haven't played like you thought they would so far? Believe me, I know how you're feeling.

    Don't fret it, though. It's a long season.

    In 2004, Johan Santana was 2-3 with a 5.61 ERA after May. He went on to finish the year 20-6 with a 2.61 ERA en route to winning the AL Cy Young Award.

    Here's a list of pitchers who have struggled but could easily turn it around in June. 

Tim Hudson, Atlanta Braves

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    2012 stats: 45 IP, 3-2, 4.60 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 28 Ks

    In the middle of May Tim Hudson was rolling. But his last two starts have been awful.

    Hudson got his ERA down to 3.03 after dominating the Rays (no runs in 7.2 innings) on May 20. But he gave up 12 earned runs in his last two two starts to bloat his ERA all the way above 4.50.

    He should start dealing again in June.

    For one, his FIP is 3.05, meaning his 4.60 ERA is pretty unlucky. Secondly, he has been lights out in June for the last three years. From 2009-11, Hudson was 5-4 with a 2.70 ERA and held opponents to a .238 average.

    Hudson is owned in 68 percent of Yahoo! leagues, so now would be a good time to pick him up if he's available.

Cliff Lee, Philadelphia Phillies

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    2012 stats: 57 IP, 0-2, 3.00 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 54 Ks

    If I proposed a bet at the beginning of the year that Jamie Moyer would have more wins that Cliff Lee by June, 99.99 percent of you would have taken it.

    Well that hasn't been the case.

    In fact, how many people would have guessed that Lee would have a big fat goose egg in the W column this late into the season? Nobody.

    This should come to an end soon, though. Does anybody remember what Cliff Lee did in June last year? Yeah, he just went 5-0 with a 0.21 ERA and held the opposition to a .151 average.

    Lee hasn't been pitching his best, but the Phillies offense hasn't exactly helped much either. Lee is owned in 99 percent of Yahoo! leagues, so you might be able to buy him low, or lower, at this point.



Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals

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    2012 stats: 65 IP, 4-6, 4.98 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 57 Ks

    Adam Wainwright's pitching line indicates he hasn't fully recovered from Tommy John surgery, but the numbers are slightly misleading.

    Wainwright's velocity is a little down right now, but I would expect that to increase as the year progresses. Also, Wainwright hasn't been as bad as that 4.98 ERA suggests because his FIP sits at 3.87.

    His ridiculous HR/FB rate is the main reason Wainwright's stats are inflated. Wainwright's HR/FB rates the last three years: 8.5 percent, 8.3 percent and 7.9 percent.

    This year? 17.0 percent.

    That number should come down, improving his ERA and overall stats.

    Wainwright is still owned in 92 percent of Yahoo! leagues, but you might be able to trade for him from a frustrated manager.

Matt Moore, Tampa Bay Rays

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    2012 stats: 62.2 IP, 2-5, 4.45 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 62 Ks

    Matt Moore certainly hasn't looked like MLB's top prospect so far. But that could be changing very soon.

    After pitching more than 5.2 innings just once from April 26 to May 22, Moore has strung together back-to-back good performances.

    He allowed two earned runs and struck out 10 against the White Sox on May 28 and then yielded just one earned to the Orioles on June 3.

    Moore's slow start has most likely disgusted owners, but this is a 22-year-old kid we're talking about. He was obviously going to struggle some time.

    Moore is owned in 86 percent of Yahoo! leagues, so send Moore's manager a trade proposal trying to get him cheap.

Yovani Gallardo, Milwaukee Brewers

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    2012 stats: 64 IP, 4-4, 4.22 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 61 Ks

    Yovani Gallardo got off to a terrible start. After giving up eight earned runs against the Cardinals on April 27, Gallardo was 1-2 with a 6.08 ERA.

    He's been much better since that point.

    I featured Gallardo in my buy low article on May 7, and hopefully you were able to cash in. In May, Gallardo went 3-2 with a 2.89 ERA and posted an 8.27 K/9 rate.

    He might be in for an even bigger June.

    In the last three years, Gallardo has dominated in June. He's gone 8-5 with a 2.68 ERA and struck out 114 batters in 100.2 innings.

    You still might be able to buy low on Gallardo. Don't wait, he should cruise in June.

Max Scherzer, Detroit Tigers

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    2012 stats: 60 IP, 5-3, 5,55 ERA, 1.53 WHIP, 78 Ks

    Max Scherzer went undefeated in May, going 4-0 with a 4.04 ERA. He might even top that this month. From 2009-11, Scherzer was 8-4 with a 3.47 ERA and held hitters to a .249 average in June.

    Scherzer's line looks ugly, but it's not that bad. His FIP is 3.99 and his xFIP is 3.17, meaning his 5.55 ERA is very unlucky.

    Plus, you'll always know that he'll pick up a ton of K's. His 11.70 K/9 rate makes him valuable even with a mid-five ERA.

    Scherzer is pitching better and he should be able to shake off some of the bad luck. Scherzer is owned in 74 percent of Yahoo! leagues, so there's still a chance that you can add him. If he's available, pick him up!

Josh Johnson, Miami Marlins

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    2012 stats: 63.1 IP, 3-3, 4.83 ERA, 1.53 WHIP, 50 Ks

    Consider it a victory that Josh Johnson has already started more games this year than last.

    JJ has struggled so far. After only pitching nine starts in 2011, Johnson went 0-3 with a 5.34 ERA in April. He started to turn it around in May, going 3-0 with a 4.41 ERA.

    June could be the month that JJ really gets it going. In his career, the month of June as treated Johnson very well. He's 9-5 with a 2.85 ERA in 17 career June starts.

    Additionally, Johnson's FIP is 2.99, meaning he's pitched much better than people actually think.

    Johnson is owned in 90 percent of Yahoo! leagues, so make your move now before he gets really hot.

Jon Lester, Boston Red Sox

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    2012 stats: 67.2 IP, 3-4, 4.79 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 48 Ks

    Jon Lester is just having an awful 2012 season. Not only is his ERA close to 5.00, but he's striking out fewer hitters. His K/9 rate has been above 8.50 for the last three years, but it's only at 6.38 this season.

    Perhaps June rolling in is exactly what the doctor ordered for Lester. In his career, June is the best month Lester pitches in. He's 15-4 with a 2.52 ERA, 1.11 WHIP while holding opponents to a .230 average in 24 career June starts.

    Lester's struggles have disappointed owners so far. If you have him, stick with him. June could be the month in which he breaks out.

Dillon Gee, New York Mets

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    2012 stats: 70.1 IP, 4-3, 4.48 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 65 Ks

    Since giving up seven earned against the Brewers on May 15, Dillon Gee hasn't allowed more than three earned runs in any starts.

    That includes a great performance on Monday, his first start in June.

    Gee loves the month of June. It was by far his best month last season. He went 3-1 with a 2.48 ERA and held hitters to a .226 batting average.

    Gee has become more valuable this year, posting many more strikeouts. He had a 6.39 K/9 rate in 2011 but is all the way up to 8.32 this season.

    Gee is only owned in eight percent of Yahoo! leagues, so he's most likely available. Gee could be a good pickup for the month in deeper leagues.

Trevor Bauer, Arizona Diamondbacks

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    2012 stats (AA and AAA): 73.1 IP, 9-1, 1.96 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 91 Ks

    Trevor Bauer started the year at Double-A and absolutely dominated. He went 7-1 with a 1.68 ERA. He then found similar results at Triple-A, going 2-0 with a 2.52 ERA.

    The time is soon for Bauer and the D-backs.

    It's hard to keep a kid down in the minors when he's posting an 11.16 K/9 rate. Especially since the D-backs are eight games out at 25-29.

    Bauer is most likely available because he's owned in just 13 percent of Yahoo! leagues. If you are in desperate need of pitching, add Bauer and stow him away on the bench. He should be up soon.