Fantasy Baseball: Predicting 5 Second-Half Breakout Fantasy Pitchers

Eric MatulaContributor IIJuly 5, 2012

Fantasy Baseball: Predicting 5 Second-Half Breakout Fantasy Pitchers

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    Need some help in the pitching department after the break?

    Some pitchers have mightily struggled so far while some are notorious for picking their game up during the second half.

    Whatever the case, here are five candidates who will put up solid numbers in the near future.

Cliff Lee, Philadelphia Phillies

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    2012 stats: 97.1 IP, 1-5, 3.98 ERA, 98 Ks, 1.19 WHIP

    It's unbelievable to think that Cliff Lee has one win just days before the All-Star game.

    He finally picked up a win against the Mets on Tuesday. He looked sharp, striking out nine and yielding seven hits in eight innings of work.

    It hasn't been the first time he has looked good though. He's had seven other quality starts in which he didn't earn a victory. This includes five starts where he gave up two runs or fewer in six innings or more.

    Lee's 3.98 ERA is misleading because his FIP is 3.01. His FIP a year ago was 2.60, so he's really not far from returning to dominance.

    Also, the return of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard will certainly help Lee and the Phillies. Try to buy Lee low right now because he should make a good run in the second half.

Matt Moore, Tampa Bay Rays

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    2012 stats: 95 IP, 5-5, 4.17 ERA, 93 Ks, 1.42 WHIP

    Matt Moore is finally looking like the kid we saw pitch at the end of last season. After starting 1-5 with a 4.76 ERA in his first 10 starts, Moore is 4-0 with a 3.29 ERA in his last six starts.

    The most impressive stat from Moore is his 8.81 K/9 rate. With that number, he sits in sixth place in the AL.

    The biggest concern with Moore is his control. His 4.26 BB/9 and his 1.42 WHIP rank him well below the league average. That could turn around, though, because he hasn't had control issues like this since he was an 18-year-old in Single-A.

    Moore is still available in 10 percent of Yahoo! leagues, so if he's there, pick him up.

Jair Jurrjens, Atlanta Braves

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    2012 stats: 34.2 IP, 2-2, 5.19 ERA, 14 Ks, 1.79 WHIP

    Jair Jurrjens has looked very good after returning to the Braves on June 22.

    After starting the year 0-2 with a 9.37 ERA in his first four starts, Jurrjens was demoted to Triple-A Gwinnett.

    He made some strides down there, posting a 4.47 FIP before being recalled. And, in three starts since rejoining the Braves, Jurrjens is 2-0 with a 1.53 ERA.

    Jurrjens is a mystery. He seems to be at one extreme or the other, but maybe after a trip to the minors will straighten him out.

    He has the potential to be unhittable. He struggled in the second half last season, but he has pitched better after the All-Star break in both 2009 and 2010.

Ian Kennedy, Arizona Diamondbacks

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    2012 stats: 100.2 IP, 6-7, 4.20 ERA, 90 Ks, 1.32 WHIP

    Ian Kennedy had four losses all of last season. He already has seven this year.

    Kennedy has failed to repeat his success from last year so far, but he could easily turn it around after the All-Star break.

    For one, he owns a 3.69 FIP, suggesting that he has pitched better than his 4.20 ERA suggests. Secondly, he's a career second-half pitcher.

    In Kennedy's career, he's 19-20 with a 4.24 ERA before the All-Star game. But after the break, Kennedy is 18-5 with a 2.81 ERA.

    Kennedy's owner might be frustrated. Send him an offer, trying to get Kennedy for less than he's worth.

Anibal Sanchez, Miami Marlins

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    2012 stats: 101 IP, 4-6, 4.19 ERA, 92 Ks, 1.28 WHIP

    Anibal Sanchez deserves a better record that what he has. His 8.20 K/9 rate and 4.19 ERA are good enough to earn him more than just four wins.

    Additionally, he's actually pitching better than what his ERA shows. His FIP is 3.51 and that number ranks him ahead of guys like Yu Darvish, Ryan Vogelsong and C.J. Wilson.

    Sanchez is also stronger in the second half.

    For his career, Sanchez has a 4.14 ERA and 1.43 WHIP in the first half and then improves his numbers to a 3.40 ERA and 1.28 WHIP after the break.

    Surprisingly, Sanchez is owned in only 79 percent of Yahoo! leagues and 83 percent of ESPN leagues. If he's available, pick him up.