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2013 Stat Predictions for the Top 25 Pitchers in Baseball

Benjamin KleinContributor IIIApril 2, 2013

2013 Stat Predictions for the Top 25 Pitchers in Baseball

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    Pitching may not be directly correlated to winning championships, but having a couple of pitchers in the Cy Young Award race certainly doesn’t hurt a team’s chances.

    There have been several impressive campaigns put together over the last few seasons by the game’s top pitchers. In 2011, Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers was named not only the Cy Young Award winner, but he was also named as the AL MVP that season as well.

    But while some pitchers such as David Price, Chris Sale and Johnny Cueto continue to get better, there are some hurlers that are starting to get worse. After all, even aces regress eventually.

    So which of Major League Baseball’s best pitchers are poised for big seasons in 2013 and who is bound to falter? Let’s take a look at who will have successful years while also looking at who is bound to fall off the rubber with a down year.

    For players left off this list, please put their names in the comments section below for a full discussion.

     

    *All statistics were obtained via FanGraphs unless otherwise noted. All roster and injury information was obtained via Baseball Prospectus. All contract information was obtained via Cot’s Contract’s.

David Price, Tampa Bay Rays

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    2012 Stats: 20-5, 2.56 ERA, 211 IP, 8.7 K/9

     

    While the Tampa Bay Rays didn’t have too successful of a 2012 campaign, David Price certainly did. He won 20 games and was named the American League’s top pitcher, winning the Cy Young Award over Justin Verlander.  

    Price’s 20 wins were the most of his career, although he did win 19 games two years prior to last season. His 2.56 ERA was also a personal best. While he dominated hitters nearly every time last season, he should have a little more trouble in 2013.

    The AL East should be very competitive and Price should feel the effects of it. The Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox have improved, the Baltimore Orioles have a similar club and the New York Yankees will eventually have a good lineup again. Although Price will still have success against these clubs, his win total likely won’t reach 20 again.

     

    Predicted 2013 Stats: 17-11, 2.45 ERA, 200 IP, 8.8 K/9

Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    2012 Stats: 14-9, 2.53 ERA, 227.2 IP, 9.1 K/9

     

    Clayton Kershaw didn’t have the best of seasons in 2012, but it was far from bad. It’s never easy to follow up a season when you go 21-5 and post a 2.28 ERA in more than 230 innings of work, but Kershaw gave it his best shot.

    Last season, Kershaw won just two-thirds of his 2011 win total, but even while 14 victories isn’t overly impressive, it’s still above-average. A 2.53 ERA is also more than fine and so is tossing over 225 innings. The Los Angeles Dodgers would be crazy to complain about that type of production.

    But the Dodgers should expect a 2013 campaign that looks more like 2011 than 2012. With the increase of talent in the lineup, expect more run support for Kershaw, and thus, more wins. His ERA should stay around the same mark, as should his workload and strikeout rate.

     

    Predicted 2013 Stats: 20-8, 2.50 ERA, 230 IP, 9.4 K/9

Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers

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    2012 Stats: 17-8, 2.64 ERA, 238.1 IP, 9.0 K/9

     

    Justin Verlander has pitching abilities only a few pitchers who have ever toed a Major League rubber have had. He’s been incredible over the course of his career, and he already has an impressive enough resume to land him a spot in Cooperstown once he retires.

    Not many pitchers have won an MVP award, but Verlander has. He’s won at least 17 games in each of the last four seasons, winning the Cy Young Award once over the span, but finishing in the top three three times. Last year, he posted his second straight sub-2.75 ERA.

    In 2013, expect normal numbers for Verlander—not normal compared to everyone else in baseball, but normal compared to his past. He should easily win 17 games again and will most likely post another very low ERA. His workload should stay around the same, and we all know how good he is at striking out batters.

     

    Predicted 2013 Stats: 19-7, 2.60 ERA, 245 IP, 9.1 K/9

Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati Reds

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    2012 Stats: 19-9, 2.78 ERA, 217 IP, 7.1 K/9

     

    Johnny Cueto is one of the rising young talents in baseball and has done a good job of earning the top spot in the Cincinnati Reds rotation. The right-hander has really improved his control over the last few seasons, lowering his walk rates and his ERA.

    Last season was a breakout year for Cueto. He won 19 games, which was seven more than his previous career high, and he also tossed at least 200 innings for the first time in his major league career. While his ERA rose compared to the year prior, 2012 was clearly a much better year for him overall.

    Cueto has the privilege of pitching for one of the best teams in the game, and it definitely helps when he can afford to allow around three runs knowing that his offense will bring in five or six. In 2013, Cueto will show that he is capable of replicating his successful 2012, posting eye-catching numbers for the second straight year.

     

    Predicted 2013 Stats: 18-9, 2.60 ERA, 220 IP, 7.3 K/9

Jered Weaver, Los Angeles Angels

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    2012 Stats: 20-5, 2.81 ERA, 188.2 IP, 6.8 K/9

     

    If you look up consistency in the dictionary, there’s bound to be some sort of Jered Weaver reference in there. Weaver has been good for an extended period of time and is clearly one of the handful of true aces in baseball.

    Don’t believe me? Just ask the rest of the AL West.

    Over the last two seasons, Weaver has won 38 games, the second-most in the game behind that guy on the Detroit Tigers that wins a lot of trophies. Despite winning 20 games in 2012, Weaver actually had an off-year. He didn’t throw nearly as many innings and his strikeout rate decreased while his ERA increased.

    Don’t make too much of Weaver’s numbers from last season, though. He’s bound to work things out and improve in 2013. For the upcoming season, the Los Angeles Angels are going to win a lot of games, and Weaver should be credited in the box score with close to 20 of them. Don’t expect his ERA to keep increasing either. He’ll find a way to keep it in the same area as last year.

     

    Predicted 2013 Stats: 18-6, 2.75 ERA, 195 IP, 7.6 K/9

Matt Cain, San Francisco Giants

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    2012 Stats: 16-5, 2.79 ERA, 219.1 IP, 7.9 K/9

     

    Matt Cain is a very interesting player. He doesn’t win a ton of games, he doesn’t walk or strikeout many batters and he doesn’t allow many runs to score. He's known as one of the game’s top pitchers because he always gives his team the chance to win.

    Last season, Cain was on the losing end of just five games. That’s pretty impressive, considering that he started 32 games for the San Francisco Giants. His 2.79 ERA was very good, but it was nothing that outstanding, and for the sixth straight season, he tossed at least 200 innings.

    Cain isn’t going to lose many games in 2013, but it will certainly be more than five. Even the best pitchers in the game have a tough time losing fewer than 10 games in a season. On the other hand, with his loss total bound to increase, his win total could jump as well. His career high in wins is only 16, which isn’t very high at all.

     

    Predicted 2013 Stats: 18-9, 2.90 ERA, 225 IP, 8.1 K/9

Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals

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    2012 Stats: 15-6, 3.16 ERA, 159.1 IP, 11.1 K/9

     

    A lot of eyes will be watching Stephen Strasburg in 2013, a year after the Washington Nationals capped how many innings he would throw.

    Without a cap this year, though, can Strasburg continue to develop into one of baseball’s best pitchers? His previous numbers scream "yes."

    Strasburg was limited to just under 160 innings last season, but still ended the season with 15 wins. What’s crazy about the right-hander is that he stuck out more than one batter per inning. Not many pitchers can do that regularly, but he can. His repertoire of pitches is unreal compared to most pitchers in the game.

    Washington still may have a cap on its mind in 2013, though. For example, during Monday's Opening Day contest against the Miami Marlins, the Nationals yanked Strasburg after throwing 80 pitches in seven innings in a 2-0 game. Strange, right? Expect his workload to increase, but not by a ton in 2013.

     

    Predicted 2013 Stats: 19-9, 2.95 ERA, 185 IP, 11.4 K/9

Gio Gonzalez, Washington Nationals

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    2012 Stats: 21-8, 2.89 ERA, 199.1 IP, 9.4 K/9

     

    Gio Gonzalez had a career year with the Washington Nationals in 2012. He won 21 games, nearly tossed 200 innings, posted a 2.89 ERA and finished second in the NL Cy Young Award voting to R.A. Dickey of the New York Mets.

    While Gonzalez was pitching for a much better club last year than in seasons prior, it’s up for debate as to whether he can sustain similar success in the future. While Gonzalez had been good the two years prior to coming to the nation’s capital, he wasn’t that good. He averaged around 15 wins the previous two years in Oakland, tossing at least 200 innings in each season.

    So should we expect another Cy Young-worthy campaign from Gonzalez in 2013? It would be tough to say yes to that. Gonzalez got a lot of the hype because Stephen Strasburg was shut down. Not to discredit Gonzalez, but it’s pretty easy to win games when you are pitching for a good team. In 2013, he should still see success, but he won’t have as good of a year as he did in 2012.

     

    Predicted 2013 Stats: 17-8, 2.95 ERA, 215 IP, 9.2 K/9

Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies

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    2012 Stats: 17-6, 3.05 ERA, 215.1 IP, 9.0 K/9

     

    While some of the other Philadelphia Phillies starters couldn’t figure out how to win games last season, Cole Hamels didn’t seem to have much of an issue, as he won 17 games. It should be safe to say that Hamels is now the ace of the staff after posting another impressive season.

    In 2012, Hamels set a new career high in wins despite seeing his walk rate and ERA rise compared to the year prior. The left-hander still pitched in more than 200 innings for the third straight season, and he even raised his strikeout rate by about one strikeout compared to 2011.

    Will Hamels be able to make it three great seasons in a row? One would assume that he’d finish the 2013 season with around the same number of wins as last season, barring an injury. He hasn’t given the media or fans a reason to doubt him yet, so why should we start in 2013? We should expect another dominant year from the Philadelphia lefty.

     

    Predicted 2013 Stats: 17-10, 2.95 ERA, 225 IP, 9.0 K/9

Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox

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    2012 Stats: 17-8, 3.05 ERA, 192 IP, 9.0 K/9

     

    The Chicago White Sox looked brilliant by moving Chris Sale into the starting rotation for the 2012 season. He had worked a total of 79 games out of the bullpen during the previous two seasons, but the team clearly saw something that made it think that he could handle a bigger workload.

    Chicago was correct. He won 17 games in 30 starts, throwing nearly 200 innings while posting a very impressive 3.05 ERA. Sale has very good command and an arsenal of pitches that tend to blow right by opposing batters. His 9.0 K/9 and 2.39 BB/9 from last season speak to that.

    But will Sale be a Cy Young Award contender for years to come, or will he be a one-hit wonder? Based on the large amount of success that he had last year, it’s reasonable to think that Sale’s legitimacy as an ace is growing. Expect a very similar season from the lefty in 2013.

     

    Predicted 2013 Stats: 17-8, 3.00 ERA, 195 IP, 9.2 K/9

Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners

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    2012 Stats: 13-9, 3.06 ERA, 232 IP, 8.7 K/9

     

    Felix Hernandez is one of the most unique pitchers in baseball, mainly because he’s one of the best players that is usually pitching for a bad team. That, however, might not be the case in 2013, as the Seattle Mariners made a lot of good moves over the offseason with the hopes of improving.

    But King Felix has shown that he can still be at the top of his game, no matter what his team is doing. For example, Seattle won just 61 games back in 2010, but that was also the year where Hernandez won his first Cy Young Award with a 13-12 record and a 2.27 ERA across 249.2 innings.

    Hernandez has stayed around the 13-14 win range for the bulk of his career, but with anticipated additional run support for this season, that total could increase. He should also pick up a couple of wins against the Houston Astros.

     

    Predicted 2013 Stats: 17-8, 3.10 ERA, 230 IP, 8.8 K/9

Kyle Lohse, Milwaukee Brewers

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    2012 Stats: 16-3, 2.86 ERA, 211 IP, 6.1 K/9

     

    Kyle Lohse had a fantastic season for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2012, but his offseason may restrict him from replicating that success in 2013. Lohse waited and waited to sign a contract, looking to find the right amount of money for the right number of years.

    Lohse didn’t sign a deal with the Brewers until late in spring training, and even though he was practicing on his own, he wasn’t facing professional hitters like his new teammates on the Milwaukee Brewers. It would be surprising if Lohse was able to go 16-3 with a 2.86 ERA again after a late start to the year.

    It’s reasonable to think that Lohse’s inability to sign a contract during a normal point in the offseason will come back to bite him. It wouldn’t be surprising at all if he got roughed up in his first couple of starts. Lohse is still a solid pitcher, but his 2013 season will be nowhere close to what he produced in 2012.

     

    Predicted 2013 Stats: 16-11, 3.15 ERA, 210 IP, 6.1 K/9

R.A. Dickey, Toronto Blue Jays

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    2012 Stats: 20-6, 2.73 ERA, 233.2 IP, 8.9 K/9

     

    R.A. Dickey may have been pitching well for the New York Mets in 2010 and 2011, but no one expected him to win 20 games and take home the NL Cy Young Award in 2012. That just doesn’t really happen for pitchers that primarily throw a knuckleball, yet Dickey made it happen.

    It will be interesting to see how Dickey follows up his brilliant 2012 campaign, especially since he’ll be pitching for a new team after getting dealt to the Toronto Blue Jays from the New York Mets. While he’ll be taking the mound for a more competitive team this season, he still has to hope that his knuckleball has the same effect on batters.

    It might be a bigger adjustment than Dickey thinks. Several of the AL East hitters have faced knuckleballs in the past—mainly from Tim Wakefield—and even though their knuckleballs are different, it’s a similar approach. It will be extremely difficult for Dickey to match his 2012 success.

     

    Predicted 2013 Stats: 15-12, 3.15 ERA, 215 IP, 8.3 K/9

Cliff Lee, Philadelphia Phillies

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    2012 Stats: 6-9, 3.16 ERA, 211 IP, 8.8 K/9

     

    For whatever the reason, Cliff Lee had a very unorthodox season in 2012. The former Cy Young Award winner had been accustomed to winning countless games each year with a fairly low ERA. Yet while his ERA was better than his career average last season, he only won six games.

    The six wins for Lee in 2012 were the fewest for the left-hander since 2007 when he won five games, but he only pitched in 20 games that year compared to the 30 he pitched in last season. His K/9 rate was nearly nine and his BB/9 rate was very low at around 1.2. The Philadelphia Phillies just couldn’t get him enough support to win a respectable amount of games.

    The Phillies’ offense enters the 2013 season much healthier than it was a year ago, and the additions of Michael Young and Ben Revere should give the starters, including Lee, some run support. That should be all Lee needs to have a better season than he did in 2012.

     

    Predicted 2013 Stats: 16-10, 3.25 ERA, 200 IP, 8.5 K/9

Zack Greinke, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    2012 Stats: 15-5, 3.48 ERA, 212.1 IP, 8.5 K/9

     

    Zack Greinke is one interesting guy. He’s been on good teams and he’s been on bad teams. He’s had great seasons and he’s had fair seasons. He’s won lots of games and he’s lost lots of games. Put it all together and you get one massive contract from the Los Angeles Dodgers to be their No. 2 starter.

    But hey, whatever works, right? Greinke hasn’t really been all that consistent over the course of his career, but he has the potential to be one of the league's most dominant pitchers. Did he deserve all that money? Ask me in a couple of years and I’ll tell you. For now, though, he needs to focus on pitching at a high level.

    The Dodgers didn’t make a big investment on Greinke to watch him go 10-14 and post an ERA higher than 4.00. They expect high win totals and a low ERA. That’s something reasonable to ask for, and it’s certainly achievable. His 2013 season could end up being the best of his career.

     

    Predicted 2013 Stats: 18-9, 3.35 ERA, 230 IP, 8.6 K/9

CC Sabathia, New York Yankees

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    2012 Stats: 15-6, 3.38 ERA, 200 IP, 8.9 K/9

     

    CC Sabathia has been a workhorse for the New York Yankees ever since joining the team back in 2009. He’s won at least 19 games in three of the four seasons that he’s been a Bronx Bomber, and the one year he didn’t came last season when he won just 15.

    Sabathia has still thrown at least 200 innings in each of the last six seasons while never posting an ERA higher than 3.40 over that same span, but it’s safe to say that the big lefty struggled a bit in 2012. He missed some time with groin and elbow injuries and saw his ERA rise.

    This upcoming year will be a big one for Sabathia. The Yankees have a banged up offense and he’ll have to keep opponents off the board as much as possible.

    He didn’t look too sharp in his Opening Day start against the Red Sox on Monday, walking four batters and exiting the game after just five innings of work.

     

    Predicted 2013 Stats: 17-9, 3.35 ERA, 190 IP, 8.5 K/9

Matt Harrison, Texas Rangers

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    2012 Stats: 18-11, 3.29 ERA, 213.1 IP, 5.6 K/9

     

    Matt Harrison has quickly transformed himself from just some other guy in the Texas Rangers’ starting rotation to one of the top pitchers in baseball. Harrison was relatively bad throughout his first three seasons in the big leagues, but he had a breakout year in 2011 and pitched well again in 2012.

    Last year, Harrison set new personal bests, with 18 wins and a 3.29 ERA in 213.1 innings of work. Over the last two seasons, he has 32 wins, which is tied for the eighth-most in baseball and is among the likes of the top names in the game. His command has been an issue in the past, but it appears that he’s overcome this issue at this point in his career.

    If Harrison can keep his walk rate at a reasonable number, he should have another good season. Although Harrison only has five seasons under his belt, he’s always pitched well when his BB/9 rate is below 3.00. If he’s walking a bunch of batters, don’t expect a pretty line at the end of the year.

     

    Predicted 2013 Stats: 17-9, 3.45 ERA, 230 IP, 6.0 K/9

Josh Johnson, Toronto Blue Jays

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    2012 Stats: 8-14, 3.81 ERA, 191.1 IP, 7.8 K/9

     

    After a disappointing 2012 campaign, Josh Johnson is bound to improve in 2013 after getting traded by the Miami Marlins to the revamped Toronto Blue Jays. Johnson will now have the benefit of pitching for a contender, something that couldn’t really be said for him in years past.

    Johnson did, however, string together a couple of impressive years with the Marlins. He’s always been a pretty good pitcher, but he really hit a speed bump in 2012, going 8-14 and posting the highest ERA of his career for a full season. His walk rate was also through the roof.

    A change of scenery might be exactly what Johnson needed. He’ll have plenty of run support with the Blue Jays, which could ultimately be the difference between picking up a win or a loss. As long as he stays healthy for the entire year, his other numbers should rebound as well.

     

    Predicted 2013 Stats: 16-7, 3.50 ERA, 190 IP, 8.2 K/9

Max Scherzer, Detroit Tigers

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    2012 Stats: 16-7, 3.74 ERA, 187.2 IP, 11.1 K/9

     

    Pitching behind Justin Verlander is not an easy job, but Max Scherzer does a pretty good job in such a role. Scherzer has gotten better and better since coming over from the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2009, and while he might never be as dominant as Verlander is, he could become a top-notch pitcher for the Detroit Tigers.

    Scherzer has won at least 12 games in each of the last three seasons, increasing his win total each year. He’s yet to hit the 200-inning plateau, but he will surely hit it sometime within the next few seasons, and potentially as early as 2013 if all things go according to plan. His ability to strike batters out has really improved as well, which is one of the main reasons why he’s been so good in recent years.

    In 2013, Scherzer will still be pitching for one of the top offenses in baseball, which should reflect a high win total as long as he doesn’t completely lose his command on the mound. His strikeout rate was a little ridiculous last season and it wouldn't be too surprising to see it drop a bit.

    Predicted 2013 Stats: 16-8, 3.70 ERA, 185 IP, 9.9 K/9

Tim Hudson, Atlanta Braves

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    2012 Stats: 16-7, 3.62 ERA, 179 IP, 5.1 K/9

     

    When Tim Hudson is healthy, he is as consistent as can be. He has finished all but one year of his career—which started back in 1999—with at least 11 wins, and that came in 2009 when he only made seven starts. He’s thrown at least 200 innings, time after time, and has been a role model to many young arms.

    His 2012 campaign could be considered a down year for Hudson, though. Although he finished with a 16-7 record, which is comparable to what he’s done in the past, he failed to pitch 180 innings, his strikeout rate decreased and his ERA and walk rate increased compared to the year prior.

    For a seasoned veteran, though, it’s tough to say whether Hudson will improve or fall apart in 2013. It’s probable that he pitches to his career averages. He is on one of the best teams in baseball, so projecting him to win around 16 games again wouldn’t be bold at all. He just needs to stay healthy and the numbers should follow.

     

    Predicted 2013 Stats: 16-9, 3.70 ERA, 185 IP, 5.0 K/9

James Shields, Kansas City Royals

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    2012 Stats: 15-10, 3.52 ERA, 227.2 IP, 8.8 K/9

     

    James Shields is one of the few players on this list that changed teams over the winter, getting traded from the Tampa Bay Rays to the Kansas City Royals. While Shields was known as a dominant pitcher in the AL East, he could start to regress with his new team.

    The Rays are a much better team, and they gave Shields the opportunity to win frequently with their great defense and bullpen. The Royals have an abundance of young talent, but if they don’t start reaching their potential, Shields won’t be able to win many games.

    Even though the AL Central is much easier to pitch in compared to the AL East, Shields may have trouble making the adjustment. A poor transition would be shown through his ERA primarily, so that will be the key stat to keep an eye on this season. Shields won’t be bad in 2013, but he won’t be as good as he was with Tampa Bay a year ago.

     

    Predicted 2013 Stats: 14-10, 3.80 ERA, 210 IP, 8.4 K/9

Jon Lester, Boston Red Sox

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    2012 Stats: 9-14, 4.82 ERA, 205.1 IP, 7.3 K/9

     

    It would be pretty hard for Jon Lester to repeat his performance from such a horrible 2012 season in 2013. Lester was one of the AL’s best pitchers coming into last season, but he just completely fell apart. 

    Lester would ultimately go 9-14 in 33 starts for the Red Sox in easily the worst year of his professional career. But even though he struggled mightily with his command, Lester has what it takes to bounce back. This is the type of player that just doesn’t lay down and take a loss. He’s a fighter. Keep in mind, Lester beat cancer.

    If Lester can beat one of the worst diseases in the world, he can certainly beat a couple of baseball teams. Forget about Lester’s 2012 numbers because you’ll never see him come close to them ever again. He will absolutely turn it around in 2013, starting the year with a fresh slate.

     

    Predicted 2013 Stats: 16-8, 3.95 ERA, 220 IP, 8.4 K/9

Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals

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    2012 Stats: 14-13, 3.94 ERA, 198.2 IP, 8.3 K/9

     

    After a pair of very impressive seasons in 2009 and 2010, Adam Wainwright didn’t respond too well after missing all of the 2011 while recovering from Tommy John surgery. Still, Wainwright has had a solid career and will look to send the St. Louis Cardinals back to the postseason as the leader of the staff.

    Wainwright lost a career-high 13 games in 2012 while winning just 14, his lowest total since 2008. Despite missing a year due to injury, his ERA rose more than 1.5 runs from 2010 to 2012, which isn’t good by any means. A sub-4.00 ERA is still good in today’s game, but it’s on the border.

    Chris Carpenter is likely out for the year and Kyle Lohse is no longer on the Cardinals, which means the rotation is all about Wainwright. While his ERA wasn’t good in 2012, it might not get much better in 2013. His win-loss ratio, though, should absolutely get better.

     

    Predicted 2013 Stats: 17-11, 3.99 ERA, 200 IP, 8.0 K/9

Roy Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies

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    2012 Stats: 11-8, 4.49 ERA, 156.1 IP, 7.6 K/9

     

    It’s sad to say that 2013 might be the last season we ever see Roy Halladay in a big league ballpark. It seems as if his best days are behind him, and it all started when he began to fall apart a year ago, when Halladay only managed to throw 156.1 innings and went just 11-8.

    Halladay’s 4.49 ERA was the highest of his career since 2000. That’s a long time ago, and it certainly speaks to how poorly he pitched. He also walked around 2.1 batters per nine innings last year. Before that, he hadn’t walked two batters per nine innings since 2004. He just doesn’t have the command that he used to anymore.

    It’s pretty easy to see that 2013 will be a make-or-break year for the right-hander. If he struggles again, there would be no shame in him retiring. If he gets his act together again, though, then he probably has a couple of years left. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t bet in favor of him succeeding.

     

    Predicted 2013 Stats: 12-13, 5.20 ERA, 170 IP, 6.9 K/9

Yovani Gallardo, Milwaukee Brewers

26 of 27

    2012 Stats: 16-9, 3.66 ERA, 204 IP, 9.0 K/9

     

    When you think of the top pitchers in baseball, Yovani Gallardo’s name probably doesn’t cross your mind. But over the last four seasons, he’s been one of the game’s best. While Gallardo tends to strike out a bunch of batters each time he takes the mound, his biggest problem has been his command.

    Gallardo’s walk rate has fluctuated over the last couple of years, despite his ERA staying steady. What’s a little concerning is that from 2011 to 2012, his walk rate jumped an entire walk. Even though his 2011 walk rate was the lowest of his career, what caused this extreme increase?

    The Milwaukee Brewers’ No. 1 guy needs to have a big season for the team to compete in the fierce NL Central. His command issues might become a trend and that could do serious damage to his final numbers. While Gallardo will likely match his usual win total, the other numbers might not be there.

     

    Predicted 2013 Stats: 16-10, 3.75 ERA, 210 IP, 8.7 K/9

Honorable Mentions

27 of 27

    Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves

    2012 Stats: 42 SV, 1.01 ERA, 62.2 IP, 16.66 K/9

    Craig Kimbrel is easily the best closer in baseball and should have no trouble having another fantastic season for the Atlanta Braves. He will, however, prove to be human.

    Predicted 2013 Stats: 47 SV, 1.23 ERA, 65.1 IP, 14.97 K/9

     

    Aroldis Chapman, Cincinnati Reds

    2012 Stats: 38 SV, 1.51 ERA, 71.2 IP, 15.32 K/9

    Aroldis Chapman will definitely be the closer this season after the Cincinnati Reds flirted with the idea of him as a starter during spring training. Regardless, he shouldn’t have any issues blowing batters away in 2013.

    Predicted 2013 Stats: 43 SV, 1.68 ERA, 70.1 IP, 15.10 K/9

     

    Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees

    2012 Stats: 5 SV, 2.16 ERA, 8.1 IP, 8.64 K/9

    After missing nearly all of the 2012 season with a torn ACL, Mariano Rivera is back for his last season in the big leagues. Closing for the banged up New York Yankees, Rivera won’t have a career year, but he will be his usual, dominant self.

    Predicted 2013 Stats: 29 SV, 2.43 ERA, 63.2 IP, 8.32 K/9

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