5 MLB Relievers Who Could Be Impact Starters by Midseason
In today's MLB, the bullpen has become an integral step for many players hoping to find their way into the rotation. Success stories such as Alexi Ogando and C.J. Wilson have teams salivating at the prospects of converting relievers to starters.
While 2013 doesn't feature a bunch of hurlers hoping to find starts by midseason, there are still some names out there that will be making big impacts by season's end.
With a look to the 'pen, here's a breakdown of five such names hoping to be back in the rotation by midseason.
Acquired from the Cubs in last year's Anthony Rizzo trade, Andrew Cashner's San Diego debut was less than stellar. He finished the 2012 season with a 4.27 ERA in 33 appearances.
Cashner's season was a mixed bag overall, and his results as a starter were especially varied.
He made five starts for the Padres, going 0-1 with a 5.12 ERA. He did manage to walk only three batters in those starts while posting a 10.7 K/9. He also failed to pitch more than 4.0 innings in three of them.
With its rotation the way it is, there's no doubt San Diego would love to see Cashner starting by midseason. Seeing that the 26-year-old posted a 3.06 xFIP last season, it's safe to say we've yet to see him at his best.
With an extra year of experience under his belt, and some better luck, Cashner could be the Padres' top starter by season's end.
The days of Brian Matusz being a top name in baseball seem long gone, but it was only two seasons ago that he had that stellar second half—where he posted a 3.63 ERA and 2.52 K/BB in 14 starts.
Matusz has struggled mightily since 2010, and he's lucky to have made the team's bullpen for 2013.
At just 26 years old, there's still potential. He's suffered from a bit of bad luck and has the talent to be a serviceable back-of-the-rotation starter.
Baltimore's rotation played above its head last season, and the O's retain a similar group of arms this year. It should be expected that they'll mix things up by midseason if the rotation can't hold.
Outside of top prospect Dylan Bundy, there's no pitcher guaranteed to take over in the Orioles' rotation by that time. If Matusz can post strong numbers out of the 'pen, he'll be a front-runner for a fourth or fifth starter spot.
Chris Capuano was arguable the Dodgers' second-best pitcher behind Clayton Kershaw in 2012. Cap finished his year 12-12 with a 3.72 ERA and 3.00 K/BB in 33 starts with L.A.
Despite a strong showing over the last two years, the Dodgers' offseason acquisitions of Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu have forced Capuano into the bullpen to start 2013.
But it could be just a matter of time until he's back in the rotation.
Chad Billingsley and Ted Lilly are already on the DL to start the season, giving the Dodgers just four starters to begin the yer. Plus, Korean import Ryu is still a complete unknown.
Right now Capuano is a nice safety net for the Dodgers to have, but with big question marks in the back of the rotation it could be just a matter of time until he's back in as a starter.
Erasmo Ramirez started his 2012 out of Seattle's bullpen before making the first start of his career on June 14.
Ramirez made eight starts last season, and though he went 1-3 he posted great peripherals when in the rotation (3.64 ERA, 0.979 WHIP, 5.13 K/BB).
The 23-year-old had a strong spring, but it wasn't enough for him to get on the Major League roster—and he's currently on the Mariners' minor league DL.
With Seattle sporting a solid five-man rotation and some of the game's best pitching prospects, it's likely any call-up could see Ramirez once again slotted in the bullpen.
Even then, it shouldn't take Ramirez long to break into a starting role once again. Given his great control, he'll be in for a breakout year.
Jeff Niemann can be a great pitcher when healthy, but that's been the biggest struggle in his career.
The 30-year-old has hit the 30-start mark just once in a season (2009) and has only 31 starts over the last two seasons.
Of course, in those 31 starts Niemann is 13-10 with a 3.84 ERA while averaging close to 6.0 innings per start.
2013 hasn't started well for Niemann, who will be beginning his season on the DL. With the Rays' rotation currently set, any return to the starting lines will have to be through the bullpen.
If Niemann can rebound and be healthy, he'll have a chance to post strong numbers as the team's fifth starter. Unless of course you think Roberto Hernandez will stay in the rotation the entire season.