Best & Worst After the Break; Money Arms

The Best and Worst MLB Teams after the All-Star Break
 

By Doc’s Sports        Find more info about Doc’s Sports at http://experts.covers.com

 

There are some teams that really round into form after the All-Star Break, and others that don’t.

Every year there seems to be a few surprising teams that get hot down the stretch. If you look at it over a longer time frame, though, the good teams shine and the bad teams sink. Here’s a look at the best and worst teams after the all-star break, looking at their combined record over the last four years:

The best

New York Yankees (181-110, .622)

It’s no surprise that the team built to make the postseason tends to heat up when the playoffs are on the horizon. Now, if only they could consistently keep that strong play going in October. There is little doubt that the Yankees can again close strong. They have a .600 winning percentage on the season, so they would only need to be slightly better down the stretch. They are in a reasonably unfamiliar situation right now – they actually have some starting pitching depth.

Philadelphia Phillies (180-111, .619)

The Phillies have been the best team in the National League since the All-Star break the last four years, and they won more games after the break than any other team last year. All they would have to do this year to win at the same pace as they have over the four years is to keep doing what they are doing. They have a .625 win percentage and with the pitching they have, it’s not hard to believe that they will – especially since there is a lot of improvement possible offensively.

Los Angeles Angels (165-124, .571)

The Rangers have been hot the last two years, but the Angels have been the established class of the AL West for a long time. Early in the year, it looked like they were in some real trouble, and they certainly are carrying some dead weight in their lineup. However, they are just a game behind the Rangers and playing well. They have gotten hot already, and there’s no reason to believe that they can’t keep it going.

The worst

Pittsburgh Pirates (102-188, .352)

Here’s a news flash: The Pirates have long been a lousy baseball team. Really lousy. They have started out weak and have tended to get weaker down the stretch. It hasn’t been pretty. This year, they’re actually looking respectable and are above .500 right now. That’s uncharted territory for this squad. They still aren’t a deep, talented team, so they could definitely fade down the stretch. But for once, they could be moving in the right direction.

Baltimore Orioles (114-176, .393)

No surprise here, either. The Orioles are pretty much the Pirates of the American League. They have been consistently bad for a long time and, despite some signs that they could be moving in the right direction, they are struggling again this year. Their pitchers are young and their lineup is inconsistent, so it’s not unreasonable to expect some late struggles again. The only reason for some optimism is that the team was solid down the stretch last year and much better than normal after Buck Showalter took over.

Kansas City Royals (119-167, .416)

If you are surprised by this one then you just aren’t paying attention. They have been almost as bad as the other two on this list. What’s remarkable is the consistency of their lousiness. They’ve only won between 28 and 32 games after the break in each of the last four years. They have reasons for long-term hope, but in the short term, it’s hard to believe that they will significantly overachieve down the stretch.

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Money Arms: Second half starting pitcher report


By Sean Murphy    Read more interesting stuff from Sean at www.covers.com

I’m switching things up a bit for the final ‘Money Arms’ report prior to the All-Star break.
Instead of looking at two starters to back and two to fade in the next two weeks, I’m going to gaze a little deeper into my crystal ball, and give you six pitchers to keep your eye on in the second half. Whether you’re betting them or fading them, these hurlers should pad your wallet down the stretch.
Money makers
Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers

Yeah, this is a bit of an obvious pick, but it’s the right one.
Verlander has looked like a man possessed here in 2011, going 12-4 with a 2.15 ERA and 0.87 WHIP. He enters the break with plenty of momentum after not allowing a single earned run in 7 2/3 razor sharp innings in Kansas City on Sunday.
The veteran right-hander has given up a grand total of six earned runs over his last nine starts. He’s worked at least seven innings in all nine of those outings.
The Tigers currently lead the A.L. Central, but I still believe their best baseball is ahead of them. You’re going to have to lay some chalk, but Verlander should be a go-to guy as the summer progresses.
James Shields, Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays ace has gone winless in his last three starts, but it’s been no fault of his own.
Shields has enjoyed a fine season so far, posting a 2.33 ERA and 0.98 WHIP. With that being said, his 8-7 record leaves a lot to be desired.
As long as Shields continues to hold up his end of the bargain, I’m confident the wins will come. On Sunday he allowed only one unearned run on four hits in a complete game loss against the Yankees. The problem? He was matched up against CC Sabathia.
The Rays remain just six games back of the first place Red Sox in the A.L. East. They’re a scrappy team that isn’t going to go away quietly. Thanks to Shields’ modest record, we’re still able to grab some value when he takes the ball every five days.
Tim Hudson, Atlanta Braves

Tim Hudson enjoyed a return to prominence last season, delivering 17 wins while posting a 2.83 ERA. While his numbers are a little off that pace here in 2011, I’m still a big supporter of the 36-year old veteran.
Hudson isn’t the type of pitcher that wilts in the second half. In fact, he owns a stunning 83-37 career record following the All-Star break.
After logging 228 2/3 innings last season, Hudson is in fine shape, having pitched only 113 1/3 innings to date in 2011. He carries excellent form into the second half. Over his last four starts, Hudson has allowed only 21 hits and six earned runs in 27 1/3 innings of work.
The Braves are a bit of an afterthought in the N.L. East, despite the fact that they sit just 3.5 games back of the first place Phillies. That keeps their prices low, relatively speaking.
Bankroll burners
Michael Pineda, Seattle Mariners

Before you get on me for suggesting a straight fade of one of the best young pitchers in baseball, here me out.
Pineda hasn’t been his dominant self lately, perhaps a product of a heavy workload for a 22-year old starter. He’s already logged 113 innings here in his rookie season, and it appears to be wearing on him.
Over Pineda’s last three starts, he’s allowed 12 earned runs in 17 1/3 innings pitched. He lasted at least seven innings in five of eight starts from May 16th to June 23rd, but has failed to do so in each of his last three outings.
The Mariners won’t help Pineda’s cause, as their offense is simply atrocious. In fact, they’ve lost six of his eight starts since the beginning of June, scoring a grand total of 10 runs in those six losses.
Ryan Vogelsong, San Francisco Giants

Take a look at the National League ERA leaderboard, and you’ll see Vogelsong firmly entrenched in second spot. Only Jair Jurrjens sits ahead of him.
Do you see anything wrong with that picture?
I won’t knock Vogelsong too much, as I’ve made plenty of money, both backing him and the under when he takes the hill this season. I’m just not sure there’s still much value to be had.
Vogelsong has regressed considerably in recent weeks. After issuing more than three walks only once in his first 11 starts this season, he’s now handed out at least four free passes in each of his last three starts. Over that stretch, he’s posted an ugly 13:13 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
While Vogelsong will continue to benefit from pitching at AT&T Park, I’ll look to fade him away from home. The Giants offense just isn’t good enough to carry a pitcher who’s having trouble finding his best stuff.
Kevin Correia, Pittsburgh Pirates

At some point, the Pirates are going to show some regression, and Correia is the number one candidate to fade on their pitching staff.
He’s already won 11 games this season, just one victory shy of his career high. It’s surprising when you consider that he doesn’t strike out a lot of guys (59 in 116 2/3 innings), gives up mnore hits than innings pitched, and takes the mound for a team that isn’t exactly known for its offensive prowess.
Correia has had a tough go lately, allowing 29 hits and 14 earned runs over his last four starts, covering just 21 2/3 innings of work. Yet he’s still managed to post a 3-1 record in that time.
The betting marketplace is going to catch up with the Pirates at some point, and when it does, you’ll want to be on board the fade train, particularly when Correia takes the ball.

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