With the first month of the season in the books, let’s take a look at which pitchers have benefited most from a lucky BABIP.  Who is most likely to fail?  Who will continue to thrive?  (All stats through Saturday).


1. Livan HernandezWashington Nationals.180

He hasn’t had an ERA below 4.83 since 2005, so, at 35-years old are we to believe that Hernandez can continue to mow people down?  He’s been incredibly lucky (his career BABIP is .310) and it is just a matter of time before he completely implodes.  Don’t bother considering him in any format.


2. Jeff NiemannTampa Bay Rays .208

He’s good and worth owning, but his luck in the early going makes him a good option to potentially sell high on.  He’s currently sporting a 2.76 ERA and 1.02 WHIP due in part to the BABIP and an 87.6% strand rate.  Sooner or later the luck is going to run out and the statistics are going to tumble. 

What could help to offset that is an increase in his strikeout rate (5.52 K/9 vs. a minor league career mark of 9.1), but that’s not going to be enough.  He’s worth owning, but now may be the best opportunity to maximize his value via trade.


3. Barry ZitoSan Francisco Giants .209

He plays in a good pitchers park and has produced a career best groundball rate (44.7%) over the season’s first month.  Is that enough to justify this stunning turn around?  Of course not.  He’s pitching like it’s 2002 and it’s hard to imagine him continuing at this type of pace for much longer. 

I’m not going to say dump him, especially with a start against the Padres on the horizon (in fantasy Week 6), but just don’t expect him to continue to pitch lights out baseball like this.


4. Mitch TalbotCleveland Indians .211

He’s been impressive, but he just doesn’t strikeout enough batters.  Then again, it’s only a matter of time before he starts getting a few more swings and misses.  His minor league career K/9 is 7.6, including a 7.9 over 161.0 innings at Triple-A in 2008. So, how could he possibly be carrying a 2.4 mark?  An improvement there would certainly help to offset a decrease in luck (though he’s never going to be an elite strikeout artist). 

Couple that with the ability to generate groundballs (minor league career mark is 53.9% vs. 56.8% in 2010) and you have a pitcher that is certainly worth taking a look at in deeper formats.


5. Ricky RomeroToronto Blue Jays.212

This feels like déjà vu.  Last year Romero got off to a fast start upon being recalled and I warned everyone to be careful, given the amount of luck he was enjoying.  In 2010, here we go again. 

For his minor league career he posted a 4.42 ERA, so to think he can maintain anything close to his current 2.25 would be a mistake.  Sell now if you can, because he’s going to come back to earth, especially playing in the AL East.


6. Ryan Rowland-SmithSeattle Mariners .216

He’s been extremely lucky, yet he’s sporting a 5.28 ERA. What am I missing?  The strikeout rate is abysmal (2.8), which is going to improve, but it’s just not enough.  There are not enough positives in his underlying statistics to make me consider using him at this point.


7. Jaime GarciaSt. Louis Cardinals .221

We’ve heard about the promise for a few years and thus far in 2010 Garcia has delivered better results then anyone could have imagined.  Granted, he’s benefited from some luck (including an 80.8% strand rate), but he has a skill set that should continue to deliver quality results, maybe just not to the extent they have thus far (1.04 ERA, 0.96 WHIP). 

The strikeouts (K/9 of 5.9) have the potential to increase slightly (minor league career mark of 8.6).  What has really helped is his ability to generate groundballs.  Currently he’s at 69.6% and for his minor league career he’s 58.7%.  There’s no chance of him maintaining a near 70% mark, so look for things to regress in due time.  Like I said, he still should have the potential to be usable, but selling high on him may not be a bad idea either.


8. Ian KennedyArizona Diamondbacks .225

He’s been lucky with the BABIP, but that’s the only number that screams out at you.  His strand rate is reasonable (74.4%) and he’s picked up strikeouts at an 8.0 clip (minor league K/9 was 9.9).  Throw in solid control and there is a lot to like. 

Is he going to be an ace?  No, but the BABIP is certainly not a reason to discard him.  In deeper formats, he’s worth using depending on the matchup.


9. Chris VolstadFlorida Marlins.237

He has a 4.45 ERA because he’s paired a lot of luck in the BABIP department with some awful luck in his strand rate (59.8%).  While one improves, the other will regress, meaning he likely is the pitcher that he is showing.  Without a big-time strikeout rate, why bother?


10. Tim HudsonAtlanta Braves.239

It’s Tim Hudson, so what is there to say?  I know he’s been lucky, but he’s also going to improve on the strikeout rate (3.5).  Is he the ace that he used to be?  Of course not, but he’s usable in all formats.

What are your thoughts on these pitchers?  Who would you trade?  Who would you hold onto?

To read the previous article, click here .


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