As fantasy owners, we’ve all been burned.  We know what it feels like, and the stages of remorse that comes with it.

First, there’s denial. Denial that the player you coveted on draft day could really be this terrible, and that all your research and preparation was, well, dead wrong.

Then comes anger. Angst at said player for his exceeding levels of sucktitude.  You drafted him early enough where he still gets free passes after a slow start/poor outing, but there’s only so much a self respecting owner can take.

Finally, acceptance.

Ah, who am I kidding? The third stage is only more anger.  Followed by kicking that player to the free agent curb the same way Uncle Phil used to hoist DJ Jazzy Jeff onto his lawn in “Fresh Prince of Bel Aire.”

For those in roto leagues, these pitchers have not only burned a hole in your ERA, but one deep inside the carpals of your heart as well with their astounding rebound performances in the second half.  They’ve been dropped, forgotten about, left for dead, and left you with the open wounds of a team ERA that still hasn’t dipped blow 4.00. 

It’s like going through a messy divorce with your wife, losing half your belongings and property in the process, only to find out just months later she’s met a charming Wall Street CEO with a mansion and fountain that spits Courvoisier.

And she’s pregnant.

Wandy Rodriguez:

First Half Stats: 18 G, 4.97 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, .289 BAA

Wince-Inducing Second Half Stats: 8 G, 1.82 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, .217 BAA

After sporting a minuscule 3.02 ERA in 2009 and outshining ace Roy Oswalt for most of the year, Wand-Rod was being drafted in the same company as Josh Johnson, Yovani Gallardo, Cole Hamels, and Lucifer himself Josh Beckett (we’ll get to him later). 

These were the can’t miss up-and-comers of 2010.  Well, for the first half of 2010, Rodriguez missed.  Badly.

Most frequently with his curveball, which, incidentally, wasn’t curving.

He was sporting a 3-10 record and a 6.09 ERA by June 18 and had most fantasy owners headed for the hills, while he was handed the first ticket to Dropsville—never to be looked at, let alone considered by those whom he burned ever again.  

And then, somehow, everything clicked.  His ERA has been on a steady decline since June 24, allowing one run or less nine times since then, while compiling an 81:16 K:BB ratio for the suddenly relevant Astros.

Pure evil. 

Max Scherzer

First Half Stats: 16 G, 4.61 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, .268 BAA

Gut Wrenching Second Half Stats: 9 G, 1.98 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, .213 BAA

Scherzer had the fantasy world all-a-twitter after a move from spacious Chase Field to Comerica Park, and while his 4.12 ERA wasn’t all that impressive, his 174 Ks were.  2010 would be the year Scherzer catapulted himself into the fantasy elite.

Cue a three week stretch from April 28 to May 14 in which he surrendered six, 10, five, and six runs, respectively, and Scherzer and his bloated 7.29 ERA found themselves down in the minors, with many fantasy owners abandoning ship as well.

“How could this be?” befuddled fantasy owners asked their computer screens.  “He was nearly a surefire lock to bust out this season!”

Well, a dominant two week stint in the minors, followed by a 14 K “re-debut” turned skeptics into believers once again, and three months later, Scherzer’s on pace to break his 172 K mark from a year ago, while brandishing a 3.60 ERA. 

No doubt that three-week stretch did significant damage to the early season hopes of many, and to have Mad Max battle back the way he has may seem heroic to some, but to you, former owner, it’s an epic backstabbing. 

Gavin Floyd

First Half Stats: 18 G, 4.20 ERA, 1.29 WHIP .258 BAA

Agonizing Second Half Stats: 8 G, 3.29 ERA, 1.37 WHIP .274 BAA

Danks or Floyd, Danks or Floyd? That was the maddening question asked by many owners on draft day over which White Sox starter would separate themselves in 2010.

Those who chose Floyd probably went on to question their everyday decision making skills following a tumultuous first half which saw him flaunt a 6.64 ERA by June 2.

Smart owners knew his peripherals from his ’08 season (when he finished with a 3.84 ERA) were nearly identical to ’09 (4.06 ERA).  Thus, the skills were still there.  It was just a matter of when he would turn it around.

It was probably after you finally gave up on him.

Fast forward three months later, and Floyd’s ERA sits at 3.91 (it was at 3.49 prior to two recent sub-par starts) after an unreal stretch in which he allowed two runs or less in every start from June 8 to August 7.  To add insult to injury, he actually has Danks beat in the strikeout department (135 to 130). 

Oh Gavin, you tease. 

Josh Beckett

First Half Stats: 8 G, 7.29 ERA, 1.66 WHIP, .305 BAA

Unworthy of an Extension Second Half Stats:
7 G, 5.65 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, .265 BAA

Small sample sizes, yes, but vomit-inducing nonetheless. 

Beckett was another “can’t miss” starter as one of the anchors of a “perceived” legendary Red Sox rotation.  And while Clay Buchholz and (to a lesser extent) Jon Lester lived up to their billings, the rest have been an unequivocal bust.

That extension he signed back in April?  Laughable.

Four years, $68 million dollars, and a bad back later, the Red Sox have themselves a No. 5 starter. 

Beckett not only burned owners in the first half, but he laughed all the way to the bank, teamed up with Jacoby Ellsbury for the “seemingly short-term injuries that lingered far longer than reasonably expected” club, and rubbed salt in the wound of patient (and presumptively Red Sox die-hards) owners with a second half that’s seen him give up a combined 19 runs in three starts from Aug. 8 to Aug. 19.

In the end, there’s no way the owners who drafted these tormenting Jekyll and Hyde starters could ever forgive them.  It’s best to forget and ignore.  But remember, while burn wounds do heal—they almost always leave a scar.

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