With the All-Star break over and Jonathan "The Ox" Broxton nursing a toe injury that could linger the rest of the season, it's a good time for a mid-season assessment on guys I like and guys I'm worried about. My "Six Up" are guys I like to perform better than their first-half numbers (saves, ERA, K, WHIP), and my "Six Down" are targets for possible regression.
1. Brad Lidge -- His second half can't possibly be as bad as his first, and his stuff looks sharp. With a .375 BABIP in the first half, the guy has been remarkably unlucky. He's got a pretty good defense behind him, a manager that believes in him, and a show on MLB Network. How can he not rebound?
2. Mike González -- Rafael Soriano has been getting most of the save chances lately, but Soriano might get moved before July 31 -- a move that would obviously increase "Gonzo's" value. The hard-throwing lefty has been unlucky thus far (and victimized frequently by the long ball) but he's still whiffing dudes at an alarming rate (11.79 K/9). González really won't cost you much, and could be a huge second-half boon.
3. Joakim Soria -- Yes, I love him. I won't bore you with anything more than his peripherals: 11.25 K/9, 4.29 K/BB. Oh yeah -- and this: He's only notched 14 saves this season because of the injury and some Royals futility on the part of the offense. I think he'll crack 35 saves by season's end and strike out close to 80 batters.
4. Brian Wilson -- His .327 BABIP is a major clue to his bloated 3.66 ERA. And the Giants are in the thick of the Wild Card race, so his heart might be safe in San Francisco.
5. Chad Qualls -- If he doesn't get moved by the end of the month, Qualls will put up good second-half numbers. I know he had some forearm soreness, but his .332 BABIP, 6.60 K/BB and FIP below 3.00 are proof he's a good pitcher. His absurdly low strand rate of 68.6% should inch back up toward 80% in the second half and help lower his ERA.
6. Jose Valverde -- I know he's blown a few saves, but forget the numbers for a second. The guy was hurt (shredded calf) in the first half and has looked good during most of his outings since returning. He's a guy who can strike out the side any time he's out there, and he can be had much cheaper than Ryan Franklin.
1. Ryan Franklin -- Speaking of the "Red Menace," with a ZIPS-projected second-half FIP of 3.84 and an ERA currently lurking at a preposterous 0.70, Franklin is the ultimate overachiever. I've harped on this guy for a while, making jokes about Franklin's age, chin hair and less-than-overpowering stuff, but the punch line still hasn't dropped. Considering his first-half .207 BABIP, I'm already laughing inside.
2. Jonathan Broxton -- I know -- his FIP is at a miniscule 1.58 and his ERA is now up to 3.10, but the toe injury has me worried, as it does Joe Torre. If you can get top dollar for the bovine Broxton from an unsuspecting owner who doesn't think toes are important on hefty oxen, go for it.
3. Andrew Bailey -- The rookie's .246 BABIP has me concerned, although he's still the best man for the job in Oakland. I'll say, however, that there's no way in Hades he strikes out 60 guys in the second half. Bank on it by depositing your first winnings into somebody from the list above.
4. Frank Francisco -- Yes, as you've noticed, low BABIPs (.233) alert my internal bells and whistles, but so does that park and Francisco's notorious history as a bit of a head case. To be fair, he's had no issues in 2009, but his 2.28 ERA is unsustainable and he's bound to get wilder than his current 4.00 K/BB ratio indicates.
5. George Sherrill -- The "Flat-brimmed One" is much-discussed trade fodder, has a 3.41 FIP that's a full point higher than his 2.41 ERA, and has a .267 BABIP.
6. Francisco Rodriguez -- He hasn't been too bad this season, although he did suffer a couple tough defeats. I can see him getting even more discouraged when the stars return on offense and the Mets still suck, can't you? The poor guy hasn't experienced Queens during the final two months yet, but it hasn't been pretty in a while.
All statistics through the All-Star break.
Matt Capps, PIT19-for-21 (90%), 29 IP, 20 Ks, 6.21 ERA, 1.69 WHIPNext in line: John GrabowThird in line: Jesse Chavez/Joel Hanrahan
Fernando Rodney, DET19-for-19 (100%), 39 IP, 34 Ks, 3.92 ERA, 1.33 WHIPNext in line: Brandon Lyon/Joel ZumayaThird in line: Ryan Perry
Andrew Bailey, OAK10-for-14 (71%), 51.2 IP, 60 Ks, 1.92 ERA, 0.97 WHIPNext in line: Brad ZieglerThird in line: Michael Wuertz
Scott Downs, TOR9-for-10 (50%), 3 HLDs, 28.1 IP, 30 Ks, 1.91 ERA, 0.92 WHIPNext in line: Jason Frasor/Jeremy AccardoThird in line: Jesse Carlson
J.P. Howell, TB6-for-11 (55%), 42.2 IP, 50 Ks, 2.11 ERA, 1.13 WHIPNext in line: Dan WheelerThird in line: Randy Choate
Brad Lidge, PHI18-for-24 (75%), 32 IP, 37 Ks, 7.03 ERA, 1.84 WHIPNext in line: Ryan MadsonThird in line: J.C. Romero/Chad Durbin
Chad Qualls, ARI16-for-20 (80%), 37.1 IP, 33 Ks, 3.62 ERA, 1.18 WHIPNext in line: Jon Rauch/Juan GutierrezThird in line: Dan Schlereth/Tom Gordon (DL)
Kerry Wood, CLE12-for-16 (75%), 30.2 IP, 33 Ks, 5.28 ERA, 1.43 WHIPNext in line: Chris PérezThird in line: Jensen Lewis
Matt Lindstrom, FLA -- Sprained right elbow -- 15-Day DL
Lindstrom won't be back until August, according to Marlins exec Larry Beinfest. The much-beleaguered youngster will try to throw off a mound after the All Star break, and Beinfest thinks the team will have a better idea if and when he'll be back after a few workouts.
Troy Percival, TB -- Right shoulder tendonitis -- Return uncertain
According to the St. Petersburg Times, Percival is receiving daily chiropractic and muscle therapy treatment in California while he helps coach his son's Little League team. He's about a week or two from deciding whether to attempt a comeback.
Rafael Soriano, ATL12-for-13 (92%), 42.2 IP, 58 Ks, 1.48 ERA, 0.89 WHIPMike González, ATL9-for-13 (69%), 42 IP, 55 Ks, 3.43 ERA, 1.26 WHIPNext in line: Peter Moylan
Mike MacDougal, WAS5-for-5 (100%), 17 IP, 7 Ks, 2.65 ERA, 1.76 WHIP (NL stats only)Next in line: Joe BeimelThird in line: Julian Tavarez/Sean Burnett
Leo Nunez, FLA4-for-7 (57%), 13 HLDs, 38 IP, 37 Ks, 3.79 ERA, 1.24 WHIPDan Meyer, FLA2-for-2 (100%), 11 HLDs, 35.1 IP, 33 Ks, 1.78 ERA, 0.91 WHIPNext in line: Brian Sanches/Kiki CaleroThird in line: Luis Ayala/Brendan Donnelly
Mariano Rivera, NYY23-for-24 (96%), 37 IP, 43 Ks, 2.43 ERA, 0.89 WHIPNext in line: Brian BruneyThird in line: Phil Coke
Joe Nathan, MIN23-for-25 (92%), 34.1 IP, 43 Ks, 1.31 ERA, 0.73 WHIPNext in line: Jose MijaresThird in line: Matt Guerrier/Jesse Crain
Heath Bell, SD23-for-24 (96%), 37.1 IP, 42 Ks, 1.69 ERA, 1.07 WHIPNext in line: Cla Meredith/Mike AdamsThird in line: Edward Mujica/Greg Burke
Jonathan Papelbon, BOS23-for-25 (92%), 39 IP, 41 Ks, 1.85 ERA, 1.33 WHIPNext in line: Takashi SaitoThird in line: Hideki Okajima/Daniel Bard
Jonathan Broxton, LAD20-for-22 (91%), 40.2 IP, 65 Ks, 3.10 ERA, 0.93 WHIPNext in line: Ramon TroncosoThird in line: Cory Wade
Joakim Soria, KC14-for-16 (88%), 24 IP, 30 Ks, 1.88 ERA, 1.00 WHIPNext in line: Juan CruzThird in line: Kyle Farnsworth
Francisco Rodríguez, NYM23-for-26 (88%), 42.2 IP, 42 Ks, 1.90 ERA, 1.24 WHIPNext in line: Bobby ParnellThird in line: Brian Stokes/Billy Wagner (DL)
Bobby Jenks, CWS20-for-22 (91%), 31 IP, 30 Ks, 3.48 ERA, 1.10 WHIPNext in line: Matt ThorntonThird in line: Octavio Dotel/Tony Peña
Trevor Hoffman, MIL20-for-22 (91%), 26.1 IP, 20 Ks, 2.05 ERA, 1.06 WHIPNext in line: Carlos Villanueva/Mitch StetterThird in line: Todd Coffey
Francisco Cordero, CIN21-for-22 (95%), 36 IP, 30 Ks, 1.75 ERA, 1.14 WHIPNext in line: David WeathersThird in line: Nick Masset
David Aardsma, SEA20-for-22 (91%), 41.1 IP, 51 Ks, 1.96 ERA, 1.23 WHIPNext in line: Mark LoweThird in line: Miguel Batista
Frank Francisco, TEX15-for-17 (88%), 27.2 IP, 32 Ks, 2.28 ERA, 0.94 WHIPNext in line: C.J. Wilson/Eddie GuardadoThird in line: Darren O'Day
Ryan Franklin, STL21-for-22 (95%), 34 IP, 27 Ks, 0.79 ERA, 0.79 WHIPNext in line: Jason MotteThird in line: Kyle McClellan
Brian Wilson, SF23-for-27 (85%), 39.1 IP, 45 Ks, 3.66 ERA, 1.25 WHIPNext in line: Jeremy AffeldtThird in line: Justin Miller/Merkin Valdez
Huston Street, COL22-for-23 (96%), 39.1 IP, 43 Ks, 2.75 ERA, 0.99 WHIPNext in line: Joel Peralta/Alan EmbreeThird in line: Matt Daley/Manny Corpas (DL)
Brian Fuentes, LAA26-for-29 (90%), 30.2 IP, 34 Ks, 3.23 ERA, 1.17 WHIPNext in line: Jason BulgerThird in line: Justin Speier
José Valverde, HOU8-for-12 (67%), 21 IP, 26 Ks, 3.43 ERA, 1.10 WHIPNext in line: LaTroy HawkinsThird in line: Chris Sampson
George Sherrill, BAL20-for-23 (87%), 37.1 IP, 34 Ks, 2.41 ERA, 1.10 WHIPNext in line: Jim JohnsonThird in line: Danys Báez/Chris Ray
Kevin Gregg, CHC16-for-19 (84%), 40.2 IP, 41 Ks, 3.32 ERA, 1.25 WHIPNext in line: Carlos MármolThird in line: Angel Guzman