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The good, bad and truly ugly

By Steve Schwarz, Fantasy Sports Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - There are some pitchers who are sure things these days. Adam Wainwright and Felix Hernandez pitching well are just two that fantasy owners have come to count on year-in and year-out.

Other pitching performances vary so widely that we don't know what to expect.

With teams nearing the halfway point of the season, let's look at those who have played outside the standard deviation of expectations, both good and bad.

Pleasant surprises

Alfredo Simon, Cincinnati - Simon didn't start a game in his first two seasons with the Reds, instead coming out of the bullpen 99 times from 2012-13. As late as the last week in March, manager Bryan Price hadn't decided whether he was a starter or a reliever. Earning the fifth starter role, Simon didn't garner much fantasy attention as his Yahoo! pre-season rank of 305 will attest, but he has been nearly unhittable, going 10-3 with a 2.92 ERA, 1.087 WHIP through his first 15 starts. His ownership level is still at just 73 percent in all Yahoo! leagues. What more does he have to do to get you to put him on your roster?

Scott Kazmir, Oakland - Kazmir had a number of useful seasons with Tampa, but had not been fantasy worthy since 2008 when he was 12-8 with a 3.19 ERA and 1.267 WHIP. In 16 starts this season, he's posted a 9-3 record with a career- best 2.66 ERA and 1.010 WHIP. He's been particularly good at home (5-1, 1.61 ERA, 0.775 WHIP). Unfortunately his ERA and WHIP have been rising in each month after an undefeated April, so his value going forward may be significantly reduced. That makes him an excellent "sell-high" candidate.

Phil Hughes, Minnesota - The Yankees and their fans probably wish he was still wearing pinstripes, but the Twins and fantasy owners are happy he's finally showing off his skills. His less than a strikeout-per-inning ratio keeps him from being a top-tier hurler, but at 8-3 with a 3.40 ERA and 1.133 WHIP he's been an excellent back-end fantasy starter.

Garrett Richards, Anaheim - A first-round selection in the 2009 amateur draft (42nd overall), Richards had not done anything fantasy worthy until this season and his Yahoo! 311 was in line with his lack of production. He's currently ranked at No. 41 overall and the 12th-best pitcher at Yahoo!. Although he leads the AL in wild pitches, it hasn't affected the rest of his game. He's 8-2 with a stunning 2.76 ERA, 1.119 WHIP and 99 strikeouts in 101 innings pitched.

Disappointing pitchers

Matt Cain, San Francisco - It's hard to imagine a pitcher performing further below expectations that Cain. From 2009-12 he posted 55 wins, an ERA of 2.93 and a WHIP of 1.096. Fantasy owners hoped last season's fall from grace (8-10, 4.00 ERA, 1.156 WHIP) was a one-year aberration, but apparently his problems continue. At 1-6 with a career-worst 4.82 ERA and 1.239 WHIP he's no longer an everyday starter for fantasy owners.

Justin Verlander, Detroit - Our expectations for Verlander are probably unreasonable, but its his own fault for being so good from 2006-12. Last season he was mediocre and while many fantasy owners, and Tigers fans, hoped for a bounce-back season it hasn't materialized. Instead he continues his downward spiral with a 4.82 ERA, 1.510 WHIP and just 77 strikeouts in 104 2/3 IP. He was a top-10 selection on draft day, but his performance this season is simply ugly and unworthy of his talents.

Tony Cingrani, Cincinnati - Cingrani looked like an up-and-coming young left- hander that dynasty fantasy owners would love after last season's performances (7-4, 2.92 ERA, 1.099 WHIP, 120 Ks in 104.2 IP). He hasn't progressed in 2014 and the Reds finally sent him down last week, but fantasy owners should have benched him a while ago based on his 2-8 record with a 4.55 ERA and 1.532 WHIP.

Ubaldo Jimenez, Baltimore - Where oh where is the guy who dominated the first half of the 2010 regular season and went into the All-Star break with a 15-1 record? We would even be happy with the 2013 version who went 13-9 with a 3.30 ERA. Instead we have a useless asset that probably wouldn't be on any rosters if he didn't have name recognition.

06/26 13:08:31 ET


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