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Mound musings: Ranking the keepers
"Who would you rather have for the rest of the year, John Danks or Roy Oswalt?"
- Tim Lincecum - SF - Appears headed for back-to-back Cy Young awards ...
- Dan Haren - ARI - ... unless this guy can stop him.
- Johan Santana - NYM - We know about his second halves, but can he rise above Mets' mess? I say yes.
- Roy Halladay - TOR - Guessing he won't clear waivers, so Doc stays in Canada.
- Felix Hernandez - SEA - Free agent after 2011 season. Yankees and Red Sox already salivating.
- Josh Beckett - BOS - Leads majors in wins with 13 and likes the pressure of a pennant race.
- Matt Cain - SF - Only worry: his newly-found run support evaporates.
- Cliff Lee - PHI - So far so (very) good. I see him thriving despite the home park.
- Jon Lester - BOS - Beckett/Lester is the reason I like the Sox to win the AL East.
- Zack Greinke - KC - Felix is his competition for AL Cy Young.
- Justin Verlander - DET - A bit spotty lately, but leads AL in strikeouts with 180.
- Chris Carpenter - STL - Would rank higher if not for just 6.5 K/9.
- Josh Johnson - FLA - A nice Tommy John success story: 10-2, 2.87 ERA.
- Cole Hamels - PHI - Too inconsistent this year, but talent to finish very strong.
- Javier Vazquez - ATL - Mr. Underrated is fourth in baseball with 158 strikeouts.
- Adam Wainwright - STL - Has raised K/9 from 6.2 to 8.0 over last year.
- Yovani Gallardo - MIL - I worry about fatigue, but few NL hurlers are more talented.
- CC Sabathia - NYY - 3.95 ERA and 27th in baseball in strikeouts. THAT for $161 million?
- John Lackey - LAA - Free agent-to-be and the Dodgers shed Jason Schmidt's contract after 2009. Hmmm.
- Chad Billingsley - LAD - Struggles lately, but assuming hamstring is OK, look for a strong finish.
- Wandy Rodriguez - HOU - Houston has the market cornered on talented, diminutive starters.
- Ricky Nolasco - FLA - May have returned to 2008 stud form. A 5.00 ERA, but 118:28 K:BB in 117 IP.
- Tommy Hanson - ATL - Talent to be Atlanta's No. 1 for years to come.
- Clayton Kershaw - LAD - Leads MLB in walks. Otherwise, I'd have him top 10.
- Mark Buehrle - CHW - Ol' Mr. Reliable.
- Roy Oswalt - HOU - Back issues are a concern, but they don't seem too troublesome at this point.
- John Danks - CHW - Think the Rangers could use him right now?
- A.J. Burnett - NYY - Walks are up and strikeouts down, but he's been pitching pretty well lately.
- James Shields - TB - He's regressed a little and the Rays aren't providing much in the way of runs.
- Jair Jurrjens - ATL - Doubt he maintains a sub-3.00 ERA, but still an impressive young talent.
- Edwin Jackson - TB - Dodgers could use him as their No. 5 right now. Lance Carter and Danys Baez.
- Scott Baker - MIN - Big fantasy disappointment, but focus more on the 106:27 K:BB.
- Carlos Zambrano - CHC - Back is a concern, but he's got his strikeout rate up over 2008's.
- Jered Weaver - LAA - HRs are an issue, but like the 11 Ks last time out.
- Derek Lowe - ATL - Had a couple hiccups earlier in the season, but he's the old Lowe now.
- Matt Garza - TB - Every time I see him I see elite starter potential, but maybe I'm wrong.
- Joba Chamberlain - NYY - Will innings be limited later this year?
- Joel Pineiro - STL - Apparently one CAN succeed without striking anyone out.
- Joe Blanton - PHI - 2.33 ERA since May 21. He credits a mechanical adjustment.
- Ubaldo Jimenez - COL - Suddenly Colorado starters are reliable? He sure has been, mostly.
- Rich Harden - CHC - Top-15 talent, but while he's been good lately, I've been down this road before.
- Ryan Dempster - CHC - Walks up, strikeouts down, and Cubs aren't scoring for him (five wins).
- Max Scherzer - ARI - Consistency is key to getting him into the top 20. He has that sort of stuff.
- Jarrod Washburn - DET - Lost first start, but should fare well in his new park.
- Randy Wolf - LAD - Healthy and reliable. Can't complain about what he's done this year.
- Jason Marquis - COL - We keep waiting and waiting for the drop-off.
- J.A. Happ - PHI - Will he get the boot for Pedro? Doesn't deserve to, but somehow has to.
- John Lannan - WAS - He's probably not 3.41 ERA good, but he's better than I'd thought.
- Gavin Floyd - CHW - Strong follow-up to 2008 and a 7.6 K/9 (last year: 6.3).
- Zach Duke - PIT - Will never return to rookie form, but still a nice surprise this year.
- Aaron Cook - COL - 10 wins and a 3.88 ERA, but don't like the 1.41 WHIP.
- Ted Lilly - CHC - Easily top 40 if not for the knee injury.
- Brett Anderson - OAK - Worried about run support, but he's been great recently.
- Ricky Romero - TOR - No longer just "that guy the Jays took instead of Troy Tulowitzki."
- Aaron Harang - CIN - 10 Ks in last start and 125:36 K:BB for the year.
- Chris Volstad - FLA - Odd stat: 1.5 HR/9 in 2009, 0.15 in 2008.
- David Price - TB - Maybe we shouldn't have expected immediate dominance. Patience.
- Hiroki Kuroda - LAD - Supposedly has ironed out a mechanical flaw.
- Jake Peavy - CHW - Too much uncertainty to rank him too high.
- Brian Matusz - BAL - He's good folks, very good.
- Johnny Cueto - CIN - 9.85 ERA over last six starts, but appears healthy.
- Rick Porcello - DET - My only fear is him reaching some sort of innings limit.
- Randy Wells - CHC - Just not convinced yet that he's this good, but you could consider him top 50.
- Chris Tillman - BAL - He's going to be very good, but probably not until 2010/2011.
- Mat Latos - SD - He's looked great, but remember he's still young and lacking offensive support.
- Kyle Lohse - STL - 4.50 ERA in four games since returning from DL. Should get a little better.
- Andy Pettitte - NYY - Nearing retirement, but Yankees can provide runs.
- Clayton Richard - SD - Really improved his fantasy prospects with the trade from the Cell.
- Kevin Millwood - TEX - Not as good as his 3.39 ERA indicates. Just look at his K/9, K:BB, FIP, BABIP.
- Brian Bannister - KC - Even if the stuff is subpar, his intellect should keep him in rotation.
- Luke Hochevar - KC - Back-to-back poor outings, but 12 K in those 11 innings.
- David Hernandez - BAL - 3.28 ERA is nice, but 29:17 K:BB and 4.9 K/9 are not.
- Gil Meche - KC - Should return soon. Has back-to-back sub-4.00 ERA seasons for what it's worth.
- Scott Kazmir - TB - A glimmer of hope on occasion, but still a disappointing season.
- Joe Saunders - LAA - Was never a big fan, but he's had good stretches and the Angels win a lot.
- Brett Cecil - TOR - A 1.67 ERA in last four starts for this No. 4-type lefty.
- Anthony Swarzak - MIN - Slowey injury keeps him around, and he's got some talent.
- Pedro Martinez - PHI - 11 K in rehab start. NL-only league material for now, though.
- Mike Pelfrey - NYM - ERA up a full point over last year's 3.72. A big disappointment.
- Brad Penny - BOS - So-so season, but with Wakefield's back and Smoltz's struggles, he's secure.
- Jordan Zimmermann - WAS - About ready to return, but could get shut down early.
- Clay Buchholz - BOS - Could be a nice buy-low right now. I just see him exploding at some point.
- Ian Snell - SEA - Very impressive in first start for new team in Texas of all places.
- Jonathan Sanchez - SF - No-hitter was nice. Consistency would be nicer, but talent is there.
- Dallas Braden - OAK - A 7.40 ERA over last four starts is concerning.
- Paul Maholm - PIT - Miscast as a No. 1 in PIT, but can be a decent back-of-the-rotation guy.
- Doug Davis - ARI - Five wins and a 4.7 BB/9. Could get traded this month.
- Francisco Liriano - MIN - A 5.56 ERA and forearm issues. Maybe worth a small roll of the dice.
- Tim Hudson - ATL - Considering the options below him on this list, why not roll the dice?
- Nick Blackburn - MIN - Hasn't been very good since the break. Tiring or just being exposed?
- Manny Parra - MIL - Can be very good and then mediocre for a few starts.
- Jeff Niemann - TB - 10 wins despite 72:39 K:BB and 5.7 K/9. Not sure I foresee a strong finish.
- Bud Norris - HOU - First start was very impressive, but I need to see more before going all-in.
- Jorge De La Rosa - COL - Fewer BB would be nice, but he's been excellent for a while now.
- Derek Holland - TEX - Talent to be a No. 2 starter, but this year don't see it happening.
- Jon Garland - ARI - A 2.81 ERA in last seven starts.
- Tim Wakefield - BOS - Sounds like he's improving, but he's 43 with a sore back? Hmmm.
- Erik Bedard - SEA - The gift that keeps on giving ... for the Orioles. Major health concerns.
- John Smoltz - BOS - How long can Sox stomach his 7.12 ERA? Just don't see this ending well.
- Tim Stauffer - SD - Not a huge fan, but he's been good. Then there's the Petco thing.
NOT MAKING THE CUT
Trevor Cahill - OAK
Jeremy Guthrie - BAL
Tom Gorzelanny - CHC
Ryan Rowland-Smith - SEA
Chad Gaudin - SD
Armando Galarraga - DET
Scott Feldman - TEX
Kenshin Kawakami - ATL - May move to pen when Tim Hudson returns.
Sleepers among the remaining
Sean O'Sullivan - LAA
Luke French - SEA
Kevin Hart - PIT
Marc Rzepczynski - TOR
Charlie Morton - PIT
Potential rookie call-ups
Michael Bowden - BOS
Madison Bumgarner - SF
Wade Davis - TB
Stephen Strasburg - WAS
Returning from injury
Randy Johnson - SF
Shaun Marcum - TOR
Jake Westbrook - CLE
Chris Young - SD
Brad Bergesen - BAL
Guys I'm not touching with an 11-foot pole
Jason Schmidt - LAD
Jeff Suppan - MIL
Jason Berken - BAL
Daisuke Matsuzaka - BOS
Carl Pavano - CLE
Glen Perkins - MIN
Barry Zito - SF
Carlos Villanueva - MIL
Oliver Perez - NYM
Fausto Carmona - CLE
Garrett Mock - WAS
Jon Niese - NYM - Tough break for the Mets
Carlos Torres - CHW
Jose Contreras - CHW
Homer Bailey - CIN
Jason Hammel - COL
Andrew Miller - FLA
Livan Hernandez - NYM
Gio Gonzalez - OAK
Ross Ohlendorf - PIT
Mitchell Boggs - STL
Vicente Padilla - TEX
Tommy Hunter - TEX
Collin Balester - WAS
Sean West - FLA
Vin Mazzaro - OAK
Bronson Arroyo - CIN
Rick Vanden Hurk - FLA
Phil Hughes - NYY - Will he stick in pen? Probably.
Ervin Santana - LAA
Braden Looper - MIL Article first appeared 8/6/09