Fantasy Baseball: Buy and Sell for August (5 Bold Pitcher Predictions)

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Stephen Strasburg starts are like an event.

He's 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, throws more than 100 miles per hour and has done the impossible. He's given us a reason to pay attention to the Nationals and realize that, for once, Scott Boras' contract demands weren't obscene.

All of which is why Strasburg missing his July 27 start was such a big deal.

The rookie right-hander has had "stiffness and discomfort" in his throwing shoulder and is going to be shut down by the Nationals for at least the next 10 days.

That brings us to this month's Buy and Sell -- the pitchers' edition.

The following are five bold predictions for the reason of the season. For five predictions on the batters, click here. All stats are through July 28.

1. Stephen Strasburg will have almost no impact the reason of the season.

OK, so we started with the least bold of the predictions (lukewarm?), but it's still surprising to contemplate the rookie giving us such an immediate -- and brief -- flash of what's to come.

Strasburg is 5-2 with a 2.32 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 54 1/3 innings. We were told he would be limited to 160 innings between the minor and major leagues this season.

He's currently at 109 2/3, and he might be lucky to get to 140.

The Nationals, as they should, are being extremely cautious with their investment.

A week ago, you were planning what to do without Strasburg in September. Now you might want to speed that timeline up a month.

2. Tommy Hunter will win 15 games.

Not bold enough? OK, Hunter will win 15 games with an ERA in the 2.75 range and a WHIP of about 1.15.

If that seems outlandish for a 24-year-old who averaged only 5.9 strikeouts per nine innings in the minors, you obviously haven't been paying attention to Hunter's 10 starts with the Rangers this season.

Hunter is 8-0 with a 2.31 ERA and 1.06 WHIP, despite striking out only 32 batters in 62 1/3 innings. He's thrown at least six innings in nine of the 10 games, and allowed three runs or fewer in all 10. In eight of the 10, he's given up two earned runs or fewer.

It hasn't hurt that Texas has averaged 6.8 runs per game in Hunter's starts, scoring six runs or more in eight of the 10.

Run support plus red-hot pitcher = 15-game winner found on the waiver wire.

3. Gavin Floyd will be a top-10 starting pitcher.

It might have seemed like a reach when I listed Floyd 27th at his position in the midseason position rankings. Now I think the White Sox pitcher wasn't ranked nearly high enough.

Floyd is 6-8 with a 3.66 ERA and 107 strikeouts in 130 1/3 innings. He was 11-11 with a 4.06 ERA last season.

If that seems like A.J. Burnett minus the pinstripes, consider what Floyd has done since June 2, when he dropped to 2-6 with a 6.64 ERA.

He has allowed two earned runs or fewer in 10 straight starts and allowed one earned run or zero in nine of the 10. He's only 4-2 in that stretch, though, thanks to the White Sox scoring two or fewer runs in half the games.

In the 10 starts, Floyd has a 1.03 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 58 strikeouts in 69 1/3 innings.

Imagine what can happen once the White Sox start scoring for him.

4. Dan Haren's impact won't be much greater than Strasburg's.

Angels, Schmangels.

Haren is pitching for a better team -- heck, the kids from "The Sandlot" might be an improvement over the Diamondbacks. But let's not pretend the Angels are getting the pitcher who won at least 14 games with 163 strikeouts every year from 2005 to '09.

Haren is 7-9 with a 4.57 ERA and 1.35 WHIP. His only value to this point has been his total of 149 Ks in 145 2/3 innings.

He injured his forearm in his Los Angeles debut July 26, an ailment that isn't expected to affect his next start.

What does affect Haren's value is his return to the American League.

He was effective in Oakland from 2005-07, but he had an ERA of 3.73, 4.12 and 3.07, respectively, in those seasons. Compare that to '08 and '09 in the National League with Arizona, a span in which Haren was a combined 30-18 with a 3.23 ERA.

His next start will be July 31 against the Rangers, with games against the Tigers, Royals, Red Sox and Rays to follow. There won't be a lot of breaks for a pitcher who seems as if he could use one.

5. Carl Pavano will win 20 games with a sub-3.40 ERA and 1.15 WHIP.

Save the boldest for last -- which I believe was Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert's strategy for statements about LeBron James.

Yankees fans, feel free to take the next six paragraphs off. Don't expect the rest of us to feel sorry for you, however.

Yes, the pitcher who was paid $40 million to win nine games in four years with the Bronx Bombers is 13-6 with a 3.21 ERA and 1.03 WHIP with the Twins.

The 13 wins are the third-most of Pavano's career, and he's never had more than 18 victories.

In his last 10 starts, he's 8-0 with a 2.45 ERA and 0.89 WHIP. At age 34.

Pavano has been so good, he hasn't needed Target Field to pad his stats. While the Twins are 30-20 with a 3.55 ERA at their new digs, compared to 26-26 with a 4.49 ERA on the road, their ace has been even better pitching away from home.

Pavano is 7-3 with a 2.96 ERA on the road and 6-3 with a 3.49 ERA at home.

Twenty wins for Pavano? The Year of the Pitcher, indeed.

Two notes about closers

We didn't want to leave out the relievers, so here are a couple of names most fans wouldn't recognize who could play a big role in the next two months of the fantasy season.
  • In the Week 16 Waiver-Wire Picks, I wrote that the Brewers' John Axford could be a top-10 closer in the second half. Since June 22, he has 11 saves, three wins and 22 Ks in 17 innings. Maybe I should have written top five.
  • The Indians' Chris Perez again will slide back to a setup role when Kerry Wood returns soon from the disabled list. Perez has already proven he's the Tribe's closer of the future, and the Indians have consistently proven the future is always their priority, not the present. They'd give Wood away if they could, and at some point Perez will get his job back. Since July 17, he is 3-for-3 in save opportunities and has thrown six scoreless innings with six Ks. In deeper category leagues, he's a player to stash for the fantasy playoffs.
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