A look at the top five money pitchers in baseball

A look at the top five money pitchers in baseball

A look at the top five money pitchers in baseball

Just like we all predicted in April, Tim Redding, Vicente Padilla, Ricky Nolasco, Jonathan Sanchez and Livan Hernandez would be the first half’s most profitable pitchers.

(How many of those guys you got in your fantasy rotation?)

Are these surprising cash cows worth backing heavily in the second half or is it time to back off?

1. Tim Redding (7-3, 3.85)

He’s been steady and competitive, but rarely dominant. His streak of nine consecutive no-decisions (all Nationals wins) ended with a six-inning, shutout victory against Houston in his last start before the break.

The Nationals, who have been dogs in all but four of his starts, are 15-5 with Redding on the mound.

Second-half confidence: Shaky

Hard to believe Redding won’t came back to earth a little bit. His seven wins are more than he’s had in the last four years combined. But he does find ways to keep the Nats in games. What else do you want from an underdog starter?

Watch for him: Against the Phillies. Redding is 2-0 against Philly this season, both shutouts. Ryan Howard and Chase Utley are a combined 2-13 against him.

Washington faces the Phillies 12 times during the second half, beginning with a July 29th series in D.C.

2. Ricky Nolasco (10-4, 3.70)

The surging Marlins cashed in nine of his last 10 starts, and oddsmakers are beginning to take notice.

You already had to fork over 177 for him in an early July start against the Nationals, and he was only a small underdog in road wins at San Diego and Los Angeles.

Still, the 25-year-old is developing into a real workhorse, who gets stronger the deeper he goes into ball games. In a July win over Greg Maddux and the Padres, Nolasco threw 106 pitches, 75 for strikes. His last pitch in that game was a 95-mph fastball.

Second-half confidence: Solid

You’re going to pay a heftier price at the market for this hard-throwing Fish in the second half. But don’t be scared off, especially in July.

After a slow start, Nolasco reached the All-Star break in a big-time groove. He’ll get the ball for the Marlins first game after the break against the Phillies.

Watch for him: In day games. Opponents are hitting a miniscule .156 off Nolasco during the day.

3. Vicente Padilla (10-5, 4.70)

If you get seven runs of support each time you start, you’d better win some ball games.

Padilla has, but he’s certainly been nothing resembling an ace, especially as of late.

He surrendered eight and seven runs in his last two starts, before going in the DL July 10, with thumb and neck problems.

The Rangers expect their $11 million man back soon after the break.

Second-half confidence: Shaky

The price has been right for Padilla, who never seems to be too hefty of a favorite even against the dregs of the league. His injury woes and rough finish to the first half should keep the price down on this veteran who has posted double-digit wins four times in his career. But it’s hard to get too excited about a guy who requires seven runs a game to notch a W.

Watch for him: Against Seattle. Padilla is 2-0 with an ERA well under one against the Mariners this season in three starts.

The Rangers get nine cracks at the lowly Mariners in the second half.

4. Jonathan Sanchez (8-5, 3.97)

With Tim Lincecum grabbing most of the attention out of San Francisco, Sanchez may have escaped oddsmakers’ radar during the first half. Whether due to a lack of recognition or the Giants’ offensive ineptitude, Sanchez has been an underdog in 16 of his 19 starts. He’s cashed in 13 of those outings.

Second-half confidence: Solid

Detroit’s Marcus Thames and Pudge Rodriguez described Sanchez as “filthy” and “nasty,” respectively.

Opponents are hitting just .237 against the left-hander, and his ability to retire right-handed batters makes him good value, especially in the weak-hitting National League West.

Watch for him: Against the Padres. San Diego does not deal with left-handed pitching well. Sanchez opened his season off with a three-hit shutout of the Padres, who are batting just .244 against lefties.

5. Livan Hernandez (9-6, 5.44)

How does a starting pitcher, who leads all of baseball in runs and hits allowed, turn out a profit of $950 (based on $100-per-game bets?)

Hernandez entered the season well rested, after missing the last two months of 2007. He got off to a hot start, cashing in nine of his first 10 starts. But has since simmered.

Second-half confidence: Shaky

Hernandez is on pace to be the first pitcher to allow 304 hits in 30 years, according to ESPN’s Jayson Stark. Teams are hitting a hefty .342 against him.

Eventually, something has to give. All those hits and runs have to catch-up to him, especially when his veteran arm begins to feel the wear and tear of late July and August.

Watch for him: At the Metrodome. He’s 7-1 at home with an ERA of 3.00.

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