The second half of the Major League baseball season begins and the sprint is underway to the finish line. Every decision is critical as fantasy owners try to win a fantasy baseball championship. After recapping the first half of the season for hitters, we will now take a look at the pitchers who have performed well and those that have disappointed.

Three Up:

New York Mets Starting Pitcher Jacob deGrom — The right-hander could crack the weekly “Three Up” list every time, but we have to acknowledge other top performers. The only negativity surrounding deGrom is his health, as he has had to deal with a few ailments through the first half. However, when it comes to pure domination, deGrom has been exactly that. The righty is pitching to a 1.08 ERA with 146 strikeouts. Fantasy owners invested highly in deGrom and he’s paying off once again.

San Francisco Giants Starting Pitcher Kevin Gausman — A pleasant surprise for fantasy owners has been the performance by Gausman. The 30-year-old was drafted as the 52nd starting pitcher back in March and is now one of the best fantasy performers this season. Gausman has a 1.73 ERA with nine wins and ranks in the top 10 in strikeouts with 133. There’s no reason to believe this performance won’t continue, which will make Gausman one of the better draft picks in 2021 when the season is over.

Milwaukee Brewers Starting Pitcher Brandon Woodruff — Relying on a pitcher to not only make a start every five innings but pitch a lot of innings can be rare in modern baseball. That makes Woodruff a rock solid fantasy option. The right-hander ranks eighth in baseball with 113.1 innings pitched and made 18 starts in the first half. The results have also been there, as he is pitching to a 2.06 ERA with 129 strikeouts. I’m a big believer in reliability in fantasy and Woodruff checks that box.

Three Down:

New York Yankees Reliever Aroldis Chapman — Drafting a reliever in the early rounds can always be risky, but Chapman has been one of the most dominant closers in baseball. However, it’s been a struggle for the hard-throwing left-hander, as he has blown four saves and is pitching to a 4.55 ERA. The ERA is already a career worst and he’s on pace to blow the most saves in his career as well. The Yankees are hoping the All-Star break serves a reset for Chapman, but fantasy owners need to be cautious as a couple more bad performances would make it extremely difficult to use the lefty in any capacity.

Los Angeles Angels Starting Pitcher Dylan Bundy — The right-hander was being drafted as a mid-rotation piece for fantasy owners back in March but has performed as a player who should remain on the waiver wire. Bundy has a 6.68 ERA and has allowed 16 home runs. Bundy was removed from the rotation and it remains to be seen if the Angels turn to him in the second half. Fantasy owners weren’t expecting to win leagues with Bundy, but there’s no doubt he dug them a huge whole in the ERA category.

Cincinnati Reds Starting Pitcher Luis Castillo — A positive for Castillo is that he has not allowed more than three earned runs in any start since the start of June. However, when a pitcher was drafted as the 10th pitcher in March and has a 4.65 ERA, he needs to be on this list. It was a disaster in April and May, as Castillo entered June with a 7.22 ERA. The right-hander has always been one of my favorite pitchers and was drafted high due to his immense talent and success during the last couple of years. I’m extremely encouraged that the consistency has returned, and I’m confident the 28-year-old will not make this last in our full season recap.

Phil Backert

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