Fantasy Preview – Starting Pitchers Part 2


Last Sunday, I ranked my top 25 starting pitchers, and will finish up my rankings of the next 50 today. Not as many stats this time, but still some notes regarding the pitchers.

26. Cole Hamels (PHI) – I wrote about Hamels over at Fake Teams, and think that he’s going to rebound quite nicely this season. I think he can post around 200 strikeouts along with a 3.50 ERA and a sub 1.25 WHIP. I think that he also could be the victim of some sleeper hype as a result of the poor season last year.

27. Chad Billingsley (LAD) – Billingsley should recover nicely from the perceived poor season he had. His ERA should rebound, and his WHIP and strikeouts were both solid last year. Pitching half your starts at Dodgers Stadium will always help also.

28. Brett Anderson (OAK) – Anderson has been getting a lot of hype this offseason, and with reason. From July onward: 98 strikeouts, 1.11 WHIP, 3.02 ERA in 101 IP. While I think that he could see some downturn due to the jump in innings from last season, I think he could very well post those types of numbers for a full season.

29. Jered Weaver (LAA) – Weaver will be asked to lead the Angels pitching staff now, and should be able to fill that role pretty well. He has posted a strikeout rate over 7 per 9 in each of the last 2 seasons, and could approach 200 strikeouts again this season.

30. John Lackey (BOS) – Lackey goes to a new ballpark, with a new team. I’m not sure that either of those facts are particularly relevant to his ability to pitch effectively as a fantasy starter. He seems likely to post similar numbers whether he remained in Anaheim or not. He should post an ERA around 3.75 with a strikeout rate around 7.5 per 9 innings. If he gets to 200 innings I could see 160+ strikeouts potentially.

31. A.J. Burnett (NYY) – Burnett is going to strike out a lot of batters, as he’s been right around 200 in each of the last 3 seasons. However, his walk rate actually increased last season, getting up to 4.22 per 9 innings. He’s likely to get more win opportunities than a pitcher on another team due to the excellent Yankees lineup. However, I think he’s just as likely to post an ERA of 4.50 or higher as he is to post one under 4.00. Caveat emptor on this one.

32. Ryan Dempster (CHC) – Dempster posted a second straight solid season in the rotation, and posted another 200 inning season as well. To me, Dempster is a solid starting pitcher, and very consistent as well. He’s going to strikeout at least 160, and should post a WHIP around 1.30. Not the flashiest pitcher you could get, nor does he possess any particular upside, but you need pitchers like this too.

33. Randy Wolf (MIL) – Wolf appears to have been really helped by Dodger Stadium, but I’m not inclined to believe it was that much. His ERA was almost a half run lower than his FIP, but the rest of his numbers could be a solid value for your fantasy team. I can see him posting a 1.25 WHIP and a sub-4 ERA to go along with 160 strikeouts. A very solid #3 starter.

34. Jorge de la Rosa (COL) – The strikeouts are wonderful. He’s likely to strikeout more than a batter per inning. The walk rate, not so much. I think that he could conceivably improve on the walk rate, but the ERA and WHIP are probably going to suffer slightly even still. I had originally thought he could be a top-30 pitcher, but unless he can show that he can lower that walk rate, he’s going to remain lower in the rankings.

35. Scott Baker (MIN) – Baker had a better season than his ERA tells us. His ERA seems like it should come around, based on his sub 1.20 WHIPs in each of the last 2 seasons. Strikes out a little more than 7 per 9 innings, and there’s a lot to like here from Baker. I think this could be the year that he vaults into the top 20 of starting pitching.

36. James Shields (TAM) – I think Shields could see some improvement in his ERA from last season. He should strike out over 150 and post a solid WHIP in over 200 innings pitched. Probably the definition of a lower-risk, lower-upside pitcher. He’s not likely to strikeout 200 hitters, but if he can do repeat hist 2009 season, he will be a solid #2 or #3 starting pitcher.

37. Roy Oswalt (HOU) – Oswalt used to be considered a top-tier starting pitcher. He looks like he may have been a little bit unlucky last season, but his strikeout rate is down which concerns me. The fact that he pitches for the Astros and their anemic offense does nothing to make me feel better. I think that if he returns to 200 IP, he can strikeout about 150-170 or so, with a sub-4 ERA and a sub 1.30 WHIP

38. Scott Kazmir (LAA) – Kazmir should post a high strikeout rate, but his WHIP is still a concern. I think he’s probably going to be above 1.30 in that category, and could very well end up causing him to have an ERA above 4. There’s a lot of upside here, but I think this is about where I’d be willing to draft him.

39. Rich Harden (TEX) – There’s a lot of upside here. A LOT. He struck out almost 11 per 9 innings last year when he was healthy. But this “health” thing remains Harden’s issue. I don’t think that the move to Arlington will affect him particularly. Look for another season of 140 or so excellent innings, and anything else from him would be a bonus in my opinion.

40. Gavin Floyd (CHW) – Floyd only posted 11 wins last season, but I think he can improve on that this season.  Of some concern to me is the fact that his strikeout rate jumped last season by a full strikeout per 9 innings. He’s likely to provide a 1.25 WHIP, and I can see him adding 150 strikeouts and an ERA around 4.00 to that WHIP.

41. Edwin Jackson (ARI) – Pitcher moving from the AL to the NL: generally a good thing. Jackson really put together a great season last year, his first truly solid season from start to finish. I think that he should be helped a lot by being around Brandon Webb and Dan Haren, along with pitching in the pitcher friendly NL West.

42. Jair Jurrjens (ATL) – Jurrjens is a pitcher who appears to have posted a very lucky ERA (2.60), but even looking at his FIP for last season (3.68), he still posted a very solid season if that had been his ERA instead. He’s going to give you a lot of innings, and a solid strikeout number as well.

43. Clay Buchholz (BOS) – Buchholz will hopefully get a full season of starts this year, as he could conceivably post a sub-4 ERA with 175+ strikeouts and a solid WHIP as well. You’ll have to watch how this shakes out during the spring, but there’s a lot of upside with Clay.

44. Carlos Zambrano (CHC) – Big Z is a tease. He struck out 152 in 169 innings last season. And walked 78 in that same workload. Take the strikeouts knowing that he’s probably going to hurt your WHIP.  He should improve slightly on his WHIP from last year, but should still be around 1.30. There’s some upside here, but I probably won’t be the one that will be taking the chance.

45. Joe Blanton (PHI) – The numbers aren’t sexy. The fact that he gets them are also not. But he’s going to give you a lot of innings, and solid ratios and strikeouts for those innings. Another one of those solid starters that your team will need to back up some of your upside plays.

46. J.A. Happ (PHI) – There’s been a lot of talk that Happ was extremely lucky last season, and his strikeout and walk rates both point to that as well. I think that he can be a very solid starting pitcher though, and there’s some upside here to me. He should post a sub-4 ERA and a sub 1.30 WHIP, along with a solid if not amazing strikeout rate.

47. Max Scherzer (DET) – I think that Scherzer isn’t going to be affected too adversely by his move to the American League, as he was a dominant strikeout pitcher last season. That said, the missed time is of some concern, and the fact that the D’Backs were willing to give him up so easily also worries me. But there’s a lot of upside with him as well.

48. Tim Hudson (ATL) – Hudson came back at the end of last season, and had 7 solid starts. I think that if he can get to 200 innings pitched, he will strikeout 140 and post solid ratios as well. But there’s that injury risk still floating over Hudson, and that’s why he’s not likely to be higher on my rankings.

49. Ben Sheets (OAK) – Coming back from a lost season, Sheets is definitely high-risk. But the upside involved with Sheets is a top-10 starting pitcher. If he pitches well and the A’s fall out of the race, he will most likely be moved to a contending team as well.

50. Wade Davis (TAM) –  Davis struck out more than a batter per inning last year in his brief time with the Rays, and I am very interested to see how he will do in a full season at the Majors. The AL East is probably going to eat a lot of starters up and spit them out, but I think that Davis is one who will hold his own.

At this point, you’re looking for either high-upside or pitchers who are extremely consistent. I have a lot of these pitchers right around the same value as each other, so the specific rankings aren’t necessarily as important. At this point you should be taking a look at what your starters are currently providing, and draft accordingly. My next 25 starters:

51. Jonathan Sanchez (SF)
52. Ted Lilly (CHC)
53. John Danks (CHW)
54. Erik Bedard (SEA)
55. Colby Lewis (TEX)
56. Brian Matusz (BAL)
57. Randy Wells (CHC)
58. Mat Latos (SD)
59. Jeff Niemann (TAM)
60. David Price (TAM)
61. Ervin Santana (LAA)
62. Scott Feldman (TEX)
63. Mark Buehrle (CHW)
64. John Maine (NYM)
65. Bronson Arroyo (CIN)
66. Rick Porcello (DET)
67. Hiroki Kuroda (LAD)
68. Aaron Harang (CIN)
69. Kevin Slowey (MIN)
70. Derek Lowe (ATL)
71. Clayton Richard (SD)
72. Joba Chamberlain (NYY)
73. Daisuke Matsuzaka (BOS)
74. Ricky Romero (TOR)
75. Johnny Cueto (CIN)

Tomorrow’s post: Fantasy Relief Pitcher Rankings

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