December 10, 2019

Clearing The Bases: Starting Pitchers

March 31, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Clearing The Bases                                                                                                                                          March 30, 2011

By George Kurtz

Once again Starting Pitching is generally an area I will select later on in my drafts as I’m a big believer in loading up on hitting early on.   Sure I would love to have a top notch starter to anchor my staff, but I’m not willing to give up a top position player when SPs is pretty deep this season.  Not to mention in a standard 5×5, a SP will only be a four category player at most, maybe even three if they don’t play on a good team.

1.       Roy Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies:  Not sure there was any doubt here.  Halladay seems to be head and shoulders above all other pitchers.  He threw two no-hitters last season, and that just may be a sign of things to come.  He anchors a staff that truly could be one for the ages, and with all of the injuries on the Phillies team, it better be.

2.       Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants:  Lincecum may look like he belongs in high school, but he certainly pitches like a seasoned veteran.  His slight frame however does give me pause, wondering if this would be the season that he breaks down, but that can be true of any pitcher, and with the Giants offense being slightly better this season, perhaps he won’t need to pitch as deep into game to get the W.

3.       Jon Lester, Boston Red Sox:  Lester may be the early favorite to win the Cy Young award in the American league.   He’s playing for a team that could score 1000 runs, in a heavy media market, and for a team that should win it’s division.  Put all that together with Lester’s talent for pitching, and you have a recipe for a big season.

4.       Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners:  King Felix may be slotted a rung or two lower in my list than most others, and the reason for that is simple, he may have to pitch a shutout to get W.  Seattle’s offense is that pathetic.  Hernandez could very well be the best pitcher in the American League, if I had to pick one pitcher from the AL to start a team with, he would be it, but with Ws an important category that the Mariners will struggle with, I’d rather go Lester first.

5.       CC Sabathia, New York Yankees:    Sabathia would be the opposite of Hernandez.  With the Yankees offense, even on days that he doesn’t pitch well, he could still get the W because the offense will outslug the opposing team.  Keep in mind also that CC can opt out of his contract after this season, which makes this a contract year.  Not that Sabathia needs that as incentive, but it certainly couldn’t hurt.

6.       Cliff Lee, Philadelphia Phillies:  Lee liked his experience in Philadelphia so much that he turned down what could’ve been more money from the Rangers and Yankees to return there.  The popular opinion is that if you can pitch well in the AL, you will be a superstar in the weaker National League.  Hard to argue with that logic as Lee does not beat himself with walks and has weaker lineups in the NL with what is usually an above average eighth place hitter and pitcher batting.

7.       Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers:  Verlander’s goal this spring training was to avoid the slow starts that have plagued him throughout his career, and judging by his spring numbers (ERA <1) he has succeeded.  Verlander throws in the mid-high 90s and manager Jim Leyland isn’t shy about leaving him in to throw well over 100 pitches.  Good to know he might get that extra inning to earn a W, but also makes you wonder if he will tire out as the season rolls along.

8.       Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers:  The only thing not to like about Kershaw have been his win totals the past couple of seasons, but that’s not his fault as his ERA has been below three, with his WHIP averaging around 1.2.  Still, he has only 21 wins as the Dodgers seem to go into a hitting slump whenever he is on the mound.  This would be the reason you’re not supposed to chase Wins in a fantasy league.

9.       Tommy Hanson, Atlanta Braves:  It certainly didn’t take long for Hanson to become one of the best pitchers in baseball, now did it.  Hanson only won 10 games in his first full season in MLB, but once again that was more of hitting problem than a pitching one.  Hanson is poised to be a leader of the Braves staff for the next decade, and could do the same for your fantasy team.

10.   Ubaldo Jimenez, Colorado Rockies:  Jimenez’s numbers keep getting better each and every year he is in the majors and 2010 was the best yet as Ubaldo was a Cy Young candidate with 19 wins, 2.88 ERA, 214 KS, and 1.15 WHIP.  Who among us wouldn’t take those numbers each and every year?  Plying in Colorado will still give some owners hesitation, but as on now Jimenez has proven to be the exception, not the norm when pitching in Coors Field.

11.   Chris Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals:  Carpenter is falling in quite a few fantasy drafts.  Why is this happening you ask?  It seems many owners are a little worried about the injury he suffered during spring training, but that was to his leg, not his arm, and he is 100% recovered so that shouldn’t be of concern.  Perhaps others equate the season  ending injury to Adam Wainwright as a sign of things to come for Carpenter, or maybe they just don’t believe he will finish the season with St. Louis.  Either way you should grab him.

12.   Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies:  Hamels was once considered the ace of the Phillies staff before Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Roy Oswalt came along.  He still has that kind of potential as he is only 27 years of age and should only get better.  The cut-fastball he used last season gives him another weapon as batters can no longer sit on his curve ball.

13.   Dan Haren, Los Angeles Angels:  Haren used to be a tale of two halves, good the first, bad the second.  He seems to have dispelled that notion over the past couple of seasons, and pitching in the AL West gives him quite a few years to go up against some weak lineups in Oakland and Seattle.

14.   Matt Cain, San Francisco Giants:  Cain is not talked about all that much with Lincecum gathering all the press, but he could be an ace on quite a few staffs.  There was once talk a few seasons ago about a Cain for Prince Fielder swap.  Well the Giants certainly can’t complain about holding onto Cain as their strong pitching won them a World Series championship.

15.   David Price, Tampa Bay Rays:  The loss of Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena, and Rafael Soriano means the Rays are going to try and win this season on the strength of their starting pitching.  That pitching is young, but mainly unproven with the exception of Price who is a Cy Young award waiting to happen.  The question is whether or not he can handle the pressure that comes along with being a number one starter and the need to win every game he pitches.

16.   Yovani Gallardo, Milwaukee Brewers:  The Brewers re-loaded their starting pitching for this season, acquiring Zach Greinke from the royals and Shaun Marcum from the Blue Jays.  That being said, don’t forget about Gallardo who is still a very good pitcher in his own right.  The Brewers are primed for a big season and all three of these guys need to be taken early.

17.   Josh Johnson, Florida Marlins:  Johnson is one of the top pitchers in baseball more or less the National League, but he did suffer an arm injury late last season and there are those who believe it’s just a matter of time before he will need to be shut down.  I’m conservative by nature, so I would rather someone else take the gamble.

18.   Jered Weaver, Los Angeles Angels:  Weaver had the best season of his career last year posting a high in Ks and a low in ERA and WHIP.  Weaver is not a sexy name and doesn’t fit the bill of a true ace, but if he continues to pitch like this, who cares.  Even better is you can take him later then some of the other “aces” out there.

19.   Mat Latos, San Diego Padres:  Latos already has two strikes against him.  One, he is starting the season on the disabled list, always a red flag, and two, like so many other starters on poor offensive teams, wins are going to tough to come by.  The injury is to his shoulder, and is not expected to be serious, but the Padres are going to be careful with Latos and could hold him out further than mid-April.

20.   Zack Greinke, Milwaukee Brewers:  Greinke is another SP who will miss most of, if not all of April thanks to a rib injury.  The longer he is out the lower he falls on my list.  The good news is that once he is ready to pitch, he should find life in the NL much to his liking, not to mention playing for a team that has legitimate playoff aspirations.

21.   Roy Oswalt, Philadelphia Phillies:  Oswalt could be a few placed higher on this list, but I just didn’t want to have four Philly starters in my Top 20.  Oswalt seems to have been rejuvenated since his trade to the Phillies.  The Astros have had trouble fielding a competitive team over the past few seasons, Philadelphia won’t have that problem.

22.   Brett Anderson, Oakland Athletics:  Anderson is one of the up and comers on the Athletics staff that some are expecting to lead the A’s to a playoff berth this season.  There are some warning signs, he had elbow problems last season that forced him to miss time last season, plays for an offense that won’t remind anyone of the 27 Yankees, but does play in the Grand Canyon of ballparks.

23.   Francisco Liriano, Minnesota Twins:  The ace of the Twins staff caught a big break when Target Field turned out to be a pitcher’s park.  Now there has been some talk that Liriano could be on the trade market this summer but that seems unlikely as Minnesota should be in the thick of the playoff race.  The question with Liriano always seems to be about his health, and right now he looks to be just fine.

24.   Chad Billingsley, Los Angeles Dodgers:  Billingsley is another underrated pitcher but is someone who should have a solid season.  Once again he plays in a pitcher’s park in Los Angeles, will face weaker lineups in the Giants, Padres, and DBacks.  More important however is that he did not have his usual second half letdown, posting a 3.00 ERA.  He could be in for a career season.

25.   Shaun Marcum, Milwaukee Brewers:  Marcum has been battling a shoulder injury this spring, but is expected to be ready to pitch from the get go.  Most figure that Marcum will be right at home in Milwaukee and the NL since he pitched so well with Toronto in the AL East.  Not sure I completely subscribe to that point of view on Marcum, I wouldn’t want him as the ace of my staff, but any point after that I would welcome.

26.   Matt Garza, Chicago Cubs:  Garza had a tough spring training, his first as a Cub.  He didn’t own up to it either as he blamed it on the dry air in Arizona.  Hopefully the cold air in Chicago will help him out.  Garza has all the tools to be a top pitcher, but has yet to put it together.  Problem is most fantasy owners believe this may be the year and they seem to be reaching for him just a bit.

27.   Clay Buchholz, Boston Red Sox:  There’s much to like about Buchholz.  He plays for one of the best teams in the game, has two years experience under his belt, and keeps the ball in the ballpark.  The only problem seems to be his lack of Ks.  He is just not a strikeout pitcher which should lead to some games getting away from him when the balls find holes in the defense.

28.   Jeremy Hellickson, Tampa Bay Rays:  The Rays just keep churning out young pitchers.  Hellickson got his feet wet last season, and will look to sink or swim this one.  Hellickson is expected to be a top notch starter right off the bat and that may be asking a little to much of what amounts to a rookie pitcher.  He could also be on an innings limit later in the season.

29.   Brendon Morrow, Toronto Blue Jays:  Morrow is sort of everyone’s darling as it seems he has figured it out and pitched pretty good last season.  What makes him so intriguing is that he can strikeout double digit batters each and every time he toes the slab, what hurts is that he will begin the season on the DL as the Blue Jays want to be careful with him.  The injury, elbow, is not considered to be serious, matter of fact this may just be a way for Toronto to keep his innings down this season.

30.   Max Scherzer, Detroit Tigers:  Scherzer was absolutely terrible during the spring which brings back memories of last season when he got off to a miserable start to the season and was sent back down to AAA.  Could he have the same problem this season, or is this just a bump in the road?

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