From Cy Young contenders to fringe roster players, it’s all about the profit potential these pitchers offer. I’ll make it official and “plant my flag” on them for 2014.
David Price: #12 in SP rankings, but he could finish in the top five.
Early season scuffles dragged down Price’s overall line last year. In eighteen post-DL starts he had a 2.53 ERA and 102 strikeouts against thirteen walks. A decrease in strikeout rate was tied to a velocity drop, but this spring he is “repeatedly clocked at 95 mph.” He also has fifteen strikeouts in 13.1 IP.
Tampa is perennially among the most efficient defenses, they have kept opponents’ BABIPs under .285 every year since 2010. Price’s skill set is extremely consistent as well. His is FIP, xFIP, tERA, and SIERA are all under 3.40 for the last three years running. He has a strong track record and youth is still on his side.
Homer Bailey: #24 in SP rankings, but he could finish in the top ten.
Granted he was bad his first couple of seasons, but his K/BB has increased every single year. 2013’s 3.49 ERA was higher than his FIP, xFIP, or SIERA. A jump in fastball velocity lead to a higher whiff rate on all his pitches. He also mustered a career high ground ball rate, always an asset when pitching in Cincinnati. He is being drafted like a low #2 or high #3 starter in fantasy, but could end up breaking through like Anibal Sanchez did last year.
Sonny Gray: #40 in SP rankings, but he could finish in the top 20
If his skill set is sustainable he will be a much hotter commodity next year. He struck out 25.7% of batters while piling up a 3.35 K/BB. 52.9% of balls in play were grounders. His 3.04 SIERA was the highest indicator on his profile. High rates of both grounders and strikeouts is an age old indicator of a starting pitcher ready to break out and Gray fits the bill as well as any player. With 182.1 IP under his belt he is set for a full workload in 2014.
Tyson Ross: #73 in SP rankings, but he could finish in top 30
Ross made huge strides between 2012 and 2013. His strikeout rate increased from 13.5% to 23.6%, his swinging strike rate jumped from 6.3% to 11.1%. Accordingly, his K/BB received a nice bump, from 1.24 to 2.70. His go-to pitch is a devastating slider that induced a 26.03% whiff rate, doubling the 13.62% it posted in 2012. In terms of pitch value, his slider trailed only Jose Fernandez.
Ross established a new high with a 54.9% ground ball rate. It should remain high, being 49.6% in 2012 and 47.6% in 2011. No matter how far they move the PETCO fences in Ross can succeed.
Drew Hutchison: Ranked outside the top 200 pitchers, but he is a deep AL sleeper
He was moving up the Toronto system nicely in 2011 and 2012. He posted FIPs of 1.96, 2.57, 1.20, and 3.08 at his last four minor league stops. He performed much like a league average starter as a rookie before being derailed by TJS.
Fast forward to last fall and he is compiling a 3.38 FIP in the notoriously offense-favoring Arizona Fall League after striking out over a batter per inning in a handful of minor league rehab starts. This spring he has sixteen strikeouts against one walk and a 2.00 ground out / air out ratio. The Jays are poised to award him a rotation spot.
Tanner Roark: Ranked outside the top 200 pitchers, but he’s deep NL sleeper
Roark brings elite control to the table, he kept his BB/9 under 2.00 in both Triple-A and the majors last year. In 53.2 IP with the Nationals he had a 2.41 FIP and a 3.64 K/BB. His GB/FB was 1.95. The big caution with Roark is his swstr% was only 6.0%. If that does not increase he will have difficulty ever reaching a league average strikeout rate. However, he leaned hard on his fastball, using it 62.6% of the time. A few more well thrown off-speed pitches could result in more whiffs.
Note: The rankings that appear are from Fantasy Gameday’s Baseball ADP Report. Its player rankings are not influenced by any site’s defaults and features tier breakdowns for mixed leagues from eight to sixteen teams. New this year is projections, auction tier levels, and a prospect list. It has everything needed to draft and is dirt cheap.