The San Diego Padres will start the season with Andrew Cashner and Josh Johnson at the front of their rotation…assuming both are able to survive Spring Training with all of their body parts still mostly intact.
Cashner and Johnson are only slightly sleepy by fantasy baseball standards. Everyone who plays fantasy baseball is familiar with both of these guys and they’re both likely to be overdraft candidates given that they pitch half their games in one of the National League’s friendliest ballparks for pitchers. The real sleepers lie in the back of the Padres rotation.
There’s a secret you need to know before you go into your 2014 fantasy baseball draft. Tyson Ross was awesome last year. Don’t believe it? Ross tossed only 125 innings last year and 16 of his 35 games pitched were starts. He posted an 8.57 K/9 with a 3.17 BB/9. Both of those numbers are career bests. His 3.43 xFIP indicates that he got some help while amassing a 3.17 actual ERA, but his success wasn’t only due to being on the right side of statistical variance.
His ERA at home (2.03) was better than it was on the road (4.02), but he actually struck out more batters on the road (24.3% K %) than at home (22.7% K %).
Ross also didn’t suffer from horrible lefty/righty splits. He was devastating against righties (.249 wOBA against) and competent against lefties (.312 wOBA against). Ross should crack 150 innings for the first time in his career in 2014 and fantasy GMs should want those innings as a part of their 2014 fantasy rotations.
Ian Kennedy signed with San Diego after suffering through a brutal 2013 campaign. The good news is that the underlying skills are still there and the change of venue can only help Kennedy in 2014.
Kennedy still posted his typical 8.00+ K/9 in 2013. The only problems were that it came with an increased BB/9 (3.62) and a career high 13.2% HR:FB ratio. He was especially bad against lefties with a 15.8% HR:FB ratio allowed. That number should normalize in 2014. He owns a 10.8% HR:FB ratio allowed against lefties for his career.
Another issue is that while Kennedy was mediocre at home (4.07 actual ERA, 3.70 xFIP), he was horrific on the road (5.64 actual ERA, 4.62 xFIP). His home numbers should improve, but his road numbers have been an issue for his entire career (4.40 actual, 4.38 xFIP). Fantasy GMs that choose to draft Kennedy as a sleeper would be smart to only use him at Petco unless he has a tasty road matchup(at NYM or at MIA).
The fifth starter in San Diego will likely come down to Eric Stults or Corey Luebke. Luebke took the 2013 season off to rehab from Tommy John surgery and Eric Stults suffers from being Eric Stults.
Stults topped 200 innings for the first time in his career in 2013 and compiled his way to a 2.6 WAR. He’s actually intriguing at Petco (3.06 actual ERA, 3.62 xFIP and 6.75 K/9 in exactly 100 innings), but really mediocre away (4.77 actual, 4.62 xFIP, 4.86 K/9). He’s a NL-only guy if there ever was one.
Luebke offers slightly more upside in that we’ve actually seen him pitch like a useful pitcher in fantasy baseball. His last full season was 2011 and he posted a 9.92 K/9 with 3.29 ERA in 139 2/3 innings while moving between the rotation and the bullpen for a full season. Luebke is an end of the draft flyer at this point and not much else until he proves he’s ready to take the ball 30 times.