Again, we start with the bottom 20 and work our way up.
Masterson is divisive in fantasy circles. Some view him as a competent innings eater who picks up Wâ€™s with a few Kâ€™s. Others view him as just a guy. He posts a ridiculous ground ball rate, which will guarantee that heâ€™ll always have a job, but keep him at the mercy of his luck stats. He could provide a real value if he could ever have a season with a sub-.300 BABIP.
Bauer is in the mix for the Indiansâ€™ fifth starter spot. He showed the electric fastball and curve that earned him elite prospect status, but he also showed that he has a long way to go in harnessing his tremendous stuff. He walked 13 batters in 16 1/3 major league innings last year. Itâ€™s a very small sample size, but it shows he still has a lot to learn. Thereâ€™s a good chance he could go through a lot of the same growing pains as Matt Moore went through in the first half of the 2012 season.
Carlos is a former prospect heading into his age-26 season.Â It took Carlos three years to get his way out of Triple-A. Heâ€™s also working his way back from a severe elbow injury that forced him to miss all of the 2012 season. The other problem is that he doesnâ€™t appear to have a path to a job. The Indians appear to have five pitchers vying for their fifth starter spot and at least three of the other guys are healthier than Carlos. Fantasy GMs need to follow Carlosâ€™ spring training before investing heavily. He could wind up back in Triple-A.
Kansas City traded for Santana knowing that he has a small tear in his pitching elbow and has probably been throwing with it for a while. Santanaâ€™s velocity was down and itâ€™s not likely to come back at his age. Heâ€™ll post double digit wins with mediocre K numbers IF heâ€™s able to make all his starts.
Davis was a key cog in the Rays bullpen last year and now heâ€™s moving to the Royals rotation. Heâ€™s never posted a K/9 over 6.05 as a starter in a full season at the major league level. The last time he was a starter, he was really, really average. Fantasy GMs shouldnâ€™t expect much more than that in 2013.
Hammel was surprising good for his 20 starts in 2012. He posted a K:BB ratio of 2.69 with an 8.62 K/9. He also managed a career high 1.89 GB:FB ratio with a career low 18.7% LD%. He got more ground balls than ever, more Kâ€™s than ever and gave up the fewest line drives in his career. He threw his slider 22% of the time in 2012. Thatâ€™s also a career high. It looks like Hammel has figured something out and is worthy of inclusion on a fantasy staff.
It sounds like Rick Porcello needs to be dealt in order for Smyly to win a rotation spot. Itâ€™s too bad; Smyly is the better pitcher. Smyly spent just over a full season in the Tigersâ€™ minor leagues and never spent more than 14 starts at any level. He posted solid K numbers at every spot and managed an 8.52 K/9 in 99 1/3 innings. He does throw a lot of sliders (29% of the time) that could be a red flag for injury down the road, but heâ€™s fine to own in 2013…if he can get a full-time job.
Cobb has a track record of minor league success and has shown the ability to post a K/9 over 7.00 with a BB/9 under 3.00. Also, he doesnâ€™t come with any sabermetric red flags. Thereâ€™s a lot to like about Cobb.
If you were told that there was a pitcher in his age-23 season who just finished a 59 inning cup of coffee at the major leagues in which he posted a K/9 over seven and a BB/9 under two, you would be excited, right? Then why so lukewarm about â€œThe Eraser?â€ Well, he posted solid numbers with a .243 BABIP in a small sample size and heâ€™s never been this good at any of his stops in the minors.
Shaun Marcum (SIGNED WITH METS AFTER THIS WRITING)
Marcum needs a job before heâ€™s anything than a late round flier. He did miss two months of the 2012 season with a â€œtightâ€ elbow. The same elbow that was surgically repaired in 2009. Heâ€™s still capable of striking out over seven batters per nine while walking fewer than three. Heâ€™s a solid addition to a fantasy staff and appears to be a guy that everyone has forgotten about.
Arrieta actually has some sleeper potential. He was one of the unluckiest pitchers in baseball last year. Poor Jake was pummeled for a .320 BABIP and a 14.5% HR:FB ratio. Both of those numbers were over his career averages. He posted a solid 8.56 K/9 with a very respectable 2.75 BB/9. His 3.65 xFIP is almost three full points lower than his 6.20 actual ERA. He could be due for a correction and heâ€™s a guy all sabermetricians should be looking at.
Diamond underwent elbow surgery during the off-season, but should be ready in time for spring training. Diamond came out of nowhere (well Triple-A) to post double digit wins with a competent ERA. He got by with a 53.4% GB %, but he doesnâ€™t really have the ability to put up the numbers fantasy GMs would find useful. He posted a meager 4.68 K/9 last year. Heâ€™s a guy who has a path to a job. Thatâ€™s about it.
Thereâ€™s actually a decent chance that Worley winds up as the Twinsâ€™ Opening Day starter. Worley is a decent sleeper option. Heâ€™s shown the ability to post a K/9 over 8.00 and he was really unlucky last year in Philadelphia. Worley posted a .340 BABIP against his .308 career average. His luck should improve by pitching all of his games with a better defense and half his games in a pitcherâ€™s park.
Griffin is a competent pitcher. He posted a K/9 of exactly 7.00 in 82 1/3 innings last year. He doesnâ€™t throw particularly hard, but heâ€™s been surprisingly effective for his entire professional career. Heâ€™s by no means an ace, but Griffin should be a fine addition to round out a staff. He was better on the road than at home last year. Itâ€™s in a very small sample size, but itâ€™s worth keeping an eye on.
Myers is penciled in as the Indians #3 starter. Heâ€™s offering a 6-7.00 K/9 and a 3.00ish BB/9. Heâ€™ll probably get to double digit wins if he stays healthy. There is nothing remotely exciting or interesting about Brett Myers.
Tom Milone was surprisingly competent in 2012. Heâ€™ll never post the 9.00+ K/9 numbers that he put up in the minors, but a 6.00+ K/9 with a sub-2.00 BB/9 appears to be repeatable. Milone could be younger, (much) slimmer version of Mark Buerhle. Heâ€™s not afraid to put the ball in play and let his defense do the work. Milone is a much more useful to stream at home than on the road. He posted a 2.74 ERA with a 1.05 WHIP in The Coliseum.
Porcelloâ€™s name is a popular one on the trade market. The Tigers have six pitchers for five slots and one of them will either go back to the farm or wind up in the bullpen. Porcello is an interesting option if he gets dealt to a team with a better infield. Detroit has a jovial, 250 lbs. traffic cone at third and a slightly surlier, 275 lbs traffic cone at first. They also have Jhonny Peralta at short and a three-headed bad second baseman monster up the middle. A pitcher with a GB:FB ratio over 2.00 doesnâ€™t stand a chance. Porcello puts too many balls in play to really be useful on a team like Detroit.
Joe Blanton is actually an intriguing option now that heâ€™s pitching in California. Heâ€™s posted a K/9 over 7.00 three of the past four seasons. Heâ€™s also moving from a band box in Philadelphia to a larger park in Anaheim. Heâ€™s also moving from a mediocre defense full of guys closer to 40 than 30 to a team thatâ€™s simply better at catching the ball. Blanton is a solid sleeper pick that fantasy GMs are accustomed to ignoring.
Niemann missed most of the 2012 season with a broken fibula and shoulder issues. Heâ€™s been given a clean bill of health for 2013 and figures to be in the Tampa rotation. He could be worth a spot in a mixed league if he can keep his K/9 around 7.00. There isnâ€™t much upside, but there also isnâ€™t much risk. Heâ€™s a league average guy that should be available at the end of most drafts.
Perez is likely to at least start the 2013 season as the Rangers 5th starter. Sadly, the one-time uber-prospectâ€™s career has stalled almost completely. Heâ€™s muddled through more than a few mediocre seasons since exciting scouts with his performances in Single-A…in 2009. He hasnâ€™t shown any of the ability to post K numbers at the major league level or the upper minors. Heâ€™s still only 21, but he has a long way to go before the comparisons to John Santana and Greg Maddux can be justified.