Draft Guide Sampler: Pitching Targets
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By Ray Flowers
Pitching is the biggest variable on draft day. In Closer Conundrum I discuss my thoughts on the often confusing maze that we try to navigate amongst relievers, and given the uncertainty with bullpen arms one would certainly hope things would be much simpler when it comes to starting pitchers. However, the truth is just as messy with starters as it is with relievers. Consider the following hurlers who failed to remotely live up to preseason expectations last year:
Justin Verlander, Stephen Strasburg, Cole Hamels, Matt Cain, Jered Weaver, R.A. Dickey, Kris Medlen, Yovani Gallardo, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, Roy Halladay, Brandon Morrow, Josh Johnson, Ian Kennedy, Tim Lincecum etc.
Some of those hurlers came down with an injury or two, though others simply failed to live up to expectations because they stunk up the joint like that rancid piece of fish your college roommate hid underneath the bottom drawer in your chest of drawers (for those of you can't get past practical jokes or who want to “get” someone – what an ingenious place to hide something).
Obviously not every hurler crapped out. In fact, many ascended from the depths like a sperm whale to provide significant levels of performance in 2013. Here are a few who rose from the depths of the later rounds or the waiver-wire to impress:
Jeremy Guthrie, John Lackey, Eric Stults, Ubaldo Jimenez, Ricky Nolasco, Francisco Liriano, Jose Quintana, Scott Kazmir, Ervin Santana, Patrick Corbin, Justin Masterson, Clay Buchholz, Hisashi Iwakuma, Gerrit Cole, Scott Feldman, Bartolo Colon, Andrew Cashner, Travis Wood, Julio Teheran, Mike Leake etc.
The point should be obvious. Pitching is extremely variable and predicting future success or failure is exceedingly difficult when we're talking about the men who take the ball every five days.
One of the best ways to address the issue of which hurlers to add to your roster is to set some baselines to target. Before I move on to any of those baselines let me be absolutely clear here. There are pitchers that will fall outside of the targets that still have success. It's certainly possible for a pitcher to do that and many hurlers obviously accomplish that every year. However, the majority of hurlers who fail to meet the “requirements” that I'm going to lay out are going to have a very difficult time putting up consistent production over the course of a 162 game season, year after year. Again, I'm not saying that (A) you should avoid any hurler not on this list or (B) that if a pitcher is on the list that he has no chance of failing in 2014. Clearly, both of those statements aren't true in every single case. I'd argue, strongly, that your odds of finding success in the coming season are greatly enhanced if you follow the recommendations that are laid out in this piece, even if they are no guarantees.
To read more of this article and 199 more pages of Fantasy Baseball Bliss, get the 2014 Fantasy Alarm Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide Powered by Baseball Guys and the great Ray Flowers.