Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Starting Pitcher Rankings - 2012 (the rest of the crowd)

As promised, here are the next 25 starting pitchers, ranked in order. There are some unproven risks here, but there’s also plenty of value. I like to load up on pitchers in this area, say between 10-20, to give my team a consistent chance of winning each week. Don’t feel like you need to reach for the top-tier guys early on because, as you’ll see, there’s plenty of depth to be had at this position.

11. David Price – Rays
12. CJ Wilson – Angels
13. Matt Cain – Giants
14. Ian Kennedy – Diamondbacks
15. Stephen Strausburg – Nationals

Any team would be blessed to have a couple of these guys as they make up a pretty solid bunch. Price and Strausburg have the best strikeout numbers while Kennedy has probably the best control. Wilson and Cain aren’t slouches either, and are very dependable. The only question in this group is Strausburg who is returning from Tommy John surgery after lighting the world on fire in 2010. Keep an eye on him in spring training to verify his health.

16. Yovani Gallardo – Brewers
17. Anibal Sanchez – Marlins
18. Madison Bumgarner – Giants
19. Jered Weaver – Angels
20. Matt Garza – Cubs

Gallardo, Sanchez and Garza provide high upside in the strikeout department while Bumgarner and Weaver have better overall control and issue fewer free passes. Gallardo and Weaver probably have the highest win potential, whereas Garza will be pitching for a poor Cubs squad. It’s hard to know just how many wins Sanchez and Bumgarner will rack up in 2012. Depending on your estimation of the Marlins and Giants, they could be really nice grabs this late.

21. James Shields – Rays
22. Jon Lester – Red Sox
23. Josh Johnson – Marlins
24. Michael Pineda – Yankees
25. Matt Moore – Rays

Shields is a consistent workhorse who provides good value this late in the game. Lester and Johnson will be looking to rebound in 2012. Lester’s season was shortened due to injury and his walks were way up while Johnson missed the whole year with Tommy John surgery. Both of these guys were considered anchors of any fantasy rotation heading into last season, so it’s up to you to assess their progress and value as the beginning of the season nears. If they can get back to form, you just landed a complete steal in your draft! Michael Pineda was traded this offseason and I’m a little skeptical of his potential as a Yankee. Sure, Pineda was great at SafeCo for the M’s, but he was simply average on the road. His ability to get comfortable at Yankee Stadium is key. Matt Moore will likely get taken higher than where I have him ranked, but it’s very risky to gamble big on such an unproven youngster in a dangerous division. He could be an ace or he could struggle, making him a true wildcard. I’m going to slow-play that situation.

Here are my final ten, sans personal breakdowns:

26. Ricky Romero – Blue Jays
27. Brandon Morrow – Blue Jays
28. Brandon Beachy – Braves
29. Mat Latos – Reds
30. Tommy Hanson - Braves
31. Daniel Hudson – Diamondbacks
32. Chris Carpenter – Cardinals
33. Josh Beckett – Red Sox
34. Jaime Garcia – Cardinals
35. Ubaldo Jimenez – Rockies

It’s such a deep class that sleepers are easy to find. A couple guys I’m keeping an eye on are Aroldis Chapman of the Reds and Neftali Feliz of the Rangers. Making the move out of the bullpen, these young pitchers can rack up the strikeouts with the best of them. Both are expected to join their respective rotations and could offer a lot of upside if they can keep their walks down. Someone else to watch is Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals. Always good but never an elite pitcher, he missed last season with Tommy John surgery and is reportedly feeling very well. He is worth a mid-to-late gamble. The same could be said for Johan Santana, facing a very similar situation.

Stay Away
There are a few guys I’m not buying for various reasons. Two former A’s I won’t be drafting are Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill, now with the Nationals and Diamondbacks, respectively. Gonzalez had had an uncharacteristically good ERA in 2011 and will likely fall back to earth as he walks far to many batters to continue his success. Cahill’s strikeouts were down and his walks were, plus he gives up too many HR’s, a bad recipe all the way around. Guys like Roy Oswalt and Jake Peavy have perhaps seen their best days disappear and spend way too much time on the DL for me to waste a pick on them.

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