Efficiency in your rotation is how you win leagues. Cheap, replaceable, effective starting pitchers mean more picks and/or budget for bats and closers. In order to be successful most of your rotation needs to be composed of pitchers that can be acquired at something of a value. Here are some to target on draft day – if the price is right.
1. Hector Noesi, SEA – This is the real winner in the Pineda/Montero trade and don’t let anyone tell you differently. Here’s what I like; out of the AL East, Safeco is a pitcher best friend, Seattle has a good D, .331 BABIP says he was unlucky last season, 2 to 1 K/BB rate in 2011, 41% GB%, has big boy 93.3 mph fastball, demonstrated gaudy 5.5 K/BB rate at three levels in 2010 over 160 innings, ect. A must start at home in any format with significant upside.
2. Doug Fister, DET – Fister was a nice spot starter in Seattle and the trade to Detroit seemed like a death sentence to his fantasy relevance. Fister proved me wrong and actually had a better second half including 5 wins against 5 starts in September (note that one win came in relief) and a sub 1.00 ERA. He has a serviceable 6 Ks per 9 rate but maintains a BB/K rate of 4 to 1. Blend that with a GB% of 47% over the past two seasons and you have a quality major league pitcher. Expect some correction if the BABIP approaches .300 again but don’t write off last season as a fluke.
3. Kris Medlen, ATL -Came back from 2010 TJ to chuck a whopping 2.3 innings last season. Medlen is a forgotten man. Here are the Cliff Notes on why you should remember; 4 to 1 K/BB rate backed up with respectable 43% GB%. I’m assuming he’ll be back to blue chip status 20 months removed from TJ.
4. Javier Vazquez, MIA – He’s 35 but has a skill set that should age well. Vazquez mixes four pitches which generates a 3 to 1 K/BB rate. He’s steaky in season and year-to-year it’s hard to tell what you’re getting. He’s still good for two months of Cy Young production, but it’s tough to time. Be sure to sit him during the rough patches (and there will be plenty), but don’t give up. In his last six starts of 2011 he got 5 wins and only gave up 3 earned runs. He also closed out the season with 12 straight quality starts.
5. Mark Buehrle, MIA – Buehrle’s resume is highlighted by 11 straight seasons of 200+ innings and double digit wins. Although he turns 33 this year he’ll greatly benefit from his move to the National League. His ERA and WHIP are usually nothing spectacular but if we shave off a bit for each thanks to the NL he become more valuable. He’s an innings eater that won’t cause damage. One to bank on in deep leagues and a useful spot starter in shallow formats.
6. Brandon Beachy, ATL – Beachy quietly had a stellar rookie campaign and looks like an ace in the making. He featured greater than 9 K per 9 and a 3 to 1 K/BB ratio. FIP and xFIP say he may have even been a smidge unlucky last season. He’s an extreme fly ball pitcher but keeps hitters off balance by mixing four pitches. He’s 25 and polished so don’t be surprised if he makes a run at the top 10 in 2012.
7. Matt Garza, CHC – Garza is a head case but the NL is certainly more agreeable than the AL East. His downsides include a WHIP that will be no better than mid-1.2s and occasional meltdowns. The positives are roughly 200 Ks, a solid ERA and with some run support 15 wins. He threw only 53% fastballs last season, which is a major dip from previous years and may indicate some maturity. He reminds me of a better version of Carlos Zambrano and my suspicion is that he has a career year lurking on the horizon. Buy now.
8. John Danks, CHW – Heading into last season I loved Danks more than any other mid-tier pitcher in the game. He racked up 8 losses by June and actually had a worse ERA in the second half thanks to 7.76 over 5 starts in September. The K rate was up a bit, the walks, grounders and pitch selection in line with norms, and HR rate league average. He normally posts a BABIP below .300 and last year was at .313. Groundball pitchers are easily victimized when BABIP strays too far from the mean. Classic buy low, cover up last season and bid on the guy we saw in 2010 and 2009.
9. Trevor Chahill, AZ – Does anyone recall Billy Beane unloading a pitcher that actually did better once leaving Oakland? I can’t and lot of times they get hurt. After an off-year like Cahill had in 2011 I normally scour the stats in search of reasons to justify buy low. In this case I’m not even going to look at the stats, trust Beane and avoid.
10. Jaime Garcia, STL – After a long comeback from injury, Garcia put forth an exceptional rookie effort in 2010 and a respectable encore in 2011. He’s a pitcher’s pitcher, using four pitches to keep hitters off balance and generate a lot of groundballs. The K rate, FIPs and xFIPs are all virtually identical, however a drop in BB per 9 of 1.2 over the past two seasons hints at some more upside. He will miss starts with some ouchies but this is a stable skill set worth investing in.