Fantasy Baseball Dugout brings you its 2009 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers list for starting pitchers.
Fantasy Baseball Starting Pitchers — 2009 Sleepers
National League Starting Pitchers
Jordan Zimmerman, SP, Nationals — Jordan Zimmerman, who pitched last season at Double-A Harrisburg, has been named the Nationals’ fifth starter and his Harrisburg teammate Shairon Martis, 22, was named the fourth starter. Zimmermann, also 22, had a 3.14 ERA in 14-1/3 innings this spring; he has walked two and struck out 20. Martis has allowed just three runs in 19 innings. The Nationals, however, probably won’t need Zimmerman to start until April 17 due to the early season off days so you might want to put him on your minor league roster for the first couple of weeks.
Stephen Strasburg, SP,
San Diego State & Washington Nationals – Fantasy Baseball Dugout profiled Stephen Strasburg last week and Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated picked up on our story and did an article on Strasburg this week. We can’t remember a time when we recommended picking up a college player, but if you are in a keeper league, this is a draft pick that is well worth the investment. Our opinion is that Strasburg, who will be represented by Scott Boras, won’t sign until the August 15 signing deadline, but it’s likely that the resurgent Nationals who own the first pick in the draft have already put aside a pile of money for Boras.
Kenshin Kawakami, SP, Braves — This is Kawakami’s first year in the MLB so he’ll be tough to figure out early in the season. Kawakami is 33-years-old and posted a 2.30 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in the Japanese Central League last year.
Yovani Gallardo, SP, Brewers — Gallardo is not going to be on many managers radar in the 2009 fantasy baseball draft because he started just four games last year. In 2007, however, he was 9-5 with 101 strikeouts in 110 1/3 innings pitched. Gallardo’s WHIP was a solid 1.27. He will be the small-market Brewer’s # 1 starter this year.
Chris Carpenter, SP, Cardinals — In 2005 and 2006, Carpenter was about as good a pitcher as there was in the National League, as evidenced by the Cy Young Award he won in ’05 and the combined 4-1 record and 2.83 ERA he posted during those two postseasons. Since then, it’s been just one injury after another, but Carpenter is back with a vengeance this spring and is poised for a big year for the Redbirds.
Ricky Nolasco, SP, Marlins — It’s most important to draft strikeouts in fantasy baseball and Nolasco had 186 of them last year and had the third most K’s in the MLB after the all-star break. He was 15-8 and pitched a very durable 212 1/3 innings with an outstanding 1.10 WHIP.
Brett Myers, SP, Phillies — You saw a lot of Myers in the post-season last year so he may not really be a sleeper, but to fully understand the Myers story, you have to remember what happened to him in ’08. Myers was 3-9 with a 5.84 ERA over his first 100 innings until he was sent down to the minors. Myers came back with a vengeance and ended the season at 10-13, 4.55, in 190 innings pitched. So, merely looking at Brett Myers’ stats from last year will not give you the whole story.
American League Starting Pitchers
Kevin Slowey, SP, Twins — Slowey, the pitcher with the most unfortunate name in baseball, notched 12 wins for the Twins last year and the # 3 starter has outstanding control. Other than Roy Halladay and Dan Haren, Slowey had the best strikeout to walk ratio in the bigs last year. This accounts for an impressive 1.15 WHIP.
Erik Bedard, SP, Mariners — Bedard won just 6 games last year for the Mariners after suffering a shoulder injury. Bedard had surgery after the season ended and it appears to have improved things. It’s going to be a while until he can get his pitch count up over 100 pitches, however, so expect him to be on a strict pitch count and probably pitching only 5 innings in the early going.
Rick Porcello, SP, Tigers — With Zach Miner injured and Dontrelle Willis sporting a 12.46 ERA this spring, Porcello, just 20-years-old from Seton Hall, may be the Tigers fifth starter when they break camp next week. Porcello throws a 92 MPH sinker and 96 MPH fastball. Since the Tigers had a 5.03 ERA last year, the young Porcello might be the answer to Detroit’s fifth starter role.
David Price, SP, Rays — The Rays have just sent David Price to the minors which is not unheard of for young starting pitchers. Early in the season, there are a lot of open dates and many other dates that will be rainouts so the # 5 starter may not get much work. Better to have Price start in the minors and come up in a month. Jeff Niemann and Jason Hammel are fighting for the # 5 starter job in Tampa, but neither can hold a candle to the electric stuff that Price has. Many fantasy baseball managers will get discouraged seeing Price go down to Triple-A, but don’t be. He’ll be up soon and will win 12+ games. The Rays can’t afford to keep a kid like Price down when they are competing in the same division with the Yankees and Red Sox.
Drafting starting pitchers is far more important than drafting relief pitchers. The key statistic to look for is strikeouts (assuming your league tracks them). Strikeouts are the most consistent category each season as wins can vary based on a bit of luck here and there. WHIP is another critical statistic to look at with starting pitchers due to the large number of innings that they pitch in comparison to your closers. Be sure to use statistical analysis that includes WHIP.