If you ever drive across the Connecticut state line, a sign will welcome you, saying, “We’re full of surprises.”
Well, I’ve lived most of my life in Connecticut and I can tell you that the Constitution State certainly is not full of surprises. But of course, not all things are as predictable as America’s fifth-oldest state.
Though we try to, nobody can ever predict exactly what’s going to happen in fantasy baseball. You never know who’s going to pop up out of nowhere and lead your team to the fantasy promise land or who will lay an egg and send you to fantasy Hell.
Sometimes, you just have to go with your gut. Here are five starting pitchers, who I have a hunch will be great pickups in 2012.
Henderson Alvarez, Toronto Blue Jays
All the buzz is about up-and-coming third baseman Brett Lawrie, but the Blue Jays also have a hot pitching prospect on their hands. Last August, Alvarez made the leap from Double-A to the majors and he looked sharp doing it (3.53 ERA in 10 starts for Toronto).
He has a high 90s heater, a filthy changeup and he’s already carved out a spot as the No. 3 starter in the Blue Jays rotation. Keep an eye on him this spring, and if you like what you see, go ahead and pick him up.
Zach Britton, Baltimore Orioles
With Jeremy Guthrie headed to Colorado, if Britton has a good spring, he should be Baltimore’s opening day starter. He had his ups and downs in his first big league season last year, but an 11-11 record isn’t bad for a rookie, especially if you consider the competition Britton had to face in the brutal AL East.
The O’s won’t give him a ton of run support so he won’t win many games, but you can expect his ERA (4.61 in 2011) to dip into the mid to high threes this season.
Julio Teheran, Atlanta Braves
Another stud prospect (15-3, 2.55 ERA in Triple-A last season) who will get a chance in the majors at some point this season. Atlanta’s rotation is a bit of a logjam at the moment, but injuries happen, and if Teheran has a productive spring, he could easily take the final spot in the rotation away from Mike Minor.
If Teheran is given a month or two to fine-tune his game down in Triple-A, he’ll be that much better prepared when he does join the Braves’ rotation. If you pick Teheran up early, you could be rewarded handsomely.
Tim Stauffer, San Diego Padres
After being used mostly as a reliever in 2010, Stauffer proved that he has the chops to be a viable starting pitcher, finishing the 2011 campaign with a 3.73 ERA in a career-high 185.2 innings pitched.
He seemed to get a little fatigued in August and September (5.51 ERA in those months, 3.10 the rest of the year) but that’s natural for a reliever-turned starter. Stauffer, who is owned in less than 20% of fantasy leagues, is sure to turn some heads in 2012.
Guillermo Moscoso, Colorado Rockies
Moscoso looked promising as a starter in Oakland last season and proved that he can shut down right-handed hitters with the best of them (.197 batting average against). This year the 28-year-old right-hander will take his act to Coors Field.
The high altitude in Denver could hurt his ERA (a solid 3.38 last year), but the Rockies will also give him more run support than Oakland did, so 10 to 15 wins doesn’t seem out of the question for Moscoso.