Fantasy Baseball 2012: Who to Draft and Who to Avoid—Pitching

Mitch CharetteCorrespondent IMarch 8, 2012

Fantasy Baseball 2012: Who to Draft and Who to Avoid—Pitching

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    Without a doubt, pitchers are often a troublesome part of a fantasy baseball manager's team.

    Sometimes the chances you take don't work out, and the aces you draft don't live up to their expectations. There are however, what I would call sure-fire pitchers: Clayton Kershaw, Roy Halladay, Justin Verlander, Cliff Lee, Felix Hernandez, Tim Lincecum, CC Sabathia and Jered Weaver.

    This article will focus on the pitchers you may have doubts about or just don't know whether or not they are worth the draft pick.

    I will discuss six starting pitchers and six closers from both the American League and National League.

    Three you should have no fear of drafting and three you may want to avoid.

    As a reference I will be using Matthew Berry's Top 250, RotoChamp's ADP and statistics from Yahoo®.

    You can also view the offensive edition here.

AL Starting Pitchers

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    You Should Have No Fear of Drafting:

    Jon Lester (BOS): Jon Lester is the preseason ace for a very offensively talented Red Sox squad. Last year was the first time in three years Lester did not pitch at least 200 innings.

    In 2012, you should expect at least 200 innings, 17 wins and an ERA around 3.00.

    With a current ADP of 51, nabbing him in the 5th round should be quite the bargain.

    Dan Haren (LAA): Haren quietly had quite the season last year.

    With Jered Weaver stealing most of the spotlight, Haren recorded only two fewer wins with more innings pitched. Haren should accumulate at least 14 wins and 180 strikeouts, with 200 or more innings pitched during his 2012 campaign.

    Current ADP states he should go in the fourth round, but don't be surprised to see him in the 5th.

    Yu Darvish (TEX): Yet another Japanese pitcher making the move to the MLB.

    Don't expect him to be as much of a disappointment.

    First and foremost, Texas has a powerhouse of a line-up and should definitely help him with wins. The numbers will not be spectacular in 2012—15 wins, 180 strikeouts, 3.30 ERA and a WHIP at 1.20.

    What makes him worth drafting is the fact that he is expected to go in the 10th round.

    You Should Avoid Drafting:

    Michael Pineda (NYY): Pineda is definitely a good pitcher.

    There are just two problems I see with drafting this young star: First, his new ball park will hurt his numbers, and second, he has to face the Red Sox.

    I see about 15 wins, but a high ERA around 4.00 with WHIP of 1.30.

    Josh Beckett (BOS): Beckett is in the same position as Pineda.

    He will have a good win total around 15, but pitches in the toughest division. I cant imagine a better ERA than 3.50 and significantly dropping off in his K/9 ratio.

    The trouble that seems to surround him doesn't help his draft stock either.

    Matt Moore (TB): I am not sold on Matt Moore living up to expectations this year.

    Pitching against both the Yankees and Red Sox should make it near impossible to produce a good ERA. I project just over 10 wins, and an ERA hovering under 4.00.

    Not exactly pretty.

     

     

    

NL Starting Pitchers

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    You Should Have No Fear of Drafting:

    Zack Greinke (MIL): With 16 wins and a strikeout-ratio of 1.18/1 in just 171 innings—Zach Greinke will be available as a low end #1 pitcher, but will perform like he is high end.

    He did miss some time due to injury in 2011, but 2012 should not show any symptoms of the injury. Greinke will most likely produce at minimum 15 wins and 200 strikeouts.

    Great for a late 4th round pick according to his ADP of 47.

    Matt Cain (SF): Pitching in the NL west is always a good thing.

    Matt Cain will join a good pitching staff and put up very respectable numbers. The 2012 season should bring Cain 15 wins, 215 IP, 175 strikeouts and an ERA of 3.10.

    His ADP of 60 is a steal in the draft pick when Matthew Berry has him as the 13th ranked pitcher.

    Adam Wainwright (STL): We have learned something about Tommy John surgery—it works. With that being said, Adam Wainwright has top-10 pitcher talent, and is being projected to be drafted in the middle rounds at 102 overall.

    St. Louis may limit his innings a bit, but the risk is well worth the reward in the middle rounds.

    I expect a lot out of Wainwright—180 IP, 160 strikeouts, 14 wins and an ERA of 3.15.

    You Should Avoid Drafting:

    Stephen Strasburg (WSH): Washington will be looking ahead to 2013 when it comes to Strasburg.

    I do not expect more than 160 innings pitched, which will hurt his strike out totals.

    Next year, he may be a top pick. This year, he is a very large at risk draftee.

    I expect around 140strikeouts and a 3.10 ERA.

    Johnny Cueto (CIN): For three years straight, Cueto has seen his strikeouts dip.

    In 2011, he managed to improve his ERA by 1.33, but I see this as a fluke of a season. I expect regression across the board for Cueto—175 IP, 125 strikeouts, 11 wins and an ERA of 4.00.

    Matt Garza (CHC): Garza seems to find himself on sleeper lists every year. But never panning out.

    The strikeout-ratio will be fine at about 8/1, but the wins and ERA will regress yet again. I expect about 10 wins and an ERA of 3.65.

AL Relief Pitching

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    You Should Have No Fear of Drafting:

    Mariano Rivera (NYY): Rivera will once again defy his age and put together another solid season with a team that will give him plenty of save opportunities.

    Almost 40 saves, an ERA under 2.50 and a few wins makes Mariano about as sure of a closer as they get.

    Have no worries about his age—he still closes for the Yankees.

    Andrew Bailey (BOS): Many will argue he is too injury prone. I see the risk as worth it.

    He will close for the Red Sox, and if Papelbon was any indication, we know he will have many save opportunities. His talent is not deniable.

    Bailey should have ample opportunity to produce 35 saves, 50 strikeouts and an ERA below 3.00.

    Sergio Santos (TOR): Santos will have less save opportunities but his strikeouts will be amongst the highest of closers.

    He should still save about 30 games, with 75 strikeouts and a few wins added in. I have all the faith in the world with this young closer.

    Chicago seemed too eager to change roles within their pitching staff.

    You Should Avoid Drafting:

    Joe Nathan (TEX): Last year Joe Nathan self destructed.

    With the competition at Texas, and a steadily increasing ERA Joe Nathan is one to stay away from. If you are lucky, you may get 30 saves from Nathan with an ERA of 3.60.

    Kyle Farnsworth (TB): Farnsworth hasn't given much reason to have faith in him. 2012 will lack production you expect to see on this Rays team.

    Projected for only 25 saves, and a undesirable 3.50 ERA, he should scare you away for much better options with more upside. 

    Chris Perez (CLE): Perez was somewhat lucky with 36 saves last year for the Cleveland Indians. His 2011 ERA of 3.32 suggest that.

    In 2012 you should expect 30 saves with a high ERA of 3.90.

NL Relief Pitching

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    You Should Have No Fear of Drafting:

    Jonathan Papelbon (PHI): The move to Philadelphia should only help Papelbon.

    With more than enough save opportunities Papelbon will hit the 40 mark, with a stunning 80 strikeouts.

    His ERA will be right around 2.50, and an impressive WHIP barely over 1.00.

    Quite arguably the best closer behind Kimbrel.

    Drew Storen (WSH): With 43 saves last season, there is no reason to think that Drew will not come close to duplicating his numbers.

    His ERA could be better as it is projected at around 3.00, but that should not be a worry since he will get you around 65 strikeouts and 40 saves.

    Heath Bell (MIA): ERA is projected at 3.15, which could be better, but on a revamped Miami team, Bell could eclipse the 40 save mark.

    He is also good for 60 strikeouts, adding a little bit of a plus to his projections.

    You Should Avoid Drafting:

    Brian Wilson (SF): When healthy, Wilson has potential to be one of the best. The problem is, he can't stay healthy and he has failed to live up to his potential as of late.

    WHIP really hurts Wilson, and his ERA has gotten worse.

    2012 will bring more of the same with 30 saves, 3.40 ERA and a WHIP of 1.35.

    Houston Street (SD): Street has all the talent to be a successful high end closer—but injuries slow him down year after year.

    I do not see the risk in drafting him just to take up room on your limited DL slots.

    If healthy, Street can produce a stat line of 30 saves, 3.13 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 55 strikeouts.

    Kenley Jansen (LAD): There's no doubt Jansen has the package of a good closer.

    The risk here is whether or not he will get the job. Granted, he will most likely have it before the year is over, but there is just too much of a risk he will spend a lot of the season in a limited role.