Fantasy Pitchers to Avoid in '09
Every year we have busts when it comes to fantasy starting and relief pitchers.
There are guys that disappoint year in and year out that you simply can't trust. These players usually are enormous injury risks or have an awful walk/strike-out ratio. Other factors that come into play are the teams they play for, ballparks they pitch in and workload concerns.
Here is a list of pitchers to avoid in 2009.
1. Daisuke Matsuzaka
Every year people get sucked into the hype of "Dice-K." The expectations are beyond what he can deliver. He simply walks way too many batters to become a consistent pitcher. Just because he pitches for the Red Sox doesn't mean he's a great fantasy pitcher.
Last year, he had a better season than his rookie season, but his walks rose from 80 to 94 and his K's declined from 201 to 154. He did win 18 games, but those who watched him pitch saw him become inconsistent. Those declines are no fluke. He has control issues and is one pitcher to avoid in 2009.
Projections: 16 wins 3.50 era 166 ks 90 walks 1.34 WHIP
2. A.J. Burnett
Burnett and risk almost go hand and hand. He's always been injury-prone and is now pitching for the richest team in baseball.
With that comes pressure and risk, because he got a five year deal and he has only surpassed 200 innings three times in his career.
He has great potential for strikeouts and has always had a nice walk/k ratio, but the fact remains he cannot be trusted. Don't be fooled by the name and the fact that he is pitching for the Yankees, because you will get burned.
Projections: 13 wins 3.30 era 160 ks 70 walks 1.15 WHIP
3. Josh Beckett
Josh Beckett is another Red Sox pitcher to be wary of. He is always an injury risk and can be wild at times.
Last year he did not even surpass 200 innings, after pitching over 200 the two years prior. He is too inconsistent to be your ace and is too much of a risk.
Another stat that jumps out at you is that he had a 5.65 era at home. That is not good for a pitcher pitching in a hitter's park. On top of that, the Sox offense could take a slide with Manny out of the lineup and David Ortiz on the decline. I'd stay away.
Projections: 13 wins 4.20 era 177 ks 40 walks 1.20 WHIP
4. Edinson Volquez
Volquez was off to a great start last year. He was baseball's top pitcher at the break and had eye-popping numbers of: 12-3 2.29 era 126 ks 56 bbs. Then came the second-half where we saw Volquez have a stat line of: 5-3 4.60 era 80 ks 37 bbs.
Those numbers are not good considering he plays in a hitter's park and does not have much of a track record.
Volquez has a lot of upside, but he's too risky to take early. If you're going to draft him, wait until the middle to late rounds.
Projections: 3.30 era 15 wins 190 ks 96 walks 1.35 WHIP
5. Scott Kazmir
Kazmir has always had great potential, but never seems to overcome mediocrity. He's never had more than 13 wins, has only pitched over 200 innings once and has a career ERA of 3.61.
That's not to say Kazmir isn't a good pitcher, he's just not that great fantasy wise. He's always an injury risk and last year faltered down the stretch. He had a 4.02 ERA after the break and had ERAs of 4.02 and 5.19 in August and September.
He also only pitched 152.1 innings. Kazmir's name always jumps out as one of the top fantasy pitchers, but don't take him too early of you will regret it.
Projections: 3.50 ERA 12 wins 170 ks 77 walks 1.15 WHIP
6. Javier Vazquez
Vazquez went from a great year in 2007 to totally flopping last year. He's been traded four times and is now on the Atlanta Braves. The Braves are an improved team, but Vazquez is just not a good fantasy pitcher.
Sure, he gives you k's and a nice k/bb ratio, but that's about it. He has a career ERA of 4.32 and has never won more than 16 games in his career. He's too risky to bank on him turning it around and moves to the NL East, the top division in the NL.
Turner Field is also a hitter's park so that does not bode well for Vazquez.
Projections: 4.30 ERA 13 wins 190 ks 66 walks 1.28 WHIP
7. Carlos Zambrano
How the mighty have fallen. Zambrano was a second-round pick two years ago and now will be lucky to be drafted in the middle rounds.
No ace had a worse second-half than Zambrano. He had a 5.80 ERA and had 52 ks to 34 bbs. He lets his emotions get the best of him and is not worth risking a top pick on.
"Big Z" has been a huge disappointment and he will be for you if you think about him having a huge turnaround.
Projections: 4.10 ERA 13 wins 166 ks 97 walks 1.30 WHIP
8. Chien-Ming Wang
I don't see what people see in Wang. He can't strike anybody out and his only upside in fantasy is wins. Yes he does pitch for the New York Yankees, but is now not their ace so he will not be winning 19 games again.
Add in the fact he is coming back from an injury-ravaged 2008 season and you have a pitcher with little value.
If you want to a pitcher solely for wins then by all means take Wang, but if you're looking for somebody to fill out all your pitching categories then look elsewhere. Don't let his big name fool you.
Projections: 3.77 ERA 16 wins 100 ks 58 walks 1.30 WHIP
9. Ryan Dempster
Dempster easily had his best career season in 2008 and that led to a rich contract from the Cubbies.
The problem is that that may have been Dempster's ceiling and I don't see him coming close to those numbers again.
First of all, he has a career ERA of 4.55 and has only pitched over 200 innings three times. One might say that's because he was a closer for some of those years, but who's to say he'll stay healthy enough to surpass 200 inning again? I would not trust him simply because he's going to be overvalued.
Projections: 3.60 ERA 14 wins 166 ks 90 walks 1.30 WHIP
10. Rich Harden
This isn't a knock on the Cubs, but their starting rotation won't repeat last year's numbers. Harden was incredible for the Cubs, going 5-1 down the stretch and was almost un-hittable.
There is no denying Harden's potential, but the fact remains he is a huge injury risk. Harden is already injured and spring training hasn't even started. If he can't make it through spring training, how will he be able to handle the workload of the entire season?
He's never even pitched for over 190 innings and the closest he ever came was in 2004, where he pitched 189.2 innings. He is the top pitcher that you can't ever trust and unless you get him late in the draft, let him be somebody else's problem.
Projections: 2.89 ERA 11 wins 140 ks 50 walks 1.20 WHIP