Fantasy Baseball: 8 Breakthrough Pitchers for the 2013 Season
The 2012 MLB season is preparing for its most exciting series of the year, but it’s never too early to pick the breakthrough pitchers for next season.
Jayson Stark of ESPN.com called this “the age of the pitcher” and for good reason. This season, a total of 21,017 runs were scored. That’s nearly 4,000 less than the 24,971 scored in 2010.
With pitchers like Justin Verlander, C.C. Sabathia, Felix Hernandez and R.A. Dickey dominating hitters, it’s easy to find high-quality pitching. These aces will have high fantasy value next season, but owners can’t draft all of them.
Still, there are some pitchers that are on the verge of breaking out in 2013. Here’s a list of 10 pitchers poised for a great season next year.
Homer Bailey (CIN)
Homer Bailey had a solid year this season for the Cincinnati Reds. Bailey went 13-10 with a 3.68 earned run average in 33 starts.
He is a career 38-33 in the majors with a 4.50 ERA, but showed times of dominance this season and is nearing his prime at just 26 years old.
Bailey tied for 12th in the MLB in quality starts last season with 21. He tied with Matt Cain, Cliff Lee and Wandy Rodriguez—not bad company.
With 168 strikeouts and just 52 walks, he has shown solid command. Pitching for a team with a potent offense like the Reds will help Bailey’s record. If he can maintain his consistent improvement, 2013 might be his year.
James McDonald (PIT)
James McDonald had an absolutely dominant first half of 2012. On July 18, McDonald threw five innings against the Colorado Rockies, gave up six runs, but still managed to get a win.
He improved to 10-3 with a 2.93 ERA after the start. But, then the wheels came off for McDonald.
Over the course of the next two months, McDonald went 2-6 and raised his ERA to 4.21. His collapse and the Pirates collapse seemed to coincide.
With Pittsburgh becoming a contender in the National League Central, McDonald will settle into an increased role. Last season was his second as a consistent fixture in a rotation.
He has a lot of upside for 2013.
Jarrod Parker (OAK)
Jarrod Parker had a great rookie season for the Oakland A’s. He was a big part of their postseason appearance going 13-8 with a 1.26 WHIP.
Parker had a nearly 3-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio (140 K, 63 BB). He has good command and a fastball that is consistently in the mid-90s.
His first season as a starter in the MLB turned some heads. He should turn even more next season—if he can stay healthy.
Two rough postseason starts should provide a great amount of motivation for this talented 23-year-old.
Yu Darvish (TEX)
In his first MLB season, Yu Darvish was consistently inconsistent. He started off strong, winning seven of his first nine decisions.
Darvish struggled in July and August, posting a 3-5 record and watching his ERA rise to 4.31. His numbers were average, 3.90 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, but he has tremendous talent.
The Japanese pitcher won his last five regular-season starts and threw 6.2 innings of two-run ball against Baltimore in the Wild-Card Game. The Texas Rangers’ offense will help Darvish, but so will a year of experience in the MLB.
Expect a more consistent year from Darvish in 2013.
Ross Detwiler (WAS)
There is no doubt that the Washington Nationals have one of the best pitching staffs in the league. Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Edwin Jackson and Jordan Zimmermann anchor the staff.
Sitting in the fifth spot, Ross Detwiler quietly had a solid season in 2012 and is poised for an improved year in 2013. Detwiler went 10-8 with a 3.40 ERA in the regular season, but his postseason start showed just how good he could be.
Detwiler threw six innings against the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Division Series Game 4. He gave up an unearned run and just three hits.
Detwiler is a solid ground-ball pitcher, forcing 14 double plays and 275 ground balls. If he continues to keep the ball down in the zone, he should have a good year in 2013.
Philip Humber (CWS)
Yes, that’s the same Philip Humber that threw a perfect game against Seattle in April. Despite that stellar game, Humber had a less than stellar year.
He went 5-5 and is a career 16-15 in the big leagues. He has played for four different teams already in his career.
Humber has solid stuff, as evident by his perfect game. He is another pitcher that is still struggling to find consistency.
Humber finished the year with a 6.44 ERA, but averaged 7.5 strikeouts per nine innings. The former Rice Owl should improve next season.
Scott Diamond (MIN)
There weren’t a lot of positives for Minnesota this season, but Scott Diamond was a diamond in the rough. Trade rumors swirled around superstar catcher Joe Mauer and the Twins won just 66 games but Diamond went 12-9.
The second-year pro had a 3.54 ERA and would have won more games with a better offense. The Twins were 16th in the league in runs scored (701).
Diamond is a contact pitcher with solid command. He walked just 31 batters in 173 innings last season. He held opposing hitters to a .274 batting average.
It will be interesting to see who catches the Twins staff next season. If Mauer stays, those two could be a solid battery for the next few seasons.
Scott Feldman (TEX)
Scott Feldman has played eight seasons with the Rangers, including a stellar year in 2009. That season he went 17-8 with a 1.28 WHIP.
He has a career 39-44 record and a 4.81 ERA. It’s a bit of a stretch, but Feldman could be poised for a nice year in 2013.
Feldman has a six-pitch repertoire, led by a low-90s sinker and a low-90s cutter. It’s been the location that has been an issue for the 29-year-old.
At 6’7”, he is an imposing figure on the mound. With Darvish and Ryan Dempster leading the rotation, Feldman doesn’t need to be an ace. He does need to be an effective pitcher, though, if the Rangers want to head back to the postseason.
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