by Derek of The Sportmeisters
1. Johan Santana – New York Mets – Projection: 18 W 220 K 2.75 ERA 1.15 WHIP
Not much to be said here, you know what you’re getting with Santana. 200+ K’s and 15+ Wins are virtually a lock. He will be the only pitcher taken in the first round.
2. CC Sabathia – New York Yankees – Projection: 19 W 225 K 3.20 ERA 1.13 WHIP
Sabathia has now moved from the AL to the NL back to the AL again. If his stint with Milwaukee means anything, then we’re in for another great year from Sabathia. He went 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA in Milwaukee and finished the year with 251 K’s.
He is going to be the Ace of the Yankees staff and won’t last past the third round, so if you want him, you had better grab him early.
3. Tim Lincecum – San Francisco Giants – Projection: 18 W 250 K 2.92 ERA 1.17 WHIP
The reigning NL Cy Young award winner was a beast last year, leading the majors with 265 K’s. Even though he plays for San Francisco, he will continue to put up 16+ Wins and 250+ K’s. He will go in the second round for sure.
4. Roy Halladay – Toronto Blue Jays – Projection: 18 W 182 K 3.20 ERA 1.10 WHIP
Doc Halladay has been fairly consistent over the past three years. He has pitched over 220 innings in each of those years and had 20 Wins last year. Halladay is a strong fourth or fifth round pick.
5. Brandon Webb – Arizona Diamondbacks – Projection: 18 W 190 K 3.25 ERA 1.20 WHIP
Many thought that Webb should have won the NL Cy Young last year. After all, he did win 22 games. His numbers will stay consistent and he will be a good guy to grab as the Ace of your staff in the fourth or fifth round.
6. Cole Hamels – Philadelphia Phillies – Projection: 16 W 190 K 3.33 ERA 1.11 WHIP
Hamels showed that he could pitch in big-game situations, winning the World Series MVP. He also pitched over 200 innings and had 196 K’s. He has a great lineup behind him and should approach 15+ wins and 185+ K’s. He’s a good fourth or fifth round pick.
7. Jake Peavy – San Diego Padres – Projection: 15 W 205 K 3.10 ERA 1.17 WHIP
Peavy was hurt last year and it showed. He only won 10 games and only had 166 K’s. I expect a full bounce back from him this year though and I wouldn’t be afraid to grab him in the fourth or fifth round.
8. Dan Haren – Arizona Diamondbacks – Projection: 16 W 195 K 3.13 ERA 1.19 WHIP
Anyone who thought that Haren was a fluke in Oakland was proven wrong last year as he won 16 games and had 206 K’s. If Brandon Webb wasn’t on the team, he would be the unquestioned Ace. Expect another 15+-win season and 195+ K’s from this fifth or sixth round pick.
9. John Lackey – Los Angeles Angels Of Anaheim – Projection: 16 W 177 K 3.50 ERA 1.21 WHIP
Lackey bounced back from a triceps injury that cost him the first six weeks of the season to win 12 games. With a full season under his belt, expect him to revert back to 2007 form (19 Wins 179 K).
10. Josh Beckett – Boston Red Sox – Projection: 16 W 190 K 3,75 ERA 1.17 WHIP
Beckett was a disappointment last year. He got hurt again and was not the same guy we saw win 20 games in 2007. However, he seems to have a pattern of doing well every two years, so that means this is the year.
Expect almost 2007-like numbers this year and feel free to draft him in the middle rounds, and if he slips that far he could be a steal.
11. Roy Oswalt – Houston Astros – Projection: 17 W 170 K 3.24 ERA 1.21 WHIP
Oswalt is a pretty consistent pick. He wins 14+ games a year and keeps his K’s around 155 or more. He went 10-2 after the All-Star break last year and will continue to be the Ace in Houston this year. He will be within the top ten starters drafted.
12. Cliff Lee – Cleveland Indians – Projection: 17 W 165 K 3.45 ERA 1.20 WHIP
The 2008 AL Cy Young award winner came out of nowhere last year. He wasn’t even expected to make the team and he won 22 games. If he can get some help from his offense, Lee could win 16+ games this year.
Don’t reach too high for him based on just one year, but I would take him over most other guys on the board.
13. Daisuke Matsuzaka – Boston Red Sox – Projection: 16 W 185 K 3.45 ERA 1.30 WHIP
Dice-K was a monster last year. He went 18-3 and had a 2.90 ERA with 154 K’s. His only problem was his walks. He led the AL in walks, but then stranded those runners. He has a monster lineup behind him, so 15+ wins are basically a lock. I like him in the ninth or tenth round.
14. Scott Kazmir – Tampa Bay Rays – Projection: 13 W 200 K 3.45 ERA 1.30 WHIP
Kazmir got off to a late start last year due to a sore elbow, but was very effective when he returned, going 7-4 before the break. He ended up 12-8 with 166 K’s. If he stays healthy he could be in the 200+ K range and could hit 15+ wins.
15. James Shields – Tampa Bay Rays – Projection: 15 W 165 K 3.77 ERA 1.18 WHIP
Here’s the other Tampa Bay Ace. Some people even value Shields over Kazmir, and it is close. However, Kazmir’s strikeout ability gives him the edge. Shields is very durable though, pitching 215 innings each of the last two years. He should top 15 wins and will be in the Top 15 starting pitchers taken on draft day.
16. Carlos Zambrano – Chicago Cubs – Projection: 15 W 170 K 3.65 ERA 1.30 WHIP
Big Z is coming off of an off season by his standards. He won just 14 games and only struck out 130. A sore elbow down the stretch plagued him and many have written him off as finished. Not so fast. Zambrano has a monster lineup behind him and should bounce back. He could be a good middle round sleeper, or even later if he slides.
17. Jon Lester – Boston Red Sox – Projection: 16 W 155 K 3.48 ERA 1.31 WHIP
This guy is just amazing. He came back from surviving cancer in 2007 to help the Sox win the World Series and then has 16 wins in 2008. He comes into this year with high expectations and should produce similar numbers. He will be within the Top 20 starters on draft day.
18. A.J. Burnett – New York Yankees – Projection: 16 W 210 K 3.90 ERA 1.30 WHIP
Burnett posted career highs in wins (18) and K’s (231) last year and that played into the Yankees giving him a big contract this year. Expect a high ERA from Burnett, but also expect 215+ K’s and at least 14 wins.
19. Chad Billingsley – Los Angeles Dodgers – Projection: 14 W 185 K 3.50 ERA 1.33 WHIP
Billingsley will be the Dodgers Ace this year after winning 16 games last year. He also struck out 201 batters. He broke his leg in November, but has pitched well thus far in Spring Training. Go ahead and draft him with full confidence that his leg is healed.
20. Francisco Liriano – Minnesota Twins – Projection: 14 W 205 K 3.16 ERA 1.28 WHIP
Liriano struggled in Triple-A for most of the season last year, but when he was called up, he didn’t disappoint. He went 6-1 in August and September. If he can come back this year to his 2006 form, when he went 12-3 with 144 K’s, he will be a top 20 starter.
21. Justin Verlander – Detroit Tigers – Projection: 16 W 180 K 3.80 ERA 1.30 WHIP
Verlander was awesome in 2007, winning 18 games with 183 K’s, but fell to earth last year only winning 11 games and losing 17. He has a strong lineup behind him and should return to form this year. He should be a late round sleeper due to last year, but I think he rebounds big this year.
22. Edinson Volquez – Cincinnati Reds – Projection: 15 W 210 K 3.75 ERA 1.37 WHIP
Talk about coming out of nowhere. That’s exactly what Volquez did last year, winning 17 games with 206 K’s. He seemed to wear down in the second half, but that is typical for a rookie. With a full year under his belt, expect a bit more consistency this year.
23. Rich Harden – Chicago Cubs – Projection: 14 W 170 K 2.75 ERA 1.15 WHIP
Caution, Injury Risk! Harden is probably the most injury prone pitcher around, but when he is healthy, he is among the leagues best. He was 5-1 with a 2.34 ERA in Oakland before being traded to the Cubs, where he also went 5-1 with a 1.78 ERA.
If you want to take the risk, go ahead and draft him in the later rounds, unless someone takes a chance on him first.
24. Felix Hernandez – Seattle Mariners – Projection: 15 W 190 K 3.34 ERA 1.31 WHIP
King Felix faltered last year only winning nine games and struggling with injuries. However, he did strikeout 175 batters and pitched 200 innings. If he finally lives up to his potential he could win 14+ games and strikeout 185+.
He could be a late-round steal, if he lasts past the middle rounds.
25. Chien-Ming Wang – New York Yankees – Projection: 16 W 100 K 3.70 ERA 1.26 WHIP
This is your big sleeper. Wang missed substantial time last year after he tore tendons in his right foot in June. However, before he was hurt, he won eight games and won 19 games in 2006 and 2007.
He is an ace that will be the number three guy in the Yankee rotation and could fall to the late rounds in the draft. If he does, he’s a potential 16+ game winner steal.