It’s time to look at those players who contribute to your wins, strikeouts, ERA and WHIP. Pitching is half the game, so remember to know your pitchers just as well as you know your batters. To help with that preparation, here is our 2011 starting pitching rankings broken up into tiers.
Roy Halladay (PHI), Adam Wainwright (STL), Felix Hernandez (SEA), Tim Lincecum (SF), Cliff Lee (PHI)
Halladay is a workhorse who had his best season last year as a member of the Phillies.
Wainwright has steadily improved every year to become one of the game’s best.
The best pitcher in the American League, Hernandez proves that you don’t need to win 20 games to be a fantasy ace.
A down year for Lincecum was the result of a poor August. He pitched lights out in September and all through the World Series.
Lee moves once again from the American League to the best team in the National League. Twenty wins is within reach.
Jon Lester (BOS), C.C. Sabathia (NYY), Zack Greinke (MIL), Josh Johnson (FLA), Clayton Kershaw (LAD), Ubaldo Jimenez (COL)
A strikeout machine, Lester is now backed by one of the league’s most feared offenses.
Sabathia’s durability and win potential make him a top 10 starter.
Now that Greinke is pitching for a National League contender, his numbers should be more similar to 2009 than to 2010.
Johnson has tier one stuff, but durability issues drop him to tier two.
With an improving walk rate and ability to go deeper into games, Kershaw can become an anchor to your pitching staff.
Jimenez‘s season was a tale of two halves, but his ability to induce grounders and strikeout batters makes him elite.
Jered Weaver (LAA), Justin Verlander (DET), Cole Hamels (PHI), David Price (TB), Chris Carpenter (STL), Matt Cain (SF), Mat Latos (SD), Yovani Gallardo (MIL), Francisco Liriano (MIN), Tommy Hanson (ATL), Dan Haren (LAA), Brett Anderson (OAK), Roy Oswalt (PHI)
As you can see by the talent in this tier, starting pitching is as deep as James Earl Jones’ voice.
Weaver finally put it all together for a full season and led the majors in strikeouts.
With a FIP consistently lower than his ERA, it wouldn’t surprise me if Verlander got his ERA in the low 3.00s.
Hamels got back to throwing fewer fastballs last year and thrived.
Like all successful young guns, Price has learned how to throw strikes and work into the later innings.
Carpenter doesn’t post good strikeout numbers anymore, but he’s great everywhere else.
Cain will give you 200 innings and somehow he always manages to outperform his FIP.
Latos had a terrific rookie season, but his innings jump has me slightly concerned for 2011.
Having a good pitching staff around Gallardo should help prevent another second-half swoon.
At an average of 93.7 MPH, Liriano’s fastball is almost to where it was in his magical 2006 season.
Hanson’s second half numbers: 2.51 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, .205 BAA.
After being traded to the Angels, Haren compiled a 2.87 ERA and 1.16 WHIP.
If Anderson can stay healthy, he’s primed for a big season.
Oswalt’s move to Philadelphia in the middle of the last year couldn’t have helped his fantasy owners more.
Josh Beckett (BOS), Matt Garza (CHC), Shaun Marcum (MIL), Clay Buchholz (BOS), Tim Hudson (ATL), Max Scherzer (DET), Ted Lilly (LAD), Chad Billingsley (LAD), Ricky Nolasco (FLA), John Danks (CHW), Jonathan Sanchez (SF), Ryan Dempster (CHC), Ricky Romero (TOR), Wandy Rodriguez (HOU), Colby Lewis (TEX), Hiroki Kuroda (LAD), Trevor Cahill (OAK), Gavin Floyd (CHW), Javier Vazquez (FLA), Brandon Morrow (TOR), Gio Gonzalez (OAK), Jhoulys Chacin (COL)
Marcum posted impressive numbers in the AL East. I’m excited to see how much those numbers will improve in the NL Central.
After Scherzer’s brief stint in the minors, he pitched brilliantly. He should flirt with 200 strikeouts.
Pitching in the AL East limits Romero’s potential, even though his improving BB/9 and K/9 indicate he should get even better.
Even though Cahill is a ground ball pitcher, his BABIP of .236 is unsustainable. If he doesn’t start striking out more hitters, he’ll be hard-pressed to approach last year’s value.
Morrow had a great second half and finished the year with a K/9 of 10.95. To put that in perspective, the league-leading K/9 among qualified starters was 9.79.
If you weren’t paying attention, you might have missed the numbers Chacin (no, not Gustavo) put up last year: 137.1 IP, 3.28 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, .227 BAA, 9.04 K/9.
Daniel Hudson (ARZ), Brett Myers (HOU), C.J. Wilson (TEX), Jaime Garcia (STL), Phil Hughes (NYY), Brian Matusz (BAL), Jeremy Hellickson (TB), Jake Peavy (CHW), Jordan Zimmermann (WAS), Madison Bumgarner (SF), Kevin Slowey (MIN), Jorge de la Rosa (COL), James Shields (TB), Bronson Arroyo (CIN)
Hudson was great last year, but his BABIP and strand rate are unsustainable.
Myers and Wilson had career years in 2010, but their potential downsides have them in tier five.
Matusz’s rookie year wasn’t as good as expected, but don’t forget what Price did in his second year.
Hellickson has all the hype, but remember most rookies struggle in the AL East.
Zimmermann is over a year removed from Tommy John surgery. Pitchers tend to throw harder after the surgery, as both Minnesota’s Liriano and Florida’s Johnson can confirm.
Kansas City Royals pitching staff
Ok seriously, don’t draft a Royals starting pitcher.
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