Sleeper Edition: Five Pitchers Who Could Drastically Help Fantasy Owners in 2011

Tucker SilvaContributor IMarch 1, 2011

Newly-acquired pitcher Shaun Marcum will do wonders for the Brewers and your fantasy baseball team
Newly-acquired pitcher Shaun Marcum will do wonders for the Brewers and your fantasy baseball teamJonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

One of the more important aspects of drafting in fantasy sports is finding a solid “sleeper.” As most of you know, a sleeper is a player who is ranked low in the draft, but turns in gold numbers during the season.

With the fantasy baseball season rapidly approaching, and mock-draft lobbies filling up in anticipation, let’s take a look at potential pitching sleepers for this year.

Madison Bumgarner

Giants fans are without a doubt excited to see how Bumgarner develops this year.  Fantasy owners need to be excited as well.

Coming up in late June, the 21-year-old posted a 7-6 record with a 3.00 ERA and 86 strikeouts. His WHIP was a little high at 1.31, but you can be sure Bumgarner will be a fantasy pitcher to keep your eyes on.

The fact that Bumgarner is with the defending champions only helps his case. Wins anyone?

Shaun Marcum

Marcum rebounded tremendously last year after missing all of 2009 due to elbow surgery. He posted career highs with the Blue Jays in wins (13), strikeouts (165), and innings pitched (195.1). What’s more impressive, he accomplished those numbers in the AL East.

After the trade to the Brewers, Marcum will surely put up better numbers in the National League, which should be noted by fantasy owners. Don’t be afraid to take him a little earlier than his current ranking. He could be a fantasy stud when it's all said and done.

Jake McGee

With closer Rafael Soriano departing to serve as the Yankees primary set-up man, McGee steps in as the new Rays closer.

Split between AA and AAA in 2010, McGee threw 105.2 innings with 127 strikeouts. Although he only had two saves in the minors, you can be sure that McGee has the potential to pile 25-plus saves in the majors this year.

Not a fan of drafting a closer early? Then McGee is your man.

Brandon Morrow

Morrow showed serious fantasy potential last year, most notably the one-hit, 17-strikeout performance against the Rays.  Merely two starts later, he tallied 12 strikeouts against the Yankees.

John Farrell taking over as the Blue Jays manager will do wonders for the 26-year-old righty.  The former Red Sox pitching coach will easily improve Morrow’s pitching performance, and will likely surpass the 200-strikeout plateau.

Ricky Romero

The 26-year-old lefty shined last year, posting a 14-9 record with a 3.73 ERA, 210.0 innings pitched, and 174 strikeouts. Romero is very similar to Morrow where he will have high strikeout games, but will cough up a few bad outings. However, his upside is too much to pass up. Not to mention, he had three complete games last season.

Farrell will once again be a major factor in Romero’s game this year. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Romero emerge as a top-ten fantasy pitcher during the 2011 season.

Jake Westbrook

He won’t put up monster fantasy stats by any means. But he will serve as a consistent starter, leaving fantasy owners to start him without much fear.  Sure, he will give up two to three runs per game, but you can bet the innings will be there.

Westbrook’s move to the National League clearly helped him during the second half of the season. With ace Adam Wainwright out of the picture due to Tommy-John surgery, it will be interesting to see how Westbrook pans out this season. Fantasy owners should take the chance and draft him towards the end. He will be a nice complement to your rotation.

Stayed tuned for my next sleeper edition on positional players.  Who are your sleepers?