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February 24, 2014

State of the Position

Starting Pitchers

by Mike Gianella


For the earlier articles in this series, click below:

For the first time in years, fantasy owners are spending high draft picks/auction money on big-time pitchers. This isn’t merely limited to Clayton Kershaw, but extends to a core group of pitchers that the market believes will have staying power. Fourteen of the top 60 picks in this year’s mixed LABR were pitchers; this is a departure from prior seasons when only a handful of top pitchers would go in the first 3-4 rounds because the market was willing to wait.

Your philosophy on pitching should be different depending on if you are participating in a draft or an auction. In drafts, using earlier picks on a starting pitcher is fundamentally sound, particularly if other owners are spending early picks on pitchers. You don’t want to find yourself in a position in which your ace is a second-tier starter like Alex Cobb. In auctions—where you can allocate your money as you see fit—the smarter play is to wait if people are reaching early with big bids. Staring pitching isn’t only strong at the top but deeper than it has been in years. You don’t want to find yourself in dollar derby with your entire rotation, but you could build a relatively strong staff for $60 or so if you play your cards right.

It is easy to take the rosy view in late February; we know that there are going to be several disappointments once the season begins taking its predictable twists and turns (last July, it was a foregone conclusion that Matt Harvey would be a top-30 pick this year). But let’s stop for a moment and look at and appreciate the list of the top 13 pitchers taken in LABR mixed:

  1. Clayton Kershaw (fifth pick overall)
  2. Yu Darvish (19)
  3. Cliff Lee (32)
  4. Chris Sale (44)
  5. Stephen Strasburg (46)
  6. Max Scherzer (47)
  7. Adam Wainwright (48)
  8. Felix Hernandez (50)
  9. Justin Verlander (51)
  10. Madison Bumgarner (52)
  11. Jose Fernandez (54)
  12. Cole Hamels (57)
  13. David Price (58)

There are a couple of graybeards here, but on the whole this is a young group. Barring injury, most of this core is going to be with us—and dominating the pitching scene—for the next few years.

It isn’t merely the aces that are cause for excitement either. There is an up-and-coming crop of young pitchers led by Gerrit Cole, Michael Wacha, and Julio Teheran (among others) who are poised to join the elite cadre above. Again, it’s not a mortal lock that all of these pitchers will thrive; there are failures every year that we cannot see coming. Nevertheless, there is more cause for optimism on the pitching side of the fantasy ledger than there has been in years.

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<< Previous Article
Fantasy Article Fantasy Players to Tar... (02/24)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article State of the Position:... (02/18)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Article State of the Position:... (03/03)
Next Article >>
The Week in Quotes: Fe... (02/24)

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