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October 24, 2013

Fantasy Freestyle

Ten Could-Be Fantasy Aces for 2014

by Bret Sayre


Conventional fantasy wisdom has always suggested that pitching is more volatile from year-to-year than hitting. In this case, conventional wisdom is absolutely correct—and the 2013 season bore this out even more than usual. When you look at the top ten fantasy starters in both 2013 and 2012, one thing becomes very apparent: there’s a ton of turnover. In fact, there was only one pitcher (Clayton Kershaw) who made both lists. For further effect, here they are side-by-side:

2013

2012

1

Clayton Kershaw

R.A. Dickey

2

Max Scherzer

Justin Verlander

3

Adam Wainwright

Clayton Kershaw

4

Cliff Lee

David Price

5

Yu Darvish

Matt Cain

6

Hisashi Iwakuma

Gio Gonzalez

7

Jose Fernandez

Jered Weaver

8

Matt Harvey

Cole Hamels

9

Madison Bumgarner

Kris Medlen

10

Jordan Zimmermann

Johnny Cueto

It’s not like the 2012 list was filled with guys having career years and were not expected to repeat as top fantasy starters. Justin Verlander, David Price, Matt Cain, Jered Weaver, and Cole Hamels were all selected either in or just outside the top 10 coming into the season. Will that happen next year with pitchers like Max Scherzer, Cliff Lee, Yu Darvish, Jose Fernandez, or Madison Bumgarner? Odds are it will happen to most of the guys on this list*.

*Unfortunately the list already has its first casualty in Matt Harvey, who will miss the entire 2014 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

So with the premise of this article set, let’s take a look at a group of pitchers who could replace the ones who came before them. The rules are simple: no top-20 pitchers from the 2013 season and no one who will be a consideration for the top-ten in 2014 drafts (I’m looking at you, David Price and Cole Hamels). And yes, these are ranked in order of likelihood (with their 2013 rank in parentheses):

Gerrit Cole, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates (#65)
Cole was the no. 1 pitching prospect in baseball right here in the off-season and it hasn’t taken long for the big right-hander to show why. Between the regular season and the playoffs, the Pirates were able to ramp Cole up to 196 1/3 innings—meaning he should not have any sort of innings limit in 2014. When it comes to pure stuff, there are few pitchers in baseball who can touch Cole and it doesn’t take much imagination to envision him being one of the best pitchers in the game in short order. After the All-Star break, Cole had 75 strikeouts in 75 2/3 innings to go along with a 2.85 ERA and 1.10 WHIP.

Shelby Miller, RHP, St Louis Cardinals (#22)
The fact that Miller is the forgotten man in St Louis this playoff season may work to the advantage of fantasy owners who try to snag him in drafts next March. The upside was evident during the first three months of the 2013 season—he had a 2.79 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 101 strikeouts in 93 2/3 innings through the end of June. With another full season under his belt, he could take that next step forward and put up some big numbers.

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: Wo... (10/23)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Bra... (10/22)
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Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Sif... (10/29)
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Premium Article Minor League Update: A... (10/24)

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