Fantasy Baseball Preview: Starting Pitchers

Adam Beard

With the hitters out of the way, lets take a look at starting pitchers.

Which starter should go off the board first?

Clayton Kershaw (LAD) – Not only did Kershaw post a 1.83 earned run average and go 16-9 with a National League-leading 232 strikeouts last season, but he has been of the most impressive pitchers in the MLB over the last three seasons. Kershaw has averaged 17 wins over that span and could win 20 this season as the Dodgers are a World Series contender.

Who is making a comeback from a disappointing 2013 season?

CC Sabathia (NYY) – The Yankees ace had a terrible year last year as he finished just 14-13 with an unusually high 4.78 ERA. Early on in 2013, we all thought he would pick it up eventually, but he never did. Cue 2014. Sabathia has apparently lost weight and is feeling better than ever. I expect him to be the pitcher the Yankees and fantasy owners need him to be.

Don’t sleep on this guy

Ubaldo Jiménez (BAL) – After the All-Star break last year, Jiménez posted a 1.82 ERA while going 6-5. He also posted a 2.82 ERA over his last 28 starts last season. He finished the season with 194 strikeouts and has now earned a new contract with a capable Baltimore Orioles club. Currently, he is ranked in the 60-70 range among most fantasy pitcher big boards, but I could see him finishing in the top 40.

Bound to bust

Gerrit Cole (PIT) – He is up and coming, but I jdon’t think he is quite the fantasy stud the rankings out there say he is. Maybe in 2015, but as far as this season goes, there is no way he should be picked ahead of guys like Zack Greinke, David Price or Gio Gonzalez. I’ve seen him ahead of those guys on some rankings and can’t help but scratch my head. He may have a decent season, but he will not live up to such lofty expectations.

My Pre-Rankings: Starters

  1. Clayton Kershaw (LAD)
  2. Adam Wainwright (STL)
  3. Yu Darvish (TEX)
  4. Stephen Strasburg (WSH)
  5. Felix Hernandez (SEA)
  6. Jose Fernandez (MIA)
  7. Max Scherzer (DET)
  8. Justin Verlander (DET)
  9. Madison Bumgarner (SF)
  10. Clif Lee (PHI)
  11. Zack Greinke (LAD)
  12. David Price (TB)
  13. Chris Sale (CWS)
  14. Mat Latos (CIN)
  15. Gio Gonzalez (WSH)
  16. Cole Hamels (PHI)
  17. Matt Cain (SF)
  18. Anibal Sanchez (DET)
  19. Julio Teheran (ATL)
  20. Gerrit Cole (PIT)
  21. Jordan Zimmerman (WSH)
  22. Michael Wacha (STL)
  23. Alex Cobb (TB)
  24. Matt Moore (TB)
  25. Mike Minor (ATL
  26. James Shields (KC)
  27. Jon Lester (BOS)
  28. CC Sabathia (NYY)
  29. Masahiro Tanaka (NYY)
  30. Homer Bailey (CIN)

I’ll leave you with this…

This is the deepest position in fantasy baseball, but don’t wait too long. A lot of people tend to focus on hitters before pitchers, but pitchers are just as important. If I’m drafting, I want to get at least one elite pitcher (in the top 12), but I would like to get two of those guys. Just like in real baseball, pitchers can win you a championship.

Recently, Adam has given his two cents about the players at each position, naming a clear-cut number one, a comeback player, a sleeper/breakout, a bust, his full rankings and a little advice as to what to do in your draft and throughout the season.