It’s that time of year again- spring training is within sight and fantasy baseball scouts are knee deep in player value-meters. We all know where most of the top guys will be drafted— it’s more a question of taste on whether to draft guys like Oswalt, Carpenter, Prior… but what about the pitchers who will hit fantasy paydirt for the first time. Here are three guys that should definitely be drafted! The question is how low can you get them?
Felix Hernandez (Seattle Mariners)
a doubt, he is the best bet to breakthrough as a dominant starter in
2006. Even though he’s only 19, he already posseses a high-nineties
fastball and an absolutely devastating curve. While he learns the
ropes, he can shut many teams down purely by overpowering them.
Incredible composure and an improving changeup give him a legitimate
shot at being one of the top three pitchers in the American League
(AL). Pitching in Safeco, the best pitchers park in the league, will
also help Felix to keep a low ERA and WHIP. In 2005 he went 4-4 with an
2.67 ERA and a miniscule 1.00 WHIP in 12 late season starts. He struck
out 77 in 84 IP and batters batted .203 against him.
Round To Draft
is a top 50 player, which means he shouldn’t drop past the 5th round
(in a traditional ten team league). Personally I wouldn’t wait that
long. If he is the first pitcher you draft, you’ll be very happy.
Francisco Liriano (Minnesota Twins)
be deceived by Liriano’s high ERA (5.70) in six late season games with
the Twins. This guy could be the real star of the A.J Pierzynski/Joe
Nathan deal. Liriano is a lefthanded power pitcher with solid control
of three pitches. If he pitches over 150 Innings, 200 K’s are a strong possibility. He struck out 33 in 23.1 IP for the Twins in 2005. His out pitch
is a slider that’s slippier than a Torino ski jump. He sets his slider
up with a mid-nineties fastball and a tantelizing changeup that should
only get better after a few dugout chats with Johan Santana. Batters
hit .221 against him.
Round To Draft
Hernandez, Francisco didn’t have gaudy late season statistics. He also
pitches in a hitters’ delight—the Metrodome. If you have a lot of nervous
nellies in your league, you might be able to steal Liriano in the
middle rounds, somewhere between the 12th and 17th round. But, If you
want to be sure you get him, I wouldn’t wait any longer than the 11th
Noah Lowry (San Francisco Giants)
hit .213 against Lowry in 2005. In the second half of the season,
Lowry was clearly the Giants’ best starter and one of the top pitchers
in the National League (NL). In 15 post all-star starts he went 8-4
with a 2.43 ERA, a 1.10 WHIP while hitters swung a paltry .217 against
him. Lowry uses a plus 90’s fastball and a tight curve to set hitters
up for one of the better changeups in the major leagues. With a little
better command and a healthy Barry Bonds, don’t be surprised if Noah
wins 17 or 18 games.
Round To Draft
lot of Fantasy GMs want a longer track record than Noah provides. However, good lefthanded
starting pitching is scarce in the NL. Lowry should rank right up there
with other top NL lefties Chris Capuano, Doug Davis, Mark Mulder and
Andy Pettite. I wouldn’t wait past the 8th round if you want Lowry.
He’s a solid number two starter for your fantasy rotation.
Carl The Cabbie