Recreational Fishing: Starting Pitching

We’re doing a little recreational fishing here at MillionDollarSleeper.com. Today, we’re ignoring the trophy fish that made Al Lindner Minnesota’s most popular bearded angler. We want those rough, ugly fish; the fish whom nobody pays attention. Round 25 and beyond, no one who goes before our 288 ADP cut-off. We’re looking to catch a Starting Pitcher and we don’t have much for bait. Squeeze that tube for a little bit of Liver Pate and grab a piece of corn, we’re fishing for bottom-feeders. Make the jump for the underrated few who the public largely (and mistakenly) ignore.

Travis Wood -ADP 333- Considering the fantasy community pops a boner for any rookie who posts great numbers, I’m surprised to see Wood passed over by so many. Travis was promoted in July and posted a 1.08 WHIP and 3.51 ERA in 102.2 IP. This included a 7.54 K/9 and 2.28 BB/9. Wood doesn’t overpower anyone with his 89.7 mph Fastball, but he is able to keep the opposition off balance with a variety of pitches. TexasLeaguers has him throwing a Four-seam, Two-seam and a Cut-Fastball to go along with a Sinker, Slider, Curve and a Change-up. While he isn’t overpowering, he is still able to generate swinging-strikes with four of his pitches. Keeping batters off balance also helps him limit Base Hits. Both his K/9 and BB/9 are above average and while I factored in some regression for each (and his BABIP), he is still a Pitcher worthy of mixed-league rosters. 2010 Projection: 160-1.16-3.42-15 (195 IP)

Mike Minor -ADP 306- This may be the only time that I advocate Minor Consumption. I am encouraging you to imbibe in the bubbly goodness that is Mike Minor. The 23-year old was promoted in August after 129.3 IP in the minors and didn’t disappoint. His 9.52 K/9 and 2.43 BB/9 were outstanding. Minor even did a good job of limiting Line Drives (17.5% LD%). Minor’s value is being disguised by a bad luck BABIP (.379). To put that into perspective, Minor’s BABIP was over 30 points worse than James Shields’ league worst BABIP (.341). The low LD% and high FB% (47.6%) should have kept his BABIP below average. Minor is a talented Pitcher who can provide similar production to that of Jeremy Hellickson, who is a much more popular rookie/sleeper. 2010 Projection: 188-1.20-3.45-14 (185 IP)

Edinson Volquez -ADP 318- Thomas Edinson is the inventor of the electric 93 mph fastball. Light bulbs flash over my head whenever I see his Average Draft Position. Why would I get so excited about a Pitcher who has never unleashed a WHIP better than 1.33 and has walked over five batters per nine during the past two seasons? I’m a sucker for a high K/9. Strikeouts rule the world of Pitching and I’m a sucker for the punch-out. We should remember, back in 2008 (Volquez’ only full season), his BB/9 was 4.27. Nothing to write home about, but it’s much easier to stomach than the numbers he’s posted recently. Speaking of the injury, Volquez was the Pitcher who underwent Tommy John surgery and then served a 50-game ban for performance-enhancing drugs while rehabbing. Some Pitchers may take a full year to get their control back after undergoing TJS, so it was nice for Volquez to squeeze in 60 Innings before entering the off-season. If he can get back to his ’08 form or improve on that, Volquez will provide generous profits on his ADP. 2010 Projection: 207-1.29-3.46-15 (195 IP)

Johnny Cueto -ADP 325- Edinson’s teammate, Johnny Cueto is the Nikola Tesla of fantasy baseball. Cueto is the guy who doesn’t wow anyone with his Strikeout totals, but he gets the job done and he’s showing improvement with each passing season. The BB/9 have improved, the WHIP has improved and the ERA has improved. The HR/FB% has also improved. Cueto throws some heat (93 mph) and uses his Slider often (30%) so it’s not unreasonable to think he can get his K/9 back up a few ticks. 2010 Projection: 151-1.25-3.83-14 (195 IP)

Jake Peavy -ADP 360- Leaving Petco Park (and the NL West) definitely took it’s toll on Peavy’s numbers, this was expected. What was unexpected was when his back muscle detached from the bone and would need the miracles of modern medicine to transform him into RoboPitcher. Now half-man, half-robot Jake Peavy is seeking revenge on those who predicted a late May comeback. It looks like the Peav is going to be apart of the White Sox Opening Day rotation. Is he a safe bet for 200 IP? No, but he doesn’t need to pitch more than 160 Innings with such a low price tag. 2010 Projection: 158-1.24-3.89-13 (185 IP)

Michael Pineda– ADP 393- Michael Pineda is like bigfoot. Nobody really knows how big he is, Fangraphs has him listed as 6’5, 180 lbs and MLB.com has him listed as 6’7, 260 lbs. And then there’s the rumors of his man-hands. The great unknown from the Pacific Northwest could possibly be apart of the Opening Day rotation. I would have bet some of my millions on him being sent to AAA to delay the arbitration clock and limit his IP, but the rumors are flying. The monster of a man will be bringing his skills to the Seattle hills at some point this season and when he does, watch out. He has the potential to rack up 8+ K/9 and he’s shown above average control in the minors. Strikeouts + Control + Safeco = Profits. I’ve been buying shares of Pineda left and right and you should too. This forecast assumes a June promotion. 2010 Projection: 103-1.23-3.76-8 (115 IP)

James McDonald -ADP 353- James is the only Pirates Pitcher that has been relevant since that one year Ian Snell did something. McDonald’s Curveball has a lot of drop and he can generate whiffs via the Change-up too. James has the potential to post a 8+ K/9, like Pineda, and his control is slightly worse than average, but it’s improving. I’m banking on some improvement, but the Pirates won’t be supplying much for defense or offense. Of course, all this hinges on his health. 2010 Projection: 179-1.28-3.55-10 (190 IP)

Bud Norris -ADP 363- Bud Norris K-Fu: Enter the Fu-Tang. Bud Norris packs more punch than Chuck Norris. He could open a temple with his black belt in K-Fu. I told you I’m a sucker for the punch-out and Norris’ 9.11 K/9 makes me smile. There are some controls issues here. His 4.39 BB/9 doesn’t inspire much confidence, but he did show flashes of improvement last season. From June through August (74.6 IP) Norris sported a 3.01 BB/9. If he can show us something like that in ’11 without having any nuclear reactor-like meltdowns we could see something special. This forecast uses a 3.85 BB/9. 2010 Projection: 183-1.32-3.85-12 (180 IP)

Erik Bedard -ADP 389- Erik Bedard is Erik Bedard. What do you want me to tell you? He’s a great Pitcher… wait for it… wait for it… when healthy. I used 85 Innings for the projection for no reason other than to showcase his potential. It’s an arbitrary number, 85 IP is basically the highest I can go without saying, “No way, he won’t reach that many Innings before his shoulder explodes on impact”. 2010 Projection: 84-1.26-3.60-6 (85 IP)

Low K is OK… in deep H2H leagues

R.A. Dickey -ADP 390- Here’s what you need to know about Dickie Roberts. He’s a knuckleballer, he doesn’t have an ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow and his initials are RAD. Here’s what you want to know about Dickie. His knuckleball has been making strides in velocity since he started throwing it, he showed great control during the course of the season and knuckleballers are known to limit Base Hits by keeping hitters off-balance. He’s not the best option to employ in roto leagues that use an Innings cap, but if you want solid ratios look no further. 2010 Projection: 129-1.21-3.89-13 (215 IP)

Dallas Braden -ADP 397- It’s hard to like Dallas Braden when he looks like this and talks like this. Telling me about how you “don’t do much talking in the 209″ is not how you get on my fantasy teams, it’s how you become my man-servant/bodyguard. Braden’s 5.51 K/9 won’t get him many invites into my locker room either, but you have to respect the improvements he’s made in his BB/9. He’s lowered the number of free passes in each season since his rookie year. Obviously there’s less room for error when you’re not striking out many batters, but if you’re looking for solid ratios instead of potential upside he’s your man. This forecast is on the optimistic side. 2010 Projection: 116-1.17-3.55-15 (190 IP)

Rick Porcello -ADP NA- It’s hard to believe, but Rick Porcello just turned 22-years old a few months ago. He’s pitched two full seasons in MLB and he’s twenty months younger than Jeremy Hellickson. The young sinkerballer hasn’t put up good average below average Strikeout numbers (4.67 career K/9), but he does have the ability to dial up the fastball to 94 mph and has increased the use of his Slider so some hope still lingers. He already has the BB/9 down to 2.10 BB/9. All we need is more Sliders. This kid has a lot of potential and makes for a great keeper/dynasty grab while he’s still cheap. 2010 Projection: 115-1.25-3.92-14 (195 IP)

Recreational Fishing [C] [1B] [2B] [SS] [3B] [OF] [SP] [RP]

2011 Starting Pitcher Rankings and Projections

ADP numbers provided by MockDraftCentral