Starting pitching is my wheelhouse. You can pretty much throw all my other rankings out the window. Pay attention to these. You have been warned.
Guys I Like:
Stephen Strasburg SP WAS- He’s the most talented pitcher in the history of pitching. He has all the tools to have a Roger Clemens-like career. With no innings restrictions, I think you’ll see Strasburg separate himself from Verlander and Kershaw in 2013 and win his first of many Cy Young awards.
Yu Darvish SP TEX- Sometimes there’s a reason why all the experts like the same guy. In this case, the reason is that Darvish and his twenty pitches are ready to take it to the next level. We saw in 2012 how dominant his stuff is. He has just now started to get comfortable with the ball, the pace, and the surroundings of the American game. If he continues to harness that same control he has so far this Spring, the sky is the limit to how great a pitcher he could be. People forget that Darvish dominated the Nippon league for five years. He comes to America and strikes out 220 batters and wins 16 games while struggling with his command. You must roster Yu seriously.
Jon Lester SP BOS- Oh man, Lester is back! That’s what they say at least. I’m buying on this one. Lester has overcame a lot in his life, and I tend to draft guys like that. Pitching can be so mental sometimes, and you had to know he would right the ship eventually. Lester has been the best pitcher in Spring this year. For the price, there is no reason to pass on the chance that Lester has regained his ace status.
Alexi Ogando SP TEX- If Texas would only stop yanking Ogando around and messing with his development then we would be already watching a top 20 pitcher. Instead we’ve seen them run him out as a reliever, to starter, back to reliever, and now back to starter. The guy threw as fast as any reliever last year and faster than any starter. Understand that Ogando won’t be bringing his 97 MPH fastball to his starting gig, but he has the stuff to more than pay off the 200 or so ADP you’ll be paying for him.
Matt Harvey SP NYM- Harvey is fantastic. Some say he’s not quite as good as the other Mets prospect Zack Wheeler, but I tend to favor Harvey. He has two plus fastballs, a plus curveball, and a good changeup when he can keep it under M-control. Thankfully the Mets have done a great job with his usage thus far, and we, as owners, can expect 200 or so innings and more than 200 strikeouts. He won’t win a ton of games, but you draft Harvey because he’s a stud not because of some luck based stat. Mark it down, there will not be one team of mine that won’t have Harvey anchoring the back half of my rotation.
Andrew Cashner SP SD- Tell me where I can draft a player at the end of my draft that could pay of 180+ strikeouts and an elite ERA. Look no further than Andrew Cashner. He has struggled with injuries and therefor his value is extremely depressed, but Cashner is money at the back ends of drafts. He throws hard and knows how to pitch. Calling Petco home doesn’t hurt either.
Guys I don’t Like:
Justin Verlander SP DET- He’s due to get injured. I’m not placing a hex on him, but it’s time. If he stays healthy he’ll be his nasty self, but I’ll draft a hitter at the round/price that it will take to secure Verlander. If you must go starter this early, go Strasburg.
Roy Halladay SP PHI- I said last year, “Don’t draft Halladay.” I’ll say it again this year, “Don’t draft Halladay!” He’s not right. The velocity isn’t there. He’s giving up exponentially more home runs than at any other time in his career. I love to see depressed value in starting pitchers with proven track records. I’m sorry Halladay. I don’t love you. If you feel the need to draft a pitcher and Halladay is sitting there on the board draft the next guy on the rankings. I wouldn’t be shocked if we saw something come out soon about an injury or damage to his shoulder. It’s time to put Halladay out to pasture.
Tim Lincecum SP SFO- I used to wear Tim Lincecum pj’s to bed. I brushed my teeth with a Lincecum toothbrush, and I only picked up dollar bills off the ground in the mold of a Lincecum delivery. With all that said, he looks done people. His frame and motion defied the laws of pitching for long enough. If the Giants move him into the bullpen, Timmy might regain his form, but as a starter, he should be left for someone else to draft. If you have to draft him there is good news that his velocity is back up a bit, but nowhere near where it was when he first made me a believer. He needs a Ricky Vaughn awakening.
Jeremy Hellickson SP TB- Hellboy is so lucky. He is an oddity in that he pitches better from the stretch than he does from the wind-up (Greinke is the opposite in case you were wondering). You pitch from the stretch when runners are on base for all you baseball newbies out there. I never like pitchers that don’t have solid advanced stats. Hellickson is in that club. In fact, he’s the club’s president. I’m sure he’ll be a good(lucky) pitcher again in 2012, but I won’t draft him unless he apologizes for making me look stupid for all the years I’ve hated on him, and he’s performed well.