2013 Fantasy Baseball: Top 20 Sleeper Starting Pitchers
In fantasy baseball, starting pitching has always been the cornerstone of a successful team. There always seems to be sluggers that come out of nowhere each season to hit 25 homers and drive in 100 runs, but there never seems to be many starting pitchers that show up to throw 200 innings with no track record.
Last season there were a couple fireballers that emerged out of nowhere to finish among the top players in the league. Chicago White Sox starter Chris Sale made the transition from closer to starter heading into the 2012 season. Many were hesitant to take a shot on the righty, but those who did were pleasantly surprised. He finished the season with a 17-8 record, 3.02 ERA, and 192 strikeouts. Sale was one of the true fantasy sleepers from the 2012 season.
Also one of the best ways to spot a sleeper is too grab a pitcher that many view as over the hill. Last season saw more veteran pitchers providing strong performances. New York Yankees off-season addition, Hiroki Kuroda had a strong fantasy season at 37-years-old, finishing 16-11 with a 3.32 ERA.
Not to mention that on the other side of the city a 38-year-old knuckleball pitcher won the NL Cy Young last season. R. A. Dickey is the perfect example of a sleeper pitcher, because absolutely no one had him as a reliable fantasy option. He was another great sleeper that emerged last season.
To help start preparing your cheat sheets, here are my top 20 fantasy baseball sleepers to target from the starting pitcher position:
20. Jordan Lyles, Houston Astros
Jordan Lyles, Houston Astros – Lyles was a reliable option for the Astros last season despite only being 22-years-old. He will be an anchor of the Stros’ rotation for years to come.
19. Shelby Miller, St. Louis Cardinals
Shelby Miller, St. Louis Cardinals – Miller has been one of the elite pitching prospects over the last couple of years. He will finally get a chance to join the rotation this spring, so get this fireballer now while you still can.
18. Trevor Bauer, Arizona Diamondbacks
Trevor Bauer, Arizona Diamondbacks – Bauer will be one of the D-Backs young arms anchoring the bottom of the rotation in 2012. His odd delivery and raw power has drawn vast comparisons to Tim Lincecum, let's just hope it is his Cy Young years not the debacle from last season.
17. Randall Delgado, Atlanta Braves
Randall Delgado, Atlanta Braves – The elbow injury to starter Brandon Beachy thrusts Delgado into the starting rotation again. He was 4-9 last season with a 4.37 ERA, so expect him to pitch well enough to stay in the rotation once Beachy returns.
16. Kyle Kendrick, Philadelphia Phillies
Kyle Kendrick, Philadelphia Phillies – Kendrick finished the 2012 season with a 7-4 record in his last three months of the 2012 MLB season. Kendrick has earned the fifth spot in one of the best rotations around.
15. Marco Estrada, Milwaukee Brewers
Marco Estrada, Milwaukee Brewers – Estrada threw 138.1 innings and struck out 143 batters in the process. The 29-year-old may have entered the majors late in his career, but he is certainly putting up low-end starter numbers in deeper leagues.
14. Dan Straily, Oakland Athletics
Dan Straily, Oakland Athletics – Dan Strikeout” Straily flew threw the minors throughout the 2012 season and was 3-1 in his first several major league games. The Athletics’ saw enough from Straily to name him the fifth starter this season and will likewise be a strong fifth fantasy option. He will still be on the board at the end of drafts this spring, so don’t pass him by just because he is inexperienced, because this kid can throw.
13. Henderson Alvarez, Miami Marlins
Henderson Alvarez, Miami Marlins – Alvarez was one of the underrated pieces of the huge Marlins trade with the Toronto Blue Jays. He is only 22 years old, but already has two years of big league experience under his belt. In 187.1 innings pitched last year, Alvarez only had 79 strikeouts and a 4.85 ERA, but he also only walked 54 batters. He still has some issues to work on, but the kid has earned some real big league experience.
12. Jamie Garcia, St. Louis Cardinals
Jamie Garcia, St. Louis Cardinals – Garcia looked amazing in the last two months of the 2012 season. He went 4-1 and had an ERA well under 2.60. The 26-year-old is a young anchor in the Cards’ rotation and will be a great sleeper to look for throughout drafts in 2013.
11. Mat Latos, Cincinnati Reds
Mat Latos, Cincinnati Reds – Latos amazingly finished the season with a 14-4 record, but yet no one talked about it. He also pitched 209.1 innings finishing with a 3.48 ERA and 1.16 WHIP. Latos will be severely discounted this season, so be happy to get him in the tenth round as opposed to the fifth.
10. Ervin Santana, Kansas City Royals
Ervin Santana, Kansas City Royals – Santana is the most battle-tested pitcher in the Royals rotation. Kansas City is a team full of young talent and Santana can easily step in to become a leader of this team. Look for him to improve upon his 5.16 ERA and 9-13 record from 2012.
9. Tommy Milone, Oakland Athletics
Tommy Milone, Oakland Athletics – Milone was one of the unsung heroes of the Athletics rotation in 2012. He pitched just under 200 innings (190), but shockingly only walked 36 batters. He is one of the best control pitchers in one of the best rotations in baseball.
8. Tommy Hanson, Los Angeles Angels
Tommy Hanson, Los Angeles Angels – Hanson went from being the Atlanta Braves ace to being the Angels’ third pitcher. However, this demotion of sorts will cause him to fall much farther in fantasy leagues. Hanson will get much more run support in LA and will get to face off against much more mediocre opposing pitchers. Expect Hanson to rival his career highs on the west coast this season.
7. Jose Quintana, Chicago White Sox
Jose Quintana, Chicago White Sox – Quintana was used in every role imaginable for the White Sox last season. He started some games, pitched middle relief, and even saw some time in a setup role. He is currently slated as the team’s fifth starter and will be overlooked by a large amount of the fantasy community.
6. Dan Haren, Washington Nationals
Dan Haren, Washington Nationals – Haren was one of the steals of the 2012 Winter Meetings, as Washington signed the veteran to a one-year deal. If he can be healthy all year despite his back problems, then he will be a fantasy steal as well.
5. Jeff Samardzija, Chicago Cubs
Jeff Samardzija, Chicago Cubs – The former Notre Dame wide receiver is finally living up to his awaited fantasy baseball potential. He may have finished 9-13 last year, but he also had 3.81 ERA in 174.2 innings pitched and struck out a very respectable 180 batters.
4. A.J. Burnett, Pittsburgh Pirates
A. J. Burnett, Pittsburgh Pirates - Burnett finished the season with a 16-10 record, which was his best season since his 18-win season with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2008. Many people will still be down on him heading into the 2013 season, so make sure you are not one of those owners.
3. Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants
Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants – Lincecum had an embarrassing season for fantasy owners and the two-time NL Cy Young Award Winner was eventually demoted to the bullpen. Linecucum can’t possibly be that bad in 2013, so expect him to regain control over his fastball and it get it back up to speed.
2. Josh Johnson, Toronto Blue Jays
Josh Johnson, Toronto Blue Jays – Johnson looked slow in the beginning of the 2012 season with an April ERA of 5.34. However, he eventually found his grove and finished the year with a 3.81 ERA. Johnson may have finished with an 8-14 record, but it was obviously due to the Marlins’ lack of talent and managing. Look for Johnson to return to his All-Star form this season as the Blue Jays have put together a legitimate championship contending team.
1. Andy Pettitte, New York Yankees
Andy Pettitte, New York Yankees – Even though the 40-year-old starter finished the season on the DL with a broken ankle, Pettitte still showed amazing control. He had a 2.87 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP in his returning season, so expect him to have another strong season with a full year of off-season training.