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2013 Fantasy Baseball: Top 5 Starting Pitchers

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Top 5 Starting Pitchers: 2013 Fantasy Baseball

Fantasy Baseball
Brad Barr – USA Today Sports

Fantasy Baseball drafts are usually dominated early by hitting, and rightfully so. There are more top-flight hitters than there are pitchers, so only a handful of starters are worth grabbing early on.

If you are going to take the leap for one of the top five starting pitchers, you have to make your decision wisely. Getting that front-line ace for your fantasy team can be huge during the course of the season, but using a top pick on a pitcher that turns out to be a bust can put your season in peril.

There are just a handful of starting pitchers worth considering as the top five. This season there is a bunch of young staff aces set to cement themselves as the top pitchers.

Before drafting, owners have to consider a number of factors when considering which starter to grab. This year, many younger aces are set to make a push to become the best while a few mainstays look to hold on to their spot. Aside from numbers, fantasy owners need to look at age, durability, team and other trends in order to determine who to take as the ace of your staff.

Does the guy you’re looking at have an injury history, or are they looking to return from an injury-plagued season? Is the team they are on in a position to help them earn wins? Is he trending upwards or is he getting older and showing signs that his better days are behind him? These are all questions one should ask before drafting. Here is a look at who I believe are the top five starters for the 2013 season.

Rich Arleo is a fantasy sports expert with Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @Rarleo, ‘Like’ him on Facebook and add him to your networks on Google.

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5. SP David Price, Tampa Bay Rays

David Price
Rob Grabowski – USA Today Sports

Price is the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner after winning a career-high 20 games. At 28 he is in his prime. He has now struck out over 200 in two straight seasons and could certainly push for 20 wins again as long as his team obliges.

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4. SP Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners

Steven Bisig – USA Today Sports

King Felix could be considered one of the wily vets on this list having been in the majors since 2005, but he will still be just 28 when the season starts. His durability makes him extremely valuable, as he has pitched at least 190 innings in seven straight seasons and at least 230 the past four.

He is always a great source of strikeouts, ERA and WHIP, but it's his team that keeps him from rising higher on this list. The Seattle Mariners have been struggling for years now and it's evidenced by the fact that he has just one 19-win season and hasn't won more than 14 in any other year. Aside from that, he will help you rest easy as the ace of your staff.

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3. SP Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals

Derick Hingle – USA Today Sports

This may finally be the year. The year that the team finally lets Strasburg loose and eliminates the innings limit they have had on their young stud pitcher. He finally broke out in 2012, going 15-6 with 197 strikeouts in just 159.1 innings before he was shut down. Extrapolate those numbers to 200-plus innings and you probably have the most valuable fantasy starter, it's just a matter of whether his limit is lifted and he can put it all together.

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2. SP Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers

Jayne Kamin-Oncea – USA Today Sports

The 2011 National League Cy Young Award winner and 2012 runner up, Kershaw has basically been the best pitcher in the NL the past two years. He has pitched over 200 innings the past three seasons while averaging over nine strikeouts-per-nine. Kershaw has struggled a bit this spring, but that shouldn't concern him or you. He did suffer a hip injury that slowed him a bit last year, but he got over it late in the season and has put it in the rear view mirror. He is one of the safest bets out there.

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1. SP Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers

Derick Hingle – USA Today Sports

The experience and durability of the Detroit Tigers ace gives him the slight edge over the other candidates here. He developed his slider into a dominant pitch last season to go along with one of the best fastballs in the game. Verlander is basically a shoe-in to dominate and help lead your fantasy team to glory.