Due to the deep pool of pitchers, we decided to put out two editions of “Two Up, Two Down” for starting pitching this year. This edition is a combined effort from cafe writers paw75 and jfg. Read on to get their take on who to target and who to pass up on in this years draft.
Scott Baker – Twins (John)
I wouldn’t think that a pitcher that won 11 games with a 3.45 ERA, 1.18 ERA and 7.36 K/9 would be overlooked. Maybe it’s the constant fantasy fear of Twins pitchers not named Johan Santana that keeps the hype away from Baker, but he is being overlooked, getting drafted around the 16th-20th rounds in early mock drafts. That’s crazy! Sure, he’s probably not going to give you ace-like numbers, but I think Baker is pitching for a team on the rise and is going to add a couple wins to his total from 2008. His ERA might go up a little but I just don’t see the full ERA point that many are projecting. Baker has great control and pitches to one of the best pitch-callers in the game. It’s also important to note that April was Baker’s worst month of the season and he finished very strong. I’m buying that he puts up the numbers you’d expect from a 3rd starter at the price of a bench pitcher.
Chris Volstad – Marlins (Phillip)
Volstad pitched well for the Marlins last season, winning six of the 14 games he started. His 2.89 ERA and 1.33 WHIP were excellent for a 22-year-old. While Volstad will not pitch 200 innings this season, he will probably throw somewhere between 150 to 180. Volstad has great long-term potential, which should be taken into account especially if you are drafting in a keeper league. If your keeper league has a farm system, his 2008 service pushed him out of minor-leaguer status. He was a top prospect in the Marlins system and could be better than both Josh Johnson and Anibal Sanchez. Volstad, like every young pitcher, will take some lumps and his value in yearly leagues will be somewhat low. He very well could not even be drafted in some yearly leagues which would make him a great waiver wire pick-up a month into the season. Volstad’s performance in 2009 potentially could land him in the top-25 rankings for 2010, which makes Chris Volstad an “UP” for 2009. Barring injury, I project Volstad to throw 173.1 innings, with a 13-6 record, 119 Ks, 53 BB, a 3.41 ERA, and a 1.44 WHIP.
Cliff Lee – Indians (Phillip)
Cliff Lee’s 2008 was among the very best in the majors without a shadow of doubt. Lee had a career-year which was even more impressive being that he was in the minor leagues the year before. He was one of the only bright stars on a sub-par Indians team. He only pitched 97.1 innings in 2007 which was the first time since 2005 he did not throw at least 200 innings. He is an innings-eater, however he has proven to be a streaky fantasy option. Lee won 23 games in 2008, but you should temper your expectations for 2009. He will win 13 to 15 and strikeout 110 to 130 batters. If your league tracks quality starts, he’ll provide you with 15-plus in that category. With Lee coming off a Cy Young season, he will be drafted too high in a majority of the drafts and expected to be a number one pitcher for fantasy staffs. Lee is a solid pitcher and can help your team, but do not put all your eggs in one basket with him as your number one pitcher. Looking at his past yearly stats, he should be considered a solid number three or a number two starter (as a last resort). I have him down for 205 innings, a 16-10 record, 137 Ks, 49 BB, with a 3.85 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP.
David Price – Rays (John)
This is an easy one. David Price is going to be a good pitcher, maybe a great one, but I see a few things that factor into an up-and-down season. First, he has three pitches: A fastball, a slider and a change-up (which he barely threw last year). That’s good enough for a reliever but it’s going to catch up to him as a starter. Second, the dreaded inning watch – he could be cut off if Tampa doesn’t end up contending this year and might even be skipped to keep his innings down. Finally, he pitches in the AL East, which boosts anybody’s ERA. You know somebody in your league is going to reach for this rising star and if he’s somehow available in your dynasty league, be that guy. In redrafts, enjoy watching him on TV but keep him away from your fantasy team (bonus points for me for not mentioning a certain game show).
Phillip is 33 years-old and has an AS degree in Broadcasting from Chattanooga State Technical Community College along with a BS degree in Early Childhood Education from the State University of West Georgia. He currently teaches GED and ESL (English as a Second Language) for the Adult Education Division of Georgia Northwestern Technical College. He is a baseball fan, both minor and major league. You can contact him on the forums where he posts as paw75.
John Gillson could be the only guy in Minnesota who still tries to watch every Wolves game and thinks hockey needs to go the way of the dinosaur. He wonders if Spring would feel as rejuvenating without baseball. Magic eight ball says “Very doubtful”. You can catch up with John in the Cafe’s forums where he posts under the name of jfg.
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