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Fantasy Baseball 2013– Top 20 Starting Pitchers

Felix Hernandez
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Fantasy baseball is in full swing, but for this article, we’re more interested in the misses. Those misses are strikeouts. These are the 20 best starting pitchers in fantasy baseball this season.

Since we have plenty to squeeze in here and not much room to do it, let me just leave you with one thing to remember when it comes to starting pitching this season.

There is a ton of depth this season. If you draft smart you can end up leaving your draft with a fantastic staff without even grabbing a guy out of my Top 10.

 


20

James Shields, KC

 
 

The Royals acquired Shields to stabilize their shaky rotation. Six straight 200-plus inning seasons and a career 3.89 ERA should handle that. In terms of Fantasy he isn’t an ace, but he is a durable innings eater that should probably get you 200 strikeouts.

 
19

Johnny Cueto, CIN

 
 

There isn’t much not to like about a guy that has shown gradual improvement every season he has been in the league. That doesn’t mean I can’t nitpick though. His K/9 of 7.05 ranked just 50th among qualified starters last season. That number just isn’t high enough to move him up this list.

 
18

Mat Latos, CIN

 
 

At 25, Latos already has 105 starts under his belt. The fact that he now enters his fourth full season means many owners sleep on that. He has already proven reliable. He also is young enough to continue improving which makes him just the kind of guy worth targeting.

 
17

Jered Weaver, LAA

 
 

You won’t find this guy ranked lower anywhere. I have him listed in our busts piece so I won’t go into too much detail. Two quick nuggets though. He has lost 2.1 MPH of his fastball over the last two seasons. The result has his K/9 at a very pedestrian 6.77 last year.

 
16

Zack Greinke, LAD

 
 

Loved his move to the Dodgers but I am concerned about his elbow issues this spring. The writing is on the wall that he starts the season on the DL. This ranking is based on the possibility he misses a start. If word breaks he is out longer he slips into the mid-20’s.

 
15

CC Sabathia, NYY

 
 

At 6-7, 290 lbs Sabathia is a behemoth. Because of that he has been constantly leaned on. Including the playoffs, his 1,244 innings over the past five seasons led all starters. He should continue chugging along, but wins may be a bit harder to come by with the Yankees offense looking like it may be ordinary this season.

 
14

Chris Sale, CHW

 
 

When your team fears about your durability enough that they consider bumping you back to the pen after posting All-Star stats, it’s fair to at least question his health. In 2012 he finished in Top-10 in the AL in wins (17), strikeouts (192), ERA (3.05) and WHIP (1.14). That alone makes him a risk worth taking in my book.

 
13

Max Scherzer, DET

 
 

An awful April that saw him post a 7.77 ERA kept his overall numbers from being off the charts last season. Once he settled in though he was dominant. He struck out 29.4 percent of the batters he faced and has shown an increase in velocity each of the last two years. I love him to continue last year’s success.

 
12

Adam Wainwright, STL

 
 

Remember before succumbing to injury Waino was posting sub-3.00 ERA’s and striking out over 200 batters a season. His return last year was rocky, but that was to be expected coming off surgery. His control will fully return and with it so will his fine numbers.

 
11

Madison Bumgarner, SF

 
 

Bumgarner is incorporating a two-seam fastball into his repertoire this spring and so far the results have been fantastic. At 23, he is still looking for ways to improve his game and that’s a scary proposition. He very well may vault himself into the Top-5 range before the season is through.

 
10

Gio Gonzalez, WSH

 
 

Last season he was a Cy Young candidate with a career trajectory on the upswing. Heading into this season he finds his name entangled in the Biogenesis PED scandal. He passed a drug test three days after his name was released by the media, but he isn’t out of the woods yet. Obviously his ranking is based on no suspension.

 
9

Matt Cain, SF

 
 

The thing I find most remarkable about Cain his the fact that he has a career .264 BABIP over 1,536.2 innings pitched. He pitches to contact, and opposing batters just don’t hit him hard. To me that screams he needs to be perfect every time out to maintain his numbers. Because of that we see a slight dip backwards this season.

 
8

Cliff Lee, PHI

 
 

It still blows my mind Lee won just six games last season after posting a 3.16 ERA and 1.11 WHIP. Oh and did I mention he walked just 28 batters over 211 innings pitched last year. Philly’s offense should improve with a full season of Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, meaning Lee’s win total should bounce back to normal.

 
7

Yu Darvish, TEX

 
 

Geovany Soto will serve as Darvish’s personal catcher this season. After coming over from the Cubs last year Soto caught his last eight starts where he was 5-1 with a 2.35 ERA. A full season of these two working together is just what Darvish needs to bump into the elite class of pitchers. This aggressive ranking shows I believe he will.

 
6

Cole Hamels, PHI

 
 

The man is looking to get paid. With free-agency now in his cross hairs he will be dialed in this year. Over the last three seasons he has posted a 2.97 ERA and struck out 621 batters over 640 innings pitched. Expect that level of dominance to continue this year.

 
5

Felix Hernandez, SEA

 
 

At just 26 he already has six consecutive seasons of 190-plus innings pitched under his belt, making him one durable workhorse to build your rotation around. He posted career low BB/9 (2.17) and HR/9 (0.54) numbers last year, showing that he is still continuing to evolve as a pitcher as well.

 
4

David Price, TB

 
 

Last season he led the AL in both wins (20) and ERA (2.56), two deciding factors in his first Cy Young award. His stuff has always been fantastic, but a huge contributor to his continued growth has been his ability to induce the ground ball. Arbitration eligible for the first time next season, Price will be on his game to ensure a maximum payout.

 
3

Stephen Strasburg, WSH

 
 

Major League Baseball's most dynamic arm was shut down after just 159.1 innings last year. The Nationals were concerned about his health after 2011 Tommy John surgery. Hopefully this season the kid gloves come off and they let him loose. If they do Fantasy owners will be rewarded as he should lead the league in strikeouts.

 
2

Justin Verlander, DET

 
 

Verlander led the AL in complete games (6), innings pitched (238.1) and strikeouts (239) last season. He also has racked up 1,541.1 innings on his right arm over the last seven seasons. While he has proven durable, that kind of workload worries me a bit. He has shown no signs of slowing though, making him a top selection again this year.

 
1

Clayton Kershaw, LAD

 
 

Power lefties with elite strikeout potential don’t exactly grow on trees. Kershaw has earned this number one ranking. Over 944 career innings he has posted an ERA of 2.79, WHIP of 1.14 and K/9 of 9.29. A little extra proof on how nasty this kid is. Opponents had a well-hit average allowed of .151 against him last year, tops in the league.

 

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