This post is not going to get into drafting strategy because Grey has already got that lined up so well and in such alignment with what I’d do, it’s not worth repeating. Plus deep leagues usually don’t have a change to their pitching format so you don’t need pitcher pairings like you need SS pairings. Madison Bumgarner will be the first pitcher I draft this year with how ADP shakes out and I hope to find Anibal Sanchez as well as Jordan Zimmermann on my team along with him. I’m jumping straight to the do’s and don’ts and situations. You don’t like it? Don’t read it (though I secretly want you to).
Stephen Strasburg - The guy is a stud, no question. He’s also got an ADP higher than Bumgarner and won’t pitch a full season…say what? Sixth round is a little early for me to take a pitcher I know I have to get off my team by July or August. I prefer my team to get me off, personally. Let the other guy in your league gloat that he got Stras’ then watch as you get those ‘SUBJ: Strasburg’ emails by summer. ‘Hey guys, Stephen’s having a great year and the Nats are pushing for the playoffs. I’m willing to sell him for Ricky Romero or Matt Garza or something. That’s, like, MAJOR value dudes’. No it’s not, hypothetical Strasburg drafter and don’t call me dude. I prefer not to be forced to replace 6th round value partway through the season.
Johnny Cueto - Yes, pretty stats: 2.31 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP. Those stats sparkle brighter than Edward Cullen after getting bedazzled (as an aside, I’m really angry I had to look up Twilight to find that name; be thankful). But under the hood we have a K rate less than 7 per 9, and a lucky 5.8% HR/FB rate and a 76% strand rate. He’s looking like a high 3, low 4 ERA guy with minimal K upside and a 1.20+ WHIP. I’m not drafting that when Gio Gonzalez is going quite near his 113 ADP. Nope, not gonna do it. Wouldn’t be prudent.
I’ll Go For:
Homer Bailey - This is what I love about pitching. Even in deep leagues, when your late round guys flounder, you can drop them for someone else and have a reasonably good staff. If Homer doesn’t build on his 2011 campaign, you’re not going to be hurt. The Reds have been quite good at keeping his innings at a reasonable level over the last 3 years. Or maybe its his injuries that have done it. Well, whatever, most places have him only pitching 160 innings this year with a K/9 over 7. I’m a bit more bullish and think you can get 180 to 190 innings out of that with a 1.30 WHIP and around 155 K’s and a won’t hurt you high 3, low 4 ERA. Hey, you don’t like that, you can take Cueto 11 rounds earlier with less K’s. It’s your
bad idea/ horrible season/ death knell team, not mine.
Situation to Monitor: St. Louis
There’s a lot of situations to watch when it comes to pitching so its hard to narrow down to one. Personally, I’ll be watching and waiting for the Cardinals to call up Shelby Miller in the summer. When I look for a rookie pitcher to pick up, I focus on three things. First, are they coming up in an organization that has a history of success with their pitchers? I’d say the Cardinals have a great history of turning guys like Kyle Lohse into serviceable pitchers and that says a lot. Secondly, will they be brought up at just the right time so their flaws won’t be exposed? I say this as I truly enjoyed Madison Bumgarner and Daniel Hudson on my team in 2010. They were good pitchers who had a great end of season runs that weren’t hiccup’ed by a bad start with a 2nd or 3rd turn against a team. When those guys are your 6th and 7th pitcher, you’re pitching drifts into the ‘kinda awesome’ area. Third, are they talented? I’d say Shelby’s minor league stats speak for themselves on that question. Well, not literally, they’re numbers written in the next sentence. In 86 2/3 IP in Double-A, 9+ K-rate and a 2.70 ERA. Okay, they’re very good numbers.