You’re so lucky there’s an extra day in February or this post would have had to wait until March. We’ve already ran through the rest of the top outfielders for 2008. Today we look at the rest of the top pitchers. These are the pitchers that I usually draft. I love Peavy and Santana this year, but I won’t have them, unless they fall to me. By fall, I mean late second round. They’ll be lots of value from them, but pitching is too unpredictable and way too easy to patch together decent enough stats. If you draft Santana with your first round pick, who will be your second pick Carlos Lee? Mark Teixeira? Eh, these names don’t excite me enough in the 2nd round to forgo a hitter in the first. I’d prefer to take a Verlander/Haren-type a little later on. Solid number one starter, but not a first rounder. Anyway, if you want to look at the 2008 Player Rater that was put together by our very own, Rudy Gamble; click here. If you’d like to look at the top twenty projections for every other position; click here. Now, without further ado, your top starting pitching for 2008, rankings 21-40.
21. Javier Vazquez – Vazquez had the best ’07 season you didn’t know about. (If you did know, then jump ahead, I wouldn’t want to bore you.) 3.74/1.14 with over 200 Ks in ’07. He finally returned to his former Montreal glory. And, yes, that is the only time Montreal and glory have ever been used in a sentence. Projections: 17-7/3.50/1.15/200
22. Scott Kazmir – Purposely left Kazmir off my top twenty, cause I don’t want any starter sporting a high WHIP. Now there’s word that he has arm problems. That article is a press release filled with optimism. Aside, aren’t all injury articles press releases? Aren’t you sick of this? Reporter, “How does the arm feel?” Athlete, “It’s a little sore, but I’m going to be fine. The doctor said that I should be back on the field in seven to ten days.” Is there anyone left that speaks the truth? Stop with the press-release tone! But I digress. Maybe Kazmir’s injury is nothing, but here’s something, why would you risk it? Pitchers with arm problems in spring training are a caution flag. Do yourself a favor, don’t draft a pitcher with a spring training arm injury. Projections: 14-8/3.75/1.30/210
23. Daisuke Matsuzaka – His division is ridunkiculous with offense. The last pitcher I drafted from the AL East in any league, I believe, was Roy Halladay in ’06 and that turned out vaguely crappy. If you can get excited about Dice-K, I’m assuming you’re a Son of Sam Horn messageboard poster. His best quality (which, all snark aside, is actually a really good quality) is his durability. Projections: 17-7/4.00/1.25/200
24. A.J. Burnett – I know; I keep preaching safety first. Avoid injury problems. Yes. And that’s true. But this whole next tier of pitchers has question marks. A.J. is the most predictable when he’s healthy and even his injuries are predictable. There’s safety in that. Projections: 14-8/3.85/1.20/170
25. Brett Myers – I’m not too concerned about the inexplicable bullpen move last year. Can’t be great for his arm to go from 200 innings to 100 back to 200, but Myers seems like too much of a total doucebag to let it bother him too much. Maybe he slows down in August, but by then you’re trucking towards first place and there’s some spectacular call-up that can replace him for a start or two or three. Myers has my full endorsement. Projections: 16-7/3.75/1.28/175
26. Pedro Martinez – It’s with great regret that Pedro places no higher than 26th. He was absolutely incredible when I was in my twenties and now, well, we’re both getting old. I miss the old Pedro like I miss the old me, or the newer me. Alas… Projections:12-5/3.30/1.15/160 in 140 innings/24 starts.
25. Francisco Liriano – Heffin’ hey, he’s back! At least according to the stock press release-type articles being written. I’m not drafting Liriano in any league. It’s too fast, too soon. If you’re feeling lucky go to Vegas, if you want to play fantasy baseball, skip Liriano. Projections: 10-3/3.15/1.05/150 in 120 innings/20 starts.
26. Yovani Gallardo – I’ve detailed how you should avoid 2nd year players if at all possible (hitters or pitchers). YoGa has a good offensive team behind him or I would have clumped him down with Lincecum. (Instead, Lincecum will be clumped with Sheets. Which we’ll get to, sorry, I was being premature.) Projections: 14-8/3.50/1.20/180
27. Ian Snell – I enjoyed a good season from Ian Snell last year, but, no matter how it played out, he always got a little roughed up. Whether it was Paulino dropping a pop-up or if he gave up a home run, Snell got rattled. He’s another year older and I think he can get better in ’08. I’d draft him with confidence. Projections: 12-9/3.60/1.20/200
28. Chien-ming Wang – Wang’s even a little too safe/unexciting for me. It’s hard to find fault with drafting him. He proved last year he doesn’t need to strikeout hitters to be effective. I do kinda worry when someone can’t strikeout someone out, but wins are wins and his ratios aren’t bad. Projections: 18-8/3.75/1.25/100
29. Tim Hudson – Boring, right? Yeah, he is a boring pick. Boring wins titles! Besides, I wouldn’t draft the next three pitchers on any team. Projections: 15-8/3.70/1.25/135
30. Matt Cain – Yes, he’s the opposite of boring, but his team’s offensive standout is Aaron Rowand. His stuff is filthy; I’ll give you that. His division’s All-Stars probably would lose at least one game to the Taiwanese Little League team. His ballpark is ideal for a pitcher. Yet, he has too many games where he gives up six runs in five innings. He’s young still and he walks too many people. Maybe next year… Projections: 11-9/3.90/1.30/190
31. Tim Lincecum – Tim over at Roto Authority has a man crush on Lincecum like I have on Michael J. Fox. I think you’re asking for trouble if you draft Lincecum. As is my policy, second year players provide too much risk. Taking a second year player on the worst offensive team is additional risk. Will he try to do too much? Will hitters catch up to him? Let it play out on someone else’s team. Projections: 10-7/ 3.75/1.25/170
32. Ben Sheets – Ugh, I wanted to just leave him off the list to prove a point, but he’s got great stuff. Unfortunately, you can’t draft him. He’ll make you miserable. If anything, let someone else draft him, then, after the second injury, trade Nick Punto for him and hope for a good September. Projections: 60-Day DL
33./34. Derek Lowe/Brad Penny – See Hudson, Tim. (I could see one of you schmohawks commenting below that Lowe/Penny doesn’t get enough Ks to win titles or something like that. Penny/Lowe’s your third starter. Try and draft safety with your third starter and you’ll be in the hunt for a title in September. Draft Lincecum with your third starter and you’ll be in fifth place wondering where you went wrong.) (Penny note: I’m aware of his splits, but simply trade or apply caution in the second half.) Projections for both: 15-7/3.90/1.30/140
35. Ted Lilly – I almost tossed Lilly into my Penny/Lowe daily double, but he doesn’t have the advantageous pitcher’s park. Not to mention, there’s no weather in LA, when Wrigley’s blowing out, you want no part of any pitcher. That’s a headache I try to avoid. Projections: 16-8/4.20/1.20/160
36. Chad Billingsley – While your leaguemates are drafting Lincecum and Cain, I give you my approval to draft Chad late. He’s young and he’s a bit wild. Two things I usually avoid, but his team will be a lot better than the ‘Aints. That’s a confidence builder. With Grady Little, one of the worst managers of all-time (him and Jim Tracy were vying for top spot) gone, there’s reason to think Torre’s inheriting a future Cy Young. I’m thinking it, at least. 16-7/3.20/1.30/190 in a 180 innings/27 starts
37. Kelvim Escobar – I see Kelvim turning up on a lot of draft rankings for 2008. Yeah, see, the thing is, he’s missing all of April. That’ll turn into the All-Star Break, then he’ll return in August for the stretch run. Pretend like you have an idea of the haps and don’t draft him. Projections: Nothing yet, but maybe I’ll remind you in August to pick him up. If you’re good…
38. Adam Wainwright – Perfect example of why you avoid 2nd year players. His 1st half was horrendous. Unusable. His 2nd half was great. I know he’s not as exciting as Cain or Lincecum but here’s someone who can actually help your team. Projections: 12-7/3.20/1.30/160
39/40. Phillip Hughes/Homer Bailey – Just give them a year. That’s all I’m asking. They might be good, but you don’t want any part of the other side of the coin and you have to draft them too early. Wait, ‘til next year and everyone’s excitement for these two is gone, then pounce. I repeat: They might be good. The problem is they might be bad. If you want risk, have casual sex with a prostitute. Projections: 12-7/4.00/1.30/140
Your Bonus, you’re welcome:
41. Dontrelle Willis – Usually when pitchers go from the NL to the AL, their value takes a hit (literally!), but Dontrelle’s got some things going for him. His delivery is convoluted, he’ll have lots more run support and he won’t have to worry about hitting anymore. That last one seems like a bad joke, but he really did take his hitting seriously, a little too seriously, to the point I’d wonder if he cared more about that than pitching. I could see Willis getting back some value he’s lost over the last two seasons. Just don’t expect pre-06 numbers. Projections: 16-9/4.15/1.35/180