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Snatching up value pitchers is a solid strategy to bolster your team. Identifying those pitchers can prove a little more difficult. Here is a rundown of the guys that I would target later in the draft to solidify your pitching staff.
Adam Wainwright, St. Louis
A lot of owners will let Wainwright slide based his missing last season due to Tommy John surgery, but astute owners know that by the time the season starts Wainwright will have had 14 months to recover. All signs point to the surgery being a success, and Wainwright should return to the form that made him a valuable fantasy pitcher in years past.
Much of Wainwright’s success is based on his control and precision. The going may be a little tough in the early season, as he shakes of the rust. A common “side effect” of the Tommy John surgery is an additional few mph on your pitches, so an even more dominate Wainwright is not out of the question.
Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox
I may have been a year early in drafting Sale as a late-round sleeper on my team last season, but I fully expect 2012 to be the season he takes advantage of his elite stuff and elevates to fantasy baseball relevance. Sale is still a young pitcher, but with a season under his belt and a move to the starting rotation he will be a solid source for strikeouts and a good end-of-the-rotation guy for your fantasy rotation. The White Sox are in a rebuilding phase, so the wins may be difficult to come by, but Sale will boost your strikeouts and be a contributor towards a competitive earned run average and walks plus hits per inning pitched.
Matt Moore, Tampa Bay
Based on many of the mock drafts that I have been following, you will likely have a hard time landing Moore on your team this season and not overpay. Moore has the kind of talent that makes it impossible to ignore him going in to the season. Moore cracked the rotation late in the season and put up good numbers as he contributed for the Rays in the playoffs.
The Rays play in a very tough division and Moore will probably be working on an inning limit, so you may be limited in the return that you are able to get for the lefty hurler. I’m willing to reach a bit for an elite prospect like Moore, but proceed cautiously and don’t drastically overpay for Moore.
Avoiding a bust can be as important as landing a sleeper. Here are some pitchers whose performance this season will not match their draft day price.
Mat Latos, Cincinnati
Latos is making the move to Cincinnati from San Diego after a late-season trade last season. Conventional wisdom suggests that Latos’ numbers will suffer as he leaves the pitcher-friendly confines of Petco Park. Latos will likely see an uptick in wins now that he plays for a more competitive team, but expect him to yield more runs as well, resulting in a worst earned run average and walks plus hits per inning pitched. Consider his splits last season where his earned run average jumps nearly a half a run higher when away from Petco, and it is difficult to expect big things from Latos in 2012. His fly ball-ground ball ratios are not alarmingly out of line so a disastrous season is unlikely, but a breakout campaign is a stretch as well.
Jonathan Sanchez, Kansas City
Sanchez has shown flashes of brilliance like when he registered a no-hitter for the San Francisco Giants back in 2009. In 2012, Sanchez will face a whole new set of challenging circumstances as he prepares to pitch for the Royals this season.
The move to the American League will mean tougher, deeper lineups, and for a pitcher like Sanchez who struggles with his control, this could spell major trouble. Throw in the fact that Sanchez is now with the hapless Royals and his numbers seem destined to suffer. The one strong offering that Sanchez provides is a good strikeout rate, but his exorbitant number of walks gets him in to enough trouble that he is not worthy of a roster spot in most leagues.
Sergio Santos, Toronto
There seems to be a trend among the guys on my list of players of guys who are in new uniforms. Santos is an example of a guy who has talent but his new surroundings will drag his value down. Santos is coming off the heels of a 30-save season for the White Sox, but will battle for save opportunities with Francisco Cordero this year.
Santos garnered the most saves for the White Sox last season, but he did cede some opportunities to Chris Sale and Matt Thornton. Competition with Cordero may stand to push Santos, but with another capable arm in the pen he will be on a very short leash. Save opportunities will be there, and should Santos be the de facto closer he has some strong upside, despite the less than desirable team setting.
Do you have some sleepers and busts of your own? Let me know! Email me at KJFantasySharks@gmail.com and follow me @KJFantasySharks
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