Last week, I unveiled the hitters on my 2013 bust/2014 potential bargain team, so let’s now turn our attention to the starting rotation and the bullpen.
Verlander a bust? Well, it kind of depends on your definition of bust, but for me, a bust is a player who significantly underperformed relative to expectations, and Verlander fits the bill. At this time last year, the Tigers’ ace was seen by many as a first-rounder, maybe at worst a second-rounder. Now, a 3.46 ERA and 1.31 WHIP are fine numbers for a mid-rotation fantasy starter, but fantasy ace material? Ah, no. That said, Verlander really found his groove in September (2.27 ERA, 1.11 WHIP) and was nearly unhittable in the postseason. He underwent core muscle repair surgery over the winter, and based on the results from early drafts was shaping up to be a steal. But now that the injury concerns have somewhat subsided with the news that he’s fully expected to be ready for the start of the regular season, the market has begun to correct itself, though there’s still some room for profit.
SP R.A. Dickey
I wasn’t surprised at all that Dickey struggled to carry over his Senior Circuit dominance into the AL East. His draft day price tag last year was so high that there was simply no upside to be had in drafting him, just a whole lot of downside. To be fair, the aging knuckleballer improved as the season wore on, going 6-3 with a 3.56 ERA in 14 second half starts. His current NFBC ADP as the #49 starting pitcher seems about right, perhaps even a tad pessimistic. Personally, I’m not much of a fan of pitchers who rely almost exclusively on one pitch, no matter how effective that pitch might be, so I won’t be a Dickey owner this season, but that price is by no means unreasonable.
SP CC Sabathia
CC has found his way onto many of my fantasy squads over the years, so it was quite depressing to watch him get roughed up on a routine basis last season. Declining velocity, too many hits and too many homers all contributed to 2013 being an absolute disaster for the hefty lefty, who finished with a career-worst 4.78 ERA. But I have confidence in Sabathia. Maybe it’s unwarranted confidence, but it’s confidence nonetheless. At least the strikeout and walk rates remained solid. Most of all though is that I cannot bring myself to believe how a pitcher of Sabathia’s caliber can collapse so drastically. I’m more than willing to take a chance on him this year at the greatly discounted rate.
Gallardo is another longtime favorite of mine who turned in an underwhelming 2013 campaign. Like Sabathia, declining velocity played a role, but with Yovani, the situation was more troubling. Gallardo’s main appeal from a fantasy perspective has always been his superb strikeout rate, and he was coming off four consecutive 200-plus strikeout seasons, but last year’s 7.2 K/9 rate was by far a career-low. The good news for Gallardo is that he managed to piece together a stellar second half (5-2, 3.09 ERA, 1.24 WHIP), so maybe there’s some hope after all. While I won’t be actively targeting him, I won’t be avoiding him either.
SP Ian Kennedy
Considering the damage he did to a number of my teams last season, Kennedy should really be on my “never draft again” list. Not quite. As I’ve discussed before, the move from Arizona to San Diego and spacious Petco Park has me buying into the idea that a major rebound is in store for the flyball-prone righty. Who knows, maybe I’m crazy. Yeah, I’m probably crazy. But come on! As a fifth or sixth starter in a deep mixed league?
I’ll try not to pick on Rodney too much, as it was pretty obvious that he wasn’t going to duplicate his record-setting 2012 stat line. A 3.38 ERA, 11.1 K/9 and 37 saves? Not bad. Eight blown saves and a 4.9 BB/9? Very bad. So what’s my suggestion? Completely ignore 2012 and come to grips with the fact that Rodney is nothing more than an average closer whose inconsistency and bouts of wildness will drive his owners into bouts of frustration. And the change of venue from Tampa Bay to Seattle doesn’t change anything. If you are forced to draft Rodney as your second closer, I hope it works out, but I’ll offer my condolences ahead of time.