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Fantasy Fix: Pitchathon

From the looks of my top 10 starting pitchers, you would assume I'm picking Phillies vs. Angels for this year's World Series. I'm actually not a big believer in the Phils, so it feels strange to have the majority of their rotation in my top 10.

I feel the real value at SP comes after the top 10, when you get into guys like Stephen Strasburg, Yu Darvish, Adam Wainwright, Josh Johnson, Ian Kennedy - well, you get the idea.

The corps of relief pitchers is typically uninspiring. I showed how good I am at judging closers last year when I ranked Carlos Marmol first. This year, I'm taking a different tack, putting the best SP/RP on my list as my top reliever.

My top 10 starting pitchers:

Justin Verlander, DET: Tough call here, as Kershaw was my No. 1 until a couple days ago. I think now that Verlander may not be as good as last year, but because of his durability and the Tigers' prospects to win about 100 games this year actually could end up with 25 wins and 250 Ks.

Clayton Kershaw, LAD: The best pitcher in the majors in my opinion, but the Dodgers are no closer to division-winning material than they were last year. That said, 22 wins and 200+ Ks.

Roy Halladay, PHI: Consistently among the best for years, he can still reach 19 or 20 wins, but you have to wonder if a few of his usual complete games will become Papelbon saves.

Felix Hernandez, SEA: Still in the getting-better-every-year phase. A better team backing him up this year could get him a few extra wins.

Tim Lincecum, SF: A barely losing record last year has everyone expecting a rebound. Did they notice his 2011 ERA was 2.74, and that he had 220 Ks?

CC Sabathia, NYY: Bizarrely durable, he is the best pitcher on one of the best teams, which is all you need to know.

Cliff Lee, PHI: Tends toward streakiness, which is not great in head-to-head leagues, but his streaks are mind-boggling.

Cole Hamels, PHI: The one Phillies starter who really could have a career year. I like that his ERA has dropped like a stone since 2009.

Jered Weaver, LAA: Probably underrated here. If the Angels win their division, which I think could happen, a 20-win season should be a cinch.

Dan Haren, LAA: Doesn't have the superstar stats, but could be candidate for 18-20 wins on this team.

Just missed: Ian Kennedy, ARI; Stephen Strasburg, WAS; Adam Wainwright, STL; Jon Lester, BOS; Josh Johnson, FLA; Yu Darvish, TEX.

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My top 10 relief pitchers:

Matt Moore, TAM: Showed his poise in the postseason, and could deliver huge value from the RP slot with 15 or so wins, and 170 Ks even if his innings are limited.

Craig Kimbrel, ATL: Outstanding rookie year gets him this ranking, though you have to worry about his workload.

Drew Storen, WAS: 43 saves for an 80-win team last year, and with Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez, he should be handed plenty of leads.

Mariano Rivera, NYY: No reason to question the old man, but the Yankees seem to make half-hearted attempts every season to limit his workload.

Heath Bell, FLA: Could make an argument as the most consistent NL closer; that league's version of Mo' Rivera.

Jordan Walden, LAA: Had his ups and downs last year, but should make a confident closer for one of the best teams in the majors.

Jose Valverde, DET: Another who defies age, as well as physical limitations, but he may have a better understanding of the closer mentality than anyone. Plus, the Tigers will be awesome.

Jonathan Papelbon, PHI: Not completely buying into his change of venue, though he should get plenty of chances.

John Axford, MIL: Hard to say what will come of the Brewers without Prince Fielder, but Axford seemed like the real deal last year.

Brandon League, SEA: Could save 40+ games for a young, improving team.

Just missed: Andrew Bailer, BOS; Joel Hanrahan, PIT

Expert Wire
* USA Today focuses on some mid-round draft steals. Like Minnesota's Ryan Doumit?

* Hardball Times ranks the top 10 shortstops.

* Sporting News looks at injury concerns revolving around David Wright.

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Dan O'Shea welcomes your comments.


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