10 SP Likely To Regress:
Mark Buehrle: The gold glover is coming off a solid year in the National League, playing with the Marlins in a pitcher friendly park. The problem for Buehrle is that he is no longer a Marlin, nor is he in the NL. He was traded to the Blue Jays this off-season, and will now be forced to go up against the powerhouse offenses in the AL East. The AL East also features five hitter friendly ballparks that will not be kind to Buehrle’s extremely high career WHIP (1.27) and BAA (.272). He will still win 12-14 games, however he will have an ERA of over 4.00 and no more than 120-130 strikeouts.
Barry Zito: The old wily lefty put together a solid campaign in 2012, but lets be realistic here, so did the entire Giants team with the exception of Tim Lincecum. Zito surprised many people while recording 15 wins, however, he had an ERA of over 4.00, a terrible WHIP of 1.39, and only 114 strikeouts. The bottom line here is that with numbers like that, its unrealistic that Zito is able to win more than 10-12 games. I expect his ERA and WHIP to go up as well. At the very best, he provides your roster depth.
Lance Lynn: With 18 wins and 180 strikeouts in 2012, Lynn provided fantasy players with one of the better waiver wire pick ups of the year. The issue I have with Lynn is similar to my issue with Zito. 18 wins look great on paper, yet he may not win more than 12 or 13 games in 2013. Wins are a very inconsistent category among fantasy pitchers, unless you happen to be a perennial 16-18 game winner. With a high WHIP of 1.32 and an ERA at 3.78, Lynn is nowhere close to being an elite pitcher. He will be lucky if he can repeat those numbers, making him at best an average starting pitcher in fantasy.
Ryan Dempster: The Canadian veteran had an amazing first half of the year with the Cubs, with a 2.25 ERA. Unfortunately, either due to fatigue from age or his move to the American League, his second half ERA was 5.09. He decided to sign with another AL team this off-season and I expect for his numbers to suffer from it. Perhaps his ERA won’t be over 5.00, but it will be over 4.00 for sure, which is much higher than his 3.38 combined ERA from last year. His second half WHIP was 1.43 and he had a terrible BAA (.276), so all signs point to a much worse statistical season as an American Leaguer in 2013.
Tim Hudson: He has been one of the more consistent pitchers since joining the Braves in 2005. The issue with Hudson is that he will be turning 38-years-old in 2013 and his numbers have been declining since 2010. He had a solid season last year with 16 wins, a 3.62 ERA, and 1.21 WHIP. The negatives are that his innings were down, his BAA went up, and he had the lowest strikeout total of his career when starting more than 25 games. Since 2010, his ERA has gone up by almost 1 run, and with his division improving as much as it has, it will be difficult for him to avoid further regression.
Bronson Arroyo: Arroyo had a decent year in 2012, after having a horrific one in 2011. He has value because he pitches for the Reds, a team that will score a lot of runs, which will help him rack up wins. The downside to Arroyo is his lack of consistency, his high WHIP, high BAA, and his lack of strikeouts. His 2011 ERA was 5.07 and in 2012 it was a modest 3.74. In 2013, we can expect to see his ERA somewhere in the middle of those two numbers. The most important attribute in a fantasy pitcher is consistency, so don’t put too much faith in Arroyo.
A.J. Burnett: Even at 36 years old, Burnett still has some of the nastiest pitches in baseball. He had a solid season in 2012 in his return to the NL with the Pirates. He won 16 games and posted a 3.51 ERA with 180 strikeouts. However, like Arroyo, Burnett has been inconsistent throughout his career. In the 2 seasons prior to 2012, he posted an ERA of over 5.15 and a WHIP of over 1.43. His career ERA is over 4.00, and it seems like any year he can just implode. He will get his wins and strikeouts, but be aware that his other numbers may make it impossible to keep him on your roster.
Jake Peavy: He was one of the best pitchers in baseball when he was a member of the Padres. He pitched in one of the most pitcher friendly parks and the weakest division in baseball at that time. Peavy began to have major issues with injuries, and was then traded to the White Sox with the hopes that he could regain his all-star caliber form. It took him 3 season, but he finally did it. In 2012, Peavy was the ace of the CWS staff. He had 11 wins along with a solid 3.37 ERA, 194 strikeouts, and a 1.10 WHIP. What’s troubling is that in the previous two seasons with Chicago, his combined ERA was 4.78 and he averaged 94 strikeouts. It’s tough to say which Peavy will show up in 2013, and it’s impossible to know if he will remain healthy. When Peavy is right, he’s a top 25 SP, but when he’s not, keep him away from your roster.
Kris Medlen: If you briefly look at his 2012 stats (10 wins, 1.57 ERA, 120 strikeouts, and 0.91 WHIP in only 138 innings), you would think that Medlen should be one of the first pitchers selected in your draft. If you examine them in detail, however, you will discover how misleading those numbers are. Firstly, when someone only starts 12 games, it is difficult to judge how effective they are, due to such a small sample size. More importantly, he had 38 bullpen appearances, which helped keep his ERA and WHIP so low. Medlen showed a lot of promise as a major league starter in 2012 and I expect him to have a solid season. He will get wins on a stacked Braves team and should have 175 strikeouts in a full season. All I’m saying is don’t judge him on last years statistics alone.
Jason Hammel: The Baltimore Orioles surprised all of baseball in 2012 when they won 93 games and made the playoffs. Hammel was part of the pitching staff that helped them get there. As the veteran of the rotation, he won eight games, had an ERA of 3.43, a 1.24 WHIP, BAA of .234, and 113 strikeouts in 118 innings. Now to the negatives. Not only were Hammel’s three previous seasons significantly worse, his career stats are terrible. He has never won more than 10 games, his career ERA is 4.78 with a WHIP of 1.44 and a .279 BAA, and his career high in strikeouts is 141. Needless to say, he has only pitched well in the MLB for one season, so before you decide to draft him, keep in mind that you most likely are not getting the 2012 version of Hammel.
I hope now that you have read part 1 and 2 of this article, you understand what to look for when drafting pitching in fantasy. Most people see stats from the year before and make a decision on whether or not to draft a player. Using the information you have learned by reading this, I hope that you are able to apply this knowledge to every pitcher available and draft one hell of a staff.