Five to Watch – SP

FANFOOD_FB2014_5toW_SP

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are hundreds of websites where you can get information to help you prepare for your upcoming fantasy baseball draft and season. It seems like every one of them offer rankingscheat sheets and draft guides.

In order to dominate your league you need to be familiar with a few of them. Check them outpick your favorites and have fun with your research. We will help you with our FANFOOD Fantasy Baseball Tools and new features, the FANFOOD 5 to Watch and FANFOOD goes 2 for 2.

During Spring Training, we offer 5 players from each position for you to watch and consider for your FB team. They will be ones that you may be able to find later in your draft or even off the waiver wire as the season progresses.

Once the season begins, FANFOOD goes 2 for 2 and discusses two upcoming starting pitchers scheduled for two starts. They will be our weekly picks for your team to stream (if that is your strategy).

So who are the FANFOOD 5 to Watch? Are they ones to target? Are they sleepers, studs or duds? The answer is yes and the answer is no. Simply put, they are the players that we find interesting at each position, ones you need to keep an eye on this spring before your fantasy baseball draft.

 

That all said, let’s get to it with our next 5, this time it is the starting pitchers, followed by some helpful links and a great recipe, Grilled Chicken Parmesan Sliders

 

The problem is figuring out who the elite hurlers will be and when to draft them. Kershaw is about the surest thing you’ll find among starting pitchers. You can probably take him in the first round and be fine. After that it is anyone’s guess.

After years of juiced-up offensive baseball, starting pitching is now abundant in the majors, and this trend is here to stay. When there are 13 pitchers ranked ahead of Justin Verlander, you know the top-end of the position is stacked. There are also a good number of established pitchers under the age of 25 who will continue to improve in the upcoming years, and also a handful of unseasoned pitchers ready to make the jump to the big leagues. Even when the top 50 SPs are gone, you’ll be able to find substantial contributors to the back-end of your rotations.

It is always tough to resist pitchers in the first couple of rounds. Every team in your league will want atleast 2 Aces, but if you are in a Rotisserie league, you need to look for more well-rounded pitchers that are not only going to produce strong counting numbers, but also giving a boost to your fantasy ERA and WHIP. If you’re playing in a points or Head-to-Head league, you’re mostly concerned with innings pitched, which obviously helps increase the chances of wins and strikeouts, meaning you want durable arms.

Fight the urge to pounce on a starting pitcher in the first couple of rounds, this position has more depth and more “sure things” than in years past, probably because there are so many young arms that exploded onto the scene. Because of this great depth and the unpredictability of the position, fantasy owners can wait maybe a round or two longer than usual to pick certain pitchers. Just don’t wait too long, because there are plenty of top-flight arms worthy of your attention in the early rounds of your snake draft.

 

5 to Watch quick links:

[C] [1B] [2B] [3B] [SS] [OF] [SP] [RP] [Prospects]

 

 

FANFOOD 5 to Watch – Starting Pitchers

 

1. Madison Bumgarner

ADP #49

 

Finding an ace starting pitcher in the 4th round of your draft is a bonus. This means you can load up your offense with 5-tool players before you start thinking about strikeouts, wins and ERA. If this is your strategy then Bumgarner is one to watch this spring. Don’t worry if you don’t get him here because there are a few aces left on the board.

 

Notes from around the web:

 

Bumgarner’s 201 1/3 innings were actually a touch below what he threw both in 2011 and 2012, and it was the lefty’s best season as a pro, he finished with a 2.77 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 199 strikeouts.

source | rotoworld
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His 2.77 ERA in 2013 was eighth in the majors as Bumgarner quietly became the ace of the Giants staff. He had one of the best years of his career, but could do very little to boost a team that was being dragged down by the rest of the rotation. Bum finished with 13 wins, 199 strikeouts and a 1.033 WHIP. Unlike Lincecum, Bumgarner has proven to have incredible composure on and off the field, and he hasn’t shown any signs of losing focus. After three impressive seasons, there is no reason to believe Bumgarner will slow down anytime soon. He should be targeted as a low-risk first-tier starter.

source | rotoballer
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The San Francisco southpaw opened and closed the season strong, going 3-0 with a 1.55 ERA in April before finishing with a 2-0 record and 1.80 ERA in September. While Bumgarner saw a slight uptick in walks, he posted a career bests in ERA, WHIP and strikeout ratio (8.9 K/9). That means the best could be yet to come for the 24-year-old, who should continue to rank among the NL’s elite hurlers for years to come.

source | MLB.com
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Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner could be in line for an opening day start, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Bumgarner established himself as the team’s ace last year, which may have earned him a shot at an opening day start. Matt Cain seemed to agree, saying Bumgarner had “earned it.” “He went out and pitched tremendously,” Cain said. “He definitely deserves it. He’s done a great job in the short amount of time he’s been here.” Cain added that he would not argue with the call if Bumgarner started opening day. Manager Bruce Bochy said Bumgarner is deserving of the honor, but admitted the team make keep things “as they are.” In that scenario, Cain would get the start on opening day.

source | CBSsports.com
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2014 Fantasy Baseball Projections

WSVIPHERBBKERAWHIP
14020616576601983.321.09

source | KFFL
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2. Anibal Sanchez

ADP #79

 

Anibal is the perfect player to select as your second pitcher and could easily be your 1st starter. While this probably isn’t recommended in the 6th round, if this is your strategy, then you have a solid if not spectacular start to filing your offensive roster. He is not a flashy name but is one to watch this spring.  Anytime you have the chance to be the opening day starter for your team over the likes of a guy named Verlander, you deserve attention.

 

Notes from around the web:
Tigers right-hander Anibal Sanchez completed the 2013 regular season with a 14-8 record, a 2.57 ERA, a 1.15 WHIP and 202 strikeouts in 182 innings. Sanchez set career marks in wins, ERA, WHIP, strikeout rate (9.99 K/9) and HR/9 rate (0.45) in 2013. He saw a huge jump with a 12.4 swinging-strike percentage thanks in large part to a more effective slider and changeup. If those pitches continue to work for him in ’14, Sanchez will once again rank among the AL’s best starting options.

source | MLB.com
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Anibal Sanchez took the big leap forward last year, and the driving forces behind the improvement were a lot more swinging strikes and the ball staying in the yard. We all know HR/FB rate is somewhat out of a pitcher’s control, so there’s a decent chance that Anibal sees a little regression in that area and allows a few more homers this year. As for the swings and misses and strikeouts, a big reason for the increase was a higher usage of his change up which has been his best pitch according to our pitch values in each of the last three seasons. It’s probably not reasonable to expect him to post top five swinging strike and strikeout rates again, but there doesn’t seem to be any reason to think those rates won’t continue to be well above average.

source | fangraphs
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Tigers manager Brad Ausmus is undecided on who will start opening day, according to MLB.com. Justin Verlander has been the team’s opening day starter in the past, but faces competition from both Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez. Ausmus mentioned all three members of his rotation will be considered for the opening day start. “You really have three legitimate Opening Day starter type pitchers on the roster,” Ausmus said. Verlander is likely the favorite considering his track record, but he’s expected to take it easy early in camp. If he can’t ramp up his activities as the season nears, Sanchez or Scherzer could sneak in and take the role.

source | CBSsports.com
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Last year, Sanchez increased his velocity significantly across the board. Where I believe this had the biggest effect is creating more space between his fastball and changeup. In 2011 and 2012 Sanchez’s fastball averaged at 91.6 mph while his changeup came in at 83-84 mph. In 2013, Sanchez threw his fastball for a 93.1 mph average and his changeup at 85.5 mph. Yes, his changeup increased velocity as well, but only by 0.8 mph while his fastball jumped up 1.5 mph. That 7.6 mph difference is very close to his 8.4 mph mark in 2011 where he posted his second-highest K% at 24.3.

source | baseball professor
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2014 Fantasy Baseball Projections

WSVIPHERBBKERAWHIP
14019017668571903.221.23

source | KFFL
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3. Tony Cingrani

ADP #155

 

When your leaguemates are thinking about closers, you should be thinking about Cingrani. FB managers that picked 2 or 3 SPs already are not going to draft him, they are going to be looking for second basemen with upside, or filing a specific need in the outfield like speed. He is one to watch this spring to see if he has swing and miss stuff and take a flier on him to help bolster your rotation.

 

Notes from around the web:

 

 

Reds left-hander Tony Cingrani finished the 2013 regular season with a 7-4 record, a 2.92 ERA, a 1.01 WHIP and 120 strikeouts in 104 2/3 innings. Cingrani was up and down for much of the season but figures to have a permanent rotation spot in 2014 with the likely departure of free-agent hurler Bronson Arroyo. The southpaw’s .241 BABIP is unlikely to be repeated, suggesting some regression in the ERA department, and he could stand to work in his secondary pitches more often as well. Cingrani threw fastballs 82 percent of the time in 2013, and it will be tough to fool hitters for too long at that rate over a full season. Even if his ERA regresses, he looks to be an invaluable source of strikeouts and should be drafted in all formats in 2014. Consider him a viable mid-rotation piece, but don’t mistake Cingrani for an ace until he can improve his 3.7 BB/9 rate.

source | MLB.com
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His 3.39 SIERA was closest to his final ERA (2.92) but it shows that there is still a bit of a gap between where Cingrani finished and where he probably will be this next season. He’s still a very interesting fantasy prospect, but he’s not the fantasy stud that some people think he is.

source | fantasy fix
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Reds starting pitcher Tony Cingrani is pretty much assured a rotation spot coming off a successul rookie season in 2013, when he went 7-4 with a 2.92 ERA and 1.10 WHIP in 23 appearances (18 starts). However, Cingrani heads into spring training with the mentality he has to earn his place in the rotation. “I’m still trying to win a job, going in there to do my work,” he told MLB Network Radio. “I can’t wait to get back to spring training and start throwing again. I’m really excited for that.” Cingrani was pretty dominant as a rookie, which included a very high strikeout rate (10.3 K/9). But the left-hander spent the offseason refining one of his pitches and it sounds like he could improve on his results in 2014. “I’ve made a huge leap with my slider this offseason,” he said. “It is harder than it was (80-82 mph) and with a good break.”

source | CBSsports.com
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Last year’s lower innings total was the result of having spent a few weeks working out of Cincinnati’s bullpen, but he’s still not much more than a 175 inning pitcher in a best-case scenario this year, and his peak innings total is in question. Cingrani threw a ball more than half the time with any pitch that wasn’t his fastball, and he couldn’t locate his curveball for a strike almost three-quarters of the time! Now we can see why he threw his fastball over 90% of the time when the batter was ahead in the count. As much as I love Cingrani and all the Ks and how tough his stuff is to hit, major league batters have more discerning eyes and they make you pay for your mistakes. Fly ball pitchers who walk batters generally don’t succeed a ton, but with Cingrani’s youth and his raw talent, he’ll get away with more mistakes than your average fly ball, high-walk starter. Ultimately, though, his ability to locate his secondary stuff and become less reliant on his fastball will dictate his true ceiling.

source | baseball professor
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2014 Fantasy Baseball Projections

WSVIPHERBBKERAWHIP
10017713972751823.661.21

 

 

4. Patrick Corbin

ADP #202

 

Every season there are a handful of players that had a quiet quality season and will be forgotten. With all the talk of free agent signings, prospects and players coming back from injury they are the ones that will go unnoticed. Corbin fits the bill. He started the year 12-2 and deserves to be watched this spring. When it comes to the middle/late part of your draft you want to find starting pitchers that will crack the top 20 at their position, and higher for offensive players. Patrick could easily be this guy.

 

Notes from around the web:

 

D-backs left-hander Patrick Corbin finished the 2013 regular season with a 14-8 record, a 3.41 ERA, a 1.17 WHIP and 178 strikeouts in 208 1/3 innings. Corbin started hot with a 12-2 record and a 2.24 ERA through his first 21 starts before fading with a 2-6 record and a 6.05 ERA over his final 11 appearances. Some regression was to be expected, though, as the southpaw entered the season with just 17 big league starts under his belt. While he doesn’t have top-tier strikeout stuff, Corbin can still provide owners with a solid ERA and WHIP by continuing to limit walks and homers in 2014.

source | MLB.com
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Corbin cracked the 200-inning mark for the first time in his career. He finished his 2013 campaign 14-8 with a 3.41 ERA, a 1.17 WHIP and a 178:54 K:BB ratio over 208 1/3 innings. He was third in the National League with three complete games. Corbin ‘s sensational sophomore season could easily be forgotten by some owners, as he limped to the finish line with a terrible seven-start stretch. Regardless of the reason, he showed over a large portion of the season that he can be trusted as a must-start in virtually all formats. Though he may have left a bad impression by ending with a slump, it’s still reasonable to expect Corbin to repeat as a top 30 starting pitcher in 2014.

source | CBSsports.com
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Two years in a row, the Diamondbacks have had young pitchers come out of nowhere to post fantastic seasons. In 2012 it was Wade Miley (16-11, 3.33 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 144 K), and last year it was Patrick Corbin (14-8, 3.41 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 178 K). There is quite a bit to discuss in Corbin’s splits. First, Corbin’s luck was unreal in the beginning of the season. His strand rate and BABIP were far in front of league average, which are approximately 72% and .300, respectively. Predicting he would fall in the second half of the season did not take genius-level intellect, but Corbin did more than fall off — he jumped off a large skyscraper. The same luck that rode him to an All-Star appearance in the first half turned around and punched him in the face in the second half of the season. His BABIP soared and his strand rate plummeted. The most interesting stat between the two halves is his xFIP, which remained steady at 3.48. Remember, xFIP is designed to strip out all the luck and the differences between ballparks and give you a pitcher’s true ERA. Aside from small variations in BABIP that can be attributed to Corbin allowing a little bit higher LD% in the second half, his xFIP tells us he was virtually the same pitcher for the entire season.

source | baseball professor
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2014 Fantasy Baseball Projections

WSVIPHERBBKERAWHIP
11018817779611533.781.27

source | KFFL
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5. Corey Kluber

ADP #236

 

As your draft comes to a close, many people start looking at prospects. Why not leave your last rotation spot open for a SP like Kluber? You leaguemates are going to be stocking up on rookies, RPs for bottom feeding MLB teams, and players that they most likely will drop before the season even begins. Save one of your last remaining draft picks for a someone like Corey. Watch him closely this spring to see if he is your guy.

 

Notes from around the web:

 

Indians right-hander Corey Kluber finished the 2013 season with an 11-5 record, a 3.85 ERA, a 1.26 WHIP and 136 strikeouts in 147 1/3 innings. Kluber entered the 2013 season with a 5.35 ERA and turned 27 on April 10, making his breakout that much more surprising. He showed the best fastball velocity (93.2 mph average) and ground-ball rate (45.5 percent) of his career. Among American League pitchers with at least 140 innings, Kluber’s 10.4 percent swinging-strike rate ranked eighth and narrowly trailed the marks of Justin Verlander (10.5 percent), Felix Hernandez (10.7 percent) and Chris Sale (10.8 percent). Kluber showed the rare ability to miss bats, limit walks and generate grounders in bulk in 2013, making him a bona fide sleeper for the 2014 campaign. He’s a must-own in AL-only formats, and he’s worth picking up late in mixed-league drafts, as well.

source | MLB.com
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Kluber possesses great control and he’s a better-than-average strikeout pitcher. Not only might he be underappreciated due to his lack of prospect cred, but Kluber likely left Fantasy owners underwhelmed by a 3.85 ERA and 1.26 WHIP last year. A 26 percent line drive rate inflated both marks, but regression in that metric should lead to improvements in both ERA and WHIP. Kluber has the makings of a top 30 starting pitcher, but he could easily fall outside the top 40 in draft order.

source | CBSsports.com
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2014 Fantasy Baseball Projections

WSVIPHERBBKERAWHIP
9015817475431364.271.37

source | KFFL
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5 to Watch quick links:

[C] [1B] [2B] [3B] [SS] [OF] [SP] [RP] [Prospects]

 

 

FB2014 Player Links:

 

 

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Grilled Chicken Parmesan Sliders

 

INGREDIENTS

2 pounds ground chicken breast
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup bread crumbs
2 1/2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tablespoon Italian seasoning
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon pepper flakes
2 1/2 cups marinara, heated
6 slices of mozzarella cheese, halved
12 slider buns or small dinner rolls

 

PREPARATION

Combine ground chicken with the next ten ingredients.
Form into 12 equal sized patties, about the size of your slider buns.
Preheat grill for medium-high heat.
Cook patties 5-6 minutes per side.
During the last minute or two of cooking, place cheese slices on patties and allow them to melt.
Once cooked and cheese has melted, remove from grill and place onto slightly toasted buns.
Top patties with 2-3 tablespoons of marinara and serve.

 

 

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