It’s never too early to start talking fantasy baseball, even though pitchers and catchers don’t report for a couple months. WFS gives you the inside track on those starting pitchers that can lead your team to greatness in 2011. Come draft day these names are likely to be called early and often, so don’t miss your chance to grab one of them.
The Philadelphia Phillies are big time contenders, and Roy Halladay is a big part of the reason why. He has to be the first pitcher off the board and in many drafts, a first-round selection. Halladay is a lock to give you somewhere from 235-250 innings along with 200-plus k’s. Fantasy baseball owners can breathe a little easier if Halladay is anchoring their pitching staff.
Don’t let his late regular seasons struggles scare you away, Lincecum is absolutely a stud in fantasy baseball. After a disappointing August in which he posted a 7.82 ERA, he bounced back with a 1.94 ERA in September and an amazing playoff performance in which he went 4-1 with a 2.43 ERA. Lincecum is one of the few pitchers that can reasonably reach the 250 k’s mark, and needs to be drafted as such.
Kershaw is quite simply a strikeout machine. He tallied 212 k’s last year, and there is no reason for any less this year. His fastball and slider are both elite pitches, and Dodger stadium is one of the best pitcher’s parks in the MLB. The stock is rising on the budding 22-year old star, and expectations are high for 2011.
Lee’s return to the Phillies has fantasy baseball owners very excited, and for good reason. He returns to the National League, where he was baffling opposing batters in 2009. The talented lefty has great control, which means his WHIP will likely end up around the 1.00 range. Lee’s ability to work deep into games and record strikeouts draws comparisons to his own teammate Roy Halladay, which is great company to be in.
Somehow Wainwright can win 20 games and still be undervalued. Wainwright is a clear-cut ace, both in fantasy and reality. He is truly masterful on the mound and deserves to be in the conversation for the very top-tier of fantasy pitchers. Wainwright is a workhorse that can provide 230 plus innings, draft him with confidence.
Sabathia has two major factors working for him. The first is that he is as talented as any number one pitcher, and secondly he pitches for the Yankees. Over the past two years with the club, he has accumulated 40 wins along with 394 strikeouts. While pitching in the AL East is no easy task, Sabathia has handled it well.
Jiminez finally put it all together last year, and the Rockies ace had to make my list of top-10 pitchers of 2011. Despite pitching at the notorious Coors field, Jimenez has seen his ERA drop and K’s/9 increase over the past three years. Only 26, Jimenez has to be in the discussion as a potential CY Young candidate this year.
The Boston Red Sox struggled with inconsistency on the pitching staff in 2010, but Lester still posted great numbers. Over the past two years he has posted a 9.85 K’s/9 to go along with a 3.33 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP. The talented southpaw finished in the top-15 starters last year and this could be the year he really pushes into the upper echelon of pitchers. Plus runs could be easy to come by for the Boston offense that added Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford.
Price probably has the most upside out of any of the pitchers on this list. If he can lower his walk totals this year, Price could finish at the top here. His fastball, measured at 94.6 MPH, is outstanding and the Rays really believe that he is their future. When a talent like Price comes along, smart owners pounce.