When you have Santana at the top, you automatically have a great pitching staff. He is the ace of the major leagues and is looking at a huge season, not only because he moves to the National League, but unlike the Minnesota Twins, the Mets can actually score runs! Those two or three no decisions that come from his team’s inability to score will be wins in Flushing. Pedro, if healthy, has shown that he is still a very effective pitcher. Oliver Perez should take the next step towards dominant this year, if he could just cut down on those walks. Expect 16-18 wins for him. Maine had a stellar first half, and then fell back to earth after the All-Star Break. Orlando Hernandez might be 55 years old, but is still getting batters out, and if Mike Pelfrey ever figures it out, he’s got the stuff to be a extraordinary pitcher. The Mets’ are going to strike a lot of hitters out this year. The top four in their rotation are all guys who average nearly a strike out an inning. And as stated before, their offense is good enough, that even some days when the starters don’t bring their best stuff, they still might be able to win an 9-7 type of game.
Beckett easily could have won the AL Cy Young Award last year, as he was the only pitcher to win 20 games. Outside of his first year in Boston, Josh has had a good consistent career, and is the ace of this staff and one of the first five pitchers off the board in most fantasy drafts. Matsusaka struggled last year in his first season in America, but he still won 15 games and fanned 200 guys. It was a year of transition for Dice, a new team, a new country, a new language, and a new 5-man rotation (instead of six in Japan). Considering all he had to handle, I’d say he did quite well. Jon Lester has been one of the more inspirational stories to come along in recent memories. One of the top pitching prospects for the Sox, he beat cancer and came back to pitch in the majors in 2007. Be a little wary of his 11-2 career record, he’s on a very good team and his ERA is over 4.50. Walking batters has been his biggest problem thus far, and if he can get that under control, expect him to win 10-13 games. Tim Wakefield may pitch until he is in his late 40s (not to mention keep Doug Mirabelli employed), and he has never been exciting, but he will eat up innings and win double digit games. Clay Buchholz is one of the more exciting prospects to come down the pipe in a while. He has dynamite stuff, and even threw a no-hitter in his second career start. With the injury to Curt Schilling, Buchholz will get his chance to prove he belongs right now. Curt Schilling will be missing at least the first half of the season, maybe more. If he’s able to come back, he will give the Sox a huge second half push. Boston brought in former Cy Young winner Colon to try to resurrect his career. He is basically insurance against injuries at this point, but could prove valuable if one of their starters is unable to go.
Few pitchers have been as good as Webb has been in the last two years. He won the Cy Young in ’06, and followed that up with a statistically better year in 2007. There is no reason to believe he won’t be dominant again in 2008 with one of the best sliders in the majors. Dan Haren comes over from Oakland with some pretty high expectations, but he should live up to them. He has won 14-15 games for the last three years and has turned himself into one of the 10-15 best pitchers in all of baseball. He tends to peak in the first half, so be wary of that. Can the Big Unit get healthy? At age 44 with a balky back, that is a pretty tough thing to be confident about. If he is, and that’s a big if, the Diamondbacks have possibly the best trio in all of baseball. Doug Davis is serviceable, but far from spectacular, but has won double digit games for the past four years, and strikes out a decent number of hitters. Micah Owings put together a solid rookie year, although it was not without some struggles. He did win eight games, and did have a fairly impressive second half. Unfortunately, there are no points for pitcher’s batting statistics. Owings hit .333 with 4 HRs and 15 RBI, and even was the DH in recent spring training game. Gonzalez is a decent arm as a 6 th starter in case of injury. He isn’t particularly impressive at any category, but if someone goes down, it isn’t a full blown emergency.
Jake Peavy won the pitching triple crown as he led the NL in wins, ERA and strikeouts. When he is on, he can be the most dominant pitcher on the planet. When he isn’t whipping his fastball by hitters, it is his slider that starts on one side of the plate and finishes in the opposite batter’s box. Chris Young was off to an incredible start last season before struggling down the stretch. He had some back issues, and when you are pitching and are 6’10”, that isn’t a good thing (remember what Randy Johnson’s health issues have been?). After posting a 3.12 ERA even with his struggles, Young is bound to win more than the nine games he won last season. While the young flash in the pans come and go, Maddux just keeps putting up the numbers. His ERA may now be over four, and he doesn’t strike out as many as he used to, but he is reliable and will take the ball every five days. Count on Maddux to win 13-14 games again this year as he reaches age 41. Randy Wolf hasn’t been able to make even 20 starts in the last three seasons, but over that time he does sport a 19-10 record. He strikes out a decent number of hitters, and as a number four starter he’s not that bad. The Dads took a chance that Mark Prior will ever become healthy again, and if their gamble pays off, he would slot in the number two hole in the rotation as far as talent. Germano got off to a good start before falling on his face in the second half. He’s still fairly young, and there could be room for improvement. The Padres pitching staff is also helped by one other factor, PETCO Park. Many fly balls that would be homers in other parks are routing pop ups in San Diego. This little bit of help makes each guy a little bit better than their talent allows.
“King Felix” has yet to quite live up to the enormous hype that surrounded his arrival in the majors. He improved across the board in 2007, and went 9-3 after the All-Star break prompting many to think that this would be the season of his coronation. It seems that the Mariners will compete for a division title, and if that’s the case expect Hernandez to 17-18 games. Coming over from the Orioles, all eyes and expectations will be on Bedard to follow up on his breakout season last year. Although there are some injury concerns after last season, Bedard struck out 221 hitters despite missing the final weeks of the season. Washburn has struggled to find the success that he did in Anaheim, but he still eats up the innings, and won’t kill you with his ERA. Miguel Batista had a solid season last year, winning 16 games for Seattle. He isn’t flashy, doesn’t strikeout many, but he is steady. Carlos Silva got a contract he definitely didn’t deserve, but he does give you innings and his control is impeccable. In 2005, Silva walked just 9 hitters in 188 innings!!! Unfortunately, that hasn’t translated into a great winning percentage or many strikeouts.
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