Monday, 27 February 2012

Tossing & Turning: Fantasy Baseball Starting Pitcher Sleepers for 2012

Drafting starting pitchers in fantasy baseball can be quite a minefield. After the top 5 pitchers are off the board, there are many question marks at this volatile and unpredictable position. However, having a roster which contains several solid contributors is critical to fantasy baseball success. With 4 of the standard 5x5 categories directly influenced by the strength (or weakness) of your starting pitchers, it is important to find some sleeper pitchers in the later rounds. Some pitchers who should contribute better numbers than their draft position may dictate in 2012 include:

Throw out a horrific .1 IP start in June of last year and Bumgarner was about as good as you can get last season. He boasts incredible control and a devastating slider which add up to top ten potential at the position. Take a great second half, throw in impeccable control and a great pitchers park to call home and Bumgarner looks to be poised to take the next step in 2012.

With Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill departed for Washington and Arizona respectively, McCarthy is the de facto “ace” of the Athletics rotation. He has near elite level control, yielding few walks or home runs. His problem has been staying healthy enough to make an impact on your fantasy roster. Everything is pointing to a big season if he can just stay on the field. Worth the gamble.

Ryan Dempster (CHC)
Dempster saw an increase in his ERA but his peripherals remained largely intact. A high BABIP helped lead to a poor season which included a horrific April and a string of ineffective starts down the stretch. Dempster came into last season with some consistent seasons behind him and a slight improvement in his strikeouts and WHIP will put him right back to where he was in 2010. You should be able to pick him up on the cheap.

Ubaldo Jimenez (CLE)
Even an escape from the Coors Field launching pad didn’t help Jimenez last season. He was equally as ineffective pitching for the Tribe and saw a decline in his fastball velocity by approximately 3MPH. However, he has admitted to battling nagging finger and groin injuries in 2011 which caused him to shift his stride and landing spot upon delivery. He has been working hard to regain core strength in the off season. Expect a return to the velocity which made him one of the hardest throwers in the game to boost his effectiveness as well as his strikeout totals in 2012.

The key to fantasy baseball success is not simply drafting the top rated starting pitchers. The key to fantasy success is drafting starting pitchers who will perform better than their draft position dictates. Take a shot at a few of these sleepers and you may just reap the rewards in 2012.

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* Madison Bumgarner photo by X Wad (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons 
* Ryan Dempster photo by User Mshake3 on en.wikipedia (From en.wikipedia; description page is (was) here) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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