Thursday, September 25, 2008

Undervalued AL Starting Pitchers

In previous articles we've examined players who should improve their performance in 2009. Today, we examine American League starting pitchers who may not necessarily improve their performance, but should remain undervalued in 2009 fantasy drafts and auctions. Astute fantasy baseball managers will keep these guys in their back pocket come draft time.

1. John Danks

After getting kicked around a bit in his 2007 rookie season, Danks has rebounded nicely in 2008 and has put up some solid numbers. With the season nearing a close, Danks has a 3.20 ERA, 11 wins, and 150 K's in 183 innings pitched. He's a former number 1 draft pick, and possesses a terrific change up, a wicked curveball and a low 90's fastball. Expect Danks to build on his 2008 performance in 2009.

2. Gavin Floyd

Also a former first round draft pick, Floyd struggled in Philadelphia before landing with the Whitesox as the centerpiece of the Freddy Garcia trade. He struggled in 2007, but his immense talent was on display for all to see in 2008. He's racked up 16 wins to go with a 3.84 ERA and 1.24 WHIP. Expect more of the same in 2009, but he will be less valued than veterans with the same stats.

3. Scott Baker

After discussing two first round picks, we move onto Baker, who was a second round pick. Baker has four big league pitches, including a nasty sinking fastball and a knuckle-curve. He is known for his superb control, but his 132 K's in 165 innings pitched show an ability to strike out batters as well. Baker has chalked up a 3.59 ERA, 10 wins, and a 1.20 WHIP this season. Expect more wins and a similar WHIP in '09.

4. Shaun Marcum

This third-round draft choice followed up a solid, under the radar, 2007 season with an even better 2008 campaign. He has tossed 126 innings and has let up ony 126 hits, while walking 50 batters. We always love pitchers who have a superb IP:H ratio. Marcum also has shown an ability to strike out batters; whiffing almost one hitter per inning pitched. A 3.39 ERA and 10 wins round out the rest of Marcum's stats. As his stamina improves, Marcum should pitch deeper into games in 2009, which means more wins and strikeouts. We wouldn't be shocked, however, if his ERA regresses slightly.

5. Gil Meche

Another former first round pick, Meche is already a veteran of eight major leagues seasons. For most of his career, he was on the DNP list - DO NOT DRAFT, but his last three seasons have been surprisingly good. In fact, his numbers have steadily improved in each of the past four seasons. This year, he has a 4.05 ERA, a 1.31 WHIP, 13 wins, and 176 K's in 204 innings pitched. While we do not recommend drafting Meche early, he is a solid middle rotation guy in AL only leagues, and back of the rotation guy in mixed leagues. He's not an exciting option, but he's finally showing consistency and the ability go put up good fantasy numbers.

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