Fantasy Baseball Draft 2014: Top 10 Sleeper Picks - PitchersAndrew's Fantasy Baseball Draft Breakdown
Andrew examines the top sleeper options at SP and RP in the 2014 fantasy draft
This week, we’ve already visited some of our top sleeper picks for position players, and today it’s time we checked in on pitchers. SP and RP are always difficult positions to nail down, especially this early in the year. That said, we’ve got a few potential sleeper names to throw out there, and these guys may end up paying off big-time. Here’s our top 10 (in no particular order).
1. Tony Cingrani, SP, Cincinnati Reds: Cingrani kind of got lost in the rookie shuffle last year, so he’s flying under the radar a bit in this season’s draft. In 104.2 innings in 2013, he produced a 2.92 ERA with 120 strikeouts. He’s had his ups and downs in spring so far, but 12-14 wins isn’t out of the question.
2. Danny Salazar, SP, Cleveland Indians: The young Salazar got quite a bit of useful experience last season, and he should be able to turn that into fantasy gold. His ERA wasn’t spectacular (3.12), but he was able to produce 65 Ks in 52 innings. Salazar should be able to get to 12 wins with a respectable 1.10 or so WHIP.
3. Rick Porcello, SP, Detroit Tigers: An upgraded defense and a high ground-ball ratio will work in Porcello’s favor this year, and he’s a popular sleeper pick at SP right now. Last year’s ERA (4.32) isn’t going to win any beauty contests, but he’ll take a big step forward in 2014.
4. Taijuan Walker, SP, Seattle Mariners: We won’t see Walker in action until late April, but that shouldn’t scare you off of him (and should drop his draft price a bit so he’s even more affordable). When he emerges healthy, we can see Walker easily posting double-digit wins with a 1.20 WHIP and 180 strikeouts.
5. Michael Wacha, SP, St. Louis Cardinals: Wacha started off his spring on a solid note, which is great news to prospective fantasy owners. He’s coming off a 4-1 season with 65 strikeouts in 64.2 innings, and he should take a big leap ahead of that this year. With a solid supporting cast, there’s no reason to think he can’t reach 14 wins and 200 Ks.
6. Gerrit Cole, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates: Cole is another young player who should be a hot fantasy commodity once the season starts. He posted a 10-7 record last year with an even 100 Ks to his credit. It won’t take much to surpass that, and with the Pirates being competitive again he should reach 15 victories by the season’s end.
7. Zack Wheeler, SP, New York Mets: No one’s really paying much attention to Wheeler, thanks mostly to the fact that he plays for the Mets. Still, this young gun has plenty of fantasy firepower and should reach 12-14 wins with a 3.50 ERA and 190 or so strikeouts. He’s not one to overlook when you’re on the clock.
8. Sonny Gray, SP, Oakland Athletics: Gray has had some good and some bad performances this spring already, but he should hit the ground running once the seasno begins. The increased workload will likely yield 14-15 wins, a 1.15 WHIP and around 190 strikeouts. He’ll be one of the top young arms in the fantasy game this season.
9. Grant Balfour, RP, Tampa Bay Rays: Now let’s move on to a couple of closer options, starting with Balfour. There’s some genuine trepidation surrounding him this season, given the injury risk and his “dead arm” troubles this spring. That should lead to some bottom-basement draft pricing, and you should give him a look if you can get him cheap. The Rays’ stellar pitching staff should put him into a position to succeed if he can stay healthy.
10. Joakim Soria, RP, Texas Rangers: Though the Rangers are still working out the positioning in their closer role, Soria carries some sleeper value as a potential source of saves. Now that he’s healthy following Tommy John surgery, he could serve as a breakout RP candidate you can get on the cheap. Draft him and keep him stashed as an optimistic play.
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