Fantasy Baseball Advice: The Under-24 Fantasy All-Star Pitching Staff

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Billy Bruce - RotoBaller

Last week we introduced the All 24-and-Under Fantasy Hitters. Hopefully you have a few of those studs on your roster, especially in keeper leagues.

This week, we’re talking about hurlers in the same age category. A few of these guys have been around for a while, either on a real MLB roster or hyped for so many years some might think they are veterans. And some are easing in under the radar with numbers that are beginning to attract attention. Others are enjoying some success now, but are not yet worthy of consideration on your roster.

Let’s dig in and start with the starters.

Stephen Strasburg MLB debut

Stephen Strasburg has seemingly been around for a decade, but he doesn’t turn 25 until late July. From his breakout season of 2010 through 2012 (which included a shutdown for most of 2011 due to Tommy John surgery) he was 21-10 with 313 K in 251.1 IP (11 K/9 IP), a 2.94 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. This season, he has 51 K in 49.1 IP, a 3.10 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and five quality starts. So why oh why are so many people suddenly down on the young man? Oh yeah, I forgot to mention he’s 1-5 so far this season. Put no stock in this kid’s win/loss record. The Nationals started slowly on offense and Strasburg has little impact on how many runs his team pushes across the plate. His immaturity can be an issue when he gives up big hits, which tends to lead to more big hits, but DO NOT give up on this young stud.

Now that I’ve stated the obvious, along the lines of “Do not to put the hair-dryer in the bathtub,” let’s move on.

Matt Harvey has all of Queens singing a happy song, even if it is only every fifth day. In his last three starts, however, the Mets hitters have only managed six combined runs. Harvey has given his team a chance to win in all eight of his starts thus far (4-0/62 K in 56.1 IP/ 1.44 ERA/ 0.73 WHIP/ 7 QS), and he was rewarded with a win in each of his first four starts. But the offense has lost its punch since Harvey beat the Nationals 7-1 on April 19th.  He just turned 24 in March and is already being compared to Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden. Pay the price for this cat and reap the yearly rewards, but expect some bumps in the road.

Chris Sale proved in 2012 that the pre-season 2013 Aroldis Chapman experiment in Cincinnati could have worked. Since converting from reliever to starter last year, the 24-year-old ace of the White Sox staff has pushed himself into top-tier status among starters. An 8 ER/ 4.1 IP aberration in Cleveland April 13th is the only dent in his 2013 armor.  And you've surely heard about his one-hit shutout of the Angels this past Sunday night. Side Note: In my Channel Four News Team league, a points league, I was less than a point (0.92) behind my opponent, Chris’ Want-to-Bees, on Sunday evening when the White Sox/Angels game kicked off. Chris’ players were done for the day. I still had Chicago closer Addison Reed, my only chance to secure a win for the week (I only needed 1 point!), so I rooted fervently for a close Chicago victory….and I got my wish! Once Sale completed the eighth inning ahead 3-0, who do you think I was rooting for to take the mound to seal the deal? And then Sale came out to finish the game. Robin Ventura is officially crossed off my Christmas mailing list! 

Madison Bumgarner (4-1/ 2.18 ERA/ 0.93 WHIP/ 54 K in 53.2 IP), Patrick Corbin (6-0/ 1.52 ERA/ 1.07 WHIP/ 41 K in 53.1 IP), Matt Moore (7-0/ 2.44 ERA/ 1.13 WHIP/ 51 K in 48 IP), and Shelby Miller (5-2/ 1.58 ERA/ 0.88 WHIP/ 51 K in 45.2 IP – NOTE: These were Miller’s stats prior to last night's start) are a combined 22-3 with an average ERA around 2.00, WHIP around 1.00, and a strikeout rate of more than one per inning (Corbin lags a little behind in this stat). Bumgarner and Moore were known quantities entering the ’13 season, while Corbin and Miller were high on everyone’s watch lists. Ditch yesterday’s stud pitchers (Cliff Lee, C.C. Sabathia, Jered Weaver, Zach Greinke - and R.A. Dickey if you can find any takers) while they still have high value and acquire some of these young arms plus booty (such as one of the 24-and-under bats we talked about last week). Remember, this game is just like the stock market: Buy low and sell high.

A few weeks ago, I wasn’t too high on Jose Fernandez’s chances of helping your fantasy team. My theory was a young arm with a pitch-cap on a horrible team wouldn’t help enough in the stat categories to be worth a roster spot. The young Marlin must have taken my words as a challenge. Since then, he’s fanned 16 in 13 IP with two wins, a 2.07 ERA and 0.92 WHIP. I still don’t see him turning in eye-popping numbers over the course of the season, but put him on the mound while he’s hot.  P.S. It helps to tell him he can’t help you.

Jarrod Parker, Jarrod Parker; wherefore art thou, Jarrod Parker? After an encouraging 23-year-old season in 2012 (13-8/ 3.47 ERA), Parker has been mostly awful this season. His 6.86 ERA is the best it’s been since April 9th, but he’s yet to dip below 6.00 all season. He’s 2-1 in his last three starts (17.1 IP) with 16 K, but he’s also walked nine and given up five homers, four of which were to the Indians on May 6th. He’s lucky youngster Daniel Straily (one of my minor man-crushes) has struggled. I still own Parker, but his leash barely reaches past my knuckles.

Speaking of the Indians, has anybody noticed their recent 13-3 run? The Tribe is breathing on the Tigers’ fur at the top of the AL Central, yet they still have the worst attendance in major league baseball. If my teenage daughter decided to text about this situation, she’d say “SMH.” And I would agree.

Lefty Tony Cingrani could be the odd man out when Johnny Cueto returns to the Cincinnati rotation on Sunday. He’s been a dynamic replacement while Cueto was on the shelf, pushing Mike Leake for a permanent spot. Leake is very replaceable, but Cingrani’s lack of a secondary pitch to complement his fastball may work against him for now as teams begin to hone in on his one true strength. This decision is too close to call. If you own Tony C, keep an eye on the Reds through the weekend.

Julio Teheran was a hot commodity after ripping through opposing bats in spring training. But since the stats started counting, he’s been inconsistent at best. In his last four starts, however, he’s demonstrated some growth (2-1, 3 QS, 2.86 ERA), but he also gave up 32 hits in those four games and seems to always be pitching from the stretch. One of these days, all of those base runners are going to cash in.

White Sox starter Jose Quintana is serviceable, but hittable. He’s also backed by a defense with the most errors in the American League (29). Trevor Bauer, the first-round (#3 overall) pick of the Diamondbacks just two years ago, did a good job for his new team, the Indians, in a spot start against the Yankees on Monday. New York eventually won 7-0, but most of the damage was done after Bauer exited the game. He’ll be sent back to Triple-A Columbus for now, but keep him on your radar. Nick Tepesch has pitched admirably for Texas so far, but he’s benefitted from the luck of the draw. Of the teams he’s faced in seven starts, only Tampa Bay has a winning record (19-18). Alex Sanabia – No, not yet. Wily Peralta – Ditto. Justin Grimm – The surname means “fierce, savage person.” For now, that would only apply to what he would do to your stats.

And now - a few 24-and-Under relievers worthy of mentioning.

Be honest, unless you follow the Rangers have you ever heard of Robbie Ross? In 16 IP, he’s fanned eleven while only allowing one run to cross the plate. He also has a 0.56 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in this small sample. He pitched very well for Texas last season, too. I’ve mentioned Drew Smyly recently, but I’ll do it again. He’ll be in the Tiger rotation at some point this season. If your league counts holds, Trevor Rosenthal is a beast. He’s also fanned 27 in 19 IP. Kelvin Herrera stumbled out the gate, but don’t be surprised if he’s closing in K.C. at some point this season. Paco Rodriquez is stingy with the walks and hits allowed (0.63 WHIP) and has punched out sixteen batters in 14.1 IP.

And, of course, we have to show some love to two of the best closers in the game – Addison Reed and Craig Kimbrel - but if you don’t know about them by now, you’re probably playing the wrong game.


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