How many times have you heard the phrase; if he can just stay healthy? Over and over again a player seems to be a difference maker only to land on the disabled list nearly every year. For pitchers, physical issues are a huge red flag. It wasn’t long ago that Roy Halladay was considered an elite ace and now you might catch him whittling his handicap down a few strokes. It is a short fall once the DL visits start piling up especially when the velocity starts to dip. Be wary of investing in pitchers that show signs of being brittle. Of the three pitchers mentioned below, there is a good chance 2 of the 3 pitchers below will fall short of expectations.
2014 Rankings Analysis - Starting Pitchers (SP)
In stretches, it is easy to see why people are enamored with the Beantown righty. No one was hotter outside of Max Sherzer during the first half of 2013, but as with most of his career the injury bug hit him again in the 2nd half of the season. It’s difficult to look through his career statistics because each season is littered with AA and AAA rehab starts. Buchholz's velocity is also dipping, dropping from a 94-mph-average in 2010 to 91 last year. So it is safe to say there is little chance that he repeats his red hot performance of last year, but a very good chance that at some point he breaks down. When making projections for 2014 it is hard to go beyond the low 100’s in innings pitched which might equate to 10-11 wins. Finally, don’t forget that before his impressive run last year, Buchholz wasn’t fooling anyone, with an ERA of 4.56 in 2012. The numbers he posted in 13’ will move back closer to career average, so don't buy on the high end.
Amazing how a pitcher that competes his tail off with excellent stuff seems to bounce around the league, making his fourth stop already in Milwaukee. Such is the career of Matt Garza. It may explain, along with elbow concerns, why the well-traveled veteran seems to perform a tick below his once promising high ceiling. It can be hard to get into a groove having been through several different organizations, pitching coaches, catchers, etc. Surprisingly, for a pitcher that started in 2006 and maintains a fairly high status around the league, he has only notched 67 victories. Garza still maintains an above-average fastball, but a workhorse reputation that looked possible with the Rays in 2009-10 (200 + innings) has not materialized. It is possible if the reoccurring elbow flare ups continue that his production will be more in line with last year’s 103 innings range or maybe 20 starts which would be in line with the last two seasons of work from him. No team has held onto Garza for very long and neither should you.
Cueto was riding high after a remarkable 2012 campaign which he compiled 19 wins and helped lead the Reds to a playoff berth. Unfortunately since his ill-timed exit from a critical postseason start it’s been a series of physical breakdowns. A closer look at the 2012 breakout revealed a big increase in innings pitched, 217, an increase of 61 over the previous year. The result was only 11 starts in 2013 and an ominous precursor for future seasons. Cueto’s delivery would be considered unorthodox, think somewhere in between Luis Tiant and Felix Hernandez. It kind of makes my back ache just watching him. Couple that with a smallish frame (5’10”) and this could get dicey. Again, take away the 2012 season and Cueto has averaged only 9 wins in the other 5 seasons with a middling K/9 of 7.1. Cueto will likely produce around 10 wins and league average strikeouts in 2014.