Continuing the monster starting pitcher list…
Echelon 5, Part II – A Mixed Bag
This group, at 26 and above, has used up their prospect status on the low end while the older guys are retreads looking to recapture magic or make good on promise they once had. There are 30 guys in this group and only a few will have legitimate fantasy value this year. If your rotation is populated with too many guys from this list, you are likely in the throes of a difficult season.
26 Year Olds
1. Mitchell Boggs, St. Louis Cardinals (MLB) – Displayed awful control in 58 innings last season (5.1 BB/9), but still managed a 4.19 ERA somehow. He’s a 6.5-7.0 K/9 pitcher and with Dave Duncan on his side, he could become a useful arm for deeper NL-Only leagues. He bears watching.
2. Billy Buckner, Arizona Diamondbacks (MLB) – His skills should’ve netted him the 4.19 ERA Boggs had, but he was unlucky and suffered a 6.40 ERA/1.59 WHIP. Like many youngsters, he needs to refine his control in order to be consistent start to start.
3. Thomas Diamond, Chicago Cubs (AAA) – Has a live arm, but absolutely not control whatsoever. He has a 10.1 K/9 in 435 minor league innings, but has also walked 5.0 batters per nine which just won’t cut it. Twice a top 75 prospect back in 2005 and 2006, but hasn’t fulfilled that promise to date.
4. Dana Eveland, Toronto Blue Jays (MLB) – Been around forever having spent parts of the last five seasons in the majors, but his only real success was 2008. Control has been an issue from the jump, but a fluctuating strikeout rate is sapping any discernible value now, too. And he’s fat.
5. Doug Fister, Seattle Mariners (MLB) – A poor man’s Nick Blackburn right now who still allows too many home runs. Considering that a Blackburn owner is poor, owning Fister seems like a terrible idea.
6. Scott Olsen, Washington Nationals (MLB) – Remember when he was worth a look? He’s still young enough to be viable if he gets back to his 2006 days of 8.3 K/9 which he had over 181 innings.
7. Mitch Talbot, Cleveland Indians (MLB) – Doesn’t have the pedigree of his former teammates in Tampa Bay, but now has a legitimate opportunity to get into the rotation. His 2.8 K/BB ratio in 905 minor league innings suggests he can be an asset. Monitor him this spring.
27 Year Olds
1. Jeremy Bonderman, Detroit Tigers (MLB) – His strikeout rate has been in a free fall since 2006, but he’s also pitched just 82 innings in the last two years. He was once a fantasy favorite, but injuries have derailed his ascension. Worth tracking through the spring and April.
2. Jeff Karstens, Pittsburgh Pirates (MLB) – He doesn’t have nearly enough control (3.8 BB/9 in 2009) to strikeout so few batters (4.3 K/9). A mid 4.00s ERA is probably his ceiling at this point.
3. J.D. Martin, Washington Nationals (MLB) – Another low strikeout control artist who has a small margin for error making his a profile I’m not terribly fond of. He was excellent at limiting home runs in the minors with 0.7 HR/9 in 744 minor league innings.
4. Joe Martinez, San Francisco Giants (MLB) – Displayed almost a 4.0 K/BB rate in 592 minor league innings, but his debut last year was cut short by a ball to the head. Would be an injury replacement at best.
5. Fernando Nieve, New York Mets (MLB) – Had absolutely no business posting a 2.95 ERA with 5.6 K/9 and 4.7 BB/9 in 37 innings. The rotation is so wide open in New York that he could get a chance, but that doesn’t mean he deserves one on your roster.
6. Carlos Torres, Chicago White Sox (MLB) – He’s got some pretty good stuff, but no one pitch is overwhelming despite the lofty strikeout numbers in the minors. Could nab the fifth spot.
7. Jason Vargas, Seattle Mariners (MLB) – Low strikeouts, solid control, too many homeruns… it’s become a mantra for the 26+ group so far.
28 Year Olds
1. Daniel Cabrera, Chicago White Sox (MLB) – Even when he failed back in the day, he at least provided strikeouts. The past two seasons has seen his K/9 rate drop below five rendering him entirely useless. Draft him if you hate winning.
2. Dustin Nippert, Texas Rangers (MLB) – Displayed some solid skills in 70 innings of work last year shaving nearly a full walk off of his BB/9 from 2008. Likely a bullpen option at least in the short term.
3. Dontrelle Willis, Detroit Tigers (MLB) – Once an elite level pitcher who has spiraled into the abyss of suckiness. A mental block has impeded him as much as anything physically at this point. His name will keep him on the radar for at least one more year.
29 Year Olds
1. Sergio Mitre, New York Yankees (MLB) – Mostly awful in 2009 as little more than a 5-inning starter. Injury would be his only avenue back into the rotation.
30 Year Olds
1. Lenny DiNardo, Oakland A’s (MLB) – Kick yourself in the DiNardo if you draft him.
2. Eric Stults, Los Angeles Dodgers (MLB) – Has shown glimpses at the major league level, but overall he’s far too erratic to be trusted on any level. He was good for 39 innings in 2008 and that may end up as his career year.
32 Year Olds
1. Tim Redding, Colorado Rockies (MLB) – He was awful in favorable parks, what do you expect the carnage to be like in Coors?
2. Brian Tallet, Toronto Blue Jays (MLB) – Had three straight solid seasons leading up to ’09, but all were tiny samples between 54 and 62 innings. He was exposed in 161 innings last year. Tread very lightly.
3. Josh Towers, Los Angeles Dodgers (MLB) – Has pitched all of five major league innings the past two years. A control artist wannabe at his best, he could be a spot start option if he gets hot a la 2005.
34 Year Olds
1. Rodrigo Lopez, Arizona Diamondbacks (MLB) – He really wasn’t that bad in July last year, but that’s a one month sample. His best seasons are six and eight years ago, respectively.
35 Year Olds
1. Freddy Garcia, Chicago White Sox (MLB) – Showed some decent stuff in 56 innings with the White Sox last year and enters 2010 with a chance at the last spot in the rotation. You could do worse for a $1 at the very end of an AL Only.
2. Livan Hernandez, Free Agent (MLB) – No. Just, no. He will probably get a chance somewhere, though so I listed him.
3. Russ Ortiz, Los Angeles Dodgers (MLB) – If he gets a real shot at the fifth spot, it’ll be embarrassing for LA.
36 Year Olds
1. Ramon Ortiz, Los Angeles Dodgers (MLB) – If he gets a real shot at the fifth spot, it’ll be embarrassing for LA.