Hey everybody! I’ve been understandably getting a lot of questions regarding the release of the 2015 Starting Pitching Guide. It is still very much on track and we’re in the homestretch of finishing. It will be out by the end of the month which is of course next Saturday. We wanted it out sooner, but I didn’t foresee getting my new gig with Fangraphs which has definitely altered my timetable. I would’ve started sooner had I known, but even though it’s delayed the SPG some, I couldn’t be happier about it because of the opportunity with Fangraphs. At any rate, I appreciate your patience, I promise it will be worth it!
We are back again! The 2015 Starting Pitching Guide is already in the works and is now available for pre-order. You can order below via PayPal and pay just $30 for the most comprehensive pitching guide available. If you had the 2014 guide, you got over 123,000 words covering 384 pitches across the league in great detail. The following was included in the 2014 guide:
- A glowing look at Corey Kluber that pointed to a big breakout: “Kluber is one of my favorite breakout picks for 2014 with a low-3.00s ERA over 190-plus innings as an upside.” He won the AL Cy Young. He is the greatest human alive.
- A continually bearish outlook (dating back about 27 years) on Clay Buchholz: “The health piece remains uncertain. Actually at this point it seems certain… certain that he won’t make it through a full season.” He pitched 170 IP … and bad ones at that.
- An endorsement of Alex Cobb’s 2013 (2.76 ERA/1.15 WHIP) to buy-in again for 2014: “Cobb is one of the best young arms in the game and yet one of the most underrated ones at the same time.” He had a 2.87 ERA and 1.14 WHIP in a career-high 166.3 IP.
- A very eager outlook on Marcus Stroman: “At the risk of being over-influenced by a handful of live performances, I’m really excited about Stroman’s future. [The profile also included the recommendation to take him in deep leagues and in minor league drafts].” He had a 130.7 IP of 3.65 ERA and 1.17 WHIP.
- A full recommendation of Jose Quintana after his 2013: “There is no reason not to buy in on the improvements. They are built on a skill change (fastball command) and none of his metrics were obscenely out of line in 2013. A .283 BABIP, 76.6 percent LOB rate, and 10.2 percent HR/FB rate are all within reason compared to league average and the marks he showed in 2012. He could lose command of the fastball, but there are no indicators suggesting that would happen.” He dropped another 200 IP and improved his ERA (3.51 to 3.32) with only slight WHIP deterioration (1.22 to 1.24).
- A cautious outlook on Danny Salazar: “I’m willing to allow a scenario where he improves his fastball command significantly, his 13.7 percent HR/FB rate dips, and he cuts into the homer rate, but his early mock draft price (10th round in NFBC) requires that he do that to earn his keep. He’s going ahead of guys like Andrew Cashner, Doug Fister, and Jon Lester among others and I simply can’t put that kind of faith in 50-odd innings.” He logged just 110 IP with a 4.25 ERA and 1.38 WHIP with a 1.8 HR/9 in the eight starts before his demotion.
- A sleeper designation for Carlos Carrasco: “He has real stuff, but he’s never quite put it together despite showing flashes. If this velocity uptick is real and he can command it while also getting his secondary pitches back on track (OPS-against from 2009-2010 CH: .692, CU: .634, and SL: .443), then we could see something noteworthy. I’m keeping an eye on him, he is still just 27 years old.” He had an insane season, posting a 2.55 ERA and 0.99 WHIP in 134 IP between the bullpen and rotation including a 1.30 ERA and 0.81 WHIP in his final 10 starts.
- A complete buy-in of Max Scherzer: “His transformation into one of the game’s most dominant strikeout forces can pad the fall if his ERA ticks back up over 3.00, but there is no reason to be shy about trusting him as a bona fide ace.” His ERA was still very good at 3.15 and he did it with 252 strikeouts (third in baseball).
- A strong projection for Rick Porcello: “I’ve been talking about Porcello’s star potential for years and we should start to see it push through in 2014 with his first 190-inning, sub-4.00 ERA season.” He had a 3.43 ERA in 204.7 IP.
- A rosy profile on Phil Hughes: “Hughes is a great bargain bin investment for 2014. He is unlikely to cost you anything substantial in any format and yet I think he will pay handsome dividends. You can probably stream him in your 10-12 team mixed league since the rosters won’t run deep enough to make him viable (and then if he really takes off, roster him permanently), but deep mixed and AL-only leagues should be targeting the 28 year old righty as a late-round, low-dollar steal.” He had a career year with a 3.52 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, and 11.6 K:BB ratio in 209.7 IP.
- A modest and conditional endorsement of Dallas Keuchel: “A 4.25 FIP points to some upside. Home runs have been a factor in both seasons. His HR/FB rates have been exceedingly high at 15.9 and 17.4 percent and it’s not unreasonable to expect regression, but with his heavy groundball tendencies, the egregious rates suggest that when he misses, he does so horribly. He can be safely ignored at the draft table in all formats, but a decent strikeout rate and elite groundball rate are enough to monitor him to see if he can improve the gopheritis.” He not only curbed the gopheritis, he made home runs remarkably scarce en route to a huge season – 2.93 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in 200 IP.
- A suggestion to buy back in on Jered Weaver after two sub-200 IP seasons: “He isn’t a fantasy ace because of the low strikeouts, but he is actually going for a good price in many winter mocks so don’t hesitate to jump in if he’s your second, or better yet, your third arm. The great ratios are still very helpful especially if he gets back to the 200-inning level, which is likely since his injuries shouldn’t be long-term problems.” He had a perfectly useful 3.59 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in 213.3 IP.
- A call to finally give up on Brett Anderson’s health even though he has major talent: “By now we are all aware of what he can do at his best, but there are serious questions about whether or not he will be at his best and even if he is, how long will it last? Let some else deal with the headache.” He had a 2.91 ERA, but in just 43.3 IP.
- A push to take Clayton Kershaw in the mid-first round (feels like a no-brainer now, but it wasn’t last winter): “Once you get past the first five picks this season, don’t be afraid to do something daring… like taking the best, most consistent pitcher in the game.” He won the Cy Young and MVP, finishing second on ESPN’s Player Rater.
- A firm late-round recommendation for Tyson Ross: “I’m on board with Ross. He costs nothing and makes a great late pick in any NL-only format and even most mixed formats (probably need a deep reserve roster to start looking at him in a 10-team mixer and any kind of reserve roster before 12-team mixer consideration). If you do play in those more common mixed formats, just keep him on your watch list as either a stream option or someone who can play his way into all-leagues viability.” He had a 2.81 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in 195.7 IP.
- A tempered outlook on Ian Kennedy: “Petco alone can’t fix everything for Kennedy. He must improve on the road or it looks like he will just end up as an average commodity (and perhaps worse if he isn’t near-perfect at home). I’m certainly happier about a full season in his new home, but I wouldn’t get too crazy with expectations. He’s going late enough to earn a profit, but I still prefer guys like the aforementioned Porcello as well as Kluber and Jon Niese, all of whom are going after him.” He had a 3.63 ERA in 201 IP, but oddly he was worse at home (3.93 to 3.32).
- A pass on Tim Lincecum: “I’m left torn. It is obvious that Lincecum still has gobs of talent left, so another Cy Young-caliber season wouldn’t really surprise anyone, but continuing to invest – even at a markedly depressed price from Vintage Lincecum – is tough because there will almost certainly be a handful of more or at least equally intriguing arms in that range or available quite a bit later. It’s a pass for me, but I understand those who still want to take a shot.” He put up a 4.74 ERA in 155.7 IP while his strikeout rate continued to plummet.
- A breakout call for Jeff Samardzija: “Perhaps because he’s already 29, it’s hard to remember sometimes that this was just his second season in the starting rotation, but there is a ton of talent in this profile and he has a breakout season coming sooner rather than later. Continue targeting him, especially after a season that will depress his cost at the draft table.” He posted a 2.99 ERA and 1.07 WHIP in a career-high 219.7 IP with Chicago and Oakland.
- A positive outlook on Jason Hammel as a Cub: “This is a solid low-risk move by the Cubs that could really pay off. If he finds that 2012 level again, he could be flipped later in the season for more prospect reinforcements or he is realistically young enough that if he really got going, they could look to extend him as someone to tide them over as they wait for their wave of young talent. Keep an eye on him.” He had a career year with Chicago and Oakland, putting up a 3.47 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in 176.3 IP.
- An endorsement for Francisco Liriano: “His injury last year was a freak accident broken forearm, but he’s stayed healthy in-season for each of the last two seasons. There is enough alluring potential here with the strikeouts and excellent rate stats that you can afford to take the risk. If 2011-2012 Liriano resurfaces, you can cut bait sooner than you normally would with a pitcher and sustain minimal damage. I’m buying.” It took him a while to come around, but he had a 3.38 ERA in 162.3 IP which almost constitutes a healthy season for the oft-injured Liriano.
- A reality check on Shelby Miller’s ERA: “Looking forward I think his ERA indicators point to the level we should be looking at for a 2014 expectation. He had a 3.67 FIP, 3.68 SIERA, and 3.73 xFIP.” He had a 3.74 ERA in 2014 and he was lucky to get that. Additionally, his strikeout rate disintegrated from 23.4 to 16.6 percent.
- A bullish outlook for Julio Teheran: “Lots to like here, I’m definitely investing – especially long-term. (I also made him my preseason NL Cy Young pick).” He didn’t win the Cy, but he had a 2.89 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in 221 IP.
- A close projection for Zack Wheeler: “We could also actually see a rise in ERA, but overall better season with the WHIP dropping significantly – think something like a 3.72 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in 185 innings with 160 strikeouts. That would be a perfectly useful sophomore campaign and when you factor in the upside for so much more, he becomes a very desirable asset.” He didn’t lower the WHIP much (1.33), but he had a 3.54 ERA and 187 Ks in 185.3 IP so his overall line was very similar to the value of the projected numbers.
- A call to put Jacob deGrom on your radar: “He’s someone you should be familiar with if (and probably when) he gets called up. There won’t be a rush to roster him upon arrival, so you can afford to wait and see a bit.” He won the NL Rookie of the Year which I never saw coming, but if you read the guide, he was on your radar so you were ready to pounce quicker than your leaguemates.
- An unconditional endorsement of Cole Hamels even after his down-ish 2013: “He’s also maintained remarkably stable strikeout, walk, and swinging strike rates, too. Unfortunately, he has dealt with the vagaries of win totals. He won 10 games on a World Series runner-up in 2009 and then 17 on an 81-81 club in 2012. He had 1161.3 innings of 3.39 ERA and 1.14 WHIP in six seasons from 2006-2011 and hadn’t broken the 15-win plateau. High ceiling, high floor, awesome pitcher. Buy so hard.” He only logged a 9-9 record, but did so with a 46 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in 204.7 IP.
- A lot of love for Doug Fister: “I think Fister is due for a huge season and it’s going to make the returns that Detroit got back look even worse than they did at the consummation of the trade. In a lot of drafts, he’s falling outside of the top 40 starters, offering tremendous value. Buy in bulk!” He only lasted 164 IP because of injury, but he put up a 2.41 ERA and 1.08 WHIP during his time.
And much, much more! Of course they weren’t all hits as those of you who joined me on the Nathan Eovaldi train know. Doug Thorburn’s excellent mechanics report cards will be back yet again and he is planning to once again up the volume after doing over 200 players last year.
Whether you are a hardcore fantasy gamer (season-long or DFS), a baseball handicapper, or just a fan of the game, this guide is for you. The breadth and width of knowledge about pitchers in this guide will enhance your baseball experience regardless of how you choose to enjoy the great game.
The guide will be released in early-February again this year.
Order now for just $20 and save $10 off of the regular price. This Cyber Monday pre-order deal won’t last long so jump on it now!!
12/6 Update: The Cyber Monday deal has expired and the SPG will be at regular price of $30 on the link below.
Also, if you pre-order the 2015 and you didn’t get the 2014 guide, but want to peruse it then just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send you a copy.