Fantasy Baseball – BREAKOUT Pitchers
Francisco Liriano – Liriano exploded on the scene in 2006 going 12-3 with a 2.16 ERA. He missed 2007 and struggled early last year following Tommy John surgery. After tearing up the Minors, Liriano returned to go 6-1 with a 2.74 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, and .236 BAA in eleven starts in August and September. His September numbers (4.66 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, .289 BAA in five starts) were a little alarming, but he was probably dealing with arm fatigue. The Twins are one of the best at pacing their starters so that shouldn’t plague Liriano in 2009. If he stays healthy he should be able to win 16+ games with a 3.30 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP.
Joba Chamberlain - The Yankees are taking it slow with their young star as well. When he’s healthy he is nearly unhittable, as evidenced by his career 2.17 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and .217 BAA. With the addition of C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, and a healthy Chien-Ming Wang, there won’t be as much pressure on Joba to perform. He’ll settle into that fifth spot in the rotation, behind Andy Pettitte, and the early schedule should allow him the opportunity to miss a start or two if that’s in his best interest. The limitations the Yankees will put on him will keep him from having a monster year, but he should be able to win 12-14 games with a low ERA, WHIP, and BAA.
Yovani Gallardo – A knee injury cost Gallardo the opportunity to build on the solid 2007 season (9-5, 3.67 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, .245 BAA). In just four starts last year Gallardo had a 1.88 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, and .256 BAA. With the departure of C.C. Sabathia and Ben Sheets, Gallardo will have a chance to be a key member of the Brewers Pitching Staff. With their solid Offense, he could win 14-16 games if he stays healthy with low ERA, WHIP, and BAA.
David Price - Price toyed with Major League competition last year posting a 1.93 ERA, a 0.93 WHIP, and a .176 BAA. His success spilled over into the postseason posting a 1.59 ERA in five relief appearances. Whether Tampa Bay uses his as a Reliever or a Starter, Price will give your fantasy team a boost in ERA and R.
Jonathan Broxton – Broxton took the Closer job last July and ran with it. He recorded 14 Saves with a 2.76 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, and .200 BAA with 42 Ks in 29.3 Innings after the All-Star Break. He was solid in a setup role the previous two and a half seasons so his success isn’t a fluke. Now that the Dodgers have secured Manny Ramirez’s services, they’ll likely build on their success of last year meaning Broxton could have plenty of Save opportunites. I don’t think he’ll have a problem reach 30-35 Saves.
Josh Johnson – Johnson went 7-1 last year with a 3.61 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP. Opponents did bat .275 on him, but his other numbers are still solid. In 2006 he was 12-7 with a 3.10 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and .236 BAA. He is also trying to continue a successful return from Tommy John surgery. If he stays healthy he could win 12-14 games with a sub-4.00 ERA
Clayton Kershaw – Clayton went 5-5 with a 4.26 ERA, a 1.50 WHIP, and a .265 BAA. He did show improvement after the All-Star Break going 5-3 with a 4.17 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, and .262 BAA. In the Minors he went 12-10 with a 2.49 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP. His K/9 ratio in the Minors was 11.3, and a decent 8.4 in the Bigs. He could win 12+ games with a sub-4.00 ERA.
Max Scherzer – Max failed to pick up a Win last year in seven starts (16 Games), but did manage a 3.05 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, and .234. He recorded 66 Ks in 56 Innings (10.6 K/9). He’s been battling shoulder inflammation and may not have a spot in the rotation initially, but he’s too good of a talent to not get a chance. In thirty Minor League starts Max is 8-5 with a 2.83 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP. His Minor League K/9 ratio is 11.9. Given that his role has yet to be determined, his Win total likely won’t help fantasy teams, but he’ll be a nice source for Ks, ERA, and WHIP.
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