Starting pitchers are often tough to predict, whether it be due to luck, injuries or something else altogether, for instance. Would anyone have expected Cliff Lee to post the dismal year that he did in 2012, for instance? While there is the occasional surprise, that doesn’t mean that all starting pitchers can’t be trusted. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the top of our starting pitching rankings:
- Clayton Kershaw – Los Angeles Dodgers
- Stephen Strasburg – Washington Nationals
- Justin Verlander – Detroit Tigers
- Cliff Lee – Philadelphia Phillies
- Adam Wainwright – St. Louis Cardinals
- Cole Hamels – Philadelphia Phillies
- David Price – Tampa Bay Rays
- Felix Hernandez – Seattle Mariners
- Matt Cain – San Francisco Giants
- Jered Weaver – Los Angeles Angels
- Zack Greinke – Los Angeles Dodgers
- Madison Bumgarner – San Francisco Giants
- Roy Halladay – Philadelphia Phillies
- R.A. Dickey – Toronto Blue Jays
- Gio Gonzalez – Washington Nationals
- James Shields – Kansas City Royals
- Mat Latos – Cincinnati Reds
- Kris Medlen – Atlanta Braves
- Yu Darvish – Texas Rangers
- Johnny Cueto – Cincinnati Reds
- You could arguably rank the Top 3 any way you want, as they all have the potential to be the best pitcher in the league in 2013. Kershaw and Strasburg get a slight edge, calling the NL home, but no one is going to complain about owning any of them.
- There is no arguing that Cliff Lee had a disappointing 2012 campaign, though a lot of it was in the wins department (6 W). He still posted a 3.16 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 8.83 K/9. If he had won even 14 games would anyone have any doubts heading into 2013?
- Adam Wainwright’s spot on the rankings may surprise some people, but he was the same pitcher he had been prior to the injuries (outside of some poor luck). He showed good strikeouts (8.34 K/9)… He showed good control (2.36 BB/9)… He generated a significant number of groundballs (50.8%)… Yes, the line drive rate was inflated (23.0%), but that had never been an issue before. He also had never had a poor strand rate (67.8% in ’12 vs. 75.2% for his career). Look for him to have an elite season once again.
- As if the recent injury speculation was needed to make us skeptical of Felix Hernandez, who had an awful September (6.62 ERA, 1.78 WHIP). Throw in the significant number of innings he has thrown in recent years and there is a risk in investing highly in him.
- We all know that R.A. Dickey had a magical 2012 campaign (20 W, 2.73 ERA, 1.05 WHIP), but can we really expect him to replicate that type of success? It’s hard to imagine, and for what type of regression we are expecting click here.
- Speaking of regressions, what type of numbers are we expecting from Gio Gonzalez? You can check out Rotoprofessor’s projection by clicking here. The biggest fall will come in the wins department (he got significant run support last season), but an overall regression is likely.
- Kris Medlen was unbelievable as a starting pitcher last season, with a 0.97 ERA and 0.80 WHIP over 83.2 innings. Can he really replicate a 1.08 BB/9? How about a .248 BABIP or a 93.3% strand rate? Yes, there’s a regression coming but that doesn’t mean he isn’t going to be a very good option once again. He posted a minor league career K/9 of 10.31 and BB/9 of 2.14, just showing what could be possible.
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Make sure to check out our 2013 rankings (all of which will be updated in the next few weeks):