I'm taking a look at 5 pitchers who will probably be available late in your draft or not drafted at all. I would be more than willing to take a flier on any of these guys to fill out the back-end of my rotation for the upcoming year. All of these guys may be able to help you get 8-12 wins if their season bounces the right way. Yes, this is scraping the "bottom-of-the-barrel", but if you have one or two players who can surprise, they can put you over the top in your league. None of these guys are sexy, but I wouldn't mind starting them at least when they have a two-start week.
Chien-Ming Wang - Nationals
Slated to be the Washington Nationals #5 starter this year, Wang came back at the end of last season to make 11 starts. Only 31, he is 4 years removed from back-to-back 19 wins seasons and in 2006 placed second in the Cy Young voting behind Johan Santana. Wang was never a strikeout pitcher but he also doesn't walk many people either. He has always been a finesse pitcher relying on a devastating sinker. He has kept his WHIP around 1.30 for most of his career. What gives me a little hope about Wang is the fact that in 5 of his last 10 starts he gave up 2 earned runs or less a start. Righties only hit .186 against him (Lefties crushed him for .368). Now two and a half years from shoulder surgery, if he can stay healthy, you can look forward to double-digit wins, sub-4.00 ERA, and a 1.30 WHIP from him.
After coming to the Pirates from the Dodgers in the middle of 2010, McDonald has been able to settle in to a starting spot in the Pirates rotation. In 42 starts with the Pirates he is only 13-14, but has a 4.02 ERA. He only gives up a hit per inning, but he still walks way to many people. He has been getting better though and is still only 27 years old. In the second half of 2011 he had a 3.93 ERA with a 1.38 WHIP. He also enjoys home cooking. In 22 starts at home, in Pittsburgh, McDonald is 9-3 with a 3.12 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP. Not too shabby.
Jason Vargas - Mariners
Basically a throw-in in the three-way trade that sent J.J. Putz to the Mets, Vargas will be 29 this season, No doubt aided by pitching at Safeco. I bet you didn't know that Vargas had 4 complete games and 3 shutouts last year. The past two years at home in 35 starts he is 14-14 with a 3.78 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, and it will not hurt you to start him anytime he pitches at home.
Ted Lilly - Dodgers
36-year old Ted Lilly has had 9 straight seasons of double-digit wins. Signed for two more years, he has shown no signs of regressing. In 45 starts with the Dodgers he is 19-18 with a 3.84 ERA, and a fantastic 1.10 WHIP. Lilly also is still averaging almost 7.5 K/9IP. His BA-against in the last three years has been .238, .229, .230. He finished last year really strong going only 6-5 but with a 2.94 ERA, spectacular .99 WHIP, and equally impressive .183 BA-against. Yes, please.
He's been around for a long time and actually has had 2 decent seasons in the Royals rotation. Chen has had 12 wins in each of the last two years, giving up less than a hit an inning, with about a 6.0 K/9IP over that time. His BA-against is surprisingly around.255. He is going to be 35, but I think the Royals have a chance to be better than last year, so a repeat performance is not out of the question. He should throw 150 innings, 10-12 wins, around a 4.00 ERA, with a WHIP around 1.35.
Which one of these pitchers would you take a shot with?
Chien-Ming Wang (29 votes)
James McDonald (101 votes)
Jason Vargas (30 votes)
Ted Lilly (153 votes)
Bruce Chen (16 votes)
329 total votes