Yesterday, I published my 5 NL-Only pitching sleepers for 2012, and today I give you my 5 AL-Only pitching sleepers on draft day. One is a former Royals top prospect, one is a former Cy Young award winner, and one has lead MLB in K/9 the last two seasons.
Let's get to the list:
Chris Sale, CHW
Sale dominated batters in his first full season in the big leagues last year, striking out 10 batters every nine innings, and inducing ground balls 50% of the time. But those were his stats as a reliever. This season, he will be joining the White Sox rotation, and he could have some struggles initially, but if he can keep his K rate around 9.00 or so and his ground ball rate around 50%, he could provide solid value later in drafts this year. I don't think he will come close to throwing 200 innings, but he should get to 150 innings pitched as long as he is effective and healthy.
Zach Britton, BAL
Britton will never be a big strikeout pitcher, but he keeps the ball on the ground with the best of them, and could provide good value later in drafts this season. He went 11-11 with a 4.61 ERA, but he had a 3.38 ERA in the first half of the season. He blew up in the second half, as his ERA ballooned to 6.58, but that was in just 55 innings or work, so one could see that as a small sample size. He was unlucky with a strand rate of 63.4% last year, so the chances he will regress to the mean strand rate around 70% are excellent. With a little luck in his favor, he could provide an ERA around 3.60-3.70.
More AL-Only Pitching Sleepers after the jump:
Brandon Morrow, TOR
Morrow has lead the majors in strikeout rate the last two seasons, but he appears to be the American League version of Ricky Nolasco. His peripherals say he should be posting ERAs in the mid 3.00 range, but just gives up too many hits, resulting in a strand rate -65%- well below league average. His ground ball rate dropped from 40% to around 36% last year, and his HR/FB rate jumped from 7% to 10%, so with a few more stranded runners and a reduced HR/FB rate, Morrow could put up an ace-like season in 2012.
Jake Peavy, CHW
Speaking of an ace-like season, Peavy won the NL Cy Young award back in 2007, but hasn't been the same pitcher since, mainly due to injury. Peavy hasn't thrown more than 111.2 innings since 2008, but his FIP and xFIP shows he has pitched better than his ERA over the last few seasons. He was extremely unlucky last season, as his 63.9% strand rate and 4.92 ERA indicates. He doesn't induce induce as many ground balls as he used to, and he doesn't strike out as many batters either, but his walk rate has dropped to under 2.00 per nine innings, so he hasn't lost his command on the mound. Peavy may not be drafted this season, but could be one of the first guys grabbed off the waiver wire should he string together a few solid starts to begin the season.
Danny Duffy, KC
Duffy struggled in his first taste of the big leagues, but most young pitchers do, so it was not unexpected. Duffy struck out just 7.43 batters and walked almost 4.50 batters per 9 innings last season, but we could see both rates improve in 2012. The reason? Duffy averaged 10.5 strikeouts and just under 3 walks per nine innings in his minor league career, and I expect him to improve his command in 2012. He pitches in a pitchers park, so he could provide solid value late in drafts this season.