Fake Teams Staff Post: Who's My Starting Pitcher?

Kevin C. Cox

Each of your favorite FT writers let you in on the starting pitcher they will be targeting at their current values.

Each week, when we cover a position here at Fake Teams, in addition to all of the content you've been seeing, we're going to be doing two staff posts where each of the writers will contribute a brief comment on a player they will personally be targeting in drafts and a player they will be avoiding. Because we're generally an optimistic group here, we're going to start with a player each of us thinks is a good value. Come back tomorrow to find out who the guys we're avoiding are.

So without any further ado, I present the Fake Teams staff and their favorite starting pitching targets for 2013:

"It's pretty clear that I am a huge believer in the performance of Kris Medlen as a starting pitcher, as evidenced by the #10 ranking. But as I looked more and more through his numbers, I found it more difficult to find items that would regress so substantially as to hurt his value past that. Will he going to provide a sub 2.00 ERA and a sub 1.00 WHIP in 2013? No. But this still is a pitcher who was inducing groundballs at least 50% of the time as a starting pitcher, was not walking batters, was still notching a strikeout per inning, and keeping the ball in the park. Even if his BABIP (.248 as a starter) and strand rate (93.3% as a starter) regress back beyond the expected values, what is he? He is a starting pitcher who can post an ERA between 2.75 and 3.00 to go with a WHIP hovering just above 1.00 and a strikeout per inning who will be pitching for an expected contender." --Jason Hunt

"What Kris Medlen did in 2012 was pretty remarkable. And the fact he almost didn't get to do it - he spent the first half of the season in the bullpen - makes it an even greater story. Medlen finished the season 10-1 with a 1.57 ERA and a 0.91 WHIP in 138 innings but didn't qualify for the ERA title. If he had qualified, he would have run away with the title. If you take his stats purely as a starter, they look even better - in 12 starts, Medlen went 9-0 with a 0.97 ERA and a 84:10 K:BB ratio in 83.2 innings. No, you can't expect Medlen to repeat his 2012 season in 2013, but you can still expect numbers worthy of a No. 2 starter. In his previous go around as a starter in 2010, in 14 starts, Medlen went 5-0 with a 3.86 ERA and a 62:16 K:BB ratio in 84 innings. Over a full season, Medlen should be a solid contributor of strikeouts - think 175 or so - while his ERA and WHIP have the potential to be elite. Medlen's still young at 27 and he's only begun to scratch the surface as a starting pitcher. He comes in at No. 23 in the Fake Teams consensus rankings and if you can get him anywhere close to that spot, you can't go wrong." --Alex Kantecki

"You probably never heard of Brewers starter Marco Estrada before last year, and it's probably because he's a 29 year old pitcher who had made just 9 career starts before the 2012 season. He probably won't be drafted in many mixed leagues, but he should. Of all the starting pitchers who threw more than 130 innings last season, only six of them had a higher strikeout per nine rate (9.30 K/9) than Estrada, but none of them had a lower walk rate than Estrada (1.89 BB/9). That list of starting pitchers includes Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer, Gio Gonzalez and Yu Darvish. Yeah, he's in good company. Estrada made 23 starts last season, going 5-7 with a 3.64 ERA, 3.35 FIP, 3.48 xFIP and a 1.14 WHIP. He is prone to giving up the long ball (1.17 per nine), but that should regress a bit in 2013, as Miller Park played as an extreme home run park last season. Miller Park increased home runs to left handers by 42% and right handers by 30%. Extreme with a capital E. Estrada was successful last season as he threw first pitch strikes to almost 62% of the batters he faced, so he likes to get ahead of hitters. He also induced swinging strikes at a 10.2% rate, ranking 21st amongst all starters. Estrada should continue to provide value to fantasy owners in 2013, as he is slated to start the season in the Brewers rotation, and could strike out 180 batters in 2013." --Ray Guilfoyle

"Most of the bigger guys I'm high on, compared to the consensus rankings, have already been covered recently - pitchers like Adam Wainwright, Matt Moore and C.J. Wilson. So I'm going to go way down the list to a guy I will be targeting in a ton of drafts this spring. If I told you there was a member of the Tampa Bay pitching staff who not only had a 3.54 xFIP on the season, but from August 1 on, went 7-1 with a 3.09 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 57 K in 67 IP, you'd probably like to roster him, right? Well, you're right, I'd like to roster Alex Cobb too. An extreme ground ball pitcher (58.8% GB rate) playing in front of not only the league's most efficient defense (which will be even better in 2013 thanks to the addition of Yunel Escobar), Cobb has a ton going for him. The best part? You should be able to grab him as an end-game guy in any mixed league that's 14 teams or less, provided that the hype doesn't get too out of control for him prior to draft day. Also, because of the way the Rays like to play around with service time, you can pretty much take it to the bank that Cobb will be in the rotation out of spring training." --Bret Sayre

"I'm making Stephen Strasburg 'my guy'. I feel I'm entitled since I'm the only one who ranked him 2nd ahead of Kershaw, and also because Bret made the case for taking the obvious pick with Robinson Cano. I guess that means Verlander should be my guy? Whatever. I love Strasburg for all the reasons anyone would love Strasburg and I'm not afraid of an innings limit. As SBN's Federal Baseball posted in November (6th paragraph), it doesn't look like there will be any limit for Strasburg in 2013, with Scott Boras (a driving force behind Strasburg '12 shutdown) saying "he's going to throw a couple hundred innings." Does this mean he'll give you the 230+ IP that Verlander will? Certainly not. If I thought that I might have ranked him ahe- y'know what? That's a lie anyway, Justin is too dreamy... Anyway, I'm not bringing you fancy stats or hard analysis on Strasburg because you don't need it. He's going to be phenomenal and we all know it." --Craig Goldstein

"No one has the potential to outperform their expected draft position more than Matt Moore. Moore had a disappointing year, but expectations may have been unrealistically high after his stellar late-season performance in 2011. I think Moore's season was eerily similar to David Price's rookie year. Like Price, Moore struggled quite a bit out of the gate, but pitched much better down the stretch. In the second half, Moore struck out batters at a higher rate, cut his walks down, and sharply decreased the number of home runs he gave up. Not to mention, he's still only 23. Fake Teams has him ranked 27th in the consensus rankings. This time next year, he'll be at least ten spots higher." --Paul Rice

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