We've all been there, your draft comes along and, depending on your format, you decide to spend/draft heavily on position players. When it comes to your rotation, you have almost no options left. You could take a flyer on a AAA pitcher that could start and have an immediate impact out of Spring Training, a future ace like Trevor Bauer for example. My method has been to go to the scrapheap and draft 3rd or 4th starters that are routinely drafted way late or picked up off of waivers when an injury occurs to your ace. As long as they are consistent, and your position players pickup the slack, these starters will be fine to target after you're done building your very own murderers row. In this post I will discuss 5 potential draft day bargains that you wont have to spend or draft high to get.
1. Homer Bailey
Bailey is one of the most underrated young pitchers in the league. He was drafted in the 1st round of the 2004 draft 7th overall. He got off to a slow start the first half of 2012 with a record of 5 wins and 6 losses with a 4.42 ERA pitching 90 innings. In the second half he not only threw a no-hitter, but when 8-4 with a 3.12 ERA. Many people call the second half of the season his "breakout." While his 7.27 K/9 and 2.25 BB/9 in 2012 are nearly identical to fellow Red, and staff ace Johnny Cueto, 7.05 K/9 and 2.03 BB/9. Both pitchers have over 200 IP in 2012. The only difference is that Bailey is not quite as dominant as Cueto is and gives up many more homeruns. I can almost guarantee that Cueto is drafted many rounds before Bailey. He is definitely a high-upside pick in later rounds.
Harrell gets a bad rap because he plays for the hopeless Astros. He is the ace on a staff that will more than likely be used as a piñata by the entire AL West. However, when you are looking for decent starting pitching, Harrell is a low-risk option. With an unimpressive record of 11 wins and 11 losses, and a sub-4 ERA (3.76). Harrell posted a decent 6.51 K/9, but he walks a lot of batters posting a 3.62 BB/9. He pitched a career high 194 innings in 2012, and some advanced metrics posit that he is a better pitcher when the bases are empty. Harrell is worth a shot if you are looking for a mid-level second starter to supplement one ace and a potent batting order.
Reliever turned starter Kyle Kendrick filled in as a starting pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2012, as of this date he is projected to be a starting pitcher again in 2013. Kendrick's season was like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. An ugly first half where he went 2-8 with a 5.35 ERA was quickly forgotten by a stellar second half where he went 9-4 with a 2.64 ERA. Kendrick is a very hidden diamond in the rough, but will probably garner a lot of attention now that he is a permanent starter. I'd say keep an eye on him during Spring ball.
4. Phil Hughes
If you ask any Yankee fan, they will probably list Hughes as one of the most frustrating players on the roster. Like Bailey, Hughes spends a lot of time in a hitters park, yet is still able to post a 7.76 K/9 and 2.16 BB/9. However his 4.23 ERA is enough to steer a lot of fantasy owners away. He posted very similar first and second halves in 2012, but numerous analysts contend that since he showed flashes of his 2010 stuff in 2012, it is likely he can have continued success. Look to draft Hughes pretty late, most people will stay away from him. You may be able to pick him up off of waivers in mixed leagues. Definitely draft him in AL only leagues.
5. Mark Buehrle
My favorite pitcher of all time for one reason: consistency. For what Buehrle lacks in flashy stuff, he makes up for it in consistency. He doesn't strike out a lot of batters, posting only a 5.56 K/9, but does not allow a ton of walks either, 1.78 BB/9. What Buehrle does is gets batters out, rather efficiently too. He didn't have a great year in Miami in 2012, but has historically (and surprisingly) pitched well against the AL East. Most analysts project him to have another 200+ IP in 2013, and win 12-15 games. He is a great option, that generally never gets drafted at all. Look for him in late rounds or on the waiver wire right after.