Jim Cowsert-US PRESSWIRE
Some pitchers go from hero to zero in one year, and see their fantasy value sink like a rock in the process. Here are five pitchers who saw their fantasy stock drop off the radar in 2012, but who should build it back up to become fantasy commodities once again in 2013.
Before I list my five top devalued picks, a quick side note. I think, to many, the most obvious guy to list here would be Tim Lincecum, who suffered through a horrendous season but who is a popular pick to reclaim his former Cy Young form. I didn't list him here for two reasons. One, I wrote a long profile of him a couple months back, and I don't feel like being a redundant jerk. Second, I'm just not convinced Lincecum is going to rebound, for reasons I detailed in that same article. So before you ask why the hottest rebound pick of the offseason isn't on here, just remember that you should always read the intro.
Without further ado...
Holland offended with his creep-stache in 2011 and then offended with his crappy pitching in 2012. After a breakout 2011 season that fantasy owners expected him to build on, Holland saw his ERA balloon to 4.67 and ended up as one of the year's more bitter disappointments. The team blamed some of his struggles on his preoccupation with becoming a comedian in his spare time, but the real problem was obvious. He simply couldn't keep the ball in the ballpark. He allowed a brutal 32 home runs in 175.1 innings, one year after surrendering just 22 bombs in 198 frames.
It wasn't just that he was giving up copious amounts of home runs. It was who he was giving them up to. Right-handed hitters treated Holland like a punching bag, as Holland served up 30 of those 32 home runs to opposite-handed hitters. That's pretty obscene, but when the problem is so obvious, you'd think it could be very easily fixed. Likewise, in 2011, Holland didn't have the same long ball issues with right-handers, so this could very well be a fluke. If he gets that under control, he'll be back on the right track toward being a valuable fantasy commodity again.
Luebke was one of the hotter picks in 2012 drafts after his whifftastic showing in the Padre rotation in 2011, but he went down with an injury after five starts and required Tommy John surgery which ended his year. He'll start 2013 on the DL, but he figures to join the rotation around May or June. This will aid you because many managers are hesitant (perhaps understandably) to draft pitchers who won't give them a full season's worth of innings.
That would be fine, but Luebke projects to provide solid value in the innings he will pitch, and should be worthy of a late draft pick. He didn't match his superlative 2011 strikeout rate last season in his limited innings, but he continued his masterful ability to keep the ball in the yard and was solid in four of his five starts. Plus, he pitches in Petco Park, and owners of Padre pitchers love them some Petco Park. I continue to be one of Luebke's biggest fans, despite his injury, and I'm confident he can give you about 150 quality innings this season, especially down the stretch.
Danks was having the season from hell last year before he went down for the count with an injury in May. His 5.70 ERA was gruesome to look at, and his strikeout numbers fell into a ditch. He'll be back with a surgically repaired left shoulder to start the season, and as scary as shoulder injuries tend to be, there's reason to be optimistic. Danks's shriveled strikeout rate was so out of line with his career numbers that it appears mostly attributable to the injury. Just one year earlier, he had posted the best K/BB ratio of his career, even though he posted his worst ERA.
A lot of owners will be scared off by the injury and drop in strikeouts, but Danks is still just 28, and he'd hardly be the first pitcher to recover his full fantasy value after a lost year due to a bum shoulder. He's one of the top bounceback candidates in the league this season.
I'm not sure Estrada is devalued per se, since I don't think many people even know who the hell he is. Estrada toiled in relative obscurity in Milwaukee last season, but he actually ended up posting a better ERA than more heralded teammates like Yovani Gallardo and Shaun Marcum. His 3.64 ERA isn't too great to look at, but his peripheral numbers are. In 138.1 innings, Estrada struck out 143 while walking just 29, which would have put him in the league leaders in K:BB ratio if he had qualified.
Estrada doesn't throw particularly hard, and I'm always skeptical of pitchers who put up these kinds of strikeout numbers without great stuff. I still have nightmares of Dave Bush, who put up tremendous K:BB numbers back in 2006 with Milwaukee, but then tanked the next season (after I had traded for him, of course) because he simply stopped fooling hitters with his underwhelming assortment of junk. Estrada has better strikeout numbers than Bush ever did, though, so if he can cut down the number of home runs he allows, there's a chance he could be a sneaky fantasy stud.
I think Marcum was regarded as a disappointment in Milwaukee due to his utter faceplant in the 2011 playoffs, but all told, he was pretty darn good in his two seasons as a Brewer. Last year he was bugged by injury and continued trouble with the long ball, but that didn't prevent him from being a solidly above-average pitcher for 124 innings.
Marcum moved on to the Mets in the offseason, and the fact that he'll be getting out of Miller Park should up his value a bit. Marcum's home run problems were exacerbated by Miller Park's power-friendly environs, and moving to a less tater-tastic home ballpark can only help. As a Brewer, Marcum posted a 4.68 ERA at Miller Park, and a 2.67 ERA everywhere else. Home/road splits aren't the be-all, end-all, and I'm not saying Marcum is suddenly going to be a genius on his new team, but you have to figure that he'll improve even just a bit when looking at his struggles in Brewtown. He's a good guy to keep an eye on, but run support may be hard to come by, as the Mets look poised to field one of the worst outfields in recorded history.