Consensus Position Rankings/Projections: Top 75 Starting Pitchers for 2014, Part 1

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It's Starting Pitcher Week at Fake Teams, where we publish our consensus Top 75 fantasy starting pitcher rankings for 2014. Check out where the Fake Teams writers rank Jose Fernandez, Homer Bailey, Alex Cobb and others.

Alex Kantecki opened Starting Pitcher week here at Fake Teams with the fantasy state of the position earlier this morning. Now we bring you part 1 of our consensus fantasy starting pitcher rankings for 2014. I will break down the starting pitcher rankings into three parts, with part two to publish on Wednesday morning and part three on Friday morning. We used a points system for each of the 75 starting pitchers ranked by each of the Fake Teams writers who participated in the consensus rankings series.

Below you will find links to all of our position rankings and projections that we have published to date:

Catcher: Part 1| Part 2

First Base: Part 1| Part 2

Second Base: Part 1| Part 2

Shortstop: Part 1| Part 2

Third Base: Part 1| Part 2

Outfielders: Part 1| Part 2| Part 3

We feel that providing you with our consensus position rankings, you get an average ranking from the Fake Teams writers, rather than just my updated rankings throughout the offseason. You will see some players ranked higher by one Fake Teams writer than the others, so this helps the reader see both sides of the argument for/against a certain player who might be getting too much love this offseason.

The starting pitcher rankings will be split into three parts, rankings, player profiles and projections for starting pitchers ranked 1 - 25 in part 1, and rankings, player profiles and projections for starting pitchers ranked 26 - 50 in part 2 to be published on Wednesday morning, and starting pitchers ranked 51-75 on Friday morning. I probably won't write about each of the starting pitchers ranked, but will provide comments on players that I like/dislike for 2014. Consensus rankings should bring about discussion amongst you, our readers, and the Fake Teams writers who participated in this series.

In addition to the rankings, we are now offering your 2014 projections for each player ranked, courtesy of Dan Schwartz from Fake Teams and Rotobanter. He has spent all offseason on his projections, and to learn more about how he calculates his projections, you can read his explanations here: Part 1| Part 2| Part 3. Part 1 details his projection approach, Part 2 details how he calculates his hitter projections and part 3 details how he calculates his pitcher projections.

We didn't stop at just providing you rankings and projections, as we are also providing you with auction values, courtesy of Dan, and all of this is consolidated, with player photos, into statistical tables thanks to the work of Jason Hunt.

2014 Starting Pitcher Rankings

Now let's take a look at part 1 of our Top 75 Fantasy Starting Pitcher Rankings for 2014:

Rank Player Team Ranking Points Ray Matt Brian Alex Daniel Joe Jason Zack
1 Clayton Kershaw LAD 616 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
2 Yu Darvish TEX 606 2 3 2 2 2 3 2 2
3 Adam Wainwright STL 587 3 7 6 7 3 5 3 3
4 Felix Hernandez SEA 576 4 4 7 3 8 7 10 5
5 Max Scherzer DET 575 7 8 5 4 7 2 8 8
6 Cliff Lee PHI 573 5 11 12 5 4 6 4 4
7 Chris Sale CHW 571 8 6 3 11 6 4 9 6
8 Stephen Strasburg WSN 556 10 2 9 9 11 9 5 13
9 David Price TBR 554 9 9 10 6 9 10 6 11
10 Jose Fernandez MIA 547 6 5 23 8 10 11 7 7
11 Madison Bumgarner SFG 544 11 10 8 10 12 8 12 9
12 Justin Verlander DET 539 15 13 4 13 5 12 11 12
13 Cole Hamels PHI 517 13 18 11 14 15 13 13 10
14 Zack Greinke LAD 508 12 12 13 19 13 14 19 14
15 Anibal Sanchez DET 498 14 20 15 12 17 15 17 16
16 Jordan Zimmermann WSN 479 18 23 14 20 19 18 14 19
17 Mat Latos CIN 476 20 19 16 18 23 19 18 15
18 James Shields KCR 468 23 14 17 16 20 33 16 17
19 Matt Cain SFG 448 22 17 21 23 21 25 24 23
20 Homer Bailey CIN 444 17 29 20 17 24 24 28 21
21 Mike Minor ATL 444 19 26 22 24 18 26 25 20
22 Hisashi Iwakuma SEA 433 40 27 18 15 16 30 15 30
23 Gio Gonzalez WSN 431 27 25 24 22 35 22 20 18
24 Alex Cobb TBR 414 16 22 42 25 14 16 38 37
25 Gerrit Cole PIT 402 24 21 28 21 36 27 29 36

Player Profiles

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# 1 Clayton Kershaw (LAD)

Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas - USA Today Sports
2013 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
16 0 1.83 0.915 232
2013 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 H/9 BB% K%
236 0.4 6.3 5.73% 25.55%
2014 ROTOBANTER PROJECTIONS
W IP ERA WHIP K
15 229 2.47 0.98 227
Auction Value: $ 35.1

Kershaw is coming off his second National League Cy Young award in the last three seasons, after going 16-9 with a 1.83 ERA, 2.39 FIP and 2.88 xFIP, with a 0.92 WHIP and 25.6% strikeout rate in a career high 236 innings. In roughly half of his starts (17 of 33), he went 7 innings or more and gave up one run or less, and gave up two earned runs or less in 26 of his 33 starts. Quite amazing.

He is the unquestioned #1 starter for 2014 and is currently being drafted in the first round in most of the 15 team, NFBC drafts this season. Actually, he owns an ADP, per NFBC, of 6.20, and was picked at #5 overall by Steve Gardner from USA Today in the LABR mixed league draft. To give you an idea as to what the rest of his team looked like after taking Kershaw so early, take a look at the LABR draft results.

If you want either Kershaw or Darvish this season, you will have to spend an first or second round pick on them.

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# 2 Yu Darvish (TEX)

Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas - USA Today Sports
2013 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
13 0 2.83 1.073 277
2013 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 H/9 BB% K%
209.2 1.1 6.2 9.51% 32.94%
2014 ROTOBANTER PROJECTIONS
W IP ERA WHIP K
14 210 3.02 1.16 244
Auction Value: $ 23.52

Darvish is coming off a terrific 2013 season, where he went 13-9 with a 2.83 ERA, 3.28 FIP, 2.84 xFIP, a 1.07 WHIP and an astounding 32.9% strikeout rate, to lead all qualified major league starters in 2013. He struck out just under 12 batters per nine innings last season, while walking 3.43 batters per nine. He came 23 strikeouts short of 300 last season, and could approach that level in 2014. His 12.6% SwStr% led all qualified starters as well. If he gets 2-3 more starts, or works deeper into games, Darvish could reach 300 strikeouts this season, making him very valuable on draft day.

Darvish is currently the second pitcher being selected in most drafts this season thus far. He gave up two runs or less in 18 of his 32 starts last season, and gave up three runs or less in 25 of those 32 starts. In the LABR mixed league draft, he was taken with the fourth pick in the second round, giving you an idea that he and Kershaw are top 20 picks overall this season.

One can make the argument to take Darvish over Kershaw in 5 x 5 leagues this season, due to the chance he reaches 300 strikeouts.

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# 3 Adam Wainwright (STL)

Photo Credit: Steve Mitchell - USA Today Sports
2013 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
19 0 2.94 1.068 219
2013 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 H/9 BB% K%
241.2 0.6 8.3 3.66% 22.91%
2014 ROTOBANTER PROJECTIONS
W IP ERA WHIP K
17 224 3.35 1.16 196
Auction Value: $ 20.73

Wainwright returned to his pre-Tommy John form last season, winning 19 of his 34 starts, with a 2.99 ERA, 2.55 FIP, 2.80 xFIP, 22.9% strikeout rate and 1.07 WHIP in a career high 241.2 innings. Not only does he strikeout more than eight batters and walks less than two batters every nine innings, but he also induces grounders at a 49-50% clip.

He gave up two runs or less in 18 of his 34 starts last season, and went 7 innings or more, giving up two runs or less in 15 of his 34 starts, as well. He was the sixth starter taken in the recent LABR mixed league draft, going off as the fourth pick in the fourth round.

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# 4 Felix Hernandez (SEA)

Photo Credit: Casey Sapio - USA Today Sports
2013 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
12 0 3.04 1.131 216
2013 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 H/9 BB% K%
204.1 0.7 8.1 5.59% 26.25%
2014 ROTOBANTER PROJECTIONS
W IP ERA WHIP K
13 203 3.11 1.13 196
Auction Value: $ 20.06

King Felix had a typical Felix-type season in 2014, winning 12 games with a 3.04 ERA, 2.61 FIP, 2.66 xFIP, 1/13 WHIP and a career-high 26.3% strikeout rate. His 9.51 K/9 ranked eighth in baseball last season, behind Darvish, Scherzer, Anibal Sanchez and a few others. His 2013 strikeout rate and K/9 were career highs, and I wonder if he can repeat it in 2014.

Not only did he strike out more than a batter per nine last season, but he limited his walks per nine to just over 2.00 BB/9, a career best, and his 51.4% ground ball rate was his highest since 2010. According to the PitchFX data on FanGraphs, he used his sinker more than ever last year, throwing it 34.6% of the time.

He is currently the 7th starter off draft boards according to NFBC ADP data, and has an ADP of 43.41, so he is being drafted in the third round of NFBC drafts.

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# 5 Max Scherzer (DET)

Photo Credit: Kim Klement - USA Today Sports
2013 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
21 0 2.9 0.97 240
2013 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 H/9 BB% K%
214.1 0.8 6.4 6.70% 28.71%
2014 ROTOBANTER PROJECTIONS
W IP ERA WHIP K
16 211 3.20 1.11 233
Auction Value: $ 24.43

If you want a big strikeout pitcher once Darvish is off the board, Scherzer is your guy. Scherzer won the American League Cy Young award last season, winning 21 of his 32 starts with a 2.90 ERA, 2.74 FIP, 3.16 xFIP, a 0.97 WHIP and a 28.7% strikeout rate. His strikeout rate ranked second only to Yu Darvish last season. His strikeout rate dropped from 11.08 to 10.08, and his fastball velocity dropped from 94.2 mph to 93.3 mph. Despite the drop in fastball velocity and K/9, his walks per nine and HR/9 dropped as well.

Scherzer was consistent throughout the season, giving up two runs or less in 21 of his 32 starts, and struck out 10 or more batters in eight of his starts. He is currently the third pitcher off the draft board according to NFBC ADP rankings, and is being drafted in the late second/early third round in the 15 team NFBC drafts.

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# 6 Cliff Lee (PHI)

Photo Credit: Kim Klement - USA Today Sports
2013 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
14 0 2.87 1.01 222
2013 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 H/9 BB% K%
222.2 0.9 7.8 3.65% 25.34%
2014 ROTOBANTER PROJECTIONS
W IP ERA WHIP K
13 222 3.32 1.08 211
Auction Value: $ 22.08

Lee owns the best control of any pitcher in the game, and that was on display again in 2013. Lee won 14 games last season, with a 2.87 ERA, 2.82 FIP, 2.78 xFIP, 1.01 WHIP and a 25.3% strikeout rate. The 35 year old Lee hasn't shown any signs of aging, and continues to be one of the top starting pitchers in the game.

Not only is the best control pitcher in the game, but he also induces ground balls at a 44.3% clip. Pitching in the best home run park in baseball last year, Lee saw his HR/9 drop below 1.00 and he limited hitters to a .230 batting average.

He is the eighth starter off draft boards according to NFBC ADP data, with a 44.09 ADP, so he is a third round pick in NFBC drafts thus far.

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# 7 Chris Sale (CHW)

Photo Credit: Joe Camporeale - USA Today Sports
2013 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
11 0 3.07 1.073 226
2013 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 H/9 BB% K%
214.1 1 7.7 5.31% 26.10%
2014 ROTOBANTER PROJECTIONS
W IP ERA WHIP K
13 214 3.09 1.09 221
Auction Value: $ 23.5

If Sale pitched for a better team, he would probably get more love from fantasy owners, but he is still a top 10 fantasy starter. Last season, Sale went 11-12 with a 3.07 ERA, 3.17 FIP, 2.95 xFIP, a 1.07 WHIP and a 26.1% strikeout rate.

Sale saw his peripheral stats improve across the board last season, increasing his strikeouts per nine from 9.00 to 9.49 K/9, reducing his BB/9 from 2.39 to 1.93 walks per nine, and increasing his ground ball rate from 44.9% to 46.6%. He gave up two runs or less in 18 of his 30 starts last season, and limited right handed hitters to a .399 slugging percentage.

His ADP currently sits at 48.25 according to NFBC draft data, so he is regularly being picked in the fourth round.

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# 8 Stephen Strasburg (WSN)

Photo Credit: Tommy Gilligan - USA Today Sports
2013 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
8 0 3 1.049 191
2013 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 H/9 BB% K%
183 0.8 6.7 7.66% 26.13%
2014 ROTOBANTER PROJECTIONS
W IP ERA WHIP K
13 167 2.98 1.11 176
Auction Value: $ 18.88

Strasburg had a solid 2013 season, despite winning just eight games, he ended the season with a 3.00 ERA, 3.21 FIP, 3.15 xFIP, a 1.05 WHIP and a 26.1% strikeout rate, down from 30.2% in 2012. His strikeouts per nine dropped from 11.13 to 9.39 K/9, but he traded some whiffs for ground balls, as his ground ball rate improved to 51.5%, the second straight year his GB% rate improved.

He gave up two runs or less in 18 of his 30 starts, but struck out ten or more batters just three times last season. Strasburg is getting plenty of love from NFBC drafters this offseason, as he is currently the fifth starter off draft board thus far, with an ADP of 33.68, so he is an early third round pick in NFBC drafts.

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# 9 David Price (TBR)

Photo Credit: Tommy Gilligan - USA Today Sports
2013 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
10 0 3.33 1.098 151
2013 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 H/9 BB% K%
186.2 0.8 8.6 3.65% 20.41%
2014 ROTOBANTER PROJECTIONS
W IP ERA WHIP K
14 206 3.42 1.14 179
Auction Value: $ 17.28

Price made just 27 starts last season after three straight seasons of 31 or more starts. He went 10-8 with a 3.33 ERA, 3.03 FIP, 3.27 xFIP, a 1.10 WHIP and a 20.4% strikeout rate. His strikeout rate and 7.28 strikeouts per nine were his lowest since 2009, so that is a bit of a concern for owners heading into 2014 drafts. We also saw his ground ball rate drop from 53.1% to "just" 44.9%, yet looking at his career ground ball rate, it appears that his 2012 ground ball rate was a one year thing, so his ground ball rate is not a concern.

What is a concern is the drop in strikeouts, and one can look to his fastball velocity dropping from 95.5 mph to 93.5 mph as the reason. That will be something to watch in spring training and in the early parts of the 2014 season to see if he can continue to be an ace starter with the drop in velocity, or even a further drop in velocity.

Price went for $23 in the LABR AL only auction on Saturday night, with only five starters going for more auction dollars: Yu Darvish at $28, Max Scherzer and Felix Hernandez going for $27, Justin Verlander at $26 (which seems too high to me), and Chris Sale at $25. He should still be a top 10-12 starting pitcher option on draft day.

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# 10 Jose Fernandez (MIA)

Photo Credit: Brad Barr - USA Today Sports
2013 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
12 0 2.19 0.979 187
2013 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 H/9 BB% K%
172.2 0.5 5.8 8.52% 27.46%
2014 ROTOBANTER PROJECTIONS
W IP ERA WHIP K
13 175 3.17 1.17 189
Auction Value: $ 16.86

I wrote a profile on Fernandez to publish at 12pm today.

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# 11 Madison Bumgarner (SFG)

Photo Credit: Joe Camporeale - USA Today Sports
2013 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
13 0 2.77 1.033 199
2013 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 H/9 BB% K%
201.1 0.7 6.5 7.72% 24.78%
2014 ROTOBANTER PROJECTIONS
W IP ERA WHIP K
13 195 3.11 1.11 188
Auction Value: $ 20.07

Bumgarner is one name that probably doesn't get enough respect when discussing starting pitcher options for 2014. Last season he went 13-9 with a 2.77 ERA, 3.05 FIP, 3.32 xFIP, a 1.03 WHIP and a career-high 24.8% strikeout rate. His improved his strikeouts per nine from 8.25 to 8.90 K/9, but that came with a rise in his walks per nine from 2.12 to 2.77 BB/9. On top of the strikeouts, Bumgarner keeps the ball on the ground at 46-47% clip, making him one of the top starting pitchers in the game.

Bumgarner is currently the ninth starting pitcher off the NFBC draft boards and has a 47.07 ADP, making him an early fourth round pick in 15 team drafts. The one concern I have with Bumgarner is that he throws his slider 38% of the time, which could lead to arm/elbow issues down the road if the continues to throw this pitch so frequently. Only one starting pitcher threw the slider more than Bumgarner last season, Ervin Santana, and teams haven't signed him this offseason as they have concerns about the health of his elbow.

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# 12 Justin Verlander (DET)

Photo Credit: Kim Klement - USA Today Sports
2013 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
13 0 3.46 1.315 217
2013 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 H/9 BB% K%
218.1 0.8 8.7 8.11% 23.46%
2014 ROTOBANTER PROJECTIONS
W IP ERA WHIP K
15 203 3.51 1.21 194
Auction Value: $ 15.79

Verlander had a pretty good season for most starting pitchers in baseball in 2013, but not for the second ranked starter in the game back in March. Verlander turned things around toward the end of the season, and in the playoffs, but finished the regular season going 13-12 with a 3.46 ERA, 3.28 FIP, 3.67 xFIP, a 1.31 WHIP and a 23.5% strikeout rate in 218.1 innings. The 23.5% strikeout rate was his lowest since 2009 His BABIP allowed is in a two year uptrend, which led to the rise in base runners allows, so that is something to think about in 2014.

I was the low man on Verlander in our consensus rankings, and am starting to wonder if the seven straight seasons of 200+ innings pitched is having an impact on his performance on the mound. His fastball velocity is in a four year downtrend:

2009: 95.6 mph

2010: 95.4 mph

2011: 95.0 mph

2012: 94.3 mph

2013: 93.3 mph

If this trend continues into 2014, we could see Verlander underperform his draft day value. He was drafted at $26 in the LABR AL only auction draft on Saturday night, with only three AL only pitchers going for more (Darvish, Felix and Scherzer).

Name W ERA WHIP K Auc $
# 13 Cole Hamels (PHI) 13 3.44 1.16 190 16.65
# 14 Zack Greinke (LAD) 14 3.39 1.19 161 14.25

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# 15 Anibal Sanchez (DET)

Photo Credit: Kim Klement - USA Today Sports
2013 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
14 0 2.57 1.154 202
2013 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 H/9 BB% K%
182 0.4 7.7 7.24% 27.08%
2014 ROTOBANTER PROJECTIONS
W IP ERA WHIP K
14 182 3.47 1.23 182
Auction Value: $ 13.91

Sanchez was the third best starting pitcher in baseball according to fWAR, winning 14 games with a career best 2.57 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and a 202-54 strikeout to walk rate in 182 innings of work. He was ranked as our 40th ranked starting pitcher in 2013, and he will move up into the top 20 or 25 in 2014. He kept the ball in the park and increased his strikeout rate from a respectable 7.68 K/9 to 9.99 K/9.

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# 16 Jordan Zimmermann (WSN)

Photo Credit: Tommy Gilligan - USA Today Sports
2013 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
19 0 3.25 1.088 161
2013 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 H/9 BB% K%
213.1 0.8 8.1 4.62% 18.61%
2014 ROTOBANTER PROJECTIONS
W IP ERA WHIP K
15 213 3.71 1.19 162
Auction Value: $ 13.41

Zimmermann, and not Stephen Strasburg, was the Nationals top starter last season, going 19-9 with a 3.25 ERA, 3.36 FIP, 3.48 xFIP, a 1.09 WHIP and a 18.6% strikeout rate in 213.1 innings. He isn't as dominant as Max Scherzer or Clayton Kershaw, but he doesn't walk anyone, and keeps the runs off the scoreboard. He won't help you much in the strikeout category, but he limits the free passes and the long ball, and keeps the ball on the ground at a 48% rate, so he will help in the ERA and WHIP categories.

According to NFBC ADP data, he is the 16th starting pitcher off draft boards with a 88.59 average draft position. He gave up two runs or less in 20 of his 32 starts last season, but his performance slid in the second half of last season. His ERA rose from 2.58 to 4.33, he allowed a slash line of .259-.320-.429 and allowed a home run per game in the second half.

Name W ERA WHIP K Auc $
# 17 Mat Latos (CIN) 14 3.45 1.23 171 13.42
# 18 James Shields (KCR) 14 3.88 1.24 181 10.96
# 19 Matt Cain (SFG) 14 3.76 1.18 155 12.17

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# 20 Homer Bailey (CIN)

Photo Credit: Joe Camporeale - USA Today Sports
2013 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
11 0 3.49 1.124 199
2013 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 H/9 BB% K%
209 0.9 7.8 6.36% 23.44%
2014 ROTOBANTER PROJECTIONS
W IP ERA WHIP K
14 208 3.69 1.23 179
Auction Value: $ 12.31

Bailey doesn't get the love that teammate Mat Latos does on draft day, but he is just as good. Last season, Bailey went 11-12 with a 3.49 ERA, 3.31 FIP, 3.34 xFIP, a 1.12 WHIP and a 23.4% strikeout rate. He has seen his strikeout rate, ground ball rate and home runs per nine improve in each of the last two seasons, resulting in lower ERAs in each season. He is on the cusp of becoming an ace starting pitcher, something many saw in him when he was drafted.

He allowed two runs or less in 17of his 32 starts last season, including his second career no-hitter vs the Giants on July 2nd, striking out nine and walking just one. He could make another leap in 2014 to jump into the ace conversation. His average draft position per NFBC sits at 107.80 right now, as he is the 25th starter off draft boards thus far.

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# 21 Mike Minor (ATL)

Photo Credit: Kim Klement - USA Today Sports
2013 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
13 0 3.21 1.09 181
2013 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 H/9 BB% K%
204.2 1 7.8 5.61% 22.07%
2014 ROTOBANTER PROJECTIONS
W IP ERA WHIP K
13 194 3.76 1.18 170
Auction Value: $ 12.36

Minor had a great sophomore season with the Braves, going 13-9 in 32 starts, with a 3.21 ERA, 3.37 FIP, 3.64 xFIP, a 1.09 WHIP and a 22.1% strikeout rate in 204.2 innings last season. He showed improvement in his strikeouts per nine, walk rate and home runs per nine last season, as he made the adjustments necessary after a rocky rookie season.

He gave up two runs or less in 19 of his 32 starts in 2013, and is currently coming off draft boards as the 22nd ranked starter according to NFBC and has an average draft position of 100.85.

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# 22 Hisashi Iwakuma (SEA)

Photo Credit: Casey Sapio - USA Today Sports
2013 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
14 0 2.66 1.006 185
2013 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 H/9 BB% K%
219.2 1 7.3 4.85% 21.36%
2014 ROTOBANTER PROJECTIONS
W IP ERA WHIP K
13 193 3.66 1.19 159
Auction Value: $ 11.84

We whiffed on Iwakuma in our Top 75 Starting Pitchers rankings in 2013, but there will be no repeat of that, as comes in at #22 in our Top 75 starting pitcher rankings for 2014. Iwakuma had a terrific 2013 season in the Mariners rotation, winning 14 games with a 2.66 ERA, 3.44 FIP, 3.28 xFIP, a 1.01 WHIP and a 21.4% strikeout rate in 219.2 innings. Iwakuma is the starter who won't dominate with a high strikeout rate, but his 7.58 K/9 isn't shabby. Combine that with a sub - 2.00 walk rate and a 49% ground ball rate, and he can once again be a top 25 starter in 2014.

Iwakuma has an ADP of 100.42 and is the 21st starter off draft boards in NFBC drafts thus far.

Name W ERA WHIP K Auc $
# 23 Gio Gonzalez (WSN) 14 3.70 1.25 193 12.25

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# 24 Alex Cobb (TBR)

Photo Credit: Kim Klement - USA Today Sports
2013 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
11 0 2.76 1.151 134
2013 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 H/9 BB% K%
143.1 0.8 7.5 7.79% 23.18%
2014 ROTOBANTER PROJECTIONS
W IP ERA WHIP K
13 202 3.48 1.17 186
Auction Value: $ 15.45

When doing the research for a few draft strategy pieces on starting pitchers this offseason, I realized that Alex Cobb is on the cusp of becoming an ace. Cobb made just 22 starts last season, missing two months after being hit in the head by a come backer line drive. Even still, he ended the season with an 11-3 record in those 22 starts, with a 2.76 ERA, 3.36 FIP and 1.15 WHIP. Strong surface stats, but his peripheral stats were even better.

His strikeout rate jumped from 7.00 K/9 to 8.41 K/9, his walk rate bumped up a little, but still under 3.00 BB/9. His growth was not limited to to his strikeout and walk rates. He was also able to keep the ball on the ground at a 56% rate, borderline elite. His ability to keep the ball on the ground actually dropped from 2012, but combined with the high strikeout rate, make him an ace, or just a step below an ace. He needs to show he can stay healthy, throw over 200 innings, and pitch deep into games to become an ace, and i think he will do just that in 2014.

Cobb has an ADP of 114.30 according to NFBC and is the 26th starting pitcher drafted in 15 team league drafts this offseason.

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# 25 Gerrit Cole (PIT)

Photo Credit: Kim Klement - USA Today Sports
2013 FANTASY STATISTICS
W SV ERA WHIP K
10 0 3.22 1.168 100
2013 SECONDARY STATISTICS
IP HR/9 H/9 BB% K%
117.1 0.5 8.4 5.97% 21.32%
2014 ROTOBANTER PROJECTIONS
W IP ERA WHIP K
13 190 3.50 1.23 167
Auction Value: $ 12.21

Cole made 19 appearances last season, going 10-7 with a 3.22 ERA, 2.91 FIP, 3.14 xFIP, a 1.17 WHIP and a 3.57 K-BB rate over 117.1 innings of work. After a sub-par first half, Cole was dominant in the second half of the season, striking out almost a batter per inning, with a 75-19 strikeout to walk rate, good for a 3.95 K-BB ratio over 75.2 innings. Not only does Cole provide solid strikeout totals, but he limited the home run and keeps the ball on the ground at a 49% clip.

I see Cole have a solid 2014 season, capable of striking out 200 batters with a low 3.00 ERA in 2014. He is currently the 18th starter off draft boards per NFBC draft data, and has an average draft position of 92.77.

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