We all know those guys who will give you one game with 9 or 10 K's and no earned runs, only to get shelled the following start. A big reason for this is a high BB/9. While it's nice to have high K guys, it can be frustrating. If I could tell the future, I could predict which guys will lower their BB rates, but since I can't, I will warn/enlighten you.
Jorge de la Rosa- De la Rosa had a fairly good year for pitching a large portion of his starts in Coors field. In 2009, he put up his highest K/9 of his career but at the same time, had a BB/9 of over 4. While his ERA was a decent 4.38 (decent for a Coors pitcher) his FIP suggested he was better than that with an FIP of 3.91.Control has always been an issue for de la Rosa but if he could ever get that in check, he could become a very valuable fantasy option. At this point, de la Rosa is very inconsistent and with an elevated BB/9, he'll continue to be such. Keep an eye on him and use him as a matchup play in 2010.
Clayton Kershaw- Months after celebrating his 21st birthday, Clayton Kershaw posted a stellar 2.79 ERA in 171 innings in 2009. While his FIP suggested he was slightly worse than his ERA showed, Kershaw posted a swinging strike rate of 9.7% (which ranked 27th in the league in 2009.) Kershaw may be the one pitcher who can deal with his high walk rate when he has one of the best curveballs in baseball and is only 21 years old.
Jonathan Sanchez- Among one of the nastier pitchers in the game, Sanchez, posted the tenth best swinging strike percentage, among the likes of Felix Hernandez, Johan Santana and Tim Lincecum. While he can be one of the more frustrating players in baseball, he's shown that he can literally be unhittable. Every season Sanchez has pitched, he's posted an FIP that was significantly lower than his actual ERA.
A.J. Burnett- While Kershaw will likely be drafted early because of upside alone, Burnett will probably be drafted much, much sooner than he should be. If you're drafting Burnett, you're likely chasing wins and we know that when you chase wins, you disregard other things and are limited in other categories. Why not draft the better pitcher, who will be a safe bet and can get you occasional wins? A.J. Burnett pitched over 200 innings for the Yankees in 2009 and only won 13 games. While he did strike out 8.48 batters per nine innings, he also walked over 4 batters a game and allowed over 1 HR per game. When A.J. Burnett is being drafted at around 130 overall, you could look down the line just a little bit more and see a guy like Wandy Rodriguez, who will strike out about 8 batters per nine innings and keep his walks in check and probably in the mid 2's.