I am going to offer my thoughts on some of the performances of some of the top young players in the game today, including Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, Pirates ace Gerrit Cole, A's potential ace Sonny Gray, Cardinals starter Michael Wacha and others.
Clayton Kershaw: Reason to worry?
The Dodgers started Kershaw on three days rest on Monday night, and he pitched very well, going 6 innings, giving just two unearned runs on 3 hits, a walk and 6 strikeouts in the Dodgers series clinching win. Kershaw 91 pitches, three days after throwing 124 in the first game of the series. I was against using him on three days rest, but had a feeling he would pitch well due to his 1.54 ERA at home this season. He is the best pitcher in the game, even on three days rest.
My worry is the Dodgers will use him on three days rest again in the playoffs. He is scheduled to start game two vs the winner of the Pirates-Cardinals series, with Zack Greinke going in game one. But, it would not surprise me to see Kershaw take the ball in game one, so he can pitch in game five, and line him up for the World Series, should they get that far.
What's the impact on fantasy owners? Well, it all depends on how often the Dodgers use him (on three days rest again), and how far the Dodgers go in the playoffs. He has already thrown 249 innings this season including the playoffs, so he could get three to four more starts, and push that total closer to 275-280 innings. The wear and tear of the high pressure playoffs is intense, and could affect his performance in 2014.
This might be overthinking it, and I hope I am wrong, but something to consider next season. With that said, I think he is a top 12 pick in fantasy drafts in 2014. His consistency and dominance on the mound, he has won three straight ERA titles, makes him one of the least risky picks on draft day.
Gerrit Cole: Top 30 starter in 2014?
Pirates ace Gerrit Cole made 19 starts this season, going 10-7 with a 3.22 ERA, 2.91 FIP and 3.14xFIP, with a 1.17 WHIP, 7.67 K/9 and 2.15 BB/9 in 117.1 innings. Heading into September, he was simply an average starter, with monthly ERAs ranging from 3.45 to 4.25, but he became an ace in September. In September, he made 5 starts, winning four of them, while giving up just six earned runs on 24 hits (only 4 XBHs) with a 39-10 strikeout to walk rate over 32 innings of work. That works out to a 1.69 ERA in September.
It might be too early to call him an ace, and maybe I am jumping the gun here, because he isn't the first pitcher to burst upon the MLB scene and pitch well. But, what he did in his first playoff start confirmed it for me. Pitching on the road against the best hitting team in the National League, Cole limited the Cardinals to one run on two hits, a walk and five strikeouts in six innings in the Pirates 7-1 win.
In his second playoff start, on the road again vs the Cardinals, Cole lasted five innings this time, giving up just two runs on three hits, a walk and five strikeouts. The only damage was the two run home run he served off the bat of David Freese. Otherwise, he was very good.
After striking out just 11 batters in his first 24.1 innings in the bigs, Cole, over the last three months of the season, Cole owned a 89-24 strikeout to walk rate in 93 innings of work. He is a potential 200+ strikeout pitcher pitching in an extreme pitchers park, so he should get much love on draft day. I see him outperforming his draft ranking in 2014, and I will rank him accordingly, probably in my top 30 starters for 2014.
Sonny Gray: A stands for Ace
A's starter Sonny Gray has as much potential as Cole, and he impressed in his 10 starts in the big leagues this season. In his 10 starts, he went 5-3 with a 2.67 ERA, 2.70 FIP, 2.92 xFIP with a 1.11 WHIP, 9.42 K/9 and a 2.81 BB/9 in 64 innings. He owns a 67-20 strikeout to walk rate in those 64 innings. He gave up two runs or less in eight of his ten starts this season, but none were better than his ALDS start vs the Tigers, where he shut out the Tigers on four hits, two walks and nine strikeouts in eight innings of work.
Some say he has the best curveball in baseball, and that is saying something for the young hurler. Like Cole, he pitches in an extreme pitchers park, and could see some improvement in 2014. He may not get as much love as other young starters in the game, but he is just as good. I haven't completed my 2014 starting pitcher rankings, but Gray should fall in the Top 30 starters.
More from Fake Teams:
- Fantasy Football: Week 6 Rankings, Waiver Wire and More
- A Look Back at our 2013 Consensus Second Base Rankings
- Prospect Profile: Jake Thompson
- A Look Back at our 2013 Consensus First Base Rankings
- Around the League: Fantasy EPL Roundup
- MLB Trade Rumors: Could The Cubs or Cardinals Meet the Rays' Price?
- My Top Five Starters for 2014