When preparing for your fantasy baseball drafts, it is a must to have a draft strategy, and yesterday, Daniel Kelley offered his thoughts on how to approach starting pitchers on draft day. We have also provided you with our Top 100 starting pitchers rankings for 2015:
Now that we have provided you all these tools you need to prepare for your drafts, your fantasy draft preparation would be incomplete without some starting pitchers to target, which we provide you today, and some starting pitchers to avoid, which publishes tomorrow.
We asked each of the fantasy baseball writers to provide you with the starting pitchers they would target in fantasy drafts this season, and you can find them along with their reasoning below. Some of the players profiled below may be recommended as players to avoid by our writers tomorrow, but are presented to show both sides of the argument for said player.
Before we get to the pitchers you should target in 2015, here are links to articles for each position covered during this series:
Players to Target
Starting Pitchers to Target in 2015
Jered Weaver, Angels - Ray Guilfoyle
Weaver came in as our 61st-ranked starting pitcher in our consensus Top 100 Starting Pitcher rankings yesterday, but I was the high guy on him, ranking him as my 27th-ranked starter for 2015. He's never been a big strikeout pitcher, except back in 2010 when he struck out more than a batter per nine. But here is a snapshot of his ERA and WHIP over the last five seasons:
2010: 3.01 ERA, 1.07 WHIP
2011: 2.41 ERA, 1.01 WHIP
2012: 2.81 ERA, 1.02 WHIP
2013: 3.27 ERA, 1.14 WHIP
2014: 3.59 ERA, 1.21 WHIP
His ERA and WHIP is trending higher, but I see him reducing his walk rate from the 2.74 BB/9 he put up last season, his highest since 2009, and I see his ERA dropping back to the 3.20-3.25 range. I know you can't predict wins, but he has averaged 15 wins over his eight year MLB career. He is as consistent as they come.
Matt Cain, Giants - Tim Finnegan
Cain has burned a lot of fantasy owners the last two seasons, but I am high on him this year. He pitched with bone chips in his throwing elbow that significantly impacted his range of motion, and those bone chips were cleared out over the offseason. Watching him pitch, his breaking pitches looked flat in recent years and his command was off. I think it was injury related, and that injury is now fixed. I wrote more about him here.
James Paxton, Mariners - Rob Parker
For a much more detailed explanation of why I love Paxton this year, check out this article I wrote on Paxton earlier this offseason. Basically, his lefty velocity, secondary pitch swinging strike rates, and excellent ground ball rates all point to a real breakout season. If he can stay healthy, he has lots of upside. His current NFBC ADP is 234. Jared Weaver is at 201 and Matt Shoemaker is at 213. I would rather have Paxton than either of those two Angels. He is still very young and has lots of upside, so draft him with confidence.
Julio Teheran, Braves - Daniel Kelley
The Braves aren't going to be great this year. That lineup has something called a Zoilo Almonte in it, and might have effin' Jonny Gomes hitting cleanup. But the Braves also aren't going to be terrible; Nick Markakis, Andrelton Simmons, Freddie Freeman, Chris Johnson, Alberto Callaspo — it's not a strong lineup by any stretch of the imagination. But they play in a division that promises 50-some games against Miami, New York and Philadelphia over the course of the season. And with a starting rotation that includes Alex Wood, Shelby Miller and eventually Mike Minor in the 2-4 slots? That'll always play. And Julio Teheran headlines. He finished as fantasy's No. 13 starter (according to ESPN) last year, and is just past his 24th birthday. He still warrants ace consideration.
If you are looking for more fantasy baseball rankings, and players to avoid, to get you ready for your fantasy baseball drafts, make sure you check out Fantasy Rundown, the one spot on the internet for all things fantasy.