Lets be honest, everyone wants Tim Lincecum on their team. No one who plays fantasy baseball is immune to not wanting one of Philadelphia’s “big three” of Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay, or Cliff Lee.
Reality check: there are only so many of those guys before you realize you’re gonna need a plan “B, C, D and E.”
No worries, I’ve got three suggestions on sleeper starters who are outside of the top-tier and flying under the radar who can bring significant value to your fantasy roster.
- Brandon Beachy, Atlanta Braves, Stat Line 2011: 7-3, 3.68 ERA, 169 K’s in 141 IP: Brandon Beachy of the Braves broke onto the scene in the heat of a pennant race in 2010. He was thrown into the mix early and often (two of his first three starts came against the Phillies) and while he lost both, he was seen as a guy with ability that set him apart. The same is definitely true in standard leagues as Beachy was a goldmine for those looking for hard to come by points in areas like K/9, WHIP, and BB. He walks very few hitters (46), and as stated before his K/9 increased from 9.0 to 10.7. That figure put him at the top of the league had he qualified with 150-innings pitched. He’s strikeout machine, with the ability to keep his ERA (3.38) at a respectable level. His WHIP improved from 1.5 to 1.2 in 2011, and I look for him to improve on those statistics as he becomes more comfortable in the league.
- Edison Volquez, San Diego Padres, Stat Line 2011: 5-7, 5.71 ERA, 104 K’s in 108 IP: It might be kind of unfair to pick a guy who was an All-Star in 2008 as a rookie, but that is the new world for Edison Volquez. He’s battled injuries since and didn’t seem like he would be able to put it all together again. Last season he was able to return to the mound for an extended period of time for the first time since that season when he broke out at age 24. He seems more polished now at 27 with his fastball still hitting 95 and his change-up and slider still dancing as they did three years ago. He returned with mixed results last year, but looking at him this Spring I see a guy who will not only benefit from leaving the small dimensions of Great American Ballpark for the pastures of Petco, I see a pitcher who had a stroke of luck being traded to a team with a manager who knows what he’s doing with a pitcher. Bud Black will have just as significant an impact on Volquez as the change of scenery, as he will learn how to pitch instead of throw. That is something I would gamble on after the big guns are gone off your draft board. Note: Volquez is 1-0 with a 3.95 ERA this spring and in his last start he went 5 and 2/3 with six strikeouts.
- Jordan Zimmermann, Washington Nationals, Stat Line 2011: 8-11, 3.18 ERA, 124 K’s in 161 IP: Jordan Zimmermann was a guy who pitched lights out baseball the first half of the season. Too bad he pitched them in Washington, and too bad baseball has two halves. His overall numbers could help you in a standard league if you catch him at the right time. His ERA (2.66) and WHIP (1.07) were something that could have scratched you out a few “cheap” points in a few match-ups during the first half. While most have been waiting for him to put together two halves of baseball like his first in 2011, we have to remember that this is a guy who was in the midst of recovering from Tommy John surgery and last year was his first real full year. He’s got great stuff, and now that he’s pushed down in the rotation a bit (behind Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez) those match-ups could work in your favor in regards to wins toward the end of a match-up week.