NL King - NL Only Starting Pitchers Part 1
To have a top notch starter to lead your rotation is a tremendous commodity. The prices on these guys are usually very high so you need them to stay healthy and hit their numbers. If you blow this, you might as well kiss your season good bye...
Roy Halladay - They say there are two things you can count and that's death and taxes. Well, to me it should be three things with the third being Doc Halladay. Figure on 20 Wins, ERA south of 2.50, Ratio barely over 1 and around 220 K's. It's a lock.
Cliff Lee - Figure on the same numbers as Doc Halladay. Another lock.
Clayton Kershaw - He had a better year than Halladay and Lee last year and going forward maybe the #1 pitcher in NL only leagues the next 5 or 6 years.
Tim Lincecum - Last couple of years his walks have gone up and unlike 2009 his ratio are in the 1.2 range. The Giants don't hit so wins are likely to be limited. I know a lot of people have written his K's have come down the last three years but he still had 220K's in '11 so I wouldn't worry about that. Is he an ace? Yes, but a step down from Halladay, Lee and Kershaw. One thing to consider is Lincecum is a free agent in two years so if "The Freak" can put up back to back big years he would hit free agency in a big way. That's a nice incentive.
Josh Johnson - It's all about health with the big guy. He did have a shoulder issue last year and was shut down from June through the rest of last season. Can we count on him for 32 starts this year? Even with a great spring Johnson is a risk and therefore you must try and get a nice discount on draft day. Feeling lucky? Take the risk, pick Johnson, and win your league or go to pokerlistings, try the game for free, then test that luck at the real poker tables!
Knocking on the Door - alphabetical order
Madison Bumgarner - I was reading a lot last year that many felt Bumgarner was an injury risk for 2011 as he had a big jump in IP from '09 to '10. That was never a problem and Bumgarner rewarded his owners with a big year. The next step for him is landing on the Ace part of this list. Again keep in mind he is on the offensive challenged Giants so that will limit his wins.
Matt Cain - Sub 3 ERA, Ratio below 1.10, solid K's (close to 180) but wins are a challenge on the Giants but still when you add it all up a top of the rotation starter. Cain is a free agent after this season so he is playing for a big contract.
Yovanni Gallardo - Gallardo took a big step forward last year. He went deeper into games mainly because getting that pitch count in games by throwing more strikes and cutting down on his walks. What's scary is he just turned 26 in February. I remember reading about Gallardo three years ago that many baseball people felt Gallardo would win a Cy Young. One red flag is Gallardo is inconsistent. He's very mediocre before going on run last summer but there are still way too many bad outings for a guys with his stuff. That's the only thing stopping Gallardo from becoming an ace.
Zack Grienke - After missing the month of April last year and a slow start Grienke still finished with an impressive final stat line. However the slow start did cost him in terms of his ERA being at 3.83. Another player in his contract so looking to light up his stat sheet and score a mega contract.
Cole Hamels - Other than the wins last year Hamels had an ace year. If He can repeat last years performance he will be a proven ace. Another player playing for a huge contract as he is a free agent after this season.
Ian Kennedy - Saw some good things in 2010 from Kennedy in terms of his ratio and K's although last year was a big surprise. I felt Kennedy in 2010 was a guy who was a $15 pitcher and thought he could break through and become a low $20 pitcher last year. Instead he put up an ace like year. Pay him in your respective drafts as a front end starter but if he goes ace like prices then let another owner get him. I need to see it again in terms of production like last year.
Mat Latos - A lot of people thought 2011 Latos would become an ace. His numbers were good but not great thanks to a slow start. Latos is very capable of becoming an ace in the NL for years to come. He's now on a much better team and a team that can score so his wins will go way up. But how does Latos make the transition from Petco to the Great American Ballpark? Figure on a real good year from Latos (worth in the low 20's in NL only leagues) but don't count on an ace year just yet.
Stephen Strasburg - This guy as long as he can stay healthy will be an ace I believe but not in 2012. The Nats are going to be very cautious with Strasburg in terms of his pitch count, how far he goes in games and his innings pitched for the season ( I don't think he will pass 160 Innings). Having said that Strasburg can give you a strong 150 innings and be ready to become a full fledged ace in 2013.
Adam Wainwright - This guys is already an ace but remember he missed all of 2011 due to Tommy John Surgery. So expect 2012 to be a $20 year in NL only leagues and then next season for Wainwright to go back to his ace like ways as we last saw in 2010.
NL King - C.Lizza