Great to see you back in action, bogfella. Your pitching insights are always sage and are greatly appreciated.
(-) Brandon Morrow: I know you've always loved him, bog, but I'm still fairly wary of his injury history and his walk rate. We've seen high walk guys curb their habit for entire years before only to have them crash and burn back into old habits the very next season. When analyzing and projecting for guys like Morrow, I'm reminded of Oliver Perez back in '04. Perez was studly that season, and we all thought he'd turned a corner. Then he went out in '05 and proceeded to give back all the "gains" he'd supposedly earned the previous year. The next Randy Johnson really is incredibly difficult to foresee.
(-) Jonathan Sanchez: I like the guy, but I think he outperformed his component stats by a solid margin last year with little in the way of actual legitimate skill improvement. I'd be drafting for a 4+ ERA and 1.30+ WHIP, but someone out there will snatch him up earlier because they'll believe the improved superficial stats from 2010.
(-) Jaime Garcia: Fantasy owners like to notice good 1st halves much moreso than they do good spurts in between or at the end. Garcia will probably be drafted a bit too high based on his unsustainable numbers from the first half of 2010. I think he's a good pitcher, and his groundball-inducing arsenal along with his strikeout stuff intrigue me enough to have some solid hopes for his future. But in the end, I think Garcia may be a little overrated going into 2011.
(-) Jeremy Hellickson: Does anyone know a single soul who's had a bad thing to say about this guy? For the life of me, I can't find anyone I know who wouldn't snatch Hellickson up in a draft. I think he'll probably be taken a couple rounds too early (or for a couple bucks too much) just because of how good he's been thus far coupled with how glowing the scouting reviews are. Why am I leery of him? Simple -- innings pitched. I doubt he throws over 160 innings this year, and that's a huge deal as far as fantasy is concerned. If you're in a daily transaction league and have the roster space to utilize some good MR's to fill up some of those lost innings, it's possible you'll get the most bang for your buck. But be wary of the innings cap on this guy.
(-) Jered Weaver: General regression theory leads me to believe he won't be quite as good as last year (an uptick in walks coupled with a downtick in strikeouts seem likely). And many people simply bid on the previous year's stats. So I think he'll be a bit overvalued going into 2011, although I still believe he'll be a good pitcher. In other words, I believe it's possible that 2010 was Weaver's career year.
(=) Brett Anderson: I agree with a previous poster who said he has good skills, but the injury concerns are both real and have a chance to really mar a season of owning this guy. I think he'll go low enough to maybe garner the owner with some profit if he stays healthy, but that's the kind of dice roll I'm only taking if I need to make up ground at that point in the draft.
(+) James Shields: Shields is my slight favorite of the guys who throw lots of strikes and therefore have an inflated HR/9 (others in this category include Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey, and Ricky Nolasco -- all of whom have some room for regression/rebound) He'd be much more interesting if he'd have been dealt out of the AL BEast, but there's a very solid potential for rebound here. He has the ability to give good WHIP, solid K's, Wins, and an ERA near 4. Just don't start him in Fenway or you're playing with napalm.
(+) John Lackey: It was surprising to me, upon perusing the 1st half/2nd half splits from 2010, to find that John Lackey actually had a fairly Lackey-like 2nd half last year. I'd project more of the same in 2011 with a 4.00 ERA and 1.30 WHIP as the base line, but there's a little wiggle room for improvement if his home BABIP normalizes and his road numbers regress properly.
(+) Ted Lilly: He's almost always drafted too low. His fastball is getting close to the end of the line, but I think he's got at least one more profitable season left in him. Yay crafty veteran southpaws.
(+) Zack Greinke: The move to the NL should reap immediate benefits for his numbers, and I think we'll see a newly dedicated Greinke who is ready to put the hellhole that was the Kansas City organization behind him.
(+) Michael Pineda: Pineda seems to have an ideal defense and very good ballpark behind him, and once you mix in his good fastball and control, I think there's a chance at 130+ innings worth of an ERA near 4.00 with a WHIP in the 1.20's. He certainly needs to continue to work on his change-up, but his slider should be a good punch-out pitch against righties. [WARNING: I am a Mariners fan, so take this with a grain of salt ]