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25 Pitchers To Watch

You've seen my starting pitcher rankings, so you have an idea of guys I like statistically for 2010.  However, I can guarantee you that we'll see some bona fide fantasy baseball studs emerge this year that didn't crack my rankings and in many mixed leagues aren't being drafted at all.  Here are 25 pitchers to watch that you can draft in the 13th round or later of a 12-team mixed league.

  • Felipe Paulino, Astros.  He averaged 95.4 on his fastball last year, and his control and groundball rates weren't bad either.  He whiffed 35 in his final six starts.
  • Dustin McGowan, Blue Jays.  He had a very strong second half in '07, making him one of my top breakout picks for '08.  That '07 season included a 94.7 mph average fastball and a 53% groundball rate, a pair of traits you don't often see outside of Felix Hernandez.  He had shoulder surgery in July of '08 and reports this spring have been positive.  He still might not break camp with the team, but don't let him slip your mind.
  • Francisco Liriano, Twins.  Liriano's numbers in 2006 were filthy in every way.  Several years removed from Tommy John surgery, it's worth a 16th-round pick to see if he can rediscover even 75% of what he was in '06.
  • Edwin Jackson, Diamondbacks.  Given the 13 wins and 214 innings for the Tigers last year, maybe 2009 was Jackson's breakout season.  Fantasy leaguers are expressing skepticism, making him a 15th round pick.  His peripherals weren't amazing, so that's fair.  Still, he averages 94.5 mph and is moving to the easier league.
  • Homer Bailey, Reds.  Just a 24th-round flyer in most fantasy leagues, despite once being considered one of the best prospects in the game.  He's the definition of a post-hype sleeper.  He throws as hard as Jackson and struck out 42 in his last seven starts.
  • Ervin Santana, Angels.  Just a year removed from a monster season, Santana is going in the 19th round.  Maybe his elbow won't hold up, but it's not much of an investment.
  • Mat Latos, Padres.  He's not even being drafted most mixed leagues.  Latos brings the velocity, control, and ballpark you want, though his innings could be limited by the team.
  • Robinson Tejeda, Royals.  He's not a lock for the rotation, but he did whiff 32 over his six starts and averages 94.
  • Bud Norris, Astros. Throws 94 and gets the Ks, though his control hasn't arrived yet.
  • Brad Penny, Cardinals.  His strikeout rate never matches his velocity, but I'm curious to see what Dave Duncan does with him.
  • Phil Hughes, Yankees.  He appears to be the favorite for the fifth starter job.  He was dominant out of the pen last year; can he hold on to the success for six or seven-innings at a time?
  • Max Scherzer, Tigers.  He's going in the 13th round, so there is some appreciation for the 174 Ks he logged in 170.3 innings last year.  If he improves his control against lefties and limits the longball, there could be even more here.
  • Clay Buchholz, Red Sox.  Currently a 17th-rounder, Buchholz has the best groundball rate on this list, throws 93.5, and plays for the Red Sox.  His home run rate should come down.
  • Jorge de la Rosa, Rockies.  Contract year, big velocity for a lefty, solid groundball rate.  He's a 200 strikeout candidate and could really break out with a control improvement.
  • Vince Mazzaro, Athletics.  He was shut down with shoulder pain last year, but at least brings a 93 mph heater and a pitcher's park.
  • Matt Garza, Rays.  A control improvement might lead to his best year yet.
  • Johnny Cueto, Reds.  Cueto tailed off in the second half as his control slipped.  If he can combine the 8.0 K/9 with the 2.5 BB/9, watch out.
  • Mike Pelfrey, Mets.  We're not hearing much about Pelfrey this year, but even in an off-2009 he had a 51.3% groundball rate and 92.6 mph fastball.  Never struck out many, though.
  • Jason Hammel, Rockies.  Lot of groundballs, 92 mph fastball.  Under the radar despite a breakout '09.  He was dominant in the season's final month.
  • Wade Davis, Rays.  Like Norris, he's got the velocity and Ks but the control might need time.  His appeal is somewhat limited by the AL East.
  • Jeremy Bonderman, Tigers.  He's gotten good reviews this spring.  Bonderman was once a perennial breakout candidate due to a strikeout/groundball combo.
  • Brian Matusz, Orioles.  He's one of the top rookies to watch, a player Baseball America has compared to Brett Anderson.
  • Ross Ohlendorf, Pirates.  I'm intrigued by his September 5th start against the Cardinals.  Not ready to go after him but he's worth monitoring. 
  • Colby Lewis, Rangers.  He's a sleeper after two dominant seasons in Japan.
  • Ian Kennedy, Diamondbacks.  He's finally healthy and has a rotation job in Arizona.  Like Ohlendorf, worth watching.
  • This list was not meant to be comprehensive; I'm sure you'll also be watching Stephen Strasburg, Neftali Feliz, Ben Sheets, David Price, Rick PorcelloKevin Slowey, Jonathan Sanchez, Aroldis Chapman, Derek Holland, Jeremy Hellickson, and others.  Tell me your picks in the comments.

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