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Tim Dierkes' Picks For 2014 - Starting Pitchers

On Tuesday I gave you my picks for position players.  Now here's a look at the starting pitchers who kept winding up on my teams, plus a few other thoughts.

  • Masahiro Tanaka - Do you want to take a starting pitcher in one of the first five rounds?  Most people do.  I mostly find a lot of risk and not a ton of profit potential in that top tier, though I'm open to Chris Sale and Jose Fernandez in the fourth round and Justin Verlander and David Price in the fifth.  One potential tier-jumper is Tanaka.  Back in February I talked to an international scouting director who was convinced Tanaka is already one of the ten best pitchers in MLB, and the conversation stuck with me.  I think he'll whiff more than eight per nine innings with a low WHIP.  The larger questions are how many innings he'll throw and how many home runs he'll allow, but hey, that's why he's available in the sixth round or later.  I grabbed him in the tenth round in one league.
  • Marco Estrada - I can't help but wonder if Estrada is the new Ricky Nolasco, a guy with health issues whose ERA never matches his peripherals.  I don't like Estrada's lack of velocity or groundballs.  However, I think enough people got burned by him as a sleeper last year that he's falling in drafts, so he's a good gamble in the 17th or 18th round as one of your last starters.  He won't kill your WHIP, at least.
  • Danny Salazar - One of the most popular sleeper types, which has driven up his price in some leagues.  He went in the eighth round in the RotoAuthority League, which is too rich for my blood.  In the 11th or later, definitely.  Salazar's 52 Major League innings last year checked every box aside from groundballs, though he might top out around 170 innings.
  • Sonny Gray - Another guy who checked most boxes in a small big league sample, Gray actually did get groundballs.  He's worth a 10th or 11th round pick.
  • Tyson Ross - I have a little concern about his control, but I'm hoping he's tough enough to hit to make up for it.  Ross had that elusive combination of strikeouts and groundballs in his half-season of starting last year, plus he plays in San Diego and can be taken late in a draft.
  • Corey Kluber - Kluber's another peripheral-based favorite of many, though he's allowed a lot of hits throughout his career.  If you're a believer in his BABIP dropping, he's worth an endgame pick for sure.
  • Alex Cobb - He's not a sleeper, but his spring training was so dominant it makes me wonder if he can jump into the top tier of pitchers this year.  
  • Jeff Samardzija - People have backed away from Samardzija after he failed to make progress last year.  Control is the only remaining piece of the puzzle for him.  Even if it doesn't come, you get 200+ Ks.
  • Matt Garza - People hate Garza this year.  Every time I look at the top of my spreadsheet near the end of a draft, Garza's there as the best available pitcher.  I think people are overrating the health risk and his terrible spring.  I'm a little wary of him too, I get it.  But his draft position has been so low in my leagues, I had no choice but to take him.  What part of this is unreasonable: 3.63 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 8.2 K/9, 2.7 BB/9?  I drafted him in the 25th round of the competitive RotoAuthority League.  Don't take a boring Ervin Santana type over Garza.  There is still upside here for a quality year.
  • Chris Tillman - The AL East is no fun, but his second half says breakout potential and he's going very late in drafts.   

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