Finding pitching value on the free agent market can be tough. Everyone wants to find one of the breakout pitchers – last year it was Jose Fernandez and Kenley Jansen. A question that all fantasy baseball owners have running through their mind is, “Who will it be this year?” These are some of my breakout picks this season. Even if these pitchers do not have a fantastic year, they are still good candidates to fill in for the many injuries we’ve already seen this year to players like Yu Darvish, Doug Fister, Hisashi Iwakuma, Cole Hamels and Mike Minor.
Jose Quintana, in my opinion, is very underrated. Quintana should be the third pitcher in the Chicago White Sox starting rotation this season, behind Chris Sale and John Danks. The hard throwing lefty put up good numbers last year – a 3.51 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in 200 innings.
Quintana is only 25 years old and has seen consistent improvement in his numbers throughout his short career. From 2012 to 2013, he more than doubled his strike outs but only walked 14 more batters over 63.2 additional innings. On March 24, the White Sox gave Quintana a five-year, $26.5 million extension; this extension shows the faith that the organization has in his ability. Quintana should be available in most leagues; by season’s end, I expect Quintana to be worthy of a roster spot in almost all league formats.
Scott Feldman is not ace material, but he does highlight the Houston Astros lowly pitching rotation. 2013 was a good statistical year for Feldman; he set his career record in ERA and strike outs. While he’s not the most dominant pitcher, he is consistent.
Many pitchers vary wildly between the first and second half of the season, but Feldman posted nearly identical numbers in 2013 – a 3.86 ERA in the first half and a 3.88 ERA in the second half. Those numbers are especially impressive because he was traded from the Chicago Cubs to the Baltimore Orioles in early July. He played in two of the toughest divisions in baseball and pitched consistently well in both divisions.
Now, he’s moved to the AL West, a division in which he’s pitched before. Feldman was a member of the Texas Rangers from 2005 until 2012. His familiarity with the teams in the AL West may help him put up even better numbers in 2014; although don’t expect him to win many games, he is playing in Houston after all. Feldman is owned in less than one percent of ESPN Fantasy Baseball leagues.
Corey Kluber has high potential for a breakout season. The 27-year-old-pitcher was given the starting job early in the 2013 campaign and proved that he deserved it. Kluber was dominant, striking out 136 batters over 147.1 innings. He faced a few injuries in August, but managed to start 24 games last year. Kluber had a 3.85 ERA on the season, but he was much better at home; his ERA was an outstanding 2.76 during home games, but jumped up to a dismal 4.98 on the road. The Indians should make Kluber the number two starter behind Justin Masterson. This will be the first season that Kluber has started on a Major League roster. If Kluber can stay healthy, he has the potential to post 170 or more strike outs with a 3.50 ERA.
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