Fantasy Baseball: Revisiting SP Leap Forward Predictions — Part 2

Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Last February, I named 10 pitchers who finished 2012 as fantasy spot starters that I felt were ready to become full time guys for your fantasy rotations. Now that the season is over and we’re looking forward to 2013, it’s time to do some re-visiting.

On Monday, we looked at how I did with the first five guys (link here). Today, we finish the Top-10 off with the second half. Before we start, please let me wish you a Merry Christmas and on behalf of all of us, I’d like to thank you for reading our stuff and continuing to visit our site.

 

Mike Minor, Atlanta Braves

  • What Happened? 
Season
IP
H-BB
K
W-L
ERA
WHIP
2012179.1151-5614511-104.121.154
2013204.2177-4618113-93.211.090

Now Mike Minor is a guy who built upon a good 2012 and had an even better 2013. Coming off of what was a good 2012 season, Minor was better (even if only by a little) in pretty much every way in 2013 and was the 17th ranked pitcher on the ESPN Player Rater, one spot ahead of Stephen Strasburg.

  • How Does 2014 Look?

You might expect a bit of regression from Minor in 2014, if only because 2013 was just so good. But the Braves have a great organization for pitching, aided by a fantastic pitcher’s ballpark. Minor turns 26 tomorrow and honestly, his best days would appear to be in front of him. This kid can absolutely deal!

 

Jonathon Niese, New York Mets

  • What Happened? 
Season
IP
H-BB
K
W-L
ERA
WHIP
2012190.1174-4915513-93.401.172
2013143158-481058-83.711.441

I don’t know exactly why this is. I’m not a Mets fan and Niese is from Ohio while I’m from California. But somehow, someway, Jon Niese became one of my guys.

As for what went wrong in 2013, Niese dealt with some injuries, and that clearly hurt his performance early in the year. It’s worth noting that his ERA wasn’t that much worse from 2012 to 2013. You might look at the two and see a big difference but at 143 innings, the difference between 3.40 and 3.71 is five earned runs. That literally comes down to one pitch or two.

  • How Does 2014 Look?

Niese is a quality Major League pitcher and in deep leagues, I could justify having him on the roster, but I’d only start him in favorable match-ups. The problem is that while he’s only 27, Niese appears to be a guy with limited fantasy value.

Yes, his ERA over the last two seasons has been a respectable 3.54, but that’s where it stops. Niese is not a terrible strikeout guy, but his career WHIP is 1.376 and aside from 2012, he’s never been below 1.40. If you can’t rely on an ERA/WHIP range of 3.50/1.25 or better from a starter, you really need about a strikeout an inning, and Niese is not that guy.

As long as he’s healthy, I’d monitor him and give him a good look as a stream guy when going against poor offenses. He’ll probably make Dixon’s Picks a few times throughout the year. But as for full-year fantasy value, I’m not seeing it.

 

Jeff Samardzija, Chicago Cubs

  • What Happened? 
Season
IP
H-BB
K
W-L
ERA
WHIP
2012174.2157-561809-133.811.219
2013213.2210-782148-134.341.348

Jeff Samardzija has had a lot of different phases of his career. In 2013, he was the undisputed ace and unfortunately, teams adjusted well to him. Unfortunately, Samardzija had a lot of things go a little worse in 2013 from 2012 and it all added up to a much weaker season.

  • How Does 2014 Look?

Samardzija has been such a hot trade topic all offseason, but I’m not exactly seeing it. As a starter, he’s at right around a strikeout an inning, but that’s where it stops. As a starter, the Shark also has an ERA of 4.32 and a WHIP of 1.321, which is ugly.

Because of his strikeouts and overall raw potential, Samardzija will be on fantasy rosters next year, but I’ll be waiting until the end of the drafts to take him. He’s a great buy low option, but it’s just as likely that he’ll crash-and-burn. With a late draft pick, that’s not such a big concern. But if he busts from a pick earlier than that final third of the draft, you’re going to really feel it.

 

Drew Smyly, Detroit Tigers 

  • What Happened? 
Season
IP
H-BB
K
W-L
ERA
WHIP
201299.193-33944-33.991.268
20137662-17816-02.371.039

Well, Drew Smyly posted good numbers, only as a reliever. The Tigers bullpen was pretty poor in 2013, especially in the postseason, but Smyly was absolutely a bright spot. With Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Anibal Sanchez, Doug Fister, and Rick Porcello, the Tigers rotation was a tough one to crack. Still, Smyly, who won’t even turn 25 until June, gave plenty of reason to believe that he’ll be a good guy for the future.

  • How Does 2014 Look?

Well, Fister is gone, so Smyly should enter 2014 as one of the Tigers’ five starters. I have a slight fear that Smyly will end up being a guy better used as a reliever. We went over it with Wade Davis in Part 1 and have seen guys like Phil Hughes and Tyler Clippard just appear to be much better suited in the bullpen. But until Smyly gives me reason to fear him as a starter, I’m looking at him as a good late-round/waiver wire option in the drafts. If he gets relegated to the bullpen, this is a potentially great MRI guy.

 

Jason Vargas, Los Angeles Angels (Kansas City Royals)

  • What Happened? 
Season
IP
H-BB
K
W-L
ERA
WHIP
2012217.1201-5514114-113.851.178
2013150162-461099-84.021.387

Much like Niese, Jason Vargas has somehow become one of my guys. When your guys struggle, you take it personally, right? Well, that happened to me. In 2013, much like Niese, I focused a little too much on a promising 2012 and not his body of work.

Vargas missed some time during the year and had a hard time replicating 2012′s success. Although the ERA’s were similar, he couldn’t keep runners off of the bases, which is killer for a below-average strikeout guy.

  • How Does 2014 Look?

We’ll stick with the Niese comparison. Against bad teams, I’ll trust Vargas’ ability to pound the strike zone and stream him for a good start or two.

Vargas is not a bad pitcher, although he is overpaid. But as far as his fantasy value as a full-time guy, pass and go with a young, raw arm who’s got a higher ceiling.

Topics: Drew Smyly, Jason Vargas, Jeff Samardzija, Jon Niese, Mike Minor, Sleepers, Starting Pitching

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