2014 List of 12
Hey folks, while waiting for the World Series to start, here’s the List of 12 for 2014!
For the uninitiated, the concept of the List of 12 is that we look for starting pitchers who crossed the 500 career innings barrier during the previous season, and focus on them as breakout candidates for the upcoming season. The theory behind this is that it takes pitchers at least a couple of seasons to fully adjust to pitching in the Majors, so as fantasy owners we want to find guys who are ready to have breakout seasons but might still be a little under the radar. Some of these guys are already great, and some will continue to stink, but if you’re looking for guys who are ready to take the next step, this list is a good place to start.
The original list was only 12 guys – hence the name – but the filtering criteria sometimes produce more than that many, and this year we have 15. In case anyone would like to review the results from past seasons, here are the last four years’ worth:
As for this year…
Chris Sale – he’s already a stud, and in 2013 he increased his strikeout and ground ball rates while cutting his walks. Concerns remain about his durability, but he threw 214.1 IP last year and averaged over 7.0 IP per start, so expect to pay Ace prices for him in 2014.
Mike Minor – in 46 starts since the 2012 All-Star Game, he has a 2.90 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 7.6 K/9 rate. That may not make him an Ace, but if he’s your #2, you probably have the best pitching staff in your league. He should be able to maintain that level, or close to it, in 2014.
Kris Medlen – he didn’t match his 1.57 ERA of 2012 but then again a 3.11 mark is strong by any standard. His strikeout rate dipped slightly, not unexpected given the permanent move from the bullpen to the rotation, but he gets a ton of grounders and should top 200 innings for the first time in 2014, making him a very strong #2 or #3 starter.
Ivan Nova – he was outstanding after returning from Triple-A, scrapping his slider and relying more heavily on his power sinker to generate a career-best ground ball rate with strong strikeout numbers. He’ll be 27 this season and his rotation spot is now secure, so a career year could be in the offing.
Charlie Morton – he was outstanding after rejoining the rotation in the second half, with a career-best strikeout rate thanks to improved velocity on his sinker. His command can be shaky at times but I’m very intrigued about what he might offer in his first 200-inning season, if and when that time comes. I’m buying.
Chris Tillman – his strikeout rate went up in 2013, but his walks went up too, and he was very homer-prone due to an increase in his fly ball and HR/FB rates. Tillman doesn’t have jaw-dropping stuff, but he mixes and commands well, and gets good results with his fastball despite unspectacular velocity. Look for more of the same in 2014.
Dillon Gee – I liked him as a sleeper last year and was vindicated after his outstanding second half. He doesn’t throw very hard but has developed excellent command of all four of his pitches, though he can be homer-prone when he finds too much of the zone. There’s room for a little more growth here, but even without it he’s a solid mid-rotation option.
Jhoulys Chacin – he’s posted ERA’s of 3.47, 3.62 and 3.28 in his last three healthy seasons while pitching his home games in Coors Field, so he must be doing something right. His strikeout rate last season was mediocre, and he enjoyed some luck on his HR/FB rate, but he gets enough grounders to survive. Still, without more strikeouts, it’s hard to make him a buying target.
Travis Wood – doesn’t throw hard, gives up too many fly balls, puts up decent but not great strikeout and walk numbers, and hasn’t shown much growth in his last three seasons. But, he posted a 3.11 ERA in 200 innings last year and has a 3.83 mark in 564.2 career IP, so he must be doing something right. Smells like Buehrle in here.
Jeremy Hellickson – his results defied expectations for two seasons, but the opposite occurred last year, as his ERA spiked by two runs despite improvements in his strikeout and walk rates. The truth is probably somewhere in between, so bet on a rebound to middle- or end-of-the-rotation usefulness.
Jaime Garcia – a holdover from last year’s list, he was off to a strong start before shoulder injuries sidelined him for the season. I’m still a fan of his ground ball and strikeout rates though, so I’ll be monitoring his health and role in 2014.
Tim Stauffer – he was very effective in long relief after returning from Tommy John surgery, so effective in fact that he probably won’t get to compete for a rotation spot in 2014. Still, he’s one to watch during the season in the event he gets the chance to start in the second half, a la Kris Medlen in 2012.
Ross Ohlendorf – he showed improved velocity after recovering from shoulder woes, but not enough stamina to hold a rotation spot, so he appears ticketed for long relief in 2014. A potential Pitch or Ditch sleeper if he gets another crack at the rotation, though.
Wade Davis – he has a 4.57 career ERA as a starter vs. 2.24 as a reliever, with zero saves. Those three figures, combined, suggest that he will not have any meaningful fantasy value in 2014.
James McDonald – a holdover from the 2013 list, it’s unclear if he’ll be healthy in 2014 or where he’ll pitch if he is. He’s teased before but never delivered a full season of the goods, so he’s purely a lottery ticket even if you do buy in.
Enjoy the World Series!