What's the state of the rotation?
Even with some danger looming, this looks like one of the league's most underrated groups.
Skaggs: not quite yet
What was the difference between Ian Kennedy's 2011 and 2012? Peripherally, not much, but that ERA ballooning of 1.14 runs masked the statistical repeat elsewhere. This is a deceptively stable profile that, despite homer problems, could offer the line of a fringe ace.
Trevor Cahill looks like the real steal here. He's getting more batters to chase his secondary offerings, including a budding slide piece. On the heels of a 9.3 swinging-strike rate, 2012 marked the third straight year Cahill bumped his K/9 - talk about quiet growth. Not that the 7.02 he generated last year is elite, but there's probably a bit more left in his soon-to-be 25-year-old arm. Even if that's his ceiling, many of your league mates will forget how Cahill has at least solidified the more alluring half of his grounder-strikeout pair.
Wade Miley, one of fantasy's biggest waiver dynamos, boasts a foundation that can sustain success with the right breaks. Still, he relies on his defense, and though it's improved with Prado now in tow, the lefty needs to get ahead in the count to "overpower" hitters. If more liners from his above-average rates start to carry, he could be in trouble. Someone will call his name before you should to have the honor of testing his validity. That should not upset you, given Miley's abundance of cheap peers with a lower tightrope.
Brandon McCarthy's K/9 remains a tenuous stat, but he pounds the zone so often that he elicits fine results, and even with his less friendly park, he's in the more favorable league for his methods. How will he bounce back - physically and mentally - after his gruesome injury last year and ongoing shoulder trials? For what it'll cost to call his name, you shouldn't hesitate to find out if he'll keep up his floor of quality mixed depth and his ceiling of ace-like runs.
Randall Delgado and Tyler Skaggs represent the most alluring options for the fifth spot if they stay within the organization, and with a job, either would deserve at least mixed watch-list attention. Another piece of the Upton haul, Delgado needs his control to catch up to his dominance upside; his steady walk reduction last year, with the help of a two-seamer, shows he could take a significant step. Skaggs, 21, relies a bit too much on contact (notably fly balls) to make a dual-universe dent this year; he'll probably need more Triple-A time.
Daniel Hudson's return from Tommy John surgery should come late in the year; even if you stash him for all that time, though, his innings will merely be a tune-up for 2014, so you shouldn't target them.
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum competes in Tout Wars and LABR and has won several industry leagues in both baseball and football.
During baseball and football season, hear him every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore. On Thursdays, he visits 106.1 FM WMTI in New Orleans and Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, where he often crashes other shows, as well.
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