Another year, another Frugal 15: my list of starting pitchers that won't require a big wallet but can deliver similar returns of top, expensive names.
Cutter to fuel Cobb breakout?
I tried my best to limit this to anyone outside the top 50 of mixed SP ADPs (why I'm not including the likes of Dan Haren, Brandon Morrow, Tim Lincecum, Jon Lester, Jake Peavy and many others), but I've included exceptions where I feel they apply. You can't call them sleepers; they're hardly forgotten commodities. But many have an ace ceiling, and more simply and accurately, many drafters just forget these arms' steady values.
In a loose listing order:
Homer Bailey, Cincinnati Reds
Though he faced a lot of pushovers during his brilliant run last year, plenty of tangible growth awaits this diversely cached control-leaner who was once a top prospect. The 27-year-old (already a vet) won't post an elite K/9, but if the stars align for a true breakthrough, would you care?
Doug Fister, Detroit Tigers
You'll have to make up for strikeouts with another source; he'll probably lose some from last year. Still, he brandishes superior command of his pitches and finally knows how to use them for K's. He's not on this list for upside, but instead for cemented stability.
Trevor Cahill, Arizona Diamondbacks
His K/9 has grown by at least half a punchout in each of the last three years, and the resulting BB/9 sacrifices don't kill him because he still induces an elite amount of bouncers. Even if he's merely hit a plateau, he's a sound, unheralded investment. But at just 25, years after he was considered a bigger blue chip than Brett Anderson, Cahill has room to deliver more.
Jarrod Parker, Oakland Athletics
The innings jump was curtailed by his late-season velocity boost. That keeps his strikeout upside attractive for the near future; he's not just a fireballer anymore - he's gained pitching smarts, and anyone in Oakland with his profile warrants consideration, if not an extra dollar.
Alexi Ogando, Texas Rangers
Don't fret over his erratic spring; he's changing roles again and simply needed a bit to adjust. He won't induce as many whiffs as he did from the 'pen, but there's a good chance he'll top the total from his 2011 rotation stint. Heck, even a repeat of that will earn you bank.
Mike Minor, Atlanta Braves
The deceptive southpaw earned some polish last year - among other forward steps, learning to alter his mindset with runners on base. Corrections in BAABIP and LOB% may cancel out. Just as long as you don't expect a simultaneous pairing of his 2011 K/9 (8.38) and his 2012 BB/9 (2.81), you won't be disappointed. Still, he's likely to be the most overpriced member of this group.
Matt Harvey, New York Mets
For that crown, however, Minor faces competition from this righty, who could surpass him at this rate. K's overrule most of his flaws the later you get in a draft, but if you make Harvey one of your most important pitchers, you could be in for a frustrating year if his control problems continue.
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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