Before starting, I'll issue a generic "sample size" warning. But these command tidbits from spring training are significant enough to make you think twice about the players involved -- any hint of upside or downside should be used at this time of year.
Good to be a Milone-aire?
The pitch movement from Michael Pineda (14 K, 1 BB in 9 spring IP) looks vintage (for as much as 2011 can be). He's getting the tight spin back on his slider, notably. The labrum tear in his right shoulder has held him back, but he looks ready to dial things up. When that mixed SP5 tier comes calling, he'll be near the top of my list.
Whoever wins the Washington Nationals' fifth-starter job will be a sneaky fantasy buttress. Electric righty Taylor Jordan (13 K, 0 BB in 10 spring IP) needs some seasoning (avoiding umpire complaints, for example) but is poised to storm his way into mixed relevance sometime this season. His strikeout-grounder combo says big things could be on the way, especially if he can do more with his elite swinging-strike percentage in his MLB stint last year.
Tanner Roark, in the meantime, could deliver; he pounds the strike zone effectively and even after a major ERA correction, could deliver a capable back-end line with an above-average K%, accompanied by shiny control. Chris Young? Hopefully, he doesn't waste your attention.
Impending Tommy John surgery for Jarrod Parker (grumble) and A.J. Griffin's likely long lay-off with elbow tendonitis create some opportunities in the Oakland Athletics' quintet. Tommy Milone, a ready stand-in, added a two-seamer this spring and could, a la Roark, serve as a fine back-ender in mixed leagues, redeeming himself after his ERA hid a shiny K% and BB%. His homer issues should subside.
Don't bet on Jesse Chavez, because we may also see the resurrection of Drew Pomeranz (11 K, 2 BB in 6 1/3 spring IP). The former Cleveland Indians and Colorado Rockies arm finally lands in an organization that knows how to cultivate pitching. ('Dat home park, too....) This is probably the best NL-to-AL move a pitcher can make. The worm-burner also has forced opponents into empty cuts at a fine pace over his first two extended goes in the big leagues.
Pomeranz probably isn't draftable on your generic board, but he'll remind us all of his potential soon.
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, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.
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