Any of you who own Ublado Jimenez know he’s dominating the fantasy baseball landscape in 2010. It’s been a surprising start for a player who has played to 70 positions higher than his preseason rank, according to Yahoo.
There has been massive upheaval at the top of the pitcher ranks, led by Jimenez. Only 11 of the players who were in the preseason top 25 are in there now. They’ve been replaced, for the most part, with fresher arms.
Of the top 25 pitchers in fantasy baseball right now, 17 are under the age of 30. That youthful shift is reflected in the top five, where there are a number of surprising faces.
In fact, the only player in the top five who “belongs” there is Roy Halladay:
The top five pitchers in fantasy baseball in 2010
- Ubaldo Jimenez, age 26, Rockies — (+70 from his preseason ranking) 13-1, 3 complete games, 1.15 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 14 quality starts.
- Adam Wainwright, age 29, Cardinals — (+55) 9-4, 3 complete games, 97 Ks in 101 innings, 12 quality starts
- Josh Johnson, age 26, Marlins — (+60) 7-2, 89 Ks in 92 innings, 1.86 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 12 quality starts
- Roy Halladay, age 33, Phillies — (+3) 8-5, 5 complete games, 3 shutouts, 90Ks in 107 innings, 11 quality starts
- Matt Cain, age, 26, Giants — (+78) 6-4, 3 complete games, 2.05 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 11 quality starts
Talking points: Jimenez has been otherworldly and we can expect his pace to slow a bit, but it wouldn’t be surprising if he ends up as the top pitcher in 2010. … Cain has been lucky, but that’s his MO every year, and every year he puts up solid numbers. Still, he’s the most likely to drop out of the top 5 by season’s end. … Josh Johnson’s the biggest surprise on this list. His fielding independent pitching is an impressive 2.56 despite a lucky .270 batting average on balls in play. Johnson was a divisive player in the preseason and he’s rewarded the fantasy owners who backed him with picks.
Enough about the pitchers everybody already owns for now, let’s talk about some highly available pitchers who have performed well in the last month.
Five waiver wire options
- Brett Cecil — He is 5-1 with five quality starts in six games this month. He’s not striking out batters like he did in the low minors, but his ERA and WHIP reflect the promise he had during those years in AA and A. He struggled in AAA and with the Blue Jays last season, but he’s a good pickup for anyone who wants to go prospecting. He’s only 23 and showed 10 K/9 stuff at A-AA. Available in 49% of Yahoo leagues.
- Ted Lilly — On pace for more walks than he had last season, Lilly has still put up numbers close to the ones that made him a fantasy must-start in 2009. In the last month, every one of his five starts were of the quality variety. He’s 34, doesn’t strike out a ton of batters and is just 2-5, but Lilly will help your ERA and WHIP. Available in 45% of Yahoos.
- Trevor Cahill — Struggled after bypassing AAA on the way to the majors last season and struggled again for a stretch this season, but Cahill has won five in a row. He has dropped his ERA to 3.23 and his WHIP to 1.17. Cahill showed a 10+ K/9 in A and AA. If the 22-year-old can add that to his repertoire as he matures, he’ll be a fantasy stud. Cahill is available in 77% of Yahoo leagues.
- Jonathan Niese — Another young gun, Niese, 23, has won his last three starts — despite some shakiness in his last one — and posted a 1.57 ERA and an 0.87 WHIP in the last month. Niese had his first career complete game on June 10, a one-hit shutout against the Padres. His minor league numbers don’t project to major league greatness, so he’s probably a spot starter at best, but you play spot starters when they’re on a roll. Available in 86% of Yahoos.
- Colby Lewis — The 31-year-old has 81 Ks in 84 innings this season and 27 in 33.1 innings with four quality starts this month. Lewis, available in 33% of Yahoo leagues, is not dominating opposing lineups, but his strikeouts make up for that — especially if you’re dead last in Ks in a roto league.
There are a handful of pitchers who have been exceeding expectations who I don’t expect to continue their success. These are just a few of them, ranked in order of productivity in the last month:
Five players who can’t keep this up
- Carlos Silva — When the bough breaks and the cradle falls, Silva’s going to take your ERA and WHIP for a ride. Can’t believe a 31-year-old pitcher who once gave up 38 homers in a season can post remarkable career bests in K/9, BB/9, WHIP and ERA. That said, I rostered him in one league earlier this week. Gotta play out the string.
- Andy Pettitte — At age 38, even PEDs aren’t going to help Pettitte maintain his current pace — the second best ERA (2.47) and WHIP (1.11) of his 16-year career. He’s a lock for 15+ wins, but that ERA is likely to balloon into the 4s before we close the book on 2010.
- Yovani Gallardo — The 24-year-old still has time to change the trend, but… Career pre-All-Star break ERA: 2.92, career post-break ERA: 4.07. You can’t move him in a keeper/dynasty league unless it’s a really sweet deal, but in redrafts, his current 94 Ks in 88 innings and 2.66 ERA are a delicious selling point.
- R.A. Dickey — Five wins and 31 Ks in 38 innings this month. He’s 35 with a 5.22 career ERA and a career 1.56 WHIP. He’s available in 90% of Yahoo leagues and only the gamblinest of gamblers should add him.
- Stephen Strasburg — I know, right, but bear with me here. Dynasty/keeper owners, you can skip to the end because this is not the advice you’re looking for. Hey, you, in the redraft league, trade Strasburg now. He has 22 Ks and has given up just three runs in 12.1 innings. His stock couldn’t be much higher than it is. Just a reminder: Tim Lincecum struck out 150 in 146 innings in his rookie season, but also had some brutal stretches. At one point he gave up 22 runs in 19.2 innings. He ended the season giving up 23 runs in his final 41 innings at a 5.04 ERA clip.
What pitchers have you added off waivers or through trades this season? Who has been your most disappointing SP? Let us know in the comments. Also, be on the lookout for updated SP rankings in the next week.