The Cubs biggest move of the offseason may have impacted the rotation, but there are still plenty of questions on how the other four players will perform. The Cubs won the Jon Lester sweepstakes, but the rest of the rotation remains intact. Even Jason Hammel can back after a brief departure to Oakland. While Hammel and Jake Arrieta have plenty of upside, the team will still have to depend on a shaky back-end. Aside from Lester, who can you really trust moving forward?
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There is, potentially, a lot to like about the Brewers’ outfield this season. After a second straight season with a wOBA over .360, Carlos Gomez has settled in as a top-10 option in most leagues, and close to a sure thing as far as production. Ryan Braun, on the other hand, seems to have gone in the opposite direction. Much of the Brewers’ value in the outfield will be based on whether Braun can get back to his mashing ways, and whether Khris Davis can regain his midseason surge. There’s opportunity for a fantasy bonanza here, but it comes with a fair amount of risk.
It’s time for our Depth Chart Discussions to begin. In an effort to suss out every team, we’ve divided them into four parts (infield, outfield, bullpen, and rotation) and will begin breaking them down for you over the next few weeks. You can find them gathered here.
Projection systems are usually pretty great when it comes to veterans. The players have typically accumulated a fair amount of stats during their career, making it easier to peg their expected value for the upcoming season. The Indians will open the season with three veterans in the outfield. The Indians outfield is incredibly difficult to project.
There are reasons for that, of course. One of their players is coming off what looks to be an exceptional career year, another spent the entire second half injured and the third is hoping to reverse course after two disappointing years. There could be a lot to like in Cleveland’s outfield, but there are also plenty of questions.
This post continues our Depth Chart Discussions. In an effort to suss out every team, we’ve divided them into four parts (infield, outfield, bullpen, and rotation) and will continue to break them down for you over the next few weeks. You can find the Depth Chart Discussion posts gathered here.
In an offseason defined by a bevy of moves, the White Sox biggest acquisition may have come in the rotation. Adding Jeff Samardzija not only announced the team’s plans to compete this season, but it also gave them three fantastic starters at the top of the rotation. The secondary effect of adding a strong top-of-the-rotation pitcher is that the other players in the rotation get moved down a peg. For the White Sox, this was a significant development. While the club should by strong at the top, the bottom of the rotation contains some big questions for fantasy owners.
Missing on an early-round pick is one of the surest ways to ruin your fantasy season. Owners who wound up with Ryan Braun or Joey Votto last season probably had to get creative during the season in order to remain competitive in their leagues. While missing on a pick can be devastating, the first couple rounds of a draft are rarely stressful for the prepared owner. You have an idea of which players will be on the board when you pick, and it’s not too difficult to make a list of the top-20 players in your league. Even if you do that, different strategies may force you to change your mind. So, how do you prepare for the first few rounds of your draft?
We here at RotoGraphs are committed to providing readers with the hottest fantasy content on the web. We’re so dedicated to this, that we’re willing to do a mock draft two full months before the real fun starts. That’s right, over the next week or so, we’ll be covering our mock draft for the site. These articles will cover specific moves, player comparisons and the different strategies used by owners, among other things. If nothing else, they should give owners an early look at how drafts will pan out in a few months. With that said, let’s dive right into the first round.
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Miami Marlins pitcher Henderson Alvarez is an enigma. Despite a fastball that regularly hits the mid-90s, he doesn’t strike anybody out. While strikeouts aren’t the key to being a good pitcher, they sure help a lot. That’s why it was so surprising when Alvarez posted a 2.65 ERA over 187 innings last season. Alvarez did that with the seventh-lowest strikeout rate among all starting pitchers. Strikeouts aren’t everything, of course. There’s much more that goes into being a good pitcher, and Alvarez displays those skills often. He doesn’t give up walks, and generally keeps the ball on the ground. Those skills usually make up a very successful pitcher, but they rarely lead to a player posting the 11th best ERA in a season.
Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Chris Archer lived up to expectations in 2014. While Archer’s performance during his rookie season was strong, there were still some questions about his ability moving forward. His 3.22 ERA was strong, but his 4.07 FIP indicated things weren’t as rosy as they appeared. On top of that, there were questions about Archer’s ability to retain a manageable walk rate. There was also the issue of Archer relying on mostly two pitches, which led to some unfavorable numbers against left-handers.
Archer put most of those concerns to bed in 2014. There was no regression due to luck. In fact, Archer’s ERA and FIP nearly matched. While his walk rate did jump slightly, it remained at an acceptable level. And lefties, well, they were hardly an issue the second time around.
There were few expectations placed on Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura last season. While he was considered the favorite to open the year as the team’s fifth starter, Ventura had only made three starts in the majors. The potential was there, but Ventura came with a lot of uncertainty. Once he got the job, Ventura proved he was a fifth starter in name only. Over 183 innings, the 23-year-old posted a 3.20 ERA, with a 3.60 FIP. By the playoffs, Ventura had emerged as the Royals second most dependable starter behind James Shields. With Shields expected to leave town during the offseason, Ventura will enter 2015 with enormous expectations. Will he provide an encore?
Oakland Athletics pitcher Scott Kazmir did it again. After an amazing comeback in 2013, Kazmir proved his gains were legitimate. Kazmir not only improved his ERA and FIP during the second year of his comeback, but managed to stay healthy enough to log 190.1 innings. The only time Kazmir have ever thrown more innings was back in 2007. On top of all that, Kazmir is 31, meaning he’s not necessarily a candidate for decline just yet.
We can’t just push aside Kazmir’s past, though. Injuries defined his early career, forcing him out of the game during the 2011 season. That year, he was topping out at 88 mph on his sinker, according to BrooksBaseball.net. While the comeback has been inspiring, Kazmir is still an issue with a lot of baggage. Can fantasy owners trust him moving forward?