For the second time in three seasons the San Francisco Giants are World Series Champions. This club laid down the blueprint for good pitching in 2010, and followed it up with a repeat performance last year. It’s safe to say the Giants have owned not only the West but all of Major League Baseball.
The NL West has a handful of question marks going into the new season. Can Ian Kennedy bounce back from a disappointing 2012? Will the Dodgers offseason signings payoff? And what head scratching moves will the Rockies coaching staff make in 2013? All these questions and more will be uncovered over the next several months.
The Dodgers have made some big moves at the plate and on the mound. Fresh off new ownership this roster has been revamped. The biggest move was inking Zack Greinke to a six year deal worth $147 million. They also made an interesting sign with Korean sensation Hyun-Jin Ryu, who they paid $25.7 million just to get the opportunity to talk to him.
When it comes down to it the Giants and Dodgers look like the clear favorites. They also look like they have the most talent on the pitching mound and could help any fantasy team. Don’t sleep on the potential Cy Young in Arizona and keep your eye out for a late sleeper pick in Edinson Volquez of the Padres. Without further adieu, the top fantasy pitchers in the NL West.
1. Clayton Kershaw, Starting Pitcher, Los Angeles Dodgers
Kershaw won the Cy Young two seasons ago and received second place in last year’s voting. At only 25 years of age the expectations are thru the roof for this lefty. He will give you at least 200 strikeouts, and don’t be surprised if he fans 230 by season’s end. He is one of the most dangerous pitchers in baseball and might be the best pitcher in the entire draft. Drafters should be happy with drafting Kershaw in the second round.
2. Matt Cain, Starting Pitcher, San Francisco Giants
At 28 years-old the right handed Cain looks poised for another stellar season. When you draft him you are getting a low ERA guy, along with 15-plus wins and the potential for 200 strikeouts. Cain is the ace of the staff and could put up super star numbers in 2013.
3. Madison Bumgarner, Starting Pitcher, San Francisco Giants
The West is chocked full of young talent and Bumgarner might be the most impressive of them all. You couldn’t tell by looking at him but Bumgarner is only 23 years-old and is only getting better. Drafting him could lead to 200 strikeouts and a mid-to-low ERA of three. He will be looking at around 215 innings of work this season. Coming off a World Series title he’s hungry for more.
4. Zack Greinke, Starting Pitcher, Los Angeles Dodgers
Some may argue that Bumgarner and Greinke could be switched here but either way you are drafting a reliable pitcher. He received the Cy-Young award with the Kansas City Royals in 2009. Although he had a drop off in 2010 he has rebounded nicely. You are looking at a mid-three era along with anywhere from 180 to 210 strikeouts. Greinke is only 29 years-old and is a potential Cy Young candidate. Look for double digit wins along with 200 plus innings from this dominant right hander.
5. Ian Kennedy, Starting Pitcher, Arizona Diamondbacks
Kennedy is another interesting pitcher with some question marks. He looked like one of the best pitchers in baseball in 2011 but pitched horrible in 2012. His ERA almost doubled from 2011 to 2012 but Kennedy has the tools to be the pitcher he was. Kennedy has a solid fastball that clocks in at roughly 95 and has a devastating Vulcan changeup. Both of these pitches are above average, the only question is if he can find the control that he lost last season. Look for an improved ERA in the high threes, low fours. If Kennedy can find that control look for him to have a 150-170 strikeouts.
6. Sergio Romo, Relief Pitcher, San Francisco Giants
Romo came into the 2012 season with a lot of questions. Could he be the dominant closer that Brian Wilson was? Will he even be able to close games? Not only did Romo exceed expectations, he etched his name in as the best closer in the NL West. I am a big believer in Romo and feel like he is going to become one of the top 5 closers in the game this coming season. Look for him to rack up anywhere from 30 to 40 saves. His ERA should be impressive as well this season, a mid to high one is anticipated.
7. Ryan Vogelsong, Starting Pitcher, San Francisco Giants
Can you notice a trend here? If you haven’t yet the gist of the story is that the Giants are stacked in the pitching department and this doesn’t plan to change anytime soon. Vogelsong is the wily veteran on a young Giants staff. He has an above average two seam and four seam but doesn’t necessarily blow you away with his stuff. The guy can win you games so look forward to 13-16 wins by October.
8. J.J. Putz, Relief Pitcher, Arizona Diamondbacks
Putz has been around for awhile now and even received some MVP votes in 2007.Those days are gone but over the past three seasons JJ has been getting better. He became a closer and racked up 45 in 2011 along with 32 last seasons. Putz consistently strikeouts 60 guys a season giving him a K/9 rate of 10 on average. Although he is no Sergio Romo, Putz is a good closer who will be on the board and can give you a high number of saves.