Yesterday we covered the offensive portion of the Rangers roster, the second and final part of our blog is considerably smaller. When it comes to the Rangers pitching staff only a few pitchers will have much fantasy value. Not to say they aren’t valuable but they may not all have the big numbers to win your league.
Generally Fantasy leagues do not recognize true relief pitchers. For example my 2011 ESPN league scores pitching under these categories Earned Run Average (ERA), Strikeouts (K), Walks plus Hits Per Innings Pitched (WHIP), Wins (W), Saves (SV). For a relief pitcher they can really only contribute to saves. Fantasy Baseball guru Matthew Berry always preaches not to pay for saves, basically don’t waste your budget or too early of a draft pick on the position, this goes double for the Rangers considering the current scenario.
Neftali Feliz was implemented as the closer, replacing Frankie Francisco at the beginning of the 2010 season. Feliz had a monster rookie year and brought home the AL Rookie of the Year trophy as the closer. Nefty picked up 40 saves and 71 strikeouts in a dominating season out of the bullpen. As we have discussed previously on Nolan Writin’ the Rangers are experimenting with Feliz as a starting pitcher, he will eventually be successful in either role and could be a gem for keeper leagues. For me there is too much uncertainty and unless he falls in your draft or auction be cautious. Surely another owner in your league will overpay for him and you can find a more affordable closer. This is all assuming your draft is before we know exactly what his role will be, obviously if the Rangers announce him as the closer he will be worth a higher price.
Alexi Ogando and Mark Lowe are both honorable mentions here, if Feliz moves to a starting role these are the primary options to replace him. These two would be good options to pick up at the end of your draft and keep on the bench if you have the space.
Colby Lewis is rated as the 36th starting pitcher for ESPNs 2011 projections, last season he had 12 wins and 196 strikeouts and was an excellent sleeper pick for anyone who caught on to his talent early. ERA and WHIP were both strong but not overly impressive, where Colby pays the bills is with strikeouts. He is projected to have similar stats this season and is currently going around the 145th pick so roughly 14 or 15 rounds in a ten team league, he is a safe pick as early as the 12th round.
C.J. Wilson is the other starter the Rangers have with good fantasy numbers. ESPN rates him as the 51st best starting pitcher for 2011, his stats are projected similar to what we got from him last season. He had 15 wins 170 strikeouts a 3.35 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP. A negative to C.J. is the amount of walks he allows as last season he walked 93, if he gets that number down everything else could go up.
Brandon Webb is a guessing game at this point, if the former Cy Young winner can return to form he will be a steal for any owner, Webb is currently being drafted around 221, and going un-drafted in about 70 percent of leagues. Tommy Hunter is owned in less than 1 percent of leagues and in my opinion is underrated; he is a good steal and could be your fourth or fifth starter. Pick Tommy up at the end of your draft if you want to take a chance, only playing part of the season and still getting 13 wins Hunter has potential. “The Dutch Oven” Derek Holland could be a sleeper as well if he makes the rotation.
As Rangers fans we all have attachments to certain players, I for one am a huge fan of Derek Holland and he will make my fantasy roster, just be smart in your drafts or auctions and draft with your brain and not your heart. I absolutely cannot wait to get the season going and see what happens.
If you missed Part 1 here is the link again, and make sure you let us know how your drafts went. Throughout the season I will update fantasy news here on the site and will dispense advice from time to time on our Texas Rangers. Happy drafting!