Last season, A.J. Burnett was the beneficiary of a trade to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Sounds weird, especially coming from the New York Yankees, but the deal must have helped Burnett relax because he won 16 games. Something he had only done once in his career before, and NOT with the Yankees. Burnett never won more than 13 games in 3 seasons with Pinstripes and never had an ERA below 4. But one season in Pittsburgh, at the age of 35, and Burnett has the second best season of his career. It is amazing what a simple change of scenery can do. This year, the group of starters that has changed uniforms is a good one and it will be interesting to see if pitchers going from the NL to the AL struggle and who will be this years A.J. Burnett.
Fantasy Baseball Starting Pitchers Rankings
Brandon McCarthy - Arizona Diamondbacks
McCarthy's season ended on a scary play last year that resulted in a skull fracture. He has never started more than 25 games in a season or passed 171 innings pitched. He is not a big strikeout pitcher, but has learned how to induce the groundball. The Diamondbacks could provide some nice run support this season for McCarthy, but even with a full season under his belt he is a 10-12 game winner, best suited as a back of the rotation guy in deeper leagues.
Dan Haren - Washington Nationals
The last time Dan Haren won just 12 games in a season, he followed that up with 16 wins and a 3.17 ERA. The best thing in fantasy baseball is when a player who is still in their prime has a down season. They end up dropping in the draft and can provide you with top value at a low cost. Haren moves back to the National League where he went 37-26 over 2.5 seasons with Arizona Diamondbacks from '08-'10. He joins the Nationals staff as their 4th starter, which is a GOOD thing because he will face other teams weaker pitchers. The Nationals also have one of baseballs best bullpens, so Haren and his owners should feel very comfortable when he exits a game with a lead.
Edwin Jackson - Chicago Cubs
The Cubs are Jackson's 7th team since 2008! Since going 28-20 from '08-'09, Jackson is 32-32 and is really nothing more than player to own while streaming pitching, especially on a Cubs team with LOW expectations.
James Shields - Kansas City Royals
Shields landed in Kansas City as the centerpiece of a deal that sent top prospect Wil Myers to the Tampa Bay Rays. James is now the Royals Ace and his fantasy value should go unchanged. In the last two seasons, Shields has become one of the leauges top strikeout pitchers with 448 Ks in 477 IP. He has also thrown 6 shutouts over the last seasons. The Royals scored just 21 less runs than the Rays last season so Shields could still see Top 30 Run Support. The only thing he doesn't have any more is Fernando Rodney closing his games.
Jason Vargas - Los Angeles Angels
The Angels had a depleted pitching staff and a surplus of hitters. They sent Kendrys Morales to the Mariners in exchange for Jason Vargas. Vargas won 14 games on a Mariners team that won just 75 games and scored 169 runs (4th worst in MLB). He now moves in the division to a team that features Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo. Vargas should get the needed run support to make him a valuable fantasy pitcher. Most people will skip right over him, so take advantage late in your drafts. He has pitched at least 200 innings in each of the last 2 seasons and has 6 complete games, including 3 shutouts during that span. He is going to give up the long ball, but that 1.18 WHIP last year kept the damage to a minimum.
Joe Blanton - Los Angeles Angels
The Angels were desperate for pitching this offseason, but adding Vargas and Blanton provides the Angels with healthy innings eaters. Blanton won't blow hitters away, or keep them off the scoreboard, but he will keep your team in the game. I wouldn't draft Blanton in regular mixed leagues.
Josh Johnson - Toronto Blue Jays
The Marlins had to clear house just a season after building it. Along with Jose Reyes, Emilio Bonifacio and Mark Burhle, Josh Johnson was traded to Toronto for prospects. JJ has only won 10+ games 3 times in his career. However, he has only lost 10 games once in his career, last season. The Marlins have been bad for a long time and aside from the World Series team Johnson has had little run support. He now shifts to the American League and for the 1st time in his career will not be playing for the Florida / Miami Marlins. Toronto bolstered their roster, the same way Miami did last year, and expectations are high. It's hard to imagine Johnson going 8-14 again if he can pitch 190+ innings. Don't expect 2010 Josh Johnson and a 2.30 ERA, but he should win 12-14 games for the Blue Jays.
R.A. Dickey - Toronto Blue Jays
Last years National League Cy Young award winner is poised to duplicate last years success. In a deal that included top catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud and pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard, the Mets had no option but to move R.A. The dome in Toronto should help Dickey's Knuckleball and the Blue Jays offense should be a bit more supportive than the Mets were last season.
Ryan Dempster - Boston Red Sox
I thought last season, when Dempster was sent to Texas, he would continue to dominate hitters, but he struggled mightily. He gave up 10 home runs in 69 innings and finished with an ERA over 5 as a Ranger. Dempster is an innings eater and a good strike out pitcher, but at age 35 its hard to imagine he can be a 15+ game winner. The Red Sox lineup looks very different these days, and their bullpen is not that great. Dempster should be no more than your 3rd pitcher but expect an infalted ERA.
Shaun Marcum - New York Mets
Marcum is a solid #3 pitcher for your fantasy team who can keep your ERA and WHIP down. The wins will be difficult to come by on the Mets, but if he can get 10-12 then you will be happy. Marcum is a proven pitcher, when healthy so don't go reaching for him but if he falls in your lap, take him.
Tommy Hanson - Los Angeles Angels
Not a draft target, but someone to keep an eye on. The Angels traded Jordan Walden for the chance to revive young Hanson's career. He is just 26 years old and already has 45 wins under his belt. He was prone to the home run ball last year, but that number SHOULD come down as it was way above his career average.
Trevor Bauer - Cleveland Indians
In what was potentially the worst offseason move, the Arizona Diamondbacks gave up on Bauer for Didi Gregorius, a shortstop prospect. Bauer is a big strikeout pitcher, striking out 157 minor league hitters in 130.1 innings on his way to a 12-2 record last season. He might not make the team out of spring training, but the minute he gets called up you should consider adding him to your roster!
Vance Worley - Minnesota Twins
The Phillies sent Worley to the Twins for 24 year old center fielder Ben Revere. Believe it or not, Worley is considered the Ace of this Twins pitching staff. I wouldn't go near Worley until I had all my SP slots filled.
Zack Greinke - Los Angeles Dodgers
Going from the Angels to the Dodgers should not affect Greinke and he will continue to be a top pitcher. Hopefully pitching behind Clayton Kershaw will relieve some pressure off Greinke's shoulders as he doesn't have to be the Ace of the staff any more.
Same Face, New Place - Infield coming soon
Same Face, New Place - Outfield coming soon