Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
It was late last night and I couldn't sleep, so I was wondering what happened to the dominating pitching staff I had supposedly drafted in April.
I had built my team around Johan Santana, who I predicted would have a great season with his new team in his new league. Well Santana has been solid, not great, but certainly not worth the large amount of money I used to get him. His pedestrian numbers, 9-7, 2.93 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 125 strikeouts are decent, but not what I expected after dishing out more than $30 and making him my ace.
I checked other teams and the same thing seems to have happened to many of the top preseason pitchers as well. Josh Beckett (9-8, 4.15 ERA, 1.22 WHIP), Roy Oswalt (8-8, 4.67 ERA, 1.39 WHIP), Erik Bedard (6-4, 3.67 ERA, 1.32 WHIP), Felix Hernandez (7-6, 3.02 ERA, 1.27 WHIP) and Fausto Carmona (4-3, 4.33 ERA, 1.69 WHIP) were all top-20 preseason choices and have all disappointed.
Meanwhile, you could be leading your league with a pitching staff built from players not anywhere near the top of your April wish list. The following pitchers were all ranked 90th or worse before the season began and if you had just a couple on your staff you would be in great shape.
This year's American League Cy Young award winner to-be, Cliff Lee, was ranked No.139 by one service. All Lee has done is gone 14-2, with a 2.58 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 125 strikeouts with a sub-.500 team (Cleveland Indians).
Also on the list would be Aaron Cook (14-6, 3.53 ERA, 1.25 WHIP), Edinson Volquez (13-4, 2.71 ERA, 1.30 WHIP), Kyle Lohse (12-3, 3.68 ERA, 1.27 WHIP), Gavin Floyd (11-6, 3.43 ERA, 1.21 WHIP) and Ryan Dempster (12-4, 2.90 ERA, 1.15 WHIP).
Obviously you can't go into the season with zero starting pitching waiting for each year's surprises, but by the same token you shouldn't spent an inordinate amount of your budget on "star" pitchers when you know that if you are observant, you will be able to pick up a couple of "diamonds-in-the-rough."
This story will be repeated next spring, because I'm sure both you and I will have forgotten this lesson by then.