Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
If the title of this article led you to believe that you would be reading about how Mike Tyson lost all of his money, or a review of a new TNT legal dramedy, then I apologize. It's actually about the San Diego Padres.
The Padres have been lacking an ace since they traded Mat Latos to the Reds after the 2011 season, but they have two strong candidates in 2014. They just aren't the two you might be thinking of.
Yes, the Padres now have ex-Marlins frontman Josh Johnson and former 21-game winner Ian Kennedy on their staff, but it's Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross fantasy owners should be paying attention to.
As a former first-round pick who was once traded for Anthony Rizzo, Cashner is the more well-known pitcher of the two, but Ross was quietly effective last season after recovering from a partially dislocated left (non-throwing) shoulder and rejoining the rotation.
Ross suffered the injury during an at-bat in April and while he was able to pitch again after the minimum amount of time on the disabled list, his inability to swing meant he was relegated to relief duty for two months.
After returning to the rotation on July 23, Ross made 13 starts and posted a 2.93 ERA, a 0.99 WHIP, a .201 opponents' batting average and an 85/23 K/BB in 80 innings.
Ross came into last season with a career 5.33 ERA, a 1.60 WHIP and a 102/70 K/BB in 148 2/3 innings (all with the Oakland Athletics), but he was a different pitcher with the Padres and Petco Park had very little to do with it.
Ross added 1.6 mph to his four-seam fastball velocity from 2012, dialing it up to 94. He also de-emphasized the two-seamer, throwing it just 8.3 percent of the time compared to 27.2 percent in 2012. His four-seamer usage increased 12 percentage points (40.5 to 52.5) from 2012 to 2013, and he threw his slider more often as well.
As a result, his chase rate, contact rate and swing-and-miss rate all improved dramatically, which explains why his K/9 skyrocketed to 8.57.
When batters did make contact against Ross, they didn't do much. He had an excellent line-drive rate of 15.3 percent and a HR/FB of 8.2 percent.
Cashner was solid throughout 2013, holding an ERA under four for the majority of the year, but he became nearly untouchable in his last six starts, throwing 44 2/3 innings and posting a 0.81 ERA, a 0.74 WHIP and 38 strikeouts.
That included a one-hit, zero-walk shutout on Sept. 16 at the Pittsburgh Pirates, in which Cashner took a no-hitter into the seventh inning.
Cashner's K/9 for the season was just 6.58, but with a 94.6 mph four-seamer, the fourth fastest in the majors among qualified starters, as well as a reliable sinker and slider, there's room for growth.
Plus, the right-hander increased his K/9 to 7.26 after the All-Star break, up from 6.07 pre-break.
Like Ross, Cashner also induced plenty of weak contact, getting an 18.8 percent line-drive rate and an 8.1 percent HR/FB.
Cashner's aggregate average draft position (ADP) from Yahoo, ESPN, CBS, mockdraftcentral.com and nfbc.stats.com is 165.6, 51.2 picks after Jered Weaver and 48.2 after Kris Medlen.
With an aggregate ADP of 250, Ross is nearly off the radar, but both he and Cashner need to be on yours.