2009 Starting Pitchers Review

Zack Grienke posted a 2.16 ERA and 1.07 WHIP with 242 strikeouts.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - "You got to give me one thing. I'm a scary judge of talent," said Al Pacino's character Walter Burke in the movie "The Recruit."

Three years ago I saw a short clip of Tim Lincecum while he was pitching in the minors, checked out his "out-of-this-world" statistics, and put him on my keeper league roster a month before he was brought up to the majors. Obviously, I've never regretted the move.

Lincecum won another National League Cy Young Award, his second in a row, and along with American League Cy Young winner Zack Grienke were the two best starting pitchers - both in the real world and the fantasy world.

Grienke was simply "unreal' at the beginning of the season, going four games (all wins) before yielding a single run. He was an amazing 8-1 on May 26th, just 46 games into the season, before the Royals' weak offense finally took its toll on Grienke's win total. His microscopic ERA (2.16) and top-five WHIP plus third-best strikeout total won him the top overall placement.

Lincecum just missed beating out Grienke, but was still a great anchor for any fantasy pitching staff. (Note to my keeper league competition - I'll be keeping Lincecum again next year along with my other starters: Felix Hernandez, Justin Verlander and C.C. Sabathia).

"King Felix" didn't see as much respect as in previous seasons after a less- than-stellar 9-11 2008 campaign. He came into the season as a eighth-round pick (ADP 86), but finished third overall. Had he struck out a-batter-an-inning, he likely would have edged out Lincecum for second due to his 19 wins. He'll be a fourth-or-fifth round pick next year.

Javier Vazquez got almost no press, playing in Atlanta for a non-competitive Braves team, but every one of his numbers shouts "monster season." Third-best WHIP, fourth in Ks and an ERA under 3.00 means you got much more than you expected to get from this 10th-round pick.

If Vazquez was a surprise, then Cardinals duo of Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter were absolutely shocking. Wainwright got less respect than Vazquez heading into the season even after an 11-3 2008 season where he lowered his ERA by half-a-run. Nineteen wins, 212 Ks in 233 innings and he lowered his ERA by more than half-a-run again won him a spot in the top-five.

We know Carpenter is a good pitcher when healthy, he just hadn't been right in over two years. So it was no surprise that he was a free agent or very late draft choice in most leagues. Those that took the chance were handsomely rewarded. Carpenter only lacks the strikeout ability to be a top-five fantasy guy.

Top-12 Starting Pitchers

Zack GrienkeKC168229.12422.161.07147
Tim LincecumSF157225.12612.481.0515
Felix HernandezSEA195238.22172.491.1486
Javier VazquezATL1510219.12382.871.03125
Adam WainwrightSTL198233.02122.631.21134
Chris CarpenterSTL174192.21442.241.01235
Roy HalladayTOR1710239.02082.791.1343
Dan HarenAZ1410229.12233.141.0059
Justin VerlanderDET199240.02693.451.18133
C.C. SabathiaNYY198230.01973.371.1535
Josh JohnsonFL155209.01913.231.16155
Matt CainSF148217.21712.891.18123

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.

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