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Why You Can, and Should, Wait Before Drafting Starting Pitching

In fantasy baseball, having names like Clayton Kershaw and Felix Hernandez on your team give you a sense of security.  And while they are the best pitchers in the MLB, it doesn't necessarily mean that they will lead you to a championship.  What it does mean, is that you will have to skip over bats like Miguel Cabrera, Paul Goldschmidt and Giancarlo Stanton, the guys who play almost everyday!  

As mentioned in our Starting Pitching rankings, a 32 start pitcher plays in just 19.75% of their teams 162 games.  They will usually start a single game per week, and sometimes you will get that two-start week.  Is that worth passing on Jose Abreu or Anthony Rizzo?

In 2014, just 49 starting pitchers won 13+ games.  23 of those 49 pitchers are being drafted AFTER the 11th round!  Some of those names include Jered Weaver (18 wins), Wily Peralta (17), Phil Hughes (16), Doug Fister (16), Matt Shoemaker (16), Lance Lynn (15) and Justin Verlander (15).

The one thing you will not find later in the draft is big strikeout pitchers.  Of the 13 to punch out 200+ hitters, Ian Kennedy (207) was the only pitcher who is going late in drafts.  However, 22 of the next 42 pitchers, with at least 150 strikeouts, can be drafted after the 11th round.  A.J. Burnett, Zack Wheeler, Hughes, Wade Miley, Lynn, Ervin Santana, Brandon McCarthy and Francisco Liriano each had at least 175 Ks.

Of the 12 starters with 15+ GS to have an ERA under 2.60, Fister, Danny Duffy and Andrew Cashner can be had in the later rounds to help you win that category each week.

The WHIP category can be won on a weekly basis using these lower tier starters, as guys like Collin McHugh, Shoemaker, Fister, Duffy, Cashner, Hughes, Mat Latos and Kyle Lohse all had WHIP at 1.15 or below.  Drew Smyly, Scott Kazmir, Marcus Stroman, Matt Garza, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Michael Wacha were hovering with a 1.20 WHIP or better.

It is also important to remember that guys like Corey Kluber, and Jacob deGrom were unknown last year during draft season.  It seems starting pitching pops up out of nowhere each season and playing the waiver wire and streaming are crucial to winning fantasy baseball championships!

Pitching Prospects to Remember

Do not be afraid to add a top tier starter early in the drafts, as they can really give you a boost in pitching categories when they start.  Make sure you seriously consider all the hitters available, know how you plan to fill that position should you skip over Kyle Seager for Julio Teheran, notice how the draft is shaping up, and if a run on a position has already occurred.