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News-Herald Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Kleps doesn’t just write headlines and stories. He also checks on his fantasy sports teams. A lot. See if the moves and news from the world of sports affect your fantasy teams.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Fantasy baseball rankings: Starting pitchers

Entering last season, all we seemed to remember about Cliff Lee was his awful 2007 season.

We overlooked the fact that from 2004-06, Lee was a combined 46-24 with the Tribe.

Remember that mistake on draft day 2009. Don't let Lee's fantastic 2008 -- when he was 22-3 with a 2.54 ERA in his Cy Young season -- dominate your thoughts. Remember his 2007 struggles, and don't forget that he's not a big asset in the strikeout department.

Lee averaged 6.7 strikeouts per nine innings from 2004-06, when he had uncharacteristically high WHIP totals for a pitcher who averaged more than 15 wins per season (a WHIP of 1.50 in 2004, 1.22 in 2005 and 1.41 in 2006).

Is Lee a top-10 pitcher in fantasy? I say yes, but I also wouldn't reach on him for draft day. He's a low-end No. 1 starter who's capable of winning 15 to 18 games, but I doubt he'll reach 20 again, and he probably won't strike out 170, either.

He's a decent late third-round or early fourth-round pick in 12-team leagues. He's a relatively safe bet -- as long as you don't make the pick expecting the 2008 Lee to be your 2009 ace.

Before we get to the rankings of the top starting pitchers, a couple quick notes:

The rankings of the top catchers, first basemen and outfielders that are accessible on the right have been updated to reflect Joe Mauer's back injury, Pudge Rodriguez's signing with the Astros and the Nationals wisely deciding that Adam Dunn is an outfielder, not a first baseman.

Next week, we'll post a list of our top 100 players overall.

Until then, happy drafting.


1. Tim Lincecum, Giants
2. Brandon Webb, Diamondbacks
3. Johan Santana, Mets
4. CC Sabathia, Yankees
5. Roy Halladay, Blue Jays
6. Cole Hamels, Phillies
7. Jake Peavy, Padres
8. Roy Oswalt, Astros
9. Dan Haren, Diamondbacks
10. Cliff Lee, Indians
11. John Lackey, Angels
12. James Shields, Rays
13. Francisco Liriano, Twins
14. Josh Beckett, Red Sox
15. Chad Billingsley, Dodgers
16. Daisuke Matsuzaka, Red Sox
17. Scott Kazmir, Rays
18. Felix Hernandez, Mariners
19. Joba Chamberlain, Yankees
20. Yovani Gallardo, Brewers
21. Adam Wainwright, Cardinals
22. Rich Harden, Cubs
23. Jon Lester, Red Sox
24. Matt Garza, Rays
25. Scott Baker, Twins
26. Ervin Santana, Angels
27. Justin Verlander, Tigers
28. Ricky Nolasco, Marlins
29. Carlos Zambrano, Cubs
30. Edinson Volquez, Reds
31. A.J. Burnett, Yankees
32. Zack Greinke, Royals
33. Aaron Harang, Reds
34. David Price, Rays
35. Ted Lilly, Cubs
36. Derek Lowe, Braves
37. Kevin Slowey, Twins
38. Javier Vazquez, Braves
39. Ryan Dempster, Cubs
40. Chien-Ming Wang, Yankees
41. Erik Bedard, Mariners
42. Matt Cain, Giants
43. Josh Johnson, Marlins
44. Randy Johnson, Giants
45. Jair Jurrjens, Braves
46. Hiroki Kuroda, Dodgers
47. John Danks, White Sox
48. Brett Myers, Phillies
49. Fausto Carmona, Indians
50. Jered Weaver, Angels
51. Gavin Floyd, White Sox
52. Justin Duchscherer, A’s
53. Gil Meche, Royals
54. Mark Buehrle, White Sox
55. Chris Young, Padres
56. John Maine, Mets
57. Brandon Morrow, Mariners
58. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
59. Ubaldo Jimenez, Rockies
60. Max Scherzer, Diamondbacks
61. Jeremy Guthrie, Orioles
62. Armando Galarraga, Tigers
63. Oliver Perez, Mets
64. Andy Sonnanstine, Rays
65. Chris Volstad, Marlins
66. Johnny Cueto, Reds
67. Manny Parra, Brewers
68. Mike Pelfrey, Mets
69. Joe Saunders, Angels
70. Paul Maholm, Pirates
71. Jonathan Sanchez, Giants
72. Kyle Lohse, Cardinals
73. Jesse Litsch, Blue Jays
74. Dave Bush, Brewers
75. Andy Pettitte, Yankees


The Mets’ Santana says he’ll be ready for opening day, but concerns over a sore elbow bump him from the top spot. ... The diminutive Lincecum averaged 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings last season, and Webb is 56-25 in his last three seasons. ... Don’t be fooled by Peavy’s low win total. He was 19-6 with a 2.54 ERA, a 1.06 WHIP and 240 strikeouts in 2007. ... Liriano was 6-1 with a 2.74 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 65 2/3 innings after the All-Streak break last season. ... The Angels’ Santana would be in the top 15 if it weren’t for an elbow injury, which likely will force him to the disabled list to start the season. ... The brittle Harden, at 148 innings, had his biggest workload since 2004. He struck out 89 in 71 innings after being traded to the Cubs. ... The 33-year-old Lilly has won a combined 32 games the last two years. ... The Giants’ Cain is a top-30 pitcher on some sites, despite a 15-30 record the last two seasons. ... Verlander could be a steal if he returns to his 2007 form (18-6, 3.66 ERA). ... Same goes for Bedard, who was a combined 28-16 with 392 K’s in 2006 and 2007. ... The promising Duchscherer might start the season on the DL because of elbow soreness. ... A possible sleeper: the Mariners’ Morrow, a former reliever who struck out 75 in 64 2/3 innings last season. ... The Indians’ Carmona is underrated because of a terrible 2008. He was 19-8 with a 3.06 ERA the year before. ... Two names to remember: John Smoltz, who will start the season on the DL in Boston but could be an asset in the second half, and Twins fifth starter Nick Blackburn, who won 11 games in his first full big-league season.


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