In the final installment of Fantasy Couch Sleepers, here are the list of starters and closers to go after late in your drafts. While there are tons of options at the offensive positions, pitchers are just as important at determining your teams success and taking a pitcher too early or waiting on someone too late could make or break your season.
Jonathan Niese, SP, Mets
For the first time in his career, Jonathan Niese is a viable fantasy pitcher worth being your third or fourth option as a starter. For the past four seasons the southpaw has been working on his arsenal and did enough last year to improve his earned run average (3.40), strikeout total (155) and WHIP (1.17). He’ll compete with Dillon Gee for the number one spot in New York, but the competition won’t be a too close given Niese’s turnaround.
If Niese can continue getting better like he has the last three years, he is well worth the 12th or 13th round draft pick you’ll need to grab him.
Max Scherzer, SP, Tigers
Max Scherzer had a strikeout per nine innings rate of a remarkable 11.1 last season (231 total strikeouts) and has taken advantage of the productive offense his team yields, with a combined 31-16 record the last two seasons. Expect an ERA around 3.50 and a WHIP just under 1.25.
You don’t watch a chick flick with a woman because of the cinematic value, you don’t eat fast food for its health benefits and you don’t draft Scherzer for his ERA and WHIP. Although he is decent in those categories, the righty offers a lot to the table in strikeouts and wins and deserves to go ahead of many pitchers going earlier than him. Scherzer is going off the board in the middle rounds behind guys like Josh Johnson, Yovani Gallardo and James Shields. Don’t let that happen. Take Scherzer before any of those guys and reap the rewards.
Jarrod Parker, SP, Athletics
In his first season as an everyday starter for Oakland last year, Parker was an impressive 13-8 with 140 strikeouts and a 3.47 ERA. His play in 2012 warranted a fifth place position on the Rookie of the Year ballots and for good reason. The former ninth overall pick in the 2007 draft will continue to live up to that selection if he can stay healthy.
Many people have overlooked Parker in mock drafts I’ve done, allowing him to stay on the board until as late as the 16th round. Taking him as early as the 13th round is a low risk/high reward selection and he’s going to be better than guys like Jeff Samardzija, Matt Moore and Dan Haren; who are currently going ahead of him in drafts.
Ryan Vogelsong, SP, Giants
Across the bay is another pitcher that seems to get overlooked because of what surrounds him. The 35-year-old won’t replace the Tim Lincecum of a few years ago, but what Vogelsong offers is great for where he’s being drafted.
Vogelsong is 27-16 the last two years, has had a WHIP under 1.26 in that same span, while also striking out a combined 297 hitters. He’s better than a bunch of guys being drafted ahead of him around the 14th or 15th rounds. Make your team better and grab him before someone else does.
Julio Teheran, SP, Braves
Nobody has had a better spring on the mound than this guy. In six starts this spring, Teheran is 3-1 with a 1.04 ERA and an astounding WHIP of just 0.615. The 22-year-old Colombian has allowed just 7 hits this spring and has struck out batters a league leading 35 times.
Yes I know it’s only spring, and I know that you can’t look into the numbers too much, but he’s putting up numbers that are hard to ignore. But when the two guys right behind you in total strikeouts this spring are Clayton Kershaw and Stephen Strasburg you take notice.
In no way am I telling you to take Teheran in the early rounds and I’m not even campaigning for you to take him in the mid-rounds. I’m just letting you know that if you had a sleeper to highlight in your drafts this is one guy that MUST be on your list. Don’t sleep on him or you may regret it during the season and later on in his career if you’re in keeper leagues.
Huston Street, RP, Padres
The last time Huston Street had an ERA under 2.00 was the same season he joined the majors in 2005 when he won Rookie of the Year and received some MVP votes. That same Street has taken a few turns and detours, but finds himself in an environment that allowed him to be successful enough to be an All-Star last season.
In San Diego he had a 1.85 ERA, 23 saves and a 0.718 WHIP in 30 appearances last year while allowing a measly 17 hits. If Street can keep it up in 2013 he’ll be back on an All-Star team putting in work for fantasy owners who drafts him. In most drafts he’s the 12th or 13th relief pitcher taken. Sit back on relief and make him your first relief pitcher in the later rounds. You won’t regret it.
Greg Holland, RP, Royals
Holland is another closer you can grab late to give the rest of your lineup a boost. You never want to be the first or last guy to grab a closer but Holland is a guy you can wait on based on where he’s been going in mock drafts.
In 2011, Holland put himself on the map, having a 5-1 record to go along with his 1.80 ERA and 74 strikeouts in 60 innings. Last season he went 7-4 for Kansas City yielding a 2.96 ERA with a lot more time spent closing. With that extra time Holland had 16 saves, 91 strikeouts and this was all done in 67 innings. With a SO/9 of 11.1 or more in each of the past three seasons, it’s hard to deny the potential in a guy like that. Although his ERA took a jump last season, expect an ERA closer to 2.35 and around 30 saves in 2013.