In the first part of the projections, we looked at Gerrit Cole, Michael Wacha, and Tony Cingrani, and what fantasy owners can expect from the highly promising second-year starters. In the backend of our projections, there are some intriguing second-year starters that didn’t have the same success as those three but certainly have the potential to do so in 2014.
There are three young pitchers in particular that are both promising and risky. (Scroll down to see full projections)
Chris Archer: Archer’s rookie season saw him go 9-7 with a 3.22 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, and 101 K/38 BB. That was a bit surprising considering that he had posted a 3.96 ERA in Triple-A last season, a 3.66 ERA in Triple-A the year before, and a 4.09 ERA between Double-A and Triple-A in 2011 despite being dubbed a top-30 prospect. Of course, despite an impressive ERA, Archer was very up-and-down. He posted a 4.40 ERA in June and a 4.78 ERA in September. He made up for it with a 3.64 in August and a brilliant 0.73 in July. That tells us he may not be the best choice for head-to-head leagues where week-to-week consistency is all the more crucial. Still, with a career 3.77 ERA in the minors and a 3.22 to start off his career, something along 3.70 doesn’t seem like too much to ask for.
His WHIP fluctuated greatly as well. He posted an unimpressive 1.40 career WHIP in the minors. In his first Major League month, he posted a 1.53 and a 1.37 in September. He made up for it with a 1.10 in August and a 0.65 in July. Something closer to 1.30 may be the norm for him.
His 9 K/9 in the minors only translated to a 7.1 in the Bigs and it doesn’t seem like he’ll be a huge strikeout artist. At seven per nine, a 190 inning season would yield about 150 strikeouts.
Does he have the ability to do better? Sure, especially in the brilliant Rays system. But I don’t think his 2014 numbers will be as good as his 2013 numbers.
Alex Wood: It only took Wood 114 minor league innings to reach the Majors after he went 9-5 with a 1.73 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, and 8.9 K/9 between Single-A, Double-A, and Triple-A. He only pitched 77 innings for the Braves last season, and made 11 starts, but was certainly impressive with a 3.13 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, and 8.9 K/9.
Things aren’t as rosy as they may seem, however. While he was strong out of the pen, he posted a 3.54 ERA and 1.45 WHIP over his 11 starts. Although his strikeout rate didn’t change much, his walk rate spiked dramatically.
His 8.8 H/9 and 3.1 BB/9 are not going to provide a sustainable ERA in the low threes. More likely, a 3.60 ERA and 1.30+ WHIP.
The strikeouts should certainly be there. At 8.9 K/9 or so, he should certainly post about 175 strikeouts over 180 inning season. Of course, with so few innings under his belt, he could end up maturing into a very different pitcher.
Zack Wheeler: Wheeler’s seven wins and 3.42 ERA over 17 starts are solid but the rest of the numbers leave something to be desired. His 1.36 WHIP, 7.6 K/9, and 4.1 BB/9 are all in need of improvement. His minor league numbers suggest some of that can be improved.
His 3.56 minor league ERA is right in the middle of what he can do. He can impress with a 3.26 ERA or he can stumble with a 3.93 ERA but he never comes undone and starts giving up streaks of terrible games. When he first came up, he gave up nine runs in two games to the White Sox and Nats. He then went on to post a 2.85 ERA over his next 13 starts. He’ll be up and down but something in the low-mid-3s is what I would expect from Wheeler once again.
His 1.28 minor league WHIP isn’t great but it’d be an improvement over his 1.36 in the Bigs. Wheeler has dealt with control issues but he has decreased his walk rate from 5.8 to 4.1 to 3.6 to 3.5 over his four minor league seasons. His 4.1 BB/9 in the Majors is certainly likely to go down to the mid-3s but I doubt he can become a control freak. His WHIP did improve from 1.43 in the first half to 1.33 in the second half, though, and I’d expect a WHIP close to 1.30 this year.
His 7.6 K/9 was a disappointment, given his 9.7 K/9 in the minors. This is likely because the Mets are trying to work on his control. I’d expect something closer to 8.4-8.5 in 2014, which would give him about 170 over 180 inning season.
Let’s take a look at the second half of starting pitcher projections. Be sure to check out part one, our outfield rankings and projections, first base rankings and projections, second base rankings and projections, third base rankings and projections, shortstop rankings and projections, and catcher rankings and projections.