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Over/Under SP: Should fantasy baseball owners want Yu?

Brad Evans
Roto Arcade

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Owners will have to slap the wallet hard for Darvish. (USAT)

Yu Darvish, who punched out 277 strikeouts in a monster year last summer, Ks in the follow-up 249.5.

Andy – Huh? Too low. OVER. Yu is vicious. If anyone can strike out 300, it's this guy.

Brad – OVER. He's the Japanese/Iranian version of Roger Clemens, minus the controversy. He possess the most impressive repertoire and, possibly, endurance in the game today. Agree with Behrens, 300 Ks no pipe dream.

Scott – OVER. We're all recommending Trident, we're all Tangled Up in Yu. So long as Darvish doesn't get hurt (and there's no reason to predict that), he'll sail past this number. The adjustment to American baseball had a few speed bumps in 2012, but it was smooth sailing from the opening pitch last year.

Super Sophomore. Which second-year starter finishes with the better fantasy year: Michael Wacha or Danny Salazar?

Andy – SALAZAR. I like 'em both, but this kid really wowed. Not only does he bring triple-digit heat, but he has phenomenal command. If you need additional detail, here's Salfino making the case for Salazar on my behalf.

Brandon – SALAZAR. He's dealing with more head wind than Wacha given that he pitches in the AL, but with a devastating fastball that averaged 96 mph, I think Salazar can deal with the head wind. Plus, Wacha was well above his minor league K rate in St. Louis last season, and I think he could very well regress by a K per 9 IP.

Dalton – WACHA. To be fair, I had to look up who I had ranked higher, as I value these two very closely. Salazar probably has better “stuff,” but Wacha gets to pitch in the National League. But I wouldn’t make a bet on this one, that’s for sure.

[Pianow – Dalton's lying, he'd probably bet on it.]

On the rebound. Which starter gets back on track after a disastrous 2013: R.A. Dickey, Ian Kennedy, Dan Haren and CC Sabathia?

Brandon – HAREN. He's back home on the West Coast with a make-good one-year deal. The environment should help him maximize his potential, with a strong Dodgers offense backing him along with a pitching-friendly home park. If you consider that he was a top 20 fantasy pitcher for the final three months of last season, and also finished with the sixth-best K/BB rate (4.87) among starters for all of '13, there's plenty of reasons to feel optimistic about a Haren rebound.

Dalton – SABATHIA. I expect all these hurlers to get back on track, and I nearly picked Dickey here, but Sabathia has such a long track record of success, and it doesn’t hurt he showed up to spring training in the proverbial “best shape of his career.” That’s noise oftentimes, but I’m buying it in this case.

Scott – KENNEDY. Location, location, location. Haren has a similar case, but Kennedy is four years younger.

East Coast vs. West Coast. Which starter finishes with the lower ERA: Matt Cain or Cole Hamels?

Dalton – CAIN. He has the lower career ERA (albeit slightly) and benefits from playing in a much more friendly pitcher’s park. But more importantly, Cain is currently healthy, whereas Hamels is dealing with an injury that could significantly affect his 2014 season.

Scott – CAIN, for the park and the health. No need to overthink it.

Andy – Hmm. Close. Gimme HAMELS, but I probably only say that because I was an aggrieved Cain owner last season. I'm gonna need a one-year break from that dude.

Homer Bailey, unlucky in the wins department last year, victories this season 14.5.

Scott – OVER, absolutely. And even if Bailey doesn't get a break with wins (he was very unlucky last year), look at that ERA and WHIP trend, improving every year. This is a legit ace who is still underrated in many circles.

Andy – OVER. As a 200-inning guy for a pretty fair team, Homer is well-positioned to give us 15-plus. He deserved so much better last season.

Brandon – UNDER. Run support has been the fly in the ointment for Bailey, as he's finished outside the top 70 among starters in that category each of the past two seasons. You'd expect a stat like that, which is infused with a fair amount of (bad) luck, to eventually tilt in his favor for a change, but I still think he finishes a win short of this number - I'm putting him down for 14 victories.

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Once left for dead, Kazmir is a top-shelf sleeper in mixers. (USAT)

Strikeout showdown. What starter nets the better K/9: Ubaldo Jimenez, Scott Kazmir, Francisco Liriano or A.J. Burnett?

Andy – Few pitchers miss bats at Liriano's silly rate, but BURNETT actually delivered the highest K/9 last year from this group (9.85). He's my guy, if you make me draft one of these dudes.

Brandon – BURNETT. He was fourth in this metric among starters last season.

Dalton – LIRIANO. He has the highest K/9 rate (and K%) in his career among these four, and the biggest threat here (Burnett) is moving to a tougher environment. Liriano’s 13.2 SwStr% last year would have ranked as the highest by far had he qualified (he needed to throw one more inning to do so).

AL vs. NL. Pick one: Sonny Gray, an ultra-buzzy starter in the ‘expert’ circle, or much-publicized Reds arm Tony Cingrani?

Brandon –CINGRANI. Both of these young arms feature a limited pitch arsenal, yet make it work just fine. I think these two are very close, but I'll lean towards Cingrani because of the NL factor - blow me up in the comments if you like, but it's time to make the DH a league-wide rule. Certainly the players association would be all for it and, personally, I think the strategy involved with dealing with a pitcher hitting is over-glorified. Sure, the double switch goes away, but so does a mind-numbing amount of sacrifice bunts. Call it a wash.

Dalton – CINGRANI. I have these two within five spots in my ranks but give Cingrani the edge thanks mostly to pitching in the National League. But I love Gray this year, so this really is a toss up for me.

Scott – SONNY GRAY REAL ESTATE (man, I wish that were my baby). As much as I love Cingrani, the lack of a third pitch concerns me - I worry about sophomore growing pains.

Old faces, new places. Who ya got: Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes, Bartolo Colon, Tim Hudson or Josh Johnson?

Dalton – HUDSON. He’s 38 years old and coming off a serious ankle injury, but Hudson’s 1.17 WHIP ranks 21st among starters over the past four years, and while his extreme groundball tendencies might not take advantage of AT&T Park, the Giants’ strong infield defense should benefit him.

Scott – When I think of Ibanez All-Stars (boring but useful veterans), it's usually an offensive thing. But I'm curious about HUGHES this year, finally released from the hell of the AL East (his ERA was fine in Tampa, and well over five in every other stadium in the loop).

Andy – There is maybe a 2.5 percent chance that I will own any of these guys, anywhere. Not exactly the Behrens All-Stars. No thank you. NOLASCO is my answer, but not on any of my fantasy teams.

Masahiro Tanaka, who netted one of the most lucrative off-season deals in baseball, projected ERA 3.49.5?

Brad – OVER. Six homers yielded in 212 IP last year in Japan offers encouragement, but the adjustment phase to superior hitting talent will prove unkind. Expect an ERA in the 3.65-3.75 range.

Scott – OVER. It's a rocky cliff for any pitcher to deal with, the AL East. I know, you're sick of me saying that, but why run uphill when you don't have to? My full spin on Tanaka is right over here. Fun story, but I'm not paying for the buzz.

Andy – Um...wha-? Three-point-four-nine-point-five? Hopefully all of Brad's former math teachers feel great shame. I'm confident they do.

I'll go OVER, just slightly. I think Tanaka will certainly be ownable, but not dominant.

Late-round lottery ticket. What under-drafted starter winds up as a staple on 12-team mixed league staffs: Tyson Ross, Ivan Nova, Rick Porcello, Trevor Bauer, Phil Hughes, Jose Quintana, Travis Wood, Michael Pineda?

Andy – ROSS, easy. Plenty of K-upside there. He made significant gains in velocity and contact-rate last year. I'm plenty interested.

Dalton – ROSS. He gets the PETCO Park advantage and posted a 2.93 ERA and 0.99 WHIP with 85 Ks over 80.0 innings after the All-Star break last year. Ross also had an impressive 11.1 SwStr% and should separate himself from this group by a wide margin in 2014.

Brandon – Champagne super-NOVA. As he's leaned more on his curveball and sinker and gone away from his slider, he's seen some very impressive results. A 2.78 post-break ERA speaks to that.

Scott - PORCELLO's strikeouts are on the rise, he's working behind an improved infield, he's still just 25. A perfect name for the late rounds.

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