By Eno Sarris //
Biggest Surprise: Anibal Sanchez
He’s been pitching in the major leagues since 2006, but 2010 was the first time Anibal Sanchez put together more than 30 starts. He still doesn’t have great upside beyond his fine 2010 season (3.55 ERA, 1.34 WHIP) because of his good-but-not-great K rate (7.25 K/9 in 2010, 6.87 career). His groundball percentage improved (45.1%), but if he has a little less luck on home runs next year, his ERA might be closer to four. The rest of his line was pretty luck-neutral, though.
Biggest Bust: Ricky Nolasco
Leo Nunez lost his closer role and Chris Volstad had a poor year that included a demotion, but much more was expected of Ricky Nolasco, so he’s the bigger bust. Nolasco put up some poor stats (4.51 ERA, 1.28 WHIP) and frustrated owners who saw that he’d been unlucky in 2009 (5.06 ERA, 3.35 FIP) and expected a big rebound. Well, he did it again, as his 3.86 FIP in 2010 was much better than his ERA. Nolasco still struck out a lot of batters (8.39 K/9), and walked very few (1.88 BB/9), but all those flyballs keep turning into home runs (1.37 HR/9), and he needs to iron that wrinkle out before returning to the top echelon of fantasy starters.
2011 Keeper Alert: Clay Hensley
It’s not a great idea to keep a closer, with all the volatility in the position, but this team didn’t show any great young arms in the bullpen. Into the breach stepped 31-year-old Clay Hensley, who found that magical combination of strikeouts (9.24 K/9), control (3.48 BB/9), and groundballs (53.4%) that makes him interesting despite his iffy pedigree.
2011 Regression Alert: Alex Sanabia
Alex Sanabia had an xFIP (a number on the ERA scale that strips out batted ball luck and normalizes home run rates) of 4.57 in 2010, and an ERA of 3.73. He’s got great control, but he’s a flyballer without a strikeout pitch, so he’ll have a little more trouble next year. Leo Nunez had terrible luck on the batted ball (.337 BABIP) and could easily return to his role with some positive regression in 2011.