BY ROB SHAW
Kyle Drabek was a top prospect when the Blue Jays acquired him from the Phillies for perennial Cy Young contender Roy Halladay. The Blue Jays fan base was hoping that Drabek would be able to make an immediate impact, but that did not occur at all in 2010, as the son of former Pirates All-Star Doug Drabek found some success at Double-A, while also walking four batters per nine innings. That is a statistic that Drabek could get away with in the minor leagues, but a different story in the Majors. Drabek lost all three starts in 2010.
Last season, it was assumed that Drabek would hold a spot in the starting rotation, and sure enough he did open the season with the Blue Jays. The stay did not last long as he ended the season with just 14 starts and a 6.06 ERA. The main issue was his lack of control, as he ranked as the worst in the Major Leagues in BB/9 as well as BB/K.
Now 24 years old, Drabek is getting another opportunity this season and he shined bright in the first two games. In fact, Drabek walked just one batter in his second start as he pitched into the eighth inning and surrendered just one earned run to a solid Orioles offense. Suddenly, Drabek was again en vogue and was a hot pickup in fantasy baseball.
Alas, doubt has returned to the mind of this fantasy expert. Even though Drabek remains undefeated with a 2-0 record and the Blue Jays have won all three of his starts, his control was lost in his last start, as he issued six walks in 5.1 innings. The fact that the Royals did not capitalize has a lot to do with Drabek’s ability to miss bats (he boasts 15 K’s in 18 innings) and a little bit of luck.
On Thursday, the Orioles face Drabek for the second time this season. In many ways, Drabek remains a wild card as he has great stuff, including a 94 MPH heater with movement, but if his control is lost the numbers could take a hit. I’d expect a bit of regression for the next few months of the season. I see Drabek offering up an ERA closer to four and could end up on a career path similar to fellow Blue Jays hurler Brandon Morrow. In other words, Drabek is not for the risk adverse. He will have moments of glory, but also fits of frustration.
BY ROB SHAW
Edwin Jackson is young, durable, and has been a winner with 10-plus wins in each of the last four seasons. The solid track record begs the question why did so many teams pass on him.
The 28-year-old hurler is now on his seventh Major League team and he hasn’t played for losers either. He went 5-2 down the stretch for the Cardinals last season, playing a role in the team’s World Series Championship.
One of the hardest throwing hurlers in baseball, Jackson has improved his control over the years. His greatest weakness recently is that he is just too hittable. Even in his successful run with the Cardinals the opposition hit .300 against him. The good news is that he keeps the ball in the yards, but for fantasy managers looking for a low WHIP, Jackson is not a solution.
The move to Washington means he’ll now don the jersey for his sixth team over the last four years. However, Bloomberg Sports likes his fantasy value. The larger ballpark and National League setting should translate to 170 strikeouts, double-digit wins, and a 4.21 ERA.
Jackson is a fine low-risk, high ceiling option in the later rounds of fantasy drafts. After all, it was just a few years back that he threw a no-hitter while pitching for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Let’s see if he can finally sustain such dominance over a full season.
Once one of the hurlers in the most demand in the Major Leagues, Erik Bedard hopes to build on his improvement from last season while joining the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Bedard was a disaster in Seattle. Because of injuries, he never lived up to the hype and while the Mariners traded away top prospect Adam Jones to the Orioles for him, they ended up letting him go for very little in return last season to the Red Sox.
The good news is that Bedard showed that even after all of the injury-ravaged seasons, he still has some potential right now. He offered fine control last season and fanned a batter per inning throughout the year.
A move to Pittsburgh should lead to some good results for Bedard’s fantasy managers. Pittsburgh’s ballpark plays neutral and he will no longer have to deal with designated hitters in the majority of his starts. Most importantly, he has sustained his health, which is the key to his performance.
BloombergSports.com projects a solid 3.74 ERA and 1 .30 WHIP from the veteran hurler this season, and with some luck he could reach double-digit wins for the first time in five years.
The loss of CJ Wilson could be crushing to the Texas Rangers. Just a year removed from a second World Series, the Rangers lost their ace for a second time. First it was Cliff Lee who bolted to rejoin the Phillies. Now it’s Wilson, and while he may not be as dominant as Lee, the fact that he joins the rival LA Angels of Anaheim makes matters worse.
The Rangers were desperate to respond and without many proven stars on the market they had to compete with teams including the Toronto Blue Jays to land Yu Darvish, an ace from Japan. With an enormous bid, the Rangers land the hard-throwing hurler who will enjoy the loftiest expectations by a free agent to join the Rangers perhaps since Alex Rodriguez signed his now infamous $252 million deal.
As far as realistic projections for Darvish, BloombergSports.com offers a 13-8 record, 185 strikeouts, and a 3.63 ERA for the hard-throwing hurler. That makes him the 16th best starting pitcher, and a top-50 fantasy talent.
Despite the lofty projections, there is still a great deal of risk for fantasy managers. After all, Darvish is new to America and will have to adapt culturally to Major League Baseball, plus he calls home to one of the most hitter-friendly parks in the league. He will not get away with many mistakes and the media will be hounding him all season long.
For more fantasy baseball insight visit BloombergSports.com.