A list of the top starting pitchers to draft for 2014 fantasy baseball.
1. Yu Darvish Texas Rangers
Darvish enjoyed a Cy Young-caliber season in just his second year in the majors, leading the AL in strikeouts with 277 in 209.2 innings pitched. He also cut back a tick on his walks allowed, but he had some truly terrible luck to only end up with 13 victories on the year. Darvish pushed his swinging-strike rate up to 12.6% (from 11.8% in his first big league season), as he continues to keep hitters off balance with an arsenal of nasty offerings. He also erased concerns about having to pitch half of his games in Arlington, posting a better ERA at home (2.69) than on the road (3.05) as well as a better home-run rate in his home starts (0.9 HR/9 vs. 1.3 HR/9). In most situations, Darvish will be one of the first five starting pitchers off the board in 2014.
2. Stephen Strasburg Washington Nationals
Oh, the agony of being a Stephen Strasburg owner. He tossed a career-high 183 innings in 2013, with a plus strikeout rate, ERA and WHIP, yet somehow managed to win just eight games. He had an injury scare to boot, although the eventual culprit seemed to be nothing more than bone chips in his elbow. All the tools are there for him to be among the game's elite pitchers, but until he actually strikes out 200 batters or wins 20 games in a season, there are going to be question marks. Of course, those same question marks could make Strasburg a relative bargain in 2014 if he does finally put it all together.
3. Max Scherzer Detroit Tigers
Based on the strong advanced metrics (9.4 K/9, 3.56 xFIP) that he has posted throughout his career, pundits have been clamoring for Scherzer to hit that next level for years. Not only did the long-awaited breakout from Scherzer fully materialize in 2013, but he exceeded even the most optimistic of projections. The 28-year-old starter took home the AL Cy Young Award after leading the league in wins (21) and WHIP (0.97) while finishing second in strikeouts (240) and fifth in ERA (2.90). His fastball continued to hover in the mid-90s with movement and his slider developed from a solid pitch to one of the more elite breaking balls in the majors. Scherzer also improved his walk rate, allowing a career-best 2.4 BB/9. His improvements across the board can be attributed to his continued refinement of a more consistent delivery, which has corralled some of the wildness displayed earlier in his career while allowing his electric stuff to post more consistent results. The Tigers freed up a significant portion of their future budget by trading Prince Fielder to Texas, opening up the possibility of long-term extension to keep him in Detroit. Scherzer appears headed for another strikeout-heavy campaign filled with plenty of fantasy value.
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2014 Fantasy Rankings
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