RotoWire Partners

Team Previews: AL West

Paul Sporer

Sporer covers pitching for RotoWire. He also writes for Baseball Prospectus and publishes an annual guide on starting pitcher. In his spare time, he roots for the Tigers.

AL West Team Previews

Editorís Note: Click on a team under Projected Final Standings to jump to that particular teamís rundown.

Projected Final Standings

Houston Astros: 89-73
Texas Rangers: 86-76
Seattle Mariners: 83-79
Oakland Athletics: 80-82
Los Angeles Angels: 77-85

Houston Astros


State of the Franchise

The Astros arrived a year early with a shocking 86-win campaign and ALDS appearance. The painful investment of four seasons that saw them lose 416 games began bearing fruit with 2012 draftees Carlos Correa and Lance McCullers Jr. having a huge impact. The stars they already had blossomed further into superstars with Jose Altuve adding power to his arsenal (career-high 15 HR) and Dallas Keuchel shocking the baseball world with a well-deserved Cy Young Award thanks to a 2.48 ERA in 232 innings. There are fantasy-relevant players littered throughout this roster including new closer Ken Giles and a full year of Carlos Gomez. Once an utter laughingstock, the Astros seem ready to compete for a prolonged window and even if they fall back from last yearís win total, they will still have multiple worthwhile fantasy players, unlike in their nayday (ya know, like the opposite of ďheydayĒ) of 2011-13 when they had maybe one player per team who was guaranteed to go in all mixed leagues.

Pitcher to Watch

Ken Giles - It took a while, but he showed why many believed that the Phillies would trade Jonathan Papelbon early in 2015. Giles assumed the role on July 28 and didnít looking back, logging 15 saves in 17 chances with a 1.71 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 33 strikeouts, and just five walks in 26.3 innings of work. He brings a career 1.56 ERA and 33 percent strikeout rate to Houston and gives them the power closer they have been seeking since last year. He is in the lower half of the top 10 closers being drafted, but itís easy to envision him finishing the season in the top half with a legitimate chance at the No. 1 spot if things break right with a ton of save opportunities. No matter how gaudy the ERA, WHIP, and Ks are, itís almost impossible to be the top closer without a save total in the upper-40s, a factor that is relatively unpredictable, though quality teams tend to have more chances.

Hitter to Watch

Carlos Gomez - A first-rounder last year, Gomez has dropped about 50 spots in average draft position down to the fourth round. Of course, this didnít just happen to him, it was his fault. His OPS dropped over 100 points to .724 and he also missed time with injuries resulting in just 12 home runs and 17 stolen bases. How much of it was flat out poor performance and how much of it was related to the assorted injuries, particularly a hamstring injury, that limited him to just 115 games? I donít think itís unreasonable to blame a good bit of the underperformance on the injuries. He was still near a 20-20 pace even with the injuries. A full year with Houston, a decent floor because of power-speed combo, and the upside of returning to 2013-14 levels make him a great gamble in 2016 drafts.

Projected Lineup

vs. RHP

Jose Altuve, 2B
George Springer, RF
Carlos Correa, SS
Colby Rasmus, LF
Carlos Gomez, CF
Preston Tucker, DH (if Evan Gattis is not ready for Opening Day)
Luis Valbuena, 3B
Jon Singleton, 1B
Jason Castro, C

vs. LHP

Jose Altuve, 2B
George Springer, RF
Carlos Correa, SS
Colby Rasmus, LF
Carlos Gomez, CF
Preston Tucker, DH
Matt Duffy, 3B
Marwin Gonzalez, 1B
Max Stassi, C

Projected Rotation

Dallas Keuchel
Collin McHugh
Mike Fiers
Lance McCullers
Doug Fister

Bullpen Hierarchy

Closer: Ken Giles
Setup 1: Luke Gregerson
Setup 2: Will Harris
LH Specialist: Tony Sipp
RH Specialist: Pat Neshek

Riser

George Springer Ė Admittedly itís tough to do anything with this one on the fantasy landscape because heís already going as a top-25 pick despite a career-high of 102 games played in a season. Of course, that lack of a full season is also why heís the riser. His full season pace so far as a major leaguer is 33 HR/19 SB and he kept a 30/40 pace per 600 plate appearances in the minors so his upside is legitimately top fantasy player in the game. Weíre not projecting him for that, but itís in the reasonable range of outcomes. The key right now is health. You can have confidence in betting on this skill set, itís just a matter of how many games weíll get from it.

Faller

Colby Rasmus Ė A career-high 25 home runs plus a loud playoff run (4 HR in 6 games) has put Rasmus back on the map, but volume was the only real difference in his 2015. The ISO and walk rate were up a bit, but by and large the skills were flat and he remains a power-only resource with deficient batting average and modest run and RBI totals. A 30 percent or worse strikeout rate each of the last three years has yielded a .248 composite average (.238 last year) and could sink him further without enough homers to offset the damage.

Sleeper

A.J. Reed - He has a real shot to push Singleton in spring training, though heís likely to get a little look in Triple-A and then an early call-up. He really exploded in High-A last year, but the Cal League environment pumps offense off the charts so there were several grains of salt taken with his 1.088 OPS. But then he stayed white-hot in Double-A with a .976 OPS in 237 plate appearances. He has hit at every level throughout his minor league career and without a roadblock at first base, he has a chance to make a significant impact in 2016.

Supersleeper

Joe Musgrove Ė He had a huge three-level season across Low-A, High-A, and Double-A. It was only 30 innings, but he tamed the unruly Cal League that had Reed dropping bombs all over the place. Musgrove posted a 2.40 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, and a ridiculous 43:1 K:BB ratio before advancing to Double-A and finishing his season there. His command and control have always carried him (no more than 2.1 BB/9 in his first four seasons), but 2015 was just another level (0.7 BB/9). He has three pitches with a plus fastball (due to command, not velo) and two solid-average secondary offerings in a curveball and changeup.

Texas Rangers


State of the Franchise

They didnít get enough love for running down Houston for the AL West crown. They lost Yu Darvish in spring training and then got off to a wretched 7-14 start before playing at a 93-win clip for the remaining 141 games (81-60). They rebuilt their bullpen on the fly and acquired the ace they were missing with a trade that many saw as a 2016 move. Cole Hamels wasnít quite at the peak of his powers, but he was a massive upgrade over what they were rolling out at the back-end of their rotation and removed some of the burden from Yovani Gallardo. Jake Diekman was the secondary piece in that deal, but mightíve been even more important than Hamels in some ways as he joined forces with Sam Dyson to firm up the bridge to closer Shawn Tolleson. Their no-name bullpen is still loaded for bear and theyíll get to pair Darvish and Hamels atop their rotation a few months into the season.

Pitcher to Watch

Martin Perez - Maybe he belongs in one of the sleeper categories but I had other guys I wanted to include there. Plus, itís not like we need to deep-dive on Hamels or Darvish. Theyíre both studs. Hamels should be a total stud all year. Darvish is returning from TJ which makes him a question, but thereís no real analysis behind that. We all have our own risk tolerance assessment for TJ returners. For me, itís a firm pass because the upside just isnít worth it. Anyway, back to Perez. He has been a disappointment thus far with just a 4.22 ERA in 292.3 innings, but that is a relatively small innings count for four seasons (he had a TJ of his own) and heís still only 25 years old.

Unsurprisingly, he did his best work in the longest sample, posting a 3.62 ERA in 124.3 innings back in 2013. Missing bats consistently has been a challenge with just a 15 percent K rate. He has countered some of that with a fantastic groundball rate the last two seasons (58%), but itís still too much contact. I generally want starters to be no lower than 20 percent with their strikeout rate, but a premium groundball rate lowers the threshold to ~18 percent, so Perez isnít that far from viability. His fastball-changeup combo is probably the best path to more strikeouts. Neither breaking ball consistently draws whiffs. Keep an eye on Perez.

Hitter to Watch

Delino DeShields - It was a solid debut for the Rule 5 pick-up last year, though it lacked some punch. But he used his excellent speed and keen batting eye (11% BB rate) to score 83 runs and steal 25 bases in just 121 games. Keep in mind, this is a guy who has a 100-steal season under his belt (A/A+ in 2012). He might be able to add that punch in 2016, too. He had a horribly unlucky two percent HR/FB rate, limiting him to just two homers. He popped 10 homers per 600 plate appearances in the minors. He only had a .128 ISO so letís not overstate the power upside, but 8-10 bombs with 30-plus stolen base potential is huge, especially if he stays atop the order and keeps scoring runs at that kind of clip.

Projected Lineup

vs. RHP

Delino DeShields, CF
Shin-Soo Choo, RF
Prince Fielder, DH
Adrian Beltre, 3B
Mitch Moreland, 1B
Rougned Odor, 2B
Elvis Andrus, SS
Robinson Chirinos, C
(Open Competition), LF

vs. LHP

Delino DeShields, CF
Shin-Soo Choo, RF
Prince Fielder, DH
Adrian Beltre, 3B
Mitch Moreland, 1B
Elvis Andrus, SS
Rougned Odor, 2B
Robinson Chirinos, C
Justin Ruggiano, LF

Projected Rotation

Cole Hamels
Derek Holland
Colby Lewis
Martin Perez
Nick Martinez
*Yu Darvish (due back in early June)

Bullpen Hierarchy

Closer: Shawn Tolleson
Setup 1: Sam Dyson
Setup 2: Jake Diekman
LH Specialist: Sam Freeman
RH Specialist: Keone Kela, Tom Wilhelmsen

Riser

Jurickson Profar - Heís Profar off the radar, ya canít even see him! Yikes, that was terrible. Anyway, Profarís stock is low, but it is pointing upward after a strong Arizona Fall League. It wonít take much in spring training to really pump his stock, either. There isnít an obvious spot for him to play right now and he is still working through the shoulder injury when it comes to defense (he did light throwing, but otherwise was a full-time DH in Arizona).This was supposed to be a canít-miss prospect and while injuries have now put that in serious doubt, he is still just 23 years old with all of 341 major league plate appearances. If things break incredibly well, he could wind up filling in for this guyÖ

Faller

Josh Hamilton - Sorry, this is admittedly a copout, but I just donít see many major fallers on this team. Adrian Beltre is old so he could succumb to age, but once he was healthy in 2015 he got right back to raking. Mitch Moreland is coming off a career year, but there isnít much of a tax on it so even if he regresses toward his career average, it wonít really hurt. And Iím comfortable with where the rest of their fantasy assets are going.

Hamilton, meanwhile, is already slated to start the season on the DL which I guess leads to the question, can he really fall any further at this point? Probably not, but the name value and the fact that even his decline has still been mostly above average (108 OPS+ the last three years) keeps getting him drafted as a late-round flier. I wouldnít bother at this point. His potential left field replacements are much more intriguing. Speaking ofÖ

Sleeper

Lewis Brinson - Right now, Nomar Mazara is getting the love between the two prospects who could wind up replacing Hamilton with a big spring. Iím part of it, actually, as I like Mazara a good bit. The two are pretty close, but Mazaraís edge is a full season in the high minors (131 games between AA/AAA) while Brinson only played 36 games in the high minors during his huge three-level breakout last year.

Brinson does have a speed and defense edge that could play a big role in this pseudo-competition. The Rangers might not even be seriously considering either for Opening Day, but the season is six months long and itíd be an upset if they didnít both debut this year. Maybe I should shift my support over to Brinson given the speed. He has 61 homers and 68 steals in 1,609 minor league plate appearances. Mazara has 55 homers, but just 12 stolen bases in 1,865 plate appearances.

Supersleeper

A.J. Griffin - We havenít seen Griffin for two years as he had Tommy John surgery and then suffered a shoulder injury that cost him all of 2015. Last time we saw him, he threw 200 innings of league-average baseball with a passable strikeout rate, a good walk rate, and a killer curveball. He does have a homer problem (1.5 HR/9) which isnít great for Arlington, but the park doesnít play nearly as hitter-friendly as it used to after some structural changes. In fact, itís essentially neutral. The injuries piled up quickly on the 28-year-old and make him a long shot, but he could end up being a great pickup for the Rangers.

Seattle Mariners


State of the Franchise

The Mariners were a trendy pick last year, but they fell well short of expectations with a 76-86 record that netted a fourth-place finish in the AL West. Their offense was OK, but the pitching staff added a full run to the ERA and finished with the fifth-worst ERA+ at 91. Robinson Cano had a tumultuous season by narrative, but he had an .891 OPS in his final 95 games. Plus we learned of a gastrointestinal issue that may have been behind his early struggles. Speaking of overstated demises, Felix Hernandezís ďbadĒ season essentially boils down to two hideous starts. He had a 2.76 ERA in his other 29 starts.

Pitcher to Watch

Taijuan Walker - A disastrous start to the season doomed Walkerís bottom line ERA and masked what ended up being a solid two-thirds of a season. After a 7.33 ERA, 1.84 WHIP, 19 percent strikeout rate, and 11 percent walk rate in his first nine starts, Walker posted a 3.62 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 24 percent strikeout rate, and 3 percent walk rate over his final 20. Given the WHIP, strikeout, and walk rates, the ERA probably shouldíve been even lower in those final 126.7 innings. He ran up against his innings limit in mid-September, but after logging 169.7 total innings, he shouldnít be facing any limits in 2016. He has all the makings of a breakout star; at the very least he should deliver his first full season of sub-4.00 ERA.

Hitter to Watch

Kyle Seager - Itís hard not to dream of what Seager could be if he didnít play in Seattle. Itís not quite the same as Adrian Beltre before him because Beltre had that super-spike year with the Dodgers before headed north to Seattle for five years, but his numbers also lagged at Safeco and made him look like just a solid-not-great third baseman. Seager has played at a higher level in Seattle than Beltre ever did, but he still feels stunted by the park with a career .708 OPS there in 1,404 plate appearances, compared to a robust .812 OPS on the road in 1,483 plate appearances.

So why are we watching him? Because he has hit well in Safeco before, just two years ago in 2014 when he had an .893 OPS, but for some reason he tanked on the road (.694) so he wound up with just another firmly-above-average-but-not-quite-great season. I still feel like Seager has a true spike year in him Ė something like a 30-plus HR/100-plus RBI campaign. The beauty with Seager is that it doesnít have to happen for him to pay off his draft day price. His high floor makes him a great mid-round investment.

Projected Lineup

vs. RHP

Nori Aoki, LF
Kyle Seager, 3B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Nelson Cruz, DH
Adam Lind, 1B
Seth Smith, RF
Leonys Martin, CF
Steve Clevenger, C
Ketel Marte, SS

vs. LHP

Nori Aoki, LF
Kyle Seager, 3B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Nelson Cruz, DH
Jesus Montero, 1B
Franklin Gutierrez, RF
Chris Iannetta, C
Leonys Martin, CF
Ketel Marte, SS

Projected Rotation
Felix Hernandez
Hisashi Iwakuma
Taijuan Walker
Wade Miley
Nate Karns

Bullpen Hierarchy

Closer: Steve Cishek (for some reason)
Setup 1: Joaquin Benoit
Setup 2: Tony Zych
LH Specialist: Charlie Furbush
RH Specialist: Evan Scribner

Riser

Nate Karns - On the heels of a nice little breakout, Karns joins the Mariners in hopes of getting even better. The Rays were smart about curating Karnsí innings as he would excel the first two times through the lineup before running into trouble during the treacherous third time through. In his first two times through, Karns allowed a .657 OPS with a 25 percent K rate; that third time saw an .809 OPS and 16 percent K rate. The problem is his fastball.

It doesnít lose any substantial amount of velo, but it seems to lose its ďlifeĒ as it becomes markedly more hittable for both righties and lefties to the tune of a 1.032 OPS, up from the .809 OPS the first two times through. The foundation is there for an even bigger season in 2016: three pitches, no platoon split, strong swing-and-miss, and a passable walk rate. Itís just a matter of navigating that third time through more consistently. Watch for that early on to see if Karns is advancing his game.

Faller

Ketel Marte - How many of you knew of Ketel Marte before 2015? OK, I see some hands, but not too many. That might be a little unfair because guys pop up ďout of nowhereĒ all the time in baseball, just as sure as top-100 prospects bust all the time. But my point is that we barely knew of this guy a year ago and now weíre entrusting him as a top-10 shortstop after 247 major league plate appearances?

The allure is that 10 percent walk rate which would serve to keep his OBP stabilized and allow him to leverage his great speed even if the .283 average fell back. The problem is that the walk rate was nearly double his minor league total (6%) and he lacks the kind of power that would scare pitchers out of the zone. Helping his case is the low bar to be a quality shortstop, but Iím still skeptical that he will maintain mixed league viability all year, let alone breakout in a big way.

Sleeper

Nori Aoki - He is a refreshing change in the strikeout-heavy era of today with his career 8 percent strikeout rate in 2,203 plate appearances. His career worst mark is just 9 percent. The elite contact ability has made him a very stable batting average force. He hasnít had that big year north of .300, but instead has lived in a tight four-point window posting marks of .288, .286, .285, and .287 in his four seasons. His stolen base rate has dropped each of the last two seasons, though that is due to playing time lost via injuries as opposed to any substantial skill drop. That said, heís now 34 years old so itís tough to bet on him logging another 150-plus game season. Thankfully, his price doesnít ask for that kind of workload at all. Quality batting average is almost never available late; Aoki is an appealing exception to that tenet.

Supersleeper

Jesus Montero: Heís the opposite of Marte in that he came through the minors with tons of fanfare as a very highly regarded prospect. He has failed to deliver on that hype thus far, but at 26 years old he just might be ready to be a stable presence in the lineup. You may be wondering how heís a supersleeper if he came up with all this attention (thrice a top-7 prospect across the industry). Well, itís because weíre now four years removed from those prospect lists and he is now so far off the radar that heís regularly not even being drafted.

His NFBC average draft position sits at a whopping 613. The highest heís gone in any draft is pick 380 which is the reserve rounds of a 15-team league. That is buried. He looked like he might be poking through last year with a .966 OPS in Triple-A, but then he was down at .661 with Seattle (albeit in just 116 PA). He will at least start with a chance to spell Adam Lind against lefties, but if he hits like his career Triple-A self (.866 OPS in 1,888 PA), theyíll find more time for him.

Oakland Athletics


State of the Franchise

The team that is perpetually rebuilding and competing at the same time is coming off of a last place season, but hoping to compete with win-now additions like Khris Davis, Rich Hill, Ryan Madson, Liam Hendriks, Jed Lowrie, and Yonder Alonso. Per usual, theyíre not littered with stars, but donít really have any weaknesses, either. They seem to have a bunch of guys who will be drafted in deeper leagues, but likely sit atop your waiver wire in shallower leagues.

Pitcher to Watch

Jesse Hahn - He was on his way to a solid season before a forearm strain, but Hahn avoided surgery. Heís curbing his slider this year as a measure to protect his elbow. Heís got a great groundball rate and while the strikeout rate was down last year (16%), he showed a 23 percent rate in 2014 and a 24 percent rate in the minors. Even without the slider, he has three good pitches living in three different velocity bands including a 92-94 mph sinker, a mid-80s change, and a mid-70s curve. The sinker is obviously a groundball machine, but the changeup is no joke either. Of the 170 pitchers who threw at least 155 changeups, Hahnís 64 percent groundball rate ranked 15th.

Hitter to Watch

Marcus Semien - Lost in the super-rough defensive season for Semien is the fact that he put together a double-double and was essentially league average (95 OPS+). His 13 percent walk rate in the minors hasnít translated as he managed a 7 percent mark in his 601 plate appearances last year. Even getting up to 10 percent would be a substantial boost to his OBP. Factoring in a 10 percent walk rate with his 2015 line wouldíve yielded a .339 OBP. He is still just 25 years old so it wouldnít be surprising to see him improve upon last yearís line.

Projected Lineup

vs. RHP

Billy Burns, CF
Jed Lowrie, 2B
Josh Reddick, RF
Khris Davis, DH
Stephen Vogt, C
Danny Valencia, 3B
Chris Coghlan, LF
Yonder Alonso, 1B
Marcus Semien, SS

vs. LHP

Billy Burns, CF
Jed Lowrie, 2B
Josh Reddick, RF
Khris Davis, LF
Danny Valencia, 3B
Billy Butler, DH
Mark Canha, 1B
Josh Phegley, C
Marcus Semien, SS

Projected Rotation
Sonny Gray
Jesse Hahn
Rich Hill
Chris Bassitt
Kendall Graveman

Bullpen Hierarchy

Closer: Sean Doolittle
Setup 1: Ryan Madson
Setup 2: Liam Hendriks
LH Specialist: Marc Rzepczynski
RH Specialist: John Axford

Riser

Billy Burns - Burns popped up and had a really nice season with Oakland, delivering a much needed speed boost to the stolen base-starved majors. He stole 61 bases per 600 plate appearances in the minors including 74- and 54-steal seasons. Like Semien, he showed a much more capable walk rate in the minors (12%), though was only at 5 percent in the majors. Itís more understandable for Burns because he doesnít carry the same power threat that Semien does so pitchers likely just attack him more which cuts into the walk rate. Still, even if he doesnít add a couple points to the walk rate, his speed-contact approach is perfectly capable of a .275 average and 30 stolen bases.

Faller

Rich Hill - His four starts with Boston were fantastic and there is reason to believe he can be a capable mid-rotation arm when pitching, but how reliable is he? He has thrown just 182 innings in the majors since 2008 and heís 36 years old.

Sleeper

Mark Canha - He was supposed to be a lefty masher, but ended up crushing righties with a .486 SLG and 13 of his 16 homers. He also swiped a sneaky seven stolen bases. If he can hold his gains against righties while finding his form against lefties, thereís 20-homer potential here. He also has dual-eligibility with both first base and outfield. He is a complete afterthought in the market right now, going at pick 330 on average in NFBC drafts.

Supersleeper

Sean Manaea - He was the key return in the Ben Zobrist deal and now stands as Oaklandís top pitching prospect. The 24-year-old has only reached Double-A, but heís a college product who would likely be further along if it hadnít been for some injury issues. The big southpaw (6í5, 235) has a big fastball that can reach the mid-90s along with a strikeout slider. His changeup still needs work, but it flashes average enough to think itíll continue to come along.

Los Angeles Angels


State of the Franchise

At this point, we have to ask the unfortunate question of the Angels: are they wasting Mike Troutís best years? The offense kind of melted around him in short order and I shudder to think what they wouldíve done had Albert Pujols not pulled off a 40-homer season (something heís unlikely to repeat if he starts í16 on the DL). In 2014, their nine regulars at each offensive position posted an OPS+ of 103 or better (100 is average). In 2015, it was down to five as Trout (176) and Pujols (118) were joined by David Freese (109), C.J. Cron (106), and Kole Calhoun (104).

Theyíve added Yunel Escobar coming off a BABIP-fueled campaign that will be tough to repeat, and Andrelton Simmons, whose full-season high in OPS+ is 90 from back in 2013. Meanwhile, there isnít a ton of upside in their pitching staff outside of Garrett Richards, Andrew Heaney, and Nick Tropeano. Worse yet, the farm system is cleaned out. So yeah, they may very well be wasting Troutís best years, but at least they have him for five more.

Pitcher to Watch

Garrett Richards - He had an excellent 2014 season cut short by a devastating knee injury that was expected to cost him time in 2015. Instead, he made a career-high 32 starts, though he was nowhere near those 2014 heights. The strikeout rate sank despite the same excellent stuff that led him to a 24 percent mark in 2014. At his best, he pairs swing-and-miss ability with an incredible groundball rate Ė a deadly combo. The knee likely played a role in elevated ERA and WHIP. While 2014 canít be the expectation, itís still very high on the list of potential outcomes. Donít sleep on Richards.

Hitter to Watch

C.J. Cron - He was the same guy in 2014 and 2015 despite adding 151 plate appearances which should be seen as growth. Not a ton of growth mind you, but if a player can maintain his above-average level over additional playing time, thatís a plus. In 2016, he should get a real crack at 600-plus plate appearances as he may start the season at first base in place of Pujols and then shift over to DH full-time. There just arenít any worthy options to share his at-bats with on that roster. Cron should push toward 25 home runs with that added playing time.

Projected Lineup

vs. RHP

Yunel Escobar, 3B
Kole Calhoun, RF
Mike Trout, CF
C.J. Cron, 1B (if Albert Pujols is not ready for Opening Day)
Daniel Nava, DH
Carlos Perez, C
Andrelton Simmons, SS
Todd Cunningham, LF
Johnny Giavotella, 2B

vs. LHP

Yunel Escobar, 3B
Kole Calhoun, RF
Mike Trout, CF
C.J. Cron, 1B (if Albert Pujols is not ready for Opening Day)
Daniel Nava, DH
Carlos Perez, C
Andrelton Simmons, SS
Todd Cunningham, LF
Johnny Giavotella, 2B

Projected Rotation

Garrett Richards
Jered Weaver
C.J. Wilson
Andrew Heaney
Hector Santiago

Bullpen Hierarchy

Closer: Huston Street
Setup 1: Joe Smith
Setup 2: Fernando Salas
LH Specialist: Jose Alvarez
RH Specialist: Al Alburquerque

Riser

Yunel Escobar - As I mentioned earlier, he had a BABIP-fueled 2015 (.347, career .306) that saw him hit .315 and put together his best season since 2009. So how is the guy coming off a careerish-year the riser? Well heís being completely ignored in the market for starters. His NFBC average draft position is 377 as the 31st third baseman off the board. This is still a career .281 hitter Ė even at his worst he hits a passable .250-something Ė likely to hit leadoff ahead of Mike Trout. If he doesnít give back all of the batting average gains, he could score a boatload of runs.

Faller

Jered Weaver - Sorry to kick a guy when heís down, but his fastball averages 83 mph and he had a 14 percent strikeout rate. With those metrics, his 4.64 ERA from last year feels lucky.

Sleeper

Andrew Heaney - Heís looking to build on a solid 2015 and most of his sleeper upside comes from a volume standpoint. Iíd feel better about this one if there was more strikeout upside, but Iím not sure heís much better than the average rate we saw last season. The 25-year old lefty doesnít walk guys, commanding his three-pitch arsenal very well against both lefties and righties, though he does have a platoon split favoring righties so thatís another area he can improve on. In the end, a breakout looks like 190 innings of a 3.50 ERA, so essentially what he did last year, but for 85 more innings.

Supersleeper

Tyler Skaggs - Remember him? The former prospect was starting to put some things together in 2014 when he was cut down by Tommy John surgery. The upshot of that timing (August 2014) is that it gave him the extended recovery timeframe so his workload capacity should be enough for a full season, even if itís closer to 170 innings than 200. He is still just 24 years old and carries some upside.