Henderson Alvarez $9, Jonathan Sanchez $9, Gavin Floyd $8, Matt Harrison $8, Ivan Nova $8, Jake Peavy $8
Once you get down into single digits for A.L. pitchers, you've reached the speculative phase of the auction. Alvarez is everyone's favorite sleeper, which means that he's not a sleeper anymore. I like the control, but I don't think Alvarez has a strong enough punch out pitch (at least not yet) to be considered a great buy at this price. Sanchez is one of the most high risk/high reward pitchers out there. I love the strikeouts, but he's really had only one big year (2010) in his entire career and fits the Oliver Perez, could-fall-off-the-face-of-the-Earth-at-any-given-moment profile. Floyd is seemingly reviled in fantasy circles, but he has earned $15, $10 and $20 the last three seasons. The $10 he earned in 2010 might be the downside, and you need innings eaters like this at cheap prices to win.
I like Harrison a lot at this price. I think he dropped because some worried that Alexi Ogando would wind up back in the rotation, but it doesn't look like this is the case. Nova should start the year in the rotation, but a poor spring has made me warier than I already was. Nova's a good example of a pitcher who is a poor bet to repeat last year: a low K/9 pitcher in Yankee Stadium who was lucky with the wins is not a good fantasy bet. Peavy once again is all about health. If he's healthy and can put up 150 innings, he's probably going to be great at this price. But who knows how many innings he's good for at this point?
Phil Hughes $7, Jason Vargas $7, Zach Britton $6, Luke Hochevar $6, Jeff Niemann $6
Hughes is having a strong spring. Reports are that the velocity is better on his fastball, but I think the key is that his curve is reportedly sharp. If he's throwing both pitches for strikes, he could be the second best pitcher on this staff this year. Vargas is a poor man's Floyd: not very exciting but he manages to earn close to double digits or slightly above it when he's on the staff. I think $7 is a bit of a reach, but in that park Vargas should be fine. Britton's ceiling is still high (and perhaps higher than this spring's darling Alvarez) but it seems like his secondary pitches still need refinement. He could still be solid long-term, but he should start the year on the DL. Hochevar's improvement in the second half last year is well documented, but it remains to be seen if he'll carry that over into 2012. It appears that Niemann will beat out Wade Davis for the rotation, but while Niemann might be a little low here, he doesn't strike me as any great shakes going forward, and will probably have the next batch of Rays pitching prospects breathing down his neck any minute now.
Wade Davis $5, Phillip Humber $5, Brian Matusz $4, Felipe Paulino $4, Brad Peacock $4, Rick Porcello $4, Josh Tomlin $4
As mentioned above, Davis should lose his rotation spot. He might have some long-term value in relief, but not this year. Humber earned $14 last year in 163 innings, and while he won't do that again, he had a solid season outside of a terrible August. He should be fine and could earn $10-12 even with some slippage. Paulino is everybody's xFIP darling and some love him as a $3-4 sleeper. I agree that with the Ks alone he'll be worth it, but the BB/9 spike from August forward makes me wonder if he'll ever find consistency and/or success. I was lukewarm on Peacock when the A's acquired him in the Gio Gonzalez deal, but the more I look the more I like. If his secondary pitches develop, he could be a mid-tier earner, particularly in that ballpark. Porcello seems like he's been around forever but he's only 23 years old. This is a pretty safe price even if this is his level, but there could be some youth based improvement coming here. Tomlin is having a bad spring but was already a fringe candidate despite the pretty WHIP last year. His margin for error is limited, and the low K/9 make him a Roto liability in that category.
Wei-Yin Chen $3, Bartolo Colon $3, Jarrod Parker $3, Brett Cecil $2, Bruce Chen $2, Danny Duffy $2, Carl Pavano $2, Kevin Slowey $2, Jacob Turner $2, Brett Anderson $1, Jake Arrieta $1, Nick Blackburn $1, Dallas Braden $1, Fausto Carmona $1, Freddy Garcia $1, Jason Hammel $1, Hisashi Iwakuma $1, Derek Lowe $1, Jason Marquis $1, Tommy Milone $1, Hector Noesi $1, Tsuyoshi Wada $1.
As always, a lot of arms here that range from young potential to old retreads to everything in between. I don't see anyone who jumps out as a particular bargain, though almost any of these pitchers could be depending on how things shake out. I was a big fan of Turner's when we auctioned on in late February but a bad spring took him out of the running for the #5 spot in Detroit. I like a lot of the young arms here (Parker, Duffy, Milone) but that's probably the keeper league guy in me talking. B. Chen, Pavano, Lowe and Marquis all seem uninspiring, but cagey vets like these sometimes wind up earning sneaky double-digits. A lot of what you buy here has as much to do with preference than anything else.