With the Major League Baseball season still in its infancy, it is impossible to determine what young talent will emerge on the mound. However, based on last year’s performances, we do have a good idea of which of the usual suspects have a shot at dominating every time they toe the slab.
We already discussed the most dangerous players at the plate, now, here the kings of the hill.
JUSTIN VERLANDER (DETROIT TIGERS)
Fantasy owners probably love Justin Verlander just as much as his Detroit Tigers do. Not only is Verlander a shutdown slinger, but he has also been very steady over the last few years. In fact, he averages 19.5 wins over the last four seasons. With a stacked batting lineup producing solid run support behind him, there is no reason to doubt that Verlander will chalk up yet another 20-win season.
STEPHEN STRASBURG (WASHINGTON NATIONALS)
One of the biggest baseball stories late last season came when the Nationals shut down Strasburg after 28 starts in order to preserve his still-young arm. He finished with 15 wins and a 3.16 ERA. That left a lot of fans wondering just exactly what he could accomplish with a full season. Well, they might not have to wonder any longer as this could be that year.
DAVID PRICE (TAMPA BAY RAYS)
If you think Justin Verlander is an elite pitcher, meet the guy that edged him out for the American League’s Cy Young Award last season. Price had a phenomenal season last year with 20 wins and 205 strikeouts. He has not produced the same consistency as Verlander, but if he manages a similar campaign this season, he will certainly back up his Cy Young Award credibility.
CLAYTON KERSHAW (LOS ANGELES DODGERS)
Many regard Kershaw as the National League’s top gun. It might not have always showed last year, when he went 14-9. Still, he had an ERA of 2.53, indicating that the Dodgers simply failed to provide him with proper run support throughout the season. That will likely change, but Kershaw’s raw skill on the mound will not.
R.A. DICKEY (NEW YORK METS)
Dickey could be considered a late bloomer, especially considering the fact that the 38-year-old recorded his best season last year, which included winning the National League’s Cy Young Award. Die-hard baseball fans are always skeptical of a knuckleballer, dismissing them as somewhat of a novelty. But, the proof is in the numbers for Dickey (20 wins, 230 strikeouts and 2.73 ERA last year) and he is primed to bring the same finesse into this season.
JOHNNY CUETO (CINCINNATI REDS)
Cueto was a key cog in his team’s National League Central championship last year. He recorded a standout year last season with 19 wins, 170 strikeouts and a 2.78 ERA. Cueto could not go during the playoffs due to an injury, which was a familiar theme from the 2011 season. Once he can shake the nagging injuries, he will be among the league’s top pitchers.
- Gio Gonzalez (Washington Nationals)
- Jered Weaver (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim)
- Cole Hamels (Philadelphia Phillies)