David Aardsma 
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 12/27/1981 | Position: RP|
Profile: Following a successful 2009 and 2010, David Aardsma missed most of 2011 and 2012 due to injuries, derailing an unexpected story of somewhat late-found success. Now 32 and a free agent, someone will surely roll the dice that Aardsma can be better than his 4.31 ERA and 5.27 FIP from 2013 with the Mets. Considering those two years off, the biggest concern is a drop in strikeout rate, which simply has to stay high for Aardsma to avoid punishment for his heavy walk rate. He was throwing almost three miles an hour slower than he had before his two Tommy John surgeries, and there just isn’t enough evidence on players having two of those surgeries to reliably suggest his velocity could rebound. Wherever he signs, it’s unlikely Aardsma finds his way to a closer’s chair. (Blake Murphy )
Quick Opinion: David Aardsma emerged as a decent closer in 2009 and 2010 but two Tommy John surgeries later, his velocity is gone and his effectiveness waned. He’ll find a home, but likely as a middle-inning guy.
Alfredo Aceves 
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 12/8/1982 | Position: SP/RP|
Profile: 404 — Starting pitcher option not found — You may have reached this page in error. If you are looking for an actual decent starting pitcher, please try searching again. (David Temple)
Mike Adams 
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 7/29/1978 | Team: Phillies | Position: RP|
Profile: A shoulder injury derailed most of Adams’ 2013 season. Adams and the Phillies are hopeful that he will be ready for spring training, but rehab from surgery to his shoulder and then also for a sports hernia put that in question. Even if he does return, Adams himself has voiced concern about recovering his velocity, which averaged just 89.8 mph last season compared with a 91.9 mph career average. The 35-year-old reliever relies heavily on a cutter, which can also be adversely affected by a decline in velocity. The Phillies will hope he can recover and return to setup duties, but it’s safest for fantasy owners to put him on their watch lists and ignore him on draft day. (Brad Johnson)
Quick Opinion: Adams missed a large chunk of the 2013 season with a shoulder injury. It’s questionable if he’ll be able to return to his previous career heights.
Matt Albers 
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 1/20/1983 | Team: Astros | Position: RP|
Profile: I can’t be the only one who, every time Matt Albers enters a game, wants the announcer to say, “Hey HEY HEY! It’s MATT Albers!” right? I mean, this has to be the single most common sentiment when his name is called. Other than, “How does a guy who strikes out less than seven per nine and walks more than three per nine post even decent ERAs?” Albers’ .276 batting average on balls in play last year was a big step up from .224 the year before, and his extreme ground-ball rate (63.8% last year) helps him keep damage limited in those rare cases when he does give up a hit. But when a guy’s walk rate and strikeout rate are marching towards each other, he is flirting with disaster. The Astros will take their chances with him in 2014, but you probably shouldn’t. (Chad Young )
Quick Opinion: He has posted 2.39 and 3.14 ERAs the last two years. He also struck out only five per nine last year while continuing to walk more than three per nine. Disaster is on the horizon.
Andrew Albers 
|Debut: 2013 | BirthDate: 10/6/1985 | Position: SP|
Profile: The beginning to Albers’ career was downright magical, as the soft-tossing lefty had 8.1 shutout innings in his big-league debut against the Royals, followed up by a complete-game two-hit shutout of the White Sox just six days later. And then the wheels fell off. Albers finished with a solid 4.05 ERA, but following those first two starts, here’s the rest of his rap sheet: 0-5 5.70 ERA .324/.349/.497 opposing slash 1.3 homers per nine At the end of the day, that’s pretty much what you get with pinpoint control of a 86.2 mph fastball. Albers was extraordinarily stingy on walks (1.1 per nine), but when that comes at the expense of a 3.8 strikeouts per nine mark, well… Albers remains on the Twins 40-man roster for now, and will at the very least be given a chance to battle Vance Worley, Scott Diamond, Samuel Deduno, and others for for precious few opens spots on a revamped Twins starting rotation. There’s a good chance he’s on the 40-man chopping block. (Brandon Warne)
Quick Opinion: Albers is a poor man’s Scott Diamond. This isn’t good.
Al Alburquerque 
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 6/10/1986 | Team: Tigers | Position: RP|
Profile: The ability to strike out a batter is essentially the most important tool a pitcher can have at his disposal, and with a career 34.1% K rate, Alburquerque has that ability in spades. But the ability to prevent walks may be the second-most important attribute for a pitcher to possess, and Alburquerque has not even remotely mastered that task. Among 160 qualified relievers over the past three seasons, only Carlos Marmol and Henry Rodriguez have posted worse walk rates than Alburquerque’s 15.6% mark. That’s a big deal for a team that has had a lot of small leads to protect over the past three seasons, and as a result, manager Jim Leyland was understandably skeptical of trusting Alburquerque in big situations. Still, when he has been trusted, he has performed pretty well, with 32 shutdowns against just 11 meltdowns on his resume. Of course, not much may change for the right-hander in 2014, as the Tigers imported Joe Nathan to close games, and Joba Chamberlain to serve at the back end of the ‘pen. Alburquerque may end up just another cog in the machine, and as such probably isn’t worth drafting unless the Tigers have a rash of pitching injuries during the spring. He is one to watch though, especially if he learns to cut his walk rate.
Quick Opinion: Between Jim Leyland’s wariness and Alburquerque’s soreness, the San Pedro de Macoris native never has really flourished in Detroit. Hopefully with a new manager in place, that will change for him in 2014.
Cody Allen 
|Debut: 2012 | BirthDate: 11/20/1988 | Team: Indians | Position: RP|
Profile: For a short time after incumbent closer Chris Perez  was released by the Indians, it looked like Cody Allen would be a trendy sleeper. But then the team went out and signed former closer John Axford  and ruined Allen’s chances of saving games, at least to open the season. Allen displayed strong skills in a middle relief role in 2013, proving he was more than capable of handling ninth inning duties. His fastball-curveball combination fueled a solid swinging strike rate and ensured that he could handle left-handed hitters with ease. Oddly, his skills were much better versus lefties than right-handers, but that could just be an artifact of sample size. Though Axford has seemingly suffered from poor fortune with regards to the home run ball these past two seasons, he’s no lock to hold the closer role all season. That means that Allen still remains an interesting choice in AL-Only leagues and a name to remember in all leagues. (Mike Podhorzer )
Quick Opinion: Though Allen has no shot anymore to open the season as the Indians closer, he showed strong enough skills last season to suggest he could handle the role. He should be next in line for the job and could come cheaply in AL-Only leagues.
Jose Alvarez 
|Debut: 2013 | BirthDate: 5/6/1989 | Team: Tigers | Position: SP/RP|
Profile: Jose Alvarez made just six starts in 2013 for the Detroit Tigers, with his first start being the gem of the bunch , going six innings, giving up just three hits, one earned run, and striking out seven. The rest of the season was a mixed bag, with many appearances out of the bullpen in mop-up or LOOGY duty. Alvarez is kind of a classic soft-tossing lefty in the mold of a Jason Vargas, featuring a broad repertoire of pitches. He’s had a good deal of success in the minor leagues, but unless something happens to the plan of having Drew Smyly start in 2014, there’s not likely to be many opportunities to start for Alvarez in 2014. He’s likely the first option in a pinch, so it’s possible he gets a shot to start in an emergency, but until then, he’s probably not anyone to worry about in fantasy formats for 2014. As a keeper, he’s somewhat interesting, but in standard formats, he wouldn’t profile as anything but a back-end option. (Michael Barr )
Quick Opinion: Jose Alvarez isn’t likely to break camp in the Tigers rotation and will either continue to season in Triple-A or find himself in the bullpen. If given a regular turn, Alvarez is likely to post something in the mid-4.00 ERA range with about a 15% strikeout rate, so he’s probably best left to league-specific formats and/or deep keeper leagues.
Henderson Alvarez 
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 4/18/1990 | Team: Marlins | Position: SP|
Profile: Do you hate strikeouts? If so, Alvarez is your man. The 33-year-old is a ground ball machine, with a career 55.4% ground ball rate, which has led to his status as a slightly above-average major-league starter. Unfortunately, he doesn’t strike out anyone. In his 350+ major-league innings, he has struck out less than one batter every two innings, for a ridiculously low 4.48 strikeouts per nine innings. His solid 2013 campaign is largely attributable to the fact that he surrendered just two homers in 102.2 innings. Alvarez will be helped by Miami’s excellent double-play tandem of Adeiny Hechavarria and Rafael Furcal, and Marlins Ballpark is likely to keep suppressing his home run rate, but he simply does not strike out enough batters to have any relevance in mixed fantasy leagues. (Scott Strandberg )
Quick Opinion: It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Alvarez finish the season with an earned run average under four, which gives him value in NL-only formats, but fantasy owners will need to compensate for his lack of strikeouts elsewhere on their rosters for him to be a useful commodity.
Brett Anderson 
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 2/1/1988 | Team: Rockies | Position: SP/RP|
Profile: Brett Anderson was once a great prospect before his elbow was eaten by sliders . Now he’s projected to be the fifth starter for the Rockies, which is about as terrible a fate as you’d wish on your enemies. That said, there’s a non-zero chance he’s effective for that team. Coming to the National League is a boost, and though curveballs aren’t happy at Coors Field , there’s no evidence sliders get hurt too bad. (To be fair, Anderson’s breaking pitch is a bit of a slurve.) If the pitch works and his body holds up, Anderson could return to striking two batters out every three innings and putting up elite ground-ball rates. That, along with what used to be customary great control, would make him useful in all formats. It’s just hard to project many innings for a guy that has put up fewer than 300 innings in the last four seasons combined. (Eno Sarris )
Quick Opinion: If he pitches like he did over the last three years, Anderson will put up fifty innings of fantasy-fringe production before hitting the DL to never return. But the two years before that were good enough for most fantasy leaguers to keep the name on file.
Chris Archer 
|Debut: 2012 | BirthDate: 9/26/1988 | Team: Rays | Position: SP|
Profile: Archer will be 25 in the 2014 season, and while he’s full of promise and devoid of an injury history, he also has a long track record of control problems. If he did not have control problems, he would have likely cracked the Rays rotation a season or two sooner on the merit of his raw stuff. Archer has an easy mid-90s fastball, as well as a two-seam/sinker and slider combo that generate buckets of weak contact. But his 3.22 ERA in 2013 looked dim under the shadow of his pedestrian 4.07 FIP. His 19.2% strikeout rate was not bad or unexpected, but his 7.2% walk rate was surprisingly low and out of line with his minor league career. If he can continue to keep the walk rate low, do not be surprised if he can also repeat or improve upon his success in the 2014 season. He might always have trouble with lefties if he doesn’t improve his change up, though. (@BradleyWoodrum )
Quick Opinion: If he can keep his walk rate beneath 8% again in 2014, Archer could conceivably post 170 innings of 3.70 ERA or better as the Rays number four or five starter. Given he will be only 25, he also makes for a possible keeper if he can continue to improve his control and his change up.
Jake Arrieta 
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 3/6/1986 | Team: Cubs | Position: SP|
Profile: After an odd 2012 that saw him post a 6.20 ERA but a 3.59 SIERA, Jake Arrieta was an interesting lottery ticket in 2013 drafts. Unfortunately for his owners, his number wasn’t drawn in 2013, and he only provided 75.1 innings of slightly above-replacement value between the Orioles and the Cubs. Unfortunately, things were worse across the board for the 27-year-old last season, and he can’t blame it on luck. Strikeout rate and swinging strikes down? Check. Walk rate and line drives up? Check. The whiff rate decrease is interesting, since Arrieta was able to increase his velocity for the second consecutive year and also pushed batters to swing at more pitches outside the strike zone than ever before. Nothing in his PITCHf/x movement or usage metrics stand out, so it may just be some small mechanical issues or bad pitch sequencing. Sent to the Cubs in the Scott Feldman trade, Arrieta has a good shot at cracking Chicago’s starting five when they head north. If we believe his 2012 version is still in there somewhere, the raw potential for him to put up an above-average season still exists. And he’ll come cheap if you want to roll the dice. However, coming off a down season and playing in one of the worst National League parks when it comes to run suppression, you should only take a flier on him once you have filled out the rest of your staff. (Colin Zarzycki )
Quick Opinion: Poof. The “Jake Arrieta sleeper balloon” deflated in a big way in 2013, with the righty seeing regression in both the strikeout and walk departments in limited big league time. Now with the Cubs, he should get another chance to start in 2014 and still holds some interesting upside. Just don’t roll the dice on that upside until you can afford to.
Bronson Arroyo 
|Debut: 2000 | BirthDate: 2/24/1977 | Team: Diamondbacks | Position: SP|
Profile: As an extreme fly-ball pitcher with little ability to miss bats, maybe Arizona wasn’t the best place for Arroyo to end up. But even in the homer-friendly Great American Ball Park, he managed to post sub-four ERAs for the most part, so he should still have some value. In many ways, he’s a fantasy equivalent to Kyle Lohse without the above-average ERA — low walks, low strikeouts, high innings. The only reason he was more valuable than Lohse last year was the win totals, which is generally a shot in the dark, so it wouldn’t be wise to put too much stock in that. Arroyo isn’t much to get excited about, and at 37 years old, one has to wonder how long his smoke-and-mirrors act will be effective. Best-case scenario, he’s fringe top-75 guy, and I don’t see any real upside from that mark, either. (JP Breen)
Quick Opinion: Aside from an albatross season in 2011, Arroyo has been remarkably consistent. Owners have been able to bank on roughly 200 innings, an ERA hovering around 3.80, a decent WHIP and few strikeouts. He’s a fringe top-75 starter whose value is in quantity over quality.
Phillippe Aumont 
|Debut: 2012 | BirthDate: 1/7/1989 | Team: Phillies | Position: RP|
Profile: Phillippe Aumont, once one of the prizes of the Cliff Lee deal that sent him from the Seattle Mariners to the Philadelphia Phillies in 2010, has had quite a ride from being among the better starting pitching prospects in baseball. Aumont started to make great strides in 2011 a Double-A where his strikeout rate eclipsed 30% while he kept his walks in check. 2012 featured almost a full year at Triple-A and Aumont demonstrated his blazing fastball but regressed in the control department with a 17% walk rate. He got a brief cup of joe that year and actually had some success over 14 innings pitched, even earning a pair of saves. But 2013 saw the wheels come off with his control at Triple-A — his walk rate escalated to 22%, which almost seems like a typo. He did make 22 appearances at the big league level and while FIP had him at 3.57, he still didn’t know where the ball was going with a 14% walk rate. His stuff is electric, but until he can drive that walk rate down into the four per nine range consistently, he’s going to have frequent blowups. No longer considered a starting candidate, his ceiling is probably as closer, but in the meantime, he should be content with LOOGY, and therefore he’s not going to be terribly useful for your fantasy squad. (Michael Barr )
Quick Opinion: Phillippe Aumont drew comparisons to Randy Johnson in that he’s extremely tall, throws incredibly hard, and as a young man, has little idea where the ball is going. The Unit figured it out, obviously. Aumont has not. Until he does, he’s going to struggle to find success at the major league level. Unless for some reason the club starts whispering “closer” in Spring training, he’s probably not worth a stash in deep keepers.
Luis Avilan 
|Debut: 2012 | BirthDate: 7/19/1989 | Team: Braves | Position: RP|
Profile: Avilan is a lefty specialist who substantially outperformed his peripherals in 2013. He held lefties to a stingy .185 weighted on-base average last season. He kept the ball on the ground nearly 58% of the time overall, which likely helped him to maintain his low 1.52 ERA. A .202 batting average on balls in play is absolutely fluky, but it’s hard to judge how fluky since specialist relievers can often outperform league average in that measure. He did face a fair number of righties in 2013 and had more success than his peripherals suggested. In 2014, manager Freddy Gonzalez should be more careful about the number of right-handed hitters he faces — at least if he wants to maximize Avilan’s value. (Brad Johnson)
Quick Opinion: Avilan is a left-handed specialist who doesn’t accrue a lot of strikeouts. As such, he’s of minimal interest to most fantasy owners. He appears to have substantially outperformed his peripherals in 2013, so he’s a dangerous target if you’re only looking at his 1.52 ERA.
Dylan Axelrod 
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 7/30/1985 | Position: SP/RP|
Profile: Axelrod has notched 198 career innings with a 5.36 ERA, forcing the White Sox to non-tender him in December. Even if he were to find his way into a rotation, Axelrod does little to suggest he would have fantasy value. (Chris Cwik )
John Axford 
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 4/1/1983 | Team: Indians | Position: RP|
Profile: Axford was a truly dominant closer in 2010 and 2011, peaking in 2011 with a fabulous 1.95 ERA while piling up 46 saves. However, the last two seasons have been a very different story for the 30-year-old righty. He has posted an ERA above four in each of the last two seasons, with his fielder independent pitching numbers following suit. The Ax Man has always struggled with walks, as his career walks per nine innings rate is 4.05, but his high strikeout rate and ability to keep the ball in the park balanced out his control issues. That is, until 2012. Axford surrendered homers on just 2.4% of his fly balls in 2010 and 6.0% in 2011. In 2012, that figure jumped to an alarming 19.2%. Last season was more of the same, with a 17.2% HR/FB rate. It takes just a quick look at his peripherals to find out why. According to PITCHf/x, Axford’s fastball and curveball, which used to be solidly above-average offerings, have both become below-average pitches. He’s also falling behind in the count far more frequently; his 61.6% first-pitch strike percentage from 2011 tumbled all the way down to 53.3% last year. As a result, Axford got hit hard the last two seasons. His line-drive rate, which was an excellent 15.2% in 2011, was at least 24.0% in both 2012 and 2013. And yet he looks like the favorite for saves in Cleveland and is fantasy relevant in most formats. (Scott Strandberg )
Quick Opinion: Axford will almost certainly be the Indians’ closer to start 2014, but if he struggles, the Indians have other quality options for the ninth inning. Cody Allen is coming off a very effective 2013 and will be breathing down Axford’s neck. The Ax Man will be a major risk for fantasy players this season.
Burke Badenhop 
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 2/8/1983 | Team: Red Sox | Position: RP|
Profile: Badenhop threw his slider more often and subsequently induced more swings-and-misses, but the overall peripherals in 2013 were identical to the ones in 2013 — 6.06 strikeouts, 1.73 walks, 0.87 homers per nine. He’s a ground-ball machine out of the bullpen who is death to righties. In Boston, though, he won’t sniff the ninth inning and won’t strike out enough batters to matter, even in the deepest leagues. (JP Breen)
Andrew Bailey 
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 5/31/1984 | Position: RP|
Profile: Coming into 2014, Andrew Bailey was desperate to shake the injury-prone label that had followed him from Oakland to Boston. After Joel Hanrahan went down with his own bum elbow, Bailey was given the keys to the ninth inning, only to eventually lose the job and then lose his season to major shoulder surgery. Non-tendered after having his labrum and shoulder capsule repaired, Bailey will be out for at least the first month or two of the 2014 season, although it wouldn’t be shocking if his absence dragged further. While shoulder injury prognosis has gradually improved over the last decade, the type of damage we are taking about is nothing to sneeze at. Before the injury, Bailey was enjoying a bit of a renaissance in the peripheral department, posting the highest strikeout rate of his big league career and his highest whiff percentage since his rookie year. His walk rate has climbed from seven percent in Oakland to 10% the last two years in Boston, hurting his ERA estimators. However, if he could maintain a near-30% K%, he won’t have too many problems, even if his elite command is gone. The safest play for fantasy owners is to just wait-and-see. Bailey is not draftable in standard leagues but could be a nice waiver play depending on where he lands and how reports of his rehab outings sound. (Colin Zarzycki )
Quick Opinion: Andrew Bailey’s promising bounceback 2013 was derailed by major shoulder surgery in June. Even with improved strikeout numbers, owners will need to wait-and-see how Bailey’s in-season rehab progresses before investing anything more than an unused disabled list slot on him.
Homer Bailey 
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 5/3/1986 | Team: Reds | Position: SP|
Profile: After finally experiencing the long-awaited breakout in 2012, Bailey followed up strongly by posting an even better ERA, WHIP and SIERA. On the heels of a spike in fastball velocity, his strikeout rate surged to a career high, supported by a jump in swinging strike rate. He also continued to pump in first pitch strikes, which has allowed him to maintain excellent walk rates over the past couple of seasons. That velocity increase will be key though; if he is unable to maintain it, we could see his strikeout rate fall back to pre-2013 levels. That would still result in a solid fantasy pitcher, but SIERA suggests that version is more of a high-3.00 ERA guy than a mid-3.00 ERA one. Since he’s likely at his peak right now with limited upside remaining, be careful not to overpay for his services thinking that he’s trending toward darkhorse Cy Young candidacy. (Mike Podhorzer )
Quick Opinion: We patiently waited many years, but Bailey has finally established himself as one of the better starting pitchers in the National League. Though he came off his best season from both a results and skills perspective, there is likely little further upside remaining; but he remains a safe bet to enjoy another strong campaign.
Scott Baker 
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 9/19/1981 | Position: SP|
Profile: The Cubs signed Baker to a one-year deal last offseason, likely intending for him to rebuild enough value for them to trade him at the deadline. While initial reports had him missing the first two-to-four weeks of the season as he recovered from Tommy John surgery, he did not end up making his North Side debut until September. He made three starts in 2013, a mostly meaningless small sample of work, except that his velocity didn’t crack 90. He signed a minor league deal with the Mariners, and if he can get back to 90+ on the fastball, he could be their fifth starter. Spring training reports will determine how likely he is to regain the form that made him a quality starter with the Twins before he blew out his elbow. (Jack Weiland )
Quick Opinion: Watch the spring velocities. Averaging anything over 88 or 89 might mean he gets the fifth starter role in Seattle.
Grant Balfour 
|Debut: 2001 | BirthDate: 12/30/1977 | Team: Rays | Position: RP|
Profile: Balfour has been one of the better relievers in baseball over the past six seasons, with a 2.70 ERA over that time. More impressive, he’s transitioned from throwing over 91% fastballs in 2008 to just 64% last season while still maintaining a high strikeout rate thanks to his slider. A disagreement over the health of his shoulder nixed his deal with the Orioles, leaving the angry Aussie to sign a lesser deal with Tampa Bay. Even though the Rays traded for Heath Bell, they’ve said Balfour will be their closer. That makes him a potentially under-valued asset on draft day… again. (Erik Hahmann)
Quick Opinion: He walks more batters than you’d like, but his strikeouts more than make up the difference. He should be a lock for 40 saves next season with a good Tampa Bay club.
Daniel Bard 
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 6/25/1985 | Position: RP|
Profile: The Red Sox broke Daniel Bard. It’s not clear if he’s ever going to get fixed, either. Now four years removed from his failed conversion to starter, Bard may never see significant playing time again. He’s worth avoiding until he can show any resemblance of his former self. (David Temple)
Anthony Bass 
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 11/1/1987 | Team: Astros | Position: RP|
Profile: The Houston Astros acquired twenty-six-year-old Anthony Bass from the Padres prior to the Rule 5 draft this offseason. In Bass, Houston adds a talented right-hander with experience both starting games and coming out of the bullpen. He carries a fair 16.8% strikeout rate paired with passable control. The problem has been that his changeup — only average at best — has gotten worse over the last few years, leaving him with a straight fastball and a good slider. This lack of a platoon-busting pitch might mean the bullpen is in his future — after all, the Astros’ pen, even with the additions of Chad Qualls and Jesse Crain, could use some help. It was the worst bullpen in the league last year, by a full run in FIP. (Alan Harrison)
Quick Opinion: AL-Only leaguers should have Bass within hooking distance, otherwise, he could serve as a decent streaming option in deeper mixed leagues should he get some starts against weaker teams.
Antonio Bastardo 
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 9/21/1985 | Team: Phillies | Position: RP|
Profile: Bastardo enters 2014 as the Phillies’ primary setup man. While left-handed, Bastardo isn’t just a lefty specialist, as he has been nearly as effective against righties in his 195 career innings. Lefties have a weighted on-base average of only .277 against Bastardo, but right-handers haven’t done much better, logging a .294 wOBA. The big red flag with the 28-year-old, other than his career 4.20 walks per nine innings rate, is the extreme drop in his strikeout rate from 14.02 per nine innings in 2012 to 9.91 K/9 last season. However, there’s nothing particularly alarming in his PITCHf/x data, and his swinging strike percentage was actually higher last year (14.0%) than it was the year before (13.6%). Expect a strikeout rate around his career average of 11.22 K/9 and plenty of holds. (Scott Strandberg )
Quick Opinion: Jonathan Papelbon’s insane contract will keep him in the closer’s role if the Phillies are unable to trade him. However, Pap’s plummeting velocity and strikeout rate make him an extremely dicey proposition for 2014. If he gets traded or is injured or ineffective, I wouldn’t be surprised if Bastardo took the job and ran with it. That’s a lot of ifs, but stashing Bastardo still isn’t a bad idea.
Trevor Bauer 
|Debut: 2012 | BirthDate: 1/17/1991 | Team: Indians | Position: SP|
Profile: If Trevor Bauer’s 2013 season turns out to be representative of his future, the Diamondbacks are going to look awfully smart for shipping him off. Forget the ugly numbers in Cleveland. Ignore the 5.29 ERA which was somehow lower than his FIP (7.05) or that he somehow posted a walk rate that was higher than either (8.47 per nine — seriously, in 17 innings he walked 16). Instead, look at his numbers in Columbus — the 4.15 ERA is not terrible (although not particularly prospect-y) but the 5.08 FIP isn’t pretty and his walk rate was AGAIN higher than either other number (5.41). Gone, too, were the prolific strikeout numbers from earlier in his career. If you want to be optimistic though, you just have to look past the numbers. Bauer, despite a reputation for rejecting coaching, spent much of the 2013 season reworking his delivery and has been in constant contact with Indians staff this off-season. They might be biased, having shipped off a newly-minted $130MM man to get Bauer, but the Indians are encouraged and there are reports that he is again showing the electricity that made him one of baseball’s top prospects. I imagine Bauer will start 2014 in Triple-A, but in deep leagues or leagues with minor league spots, he is worth a flyer. He may not recapture past glory, but if he does, you’ll want to be along for the ride. (Chad Young )
Quick Opinion: Statistically, 2013 was an unmitigated disaster for Bauer. But he is working on a new approach, taking to coaching, and the reports in the off-season are encouraging. Don’t count on anything, but don’t forget that this was one of the most highly touted arms in all of baseball.
Brandon Beachy 
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 9/3/1986 | Team: Braves | Position: SP|
Profile: 2013 was a lost season for Beachy. After undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2012, Beachy rehabbed his way back to the majors and made five brief starts. Elbow pain forced him to shutdown again and made a second surgery to clean out the elbow necessary. He’s expected to be ready for spring training, but that obviously comes with a lot of risk. The Braves only have three starters locked into a rotation jobs for next season at this time, so Beachy appears to have a shot at re-earning his job if healthy. It will be his age-27 season, and it’s quite hard to project how he may perform coming off injury. He showed good command and control in his brief return from the disabled list but also a career-worst strikeout rate. He’s a good target for a cheap flier, but he carries a ton of risk. (Brad Johnson)
Quick Opinion: Beachy missed most of the 2013 season recovering from Tommy John surgery and then went back on the disabled list after experiencing more elbow pain. He’s on track for a spring training return and represents a cheap high-risk, moderate-reward investment option.
Blake Beavan 
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 1/17/1989 | Team: Mariners | Position: RP|
Profile: Did you know that Blake Beavan once beat Cuba — in Cuba — for team USA? No kidding. He was also the first round draft pick for the Texas Rangers in 2007 after amassing a 9-2 record his senior year in high school with a 0.19 ERA and 139 strikeouts in 73 innings, boasting a 96 mile per hour fastball. Holy smokes! Today? Beavan throws about 89 miles per hour, has one of the league’s saddest strikeout rates, and is well back on the Seattle Mariner starting pitcher depth chart. He’s organizational depth at this point, and even if he managed to eek out a start, you shouldn’t be relying on a pitcher projected to have a near-5.00 ERA and a strikeout rate below 12%. I can’t even really recommend him in a deep keeper or AL-only league as he might not even make the club out of Spring Training. You should have better options. (Michael Barr )
Quick Opinion: Blake Beavan won six games in 16 starts over 94 innings at Triple-A Tacoma, posting a 5.55 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, and a 11.4% strikeout rate. Look kids, Big Ben, Parliament.
Josh Beckett 
|Debut: 2001 | BirthDate: 5/15/1980 | Team: Dodgers | Position: SP|
Profile: Josh Beckett made only eight starts in 2013, and only one of them was actually any good. To be fair, he somehow managed a higher swinging-strike percentage than he’d had in his Boston peak, but he was plagued by enormous home run difficulties. When he went on the disabled list in May, it was reportedly due to a groin strain, yet it turned into surgery to remove a rib and relieve thoracic outlet syndrome, and he wouldn’t pitch again. Beckett tentatively has the hold on the final spot in the rotation if healthy, but over the last four seasons he’s been both healthy and productive just once, in 2011. Heading into his age-34 season with his once-excellent velocity firmly behind him, merely being league-average would seem to be a success. (Mike Petriello) 
Quick Opinion: If Beckett is healthy, and if he has a spot in the Dodger rotation, he could maybe be a reasonable back-end NL-only option. That’s a lot of if’s, though.
Erik Bedard 
|Debut: 2002 | BirthDate: 3/5/1979 | Position: SP|
Profile: Bedard’s raw numbers in 2013 are ugly — 4-12, 4.59 ERA, 1.48 WHIP — but the season wasn’t all bad for the 34-year-old lefty. For the third straight season, Bedard fanned eight-plus per nine. He also got his first big league save. But that’s about where the positives end. He again struggled with control (4.5 walks per nine), and his ERA- and xFIP- continue to tumble to well below average (116 and 111, respectively). At this point, Bedard will likely have to settle for a minor league deal or something with low guaranteed money, and take a chance on a second career as a left-handed reliever. That’s still a pretty good gig if you can get it. (Brandon Warne)
Quick Opinion: Bedard’s days of fantasy relevance are well behind him. Even as a possible future reliever, it’s hard to envision a re-emergence on the fantasy baseball scene.
Michael Belfiore 
|Debut: 2013 | BirthDate: 10/3/1988 | Team: Orioles | Position: RP|
Profile: After moving to the bullpen about mid-way through his 2011 season with the Diamondbacks High-A California League affiliate, Belfiore has remained there, generally to good effect. As a left-hander who both (a) rarely breaks 90 mph and also (b) features a serviceable breaking ball, his major-league future likely consists of considerably LOOGY work. A 25-game suspension for Troy Patton creates a role for Belfiore to begin the season. (Carson Cistulli)
Quick Opinion: Belfiore profiles well as a LOOGY for Orioles, for whom he’ll likely begin the 2013 season, with Troy Patton due to serve a 25-game suspension.
Ronald Belisario 
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 12/31/1982 | Team: White Sox | Position: RP|
Profile: The consistently inconsistent Ronald Belisario managed to keep himself out of trouble all season, so that alone still counts as a win. Unfortunately, his performance slipped, with his strikeouts per nine falling to a pedestrian 6.49. As disappointing as that is, it got even worse in the second half — in 25.1 post-break innings, he had a lousy 14/13 strikeout to walk ratio. The good news is that he still kept the ball on the ground around 60% of the time, and when he’s on he’s incredibly difficult to hit. Somewhat surprisingly, the Dodgers chose to non-tender him at the end of the season, so he’ll attempt to rebuild his value with the White Sox in 2014. With one elite pitch and iffy mechanics, it would take some doing to end up saving games for his new team, but the role is wide open with Addison Reed gone. He might be second or third in line as of this writing, even. (Mike Petriello) 
Quick Opinion: Belisario can be one of the toughest relievers in the bigs when he’s right, but a very poor second half in 2013 showed what happens when he’s not, and now he’ll attempt to rebound in the American League.
Matt Belisle 
|Debut: 2003 | BirthDate: 6/6/1980 | Team: Rockies | Position: RP|
Profile: Sometimes, a few more runners score. Or score at the wrong time. Or score on bloopers or bleeders. Whatever the case, a few more runners scored against Belisle last season. After three straight seasons with a LOB% over 70%, Belisle was only able to keep 65.4% of runners at bay this past season, which was about four percent lower than his career average. As a result, his ERA climbed over 4.00 for the first time since 2009, and similarly as a result the Rockies sought to bolster their bullpen externally early in the offseason. LaTroy Hawkins replaced the departed Rafael Betancourt, and together Hawkins and Rex Brothers should soak up all of the team’s save opportunities. That should leave Belisle right where he has been the past few years, soaking up lots of juicy seventh- and eighth-inning work. And he should continue to do so just as well. Belisle’s FIP and FIP- were essentially unchanged from his previous three seasons, and he finished 16th in the majors in holds (and from 2011-13, he ranks 11th in holds). He even struck out more hitters and walked fewer of them than he did in 2011 and 2012. Belisle’s velocity continues to decline, but last year it went down only slightly, and he has had few issues adjusting to the lower velocity (last season he incorporated more cutters). Since he is third, at best, on the closing depth chart you should look elsewhere for saves, but if you need holds, Belisle is your man.
Quick Opinion: Belisle was essentially the same pitcher he has been every year he’s been with the Rockies, but some unlucky sequencing of events led to a higher ERA and to him remaining stationary on the team’s late-innings totem pole. Belisle should be good for holds, but look elsewhere for saves.
Heath Bell 
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 9/29/1977 | Team: Rays | Position: RP|
Profile: In 2013, Heath Bell posted the best strikeout rate he’s had since 2010. He also a recorded a career-low walk rate. It was a crazy spike in home runs that did him in. He jumped from allowing 0.71 home runs per nine innings in 2012 to 1.64 in 2013. Part of that *might* have been pitching in Arizona’s homer-happy stadium, or it might have been just more age-related decline. He’s now pitching in Tampa, and might be competing for a closer position, though there are better internal options and the Rays usually know better than to fall for a “proven closer.” (David Temple)
Quick Opinion: Tampa Bay turned Fernando Rodney into an elite reliever, and maybe they can work their mojo on Bell. If you play in a league with saves, he may be worth a flier at the tail end or a draft or auction.
Joaquin Benoit 
|Debut: 2001 | BirthDate: 7/26/1977 | Team: Padres | Position: RP|
Profile: Relievers rarely make sense, so it’s no surprise that Benoit has had two of his best seasons (by FIP-) in the past three seasons, when he was 33- and 35-years-old, respectively. Benoit used to be just a guy, as for the first eight years of his major league career, he had a big problem with walks. In that time, he walked 4.3 batters per nine innings, across a span of 591.1 innings. Then he had shoulder surgery and missed a whole season. Since his return, he’s been a new pitcher. In the four seasons since, he’s posted a 2.5 BB/9 in 259.1 innings. At the same time, his K rate has improved dramatically, and his velocity has increased as well. As a result, Benoit’s K%-BB% (20%) ranks 20th in the game among qualified relievers the past three seasons. Now, he heads to San Diego, where his fly-ball tendencies should be hid well. Benoit actually managed to tilt a little towards being a ground-ball pitcher last season, but for his career is very much a fly-ball guy. Teamed with Huston Street, he may not get 100% of the save chances, but he’ll probably get more than will Street just due to Street’s fragility. Over the past three seasons, Benoit has suited up for 199 innings pitched across 205 games, while Street has managed just 154 over 160. Benoit may not lead you to a win in the saves category, but given how well he does everything else, he is a sure-fire mid-tier bet, if not better.
Quick Opinion: Benoit headed south this winter to San Diego, and while it isn’t clear whether he or Huston Street will be the team’s primary closer, he should end up with his fair share of save opportunities. Don’t make him your first option, but definitely keep him on your radar.
Dellin Betances 
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 3/23/1988 | Team: Yankees | Position: RP|
Profile: Considered by many a top pitching prospect, Betances remains unable to make the necessary adjustments. His long levers combined with insufficient athleticism cause him a lot of problems trying to repeat his delivery. It appears Betances’ command and control will never be good enough for a starting role, but his power arm could be an asset in a major league bullpen at some point. He has a fourth option year and will probably begin 2014 in the minors. (Al Skorupa)
Quick Opinion: Betances has a big arm but can’t repeat his delivery or find any consistency in his secondaries. With a fourth option year the Yankees will likely send him back to Scranton-Wilkes Barre. He can miss bats, but is a major risk to blow up your ERA & WHIP every time he goes out there.
Rafael Betancourt 
|Debut: 2003 | BirthDate: 4/29/1975 | Position: RP|
Profile: Relievers are strange as a rule, but Betancourt was doubly so. His warmup routine, in which he threw three to four times as many pitches as a normal reliever, was legendary amongst his teammates. When asked, he would say he simply liked to throw a lot of pitches. Once in the game, he was strange as well. As Jeff Sullivan detailed in this post from August, 2012 , Betancourt simply didn’t throw inside to left-handed batters. And after plunking Marcus Thames in the 10th game of his career back in 2003, Betancourt proceeded to pitch the next 638.1 innings of his career without hitting a batter. One can’t be sure if that’s a record, but for the period from 2003-2013, there were only 11 pitchers who pitched at least 500 innings and hit 10 or fewer batters. Of those 11, Betancourt was the only one who hit fewer than five. In fact, since 1901, there have only been three other pitchers who have tossed at least 500 career innings and only hit one batter — Tom Ferrick, Chubby Dean and Johnny Broaca. They pitched in the years spanning 1939-1952. In this era, Betancourt was one of a kind, and it would be sad if his career ended with him on the operating table, but life is often cruel for no good reason.
Quick Opinion: For years, Betancourt was an iron horse — he tossed at least 55 innings out of the bullpen in nine consecutive seasons — but all good things come to an end. The 38-year-old righty underwent Tommy John surgery in August and will miss the entire 2014 campaign, and given his age and the fungibility of relievers in general, he may have tossed his last pitch in the majors.
Chad Bettis 
|Debut: 2013 | BirthDate: 4/26/1989 | Team: Rockies | Position: SP/RP|
Profile: It’s generally the case that the future major-league performance of a minor-league player can be projected with some measure of accuracy by adjusting the numbers produced by said minor-leaguer for the level of competition faced. It was surprising, for that reason, to observe Bettis pitching so poorly for Colorado following an August promotion to the parent club. After recording strikeout and walk rates of 26.3% and 5.0%, respectively, with Double-A Tulsa, Bettis produced just a 13.1% strikeout and 10.2% walk rate over eight major-league starts. Nor was this an instance of a polished soft-tosser failing to deceive more experienced opponents: Bettis sat at 92-93 mph with his fastball. Bettis’s rates improved considerably in seven innings of relief work. A move to the bullpen, however, would have to be regarded as a disappointment given Bettis’s minor-league performance. (Carson Cistulli)
Quick Opinion: Bettis’s minor-league success didn’t translate to the majors, despite what appears to be above-average arm speed and reasonable command. A move to the bullpen is a distinct possibility.
Chad Billingsley 
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 7/29/1984 | Team: Dodgers | Position: SP|
Profile: Chad Billingsley’s attempt to pitch through a partially torn elbow ligament lasted exactly 12 innings, and now he’ll miss part of 2014 as well after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Since he went down so early, he might be back by May or June, though it’s difficult to know whether he’ll still have a spot in a deep Dodger rotation. It’s too bad; Billingsley is perpetually underrated and had finally managed to get his control issues handled in 2012 before his elbow started barking in the first place. (Mike Petriello) 
Quick Opinion: It’s maybe not the worst idea in the world to stash Billingsley in an empty disabled list spot if you have one, but don’t expect much from him until the second half, especially since his role is uncertain.
Vic Black 
|Debut: 2013 | BirthDate: 5/23/1988 | Team: Mets | Position: RP|
Profile: One piece of the Mets’ return for sending Marlon Byrd to Pittsburgh, Vic Black spent his September pitching for the big club. The owner of a 95-96 mph fastball, the 25-year-old impressed in his small sample, posting a 3.91 SIERA with a 10% swinging strike rate. All the swinging strikes didn’t directly translate to strikeouts (19.7% strikeout rate) but we should probably give him a pass on his first 17 innings. After all, he posted 34% and 33% marks at Double- and Triple-A the past two seasons. And LaTroy Hawkins is a fan, saying “Sometimes I play catch with him and he has, like, double life. The ball comes out of his hand and it picks up speed halfway and hits up another gear. It’s weird. It’s something I’ve never seen. That’s why I said he has a magical arm.” Black will compete for a bullpen spot in 2014 and currently is a favorite to get one. Black’s unlikely to open the season as a high-leverage arm, but could work his way into the later innings if he can bring his strikeouts in line with what he posted in the high minors. If you are desperate for a $1 flier at the end of an NL-only draft, he could be an interesting option. (Colin Zarzycki )
Quick Opinion: Part of the return in the Marlon Byrd trade, Black showcased a mid-90’s fastball during a September audition in New York. The owner of stellar strikeout and passable walk rates in the minors, Black could quickly sneak into a high-leverage bullpen role if all the pieces fall into place.
Travis Blackley 
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 11/4/1982 | Position: RP|
Profile: For those of you who play in Japanese fantasy baseball leagues, Blackely could have value as a new member of the Rakuten Eagles.
Joe Blanton 
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 12/11/1980 | Team: Angels | Position: SP/RP|
Profile: Exhibit A why one should not live by evaluating pitchers on strikeouts per walk alone. Historically, Blanton has had a strong K/BB ratio, and has posted rates of 4.9 and 3.2 over the past two seasons. He’s also gone 12-27 with a 5.26 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP in that time. He has been extremely charitable with the home run allowing 58 in 59 games, a 1.6 HR/9. When not handing out souvenirs to fans in the bleachers, he is still somewhat capable of getting strikeouts, but his velocity is in decline and he’s a toxic fantasy asset. If you are believer in regression drafting, go ahead and roster him. I dare you to. (Jason Collette)
Quick Opinion: When not handing out souvenirs to fans in the bleachers, he is still somewhat capable of getting strikeouts, but his velocity is in decline and he’s a toxic fantasy asset. If you are believer in regression drafting, go ahead and roster him. I dare you to.
Michael Blazek 
|Debut: 2013 | BirthDate: 3/16/1989 | Team: Brewers | Position: RP|
Profile: Blazek possesses big velocity, as well as big command issues. His walk rate historically has been lofty in the minors, and in 17.1 innings with the Brewers, the right-hander posted 6.75 walks per nine. Sprinkle in a few home runs and an unsightly 5.71 ERA, and it clearly wasn’t a successful major-league debut. As such, Blazek isn’t guaranteed to break camp with the Brewers and shouldn’t come anywhere near your fantasy roster. (JP Breen)
Jerry Blevins 
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 9/6/1983 | Team: Nationals | Position: RP|
Profile: Jerry Blevins was near and dear to the hearts of many Oakland fans, perhaps for surviving yearly bouts of being designated for assignment early in his career, or for a few signature outings  in big games, or batting once in an 18-inning game. While he does have more pitches than an average LOOGY — four decent ones even — that number drops to one against righties (just the changeup). Maybe he’s a little more Jeremy Affeldt than Javier Lopez in terms of effectiveness against batters of both handedness, but he’s also unlikely to close for anyone with his splits. A 3.39 FIP against lefties works, but a 4.27 FIP against righties is on the wrong side of average for him to be a ninth inning option for the Nationals. Those in holds leagues might find him useful — lefty relievers often rack up the holds in few innings based on their usage. (Eno Sarris )
Quick Opinion: Jerry Blevins probably won’t close for the Nationals, even with injury. That doesn’t mean he won’t be a lovable, useful part of a strong pen on a good team.
Mitchell Boggs 
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 2/15/1984 | Team: White Sox | Position: RP|
Profile: The Cardinals seem to grow pitching on trees. As such, their tolerance for failure is decidedly lower than that is in most organizations. When Boggs started the season in disastrous fashion, they quickly cut him loose. There was still reason for optimism though. Boggs only allowed runs in eight of his 18 outings with the Cardinals. His ERA looked repugnant though, because in three of those eight times he allowed multiple runs, including one outing during which he allowed seven runs in 1/3 of an inning. If you’re wondering why a pitcher would be allowed to face so many hitters when he didn’t have anything working, well, that’s why a lot of people don’t have a lot of faith in Mike Matheny’s managerial capabilities. That aside, Boggs’ performance after he reached Colorado was still concerning. He walked a batter in five of his nine appearances for the Rockies, and his walk rate remains a concern. Boggs has never had a better-than-league-average strikeout rate, so it’s of paramount importance that he keeps his walk total under control. Until he shows that he can do that, he’ll be a liability.
Quick Opinion: Boggs was never as good as his 2012 ERA made him seem, but his complete meltdown in 2013 was more regression than could have been anticipated. Boggs will land a job as a set-up man, but he has likely missed his chance at becoming a closer, and is not likely to warrant much consideration from a fantasy perspective — especially if he can’t get his walk rate under control.
Jeremy Bonderman 
|Debut: 2003 | BirthDate: 10/28/1982 | Position: SP/RP|
Profile: After a two-year layoff, Jeremy Bonderman resurfaced with the Seattle Mariners when their rotation imploded. He then imploded along with it. Never a control pitcher, Bonderman obviously had nothing in his arsenal worth chasing, as hitters swung at a mere 25.9% of his pitches outside the zone, according to PITCHf/x. Without the command to work the corners, Bonderman got hit hard. After getting released, the Tigers welcomed him back to throw long relief, with similar results, though the strikeouts reappeared once he stopped having to conserve. It’s impossible to think about Jeremy Bonderman without thinking about all the Jeremy Bondermans, the successful and the dormant. You’re always cognizant of that six-win season of yore, though nobody ever really sits out two years and gets back to that. Finding out which one appears in 2014 is the fun of fantasy baseball, though it probably won’t be so much fun for the 2014 Jeremy Bonderman. (Patrick Dubuque)
Quick Opinion: So many Jeremy Bondermans to think about. Wait. To *not* think about, more like.
Michael Bowden 
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 9/9/1986 | Position: RP|
Profile: When a player gets designated for assignment twice in the same season by a team that goes on to win 66 games, there’s only one thing left to do: go East, young man! Bowden did just that, signing with Japan’s Seibu Lions in December. Bowden’s NPB value has skyrocketed as a result, and he may indeed close games for the Lions, but his days as a MLB fantasy asset (which totaled exactly zero) are now in the rear view mirror. (Jack Weiland )
Brad Boxberger 
|Debut: 2012 | BirthDate: 5/27/1988 | Team: Rays | Position: RP|
Profile: The Reds made Boxberger a first-round selection (43rd overall) in the 2009 amateur draft, then sent him along with a trio of other Reds to the Padres in exchange for Mat Latos. Boxberger’s debut season in the Padres organization went off without a hitch — the right-hander went 2-2, with five saves, a 2.70 ERA (1.79 FIP) and a 33.9% strikeout rate in 37 trips to the bump (43.1 innings). While repeating Triple-A in 2013, Boxberger achieved similar success with noticeable improvements in both K% (37.7%) and walk rate (8.1%), leading some to consider the righty a potential big-league closing candidate down the road. However, expectations should be tempered as Boxberger experienced control issues in each of his first two (short) stints in the bigs. Now in Tampa Bay, Boxberger still has the potential multi-category contributor, but his path to saves may have more roadblocks. Grant Balfour and Heath Bell have to be in line ahead of him, even if lefty Jake McGee may never get his shot. (Alan Harrison)
Quick Opinion: Despite only throwing 91-92 these days, Boxberger’s strong three-pitch mix garners plenty of whiffs. He’s always been touted as a future closer, maybe he’ll have his chance in the Tampa bullpen one of these years. Probably not this one.
Craig Breslow 
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 8/8/1980 | Team: Red Sox | Position: RP|
Profile: Craig Breslow garnered quite a bit of attention towards the end of 2013. The key factor may have been Andrew Miller’s season-ending foot injury which pushed Breslow into Boston’s prime lefty reliever role down the stretch and into the postseason. He finished the year with a sparkling 1.81 ERA, possibly leading some fantasy owners to think “hey, here’s a nice guy for holds leagues!” Not so fast. The Yale product may have a clean ERA, but his 4.31 SIERA and 4.37 xFIP point toward a guy who should project to a more average performance. Even if you argue his career 6.4% home run per fly ball rate makes his home run suppression a viable skill, his FIP only sits at 3.60. Breslow struggles in the whiffs department, only posting 13.9% strikeout rate. Even given the fact that he’s tough on lefties, his K% split is only about 3%, meaning he’s not blowing either handedness away. He has a walk rate in the single-digits but his ground ball rate is below 45%, meaning he’s relying on a lot of weak (or not weak) contact in the air to turn into outs. Breslow will return to the Red Sox in 2014 and once again be a key cog in their bullpen. However, he’ll likely fall behind Andrew Miller when it comes to high-leverage situations, possibly crimping his holds upside. Combine that with little help in strikeouts and you have a guy who may have real-life value, but is of little use in your fantasy league. (Colin Zarzycki )
Quick Opinion: Breslow may have perked some ears with a 1.81 ERA and a couple shutdown outings in the postseason, but his 4.30+ ERA estimators are bad news. Andrew Miller’s 2014 return should push him out of the late innings. He’s worth little in fantasy, even holds leagues.
Zach Britton 
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 12/22/1987 | Team: Orioles | Position: SP|
Profile: Now out of minor league options, 2014 is going to be a very important year for former top prospect Zach Britton. Set back by shoulder injuries in 2011 and 2012, the lefty spent most of his season failing to impress as a starter in Triple-A. Given 40 innings in the majors, he did more of the same, posting a 4.95 ERA and somehow only striking out 18 batters. That would be the fourth lowest strikeout rate of anyone who threw 30 innings in 2013, and it sure makes it difficult to forecast anything optimistic moving forward. Perhaps he can refine his control which, along with his strong ground-ball rate, would help him work around the lack of whiffs, but it would be a surprising development at this stage. A LOOGY role might be possible given a moderate platoon split and reliance on his sinker, and it’s probably worth trying the 26-year-old out of the pen for the first time to try and squeeze out some value for their eight years of patience. (Blake Murphy )
Quick Opinion: After eight years in the Orioles organization, Zach Britton is out of options and still without a role in the majors. The sinker is good, but the control is wanting and he’s among the least dangerous strikeout pitchers in baseball.
Rex Brothers 
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 12/18/1987 | Team: Rockies | Position: RP|
Profile: Brothers has now tossed at least 40 innings in each of the past three seasons, and in each of these seasons he has been dominant — his FIP- has painted him as at least 22 percent better than league average in each season. In 2013, the Murfreesboro, Tenn., native even posted a shiny 1.74 ERA. He wasn’t as good as that ERA mind you, but it was still nice and shiny. The Rockies were undaunted though, and they signed LaTroy Hawkins to hold down the closer role until Brothers is “ready.” Since Brothers now has a 19 saves against two blown saves season on his ledger, it’s hard to know what else he needs to in order to actually be ready, but that is neither here nor there. What is important is that Brothers should continue to be a very good pitcher. If there is one thing to keep an eye on it’s the dip in his velocity — he lost two mph on his fastball last year. Still, he was just as effective, as batters made contact against him nearly seven percent less than league average. Brothers should continue to miss bats, and while he is not as effective against righties as he is against lefties, his platoon split isn’t in the territory where you have to worry about him against most right-handed hitters. He may not be someone you want to go hard on during your draft, but by the end of the season, Brothers should once again be racking up the saves.
Quick Opinion: After he took the reins from a dilapidated Rafael Betancourt and saved 19 games last season, one would think the Rockies would have given Brothers full control of the bullpen reins. Unfortunately for fantasy owners who like things neat and tidy, that is not the case, and Brothers will likely share the job with LaTroy Hawkins, though it will certainly be Hawkins’ to lose at the outset.
Jonathan Broxton 
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 6/16/1984 | Team: Reds | Position: RP|
Profile: The 29-year-old reliever is an unknown heading into the 2014 season and is currently unrosterable. He’s recovering from offseason elbow surgery and experienced a significant decline in both fastball velocity and strikeout rate. Even those optimistic owners who believe he can bounce back and regain his 2012 form have to wrestle with the fact that he’s not even guaranteed a setup role, if healthy. (JP Breen)
Clay Buchholz 
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 8/14/1984 | Team: Red Sox | Position: SP|
Profile: Stop me if you’ve heard this one. Clay Buchholz threatened to break out last year, but was foiled by a mysterious injury that forced an absence significantly longer than initially projected. Few could disagree that Boston’s righty was one of the best pitchers in baseball over the first few months. Even though his 1.74 ERA was unsustainable, his 3.41 xFIP was the best mark of his career. For the third year in a row he kept his walk rate below nine percent. Most importantly, he saw his strikeout rate rocket back to levels that haven’t been seen since his rookie year in 2007. While his swinging strike rate was up to its highest level in three years, almost all of Buchholz’s gains in the strikeout department came as a result of looking strikeouts. Called punchouts have less year-to-year correlation when compared with swinging strikeouts, but not by a great margin. The safe bet in fantasy leagues is to draft Buchholz as more of a second or third starter and hope A) he has developed a new mastery of the edge of the strike zone and B) he can finally shake the myriad of injuries he’s dealt with over the last few years. (Colin Zarzycki )
Quick Opinion: Even though he missed half the season, Clay Buchholz still finished among top-20 mixed league starters. With most of his gains coming as a result of a boost in called strikeouts and the fact that he has only topped 170 innings in three of his eight pro seasons, the safe play would be to draft Buchholz in the middle rounds after you’ve picked up a couple starters.
Mark Buehrle 
|Debut: 2000 | BirthDate: 3/23/1979 | Team: Blue Jays | Position: SP|
Profile: Mark Buerhle started the 2013 in miserable fashion, joining Toronto’s long list of disappointments, but did manage to right his own ship fairly well over the summer months. Some probably still feel that a 4.15 ERA is disappointing given his earlier history, and that is understandable given how Buehrle has out-pitched his peripherals for most of his career. Buerhle’s pedestrian ERA might be too-easily attributed to random variation in his batting average on balls in play, but though his .305 was higher than his career .291, it was not that much higher. More troubling was the rise in his walk rate — it is still about average, but given that Buehrle does not strike many batters out and is not an exceptional ground ball pitcher, every little bit helps, or, in this case, hurts. He has never been a hard thrower, but his fastball velocity continued to decline in 2013, all the way down to 84 mph. Buehrle has never relied on velocity, but still, it is not a good sign. It probably is not a sign of injury, simply age, so he is not necessarily an injury waiting to happen. Buehrle, always a fast worker, also had the slowest pace of his career in 2014. Buehrle is a soon-to-be 35-year-old pitcher who seems to be losing his touch. He might be able to pull of an ERA in the threes, but do not draft him like he will. Something in the low- or mid-fours is more likely. That has value in deeper leagues, but even in those, Buehrle is more of a fantasy innings-eater than anything else. (Matt Klaassen)
Quick Opinion: Mark Buehrle recovered from a rough start to post a decent year for the Blue Jays, but he is definitely showing the signs of age. He is not longer the above-average fantasy pitcher he once was, and though he has value in many leagues, barring a surprise, he is more of a mid-to-back-end fantasy rotation option at this point in his career.
Madison Bumgarner 
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 8/1/1989 | Team: Giants | Position: SP|
Profile: There were some that were initially worried that Bumgarner’s mechanics would not hold up and may lead to an arm injury. Oops. Three straight seasons of consistent production later, Bumgarner is one of the best young pitchers in the game, even though he doesn’t throw with as much velocity as the others. He is the perfect mix of pitcher in that he throws a high percentage of strikes, keeps the ball in park, and does not hurt himself by putting free runners on base. He has also been very durable having worked at least 200 innings in each of the last three seasons. His weighted offense against all batters is in the top 15% of the league while his work against lefties is in the top 5% of all qualified starting pitchers. For all starters that have made at least 60 starts (sample size 99) from 2011-2013, his win total, strikeout total, WHIP, and ERA are each in the top 15. He appears to already have reached his statistical ceiling, but his floor appears to be very high. Only some kind of injury could derail this Consistency Express. (Jason Collette)
Quick Opinion: For all starters that have made at least 60 starts (sample size 99) from 2011-2013, his win total, strikeout total, WHIP, and ERA are each in the top 15. He appears to already have reached his statistical ceiling, but his floor appears to be very high. Only some kind of injury could derail this Consistency Express.
Hiram Burgos 
|Debut: 2013 | BirthDate: 8/4/1987 | Team: Brewers | Position: SP|
Profile: With mediocre stuff, Burgos essentially has to be perfect to pitch effectively at the big-league level. He’ll struggle to ever approach a league-average strikeout rate, so when he can’t rein in the walks and home runs (like last year), his ERA will balloon. That’s not an attractive mixture for a fantasy starter, especially one who will be on the outside of the starting rotation looking in this spring. (JP Breen)
Sean Burnett 
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 9/17/1982 | Team: Angels | Position: RP|
Profile: His season effectively ended in late April when he hit the disabled list with forearm tightness. That eventually gave way to surgery in early August on his flexor tendon which puts the start date for his 2014 debut in doubt. He had some fantasy relevance in 2011 when he won five games and saved four, but that was his fantasy moment in the sun. Even a healthy Burnett is at least two seats away from the closer role in Anaheim. (Jason Collette)
Quick Opinion: He had some fantasy relevance in 2011 when he won five games and saved four, but that was his fantasy moment in the sun.
A.J. Burnett 
|Debut: 1999 | BirthDate: 1/3/1977 | Team: Phillies | Position: SP|
Profile: As of this writing, Burnett remains unsigned. Last season stands as one of the best of his up-and-down career. The 37-year-old posted the best strikeout rate of his career — 26.1% of the batters he faced — and controlled walks well. The rest of his peripherals were mostly normal, which led to a 3.30 ERA and 2.92 xFIP. He missed a couple starts with a strained calf but was otherwise healthy. Prospective owners shouldn’t expect a repeat of these career-best numbers, but he should be a solid fantasy asset who can contribute to all four starter categories. Burnett has honed his ground ball skills in recent seasons, which should further aid his fantasy numbers. Starting pitching is a deep position this season, and Burnett’s late signing could cause him to slip through the cracks. Regardless of where he signs, he should be a cost effective fantasy asset. (Brad Johnson)
Quick Opinion: Burnett may end up as a cost effective fantasy asset. He features a strong strikeout rate, gets a high rate of ground balls, and limits walks. That’s the total package for fantasy owners.
Jared Burton 
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 6/2/1981 | Team: Twins | Position: RP|
Profile: Burton has carved out a very nice role as the Twins eighth inning guy after coming over as a minor league free agent prior to the 2012 season. Burton had the role stripped from him briefly as he scuffled in June (7.45 ERA), but he was largely solid the rest of the way as part of the bridge to Glen Perkins in a solid Twins bullpen. Burton’s best offering is something he calls a ‘splangeup’, which is a splitter/changeup hybrid that gets good two-plane break and when it’s at its best is downright filthy. That’s evidenced by the .177/.218/.208 slash line Burton allowed on it in 2013. But Burton isn’t necessarily a spring chicken (33 in early June), and he isn’t without competition for his role (Casey Fien came on strong last year). At this point he’s the numer two in the Twins bullpen for saves, and would likely vault into the closer’s role in the event of a Glen Perkins injury or trade — if he’s healthy. The Twins almost certainly won’t trade Perkins, but Burton still needs to be on a fantasy owners short list of stealth save candidates. (Brandon Warne)
Quick Opinion: Burton will be a nice target in holds leagues as the Twins will likely be better in 2014, but he’s not likely to get many save chances unless Glen Perkins is injured or traded. He’s a watchlist type.
Dave Bush 
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 11/9/1979 | Position: RP|
Profile: In 2013, Dave Bush pitched a total of three innings and allowed four home runs. While not a totally fair assessment, it’s a fairly accurate representation of just who and/or what Dave Bush is. What Dave Bush isn’t is a player on your fantasy team — if you have any brains in that head of yours. (David Temple)