Fantasy Sports R Us

IN SEARCH OF LATE ROUND PITCHING LIGHTNING.... by Michael Russell

Remember how R A Dickey exploded from fantasy draft depths to win a Cy Young in 2012? Or how about last year's CY winners, Jake Arrieta and Dallas Keuchel ? As late as 2013, both were late round, last resort picks too. And you might as well also throw two late-blooming Indian aces, Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco into that rags-to-riches basket as well. With this in mind, let's jump ahead to the latter rounds of our upcoming 2016 drafts. All the elite pitchers are long gone as are the likes of second tier stalwarts like Zimmerman, Richards, Wacha, Tanaka, Odorrizzi and Quintana.

The problem here is that you will still have 3-6 starters to select. Actually, no real problem since the pitching pool will doubtless still be pretty darn deep indeed, filled with bona fide, quality major league hurlers. Ah, but which ones will ultimately deliver the most bang for the buck ? Here's where opinions can differ widely, of course, but just to get your juices flowing, here's not one but two Lower Round Top 20 lists : one for the YOUNGINS in case you're feeling frisky and the other for GRIZZLED VETERANS just in case you're more disposed to longer track records.

YOUNGINS !

1.   Steven Matz, NYM... What? Yet another Met ace?
2.   Carlos Martinez, STL... Assuming the shoulder is OK this Spring, that is.
3.   Alex Wood, LAD.... Big buy low value.
4.   Julio Teheran, ATL
5.   Raisel Iglesias, CINN
6.   Lance McCullers, HOU... K per inn gets your attention.
7.   Carlos Rodon, CWS... Watch out if control improves.
8.   Luis Severino, NYY... May be Yanks' best in '16.
9.   Patrick Corbin, AZ... Solid #4 or #5 for your team.
10. Taijuan Walker, SEA... Is encouraging finish sign of better things to come?
11. Joe Ross, WASH.... Poor Sept obscures earlier excellence.
12. Drew Smyly, TB... Higher if healthy.
13. Aaron Nola, PHI... See Corbin.
14. Jose Berrios, MINN... Could be Twins' best by May.
15. Lucas Giolito, WASH... Elite stash for mid-season debut.
16. Andrew Heaney, LAA... See Corbin, Nola.
17. Shelby Miller, AZ... New park not a plus.
18. Kevin Gausman, BAL... But patience running thin.
19. Eduardo Rodriguez, BOS
20. Matt Moore... Finished strong, only 27.

GRIZZLED VETERANS

1,   Yu Darvish, TEX... Well worth the wait if he comes back 100% in May.
2.   Kenta Maeda, LAD... Best pitcher in Japan by far.
3.   Collin McHugh,HOU... Outstanding '15 finish.
4.   Hisashi Iwakuma, SEA... Very effective when healthy.
5.   John Lackey, CHI... Ageless consistency, now with better line-up.
6.   Michael Pineda, NYY... Talented Jekyl and Hyde for sure.
7.   Jeff Samardzija, SF... Could be rejuvenated in spacious new digs.
8.   Wei Lin Chen, MIA... See Samarddzija.
9.   Mike Fiers, HOU... Consistent, sneaky strike-out source.
10. Scott Kazmir, LAD... New home definite plus.
11. Ian Kennedy, KC... Ditto.
12. Justin Verlander, DET... Strong finish. Still only 30.
13. Gio Gonzalez, WASH... Believe in "Deja Vu"?
14. Kyle Hendricks, CHI... Steady as she goes.
15. Mike Leake, STL... No Cy Young for this guy but reliable.
16. Hyun-Jin Ryu, LAD... Good value if healthy.
17. Jaime Garcia, STL... Pitches well whenever he's healthy enough to pitch.
18. Andrew Cashner, SD... Far fewer K's these days but far more consistent.
19. Edinson Volquez, KC... Critics have been consistently wrong on this guy.
20. Zack Wheeler, NYM... Real Value if you can stash for at least 3 months.