Finding an undervalued arm before he catches fire is one the keys to betting early-season baseball. The mathematical masterminds at NumberFire have dug deep into their MLB analytics and predict three hurlers who have the stats on their side and look primed for a big breakout in 2014: Scott Kazmir, Oakland Athletics (+0.75 units in 2013) Last season, Kazmir posted some of his best numbers since 2008. A 9.23 K/9 and a BB/9 of 2.68. The last two seasons, Kazmir threw 145-plus innings were in 2009 and 2010. His K/9 during those two seasons were 5.58 and 7.15, respectively, and he also walked 4.74 and 3.67 per nine innings. For a future Kazmir owner, this increase in K/9 and decrease in BB/9 is a good thing. His season-long improvement in the K/9 category was due to his performance in the second half of the season. His 10.25 strikeouts per nine innings ranked him sixth overall in that category. That’s a juicy number, but it’s not all about strikeouts and walks in fantasy baseball. Kazmir posted a 4.04 ERA in a season where his BABIP was almost 19 points higher than his career average. There is reason to believe that his season could have gone better with a little better luck in that department, and his SIERRA/xFIP both show that. It's worth noting that, while both stats look at different on field occurrences, his SIERRA and xFIP were below 3.50. His SIERRA (3.45) and xFIP (3.36) were actually his career best numbers. Danny Salazar, Cleveland Indians (-1.25 units in 2013) When I think of breakouts, I think Matt Harvey. He made 10 starts in 2012 and showed a ton of talent. Then 2013 happened, and the dude is starting the All-Star game and making hilarious videos. Well, America, Matt Harvey 2.0 has arrived. His name is Danny Salazar, and he makes me all tingly. The similarities between the two are shocking. In his 10 2012 starts, Harvey had a 2.73 ERA, 3.30 FIP, 10.62 K/9 and a 3.94 BB/9. In his 10 2013 starts, Salazar finished with a 3.12 ERA, 3.16 FIP, 11.25 K/9 and a 2.60 BB/9. Salazar throws straight gas (average fastball velocity of 96.2 mph) and has a pretty dirty changeup, so he should be able to keep his K/9 at least around 10 over the course of an entire season. Give this guy 33 starts, and he'll be a top-of-the-line starter in no time. Taijuan Walker, Seattle Mariners (+0.81 units) Last season in the minors, Walker had 160 strikeouts over 141 1/3 innings, good for a 10.19 K/9. His ERA was 2.93 over 25 starts, but most of that came from quality starts at AA. At the AAA level, his ERA jumped to 3.61. His WHIP was a respectable 1.12 at both levels as well. Walker's stats might not jump off the page, but it's what you'd expect out of a prospect that is wanted at the major-league level. He improved from Year 1 to Year 2 in Double-A, and probably would have done the same if able to stay at the Triple-A level.
Three MLB pitchers primed for a breakout in 2014
Covers.com | Apr 1