Now that we have told you about the players, both hitters and pitchers to AVOID drafting, we have now listed the players who we think will be Sleepers To Watch this season. We begin with the pitchers, both starters & relievers. (Hitters will follow…) Good luck in your drafts!
Steve Cishek-RP-Marlins- Not exactly a household name in most of the country, Cishek, who took over as Miami’s closer when Heath Bell struggled last season, will begin this year as their closer as well. With only 18 career saves on his resume, he is definitely Sleeper material if he can keep the bases on balls down. Last year he gave up passes to 29 batters in just 63 innings of work but has kept his ERA down to a respectable 2.57 in 116 career appearances. His biggest obstacle however, will be the lack of run support by a Marlins team with players named Adeiny Hechavarria, Donovan Solano, Rob Brantly, and Justin Ruggiano on the field. Not a first tier closer but one that could possibly net you 28-32 saves this season.
Sean Doolittle-RP-Athletics- In deeper roto leagues, this novice who only has one major league season to his credit, could turn out to be a huge Sleeper if current closer Grant Balfour should struggle. And at 36 years of age and just one season as closer under his belt, you never know. If Doolittle is called upon to close at some point in the season, he would be a natural. His 17.3K/9 rate in the minors plus last year’s 11.4K/9 with the Athletics, are proof enough. In 47 innings last year, he struck out 60 and walked just 11. We think, if given the opportunity, Doolittle will ‘do a lot’ for your team. Keep that name in mind…
Homer Bailey-SP-Reds- What a second half of the season he had! 100 strikeouts against just 24 base on balls. Plus an amazing September where Bailey struck out 9 batters or more in a game three times. Don’t forget to throw in a no-hitter and a post season game vs the San Francisco Giants when he struck out 10! So why are we touting him as a Sleeper? Because as of this writing, Bailey is not getting the attention he deserves in draft rooms, going at about 175-180 in most leagues. That’s way too high for someone we think will finish the 2013 season with 16 wins, 170 strikeouts, 3.66/1.21 and an almost sure shot to log 200 innings.
Hisashi Iwakuma-SP-Mariners- After being a starting pitcher in Japan, the Mariners brought him in and placed him in the bullpen for the first half of last season where he put up a 4.75 ERA and 1.42 WHIP. Then, after returning to a starting role, he abandoned the mediocrity and went 8-4 2.65 ERA and 1.23 WHIP. Based on that performance, Iwakuma was given a two-year extension and if he can keep the long balls down away from Safeco Field, he should thrive. We look for Iwakuma to go something like 15-7 with 150K’s and 50BBs to go along with a 3.57 ERA and 1.22 WHIP.
Glen Perkins-SP/RP-Twins- Perkins, coincidently like Iwakuma but in reverse, languished as a starter before getting the opportunity to relieve and finally, last season, become the Twins’ closer. The has thrived in both areas and, if manager Ron Gardenhire who is the Mike Shanahan of baseball, sticks with Perkins, then we think he could be Sleeper material. After the All-Star break he went 12 for 13 in save opportunities and should build on that this season. We’re looking at around 30 saves with a 2.60 ERA and 1.12 WHIP.
Chris Tillman-SP-Orioles- After two years of underwhelming numbers (through 36 starts), Tillman, who doesn’t turn 25 until April, finally had a bit of a turn-around in the second half of last season. He went 8-3, had 66 K’s and 24 BBs and put up a 3.24 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP. Building off of those numbers, Tillman could sneak in as a Sleeper this year if he doesn’t regress to his awful 20110-2011 numbers. He’s a small risk, big reward starter on a team that won 93 games last year and has Buck Showalter at the helm. We could see him have a 14-10 season, with 135 Ks and a 3.41 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP. He should log around 170 innings pitched as well. Tillman would be a welcome sight in 12+ leagues.