March 15, 2012; Jupiter, FL, USA; Miami Marlins starting pitcher Josh Johnson (55) throws a pitch in the third inning during a spring training game against the New York Mets at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE
Earlier today, we discussed the hitters on the Miami Marlins with regards to fantasy baseball. Now, it is only fair that we move on and discuss the pitchers as well. The Marlins have a number of pitchers that could have some decent impact in fantasy baseball in 2012.
The only problem with Josh Johnson is once again his potential vulnerability to injury. If he does go down with injury, he is going to be of no use in draft, and that is why owners are avoiding him to a degree. Johnson is being drafted around pitchers like Tommy Hanson and Michael Pineda with the idea that his uncertainty drops his value alongside more middle-tier fantasy starters. Johnson still can post decent counting stats even with his projected 163 innings; witness his 11 wins and 155 strikeouts putting him at least in the $12 range in standard mixed leagues. He is, ultimately, a flyer for mid- to late-rounds as a pitcher further down in your rotation that can provide instant impact if healthy, but he still carries too much risk to bid on into the upper teens in dollar range.Anibal Sanchez
The various systems have Sanchez not being very valuable, with PECOTA finding him merely average at best. Still, Sanchez has shown to be better in each of the last two seasons than he has shown in this projection, so there is a good chance he will lean more towards his upper projection ends (PECOTA's 80th percentile projection of 3.63 ERA seems fair) than his lower ends, especially if his strikeouts from 2012 stick to any reasonable amount. Even at a 3.63 ERA, he would be a late-round choice as a starter, but he does hold more value than the other Marlins starters in mixed leagues.
Buehrle has never been a fantasy commodity because he has always lacked the strikeouts necessary to justify the rest of his above average but still underwhelming package. This season is no different, as most seasons of Buehrle's usually are. Buehrle's 111 projected strikeouts are extremely low and leave him a three-category pitcher, and his usual 12 wins and upper-3.00's ERA just are not going to be enough to compensate for such a loss in value for drafting him. He is once again an NL-only selection, though he lags behind other prominent Marlins starters like Sanchez in Ricky Nolasco in that regards as well.
Nolasco is always a risky fantasy selection because, for the past three seasons, he has underformed his peripherals and made bloggers like me look bad for predicting a "turnaround." He has suffered enough problems over the past three seasons to make him undraftable in standard mixed leagues, meaning he will reside with Mark Buehrle as an NL-only player. Still, if you had to choose between two guys with similar ERA and win totals on a regular basis, you would pick the guy with upside potential over the one with consistently mediocre results. Nolasco's strikeout totals are actually semi-relevant and could be better than projected, and his WHIP is consistently strong because of his extreme control over his walks. Nolasco is well worth an NL-only selection, but note that he is as dangerous as ever to pick up.
You could consider Zambrano a "sleeper" in the sense that his velocity has seemingly returned and he is pitching much better in Spring Training than he did in 2011. But the problems of his skillset still persist, primarily his poor walk rate leading to a bad WHIP and the fact that we just cannot shake his horrid 2011 season from his projection. His projected ERA is the worse among the Marlins' starters, and even if his low innings count is inaccurate due to his bullpen and suspension stints, he still is not much of a looker even in NL-only leagues. Keep an eye out for his first few starts and see if that velocity is up. If so, look at him like you looked at Javier Vazquez after his velocity jump last season; he will not provide lights-out work, but he can help your NL-only fantasy team.
If you are going to pay for a closer, pay for one that is lights out. After last season, Bell is on a wafer-thin line between "lights-out payed closers" and "closers you avoid paying good money for." Yes, he will get every opportunity for saves in Miami, and his job is among the more secure in the game, but he did lose a lot of strikeouts in 2011 and he is 34 years old. It is possible he is going through your typical aging decline, and even if he racks up the saves, he may not be worth the $7 to $9 you would have to spend to acquire him. It is a borderline case, but I would avoid paying for Bell on draft day unless he is on the cheap; if you want to pay, hold off for the Mariano Riveras and Jonathan Papelbons of the world.