Thursday, March 24, 2011
Posted: 9:44 a.m.
By Hamilton Bolduc
The division features some top, former American League arms that will look to take advantage of the NL tailwind.
Starter Matt Garza (93.3): Garza is one of a few arms looking to get the NL bump in stats. No one has ever questioned Garzas stuff, but its been his consistency that needs to improve. In the NL Central, hell feast on the weaker teams like the Pirates, Astros, Padres and Nationals. Expect his K9 to get back to his 2009 total (150 in 189 innings) while he eclipses the 200-inning mark for a third season.
Reliever Carlos Marmol (94.1): Marmol had a breakout season as the Cubs closer and was rewarded with a three-year extension last month. In terms of velocity, his fastball was at its best while he still relied on his slider to rack up a phenomenal 15.99 K9. Lets just say we can expect more where that came from.
Starter Edinson Volquez (93.6): 2008 is long gone, but there are signs he could be on the rebound. While he struggled as a .500 pitcher with an inflated 4-plus ERA, Volquez posted his career-best K9 with 9.62.
Reliever Aroldis Chapman (99.6): Chapman exploded on the scene at the end of 2010 and figures to be one of the toughest relievers for years to come. Dont be shocked if he unseats Francisco Cordero as closer by the All-Star Break.
Starter Bud Norris (93.6): The Baby Stros are going to need major contributions from Norris. Unfortunately hes been a little too erratic to count on. Norris could become a waiver wire steal if he can better capitalize on his impressive K9.
Reliever Brandon Lyon (91.6): Lyon is far from a sure thing at the closer position given this average (at best) velocity.
Starter Zach Greinke (93.5): Greinke wont be taking the hill until the end of April for his new team. It will be a shock if he didnt take advantage of the NL on his way to one his best seasons, perhaps on par with his Cy Young 2009.
Reliever John Axford (94.9): Axford will be one of baseballs top closers and figures to get plenty of opportunities with one of baseballs best rotations providing additional wins.
Starter James McDonald (92.4): McDonald is a possible waiver wire pickup to help bridge when one of your top arms ends up on the disabled list, but nothing more.
Reliever Joel Hanrahan (96.0): Perhaps the best pitcher on the team. Hanrahan will make the most of his closing opportunities, but he wont have many. He's also had a rough spring, which may keep his draft-day price lower than it should be.
Starter Chris Carpenter (91.4): Carpenter has been elite when healthy. But he's at an age when the injuries start to pile up. It's already taken a toll on his once-better velocity.
Reliever Mitchell Boggs (96.1): Boggs will be one of the Cardinals top arms out of the pen, but he figures to be third in line at best to close out games. The value will be low here unless things make a drastic change for the worse. Monitor his progress, but grab Ryan Franklin or Jason Motte before you consider Boggs.