With the major league baseball season only a couple of weeks away from getting kicked off, there are several key position battles going on that will have a direct impact in fantasy baseball circles. With the retirement of Andy Pettitte, the New York Yankees have two spots at the back of their rotation that there are several candidates competing for. Here’s a look at the top contenders based on fantasy value.
Last night the Yankees trotted out one of their top pitching prospects in left-hander Manny Banuelos to start against the Boston Red Sox, which featured a lineup of all of their normal regulars outside of Mike Cameron in for J.D. Drew. Banuelos who turned 20 earlier this week threw at 92-94 miler per hour, but had some trouble controlling his fastball. He showed a solid changeup at 81 mph that he fanned Kevin Youkilis on. What stood out most though was his poise on the mound as the Red Sox had several scoring opportunities, including loading the bases with one out that he pitched out of. Banuelos finished the night with 2 2/3 scoreless innings with three walks allowed and two strikeouts. General manager Brian Cashman has said that Banuelos is going to star the year in Double-A but it is not like he has great pitchers blocking him in the fight for the last two rotation spots. If he does begin the year in the minor leagues, he is going to be up at some point this season and could have value in mixed leagues as well as AL only formats.
The remaining pitchers are guys that are AL only value at this point with the hope they can pick up some wins with the Yankees offense behind them. Bartolo Colon has looked surprisingly well in spring so far with a 3.00 ERA in 9 innings pitched with 12 strikeouts. Veteran Freddy Garcia has a 4.70 ERA through 7 2/3 innings with two walks and six strikeouts. Sergio Mitre is familiar to the Yankees having pitched there the last two seasons, but has performed better as a relief pitcher than as a starter so I don’t see him winning one of the spots in the rotation. Ivan Nova is the one youngster in the group at 24, and has a 2.25 ERA through 8 innings with two walks and three strikeouts.
For AL dynasty and keeper league formats, Banuelos is the guy to own. Colon, Garcia and Nova are plays in AL only one year leagues with the potential to grab a few wins. Keep in mind that if Banuelos starts the year in the minors he will be up at some point and there is a good chance the Yankees trade for a pitcher at some point so if you own the latter three and one of them gets off to a hot start, sell high on them.