Fantasy sports: Don’t sleep on pitchers

The game plan sounds simple: Power hitters and speed early in drafts, starting pitchers later on. 

That’s an unexploitable strategy, until our ERA and WHIP spiral out of control before April ends. The only way it works is if we know what starters to target in the middle-to-late rounds.

Ex-closers
Pitchers often become closers because they throw hard and strike people out. That’s also the kind of upside we’re looking for in our starters. This year, ex-closers Neftali?Feliz (Rangers) and Chris Sale (White Sox) are expected to get their shots every fifth day. Daniel Bard (Red Sox) and Aroldis Chapman (Reds) are also starting candidates.     

Pitcher’s parks
When we think about ballparks where runs go to die, the first place that comes to mind is San Diego’s Petco Park. That’s what makes Cory Luebke so exciting. Max Scherzer is off a down year, but still calls Detroit’s cavernous confines home. And for a deep sleeper, Oakland’s Brandon McCarthy had a 2.65 ERA at home last year.

Young guns
 
When all else fails, we look for young prospects with impressive pedigrees. We know that Tampa’s Matt Moore fits the bill, while Atlanta’s Mike Minor and Texas’ Yu Darvish have major upside as well.

Baseball power

Chicks dig the long ball. That’s why getting these big bats later in drafts is vital:

1. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, ARZ — The 6-foot-3, 244-pounder smashed 30 homers in the minors last year and then eight more after a late-season callup. He’s now locked into the starting role in a hitter’s park. 

2. Ike Davis, 1B, NYM
— The devastating ankle injury is behind him, and the fences at Citi Field have been brought in. Davis won’t be 25 until March, but already has 26 homers in 183 career games.  

Top NBA pickups

Isaiah Thomas
PG, Kings
Thomas was the last pick in this year’s draft and is 5-foot-9. He’s also an explosive
playmaker and new starter. 

Andray Blatche
PF, Wizards
Blatche (calf) is expected back soon after the All-Star break. His $35 million contract means he’ll start again.


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