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Pitchers in Contract Years: Making Their 2015 Pitch for Big Money in 2016

Before we get into all of the notable pitchers in contract years for 2015 (we hit the hitters on Thursday), let’s talk about how some of the pitchers in contract years for 2014 did.

Jon Lester and Max Scherzer parlayed big final years for their respective teams into huge mega contracts with National League teams this past winter.

The Red Sox had a chance to keep Lester with a decent hometown discount, but they didn’t bite – and he ended up with a career year, posting an ERA of 2.48, which was quite a bit under his previous career-best (3.12 in 2008).

Scherzer, meanwhile, threw a career-high 220 innings, striking out 252 batters (third in the majors). His 2013 season was out of this world (21-3, 240 Ks, 2.90 ERA and 0.971 WHIP), so a mild step back in ERA, WHIP and wins wasn’t too shocking.

However, there were a few pitchers that put up stinker seasons, like Francisco Liriano and Justin Masterson. But really, those two guys had such impressive 2013 seasons, that a drop back was expected.

Starting Pitchers in Contract Years

Now it’s time to start thinking about 2015 — and which pitchers in contract years we should keep an eye on.

  • Brett Anderson, Los Angeles Dodgers (27)
  • A.J. Burnett, Pittsburgh Pirates (38)
  • Jhoulys Chacin , Colorado Rockies (27)
  • Wei-Yin Chen, Baltimore Orioles (29)
  • Bartolo Colon, New York Mets (42)
  • Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati Reds (29)
  • Marco Estrada, Toronto Blue Jays (31)
  • Doug Fister, Washington Nationals (31)
  • Yovani Gallardo, Texas Rangers (29)
  • Hisashi Iwakuma, Seattle Mariners (33)
  • Scott Kazmir, Oakland Athletics (31)
  • Ian Kennedy, San Diego Padres (30)
  • Mat Latos, Miami Marlins (27)
  • Mike Leake, Cincinnati Reds (27)
  • Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants (31)
  • Kyle Lohse, Milwaukee Brewers (36)
  • Justin Masterson, Boston Red Sox (30)
  • Brandon Morrow, San Diego Padres (30)
  • Rick Porcello, Boston Red Sox (26)
  • David Price, Detroit Tigers (29)
  • Jeff Samardzija, Chicago White Sox (30)
  • Alfredo Simon, Detroit Tigers (34)
  • Jordan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals (28)

With less potential to impact your Fantasy teams from an “incentive” standpoint than an everyday player, these pitchers are also in the same position of fighting for a contract. Some of them are already elite and you are drafting them without hesitation anyways, but maybe you now look at the other guys and bump them up your list a few spots.

I will be filling out the back end of my rotation with a good number of these pitchers, with the likes of Kennedy, Latos, Leake and even Anderson and Chacin.

The National League guys have a leg up on the American League pitchers in my book, as they should yours, but Wei-Yin Chen had a great 2014 and Kazmir was serviceable as well.

Relief Pitchers in Contract Years

  • Grant Balfour, Tampa Bay Rays (37)
  • Tyler Clippard, Oakland Athletics (30)
  • Jonathan Papelbon, Philadelphia Phillies (34)
  • Bobby Parnell, New York Mets (30)
  • Fernando Rodney, Seattle Mariners (38)
  • Joakim Soria, Detroit Tigers (30)
  • Huston Street, Los Angeles Angels (31)

These relievers may or may not get their share of saves this year, with maybe only Street and Papelbon even starting as their teams’ closers. The closer carousel is always running, but these pitchers are fighting to get paid this year.

You never can truly predict a breakout year, and it is especially hard with pitchers in contract years, but every piece of information that goes into what makes up a Fantasy player is helpful in determining how you should value them. The human element of wanting to try harder so they can get paid more has to play a part in your draft preparation. This will help set your rankings apart from your competitors and hopefully help you get paid too.

Johnny Cueto Photo Credit: David Slaughter

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