White Sox (+112): One of the best yet still somewhat under the radar pitchers in the AL is Jose Quintana. The White Sox lefty has a minimum of 32 starts and 200 IP in each of the last 4 years and is now coming into his age 28 season, still clearly in the prime of his career. Quintana has always a been an above average K guy with low BB’s who keeps the ball in the park. I’m not ready to call Quintana great but he’s pretty damn good and to get him as a home dog is nearly an auto play for me. Opposing him will be Justin Verlander who to his credit had an excellent 2016. That said he’s now 34 and to be honest I’m expecting a serious drop off from him this season. Last year he had quite a bit of luck in strand rate and BABIP and that should level out this season. I don’t think he’ll all the sudden fall of a cliff and be awful but 2016 is a level I don’t expect him to ever reach again. In my opinion there’s no reason for Quintana to be a dog here at home and I’ll happily back him and the White Sox.
Rockies (-108): Tyler Anderson came up last summer and gave the Rockies 114 IP and while doing so really caught my eye. The young Rockies lefty put up nice K numbers, low BB numbers, and induced a ton of ground balls. Generally when looking at pitchers that’s the 3 most important things you want. High K’s, low BB’s, and then when you do allow contact you want most of it to be on the ground. Check, check and check for Anderson. His stuff isn’t electric as he sits about 91 MPH with the fastball, but he changes speed, mixes it up, and has a pretty solid changeup to go with a nice slider. Zach Davies was plenty respectable in his own right last season but I just prefer Anderson here as I’m higher on him in general.
1st 5 Innings Angels/Athletics Under 3.5 (+105): Going with another 1st 5 inning under here with Shoemaker and Manaea doing battle. Many of us will remember back in mid May last year Matt Shoemaker really started to put it together. From that point on he had an ERA under 3 to go along with very high K and very low BB rates. The key for Shoemaker was a crazy increase in how much he threw his spilt finger and it had hitters baffled. Shoemaker will no doubt continue that approach this year and I see no reason it shouldn’t be a successful one. The guy attacks hitters, has great control, and of course that Split Finger that drops off the table. On the other hand we have Oakland lefty Sean Manaea who many (myself included) are very high on. Manaea is still barely 25 years old and he came over to Oakland from KC a few years ago. Last year he gave the A’s 144.2 IP and an impressive 1.8 WAR over that time. As the season went on last year Manaea saw increases in his K rate and declines in his BB rate. This is a kid who is still learning on the go but has very good stuff and I truly feel a chance to be a nice 1 or 2 starter for many years. Throw in a nice pitchers park out in Oakland and I think this thing is low scoring through 5.