Last week, I covered A-Rod and Teix’s fantasy prospects. Today, I will cover NY Pitchers.

With pitchers and catchers reporting in only 2 days, baseball fans and fantasy owners are beginning to foam at the mouth. Drafts are quickly approaching and final rankings are being adjusted.

Strategy with Pitchers:

I agree with the majority of fantasy gurus that Fantasy baseball teams should be built around hitters. I won’t even think about taking an arm until Round 6 or 7. Elite arms are a scarce commodity in fantasy(only 6 in my opinion). There are also durability concerns when it comes to high velocity arms; which can ultimately destroy your fantasy team.

What makes for an elite, starting fantasy arm? It comes down to three major components: Wins, ERA, High Strikeout Totals.  After the 2009 season, Lincecum, Halladay, Sabathia, Grienke, Verlander, and Felix Hernandez, these six fit the bill and should be drafted accordingly in 2010.

Let’s discuss New York Arms

The Elite Starters:

#4 CC Sabathia, SP, New York Yankees—Sabathia had a great first season with the New York Yankees. Sabathia won 19 games, posted a 3.37 ERA, and had 197 K’s. Given his offensive support and pitching demeanor, Sabathia is one of the best bets to win 20 games in the league. Sabathia is a consistent work horse and is the least likely of the ‘Big 6’ to suffer an injury. Sabathia would be the 4th pitcher to come off the boards in my opinion(behind Lincecum, Halladay, and Hernandez)

Round to Draft: Round 3

Projection: 20 Wins, 3.25 ERA, 205 K’s.

#8 Johan Santana, SP, New York Mets—The biggest question concerning Santana? Has he fully recovered from his surgery in September? Are the bone chips gone? Santana has already begun throwing in Florida and claims that he feels better than ever. Fantasy owners and Mets fans must be a little concerned. His strikeout rate has considerably dropped from 2008(9.66/9innings) to 2009(7.88). Santana really has the ability to finish Top 5 in fantasy, but are you going to draft him over Jon Lester, Justin Verlander, or Cliff Lee?

Round to Draft: Round 5-6

Projection: 16 wins, 3.10 ERA, 175 K’s

Secondary Starters:

#11 Javier Vazquez, SP, New York Yankees—Vazquez will get his 2nd chance in New York. I think he’ll make the most of it. Vazquez finished 4th in NL Cy Young voting last season. Vazquez posted 15 wins, 238 K’s, and 2.87 ERA. I expect his number to come back down to Earth this year, but to still be worthy as a #2 in Fantasy. He has the Yankee offense aiding him, which will add a few wins to his total.

Round to Draft: 7-8

Projection: 15 wins, 3.80 ERA, 190 K’s

#24 AJ Burnett, SP, New York Yankees—Will Good AJ or Bad AJ show up? That’s the question Yankee fans must tackle when Burnett takes the mound. When AJ is on, he is virtually untouchable. When he is off, well, he’s off like a light switch. Burnett had 195 K’s in 208 innings last season. The strikeout potential is there, but Burnett walks so many hitters.  Scale back your expectations for AJ and you won’t be disappointed this year.

Round to Draft: 9-10

Projection: 15 wins, 4.20 ERA, 190 K’s

Relievers

#1 Mariano Rivera, RP, New York Yankees—Mo is still the best in the game. Rivera had one of the best seasons in his career last season. He posted 44 saves in 46 opportunities, posted a 1.74 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, and had 72 K’s(in 66 innings). Rivera, 40, has been the best closer in the league for the past 12 seasons. He keeps providing to be one of the most valuable assets on the Yankees and on fantasy teams. He is and will be the first closer drafted. If anyone attempts to tell you that Nathan is better, pop in the tape from the 2009 ALDS.

Round to Draft: 7

Projection: 44 Saves, 1.99 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 70 K’s

#4 Francisco Rodriguez, RP, New York Mets—K-Rod is arguably the most entertaining closer in the game. The Mets provide Rodriguez a ton of opportunities. Rodriguez recorded 35 saves last season with 73 K’s in 68 innings. Look for him to continue his success in New York. I would draft K-Rod after Rivera, Jonathan Broxton, and Joe Nathan. Definitely take him ahead of Papelbon.

Round to Draft: 10

Projection: 40 Saves, 2.90 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 71 K’s