There's just something about an unassuming, yet dominant fantasy ace who's made great strides in wins, strikeouts, WHIP and K/BB ratio in three straight seasons (not an easy feat). And there's just something about a stud who's a lock for 225 innings -- but not necessarily 242 strikeouts -- without media types penning pieces about their overuse from one year to the next. <br><b>Projections:<br> 17 wins, 227 strikeouts, 2.71 ERA, 1.04 WHIP.</b>
2 of 15Brad Mangin/SI
Pessimists, rejoice! After winning two Cy Young awards before his 26th birthday, and then parlaying that success into a lucrative $23 million deal in the offseason, it'd be human nature if Lincecum has a mini-slump in 2010 (by his standards). After all, we're talking about a kid with a somewhat violent delivery, who may have to overcompensate for the worst power-hitting club in the majors. That aside, Lincecum is still a fantasy dynamo and strong candidate for a third consecutive Cy. <br><b>Projections:<br> 17 wins, 243 strikeouts, 3.02 ERA, 1.11 WHIP.
3 of 15John Biever/SI
In last year's preview, I boldly predicted a 3/1 K-BB ratio (2009 ratio: 212/66) and sub-3.00 ERA for Wainwright ... and was right on the money! This year, I'm taking it up a notch with the best pitcher in the NL Central -- and maybe, just maybe the entire Senior Circuit. <br><b>Projections: <br>20 wins, 189 strikeouts, 2.84 ERA, 1.14 WHIP.
4 of 15Chuck Solomon/SI
There is absolutely nothing to loathe about Halladay's fantasy prospects. He's a proven lock for 210-plus innings, 190 strikeouts, 17 wins, sub-3.00 ERA and eye-popping K/BB ratio every season -- regardless of his permanent mailing address. However, there has to be some form of a setback (albeit imperceptible to the human eye) when pitching up to 20 games at Philly's bandbox of a home park. <br><b>Projections:<br> 18 wins, 188 strikeouts, 3.12 ERA, 1.09 WHIP.
5 of 15Brad Mangin/SI
Next to Lincecum, Lester has the most dynamic stuff of any other pitcher in the top 10. He may also have baseball's most efficient defense at his disposal 33 times this season. Put it all together and we're absolutely sure that Lester will justify this lofty ranking above Felix Hernandez, Dan Haren, Justin Verlander and CC Sabathia. <br><b>Projections:<br> 17 wins, 241 strikeouts, 3.18 ERA, 1.15 WHIP.
6 of 15Simon Bruty/SI
No one is saying that Sabathia is immune to elbow or shoulder injuries. But have you ever seen a smoother, more consistent pitching stroke from a guy who tips the scales at 250 or more? (Soft-tosser Rick Reuschel doesn't count, sorry.) What's our point to this? Simple. Don't expect Sabathia to fall off the proverbial cliff in 2010 as the result of 760-plus innings pitched in the last three seasons (including playoffs). But do expect him to once again carry a staff that now features Javier Vazquez as well. <br><b>Projections:<br> 18 wins, 237 strikeouts, 3.29 ERA, 1.17 WHIP.
7 of 15Brad Mangin/SI
Don't expect Verlander to hit cruise control now that he's signed an $80 million extension with the Tigers. No, with the memories of an abysmal 2008 (4.84 ERA/1.40 WHIP) still fresh in his mind, Verlander will likely be driven to prove his worth as a year-in, year-out dynamo. <br><b>Projections:<br> 17 wins, 237 strikeouts, 3.52 ERA, 1.19 WHIP.
8 of 15Rod Mar/SI
King Felix probably deserves a higher ranking here (especially after being severely undervalued last year), but we just can't see him surpassing 15 victories for the power-sapped Mariners. Yes, he plays in a pitcher-friendly ballpark, and yes, he has a stellar defense corps behind him; but in fantasyland, victories still feed the bulldog. <br><b>Projections:<br> 15 wins, 243 strikeouts, 2.77 ERA, 1.20 WHIP.
9 of 15David E. Klutho/SI
I used to chalk up Haren's infamous second-half struggles to youth and the Diamondbacks' lack of range on defense. But it's impossible to ignore a systematic regression for three straight seasons after the All-Star break. On the positive side, it's just as impossible to ignore the stellar numbers that hit the bottom line at season's end. (It goes without saying ... feel free to trade him in July). <br><b>Projections:<br> 15 victories, 211 strikeouts, 3.31 ERA, 1.08 WHIP.
10 of 15Simon Bruty/SI
If the Marlins are going to rise up and slay the Phillies, Braves and any other National League challenger for the wild card, Johnson and centerfielder Cameron Maybin will have to play major roles for the Flyin' Fish. (That Hanley Ramirez guy will have to be good, too.) All signs point to Johnson having a monster year assuming he doesn't suffer from the 250-percent jump in innings pitched from 2008 to '09. <br><b>Projections:<br> 16 wins, 207 strikeouts, 3.21 ERA, 1.17 WHIP.
11 of 15Chuck Solomon/SI
I have a firm policy against drafting pitchers in the first five rounds of 5x5 mixed-league drafts. But that stubbornness could easily fall by the wayside if Gallardo remains up for grabs around the 55th pick. Simply put, Gallardo is finally ready to join the elite strata of fantasy pitchers -- assuming his walks/9 rate comes down, as expected. Say hello to baseball's next dynamo. <br><b>Projections:<br> 15 wins, 212 strikeouts, 3.48 ERA, 1.28 WHIP.
12 of 15John W. McDonough/SI
Speaking of untenable walk rates, Kershaw barely has a 2/1 K-BB ratio in two major league seasons (spanning 139 innings), but that's the only negative with a 21-year-old stud who's primed to take a giant leap forward this year. And if that vague platitude wasn't enough to wet your whistle, check this out: Kershaw allowed only 36 earned runs in his final 26 starts. Boom! <br><b>Projections:<br> 14 wins, 206 strikeouts, 3.29 ERA, 1.24 WHIP.
13 of 15Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Hanson may be 24, but I fully expect the Braves to offer up the kid-gloves treatment for at least one more year. All this translates to no significant upgrade from his 189 minor/major league innings in 2009 ... which explains the middling ranking for this top-10 fantasy talent. <br><b>Projections:<br> 13 wins, 149 strikeouts, 2.84 ERA, 1.20 WHIP.
14 of 15Rod Mar/SI
From a baseball perspective, Lee could not have gone to a better team (or ballpark) in the offseason. The Mariners' defense is top-notch, and Safeco Field is generously proportioned -- if not cavernous. Put it all together and Lee represents the ideal No. 2 pitcher in fantasyland. <br><b>Projections:<br> 16 wins, 179 strikeouts, 3.17 ERA, 1.23 WHIP.
15 of 15Chuck Solomon/SI
It'd be the easiest thing in the world to rubber-stamp Vazquez's 2010 projections from either his 2009 work with the Braves (15 wins/238 Ks/2.87 ERA/1.03 WHIP) or 2004 output with the Yankees (14 wins/150 Ks/4.91 ERA/1.29 WHIP). The second-easiest thing? Simply finding the median of Vazquez's most significant fantasy seasons of the past 10 years. <br><b>Projections:<br> 15 wins, 194 strikeouts, 3.89 ERA, 1.16 WHIP.<br><br><i>For Relief Pitcher rankings, click the related link below.</i>
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