Clayton Kershaw, SP, Dodgers
When searching for breakout pitchers, look to the fringes. No, we’re not talking about fifth starters like Todd Wellemeyer, although he has his usefulness. By fringes, we mean examining non-traditional stats. So instead of focusing on Clayton Kershaw’s 8-8 record from a year ago concentrate on other indicators.
Kershaw was seventh in ratio of strikeouts per nine innings with 9.74 last season. That put him ahead of Zack Greinke (9.50) but behind Tim Lincecum, the leader in the category at 10.42. Still, that’s pretty good company for Mr. Kershaw, being mentioned in the same paragraph as 2009’s Cy Young winners.
Kershaw was just outside the top 10 in batting average on balls in play at .274, placing right behind Chris Carpenter. And Kershaw’s fielding independent pitching number of 3.08 put him in the top eight, sandwiched between Josh Johnson and Felix Hernandez.
So assuming Kershaw pitches like he did last year, significant improvement on that 8-8 record is forthcoming. You don’t want to miss out on that jump when it happens, so look for Kershaw as your No. 2 fantasy pitcher. He just might turn out to be your ace.