Print and Go Back ESPN.com: 2003 [Print without images]

Friday, April 4, 2003
Updated: April 5, 10:02 AM ET
Friday Night Proving Ground


By Graham Hays
ESPN Fantasy Games

Five pitchers had a lot to prove Friday night, and sage fantasy owners anxiously awaited the results. It's only one start in a long season for each of these guys, but it's about time to find out what they've got.

Friday Starters

David Wells

Profile
Yankees Clubhouse
2002 Stats
W-L
IP
ERA
K
BB
19-7
206.1
3.75
137
45
Buy: With or without Derek Jeter, the Yankees are going to win a lot of games this season. Mike Mussina and Roger Clemens each produced wins for fantasy owners last season, despite ERAs above 4.00. Wells earned most of his 19 wins (3.75 ERA), but he could pitch worse this season and still win 15 or 16 games.

Sell: It's hard to imagine Wells won't lose at least a little focus after this spring's distractions. And the bullpen isn't nearly as strong without Mike Stanton, Ramiro Mendoza and a healthy Mariano Rivera.

New York Mets

David Cone

Profile
Mets Clubhouse
2001 Stats
W-L
IP
ERA
K
BB
9-7
135.2
4.31
115
57
Buy: It's all about strikeouts. Cone is an old strikeout pitcher, but so are fantasy stalwarts Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens. Two seasons ago with Boston, Cone struck out 115 in 135.2 innings while posting a 4.31 ERA. Throw in a year of rest and a switch to the National League, and it's easy to think he'll be worth owning.

Sell: If the result of all that time off looks more like rust than rest. Cone hasn't pitched more than 200 innings since 1998, and he's not going to do it this season. He's the fifth starter when Pedro Astacio returns, and fifth starters don't win 15 games.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Byung-Hyun Kim

Profile
Diamondbacks Clubhouse
2002 Stats
W-L
IP
ERA
K
BB
8-3
84.0
2.04
92
26
Buy: There's little doubt Kim has the potential to be a super sleeper. In relief duty the last three seasons, he struck out 316 batters in 250.2 innings and surrendered just 174 hits. And he has experience working a lot of innings, having entered Arizona's system as a starter.

Sell: If Kim falters in the rotation and Matt Mantei pitches well as the closer, the Korean could become a very talented middle reliever. If his early starts include high pitch counts and a lot of walks, trademarks of his relief work, it's time to get him off your roster.

Cincinnati Reds

Danny Graves

Profile
Reds Clubhouse
2002 Stats
W-L
IP
ERA
K
BB
7-3
98.2
3.19
58
25
Buy: Graves must have been doing something right to save 30-plus games in each of the last three seasons. And with an offense that includes Aaron Boone, Adam Dunn, Austin Kearns and Ken Griffey, he should have some run support. Hey, it worked for Jimmy Haynes last season.

Sell: Unlike Kim, Graves didn't have dominating numbers in relief duty. He never struck out a hitter per inning and his ERA the last two seasons was nothing special. Other than saves, his numbers look a lot like Tomo Ohka's numbers. And if he pitches like Ohka as a starter, he's not worth a spot on your roster.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Darren Dreifort

Profile
Dodgers Clubhouse
2001 Stats
W-L
IP
ERA
K
BB
4-7
94.2
5.13
91
47
Buy:Gambling on fantasy sleepers is all about finding guys with upside. Rick Helling is safe, but there's no upside. Dreifort is risky, but few people question his talent, Dreifort missed all of last season with injuries, but he looked terrific this spring, posting a 1.96 ERA with 19 strikeouts and four walks in 18.1 innings.

Sell: If the new Dreifort starts looking like the old Dreifort, it's time to let him go. Sometimes you can't teach an old dog new tricks, and there are plenty of pitchers out there who can win 12 games with a 4.20 ERA.