Fantasy Fox: Pitchers to avoid on draft day

Preparing a mixed-league cheat sheet can be a daunting task for the everyday Joe or Jane, especially when arbitrarily forecasting which starting pitchers are on the cusp of a breakout … or earmarked for a noticeable decline.

But there’s an easy way to proffer first cuts with starting pitchers, citing below-average “Strikeout/Walk” ratios:

Simply eliminate the established veterans (essentially 25 and over) with 2012 K/BB ratios of less than 2-to-1, like these, ahem, bums:

Avoidable Draft-Day Pitchers

Ricky Romero, Blue Jays — 124/105 K-BB
Ubaldo Jimenez, Indians — 143/95 K-BB
Justin Masterson, Indians — 159/88
Francisco Liriano, Pirates — 167/87 (with Twins/White Sox)
Aaron Harang, Dodgers — 131/85
Barry Zito, Giants — 114/79
Erik Bedard, Astros — 118/56 rate
Henderson Alvarez, Marlins — 79/54 (with the Blue Jays)
Alex White, Rockies — 54/51
Kevin Correia, Twins — 89/46 (with Pirates)
Philip Humber, Astros — 85/44 (with the White Sox)
Edinson Volquez, Padres — 174/105
Lucas Harrell, Astros — 140/74

Since there are exceptions to every rule, Angels lefty C.J. Wilson should not be fully condemned for last year’s middling tally (173 Ks/91 walks), even though he already has two 90-walk campaigns this decade.

Similar to Tim Lincecum, it’s easier to stomach the potential for high walks from a guy who’s a reasonable bet for 195 or more strikeouts.

On a different plane, the Lucas Harrell listing makes me somewhat uncomfortable, since the 27-year-old has less than 1,000 professional innings under his belt (minors included) but offers the respectable track record of a sub-4.00 ERA from year to year.

Plus, he’ll likely be given every chance to emerge as the redoubtable ace of the Astros’ rotation — especially if Bud Norris gets dealt during the season — and by extension, evolve into a legitimate fantasy asset (No. 5 or 6 starter).

But I am a tad bothered by his four outings of four-plus walks during August and September. Ideally, ‘upside’ assets must always finish on a high note.

Separation Anxiety

Here are my baseline measures, or across-the-board minimum targets, for selecting pitchers in 12-team roto leagues — in terms of 2013 projections.

Mixed Leagues

WHIP: 1.27 (the 1.40-plus guys will absolutely kill you)
Strikeouts: 160
Ratios: K/BB (2.5-to-1), K/9 (8.7)
ERA: 4.03 (don’t let 4.10-plus pitchers off the hook)
Wins: 13 (I’m the least militant about this one — since pitchers have little control over wins)

AL- or NL-Only Leagues

WHIP: 1.31
Strikeouts: 152
Ratios: K/BB (2.25-to-1), K/9 (8.4)
ERA: 4.12
Wins: 12

Jay Clemons can be reached on Twitter, day or night, at @FOX_JayClemons.