The Best Middle-Rotation Pitchers in the American League
You're drafting pitchers in an open or American League only League, and Verlander, Scherzer, Darvish, and Sale are all gone. Who do you draft? This list will cover three of the best middle of the rotation pitchers that often get overlooked although they have great seasons on a consistent basis.
It's funny putting Anibal Sanchez on this list. He's lived his entire career pitching behind aces like Josh Johnson and Max Scherzer, but Sanchez would be an ace on most teams. Sanchez will often be overlooked, and the Tigers have been criticized for overpaying for Anibal's services. But a quick glance at his statistics shows that there's a lot to like about Sanchez. Sanchez has compiled a career ERA of 3.55 and averages around 180-200 strikeouts a season. He's yet to break the 200 innings pitched mark in a season which is probably why he hasn't been in the ace conversation, but he's a great pick in American League formats.
Big Game James is an ace in the Kansas City rotation, and for good reason. He posted a respectable 3.15 earned run average last season with 196 strikeouts over 228 and 2/3 innings. Shields also added to his complete game total with two in the 2013 regular season. An ace in a team looking to compete for a playoff berth in 2014, Shields is an excellent pick for the middle of the draft.
The sinkerball pitcher for the Cleveland Indians compiled a 3.45 earned run average with a great 1.20 WHIP and 195 strikeouts over 193 innings. An oblique strain sidelined Masterson to the bullpen to close out the season, but if he remains healthy, Masterson will get the willing fantasy owner quality outings, solid innings, and strikeouts.
All three of the pitchers on this list come from an American League Central that is turning into much stiffer competition. Although the Tigers are the favorite to win the division and possibly the World Series, each of these three pitchers will contribute a lot to their respective team. Anibal Sanchez is my favorite pick off of this list for his ability to fly under the radar and be a solid pick overall.