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Jeff's Top 5 MLB Left-handed Starters age 27 or younger (2015 season)


By: Jeff Hochman
Date: Feb 28, 2015
   
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The elite left-handed starters have a big advantage just for the simple fact that most players see a lot more right-handed pitching. Also, batting practice is mostly thrown by righties. Look for teams that have not faced a Quality left-handed starter for some time ( five games or more) and you will have a nice winning investment. Here are my Top 5 left-handed starting pitchers age 27 or younger going forward for the 2015 season. All five pitchers are expected to start the season in their respective team's rotation. I never list minor league prospects that may or may not get called up.

No. 1 Clayton Kershaw (LAD) Age: 26 (2014: 21-3, 1.77 ERA, 0.85 WHIP)

Your 2014 NL MVP and Cy Young Award winner. Just remarkable. Kershaw had 239 strikeouts in 198.1 innings pitched last season. If you're counting, he has won the NL Cy Young Award three times and has won the NL ERA Title four times. No. 1 on this prestigious list in five straight seasons. You won't see him on this list in 2016 because he will be too old. Will be 27 on March 19th and you better take him first among pitchers in your Fantasy Draft. Since his 2008 rookie campaign, no other pitcher in all of baseball has a lower ERA than Kershaw. He has led the NL in ERA for 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014. The Dodgers opening day starter for the sixth straight season and is poised to have another monster season. Clayton has arrived and in a big way and you could argue that at his age he will only get better. His career numbers are off the charts. How about 98-49 with a 2.48 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 1445 K's in 1378.1 IP. He works very hard on his craft off the field which is why he is so successful on it. No pitcher studies his opponents harder during his off days than Clayton. Kershaw has a 92-95 MPH fastball, an A+ 12-to-6 Curve, great Slider, and changeup that gets better every season. He can throw any one of his pitches for Strikes in any count. Knows how to set up hitters too. Very good at that! Clayton Kershaw is the best starter in all of baseball at any age, lefty or righty. I would expect another 20-win season behind this loaded 2015 Dodgers' team.

No. 2 Madison Bumgarner (SF) Age: 25 (2014: 18-10, 2.98 ERA, 1.09 WHIP)

Madison jumps one spot to No. 2 after a solid regular season and an even more impressive postseason. He single handily pitched the Giants to the World Series Title. All four of his pitches (Four-seamer, Cutter, Curveball, Changeup) are above average. Madison was No .3 on this list last year and he came through with his best season of his young career. He went 18-10 with a 2.98 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. Madison had 219 strikeouts in 217.1 innings pitched. Amazing. His career numbers are impressive as he enters his sizth full season with a 67-49 Won/Loss record, 3.06 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 896 strikeouts in 952.2.1 IP. He gets to pitch half his starts in a very pitcher's friendly ballpark. Don't be concerned about all those innings last season. He's big and strong. At 6'5 and 225 he has the look and skill of a Top of the Rotation star for years to come. Great hitter with a .258 average, 4 Homers, and 15 Runs batted in last season. Will turn 26 in August.

No. 3 Chris Sale (CHW) Age:25 (2014: 12-4, 2.17 ERA, 0.966)

Finished third in the AL Cy Young Award vote. Could very well be No. 1 on this list next season. He's one tall drink of water at 6'6. Batters will tell you he hides the ball extremely well. The White Sox will be much improved this season and I am expecting a Ginormous performance in his sixth season. Had 208 strikeouts in 174 innings last season. Sick. His career numbers suggest a top-notch starter for years to come. He is 44-29 with a 2.76 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. Will turn 26 on March 30th. His 9.8 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 looks very impressive in his young career. Only getting better. Just might win 20 games this season so don't hesitate to grab him come draft day.

No. 4 Dallas Keuchel (HOU) Age: 27 (2014: 12-9, 2.93 ERA, 1.17 WHIP)

Dallas has increased his wins (3, 6, 12) and lowered his ERA (5.27, 5.17, 2.93) in each of his first three seasons. I am expecting a breakout campaign in his fourth season. Keuchel has great size (6'3, 210) and has a funky delivery that gives hitters trouble picking up the baseball. Keuchel throws five pitches: a sinker (88–90), a fastball (91-93), a cutter (83–87), a curveball (69–74), and a changeup (73–76). Against right-handed hitters, Keuchel relies most heavily on his sinker and uses the rest of his pitches in roughly equal amounts. Against lefties, he rarely uses his changeup but will employ the other four in roughly equal amounts. He's not afraid to pitch inside which is a great sign. I love the fact that Keuchel has increased his strikeout rate in each of his first three seasons. Look for 12-15 wins in the very competitive AL West this season.

No. 5 James Paxon (Sea) Age: 26 (2014: 6-4, 3.04, 1.20 WHIP)

His numbers from 2014 appear incomplete, but he missed four months with a strain to his throwing shoulder. However, he was able to bounce back after the injury in August, posting a 3.19 ERA, 1.30 WHIP and 46 strikeouts in his final 11 starts (62 innings). Being 6'4, 220 and left-handed with a mid-90s heater is a great starter kit for a potential front-line arm. James will need to make a few adjustments to get there, despite excellent numbers in his first 17 big league starts (98 innings). He is incredibly reliant on his fastball, especially when he gets behind in a count. Paxton should benefit from a rigorous off-season program and improved curveball and changeup. Look for double digit wins if he stays healthy on a very good team.

Good luck this Baseball Season

Jeff Hochman/JH-Sportsline
 


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