I am not a reckless person. I tend to eat the same thing at Frank's Place, and I can only think of one or two times where I would willingly jump out of a plane. When it comes to fantasy baseball, I tend to err on the side of caution. I'm not sure about this, but that may come from having a father that works in insurance. Case in point, I usually don't risk a whole lot on rookie starters. When draft day rolls around, I pick up one or two that are on successful teams and had success in previous call-ups.
But just like life, fantasy baseball hardly ever goes according to plan. You may need to rely on a rookie pitcher once one of your studs goes on the disabled list. Don't bother saying "None of my guys are injury-prone, I'll be ok." They're pitchers. They get hurt. It's what they do. One small kink in their delivery, and the next thing you know they're serving up home runs left and right. My point is you need to know who you can rely on when things go wrong. Let's get to know some of these trustworthy rookies. A note of caution, however: keep in mind that they are rookies, after all. They all have bad games, and you need to pay attention to their matchups when deciding whether or not to start them.
I've been high on Pineda for a little while now, and I hope it's not hard to see why. So far with the Mariners, he's 1-1 with a 2.70 ERA, 0.975 WHIP, and 11 Ks. His minor league track record is phenomenal, where over five years the 22-year-old registered a 2.49 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and averaged almost a strikeout per inning. He's pitched well against two high-powered offenses in Toronto and Texas; the problem has been run support. So while he may not get you many wins, he's more than capable of keeping your ERA and WHIP under control. But wait, there's more: because he plays for Seattle he'll make about half of his starts in Pitcher Heaven, also known as Safeco Field. Seattle may already have a king in Felix Hernandez, but Pineda is the heir apparent. Pineda is owned in only 38.4 percent of ESPN standard leagues, so if he's available go ahead and claim him. He's worth the roster spot even if your pitchers are healthy.
Ogando is certainly seizing the opportunity the Rangers gave him this spring. Both Tommy Hunter and Brandon Webb are hurt, so the outfielder-turned-pitcher was given the job. So far, he is 2-0 with an ERA of 0.00, and a WHIP of 0.538. Those numbers are certainly not sustainable, but Ogando has a track record of success. It looks like Texas made the right decision to make him a pitcher, because his career minor league numbers are outstanding. He has an ERA of 1.37, with a ludicrous 12.6 strikeouts per nine innings. Now, those numbers may be a little skewed because he was a relief pitcher in the minors, but they show that he has a lot of talent. The challenge for Ogando is to stay healthy despite the increase in innings, and to hold onto his rotation spot once Hunter comes back and if Webb is ever healthy again. But for now, Ogando is available in 62 percent of ESPN leagues, so if you need a pitcher who won't hurt you until your team gets healthy, you can do much worse than Alexi Ogando.
Holland is the forgotten man in the Rangers rotation, but if you need a spot starter you shouldn't forget about him. He was a highly ranked prospect in 2009, but has struggled to find his minor league magic since coming to the big show. His minor league ERA is impressive at 2.47, as opposed to his 5.33 mark in the majors. To me, it looks like he's struggled in the majors because he can't keep the ball in the park. He allowed almost two homers per game in 2009, as opposed to one homer every two games in the minors. But 2011 is a different story. It's so far, so good for Holland, who is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA. More importantly, he hasn't allowed a home run yet. I know it's a small sample size, but if you need a pitcher to fill in for an injured one, take a long look at Holland. He's available in almost 87 percent of ESPN leagues.