2014 Outlook: Wainwright's recovery from Tommy John surgery has been effectively seamless: He finished second in the National League Cy Young balloting, and second among starting pitchers, on our Player Rater in 2010; he went under the knife on Feb. 28, 2011; and in his second full season back he finished second again in the NL Cy Young balloting, third among starters on our Player Rater, in 2013. What's more, while his 2010 and 2013 numbers -- even the underlying ones -- looked practically identical, since his surgery he has polished both his four-seamer and cutter, to the point he now has five reliable pitches from which to draw. There's nothing in Wainwright's recent profile to suggest he's anything but the ace-caliber fantasy starter we witnessed in 2013.
2014 Outlook: Just because his St. Louis Cardinals largely ignored Miller during last year's playoffs doesn't mean you should follow suit at the draft table this season. He enjoyed a productive rookie campaign, with his 2.92 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 26.4 percent strikeout rate in 18 first-half starts illustrating his immense statistical ceiling; most of the reason for his invisibility in October was his team's conservative approach to his workload. After 173 1/3 innings in 2013, Miller shouldn't have as many restrictions this year, and if he can continue polishing his cutter and changeup to add to his already sound fastball and curveball, he might be able to extend last year's first-half dominance over six months. That potential is the reason he's worth making one of your first three starters in a mixed league, and a potential No. 2 in NL-only leagues.
2014 Outlook: Sometimes all it takes is a small sample size to completely earn a fantasy owner's trust, especially when that sample size is displayed in its entirety on national television. That was the tale of Wacha's postseason: He made five starts for the St. Louis Cardinals, four of which were quality starts, and had a 2.64 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 30 2/3 innings. (It's worth noting that in his regular-season finale, he tallied 8 2/3 frames of no-hit baseball.) Now everyone believes in Wacha, and with good reason. He has one of the filthiest changeups in the game, one that both generates many swings and misses and helps keep hitters off-balance against his other offerings. But before you dive in and overspend on Wacha in your draft -- a more understandable strategy in a dynasty/keeper format -- understand that he's not a complete lock. His command of the changeup needs some polish, a fact the Boston Red Sox exploited during his bad World Series outing, and he did have a steep home/road split that could paint a picture of being more matchup than every-start option. Wacha's ceiling, even this year, is high, but we'd like to see more evidence before we vault him another tier (or three) in our rankings.
2014 Outlook: After showing he can handle a 200-inning workload, Lynn seems likely to start the season in the Cardinals' rotation, though he could be pushed by Joe Kelly or Carlos Martinez. While splits are often happenstance, it is quite encouraging that Lynn's best month was September, showing he didn't suffer from the late-season fatigue that plagued him the previous campaign. Lynn is best used as a streaming starter for home tilts, since his performance in very pitcher-friendly Busch Stadium has been much better than on the road (career 2.97 ERA, .628 OPS at home versus 4.58 ERA, .768 OPS away).
2014 Outlook: Armed with a mid-90s fastball and above-average changeup, Kelly exploded upon his arrival in the St. Louis Cardinals' rotation to begin July; he had 10 wins and a 2.58 ERA in 19 games (18 starts) from July 1 forward, counting the playoffs. Still, his peripherals revealed that he pitched a bit over his head, as he had a 4.01 FIP, 1.35 WHIP, 1.80 K-to-walk ratio and 82.4 left-on-base percentage for the season, meaning that despite his performance giving him an excellent chance at beginning 2014 in the Cardinals' rotation, regression is possible. Kelly's low-strikeout nature makes him more NL-only back-end, or streaming material in shallow formats.
2014 Outlook: Shoulder issues ended Garcia's 2013 in May and continued to fuel an injury-risk reputation; he has averaged 22 starts in his four full big-league seasons. Still, when healthy, he's a ground-ball generating, strike-throwing and consistent NL-only standout: He has a 3.45 ERA and 58.9 quality start percentage in his career. Garcia is expected to be healthy come spring training; if that's true, he's highly likely to earn a rotation spot with the St. Louis Cardinals. But as is always the case, will he finish the year in it?
2014 Outlook: An elite starting-pitching prospect during his minor league career, Martinez was shifted to relief during three separate big-league stints for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2013, and by year's end, he was occupying a critical late-inning role in a generally tired bullpen. His high-90s fastball and curveball played well in short relief, and while he has a good enough changeup to make a compelling case as a starting-pitching breakout candidate, his more likely role entering 2014 is as the same setup man he was last year. Martinez could be an underrated source of holds, an ERA/K's helper, and if he ever gets a taste of either a starter's or closer's role, his value could soar.