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: Give Masterson credit for his solid 2013 season: Despite facing a greater number of left-handed batters -- that historically has been his weaker side to face -- he was considerably more successful against them, with their .698 OPS against him marking a career low. Skills-wise, Masterson's fastball-slider-sinker combo hasn't been as effective against lefties over the course of his career, but greater reliance on his slider made much of the difference. That bodes well for his 2014 campaign, which happens to be a contract year for him, though bear in mind that he has a history of being closer to a matchups than every-start type. In fact, of his 10 worst starts, going by Bill James' Game Score, four were against top-six offenses (using wOBA), and two others were at hitting-friendly venues Yankee Stadium and Camden Yards. You'll want to mix and match if you're afforded the luxury, but Masterson is worth the look in AL-only leagues or as you fill out a mixed-league staff.
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: After missing 2012 rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, Lackey surprised with a stellar campaign that could have been better, if not for a September ERA of 4.98 despite displaying the same skills as the first five months. Of particular note is the fact that Lackey set a career best in walk rate despite control usually being the last skill to come around after Tommy John surgery. The sole blemish was a high home run rate that could be an issue going forward if Lackey fails to maintain the control gains. In addition, Lackey's ERA was aided by a high left-on-base percentage. It appears as though Lackey is again a valuable fantasy asset, just don't expect a repeat of last season, as he was both good and lucky.
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.