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Key Stats: In the year that Ben Sheets needed to prove he could stay healthy, his contract year, he failed. In September and October when the Brewers needed him most, Sheets was sitting on the bench with a torn muscle in his elbow. Going back to 2005, Sheets has made 22, 17, 24 and 31 starts respectively.

Skeptics Say: If Sheets can’t manage to stay healthy in a year that would have gotten him big bills, then he won’t pitch through pain after he signs what’s likely to be a two year deal. He has always had nasty stuff, but making him a top 100 player isn’t reasonable in a rotisserie or head to head format. Even when healthy Sheets is no longer a dominant strikeout pitcher. His K rate has declined significantly for the past 5 seasons. Here’s a look:

2004: 10 K/9
2005: 8.1 K/9
2006: 9.8 K/9
2007: 6.75 K/9
2008: 7.17 K/9

Peer Comparison: Taking Sheets is risky. Taking Sheets and A.J. Burnett is a greater risk. Taking Sheets, Burnett, and Rich Harden is like buying stock in GM. But for managers who drafted all three, last season was 1970 again. I would take the under on these aces combining for 90 starts in 2009, but to win the prize you should take risks and buy a guy with a big upside and an injury riddled past. Among these three players, the upside part of the equation makes Sheets an unnecessary risk.

Harden only had 25 starts last season, but when he was pitching nobody was more dominant. Harden struck out 11 batters/9 innings and got better after he was traded to the Cubs. He just lacked the innings to out pitch Johan Santana, but given the choice for one start anyone would have taken Harden.

Burnett came out of the gates slow, but finished strong. His ERA in the second half was 2.86. Like Harden he was able to strikeout more than a batter an inning.

In the 2nd half last season Sheets was behind Burnett and Harden in virtually every important category. He was also bothered by his elbow in late September, whereas Harden pitched in the playoffs and Burnett recorded a quality start every time he pitched in September.

Team Outlook: A move to the AL for Sheets should diminish his value although his ERA is a respecatble 3.55 in interleague play. The Sheets to the Yankees rumor could come true. The wins will be there for the taking in this case. Just like they were there for Carl Pavano.

What They’re Saying: MLB.com: #23 Starting Pitcher; CBS Sportsline: #31 Starting Pitcher and #102 Overall; FantasyBaseball365: #14 Starting Pitcher; Fox Sports: #22 Starting Pitcher; ESPN: #26 Starting Pitcher

Projection: The wins total is still up for grabs based on the team he plays for so check back for an update. If I don’t update it then yell at me.
11W 3.12ERA 1.15 WHIP 103 Ks in 130 innings

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