Left-handed pitching always has -- and always will be -- coveted by major league teams. Be it the crafty southpaw like Jamie Moyer or the hard-throwing strikeout machines like Sandy Koufax and Randy Johnson or anything in between, clubs are always going to place a premium on hurlers from the left side, and for good reason.
"Good pitching is good pitching, but when you have that top-of-the-rotation guys from the left side, you just feel better about it," an AL executive said. "I think the biggest thing is that there is so much good left-handed hitting in baseball right now, and a quality left-hander sort of negates that. It makes managers make changes to their lineups, usually with inferior players hitting. Anytime you can neutralize a lineup just by having a guy who throws from the opposite side set in the lineup card, it's a good thing. If everything is equal or close to equal, I'll generally side with the southpaw."
There's some fantastic left-handed pitching at the MLB level right now, and it looks like we're going to have some more joining the big league ranks very soon. Here's a look at five southpaws who could help your fantasy club in 2014, and five lefties who have a chance to be key factors in 2015 and beyond. For those unfamiliar with the 20-80 scouting grade system, here's a primer.
1. Andrew Heaney, Miami Marlins
Current level: Double-A Jupiter
Pitching grades: 60 Fastball, 60 Slider, 55 Change, 60 Control/Command
Analysis: When the Marlins took Heaney with the No. 9 pick of the 2012 draft, most in the industry believed he was a middle-of-the-rotation starter who was going to have to get by on his feel for pitching, but he has shown he's much more than that. The former Oklahoma State player attacks hitters with a low 90s fastball from a deceptive low three-quarter delivery, and both his slider and changeup can get hitters to swing and miss, particularly the slider because of its tilt and the deceptive arm angle. The delivery isn't perfect, but Heaney has a chance to be a solid No. 2 starter, and he should be missing bats and posting solid strikeout-to-walk ratios with the Marlins at some point this summer.