When preparing for your fantasy baseball drafts, it is a must to have a draft strategy, and on Wednesday, Zack Smith offered some ideas on how to approach the starting pitcher position on draft day. We have also provided you with our Top 75 starting pitcher rankings for 2014:
Included in the rankings above, we provided 2014 projections for almost every starting pitcher ranked, courtesy of Daniel Schwartz from Fake Teams and Rotobanter.
Now that we have provided you all these tools you need to prepare for your drafts, your fantasy draft preparation would be incomplete without some starting pitchers to avoid, which we provide you today, and some starting pitchers to target, which published yesterday.
We asked each of the fantasy baseball writers to provide you with the starting pitchers they would avoid in fantasy drafts this season, and you can find them along with their reasoning below:
Starting Pitchers to Avoid in 2014
I wrote up Verlander in part 1 of our Top 75 Starting Pitcher Rankings on Monday, and here is an excerpt:
Verlander had a pretty good season for most starting pitchers in baseball in 2013, but not for the second ranked starter in the game back in March. Verlander turned things around toward the end of the season, and in the playoffs, but finished he regular season going 13-12 with a 3.46 ERA, 3.28 FIP, 3.67 xFIP, a 1.31 WHIP and a 23.5% strikeout rate in 218.1 innings. The 23.5% strikeout rate was his lowest since 2009 His BABIP allowed is in a two year uptrend, which led to the rise in base runners allows, so that is something to think about in 2014.
I was the low man on Verlander in our consensus rankings, and am starting to wonder if the seven straight seasons of 200+ innings pitched is having an impact on his performance on the mound as his fastball velocity is now in a four year downtrend.
The Diamondbacks breakout star of 2013 came in at #39 overall in our consensus SP rankings earlier this week. And that was with yours truly bringing down his ranking by completely leaving him out of my top 75. Was that a misprint? Not hardly. Leaving Corbin out of my top 75 is a bold call, but I believe owners that draft the 2013 All-Star early are going to regret that move very quickly. Corbin was flat out dominant before the All-Star break, while recording an 11-1 record to go with a 2.01 ERA and a .206 OBA. But in the second half, the left-hander produced a 3-7 record with a 5.19 ERA and .289 OBA. It appears as though the league started to catch up with Corbin as he started to face lineups for a second time in 2013. The 2nd half stats are too worrisome to invest an early to middle round pick in this 2013 breakout story.
Don't get fooled by the name recognition - Weaver is no longer a top 20 fantasy option, and has seen a drop in his strikeout rate each of the last three years. Add in that he's also seen a velocity drop each of the past two years, and Weaver isn't likely to be an elite option going forward. He's likely to be a better pitcher for the Angels than for your fantasy team, as his strikeout total just isn't going to push him into that upper echelon.
Patrick Corbin, Diamondbacks- Jasper Scherer (follow @jaspsch)
The argument that "play X will do poorly because his second half was bad" doesn't always carry a ton of weight, but some alarming trends point toward Corbin performing more along the lines of his tough second half than his dominant first half. Most importantly, Corbin's BABIP rose by 90 points after the All-Star break, from .247 to .337. Even if he improves from that latter total, which is to be expected, he'll have a ways to go to return to fantasy respectability given his 5.19 ERA in the second half. In other words, only slightly decreasing that BABIP might not be enough. Also, when examining Corbin's PITCHf/x, he really only has one pitch, his slider, that he can use to consistently get batters out. Against his fastball and changeup, batters hit .316 and .343, respectively, meaning Corbin doesn't have that second "out pitch" that is so key among starters. That almost invariably leads to inconsistency, as Corbin will only be successful when his slider is "on." That's not a recipe for success.
My Tony Cingrani belief only stretches so far and my piece today explains why. The K-rate is nice but his suspect repertoire, which includes basically the fastball, along with bad walk rates, high LOB%, and a really low BABIP raise too many red flags for me to invest this year.
Don't get me wrong, I love the kids too, and there are as many exciting young arms right now as there have been in memory. If you want to grab one and run with him, you have my blessing. But I guarantee you, one way or another, at least one of the above four will spend time in the minors this year for performance reasons. Prospects don't all boom. So grab one if you want. But surround him with surer things, not his TINSTAAPP peers.
While I think Andrew Cashner is a fine pitcher in real life, I'm less enthused about his fantasy prospects as a second-year starter. In 2013, Cashner did what we hope all Padres' pitchers do: toss quality innings and post a low three-something ERA. Cashner did just that, throwing a career-high 175 innings with a 3.09 ERA, the 19th lowest ERA among qualified starters. Yes, it was a successful season, but what happened to all of those strikeouts we thought were coming? Cashner ended his first full season as a starter with a disappointing 128 strikeouts, or 6.58 Ks-per-nine. A drop-off was expected going from reliever to starter, but not this big. Overall, his strikeout rate decreased from 26.5 percent 18.1 percent, and his swinging strike rate declined from 11.6 percent to 8.3 percent. On top of that, Cashner's fastball velocity dipped from 97 to 94. I've seen Cashner go inside the top-30 starters in mocks before the likes of Doug Fister, Kris Medlen and Matt Moore, which I view as a mistake. A lot of Cashner's value is tied up in repeating a sub-3.25 ERA, but keep in mind he's only logged 190-plus innings in a starter's role. Be careful not to overreach for him on draft day. I don't see much room for value.
If you are looking for more position rankings, or plain old fantasy baseball goodness, make sure you check out Fantasy Rundown, your one place to get all things fantasy.