When preparing for your fantasy baseball drafts, it is a must to have a draft strategy, and on Wednesday, Daniel Kelley offered his thoughts on how to approach starting pitchers on draft day. We have also provided you with our Top 100 starting pitchers rankings for 2015 earlier in the week:
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. Some of the players profiled below may have been recommended as targets by other writers on Thursday, but are presented to show both sides of the argument for said player.
Before we get to the pitchers we recommend avoiding this season, here are links to the articles for each position covered during this series:
Players to Avoid
Starting Pitchers to Avoid in 2015
Andrew Cashner, Padres - Ray Guilfoyle
Cashner gets plenty of love from fantasy owners and experts in the industry. But did you know that over the last two seasons, Cashner has made just 45 starts and pitched just 298.1 innings. Over those two seasons, 86 pitchers have thrown more innings than Cashner. When healthy, Cashner has pitched well, putting up ERAs of 3.09 and 2.55 in each of the last two years. His fastball averages 94 mph, but he doesn't even strike out seven batters per nine innings, so he isn't really helping you in the strikeout category. He benefits from pitching in Petco Park, but he comes with plenty of injury risk. He is currently the 39th pitcher off NFBC draft boards, ahead of guys like Phil Hughes, Mat Latos and a few other starters I prefer over him this season.
Masahiro Tanaka, Yankees - Tim Finnegan
I loved Tanaka before he got hurt last year, but his UCL injury scares me. Tanaka rehabbed the injury in the offseason, but he didn't actually fix the damaged UCL, he built up the area around the ligament to attempt to support the ligament better. I think it's a not so great bet that he makes it through the year, and even if he does, I don't know how effective he'll be if his arm starts barking at him.
Julio Teheran, Braves - Nick Doran
Teheran seems like a great guy to target considering he had a stellar 2.89 ERA and 14 Wins at the age of 23 last season. But there are some red flags in his peripherals that advise you to tread carefully when drafting the young Atlanta Brave righthander. His .267 BABIP is unlikely to repeat itself, especially when you consider the fact that the Braves' defense is not going to be as good as it was before. The departures of excellent defensive outfielders like Jason Heyward and Justin Upton (replaced by Nick Markakis and Zoile Almonte. Ugh.) could pose problems for a strong fly ball pitcher like Teheran. His xFIP and SIERA were both nearly a full run higher than his ERA, indicating Teheran will not perform as well in 2015 as he did in 2014. I am not saying he is going to be awful but he will not pitch well enough to justify his ADP. He is being drafted as the 67th overall player and 18th pitcher off the board according to FantasyPros. That makes him a 6th round draft pick in 12 team leagues. That is way too early given the results he is likely to produce this season. Let somebody else draft Teheran this year. You can get better pitchers than Teheran in the 6th or 7th round. Guys like Gerrit Cole, Sonny Gray, Jake Arrieta, Carlos Carrasco and Jacob deGrom all have later ADPs than Teheran and are likely to outproduce him this year.
Adam Wainwright, Cardinals - Rob Parker
I think my thoughts about Wainwright can be summed up in one Thousand Foot Krutch song lyric: the hazard signs are all out. Or, if you prefer, there are more red flags than a Manchester United match. Red flag#1: He had five-year lows in K/9, ground ball %, and K%-BB%, and a five-year high for xFIP in 2014. Red flag#2: He hurt his elbow last year and had to have surgery in October because he couldn't lift a soda can. Red flag#3: he was extremely lucky last year with a well below-average HR/FB% allowed and BABIP allowed. This is why his ERA was more than a run below his xFIP. Red flag#4: He is well past the four-year, 650-inning mark (source: http://www.hardballtimes.com/a-primer-on-tommy-john-surgery-part-one/) since his Tommy John surgery, which research shows is when pitchers, on average, need a second surgery. Red flag#5: He is dealing with an abdominal issue during spring training and hasn't pitched yet, but is recovering. Red flag#6: The Cardinals have indicated that they want to limit his innings to keep him healthy for the postseason, so he may get skipped for a few starts. I just don't see any upside in a 33-year-old pitcher with huge injury risks. Let someone else take that chance in the draft.
Corey Kluber, Indians - Daniel Kelley
Did you realize Corey Kluber turns 29 on the 10th of April? Sure, dude had a huge year last year after a good 2013, but I didn't realize he was already that old until I started ranking starters. That's a mark against him, in my book. Another mark against him: More than half of his career innings pitched came in 2014. He never had the sort of pedigree that implied a season like 2014 was in his future. I'm not saying Kluber won't be a strong starting pitcher in 2015. He almost certainly will be. But he's going in drafts like he's a sure thing — top handful of starters, third-/fourth-round pick overall. And he isn't. Take the safer bets at the top. If Kluber slides a bit (he probably won't), sure, draft him. But don't pay the price he's been commanding.
If you are looking for more fantasy baseball rankings, and players to avoid, to get you ready for your fantasy baseball drafts, make sure you check out Fantasy Rundown, the one spot on the internet for all things fantasy.