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Staff Post: Starting Pitchers to Avoid in 2019

The gents tell you who to skip over in your 2019 drafts.

USA Today/Peter Rogers Illustrations

This morning we shared our targets, and then Zack engaged in some fan fiction about the 2022 Padres.

With this effort, we will wrap up Starting Pitcher Week. Next week is all about relievers, and I’m pretty much just hoping it’s more fun than a week full of catchers was. I think it will be.

This post is sure to be exciting, as some name-brand pitchers are being avoided...come argue with us!

Miami Marlins v Washington Nationals Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Max Scherzer, Nationals (Mark Abell)

NFBC ADP: 5.92

It REEEEEEAALLY hurts to type this, but fresh off a 300 strikeout season, it would not surprise me if we see some regression from the 34-year-old pitcher this season. I’m not saying do not draft him, but I could see him bringing back more 3-4 round value instead of SP1/1st round value. I will say that for six years now he has pitched 200+ innings and exceeded 250 strikeouts in five straight seasons—so maybe he will dazzle again.

World Series - Boston Red Sox v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Five Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers (Zack Waxman)

NFBC ADP: 36.42

I was already avoiding Clayton Kershaw before the injury news. He probably carries the most injury risk of any player that gets drafted this season—yes, even more than A.J. Pollock. The risk is high because of the price you pay for him, the position he plays, and because he’s always hurt! His velocity is down and he will be 31 years old by this April. He has over 2,000 MLB innings under his belt, which is about 700 more than Corey Kluber (who turns 33 this season). He’s only about 100 innings behind Mad Max, who will be 35 this year. He’s thrown more innings than a 33-year-old David Price. Chris Sale will be 30 this year and has yet to eclipse 1,500 innings, and DeGrom will be 31 and hasn’t tracked 900 MLB innings. We may have been lulled to sleep on this, but Kershaw is an old dog...for his age. If that makes any sense. So what is his upside? In terms of innings pitched, he’s probably valued around Paxton. In terms of K/9, probably looking at a Zack Wheeler. In terms of ERA/WHIP, I feel like his upside may be overestimated based on his track record rather than considering the inevitable regression impacted by injury, age, and decline in velocity. Give him a Mikolas on that one? So it appears if everything is falling into place for Kershaw, he’s right in there between SP20-SP30. However, that is far from a given. He’s not in my top 20 pitchers and as the injury concerns linger, he’s falling fast. One last word, going back to mileage, only 10 active pitchers have logged more innings than Kershaw. Three of them are Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Zack Greinke. The other seven: Sabathia, Colon, King Felix, Big Game James, Hamels, Lester, and Ervin Santana.

San Francisco Giants v St Louis Cardinals Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Madison Bumgarner, Giants (Heath Capps)

NFBC ADP: 75.47

MadBum plummeted in my TGFBI draft, falling into the 10th round. He’s a name brand that doesn’t offer the same skills or health as before. Injuries have limited him to 111 and 129 23 innings over the last two seasons. During that same time, his K/9 has fallen to 8.19 K/9 and 7.57 K/9. Bumgarner’s 2.98 BB/9 mark last year was also the worst of his career. His 41.6% hard contact rate a year ago was also the worst mark of his career. Basically, even if he is healthy, he’s turning into a shadow of what he once was. At his 75 ADP you can draft Jose Berrios (74 ADP) instead, or opt for a bat or an elite closer. You can wait until the 120s or 130s and take a veteran guy like Chris Archer or Masahiro Tanaka, if that’s what you’re into. Just don’t pay up for MadBum at his ADP.

San Francisco Giants v St Louis Cardinals Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Carlos Martinez, Cardinals (Punk is Dead)

NFBC ADP: 121.26

Carlos Martinez is my avoid this season for two reasons. First, the walk rate had a big jump last season. He walked 4.6 per nine compared to just 3.2 BB/9 for his career prior to 2018. Second, is the sudden injury trend. He could be a bullpen arm this season, maybe for the whole year. The Cardinals have the depth to do that with Martinez if they feel it will keep him healthy. As a bullpen guy, his fantasy value is basically gone. That’s a big risk for a starting pitcher who is going top 30 at the position in most drafts.