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Staff Post: Pitchers to avoid in 2020

The Fake Teams writers tell you which hurlers to pass over in your fantasy baseball drafts this season.

Getty Images/Pete Rogers Illustrations

Earlier this morning we offered a few targets at the position, including Patrick Corbin, Jesus Luzardo, Corey Kluber, and Lance McCullers Jr. Now we’ll give you a few names to consider fading.

Here are the pitchers we are avoiding this year in fantasy baseball.

Cleveland Indians v Chicago White Sox Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

Shane Bieber, Indians (Mark Abell)

NFBC ADP: 27.83

As a Cleveland fan I hate saying this but stick with me. He’s currently around ADB of 25 (per NFBC) slotting him around 7th. It makes sense when you look at his 2019 campaign. 15 wins, 3.28 ERA, 214IP, 259k. All good there right? Here are my red flags, first last seasons 214 IP was the most in his career by 24% and that’s best off time in A and A+, a it different than 214 innings at the top level. Second Matt Blake, the Indians hitting coach who worked with Bieber and Clevinger and Kluber, was snagged by the Yankees. Third, Bieber’s HR/9 last season was 1.3, that’s worse than Scherzer, Cole, DeGrom, Morton, Buehler, Ryu, Greinke, Gray, Giolito, Flaherty, Wheeler, Corbin, Syndergaard, Berrios, Kershaw...basically everyone not named Justin Verlander. I like Bieber, but more around 35th.

Milwaukee Brewers v Chicago Cubs Photo by Masterpress/Getty Images

Yu Darvish, Cubs (Garrett Atkins)

NFBC ADP: 60.30

Darvish had a good 2019 campaign but his 2020 draft price tag is a little pricey. He’s currently going 60th overall on NFBC. That’s ahead of other arms like Charlie Morton, Zack Greinke, and Noah Syndergaard, to name a few. In 2019, Darvish had a 4.88 ERA with a 15% walk rate in his first 13 starts. Then, he magically stopped walking people and finished with a 3.45 ERA and a 3% walk rate in his final 18 starts. Maybe he’ll cut down on the BBs in 2020 but I don’t expect it to that extent. He’s no model for health either. Darvish has averaged just 126 innings since 2016. He seems too risky a pick at his current ADP.

Miami Marlins v New York Mets Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Noah Syndergaard, Mets (Jonathan Butler)

NFBC ADP: 68.92

The ceiling for Thor was displayed long ago in 2016, but since then the lightning has disappeared and all that left is the thunder that we call hype. His strikeout rate hasn’t been above 25% since 2017 and while his ERA didn’t blow up until 2019, I still don’t see the price being worth it. The Mets defense behind Thor is terrible and for someone that hasn’t been able to rack up the strikeouts as of late, it makes me nervous to pay the price of the 69th pick overall. The ball seems to have remained the same from 2019 and if the juiced ball remains, we could see another year where home runs are an issue for Thor.

Chicago Cubs v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Kyle Hendricks, Cubs (Heath Capps)

NFBC ADP: 160.52

Hendricks is as safe as they come, but after pick 150 I’m typically mining for upside. I prefer a guy like Matt Boyd going a little bit later, or even betting on a bounce-back year for David Price—who has better strikeout stuff and a much better team context than Hendricks. If you’re in need of a guy who is super-safe at that point of your draft, by all means enjoy the quality ratios that Hendricks can provide. But you’re falling behind on strikeouts if you draft him, and since I’m not one to pay up early for high-K relievers, I don’t see a scenario where I spend a top 150-160 pick on a guy like Hendricks. He just plain won’t fit most teams that I draft this season—not at his current ADP.

And that’s it for Starting Pitcher Week! Be sure to check back in next week as we cover relievers, and cap off our positional weeks with our fantasy baseball draft guide on Friday the 13th! Spooky!