There is an ongoing lockout preventing teams from adding talent to their rosters, but that doesn’t mean we can’t discuss fantasy baseball issues and situations, and talk about our favorite targets, breakout stars, and players to avoid.
We will focus on the latter in this article, and will try to identify trends and stats that can help us know which players won’t be on our fantasy baseball rosters come 2022.
5 Pitchers To Avoid in 2022
Mike Soroka, Atlanta Braves
Mike Soroka is a talented young pitcher who has struggled mightily with double tears to his right Achilles tendon. He impressed in his 2019 rookie season, but hasn’t been able to throw significant innings since then. He won’t ready for live action until around June or July of 2022.
Yes, he is young, at 24 years old, and yes, he has a career 2.86 ERA in 37 MLB starts. I love him as a real-life pitcher, but he could lose half of the season and may not fully have his stuff back until he gets 100 percent confidence on that Achilles. Soroka is a pitcher to avoid for me, at least for next season.
Kevin Gausman, Toronto Blue Jays
Don’t get me wrong: Kevin Gausman is a fantastic pitcher. He had a breakout season with the San Francisco Giants in which he put a 2.81 ERA in 192 frames, with an excellent 29.3% strikeout rate and a filthy splitter that helped him achieve those numbers.
But it’s not the same to pitch in San Francisco against weak NL West offenses (even San Diego was mediocre at producing runs), than doing it in the AL East. Gausman will have to face the Tampa Bay Rays, the Boston Red Sox, the New York Yankees, and what could be a surprisingly decent Baltimore Orioles’ offense.
If you are going to draft Gausman, perhaps it would be wiser to expect an ERA closer to the mid-3.00s than the high-2.00s.
Cole Irvin, Oakland Athletics
When the 2021 first half ended, Oakland Athletics’ starter Cole Irvin had a solid 3.65 ERA and was considered to be a great waiver wire pickup. He struck out 4.11 hitters per each walk he conceded before the break, but he was much, much worse after the All-Star game, with a poor 2.04 K/BB.
Irvin’s ERA was 5.10 in the second half, which is why his full season mark was 4.24. That looks respectable, but don’t chase it on draft day: it comes with very few strikeouts (6.31 per nine innings in 2021) and little upside.
Kyle Hendricks, Chicago Cubs
There was a time Hendricks was a reliable mid-rotation stalwart, with a solid floor of innings, excellent ratios and more than his fair share of strikeouts. He was really good as recently as 2020, when he finished with a 2.88 ERA in 81.1 innings. However, the wheels fell off in 2021.
Hendricks had a worrisome 4.77 ERA last season, covering 181 frames. His FIP (4.89) and xFIP (4.61) didn’t paint a much more optimistic picture, and his 16.7% strikeout rate reached its lowest point since his rookie campaign.
Making matters worse is that he allowed a career-high 1.54 home runs per nine innings, and his second half ERA (6.16) was much worse than his 3.77 mark before the All-Star break. With seemingly declining bat-missing skills and an 87 MPH fastball, I’m letting someone else take the risk.
Marco Gonzales, Seattle Mariners
The Seattle Mariners’ left-hander had a decent 3.96 ERA in 2021, but it wasn’t a rosy sub-4.00s ERA performance. His FIP was 5.28, his xFIP 5.16, he pitched 143.1 innings and could only post 0.6 Wins Above Replacement (WAR), and his K/9 was 6.78.
Oh, and he suffered forearm issues in May, so there’s that, too. Good fantasy owners won’t burn an early-round pick on Gonzales, but make sure not to chase that seemingly solid ERA. I wouldn’t even consider him as a late-round option: only if he is available on waivers and I have an available roster spot.