2018 Fantasy Baseball: Starting Pitchers 25-36
Continuing through the starting pitcher universe becomes increasingly tricky. We use five-year averages to get as much data as we can, but sometimes that hamstrings us. Some pitchers suddenly emerge and some suddenly regress. So, the rankings represents our best guessing game when we match up their total point data, aggregate data in the four and five categories (counting quality starts), and looking at the per 162 data, and Steamer projections. The result is a hodge podge of data thrown together for a best guess.
We usually include rankings, but we’ve flushed the first 24 guys and started with a new batch. So, we are leaving out the rankings in total points, four categories, and five categories because they are a bit muddy. We will show you the total points from the past five seasons because many of you may be new to the whole total points game. We have included our own formula below. It will differ from what the daily fantasy sites use, but all of them have their own formulas. Adjust accordingly.
Total Points = (3) Wins + (2) Innings + Strikeouts – (3) Losses – Hits – Walks – ER
Luis Severino—New York Yankees
Aggregate: 7 Wins, 3.90 ERA, 1.231 WHIP, 117 SO, 10 QS
Per 162: 13 Wins, 3.58 ERA, 1.160 WHIP, 205 SO, 17 QS
Steamer: 14 Wins, 3.55 ERA, 1.181 WHIP, 212 SO, ——
We’ve seen too many young pitchers take a huge step backwards in terms of performance or durability immediately after breaking out. In terms of ability and immediate performance he is a number one fantasy pitcher but bumping him down to the top of the third starter list represents hedging our bets. Obviously, some will pan this pick and put him much higher on their list. I prefer the careful approach.
Felix Hernandez—Seattle Mariners
Aggregate: 12 Wins, 3.38 ERA, 1.168 WHIP, 171 SO, 18 QS
Per 162: 15 Wins, 3.20 ERA, 1.184 WHIP, 212 SO, 22 QS
Steamer: 9 Wins, 4.38 ERA, 1.364 WHI, 137 SO, ——
The five-year averages are helpful overall, but sometimes they betray us as well. He has been suspect in two of the last three seasons (actually the last two), so numbers that normally would make you an ace get you dropped down to the third group. He is projected to be relatively healthy this season. The Mariners have an underrated lineup and bullpen, so there is that.
Alex Cobb—Free Agent
Aggregate: 11 Wins, 3.10 ERA, 1.169 WHIP, 137 SO, 13 QS
Per 162: 14 Wins, 3.50 ERA, 1.217 WHIP, 169 SO, 17 QS
Steamer: 8 Wins, 4.41 ERA, 1.346 WHIP, 101 SO, ——
It’s hard to take a projection seriously when you don’t even know where the pitcher is going to pitch. If he winds up in a place like Chicago you can’t help but play these numbers up a bit. Plus, he is coming into his second full season since surgery. Pitchers usually perform better during those seasons and not worse. Obviously, his overall prognosis depends heavily on where he lands.
Dallas Keuchel—Houston Astros
Aggregate: 12 Wins, 3.60 ERA, 1.227 WHIP, 151 SO, 18 QS
Per 162: 14 Wins, 3.65 ERA, 1.237 WHIP, 175 SO, 21 QS
Steamer: 14 Wins, 3.75 ERA, 1.312 WHIP, 169 SO, ——-
The whole key for Keuchel at this point is health. If he can put together a 30 start season he will cash in on free agency in 2019. If not, he could end up like one of the pitchers this offseason still waiting for a big time contract. In terms of total points, he has averaged 269 points in his last four seasons. Those are far more relevant that the opening season where he was still discovering himself. That comes out to 9.61 points per game. Those numbers should vault him higher, but we just can’t predict his health.
Gerrit Cole—Houston Astros
Aggregate: 12 Wins, 3.52 ERA, 1.232 WHIP, 147 SO, 17 QS
Per 162: 16 Wins, 3.50 ERA, 1.217 WHIP, 197 SO, 23 QS
Steamer: 12 Wins, 4.29 ERA, 1.280 WHIP, 167 SO, ——
It’s easy to get caught up in the hype of a pitcher moving from a below average team to a great one. Players usually are who they are. They will play up in terms of wins and possibly ERA to some extent, but they don’t suddenly become legitimate aces. Cole’s career ERA is only slightly lower on the road (3.44 vs. 3.56), so the differences in home ballparks is likely negligible. If he gains anything it will be from a better overall team defense. Then again, he moves to the DH league, so all told we can probably say he will break even.
Julio Teheran—Atlanta Braves
Aggregate: 11 Wins, 3.57 ERA, 1.197 WHIP, 169 SO, 20 QS
Per 162: 12 Wins, 3.59 ERA, 1.198 WHIP, 179 SO, 21 QS
Steamer: 9 Wins, 4.66 ERA, 1.363 WHIP, 153 SO, ——
Teheran is a passenger on the BABIP train. Since he isn’t particularly dominant he is dependent on those behind him. Steamer is projecting a regression to the mean in that department which means he will a little worse than last season. Of course, no one can predict luck and Teheran has always been a high-volume pitcher. So, he deserves to be drafted somewhere. This placement is based more on career norms.
Ervin Santana—Minnesota Twins
Aggregate: 11 Wins, 3.57 ERA, 1.218 WHIP, 148 SO, 18 QS
Per 162: 13 Wins, 4.02 ERA, 1.265 WHIP, 172 SO, 22 QS
Steamer: 10 Wins, 4.78 ERA, 1.370 WHIP, 149 SO, —–
Santana is essentially Teheran without the durability. He represents the danger of basing too much on what happened last season. He won 16 games last year on the strength of solid BABIP luck and good run support. The Twins may or may not be as good as they were last season, so betting on a repeat of last season.
Jeff Samardzija—San Francisco Giants
Aggregate: 9 Wins, 4.10 ERA, 1.209 WHIP, 190 SO, 19 QS
Per 162: 9 Wins, 4.10 ERA, 1.245 WHIP, 169 SO, 18 QS
Steamer: 13 Wins, 3.76 ERA, 1.193 WHIP, 184 SO, —–
Those that pay attention to numbers occasionally come across players that never seem to be as good as they should be. Samardzija is one of those guys. His WHIPs always look better than the numbers overall and the stuff seems to be better than the results. We spend an eternity waiting for the numbers that count to catch up with the peripherals. Maybe next year will be that year.
Drew Pomeranz—Boston Red Sox
Aggregate: 10 Wins, 3.16 ERA, 1.210 WHIP, 127 SO, 9 QS
Per 162: 10 Wins, 3.67 ERA, 1.300 WHIP, 150 SO, 13 QS
Steamer: 11 Wins, 4.29 ERA, 1.350 WHIP, 158 SO, ——
All that is old is new again. In the 1950s, the Kansas City Athletics were a de facto farm team for the Yankees. Now, the A’s seem to be a farm system for everyone. Players go to Oakland to revitalize their careers and then move on to greener pastures. In this case it was Pomeranz. His weakness is that he seems to be only a five or six inning pitcher, but he is usually solid during those innings. Steamer thinks the league will catch up to him a little.
Michael Fulmer—Detroit Tigers
Aggregate: 11 Wins, 3.45 ERA, 1.137 WHIP, 123 SO, 17 QS
Per 162: 14 Wins, 3.45 ERA, 1.137 WHIP, 164 SO, 22 QS
Steamer: 10 Wins, 4.23 ERA, 1.319 WHIP, 148 SO, ——
The good news is that more and more teams are tanking in lieu of being middle of the road. When those teams play each other someone has to win. Fulmer has as good a chance as anyone to pick up some of those wins. Unfortunately, you eventually have to play the contenders and those contenders will feast on the Tigers. Plus, the fielding behind him is not exactly brilliant.
Marcus Stroman—Toronto Blue Jays
Aggregate: 11 Wins, 3.70 ERA, 1.256 WHIP, 147 SO, 17 QS
Per 162: 14 Wins, 3.61 ERA, 1.253 WHIP, 170 SO, 19 QS
Steamer: 13 Wins, 3.94 ERA, 1.330 WHIP, 164 SO, —–
I wouldn’t be surprised if most people don’t have Stroman higher on their list. Total points has a way of pegging a player’s value better than their standard categories. Stroman relies more on contact behind and too much of his team behind him has changed for us to rely too heavily on him. The good news is that he could be a July trade candidate if the Blue Jays fall out of the pennant race.
Gio Gonzalez—Washington Nationals
Aggregate: 12 Wins, 3.65 ERA, 1.279 WHIP, 176 SO, 18 QS
Per 162: 14 Wins, 3.64 ERA, 1.302 WHIP, 196 SO, 20 QS
Steamer: 12 Wins, 4.17 ERA, 1.374 WHIP, 170 SO, —–
Gonzalez has led the league twice in walks (including last season). Like with some other numbers, you actually have to be good to lead the league in that category. It means you’ve logged some innings. Yet, that trait will always limit his fantasy utility in any format. A low BABIP helped him overcome that in 2017, but that is not likely to happen again. Still, the Nationals have a very good offense and a good pen, so he should play up.