2018 Fantasy Baseball: Starting Pitchers 37-48
It’s been the slowest offseason in history as most of the top ten free agents are still on the board. The Super Bowl has passed and pitchers and catchers report in a week. That leaves us with our rankings. The rankings have taken a beating this offseason. I welcome the feedback in a lonely offseason where not much is going on. We are coming near the end as we cover starting pitchers 37-48 in this edition.
We are combining the past, present, and future with how each pitcher fares with total points, customary four categories, and with quality starts included. We will feature total points a little more prominently because it is a relatively new platform that is used in daily fantasy leagues and a growing number of full season formats. We will also include per 162 data along with the Steamer projections. If any criticism has been consistent it has been the reliance on past performance to govern the rankings. That’s understandable and just happens to be my bias. Call it the whims of a former history teacher.
Total Points = (3) Wins + (2) Innings + SO – (3) Losses – BB – Hits – ER
Carlos Martinez—St. Louis Cardinals
Aggregate: 9 Wins, 3.76 ERA, 1.310 WHIP, 137 SO, 12 QS
Per 162: 12 Wins, 3.42 ERA, 1.270 WHIP, 171 SO, 15 QS
Steamer: 13 Wins, 3.72 ERA, 1.297 WHIP, 203 SO, ——
Okay, I have to offer the best mea culpa I can. Martinez’s three-year average should have gotten him into the second group of starters. Here he is leading the fourth. Next year I will have to account for a three-year average to keep myself honest. Even so, he is not an elite pitcher, but he has been durable as any pitcher over the past three seasons.
Luis Castillo—Cincinnati Reds
Aggregate: 3 Wins, 3.12 ERA, 1.075 WHIP, 98 SO, 8 QS
Per 162: 7 Wins, 3.12 ERA, 1.075 WHIP, 222 SO, 18 QS
Steamer: 9 Wins, 3.99 ERA, 1.264 WHIP, 143 SO, —–
The path of the young fireballer is usually a bumpy one these days. Either it involves high injury risk or clubs tend to take the careful approach and lighten their load. That will be hard for the Reds as Castillo represents the very best opportunity they have to compete. He also is saddled with a shoddy bullpen and a powerful yet inconsistent lineup. This all adds up to maybe another year of up and down performance.
Sonny Gray—New York Yankees
Aggregate: 10 Wins, 3.54 ERA, 1.217 WHIP, 133 SO, 16 QS
Per 162: 13 Wins, 3.45 ERA, 1.205 WHIP, 183 SO, 22 QS
Steamer: 12 Wins, 4.24 ERA, 1.349 WHIP, 163 SO, ——
Every fantasy player must make a very careful calculation at this point in their draft or auction. Do you want a sure thing that is a cut below or do you want someone that has the potential to be really, but also might flop? Gray represents the sure bet. He won’t strike a ton of guys out, but he is playing for a good team with a good pen and he has been fairly consistent with the exception of 2016.
James Paxton—Seattle Mariners
Aggregate: 7 Wins, 3.43 ERA, 1.261 WHIP, 97 SO, 10 QS
Per 162: 14 Wins, 3.28 ERA, 1.220 WHIP, 188 SO, 19 QS
Steamer: 12 Wins, 3.53 ERA, 1.205 WHIP, 178 SO, ——
Paxton represents the other extreme. He isn’t a huge risk performance wise, but he has never been healthy for any extended period of time. If he could last through a whole season and get 30 starts he would be a number three fantasy starter at a minimum. He lands here simply because we are betting he won’t be able to do that.
Danny Salazar—Cleveland Indians
Aggregate: 8 Wins, 3.79 ERA, 1.265 WHIP, 137 SO, 9 QS
Per 162: 12 Wins, 3.82 ERA, 1.263 WHIP, 220 SO, 16 QS
Steamer: 8 Wins, 3.52 ERA, 1.200 WHIP, 143 SO, ——-
Salazar might be best compared to Neil Walker. I know it seems crazy to compare him to a second baseman, but I have written the same thing about both over the years. They always seem to flash something that makes you think they will give you more. They never do. Salazar could find himself in the swing man role and it could end up being the best version of himself. Those have been proven to be valuable fantasy commodities if they put it all together.
Alex Wood—Los Angeles Dodgers
Aggregate: 9 Wins, 3.24 ERA, 1.228 WHIP, 121 SO, 12 QS
Per 162: 12 Wins, 3.20 ERA, 1.217 WHIP, 170 SO, 18 QS
Steamer: 9 Wins, 3.55 ERA, 1.237 WHIP, 126 SO, ——
When I was a kid, Terry Collins (then the manager of the Astros) said he didn’t regularly play outfielder John Cangelosi because “all he does is get on base.” Let that one sink in for a minute. One could imagine managers saying that all that Wood does is get people out. It looks like another season where he might not survive all year in the rotation. It is inexplicable really, but we have to go with what will likely happen and not what should happen.
Robbie Ray—Arizona Diamondbacks
Aggregate: 9 Wins, 3.77 ERA, 1.318 WHIP, 185 SO, 12 QS
Per 162: 11 Wins, 4.07 ERA, 1.354 WHIP, 216 SO, 15 QS
Steamer: 12 Wins, 3.63 ERA, 1.276 WHIP, 208 SO, ——
This might be another instance where I am a little too attached to the aggregate and not the previous season. However, history shows that growth is rarely ever linear. In other words, his 2018 season is likely to fall somewhere between 2017 and his previous seasons. If that is a healthy season then this grade is way too low. That being said, he always seems to miss about a month’s worth of starts, so maybe it will wind up being closer to the mark.
Rick Porcello—Boston Red Sox
Aggregate: 14 Wins, 4.09 ERA, 1.256 WHIP, 158 SO, 20 QS
Per 162: 15 Wins, 4.25 ERA, 1.317 WHIP, 145 SO, 21 QS
Steamer: 11 Wins, 4.44 ERA, 1.269 WHIP, 152 SO, ——-
The aggregate doesn’t always explain everything. Yes, a player may approximate it over a whole season, but that doesn’t tell us how it was compiled. Porcello is one of those pitchers that pitches to contact. That means there is the occasional game where things just don’t go his way. Those games get lumped into the total and make him look a little worse than he really is. The quality starts are the first clue. The wins are the second clue. So, don’t put all the eggs in the ERA and WHIP basket.
Zach Davies—Milwaukee Brewers
Aggregate: 14 Wins, 3.94 ERA, 1.302 WHIP, 130 SO, 15 QS
Per 162: 16 Wins, 3.91 ERA, 1.297 WHIP, 144 SO, 17 QS
Steamer: 9 Wins, 4.81 ERA, 1.432 WHIP, 128 SO, ——-
This is one of those situations where a fantasy player will look at the free agent signings, trades, and 17 wins in 2017 and bet heavily on Davies. That would be a sucker bet. Granted, he should be a little better than what the Steamer projections say because those were compiled before they got Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich. They should improve the outfield defense considerably.
J.A. Happ—Toronto Blue Jays
Aggregate: 11 Wins, 3.82 ERA, 1.311 WHIP, 133 SO, 14 QS
Per 162: 13 Wins, 3.93 ERA, 1.333 WHIP, 165 SO, 17 QS
Steamer: 11 Wins, 4.36 ERA, 1.327 WHIP, 153 SO, ——
Thankfully, Happ had his career year in 2016 and not 2017. Expectations should return to normal. He has been a durable pitcher over the years and he should be durable again. Occasionally, he will come through with some pretty special performances, but most of the time he is fairly average.
Jake Odorrizi—Tampa Bay Rays
Aggregate: 10 Wins, 3.83 ERA, 1.217 WHIP, 154 SO, 15 QS
Per 162: 11 Wins, 3.83 ERA, 1.219 WHIP, 171 SO, 17 QS
Steamer: 7 Wins, 4.70 ERA, 1.343 WHIP, 121 SO, ——
Odorrizi has been rumored to be on the trade block and if Steamer is correct then the Rays should get what they can now. They are predicting a regression to the mean on BABIP, but Odorrizi has a career .269 BABIP. So, maybe he has some secret sauce that keeps him well below the league average (.300). As per usual, it is best to split the difference on these things and expect some regression, but maybe not as much as they are predicting.
Adam Wainwright—St. Louis Cardinals
Aggregate: 16 Wins, 3.76 ERA, 1.251 WHIP, 164 SO, 19 QS
Per 162: 16 Wins, 3.29 ERA, 1.207 WHIP, 173 SO, 19 QS
Steamer: 9 Wins, 4.42 ERA, 1.394 WHIP, 106 SO, ——
Wainwright is clearly not the pitcher he was, but the numbers are a little worse than what they should be. Like Porcello, he blows up on occasion and that has a way of ballooning the numbers some. Steamer is predicting a bit of a renaissance at least in terms of ERA, but they are predicting a continuation of health concerns. An unusually high BABIP (.326) and low LOB% (68.7) shouldn’t happen again.
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