2018 Fantasy Baseball: Starting Pitchers 49-60
We have finally come to the end of the starting pitching overview. Of course, if every team employs five starters, there are 150 total pitchers that serve as starters at any one time. So, you could probably rank through 100 and still have some decent pitchers to show for it. So, in this case we are looking at the guys with enough upside that someone will end up taking them on draft day.
Rankings are based on a composite between their five-year averages in four, five, and total points categories and with their per 162 data and Steamer projections for next year. Obviously, this is an inexact science. We have already discovered things we will do differently next season. All that being said, we are including a breakdown of the total points data because many of you may be new to it and it is the predominant method used in daily fantasy sports. Below is the formula we use.
Total Points = (3) Wins + (2) Innings + Strikeouts – (3) Losses – Hits – Walks – ER
Lance McCullers Jr.—Houston Astros
Aggregate: 6 Wins, 3.56 ERA, 1.342 WHIP, 122 SO, 9 QS
Per 162: 11 Wins, 3.60 ERA, 1.316 WHIP, 215 SO, 16 QS
Steamer: 10 Wins, 3.61 ERA, 1.292 WHIP, 145 SO, —–
I rarely ever take a small sample size like the playoffs and extrapolate it to anything long-term, but the 2017 playoffs seemed to encapsulate McCullers perfectly. He had some brilliant starts. He had a dud or two, and he had a couple of brilliant relief outings mixed in. The end result is a pitcher that many will have a hard wrapping their head around. If you are willing to accept between 120 and 140 innings you will get good performance for that time. If you expect 180 innings you probably should look elsewhere.
German Marquez—Colorado Rockies
Aggregate: 11 Wins, 4.39 ERA, 1.377 WHIP, 147 SO, 14 QS
Per 162: 12 Wins, 4.48 ERA, 1.407 WHIP, 164 SO, 16 QS
Steamer: 9 Wins, 4.59 ERA, 1.343 WHIP, 127 SO, ——
Marquez has managed to come pretty close to splitting the difference at home and on the road. What’s interesting is that Steamer is projecting a better WHIP than he had in 2017, but he will have a higher ERA. That comes from a lower strand rate than he had a season ago. However, if he can maintain a 75 percent strand rate he could be a very underrated pick at this point in the draft.
Trevor Bauer—Cleveland Indians
Aggregate: 11 Wins, 4.30 ERA, 1.343 WHIP, 169 SO, 16 QS
Per 162: 13 Wins, 4.36 ERA, 1.359 WHIP, 188 SO, 18 QS
Steamer: 11 Wins, 4.19 ERA, 1.316 WHIP, 169 SO, ——
Wins can trick us into a number of assumptions. 17 wins makes it seem like Bauer had a breakthrough season and he did have a very strong second half, but the fact remains that he still has not put a complete season together. It could happen this season and if it does the Indians will be a force to be reckoned with. There’s enough of a chance that he should be taken and might be taken earlier than this.
Taijuan Walker—Arizona Diamondbacks
Aggregate: 9 Wins, 4.09 ERA, 1.253 WHIP, 141 SO, 13 QS
Per 162: 12 Wins, 3.97 ERA, 1.248 WHIP, 174 SO, 16 QS
Steamer: 11 Wins, 4.58 ERA, 1.366 WHIP, 169 SO, —–
In many ways, Walker’s 2017 was a coming of age. In many ways it wasn’t. He still hasn’t put together a season without any hiccups. 2018 projects to be the first season where he goes through healthy, but it also might come at a price. A slight regression in BABIP and strand rate could be coming. Still, pitching on a competitive team should make him a better pitcher than most.
Jordan Montgomery—New York Yankees
Aggregate: 9 Wins, 3.88 ERA, 1.230 WHIP, 144 SO, 10 QS
Per 162: 11 Wins, 3.88 ERA, 1.230 WHIP, 169 SO, 12 QS
Steamer: 10 Wins, 4.55 ERA, 1.362 WHIP, 147 SO, ——
We often take a step back before we take a step forward, but things look too good to leave him off the list. The Yankees arguably have the best offense and best bullpen in baseball. That combination should help Montgomery play up even if he produces these numbers. Add in some better team defense and it could be better than what we see here.
Patrick Corbin—Arizona Diamondbacks
Aggregate: 10 Wins, 4.05 ERA, 1.354 WHIP, 141 SO, 15 QS
Per 162: 12 Wins, 4.12 ERA, 1.348 WHIP, 170 SO, 17 QS
Steamer: 8 Wins, 4.30 ERA, 1.372 WHIP, 113 SO, ——
Corbin is on the tipping point. With another healthy season under his belt he could come closer to the numbers he put up in 2013. Then again, he could regress and move in the direction Steamer seems to be projecting. The Dbacks could be in serious trouble if Steamer is correct on any number of fronts.
Tyler Chatwood—Chicago Cubs
Aggregate: 9 Wins, 3.90 ERA, 1.414 WHIP, 102 SO, 11 QS
Per 162: 11 Wins, 4.31 ERA, 1.485 WHIP, 123 SO, 15 QS
Steamer: 9 Wins, 4.09 ERA, 1.445 WHIP, 120 SO, ——
Chatwood has a 3.31 career ERA away from Coors Field in over 300 career road innings. That’s not a fluke. Add to that the fact that the Cubs are a better all-around team than the Rockies and you have to look pretty favorably on his chances to be a solid fantasy contributor. His only weakness is that he doesn’t miss enough bats to be a big-time fantasy pitcher. Still, he is a quality fantasy fifth starter.
Collin McHugh—Houston Astros
Aggregate: 12 Wins, 3.63 ERA, 1.251 WHIP, 142 SO, 15 QS
Per 162: 14 Wins, 4.08 ERA, 1.293 WHIP, 177 SO, 19 QS
Steamer: 4 Wins, 4.19 ERA, 1.264 WHIP, 66 SO, ——-
MLBTR is reporting that some teams are checking in on McHugh’s availability and that actually would be beneficial for him. It would seem counterintuitive to say that he would benefit by moving away from a champion, but the Astros have five rotation spots and seven starters. That is the reason for the meager Steamer projections. They only project him to get six starts as he works mostly out of the pen if he stays in Houston.
Jose Berrios—Minnesota Twins
Aggregate: 9 wins, 5.07 ERA, 1.412 WHIP, 94 SO, 7 QS
Per 162: 15 Wins, 5.07 ERA, 1.412 WHIP, 162 SO, 14 QS
Steamer: 10 Wins, 4.55 ERA, 1.335 WHIP, 160 SO, —–
It may be hard to believe, but there is reason for some additional optimism in 2018. Berrios’ strand rate was fairly low last year, so even a slight increase could yield even better results. The aggregate numbers make very little sense moving forward and yet replicating 2017 seems a bit far-fetched too. Steamer is wisely splitting the difference.
Jonathan Gray—Colorado Rockies
Aggregate: 7 Wins, 4.60 ERA, 1.394 WHIP, 112 SO, 9 QS
Per 162: 12 Wins, 4.40 ERA, 1.320 WHIP, 198 SO, 17 QS
Steamer: 12 Wins, 4.14 ERA, 1.195 WHIP, 199 SO, ——
Steamer projects that Gray will take a significant step forward. As has been said before, growth is rarely ever linear. Gray seemingly has taken a roundabout journey to the top of the rotation, but he has always had the stuff and when you consider the extreme conditions in Denver it is perfectly understandable as to why it would take him so long to realize his potential.
Michael Wacha—St. Louis Cardinals
Aggregate: 9 Wins, 3.72 ERA, 1.269 WHIP, 117 SO, 13 QS
Per 162: 13 Wins, 3.84 ERA, 1.291 WHIP, 170 SO, 19 QS
Steamer: 11 Wins, 3.99 ERA, 1.305 WHIP, 156 SO, ——
Serendipity has ruined many a fantasy player. When Wacha came up in 2013 he was a revelation. He was brilliant in the month or so he was up and even more so in the playoffs. He has been ordinary sense. Still, ordinary and durable are not a terrible combination to have and he has managed to settle in after almost pitching his way out of the rotation in 2016. Steamer has better things in store for 2018.
Sean Manaea—Oakland Athletics
Aggregate: 10 Wins, 4.12 ERA, 1.294 WHIP, 132 SO, 13 QS
Per 162: 12 Wins, 4.12 ERA, 1.299 WHIP, 168 SO, 16 QS
Steamer: 10 Wins, 4.44 ERA, 1.353 WHIP, 147 SO, ——
The plight of the starting pitcher on a bad team is a tragic one. Manaea has more talent than a number of pitchers above him on the list, but he is saddled with a decent, but not great offense, and a mediocre bullpen. Add in some occasionally shaky fielding behind him and it all adds up a lackluster showing. Unfortunately, these basic numbers hardly ever tell the tale of how good a pitcher can be.