2020 NFBC ADP – Finding Value at Starting Pitcher part 1
Continuing our series of finding value from the early NFBC drafts and comparing similar players, we’ll now take a look at starting pitchers. The 2019 stats for the first duo we’re assessing are;
Similarly to Mike Moustakas, Lance Lynn seems to be unloved regularly in drafts. In his last seven seasons dating back to 2012 (Lynn missed all of 2016 after having TJS), Lynn has posted a sub-4.00 ERA in all but one year (2017) and thrown 175+ innings in all but one (2018 in which he bounced around the Yankees’ bullpen for a bit).
After such a disappointing 2018 season, in which he finished with a 4.77 ERA and 1.53 WHIP, Lynn signed with the Texas Rangers and looked more like the pre-TJS version of himself. Despite posting an ERA of 2.74 in ’14 and 3.03 in ’15, last year was actually his best year statistically with a career-high 6.8 WAR and career-low 3.13 FIP. His strikeout rate was a career-high also in 2019 (10.63 K/9) as well as his lowest ever walk rate (2.55 BB/9).
It’s that walk rate which prevents Lynn from being in the upper echelon of starting pitchers, but it’s in no way a major detractor. Among 61 qualifying pitchers for 2019 (pitched 163+ innings), Lynn ranked 30th in walk rate. One spot below Jack Flaherty and four spots above Charlie Morton, with a comparable strikeout rate.
Aaron Nola, on the other hand, has a less successful 2019 and while we’re on the topic of walk rates, Nola ranked 54th on that list.
It’s understandable that Nola would have higher expectations heading into 2019 as he’d just completed his first 200+ innings season the year before with a 2.37 ERA and a 9.49 K/9 rate. He was still a new shiny toy everyone wanted to roster but ultimately was a disappointment given he was drafted predominately as an SP1.
Now with more data on Nola and the post-TJS Lynn, 2018 appears to be an outlier for both. Nola’s 2.37 ERA looks like it could be the best he’ll ever manage and Lynn doesn’t appear set to repeat his 4.77 ERA of that year until age catches up with him (he’ll still only be 32 when the season starts). The 2018 season does offer Nola as a higher upside pick but I’m happier with taking Lynn in the 11 – 12 round range and letting someone else chase Nola’s upside in the 4th or 5th round.