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With all the innings totals I wish I could accurately project for 2017, two that carry some of the most weight in drafts come from the same team. To say the Dodgers have a plethora of starting pitching would be an understatement. One of the many divergences between baseball and fantasy baseball is the value of depth. The Dodgers have roughly 10 viable starting pitchers from which they can construct their opening day rotation, yet that only creates headaches for fantasy owners trying to figure out projections for arms like the two I’m curious about, Julio Urias and Rich Hill.

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With 16 years and about 26 percentage points of curveball usage separating the two, in the process of finalizing my own fantasy baseball rankings, ranking Urias and Hill has been a bear.

Hill’s blister susceptibility, that limited him to 110 innings in 2016 due to his excessive curveball usage, is extremely high. The leading projections in the industry agree, with our very own Razzball slotting in at the low end of the spectrum with 125 innings pitched. Hill is also one of the few players that the fans are actually more pessimistic about than projections in terms of innings. Fangraphs allows for anybody with an account to take a guess at some of the key metrics for players, Rich Hill may be the first player I’ve seen where the fans are predicting less innings than their Steamer projection system (137 IP versus 145 IP).

For some perspective, Razzball has Cole Hamels one spot above Hill, which hints that the 200 innings we’re projecting Hamels to throw will be just as valuable as the 125 from Hill. In the unlikely scenario Hill amasses 170+ innings, this implies he will be terrifyingly good.

I’m not as optimistic in expecting the sub 3.00 ERA and elite WHIP near 1.00 as Razzball estimates. That’s a strong endorsement for the abnormally low HR/9 (.33) to stick as well as Hill’s strand rate to stay near 80%. Hill feels like a stretched out Dellin Betances, which makes top 100 value fine on a potential 90+ win team like the Dodgers. This may be the last time I extend a bit of trust to a 36 year old, but I’ll give it a whirl in roto leagues. Give me a 3.20 ERA with a 10 K/9 and 1.15 WHIP. The innings total? Let me go get my crystal ball.

Urias on the other hand piqued my interest due to a Razzball tweet about prospect arm projections and it really put the 20 year old’s inning total in perspective.

I think one of the bigger misvalues presently occurring in drafts is between Urias and the former Dodger, Jose De Leon. While some sites like ESPN have Urias past 200 overall, NFBC leagues have the young lefty going off the board around 170 overall, before Sean Manaea and Lance McCullers.

Of all the prospect arms (Tyler Glasnow, Josh Hader, etc) De Leon seems to have the clearest path to playing time and 100+ IP, yet the aura of his season likely starting in AAA has suppressed his draft stock to the 30th round.

Surface stats showing Urias with a 9.82 K/9 and a 3.39 ERA compared to the lackluster 7.94 K/9 and 6.35 ERA that De Leon is sitting on, really drives the 200 spot NFBC ADP variance between these two arms. If you jump back to 2016’s AAA season, Urias and De Leon had comparable levels of dominance.

With rumors Urias may be kept at extended spring to start the year, and the strong likelihood that the Dodgers will have to consider whether they want some of the lefty youth for the postseason, that comes with owning Urias can quietly offset the upside he comes with. Anything more than 140 innings at the major league level, especially with all the options the Dodgers have, would be a treat. The thought that De Leon has a chance to out pitch Urias, innings-wise, may come off as initially brash, but it’s not at all a bold statement. I see the two ending up with similar lines. 3.5 ERA, 9+ K/9, 3 BB/9, and a 1.20 WHIP.

Urias has the nod for upside and track record – even though he’s four years younger – but is that really really worth nearly 200 spots on NFBC draft days and roughly 100 spots elsewhere? I’d say far from it.

Spring Impressions

Even with Grey conditioning himself for the eventual uptick in daily notes come Opening Day, I’m happy to provide fantasy perspective on my rolling Spring Training observations, and starting next weekend, my thoughts on any fantasy impact of the WBC as well (Team USA plays this coming Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, which I’ll be watching the closest).

This Sunday I tuned in specifically to watch two high profile bounce-back candidates, and often debated arms, Matt Harvey and Garrett Richards.

Starting with Harvey, I wasn’t too impressed. The immediate thing I noticed was that according to the radar gun on the SNY broadcast (Mets), Harvey sat 92-93 MPH. Sure, this was his first spring start and I wouldn’t be shocked if he was holding back a bit, but you realize how ineffective he becomes when the velocity difference between his hard and breaking pitches starts to shrink. From a hitters perspective, this makes his changeup less effective and his other pitches easier to wait on. Simply put, Harvey is easier to solve when everything he throws sits in a 10 MPH window instead of a 12 MPH window. These may be incremental differences, but pitching is an extremely detailed art, as we all know.

Last year Harvey’s velocity wasn’t even down a full MPH, and we saw putrid results, not all coming from that velocity drop. If his average fastball velocity for this season ticks below 94, I’m worried for his overall effectiveness. Is it impossible to solve? I’m sure not, Justin Verlander went through a velocity drop and is now dating Kate Upton. I would call that a win.

Keep an eye on Harvey and his velocity going forward (Harvey did have a stiff neck heading into the start, if that is any solace). I know it’s just spring, but I’m in agreement with Grey on Yahoo being out of their minds when ranking Harvey 114 overall. Something more in the 15th round sounds reasonable for the time being. My ceiling on his draft stock will probably be somewhere in the 150s, and that’s only if we see 94+ MPH again for a few starts.

Projection for Harvey from me sit somewhere in the 3.8 ERA range, with 8 K/9, and a 1.2 WHIP. The range for his projections are justifiably all over the place when you venture outside of the Razzball universe, as many have no idea what to expect health-wise once the season starts.

Garret Richards on the other hand is making me think that we’ll being seeing a lot more non-surgery shut downs as players who have UCLs in good enough shape to undergo a PRP (platelet rich plasma) injection.

Richards velocity was not an issue and his slider had the bite I remember it did when we were salivating for him back in 2014. While I have a feeling I’ll be owning more shares of Richards than Harvey at their current prices, I’m starting to put a cap on the potential return for Richards due to the inevitable hard pitch count caps he will be on early in the season. His walk rate has never been elite, and I foresee a good amount of starts early where Mike Scioscia will pull back on the righty after less than six innings of work, when Richards has problems working deep into games.

The value at 247 overall (NFBC leagues) is good enough where we’ll be able to tolerate the lack of win opportunities early on for this very reason, especially because the K rate shouldn’t fluctuate too much if his arm is right.

I’m going to peg Richards for a 3.7 ERA with an 8.5-9 K/9 and a 1.2-1.25 WHIP. His workload management will obviously be something to keep an eye, and will have an impact on this impact on this overall return.

 

 

You can follow Lance on Twitter, @LanceBrozdow, if you prefer to act like a proper millennial.

 
  1. Harry says:
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    Dynasty Question:

    Thoughts on trying to acquire Alex Reyes for one of my 6 MiLB keepers: Would you give up a first round pick in the MiLB draft (2nd) for him? I’m assuming Eloy Jimenez will go first, Vlad Jr., Kopech, Senzel, would all be options.

    Alternatively, I tried to package 2 lesser, though still top 100 prospects, for Reyes, but the owner wasn’t having it.

    • Lance

      Lance says:
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      @Harry:
      Interesting.

      I think this depends, as it almost always does in dynasty questions, on your contention cycle.

      Reyes has proven enough to warrant a solid look if you’re not trying to win this year and have a shot in say 2019, because I think they’ll be careful with him through 2018.

      I’d say it’s a bit of a toss up, but if you’re in need of an arm for long term, I’d take Reyes over Kopech, bats I would go Jimenez>Senzel>Vlad.

      All those MiLB players are solid, but there a bit off. Eloy with the most upside, Senzel with the immediate impact bat, but we’re not sure on how high the ceiling is with him. Kopech and Vlad are bigger question marks for me, with all the upside and risk in the world.

      Sorry for being wishy-washy with this, but it’s a tough one.

    • Lance

      Lance says:
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      @The Great Knoche:
      I like Urias too much to find this funny hahahaha

  2. Jesse says:
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    The Old Man and the sí…señor

    • Lance

      Lance says:
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      @Jesse:
      Hahaha

  3. PEDs3 says:
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    The Dodgers have so much depth in their rotation but also have a lot of questions regarding players with previous injuries, youth, etc. I am intrigued by Brock Stewart but I don;t think he’s gotten a lot of buzz. Is there any chance he makes his way into the rotation or wind up in the pen?

    • Lance

      Lance says:
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      @PEDs3:
      Buzz seems limited just cause there are so many options.

      He’s not a bad add late in drafts, but I wouldn’t bank on too many innings.

      Seems like a spot starter / long relief type this year.

      Could change if we see more injuries than the expected Kazmir / Hill eventual DL stints.

    • Cheese Eating Surrender Monkey says:
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      @PEDs3: brock stew sure got bumblebee man’d up by Ralph last year midseason (might’ve even been early season)

  4. SheriffMcRawDawg says:
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    Good stuff Lance! Have you gone over your full NFBC draft anywhere yet? Do you have a link to final rosters by chance?

    • Lance

      Lance says:
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      @SheriffMcRawDawg:
      Are you referring to the NFBC 15 Tom slow draft I may have mentioned?

      If so, feel free to DM me on Twitter (@LanceBrozdow) and I can send you over my roster if you’d like (or another drafted roster of mine if that’s not the league you’re talking about). Don’t know if there is a way I can attach a pic here, unfortunately don’t have a link.

      Haven’t done a post on it yet, but am considering something on my site (BigThreeSports) regarding some of my teams for the season.

  5. Sinkhole Demayo says:
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    i’d think harvey already complaining about “stiff neck” would be the OPPOSITE of solace knowing what he just came off surgery-wise.

    • Lance

      Lance says:
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      @Sinkhole Demayo:
      That’s a good point, I was relating it to my perceived velocity drop, but the other side of the coin makes sense.

      I don’t think anybody was expecting Harvey to be 100% immediately after this. If we did then that may be why his ADP is as artificially high as it is.

      I think we’re both in agreement with the hesitancy on Harvey overall.

  6. Sinkhole Demayo says:
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    and good god if anybody wants proof NY media controls large chunks of fantasy results need not look farther than richards being a 100 or even more spots below harvey in drafts. that’s guano level stupid. i’m not saying i want either of them, but harvey’s price is insane upon comparison.

    • Lance

      Lance says:
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      @Sinkhole Demayo:
      Yeah I feel we see this a lot with guys in the big markets.

      There is always a little bit of bias in drafting, and when there are higher populations of fans for certain teams, gravitating towards some known players are natural.

      Harvey – Richards are trending towards just about even for me as I feel they are for you.

      • Sinkhole Demayo says:
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        @Lance: this for me would be one of those sits where the health in training camp would literally win it for either. when was last time harvey was actually healthy, it would be sometime in the 2015 playoffs i believe, and probably before NYM went out too. also hard to believe people just suddenly moved stressbird back to where he “should’ve” been as if last year’s injuries never happened or there’s any proof he healed from them. that might end up looking MUCH crazier than the harvey to richards difference in current ADP’s.

        • Lance

          Lance says:
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          @Sinkhole Demayo:
          I see where you’re coming from on Harvey, but playoffs 2015 was only about a year ago, I feel like that could relate to a ton of guys. He is no doubt being overdrafted, but past like 180, the track record pre late 2015 is appealing.

          Strasburg is another great example too. High ceiling low floor, but he’s been solid when on the mound, unlike Harvey-Richards at points.

          Lot of cases to be made in multiple directions, health will forever be one of the hardest things to project.

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