Just like the last few years, you will find the typical names near the top of the points league starting pitcher lists. My early estimations have Gerrit Cole and Corbin Burnes as the front runners to lead the league in fantasy points. If they have injury-free seasons, I feel confident in saying that they will both finish in the top ten, and most likely the top five, with a more than reasonable likelihood of the top three. But I’m not telling you anything you didn’t already know. And if you didn’t, every other “expert” will tell you the same. Year after year the top couple players on the list for each position are the obvious choices. Find me the “advice giver” that had Framber Valdez in the top ten pitchers in points leagues. Finding the Framber is how you win championships. That is my mission. Just not today. Well, it is my mission for today, but I haven’t done enough homework to share any findings with you. I could, but I’d be like the student who had to stand up in front of the class and give an oral report on a book they hadn’t read. They skimmed the Cliffs Notes, but realized they are about to look like a dummy as they try and bullsh!t their way through the next five minutes.

With the 2023 season fast approaching we are entering into my favorite time of the year. Fantasy baseball draft season. I enjoy the draft much more than the actual season. Well, maybe not much more, but I find the actual draft so much fun. The prep can be a bit of a chore, but this is a situation where the juice is worth the squeeze. I just got an email that my primary league of 21 years is likely going to be drafting on March 20th. That’s a little early for my liking, but what can you do? What it does mean is that I have to get my ass in gear and start preparing.

When I took a quick glance at an early set of estimations for pitchers I noticed that the Seattle Mariners have four starting pitchers in the top thirty-five. And if I’m being honest, George Kirby comes in at 34, but I think once I update my algorithms and stats, he will hit the top thirty.

The following is based on early numbers and are subject to change over the next few weeks, but I think the numbers are in the general area. I will circle back to this if anything changes enough to warrant an update.

Luis Castillo – Last season “La Piedra” had about 407 fantasy points. Over 25 starts he averaged about 16.28 points per start. Those a good numbers, but I expect more from him in 2023. And when I say “I expect”, I mean “I think we will get”. He should be a top 20 starter as he improves in his second season in Seattle and starts at least 30 games. I wonder if Dwayne Johnson has any issues with Castillo’s nickname. If not I think I might look to be known as “ka pohaku”.

Robbie Ray – Here’s a player that I think is going to be overlooked this season on draft day. All that means is that he will be a draft day bargain. Last year Ray only averaged 14.69 points per start across 32 starts. The thing is only four pitchers had more starts than him with 33. In points leagues the more times you take the mound the more points you accumulate. Ray’s 470 points put him in the top 25. I’m thinking we see similar numbers in 2023. I’ll take those numbers. They don’t call him “All the way Ray” for nothing! I don’t think anyone actually calls him that.

Logan Gilbert – Up next is Gilbert. Logan finished 2022 with one less point than Ray, and they both had 32 starts. From a points league perspective, they were practically identical. From an underlying numbers perspective, Ray had more strikeouts and more walks. Gilbert’s ERA was a half a run lower and he had six less losses, but other than that their points-based categories were very similar. If those numbers were good enough for Ray, they are good enough for Gilbert. I think Logan is going to punch out more batters this season than last and can see him improving on his point totals. Sign me up.

George Kirby – The SEA pitcher I am most intrigued by is George Kirby. As I said earlier, I can see him easily being a top 30 starting pitcher in points leagues this year. And he will continue to get better.

So how’s this for an interesting points league draft day strategy? Draft the Seattle Mariners pitching staff. All of them. Castillo, Ray, Gilbert, Kirby, and throw in Marco Gonzalez for good measure. Ignore the top ten starting pitchers on draft day. Use your early picks on hitters. Based on some early twelve-team ADP numbers you can get Castillo in the 6th, Ray in the 7th, Kirby in the 11th, Gilbert in the 12th and Gonzalez can be taken with your last pick of the draft. I can SEA this working. Who’s gonna try it?

Follow malamoney on Twitter at @malamoney