A couple of weeks ago, I returned to Razzball from my winter slumber and told you all about some early slow drafts I’ve been doing this season, starting all the way back over Thanksgiving weekend.  I only mentioned hitters from these drafts, and am now ready to start discussing their pitching brethren.  Since I’ve noticed that there is suddenly a lot more fantasy baseball content out there over the last few weeks in terms of rankings, ADP, etc., I’m ready to concentrate less on where guys were drafted in my leagues, and move on to looking at a handful of fellows who I’m already feeling at least mildly warm and fuzzy about.  On second thought, these guys may not exactly make me feel warm and fuzzy, more like adding them to a roster will make me a little less sick to my stomach at the end of a long draft than some of the other names that will be out there.  Since deep league fantasy baseball is my usual thing, I’m taking a very, very early look at guys who will be drafted in later rounds.  I’m still contemplating strategies for how I’ll draft (or purchase at auction) starters this year — between the massive disappointments that many of my second and third tier pitchers (must take this moment for obligatory shout-out to my personal 2018 deep league-ruiners, Jose Quintana and Jon Gray) and the wacky “opener” hijinks that will no-doubt be prevalent again this year, I feel like I’m going to need a different strategy for every league based on its specifications.  For now, though, I know that I want to keep an eye on a handful of starting pitchers that I can turn to late in a draft or auction, regardless of format, which brings us to today’s list.  Just to keep things deep-league relevant, all of these guys are outside of the top 225 in terms of current NFBC overall ADP, so anyone on this list is pretty much just waiver-wire fodder for most shallow, standard leagues.  As we deep-leaguers know, however, one man’s waiver-wire fodder…

Kenta Maeda (227).  Would it excite me to draft Maeda this year?  No.  In fact, I might cry a little if and when I do so.  He was all over the place last year, both in terms of his pitching and the way the Dodgers utilized him, but that K rate looked pretty good by the end of the season (153 punch outs in 125 innings in 2018).  This late, in a deep league, not sayin’ I wont take a flyer or two on him.

Joe Musgrove (237).  Loved the guy as a sleeper last year, and after a forgetful/injury-filled season, it feels like we’re more or less back to where we were a year or so ago.  I am certainly going to temper any enthusiasm I’m feeling for him, but will happily scoop him out of the fantasy bargain bin late in a draft… if nothing else, kind of loving the fact that he kept his WHIP attractive (1.18) through his injuries last year — don’t we all appreciate a gentleman who knows how to handle his WHIP?

Tyler Skaggs (240).  I can already feel myself ramping it up for this guy way too hard too fast, and could be destined for heartbreak, but I just can’t resist him this late.  If (and yes, it’s a big if) he can somehow manage to stay healthy, I think he could put together a pretty nice season — his numbers last year (4.02 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 129 Ks/40 BBs in 125 innings) aren’t exciting… except they kind of are when you realize that they include a 10 earned run game AND a 7 earned run game over the course of a couple weeks that one has to think involved pitching through injury/returning too soon from injury.

Colin McHugh (271).  I expected his ADP to have already climbed up a bit given that it appears very likely that McHugh will be part of the Astros’ starting rotation this season, but he still isn’t getting a lot of fantasy love.  He may be one of those guys who never is able to flex his stuff as a starter and will always be much more effective in shorter, reliever-y stints, but in real-life and deep-league fantasy, this late in a draft I can live with that potential disappointment.

Dereck Rodriguez (293).  Rodriguez is a guy who I didn’t trust even a little last year, and by the end of the season very much regretted that I hadn’t grabbed him in even a single one of my NL-only leagues.  I’m putting a pretty big asterisk on his this year because I think he was pitching over his head/getting somewhat lucky last year (2.81 ERA/1.13 WHIP, but just 89 Ks in 118 innings), but once you get to talking about guys who are being drafted around #300 overall, you’re gonna be dealing with some pretty big asterisks.

Anibal Sanchez (304).  Clearly the fantasy community is not buying the turn-around of Mr. Sanchez, who had a shockingly good season (2.83 ERA/1.08 WHIP, 135 Ks in 136 innings) after years of not being rosterable in even the deepest fantasy league.  I can’t imagine we’ll see anything close to what he did last year, but he’s on a playoff-caliber team, and just in case some of the changes he made to his game that led to his 2018 success stick in 2019, I may grab him in a league or two.

Mike Fiers (315).  I usually pass on pitchers with strikeout rates this abysmal (139 in 172 innings last year, which if I’m doing the math in my head correctly, lines up with his career numbers pretty closely) in leagues of any size, and his ERA/WHIP numbers for 2018 also seem to be outliers (3.56/1.18 last year, 4.04/1.27 career).  Why am I even mentioning him, then?  Because this is a post about starting pitching flyers to take when you’re desperate at the end of a long draft in a deep league.

Marcus Stroman (319).  Stroman burned me last year, and while I thought the painful memories would keep me away completely this year, I do enjoy a good clearance sale and may have to draft him if he’s practically free.  I’ll be ready to dump him at a moment’s notice, but unlike many of the players on this list, Stroman at least has a decent bit of upside in him.

Freddy Peralta (321).  I don’t know if Peralta was mostly lucky, or really, really good at pitching to have K’d 96 batters in 78 innings while averaging around 90 miles per hour on his fastball, but I’m going to be at least a little intrigued to find out at this point in a draft.  Sure, Peralta is listed behind 5 or 6 other guys on the Brewers’ starting pitching depth chart (Chacin, Chase Anderson, Jimmy Nelson — who could himself warrant a spot in this post if you’re into guys who are coming off of scary injuries with super long recovery times, Zach Davis, Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodrufff…) even without them yet having traded for anyone, but the more I look at that list of pitchers, the likelier it seems like there may be a place for Peralta on it.

Jose Urena (352).  An unproven starter on what could arguably be the worst team in baseball in 2019?  You know we’re getting down to the end of this list.  He’s another guy who I’d normally avoid at all costs, and probably will again this year, due to a ridiculously ugly strike out rate (130 in 174 innings last year).  But somehow he managed to pitch to a 1.18 WHIP as well, which probably involved lots of luck — one would have to guess that much uglier numbers lie ahead for Urena in 2019, but in the deepest of leagues, he’ll at least be sitting there on my cheat sheet as a last-minute name to consider.

Ryan Yarbrough (361).  This blurb isn’t just about Yarbrough specifically; think of it more as a challenge to figure out which middle reliever, in our new post-opener world, is going to have 16 wins this year.  Every time I look at that number, I think it’s a mistake.  That’s the same number as Verlander had in 2018, one fewer than Scherzer and one more than Gerrit Cole, and 70% more wins than your NL-only Cy Young award winner.  For years I’ve been looking for a way to game the wins category, a category that I generally despise… chasing decent-but-not-great relievers who also happen to often be the pitcher of record in the games they enter is probably not the most brilliant way to attack this problem, but doesn’t mean I won’t give it a try.

  1. LenFuego says:
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    Technically, I think Yarborough only had 60% more wins than deGrom, but yeah. I really like this list — I might throw in Wacha, Cahill and Toussaint, and for a super deep sleeper I kind of have a hunch about Pomeranz. Great job “Laura”.

    • Laura Holt

      Laura Holt says:
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      @LenFuego: Yeah, my bad, was thinking Yarbrough had 17 wins when I wrote that, which really would have been insane. I have a fairly tortured past with both Wacha and Cahill but those are definitely the kind of guys to look at late in a draft hoping for some kind of bounce back… and I’ll agree that Pomeranz is the tiniest bit intriguing in SF!

  2. cg says:
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    Yarbrough was used after an opener, so he got a lot of free wins. If the team was already up after the opener threw an inning he would get the win. If the team was down, he wouldn’t get the loss, the opener would. Was a great spot, and he was on basically all my teams last year and it worked out great. He is even better in points leagues (I hate them) because he gets a lot of easy wins, and is less likely to get a loss.

    • Let Us Praise Famous Death Dwarves says:
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      @cg: losses are so hacky (even more than wins) but yeah, these non opener starters have a hack against losses to exploit for leagues that have losses for sure.

  3. LenFuego says:
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    With Wacha, you do not really even need a bounce back, you just need him to pitch like he did last year but not strain his oblique — everyone is forgetting that after his 13th start he was 8-1 with a 2.47 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP. The next start he strained his oblique and blew up that start and the following one (12 runs and 19 base runners in 7 1/3 innings) and then got shut down and could not get back on the field after suffering a few setbacks in his rehab.

    He is only 27 years old and should be fully recovered – oblique injuries do not linger from season to season and are not generally indicative of chronic damage (like elbow or shoulder injuries), they are just freak occurrences from which guys recover 100%. Most people are significantly downgrading Wacha because of last season when they should be significantly upgrading him.

    • Let Us Praise Famous Death Dwarves says:
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      @LenFuego: do not forget about his long shoulder injury history. it appeared gone last year though, but many many pitchers those things are never really “gone”.

  4. Let Us Praise Famous Death Dwarves says:
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    20 team dynasty roto 7×7 with OPS/XBH/QS/holds added. rosters are 1 of each infield, 3 any OF, 1 util, 2 SP, 3 RP, 2 P and 7 BN. 5 DL and 2 NA (yahoo). 1250 max innings here (and i start 5 RP the max to get holds). we can keep 6-9 with no inflation costs. last year due to some teams having completely awful rosters we allowed 4-7 keepers and the league did in fact get much more competitive, now we’ve voted the keepers back to 6-9. also these are backloaded keepers (i usually hate doing backloaded but the bad teams were so bad we did that last year and will continue to for at least this year) so if you keep less players you REALLY get good players more than those who kept more as you’ll have rounds where the good teams don’t even draft yet. last year i kept only 4 (i WAS a good team 2 years ago too, have been top 7 every year in this league) to try to get vlad (and it worked), the other kept guys last year were c-sant, ray, kraken (sanchez C) and treat urner (had used a 1st round pick on him a few years back). normally i prefer keeping bats over pitchers, but here i have way better options at pitcher and a lot of bat types that could be replaced in draft.
    options for keepers:
    guaranteed keepers: treat urner, vlad
    possibly good keepers: kraken, r.ray, mikolas, glasnow, j.luzardo (so i have room in NA slots in case both him and vlad start year in minors)
    other lesser possible keepers: mallex, ryu
    boring easily replaceable types: jed lowrie, cron, schebler, adam frazier, longo, choo, neris, parker, c-sant

    grey says: the best 5 SP (ryu, glasnow, ray, mikolas, luzardo) and mallex, treat urner, kraken, vlad. mike says far less (ray/mikolas/luzardo/treat urner/vlad and up to one more). seeing what youse think here.

    2. also i have a trade offer of treat urner for hiura + villar. treat urner seems far safer and i wouldn’t have to kick out at least one player if i went with the 9 grey thinks.

    • Laura Holt

      Laura Holt says:
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      @Let Us Praise Famous Death Dwarves: Normally I agree and also much prefer keeping hitters over pitchers, but in this case I do think your pitchers are stronger overall — I think I actually agree with Grey in terms of who you should keep. You’ll probably have a little catching up to do in terms of adding some stud bats since I assume lot of top hitters will be kept, but those pitchers are all guys I’d draft so it looks like a nice staff to head into the season, especially if you can manage to add a true ace to that group. And I’d definitely hold on the trade; don’t think that’s anywhere near enough for Trea in a dynasty league… don’t forget, dude’s only 25 himself!

      • Let Us Praise Famous Death Dwarves says:
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        @Laura Holt: yeah, villar is about 30 as well. LOTS of elite years of treat urner left vs villar’s age and hiura (which is no sure thing at all, and doesn’t sound like a speed guy as is). due to the 20 teamer and 1250 innings those pitchers alone outside of streamers makes for basically a whole group once luzardo is playing. i’ll effectively be drafting hitters for probably at least 8 rounds (excepting a closer and a good holds guy probably in the first 10 rounds). i also play in a bunch of 16 teamers with up to 1600 max innings (those often have one or 2 more RP slots though).

        – and with mallex and treat urner basically in a 20 teamer i’m already nearly set at steals for even having to look for guys with those. XBH/OPS i’ll be weak but some guys like that are even in FA (see k.morales/m.adams last year were in and out of FA all year). normally i don’t give much weight to catchers at all (in 12-16 teamers), but having a HR catcher in a 20 teamer isn’t a small thing.

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