Every off-season I like to target players who are flying under the radar because they were busts the year before but had quality performances the season prior. Their lack of excellence could have been caused by injury, changing teams and cities, or maybe they celebrated their career year a little too hard and showed up to spring training out of shape and never recovered. Typically, we’re targeting guys in the 6th through 12th rounds that could return top 20 value. I’ve identified 12 players that meet the criteria of having proven success in 2017 but failed to live up to expectations for various reasons in 2018.
Ray and Godley meet the criteria for what I’m looking for in draft day values. Both enjoyed breakout campaigns in 2017, Ray pitched 162 innings compiling 15 wins, a 2.89 ERA, and 218 Ks. He finished inside the top 40 overall and looked like he was prepared to be the next Diamondback ace that could help take the burden off Zack Greinke’s tiny shoulders. Godley pitched 155 innings in 2017 and recorded 8 wins, a 3.37 ERA, and 165 Ks. His nasty curveball looked unhittable at times and given a full season he could potentially reach 200 strikeouts. Both SP had high expectations coming into the 2018 season. Ray was being drafted in the 4th or 5th round and Godley later on in the 10th or 11th. They each showed flashes of dominance during the year but neither returned their draft value for various reasons. Ray dealt with an oblique injury for two months which ruined half of his season. Godley struggled with his control which caused an increased walk rate and torched his ratios all season. Let’s look closer at the numbers that might signify a bounce back is coming.
Robbie Ray, LHP, age 27 – I really want to call him Rob, or Robert even, but out of respect for his talents I’ll stick with Robbie. He currently has an ADP on NFBC of #129, In the recent Razzball writers’ league draft, I was thrilled to take him in the 12th round at #135 overall. This is excellent value for a pitcher one year removed from recording 218 strikeouts. In the four games in April 2018 before his injury, Ray had 35 strikeouts in 20.4 IP. After returning from his injury, he labored through his July and August starts attempting to shake off the rust. Oblique injuries can linger and it took him longer than expected to find his elite stuff. He struggled with allowing walks throughout the summer which ballooned his season BB/9 to 5.09 and his walk rate to 14.7%. Not ideal. But he redeemed himself and finished lights out in September, in his last 6 games he had 32.2 IP with 45 Ks and a 2.20 ERA. If that’s the Robbie I’m drafting in the 12th round I’ll be more excited than when Manny Machado finds out a Gaslamp is a thing.
Steamer projects him for 11 W, 3.68 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, and 221 Ks.
Zack “The Bull” Godley, RHP, age 28 – Yes, his nickname is “The Bull” because he’s so intense and he stares, I’m buying the prognosis that his stock should be trending up. Wall Street types rejoice! Godley currently has an ADP of #243, going right after Jimmy Nelson, who is recovering from a shoulder injury and may miss the first few weeks of the season. Steven Matz, NYM, is right behind Godley, Matz put a quality season together last year but does not possess the same strikeout potential as our man. In the aforementioned Razzball writers’ draft, I landed Godley in the 24th round at pick #279 overall. That is an extremely minor investment for a SP that could provide a tremendous return. In 2018, Godley regressed due to the inability to command his pitches and a case of bad luck. “The Bull” even had a case of the yips and was sailing throws to first and third base like Jon Lester. His BB/9 increased from 3.08 in 2017 to 4.09, his GB% decreased from 55.3% to 48.8%, and his LOB% decreased from 75.2% in 2017 to 67.5% in 2018. Lastly, he suffered a career high .324 BABIP that will hopefully come down this season closer to the .280 he experienced during his breakout campaign. Even with the terrible peripherals, he still managed to win 15 games and rack up 185 Ks. Godley has one of the best curveballs in the league, if he can find his secondary pitches and improve his control and mentality, he has the upside to bounce back and be a quality value pick in the last few rounds.
Steamer projects him for 10 W, 4.15 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, and 168 Ks.
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