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Late Round Starting Pitcher Options

Conventional wisdom tells the fantasy baseball owner that waiting to draft your pitching staff is the preferred strategy to be employed. Pitchers suffer injuries more frequently than do position players, and thus lose more playing time and put up stat lines that do not match up with the expectations that existed on draft day (not that hitters cannot disappoint, too). Plus, most leagues require an owner to have more hitters than pitchers in the starting lineup, placing a premium on obtaining the offensive stats that will win your roto categories on a daily or weekly basis. Going for pitching early will handicap your ability to put a strong set of numbers on the hitter side of the ledger. Although it is tempting to grab a Clayton Kershaw, Madison Bumgarner or Max Scherzer in the first or second round, such an approach will lead to having to scramble to pad your hitting numbers through the next several rounds of the draft. (Confession: I have been taking Kershaw/Scherzer/Bumgarner frequently in the first round of many mock drafts this year, and have not been dissatisfied with the results. But I feel much better about waiting until the third round or later to grab my ace.)

Of course, not having a strong pitching staff in a points league will also put you at a disadvantage,  as an ace starting pitcher (or pair or trio of aces) can certainly help you win your league, assuming health throughout the season and an ability to give you 200 or more innings for the season and a boatload of strikeouts. Also, if your opponents in your league have a tendency to draft pitching early and often, no matter the format, then you have to decide if you can grab enough stud hitters to overcome that strategy, as you need to adjust to your league's propensities to compete, or bow to the group pressure and follow suit.

In roto leagues, though, it is preferable to grab a player that can contribute stats in all the categories your league employs, and as most leagues use saves (and potentially holds), a starting pitcher only provides a partial set of statistics. A five-category hitter becomes more valuable than a four-category starting pitcher just by the nature of how fantasy baseball operates. Thus, it becomes important to be able to identify those starters that you can get late in the draft that are able to provide value, at a relatively inexpensive price.

To that end, I will be discussing starting pitchers that are being drafted in the 15th round or later based on their current ADPs. Note that I am assuming a 12 team league when determining which players are going after the 14th round, and thus if you play in a smaller or larger sized league, you will need to adjust the round accordingly. The ADP pf 169 is a baseline, however, denoting where in any draft the player is being taken.

I will be profiling one (or at most two) later round options in the starting pitching realm on a twice-weekly basis, just as I did last season. If you have questions about any pitchers and their viability as a “sleeper” pick, hit me up at ia@fantasyalarm.com and I will do my best to provide some insight. Also, I am always available to answer starting pitching (or other fantasy baseball) questions all season long.

 

Carlos Rodon– LHP – Chicago White Sox

2016 Stats: 9 W, 165.0 IP, 4.04ERA, 168 K, 1.39 WHIP

Current ADP

Mock Draft Army ADP: 176.92 (based on current ADPs generated by Howard Bender’s Mock Draft Army results)

National Fantasy Baseball Championship (NFBC): 196.36

FSTA Draft on January 23rd, 2017: 14th round, pick 9 (178 overall)

Availability

For the prospective ace of the White Sox rotation, he is going late in drafts. Chalk that up to his lack of wins, and elevated ERA and WHIP. And the fact that his FIP pretty much mirrored his ERA (4.04 ERA vs 4.07 FIP). Note though that his BABIP indicates some unluckiness, sitting at an elevated .340.

Upside

As noted above, we should expect his BABIP to regress in a positive trend. I also expect that his innings will increase this season, and that should lead to a nice uptick in Ks for 2017. Look below for the warnings about taking him where he is going, as I fear he will put a negative spin on your stats this season, even as a late round selection.

Downside

He gives up a load of free passes, and that limits his desirability. He also struggles to get left handers out over the past two seasons. He is a SP5/6, just due to his expected 3.90 or so ERA and 1.35 WHIP (give or so a .01 or so).

Summary

If you are in the late stages of your draft, feel free to take a shot on Rodon. He is likely going to disappoint with an elevated ERA and WHIP, although the strikeouts are nice.

 

Note: Sunday's article will cover three New York Met pitchers. Two that you want to avoid.

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