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Late Round Starting Pitcher Options

 

For the seventh installment in this series, I will profile a starting pitcher that I see as a great rebound candidate. He has a new home this season, moving across the continent from the west coast of Florida to wind up in the Pacific Northwest. He is moving to a team with a better chance to rack up the victories, and improve the southpaw's potential to provide some SP value at little cost in terms of draft position.

To recap what these articles are about, 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 of 169 is a baseline, however, denoting where in any draft the player is being taken.

If you are late to the party, you can always see the first three installments on the site. There was some useful information in those early article opening paragraphs, at least in my opinion, but I tend to get bored publishing the same old, same old twice a week. Even so, I tried to distill some useful advice about drafting starting pitching in those first three articles.

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.

 

Drew Smyly – LHP – Seattle Mariners

2016 Stats: 175.1 IP, 4.88 ERA, 167 K, 1.27 WHIP

 

Current ADP

Mock Draft Army ADP: 200.62 (based on current ADPs generated by Howard Bender’s Mock Draft Army results)

National Fantasy Baseball Championship (NFBC): 219.68

FSTA Draft on January 23rd, 2017: Drafted 18th round (224th overall)

 

Availability

Smyly is going late in drafts, and most of that can be attributed to a dismal 2016 performance, especially during the early part of the season where he went 2-10 with a horrific 5.47 ERA. He did manage to start 30 games, so his health was not an issue, finally, but oh, those ratios were a killer for his value as a SP that you can plug in your lineup and forget about.

Upside

As noted above, he managed to start a full slate of games for the Rays in 2016. He was also an effective source of strikeouts, and his 167/49 K:BB ratio was superb. The terrible results that he delivered in 2016 were an aberration from his prior body of work, and he is a good candidate for a bounce back season. I see him as tossing 185 innings, and dropping his ERA to something much more useful, likely in the 3.75-3.85 range, given his career .297 BABIP and 73.6% strand rate. He relies of his command of the strike zone and great control, both of which were still evident despite his struggles last season, and those should continue to be skills he can provide once again.

Downside

His fastball sits in the low 90s, which means he has to use his control to be effective and rack up those Ks he provides on a regular basis. He saw a dramatic increase in home runs in 2016, a disturbing trend over the past couple of seasons. He also generated a lot less ground balls in 2016, his GB/FB dropping from 0.94 in 2015 to 0.69 last year, which certainly contributed to his awful 1.64 HR/9 rate. Although he started 30 games in 2016, he is still considered an injury risk after hitting the DL twice in 2015 and being limited to just 66.2 IP.

Summary

I am not afraid to snag the new addition to the Seattle starting rotation, and take advantage of his strikeout potential, or his return to providing useful ratio stats. I see last season's struggles as the outlier, not his new norm. He should be good for 30 starts, and something approaching 200 innings (OK, maybe just 185 or so innings, which is still nothing to sneeze at). He is penciled in as the fourth starter in Seattle, behind King Felix, Hisashi Iwakuma and James Paxton (Paxton is a potential SP for a later profile in these articles, by the bye), and therefore is a useful component to add to your fantasy rotation, as he will not miss that many starts due to off days over the course of the season. He has the potential to provide SP3 value in the final rounds of your drafts, due to his 2016 problems, and I urge you to consider snapping him up as your SP5/6 depending on how your draft proceeds.

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