We’ve got all kinds of articles about pitcher’s skills in the Draft Guide. This article is a quick reference look at how you can augment the numbers with some winning ideas that others aren’t looking at.


I’ve mentioned this one elsewhere, but I want to hammer it home. Win-loss records generally don’t tell you jack about a pitcher’s skills. Don’t be swayed by the record. Honestly, block it out of your mind. Talent, consistency and durability will lead to wins. That’s what you need to focus on.


It’s not just win-loss records that you should gloss over. Let me be clear here. It’s not that numbers that we generally look at don’t matter, of course they do, but categories like WHIP and ERA only tell part, perhaps a small part, of the story.

I say it all the time – you want to focus on strikeouts, walks and grounders to start with. Remember those three categories when you quickly glance at a pitcher. Also, other categories of measure like ABA and SWIP can help you to peer behind the curtain of measures like ERA/WHIP (see below). If you want to dig deeper, fly ball rates, swinging strike rates, splits, all of those measures can paint a different picture than the surface snapshot you’re looking at.


Highlights on SportsCenter don’t matter.

Having a high ADP doesn’t matter.

Having a great second half last year likely means less than you think.

Having a great “pitcher’s body” don’t matter squat.

Throwing 96 mph may or may not matter as much as you think (hello Bartolo Colon and Kyle Hendricks).

Know what is important and what is white noise.


You don’t want to roster a guy if he had Tommy John surgery last June.

You don’t want to roster the Brett Anderson types who are always hurt.

If you roster Stephen Strasburg you had better be building more depth at the top of your rotation since you know you cannot count on that guy piling up 200-innings, and you’re paying the price to roster him that assumes he will reach that 200 level. Guys like Gerrit Cole, James Paxton and any Mets starter fall into this category as well. You know who they are. Be cautious with overinvesting or overspending on talented but oft broken down arms.

Do you want to take a chance on Matt Harvey coming back from thoracic outlet syndrome? I don’t. It’s a surgery that very few big-league pitchers have returned to pitch at high levels from. See Avoid Matt Harvey.

When it comes to pitchers every injury is worth paying attention to of course. (1) Forearm issues could be a precursor to Tommy John surgery. (2) Shoulder issues are bad. You can “fix” an elbow. It’s very hard to “fix” a shoulder. (3) Any muscle pull, even if it has a two week timeframe put on it, should be looked at as a four week injury. Ideally, you’re gonna wanna give the hurler at least one start, if not two, once he returns to prove he’s healthy. (4) Speaking of timeframes... if you see 4-6 weeks you should be thinking six weeks. If you hear 2-3 weeks, think three weeks. Always prepare for the long game.

Finally, be cautious about how you build your roster. Do your best to grab a couple of Jose Quintana, Ian Kennedy types that you know you can count on for innings. Too many injured types will leave you short on innings and counting on guys like Kyle Gibson, and that’s not a place you want to be.


You need to throw an inning per game, 162 in total, to qualify for the ERA title. That means you need to have thrown 162 frames fort the WHIP category as well. That means a bunch of hurlers who didn’t hit that level last season are going to be left off the leaderboards this season. Depending on your level of league competition, you might be able to take advantage of that. Here are some names that missed the 162-inning threshold last season but that you should make sure you don’t forget about.

160 – Matt Shoemaker

159 – Michael Fulmer

158.2 – Zack Greinke

156.2 – Steven Wright

153.1 – Patrick Corbin

153.1 – Felix Hernandez

149 – Clayton Kershaw

148 – Jacob deGrom

147.2 – Stephen Strasburg

146.1 – Carlos Carrasco

144.2 – Sean Manaea

138 – Michael Wacha

137.1 – Danny Salazar

134.1 – Taijuan Walker

133.1 – Adam Conley

132.1 – Steven Matz

Yes, there are some “duh” names on this list, but for the sake of completeness we still listed guys like Kershaw and deGrom.


This is something that folks sometimes look past. We all know every team’s #1 or #2, but what about guys #4 and #5? Who are those guys? Do they have the skills to excel in the role? Are the unlikely to hold on to the role? If they can’t hold it, who is guy #6? Should you have that man on your “short-list” of names to keep a close eye on in spring with the assumption that he will be starting, likely early, in the year? What about health? Are one or two guys in the top-5 on said team injury prone? Who will the team turn to when the inevitable injury occurs? Most folks focus on minor leaguers that could make a mark, but what about those swingman types that are much more likely, especially early in the year, to get starts? You gotta know who these guys are. Here’s a name to think about with each team. Not a top-40 starting pitcher, not necessarily the elite minor leaguer either, but a guy no one is talking about who could end up throwing a good deal of effective innings in 2017.





Chris Lee

Made just eight starts last season but there's only average/aging depth ahead of him.


Henry Owens

Pomeranz and Wright have health issues, and ERod always seems to be hurt as well.


Derek Holland

Everyone will be talking about Giolito and Lopez, but Holland might make the most starts of the three.


Mike Clevinger

He's got good stuff and Carrasco/Salazar can't be expected to throw 190-innings.


Matt Boyd

Made 18 starts last season and had a 3.86 ERA in the second half.


Joe Musgrove

McCullers can't stay healthy, and it's not like Morton is a good bet to either. Folks know Devenski, but fewer talk about Musgrove.

Kansas City

Matt Strahm

Karns has trouble going deep, Vargas is coming off surgery, and Duffy's ability to pile up innings is in question.

Los Angeles

Jesse Chavez

He's a swingman so he could be used out the pen, but his outlook is rosier than that of Norris.


Trevor May 

May has 214 punchouts over 203 frames across three seasons, and the Twins' CEO says May will get a chance to start this season.

New York

Adam Warren

Reacquired by the Yanks, he's proven pretty adept at filling any role he's asked to handle.


Andrew Triggs

The skills suggest Gio Gonzalez or Jeff Samardzija. That ain't half bad.


Ariel Miranda

The 28 year old made 10 starts (12 appearances) with a 1.12 WHIP over 58 innings.

Tampa Bay

Matt Andriese

Even though he might grab the 5th spot, his star certainly isn't as shiny as De Leon, though he still owns playable skills.


Tyson Ross

He will be drafted as if he isn't the 6th guy but he is. He hopes to be good to go in late May.


T.J. House

The soft thrower was a "thing" a few years back before being beset by shoulder woes. 





Patrick Corbin

A rising star a few years back, another year removed from TJ surgery should allow him to recapture his previous glory.


Matt Wisler

The results last year stunk (5.00 ERA, 1.33 WHIP), but he's more talented than he showed.


Brett Anderson

I couldn't list Montgomery who everyone will be on, so by default it's the guy you can never trust.


Tim Adleman 

Made 13 starts with a 4.00 ERA, 1.21 WHIP last season. 


Jeff Hoffman

He wasn't effective last season at all with a 4.88 ERA and 1.72 WHIP over eight outings, so no one will be looking his way.

Los Angeles

Alex Wood

Honestly, can you say any Dodger starter is a lock for 30 starts? I don't think you even can with Kershaw at this point. 


Jeff Locke

He's not very good, but the lefty is just 29 and every once in a while falls into a nice groove.


Tommy Milone

He always seems to find his way into the rotation. Really boring, but he doesn't beat himself with the walk.

New York

Seth Lugo

Watch, he will make 15+ starts with all the potential health woes in this rotation. 


Jake Thompson

A big strong righty, he has the talent advantage over Eflin.


Drew Hutchison

The righty has a big arm and did have 184 punchouts in 2014. A potential big time performer if the opportunity arises.

San Diego

Jarred Cosart

Owns a career 3.92 ERA and on the right day looks like a solid big leaguer. Doesn't miss enough bats though.

San Francisco

Ty Blach

The 26 year old made four starts last season with excellent results: 1.06 ERA, 0.76 WHIP even outduling Kershaw in an outing.

St. Louis


They have seven starters: Martinez, Wainwright, Leake, Reyes, Weaver, Lynn, Wacha


A.J. Cole

Strasburg and Ross certainly don't project like 200-inning arms, do they?


Target pitchers with the outlook of 180-innings.

Be cautious with arms that fail to consistently throw 180-innings.

Be wary or hurlers who saw huge innings increase last season (see below).

Relate the age of the player to the question of what does the workload mean for the hurler? If the guy threw 122 innings last season as a 21 year old then you should expect 150 innings in 2017. If the guy threw 122 innings last season, has failed to throw 160 innings in 3-of-4 seasons, and is 29 years old, well, you kinda know what you got there. Bottom line is that the context of who the pitcher is – skills, age, workload outlook – should all be factored in to any decision you make in relation to the arm.


Here are some Draft Guide articles to read in case you haven’t yet.

Never Draft a Starting Pitcher Early

Pitching Targets to Know

Swinging Strike Ratios

Hurler Workload Concerns

SWIP: Pitching Dominance and Control

Average Bases Allowed