Ever reach a point in your fantasy baseball draft when you despair of relying on untried youngsters and want to be able to select a tried-and-true piece for your pitching rotation? Then, scanning the draft board, your eye alights on an arm that has provided solid production for a string of seasons, a veteran stalwart pitcher who while not at his peak any longer, still has the tools to produce this coming season? The problem is, naturally, none of us have an accurate crystal ball to see whether that experience and production will continue one more campaign, any better than our projections for younger talent will play out as anticipated? Still, name recognition and long-term results are enticing, so who tips the scales where prior proficiency has a propensity to show up on the stat sheet one more year?


Justin Verlander. Houston Astros, ADP: 141

2024 Projections: 170 IP, 11 Wins, 155 Strikeouts, 3.80 ERA, 1.19 WHIP

There is not a long list of starting pitchers that have been relevant past the 40-year mark (Roger Clemens, John Smoltz, Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson come to mind), but the three-time Cy Young winner was not to be ignored last season, posting a 3.25 ERA and racking up double digit victories (12 to be precise). He is not the dominant strikeout artist any longer, to be certain, but he still has good command and control, and features a mid-90s fastball. He may be overlooked in your late-March drafts as his shoulder will force him to start the season on the IL until late April most likely. 

Yu Darvish, San Diego Padres, ADP: 180

2024 Projections: 171 IP, 11 Wins, 183 Strikeouts, 3.80 ERA, 1.23 WHIP

Darvish’s 2023 season was abbreviated due to a bone spur in his throwing elbow, interrupting an acceptable if not stellar effort on the hill for the Padres: 4.56 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 141 K over 136.1 IP. He has been awarded the Opening Day start, but the elbow issue is likely depressing his value heading into that trip to the hill and the season going forward. His home park provides benefit and he should be worthy of a strikeout per inning so long as his elbow withstands the workout he puts it through in pursuing his craft. Yes, there is risk but reward in taking him in the later rounds of your drafts.

Charlie Morton, Atlanta Braves, ADP: 207

2024 Projections: 168 IP, 11 Wins, 192 Strikeouts, 3.83 ERA, 1.34 WHIP

Heading into his 40-year-old season, the Braves still believe in the righthander, having exercised his $20 million team option. His control suffered a negative regression last season, and his WHIP (1.43) reflected the increase in free passes handed out to opposing hitters over the course of his 163.1 IP in 2023. He still posted a useful 3.64 ERA over his 30 games started, and he was able to miss plenty of bats as evidenced by his 10.1 K/9 rate. Can he continue to fend off Father Time for another season? His ADP indicates that many are less convinced, but you should use that to your advantage and snag him for a source of Ks as a back of the fantasy rotation hurler.

Max Scherzer, Texas Rangers, ADP: 269

2024 Projections: 117 IP, 8 Wins, 125 Strikeouts, 4.01 ERA, 1.21 WHIP

“Mad Max” is not expected to toe the rubber until a couple months of the season have been played out, as he recovers from offseason back surgery. He was uncharacteristically generous with the long ball last season, yielding 28 round trippers in his limited 152.2 innings in 2023. He was able to demonstrate his usual dominant effectiveness in other aspects, posting a useful 3.77 ERA and an appealing 1.12 WHIP in action for both the Mets and Rangers. The absence from the rotation for half a season or so has had a dampening on his desirability in drafts this year so far, understandably, but if your league has the proper settings allowing you to stash him on the IL and pick up a replacement arm for the period of his rehab, he has the potential to be a nice addition to your rotation as the summer heats up.

Lance Lynn, St. Louis Cardinals, ADP: 279

2024 Projections: 174 IP, 12 Wins, 177 Strikeouts, 4.46 ERA, 1.32 WHIP

If you think Scherzer had homer-itis last season, you should turn your eyes away from Lynn’s numbers in that category. He allowed the most dingers to opposing batters since Bronson Arroyo coughed up a slew of over-the-fence bombs in 2011 while pitching for Cincinnati (46!). Benefits to adding the 36-year-old righthander to your roster reside in his ability to rack up Ks, and pitch deeper into games, which trends toward accumulating victories. The days of sub-4.00 ERA are likely over and done with, but he can be useful as a matchup back of the rotation SP who can be had late in the draft or picked up off the post-draft waiver wire.

Wade Miley, Milwaukee Brewers, ADP: 381

2024 Projections: 115 IP, 5 Wins, 61 Strikeouts, 5.02 ERA, 1.43 WHIP

The southpaw is now dealing with groin tightness, although it should be noted that the plan was for him to open the season on the IL due to lingering shoulder issues throughout the spring. He is expected to be activated mid-April, and that is probably when you want to consider claiming him off waivers or as a free agent, in any event, as his ADP indicates he is not be actively sought in most drafts. He does not offer much counting stat usefulness, but he has good to great ratio utility (3.14 ERA, 1.14 WHIP over his 120.1 IP in 2023). He can be handy for streaming purposes in the appropriate matchup, provided you can stomach the limited K production he provides.

Carlos Carrasco, Cleveland Guardians, ADP: Undrafted

2024 Projections: 126 IP, 6 Wins, 99 Strikeouts, 5.30 ERA, 1.48 WHIP

Carrasco is back with Cleveland, a familiar home base where he was a familiar member of the rotation for more than 10 years (2009-2020), signing with the Guardians after three up and down years with the Mets. The 37-year-old righty will serve as long-relief help out of the bullpen until the inevitable injuries call for a back of the rotation arm to step up for a start or two. If he joins the rotation at any point, he is a streaming option at best, to be employed based upon matchup and venue. Certainly, unless you have an extremely deep player pool in your league, he will not be one of those veteran arms that will be drafted, but rather a waiver wire pickup out of desperation.