We are heading into the busy season for fantasy drafts, as we await the festivities of Opening Day and the promise of a new campaign, where hope springs forth seeking success in both our fantasy realm and the MLB arena. Cheat sheets are being printed, rankings are getting their final adjustments based on spring performance and those distressing injuries that baseball players cannot avoid. Performance on the field as well as medical issues sending players to the sidelines can and do have an effect on a player’s value on draft day. If you do the research, you may be able to profit from the expectations as expressed in the actions of the drafting community. Let’s take a glance as three starting pitchers whose ADPs may lead to fantasy success.
Nathan Eovaldi RHP Texas Rangers ADP: 233.81
The new Texan righty is coming off yet another season where injury limited his time on the hill, with back and shoulder problems limiting him to just 20 starts, down from the exception to the rule of 2021 where he tossed 181.2 IP (second highest in his career). Eovaldi is not known as a pitcher who possesses great durability, and has been sidelined with a side injury earlier in the month. The lack of endurance to pitch throughout the season is likely the main reason fantasy owners relegate him to the later rounds of drafts, as the K rate is attractive and his control keeps his WHIP in useful range for fantasy purposes. His velocity seemed to suffer from his injuries last season, but he has been clocked in the high 90s this spring, so if you can draft him late for the Ks and good to excellent ratios, and if he can avoid the injury bug that has frequently bit him in previous seasons, he could be a steal for your rotation.
Jose Berrios RHP Toronto Blue Jays ADP: 192.94
The 28-year-old righty was discussed in the draft guide previously, as a late round value to seek out. Since that article was published, his ADP has seen a modest increase of 20 picks. Certainly, Berrios was an incredibly disappointing pick for many fantasy drafters last season, when he was coming off a strong season with the Twins and then his new team, the Blue Jays who acquired him at the trade deadline. The team made a decision to reward the righthander with a long-term seven-year deal, so it was not just fantasy owners who were burned by his performance last season. He did shift divisions to the AL East with the trade to Toronto, and that probably had a negative effect on his performance, but no one expected the plummet Berrios endured last season, especially in the ratio stats where he was dead last among pitchers who possessed qualifying status. He undoubtedly ended up as a member of many “dead to me” draft lists after the 2022 debacle he provided, but his prior productive years in Minnesota give hope that he will be able to turn things around while toeing the rubber heading into 2023.
Kyle Wright RHP Atlanta Braves ADP: 112.84
It seems odd that the only 20 game winner (21 actually) in all of MLB last season is being relegated to a pick in the late SP2/earlySP3 range but our projections obviously do not see him racking up the wins at the same pace in the new season (nice QS numbers projected, though, if your league employs that counting stat). He also does not project as an exceptionally dominant hurler, although he is not an arm that will leave his owners bereft of strikeouts if he is part of their rotation (8.8 K/9). The ratios should also be of use for your fantasy efforts. His reliance on his curve and changeup last season served to keep hitters off-balance and allowed him to develop into a strong ground ball inducing pitcher, which also kept the ball in the park to a great extent. Obtaining the services of a dependable middle of the rotation arm for a contending team in the middle rounds of your draft could be a wise move on draft day.
Good luck and godspeed in your draft efforts prior to the opening of the MLB season. Do your research and highlight those players (SPs included naturally) that can shift your draft day from ho-hum to one with a hidden golden glow due to taking advantage of the opinions of the masses that may allow some values to linger longer than reasonable for the potential the player can provide if prejudice about past aberrant performance or injury can be set aside.
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