It’s time to talk a little starting pitcher ADP right now which seems appropriate considering the debates we’ve been hearing lately with regard to when you start drafting starters. You’ve got those you firmly stand by using higher picks to grab elite hurlers as they are supposed to be the most consistent/predictable, while the other side of the coin, which tends to be where the majority lie, is that the position is so deep, so rich with talent, that you can and should wait on it while you build your offense up to juggernaut level.
Personally, I side with the latter group as I love to go offense-heavy early and use high-end closers to help supplement the ratios and strikeouts of my less-accomplished staff. For me, the decision is easy and with so many young, high-upside hurlers available throughout the middle to late rounds, and drafting this way doesn’t leave you out in the cold by waiting on the position. We all can’t expect guys like Danny Salazar, Gerrit Cole, Michael Wacha and Sonny Gray to be incredibly dominant each and every time the toe the rubber, so having the high-end closers to help balance out some of the rough patches. Not to mention, how much your offense rules!
And just to add more flavor to this deliciousness, while all those guys in your league are out wasting FAAB dollars and waive r priority chasing saves, you’re looking at more starters and position players to help supplement your team in times of slump and/or injury.
But that’s not to say that you don’t land yourself an anchor or two for your rotation. There are usually some rock-solid guys left in the fifth or sixth round, so depending on how many teams are in your league and how much your league mates value starting pitching, you can still land yourself a Chris Sale or Madison Bumgarner. In fact, in my FSWA draft the other day, I grabbed Sale in the fifth and then Masahiro Tanaka in the eighth to do just that. All the while, I was stacking my offense, adding in elite closers and still wound up with a pitching staff that includes Sonny Gray, Corey Kluber, Andrew Cashner, Chris Archer, James Paxton and Nate Eovaldi.
But enough patting myself on the back for a strategy well implemented. Let’s take a look at some of the ADP trends we’re seeing in starting pitching…
|Rank||Player||Team||Current ADP||1.5 Months Ago||Trend|
Overall, it looks like more than half the pitchers here in the top-80 are on the rise, but it’s where they are rising to and from that matters most. While so many seem to be on their way up, they are still hovering in the middle to lower rounds. Some of the elite starters have some movement, but you’re always going to see the top-10 hurlers go earlier than I would even consider taking a pitcher. It’s where the supposed bargains are going that should interest you the most because that will give you a strong indication as to where you should be looking for them in your drafts.
Masahiro Tanaka, NYY (+26.04%) – While some might be surprised by the climb, Tanaka’s performance this spring is a good indication that he started off so low because of the Yankee hate that ran rampant when he first signed. Before the signing, everyone was talking about how amazing a pitcher he is and once he donned the pinstripes it was all about questioning his K-rate and how many home runs he was going to give up. I can agree that the hype would have remained stronger had he landed in a pitcher’s park, but don’t let your hatred for the Yankees cloud your judgment when it comes to fantasy. Even a strong pitcher on your most-hated division rival should warrant more than just a look.
A.J. Burnett, PHI (+18.11%) – The rise in ADP comes for Burnett basically because he finally signed somewhere. There was talk of him retiring if he left the Pirates, but landing in Philadelphia put him back on the map. The ballpark factors could make him a bit of a question mark though as Citizen’s Bank plays much more favorably to hitters than PNC does in Pittsburgh. Be careful with him as we all remember what happened when he landed in New York. Big markets and small ballparks don’t exactly agree with A.J..
Rick Porcello, DET (+10.02%) – As an extreme ground ball pitcher, he should earn favorably with moving Miggy over to first and improving the infield defense. He also saw nice improvements in both his walk and strikeout rates, so it would appear that the stars just might be aligning for him. His inconsistencies last year need to be minimized, but his upward trend indicates that there are many more believers than dissenters. I would take a shot on him in the later rounds of a draft, but he’s not someone I am specifically targeting.
Corey Kluber, CLE (+8.48%) – The hype machine has been turned onto high with Kluber, and to be honest, I’m still not sure. The numbers look pretty good, but they’re not “oh man, I gotta have this guy” good. He’s the new No. 2 starter on the team and he should be able to throw upwards of 180 innings this year, but if you end up with him on your roster, don’t be afraid to trade him. Someone in your league will be willing to overpay.
Tyson Ross, SD (+6.74%) – He showed significant improvement in his peripherals last year and obviously has the benefits of Petco working in his favor. Even with the ADP increase, he’s still a late-round target more than anything. If he can continue his growth or even plateau from last year, he’ll make for an excellent back-end of the rotation type guy for you.
Hisashi Iwakuma, SEA (-21.27%) – The injury is a sprained finger, and while that obviously affects his grip, we’re not talking about an elbow or a shoulder here. He should be fine, even if he misses the first month of the season because he’s been off his throwing program. Personally, I hope he keeps falling because even five months of him on the mound is going to be big for fantasy owners this year and he’ll come at a wonderfully discounted rate.
Cole Hamels, PHI (-19.22%) – Hamels, on the other hand, is dealing with a specific am injury (biceps) and is now looking like he won’t be back until sometime in May. The injury for him is a much bigger red flag for me and I’m likely to avoid him unless his bargain rate is potentially massive. Even with the fall here in ADP, the rate is not much of a bargain considering the potential loss of additional time down the road.
Jose Fernandez, MIA (-11.11%) – This is actually just a few picks in the differential, so there’s little or nothing to worry about. Fernandez should turn in another awesome season and I don’t see him falling much further, if at all. Draft with confidence.
Matt Moore, TB (-8.65%) – I’ve heard some rumblings about his elbow this spring which definitely make me nervous, so as much as I like his skill set, I’m not pushing my chips all-in here. If he stays healthy, then he could prove to be the ace of the Rays staff, but if not, then you’re doomed to sit him on the bench, afraid to cut him for someone who is still playing. Keep an eye on his first few starts and get ready to potentially sell high without fear.
Michael Wacha, STL (-6.63%) – This is another small drop and one that has less bearing on his abilities than it does on just personal choice. The hype was huge on Wacha after last year, so you have to account for some expected ADP regression. He’s still a great choice, so hopefully he’s not someone you’re going to have to reach high to grab in the coming weeks.---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
By scottyry, 3/15/2014 9:54 AM
Interesting point on Tanaka, I suffer from the same anti-Yankee sentiments. Speaking of another are you targeting Pineda for a back end flyer?
By Michael Sarvi, 3/15/2014 11:12 AM
Howard, where do you see Ervin Santana going since he signed with the Braves? Good work as always, thanks!