Boring Pitchers With Hidden Value

Sometimes as fantasy players we focus a considerable amount on exciting players and it causes us to ignore the “boring” players. Reflecting on my own decisions for the 2020 season one of my biggest realizations was that I focused on what a player could become instead of what a player has done. This brings us to some boring pitchers who aren’t very flashy and don’t have immense upside but can still be valuable.

Dallas Keuchel is now at the old age of 32 and he seems to have turned back time. The kicker with Keuchel and the reason why a lot of people tend to shy away from him is the lack of strikeouts. Throughout his career he has averaged a 19.0 K% and 7.11 K/9. In the last three seasons those numbers have dropped to a 17.7 K% and 6.76 K/9. In today’s current fantasy baseball mentality we all love strikeouts and Keuchel clearly doesn’t possess that. 

What he does bring to the table is a high floor in the ratios department. In the past four seasons Kuechel hasn’t had an ERA over 3.75. In fact, in those four seasons he has averaged a 3.30 ERA, 3.86 FIP, and 1.23 WHIP. Those are some pretty great ratios and he basically helps you in every pitching category except one. 

Coming into 2020 Keuchel was being drafted with an ADP of 266. According to the Razzball player rater, he finished as the 79th best player. In the 2 Early Mocks run by Justin Mason, his ADP is around 172. He was being drafted behind Chris Sale who will miss half the season and could be a shell of himself. He is also being drafted behind Tony Gonsolin, a young exciting pitcher who probably won’t exceed 150 innings because of the team he plays for. 

We still might be underestimating the boring Dallas Keuchel.

Zach Davies is not a very popular name in the fantasy community. The reason being was most likely both his career SwStr% (8.0%) and career K% (17.3%). In the past two seasons Davies has been able to produce a 3.30 ERA, 4.36 FIP, and 5.09 SIERA. Now the underlying numbers scream for regression but sometimes players outperform their underlying numbers. Julio Teheran did it for numerous years. Could Davies be the same way? It seems like it’s possible based solely on the awareness of his game. As he stated to the San Diego Union-Tribune, “I never expected to have overpowering stuff. I knew where I was physically. I knew where I was at, skill-set wise. I was always trying to think. I was always trying to analyze games. I was always critiquing things. I know how incredibly hard it is to play baseball. At the same time, constructive criticism and being able to learn from it — being able to see the game play out on TV and know what they did right wrong and if it happens to me, how can I make sure I’m in the best position to make the right play or the right pitch.”

“I think personally deep down it’s always been a thinking game for me.”

When you look at Davies 2020 he actually performed better than he ever had. He pitched 69.1 innings with a 2.73 ERA and 3.88 FIP. Unlike his two year numbers, his 2020 FIP shows that he actually was an above-average pitcher. He rolled out a pitch mix change bumping his changeup usage a full 10%. This lead to an increase in SwStr%, K%, and CSW. It’s hard to tell if this could stick because there wasn’t a lot of evidence as to why his changeup increased in SwStr% from 15.9% to 20.4%. What we do know is Davies has above-average command. He hits the edge of the zone 46.0% of the time while the league average is just 39%. 

Overall with great command and a career 3.79 ERA maybe Davies will continue to be undervalued and continue to beat those underlying numbers. Last year in NFBC Davies was being taken at pick 480 but according to Razzball finished as the 60th best player. In the 2 Early Mocks his ADP was 195.

Marco Gonzales is like Kyle Hendricks but of lesser quality. While Hendricks has been a lot more stable in terms of ratios, Gonzales has been solid for three years now and everyone seems to keep pushing him to the side. In the last three seasons he has pitched his way to 439.1 innings with a 3.85 ERA and 3.75 FIP. Much like everyone else the career 8.6% SwStr% and 19.2% K% has been the main deterrent of Gonzales’ fantasy stock. 

As for Gonzales’ 2020 he improved in several areas of his game. His strikeout rate rose from 17.0% to 23.1% and most notably his walk rate dipped from 6.5% to an elite 2.5%. Even just overall his ERA was 3.10 with a 3.32 FIP and 3.90 SIERA. What he did differently was shifting away from his bad changeup and relying on his cutter and curveball more. Both pitches increased in vertical movement compared to the season prior and better results followed. If Gonzales can keep his walk rate to an elite level he could consistently become a top 50 pitcher.

Coming into 2020 Marco Gonzales was being drafted with an ADP of 377. After the season ended he was ranked as the 49th best player. In the 2 Early Mocks he had an ADP of 123, meaning he might still be slightly underrated. Plus how can you not love him after this quote,” I want to fly under the radar, I want to continue to be sneaky. I love proving people wrong. It’s been really, really tough to fight through that and fight through peoples’ stigmas of me. Low ceiling, not projectable. But I think what people can’t evaluate, my ability to learn, my ability to compete and adjust, my ability to grow in the game. I feel like every year since I have been healthy I’ve gotten better and I don’t think you can judge that.” Remember, while we all love the numbers there is still a human element to baseball and a player’s competitiveness or drive can help them overachieve. 

 





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MRDXol
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MRDXol

Dallas Keuchel is not a free agent? He has two guaranteed years left on his contract with the White Sox, with a vesting option for 2024. Are you maybe looking at a list of free agents from last off-season?

tomerafan
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tomerafan

This is a fantasy baseball take, not a free agency take.

dodgerbleu
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dodgerbleu

He wrote it in reference to actual free agency but corrected it