Building a 2021 $244 NFBC Pitching Staff, A Review

Earlier this week, I reviewed my imaginary cheapie NFBC pitching rosters, including the $9 staff, and the staff composed of pitchers not even bought in auctions. Today, let’s now review the incredible $244 staff I built.

The $244 Pitching Staff
Shane Bieber 7 0 134 3.17 1.21 $7.32 41
Max Scherzer 15 0 236 2.46 0.86 $32.76 30
Aaron Nola 9 0 223 4.63 1.13 $6.68 33
Clayton Kershaw 10 0 144 3.55 1.02 $12.48 30
Walker Buehler 16 0 212 2.47 0.97 $30.35 33
Carlos Carrasco 1 0 50 6.04 1.43 -$8.06 23
Josh Hader 4 34 102 1.23 0.84 $15.09 22
Edwin Diaz 5 32 89 3.45 1.05 $8.33 18
Ryan Pressly 5 26 81 2.25 0.97 $9.87 14
Total 67 66 1190 3.29 1.04 $114.83

Amazingly, this roster earned nearly the same as my $251 offense, which is an embarrassing result, to say the least. So both rosters ended up earning less than half of what was paid for them. Unbelievably, just one pitcher earned a profit, while four of them lost double digit value. That’s crazy!

What’s really interesting is this team didn’t actually stink. The group actually beat their ATC ERA and WHIP projections, but naturally, injuries took their toll and massively cut into the group’s wins and strikeouts totals. Two starters were massive disappointments, but the rest were good enough to more than offset their harmful ratios. This exercise only validates what I’ve always done in my auctions and snake drafts — don’t pay for top pitching! Too many injuries and stats heavily influenced by luck that a hitter projected for the same value is likely the better choice.

Shane Bieber was my biggest purchase, but was limited to just 96 innings because of injury. He may have been a bit of a disappointment while on the mound, but was still pretty much fine. But because he only pitched half a season, he earned just over $7 and technically lost the most value compared to his AAV out of all the pitchers in the group.

Surprisingly, Max Scherzer was the only profitable pitcher here. Coming off a disappointing 2020 and already age 36, it wasn’t surprising that his cost slipped a bit, but I thought he was more fairly priced than every other pitcher in that price range. He fully rebounded and continues to prove ageless.

The chances I own Aaron Nola for the first time in 2022 might be the highest they have ever been after his disappointing surface results. His SIERA was the second lowest of his career, yet his ERA jumped to the second highest of his career, thanks to a combination of a jump in BABIP and decline in LOB%. He deserved far better results, though it was doubtful he would have earned his lofty $33 price tag even if he enjoyed neutral luck.

Excluding last year’s short season, this was the fewest innings Clayton Kershaw has pitched in a season since his 2008 debut. Not only that, but his ERA also jumped to its highest mark since that season as well. Heck, it was only the third time his ERA finished above 3.00! His skills aren’t slipping, but his BABIP jumped to its highest mark since his debut, while his LOB% finished at the lowest mark of his career. Is he losing his magic or was this a fluky middling year he’ll rebound from next season? His fastball velocity was the second lowest of his career and after missing time with injury, we do have to worry about his health at age 34 next year. I’ll take a shot depending on his price.

Even with a stupendous season and beating all his projections, Walker Buehler still somehow failed to earn his cost. Assuming our calculator is accurate, it’s more proof that fantasy owners overpay for top pitching.

While he was only the second largest money-loser, Carlos Carrasco was undoubtedly the most disappointing on this list. He battled injury most of the season, limiting him to just 53 innings, and he wasn’t any good when he was actually pithing. His strikeout rate fell to its lowest since 2013, the year before he broke out, and his fastball velocity declined slightly to its lowest since 2011. No one really knew what to expect after he recovered from leukemia and returned in 2020, but he was perfectly fine then, so I’m going to chalk it up to an injury-decimated forgettable year and give him a mulligan. He’ll probably come pretty cheap next year and could be well worth the risk.

My trio of closers were all good, but still apparently came up far short in the value department according to our calculator. It’s pretty shocking that Ryan Pressly, the de facto closer for the Astros all season long, a team that won 95 games, only recorded 26 saves. Considering he posted a 2.25 ERA and blew just two saves, it’s baffling he didn’t end up with more saves. Obviously, it’s likely that a lot of the Astros wins were of the blowout variety and their losses closer, but that’s something you can’t predict ahead of time.

Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
2 years ago

Great choices, bad luck. I commented your 251 hitter team didn’t go after enough stars but here you sure did. Bieber, Scherzer, Nola, Buehler….. I give an A minus. This team deserved to have huge value.