Building a 2022 $9 NFBC Pitching Staff — A Review by Mike Podhorzer November 21, 2022 Last Thursday, I reviewed my $14 NFBC offense. As expected, it didn’t turn out very good, but hidden within the squad was a couple of gems that yielded a nice profit for their owners. Let’s now shift over to pitching. In addition to my cheapie offense, I also drafted a $9 pitching staff. As I did during my hitter review, I’ll repost the group’s projections first, based on ATC pre-season forecasts. Then I’ll post another table displaying how they actually performed, and what they earned in a standard 15-team league. The $9 Pitching Staff – 2022 ATC Projections Name IP W SV SO ERA WHIP Brady Singer 145 8 0 134 4.24 1.35 Drew Rasmussen 120 7 0 121 3.77 1.24 Zach Plesac 160 9 0 125 4.48 1.25 Andrew Heaney 127 8 0 136 4.35 1.23 Corey Kluber 132 8 0 129 4.06 1.29 Elieser Hernandez 126 5 0 124 4.38 1.22 Hunter Greene 75 5 0 77 4.51 1.33 Diego Castillo 60 4 6 69 3.4 1.17 Kyle Finnegan 64 4 14 65 4.17 1.4 Totals 1009 58 20 980 4.21 1.27 Now let’s find out how this group performed and their fantasy dollars earned. The $9 Pitching Staff – 2022 Actual Name IP W SV SO ERA WHIP $ Val Brady Singer 153.1 10 0 150 3.23 1.14 9.76 Drew Rasmussen 146 11 0 125 2.84 1.04 13.94 Zach Plesac 131.2 3 0 100 4.31 1.32 -6.67 Andrew Heaney 72.2 4 0 110 3.10 1.09 6.08 Corey Kluber 164 10 0 139 4.34 1.21 0.32 Elieser Hernandez 62.1 3 0 60 6.35 1.43 -8.44 Hunter Greene 125.2 5 0 164 4.44 1.21 0.67 Diego Castillo 54.1 7 7 53 3.64 1.14 -0.47 Kyle Finnegan 66.2 6 11 70 3.51 1.14 0.78 Totals 976.2 59 18 971 3.89 1.19 15.96 Wow, this was pretty impressive! Not only because of the handful of excellent picks, but how close the projections came for the most part. The innings pitched for the group was a bit lower than forecasted, which isn’t surprising because injuries always occur, especially to pitchers. Despite the innings miss, the group almost finished at exactly their projected wins, saves, and strikeout marks. That’s pretty darn good, especially the wins and saves, as those are notoriously difficult to forecast. Three pitchers qualify as successful sleeper picks who earned their owners some tidy profits. A former top prospect, Brady Singer disappointed during his first full season in 2021, though much of the underperformance was due to an absurd .350 BABIP, which also suppressed his LOB%. This year, he managed to raise his strikeout rate, despite a drop in SwStk%, but drastically improved his walk rate. His BABIP also came back down to Earth, while his LOB% skyrocketed. Overall, he posted a nice skills package. However, as essentially a two-pitch pitcher and with a below average SwStk%, I’m not counting on anywhere close to a repeat. I’ll let someone else overpay for his 2022 performance. Drew Rasmussen joined the Rays rotation in 2021 and finished the year in impressive fashion, though much of his performance was driven by a suppressed .255 BABIP. This season, despite starting all year and not benefiting from the reliever boost, he posted an identical ERA and even reduced his SIERA. He was the top earner on this list and helped several of my fantasy teams this year. Oddly, he hasn’t been able to translate his high velocity fastball into a high strikeout rate. Adding to the weirdness is that he pumped up his SwStk% this year, but because his called strike rate fell, his strikeout rate actually declined. Once again, though, he massively outperformed his SIERA thanks to a low BABIP. I feel like there has to be strikeout rate upside given his ability to generate swings and misses, but if those strikeouts don’t come, I’m likely out on him next year if anyone is paying for him based on two sub-3.00 ERA seasons. Finally, Andrew Heaney finally had the massive breakout I’ve been hoping for after drafting him cheap for many, many years. It’s too bad the injury bug bit again, as he was limited to just 72.2 innings. When he did make it to the mound, he suddenly became a strikeout machine, as his new slider proved absolutely elite, recording a 24.1% SwStk%. He also benefited from a career best fastball velocity, so we’ll see if that lasts into spring training next season. Unfortunately, as usual, he suffered through HR/FB problems, but those didn’t derail him this time given the elite strikeout/walk rate combination. On the downside, Zach Plesac continued to do nothing to convince us that his 2020 breakout wasn’t a complete fluke. While he missed his projected innings, he basically performed as forecasted. The big difference, and what really drove down his fantasy value, is recording just three wins. That’s just ridiculous, and his 3-12 record goes to show how much luck is involved in win/loss records. Sure, he wasn’t good this year, but a 4.31 ERA hardly deserved such a disparity between his wins and losses, and there were many games where any sort of offensive support should have netted him a win. Elieser Hernandez was a complete bust, and even got demoted to the minors. Perhaps the Mets will be able to turn things around for him. It’s odd to see Hunter Greene having essentially earned nothing this year, but remember that’s a cumulative number. He was incredible in Aug and Sep/Oct, which will no doubt ensure he finds his name on literally every sleeper list. Ya know what that means? That’s right, he’s not going to be a sleeper at all, as everyone will be pushing up his price, and a breakout will be required just to break even. Finally, we end with the two closers. Remember how difficult it was to find saves for just a buck in an NFBC league. Both choices I made had a clear path to full-time saves, but failed to take full advantage. Still, 18 saves likely avoided sitting at the bottom of the standings, and may have been enough to earn a couple of points in the category. What was interesting is that Kyle Finnegan ended up ending the season as the Nationals’ closer, whereas I expected that to happen at the beginning. He’s definitely toward the bottom tier of closers entering next season though, so he may very well end up on my $9 pitching staff once again!