Deep League Starting Pitchers (Bradish, Wainwright, Soroka, & Ortiz)

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

I am examining starters going later than pick 300 in the latest NFBC ADP. Here are the previous editions:

Kyle Bradish (364 ADP)

The 26-year-old righty showed some positive signs of last season with an 8.5 K/9 and a 4.01 xFIP. He improved in the second half (.396 BABIP to .253) when his ERA dropped from 7.38 to 3.28 and his WHIP from 1.77 to 1.16. His core talent didn’t change with his K%-BB% dropping from 13.2% to 12.5% but his ground ball rate going up from 42% to 48%. Very bland profile.

One issue he dealt with was a 3.5 BB/9 after struggling with walks in the minors (4.1 BB/9 in 2021 AAA). He never got them under control with the first and second-half rates being the same but jumping up to 4.1 BB/9 in September.

It was during September when he messed with his pitch mix by adding a sinker.

Kyle Bradish’s Pitches
Pitch Pre-Sinker Post Sinker SwStr% GB%
Cutter 50% 28% 7% 37%
Slider 28% 34% 16% 40%
Curve 11% 17% 9% 60%
Change 9% 5% 8% 73%
Sinker 0% 16% 4% 53%

He has an above-average slider but the results on the rest of his pitches are garbage. Maybe he could go just go sinker-slider.

One item possibly keeping Bradish’s value up is that he has a 100.5 Pitching+ (105.4 Stuff+) value putting him ahead of Jon Gray, Alek Manoah, and Jordan Montgomery. I don’t buy the value, but I could be wrong.

Bradish doesn’t seem like someone I’d target. It’s tough to see any upside and the downside is a repeat of 2022. Probably just a streamer.

Adam Wainwright (375 ADP)

The 41-year-old Wainwright will be back for at least one more season. For a couple of seasons (2020 and 2021), he had reverted back to his low-strikeout, low-walk form from his youth and posted some good ratios (~3.10 ERA, ~1.05 WHIP) while winning quite a few games. Last season, he lost some fastball velocity (89.1 mph to 88.5 mph), his strikeouts drop (7.6 K/9 to 6.7 K/9), and rates jump up (3.05 ERA to 3.71 ERA, 1.06 WHIP to 1.28 WHIP).

His September results were the worst (4.1 K/9, 1.92 WHIP, 7.22 ERA) while nursing a dead arm. His velocity tanked during this time.

To make matters worse, last year was the first time he didn’t have a single pitch with a 10% or higher swinging-strike rate.

The key with him would be to trust that he can get it together one last time. Just remember that he was unrosterable from 2016 to 2018 (4.77 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 7.4 K/9) so don’t wait forever. His only allure at this point is for the possible Wins he’ll accumulate. I’d watch out for his Spring Training velocity report pointing to a bounce back.

Mike Soroka (381 ADP)

Soroka’s fantasy managers will be in hoping for a return to his 2019 season when he posted a 2.68 ERA (3.85 xFIP), 7.3 K/9, 1.11 WHIP (.280 BABIP), and 51% GB%. Pitchers who posted similar rates this past season are Martin Perez, Logan Webb, and Max Fried. That’s nice company.

The deal with Soroka, is that he’s never been healthy. In 2018, he went on the IL twice for a shoulder injury.

In 2020, he tore his Achilles tendon, had several setbacks while rehabbing, and finally got back on the mound this past August. Here are a couple of reports from the starts.

On two different dates, they had him sitting 92 to 92.5 mph which is right in line with his 2019 velocity distribution (13 IP in 2020).

He did work up to 5 IP (23 batters) in his last start so he was getting stretched out. He didn’t dominate the AAA competition (11% K%-BB%) as he previously did (24% K%-BB% in 2018, 27% K%-BB% in 2019). Looking at his minor league rehab starts he looks more rigid to start his delivery (especially out of the stretch) compared to 2019 when he would bend his knee more. He just doesn’t look the same so it’s tough to expect similar results.

Before I start to buy back in, I want to know Atlanta’s plans with him since he’s thrown a total of 25 competitive innings over the past two seasons. Additionally, I want to see his velocity up and hopefully a return his 2019 delivery. For the chance of a rebound, he should be drafted in every draft. Just be careful to not overspend on him and move on if the results down return.

Luis Ortiz (381 ADP)

Ortiz got some hype last season when he buzzed through the Reds, Yankees, and Cubs in his first three starts by allowing two earned runs and striking out 17 in 15 IP before getting destroyed by the Cardinals (0.2 IP, 3 BB, 0 K, 6 ER) to end his season.

Starting with the bad, he was walking batters (7 BB in 15 IP) even before the season-ending disaster. He showed some control issues in the minors (combined 3.1 BB/9) but not as bad as his major league rates.

On the positive, he has generated a ton of strikeouts with his 99-mph average four-seamer (8% SwStr%, 27% GB%). Additionally, he has a near-elite slider (25% SwStr%, 46% GB%) while mixing in a few sinkers (4% SwStr%, 56% GB%). Finally, he tinkered with a change (n=14) that didn’t generate any swings-and-misses but the results on its comps are somewhat encouraging.

He’s got a Blake Snell vibe going on with tons of strikeouts and walks and just two pitches while reaching his pitch limit around the fifth inning. The innings (and being on the Pirates) will keep his Wins down but I can see the path to some upside, especially if his walks drop. Must draft in all formats to see where his talent stabilizes.

Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won four FSWA Awards including on for his Mining the News series. He's won Tout Wars three times, LABR once, and got his first NFBC Main Event win in 2021. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
6 days ago

Bradish is probably a sleeper. A Rookie, makes successful adjustments, lowered opponents’ BA and BABIP, and offspeed pitch value growth.

With tweaks and this young man has a chance to make some gains in ’23 to put him on everyone’s radar. Lowering walks to 7% and sharpening his arsenal should bring him into the top 50-60 SP. The fielding independent metrics think what he did was solid, especially for a rookie.