Deep League Starting Pitchers (Eflin, Garrett, Carrasco, & Gore)

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Last year, I picked the starting pitchers using an NFBC ADP of over 300. With no official ADP to go off of yet, I’m starting with pitchers taken after pick 300 from this draft.

Note: The Dodgers prospect Bobby Miller is on the list. I’m going to examine him at a later date once I can compile more prospect information.

Zach Eflin

On the surface, Eflin’s season was OK with a 4.04 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, and 7.7 K/9. It was a tale of three parts for him.

From the beginning of the season until June 25th, he started 13 games while posting a 4.37 ERA, 7.4 K/9, 1.19 WHIP, and a 92.7 mph average fastball velocity. Then he went on the IL with a bruised knee. When he returned in September, he worked only out of the bullpen with a 1.17 ERA (2.12 xFIP), 10.6 K/9, 0.52 WHIP, and 93.8 mph average fastball velocity (8.5 K/9, 5.68 ERA, 1.58 WHIP, .400 BABIP, 3.81 xFIP in six postseason innings).

I found his sinker comps as a starter and reliever because he leaned into more (usage jumped from 39% to 49%). The results from the comps weren’t that much with some overlap.

If he starts or closes will be the major question going forward. That decision will be based on how his knees are holding up after several surgeries.

One of the more concerning issues for the Phillies has been the health of Zach Eflin, specifically, his right knee. Eflin’s knee has been a point of concern for years, even before he came to the Phillies. He’s actually been dealing with chronic knee pain since he was about ten years old.

Eflin pushed through, however, and made his way to the MLB, although in 2017, he would have to end his season with patella-tendon surgery on both his left and right knees.

For now, I will value him as a decent high-leverage reliever and if he becomes a productive starter, all the better.

Braxton Garrett

I’m a little surprised to see the 24-year-old lefty so low after posting a 3.58 ERA, 9.2 K/9, and 1.25 WHIP. His ERA and estimators are consistent.

3.58 ERA
3.56 FIP
3.52 SIERA
3.51 xFIP

He leaned on his slider (33% usage, 21 SwStr%, 25% GB%). It was his best swing-and-miss pitch but his four-seam (29% GB%), sinker (67% GB%), and changeup (54% GB%) all generate weak contact. Even with the weak contact, the Marlins defense let him down (.321 BABIP) so there is room for improvement.

There are a few downside issues, but it’s not unique to just him.

First, his fastball clocks in at just 91 mph with the league average at 93 mph.

Second, he plays for the hapless Marlins and they only got him three Wins last season.

The third and probably most relevant issue is that he deals with injuries. Last season, he was on the IL twice (shoulder and oblique) and had his pitch count limited each time he returned. It took about three starts to get up to 90+ pitches and 5 IP.

I value him on par with Pablo López. If Garrett is healthy and starting, he’s a must roster in all formats even if it’s as a bench streamer.

Carlos Carrasco

I don’t get him going so late. What the hell do fantasy managers want? His 3.97 ERA and 1.33 WHIP are both pushed up by a .337 BABIP (.303 BABIP on his career). His ERA estimators all hover around 3.50.

An August oblique injury did seem to affect him. His fastball was sitting at 93.4 mph before the injury and 92.6 mph after returning.

There is a ton to like about him, even with the high rate stats. One way he can take a step forward is to get rid of his sinker.

Carlos Carrasco 2022 Pitch Usage
Pitch Usage SwStr% GB%
Four-seam 36% 8% 32%
Slider 25% 19% 50%
Change 24% 17% 64%
Sinker 11% 9% 44%

Why have a sinker if it’s not generating groundballs? While 11% usage might not seem that high, he did throw it over 20% in six games, and once it was over 30%.

I might be able to see some reluctance to add him in a draft-and-hold with his injury history and no waiver wire. In a redraft, he can easily be replaced if the velocity stays down and he leans even more into the sinker.

MacKenzie Gore

Since 2017, Gore has thrown just over 300 IP (average of 43 IP per season). He had one of his healthier seasons this past year and threw just 87 IP. When he was shut down, it was for elbow inflammation. Injuries will always be an issue and if someone wants to stay away for that reason, I understand.

As for talent, it’s tough to tell. First off, he couldn’t keep up his fastball velocity.

When his fastball averaged over 94 mph, he had a 1.50 ERA, 10.7 K/9, and 1.06 WHIP. When the velocity dropped below 94 mph, he posted an 11.05 ERA, 6.1 K/9, and 2.36 WHIP.

His biggest issue is allowing walks with a 4.8 BB/9 last season and a combined 5.0 BB/9 minor league rate in 2021. The high numbers are most likely from him never being healthy but there is no way to tell for sure because he is always hurt. And a 5.0 BB/9 is not playable. Of the starters with a minimum of 60 IP, here are the pitchers with the highest walk rates. Gore easily posted the best numbers.

High Walk 2022 Starters (min 60 IP)
Tucker Davidson 49 6.0 6.20 1.66
Joan Adon 64 5.4 7.10 1.78
Yusei Kikuchi 82 5.4 5.25 1.52
Konnor Pilkington 51 4.9 4.41 1.55
Nick Martinez 52 4.6 4.30 1.55
Dallas Keuchel 60 4.6 9.20 2.06
MacKenzie Gore 65 4.6 4.27 1.44
Kris Bubic 128 4.4 5.55 1.70
Adam Oller 66 4.4 6.68 1.61
Ian Anderson 111 4.4 5.00 1.51

It could get worse for him, not better if he just does the same thing. Gamble to be an average pitcher. Little to no upside unless he get the walks under control.

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 twice, and got his first NFBC Main Event win in 2021. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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1 year ago

Love seeing this series return! With the Phillies needing to reshuffle their rotation in the offseason (I believe they are losing several rotation arms), are we thinking Falter is ahead of or behind Eflin in terms of the pecking order to claim a rotation spot? I’m assuming he’ll probably come up at some point in this series.