Deep League Starting Pitchers (Pivetta, Strasburg, Paddack, & Singer)

Another dive into pitchers going after pick 300 in the NFBC. Here are the arms I’ve already examined.

Starting and Relievers, Part 1 & 2($$):

Deep League Starting Pitchers

Nick Pivetta (364 ADP)

I gave up on trying to figure out who Pivetta is a couple of seasons ago. Simply, he has not found a way to live up to his ERA estimators (career 5.16 ERA, 4.10 xFIP). The reason he keeps sucking fantasy managers back is that he doesn’t have any major red flags causing him to get hit around like a slow fastball or just two pitches. The home runs aren’t going to go away with his flyball nature (38% GB%), but his high is BABIP here to stay. His BABIP ranks fourth overall among all pitchers since 2017 (min 500 IP). He seems to own the skill of getting hit around.

And probably the dagger in his profile is a high walk rate (10% BB% in 2021, 9% for his career). If a pitcher is getting hit around like him, he can’t be giving away so many free passes.

For now, all of his fantasy value is tied up in strikeouts with his WHIP and ERA dragging him down.

As I said, I’m done with trying to figure him out. When he was hot for a month to start the season, I didn’t roster him anywhere and I lost no sleep over it. The one way I’d be interested is if he throws an equal mix of fastballs and sliders. This pitch mix removes a subpar curveball and makes sure he throws as many above-average sliders (15% SwStr%) as possible.

Stephen Strasburg (367 ADP)

I’m not much of one to gamble on a pick, but Strasburg going this late seems like a steal. While injuries have destroyed his last two seasons, he was one of the league’s best pitchers in 2019.

It really comes to the odds that the 33-year-old will rebound to being at least usable. I am thinking a 25% chance to be usable with a 10% chance of being a top-20 starter. No one else in this range has anything close to those odds. In a redraft league, I’m all in at this cost and would gladly add him 50 to 75 picks earlier. In a league with no moves, it’s a little tougher. There’s a good chance, he provides nothing and the pick was completely wasted, but adding Pivetta has likely the same outcome. Strasburg has the chance to be elite.

Now, to determine if Strasburg is healthy in the spring, I’m looking at two factors. First, is his fastball sitting at a minimum of 93 mph. The other factor is if he’s throwing strikes. The signs were there of issues last Spring Training when he walked 10 batters in 13 IP and was sitting at 91-92 mph.

Chris Paddack (370 ADP)

There is a lot going on with Paddack including just a few positives. He got hit around (.311 BABIP, 1.3 HR/9) with his ERA (5.07) over a run higher than his ERA estimators (3.78 FIP, 4.05 SIERA). While he is trying to throw a curve (11% SwStr%), he’s essentially just a fastball-changeup pitcher (86% combined usage) and struggled the second time through the order (1st TTO: 3.21 ERA, 2nd TTO: 7.21 ERA) – most starting pitchers reach issues the third time through.

Additionally, he dealt with a UCL sprain and got injections after the season. It’s not ideal to end the season with an elbow sprain.

It’s understandable why managers might go back to the well with his 16.8 K%-BB% (54th highest, min 100 IP in 2021). He’s got a little Nick Pivetta in him with the results not matching what the underlying skills predict.

As for rostering him, I could see him being a last-round dart in a redraft league or a team’s 12th starter in a draft-and-hold.

Brady Singer (375 ADP)

Singer’s another two-pitch guy who just walks too many batters. It seems like a broken record today, but they all are being valued about the same. Singer attacks hitters with a sinker (8% SwStr%, 51% GB%) and slider (16% SwStr%, 49% GB%). He’s tried to throw a changeup but the results have been horrible. The two main pitches are both fine but not good enough to make him elite. With a limited arsenal, he has a 3.71 ERA the first time through the order and a 5.44 ERA the second time.

Additionally, his career 3.6 BB/9 is just above the limit I try to set to when rostering pitchers.

I tried to find any improvement to get excited over but I could not find anything. It was all bad. His pitch velocity declined as the season went on. His K%-BB% dropped from 14% to 12%. He lost a month from a shoulder issue and his season ended with another arm issue.

Even looking at his 4.21 Steamer projected ERA, it seems low knowing he just has two pitches. He’s a fine pitcher, but he needs to take a couple of major steps forward to be fantasy viable.

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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2 years ago

Woof. Well, as usual we will watch the health and the possible 3rd pitch inclusions in spring training in the hopes that singer or paddack can get to something average or better.