Deep League Starting Pitchers (Weaver, Bumgarner, Bundy, & Mikolas)

Deep League Starting Pitchers

Luke Weaver (452 ADP)

What a mess. It’s not that Weaver hasn’t shown any talent, but injuries (forearm in 2019, shoulder in 2021) and stretches of ineffectiveness make it tough to know who will emerge next season.

I’m going to value him based on the second half when he had a 16% K%-BB% and 38% GB with a fastball that averaged 94 mph. He ended up with a 4.32 xFIP that was similar to his career (4.09) and first half (4.22) values.

When he did come back, he threw a curveball (5% usage) but it has never been an effective pitch for him (36% GB%, 6% SwStr%). The deal is that its shape is a little different and it might generate a few more swings and misses than his old version. Here are the comps for the pitch.

The major issue hanging over his head is his inability to stay healthy. Over the past three seasons, he has only thrown a combined 182 innings with two major arm injuries.

My approach would be to track him closely in Spring Training for health, velocity, and curveball usage. If all looks good, roster him at a draft’s end to see if he improves. If not, drop him and possibly stream him later in weak matchups.

Madison Bumgarner (454 ADP)

Another Diamondback. He was providing fantasy value for years with good ratios with tons of volume. Both of those traits are gone and it’s tough to find a reason to roster him. Still, he should pitch every fifth day, so he needs a value for possible streaming matchups.

He admitted to not preparing for 2020 so those results can be thrown out. He started building up his velocity last year, but a shoulder injury set him back. When he returned, his velocity was down and his strikeouts took a hit.

During the early stretch, he had a 4.69 xFIP and it jumped to a 4.96 xFIP in the second half.

He has no recent history of being effective. Just looking back at his career, he was only rosterable when his velocity was at or over 91 mph. He’ll stay off my rosters until I see some Spring Training velos.

Dylan Bundy (454 ADP)

Bundy was a huge swing-and-miss by me last year. I had him on several teams but had to eventually let him go. He just fell apart. In 2020, he fulfilled the narrative of just needing to get out of Baltimore with his home run rate dropping from 1.6 HR/9 to 0.7 HR/9. His home runs jumped back up to 2.0 HR/9 that year but his strikeouts (9.9 K/9 to 8.3 K/9) and walks (2.3 BB/9 to 3.4 BB/4) also got worse. An ankle injury eventually shut down the disaster.

He started out the season just fine but progressively got worst with his monthly xFIP going from 3.73 to 4.69 to 5.34 to 6.05 to 5.09. Two things were going on. First, he was steadily losing velocity.

The other issue was the enforcement of the foreign substance ban with his slider losing over 300 rpm.


He found a workaround but did not gain all of the pitch’s spin back. In 2020, his slider had a 22% SwStr% but it dropped to 15% last season. From the start of the season to June 7th, he had a 4.23 xFIP. From the enforcement date on, it jumped to a 5.40 xFIP fueled by a 5.1 BB/9.

He’s more than a late dart for me. I trust that he will try to find a way to be productive. We should know early on how he’s performing and he can be dropped if still struggling.

Miles Mikolas (454 ADP)

Injuries have limited Mikolas to throwing just 44 IP over the past two seasons. He came back and was pretty much his old low strikeout and walk self. The deal is that his strikeout rate dropped just a bit and his walks rose so his K%-BB% dropped from 15% to 11%. It’s not a lot, but he’s got such a razor-thin margin in order to stay relevant.

There were no talent changes to point to him getting better or worse. I’d expect him to be the same pitcher he’s always been.

I like him in the draft-and-hold format because he’s likely streamable for half to two-thirds of his starts. In that format, volume is king. In redraft, I am not sure if he will provide enough strikeouts. At least until he gets hurt again.

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

Remember when Bumgarner no-hit the Braves? LOL