Deep League Starting Pitchers (Wesneski, Clevinger, Quantrill, & Steele)

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

I am examining starters going later than pick 300 in the latest NFBC ADP (since October 1st). Here are the previous editions:

Hayden Wesneski (302 ADP)

It looks like the 24-year-old righty isn’t going to be a secret like I hoped. He shoved in four starts with a 1.85 ERA (3.87 xFIP), 0.95 WHIP, 49% GB%, and 8.1 K/9. While he just threw 33 major league innings, he threw a combined 143 IP when his AAA numbers are included.

He gets hitters out five-pitch arsenal with each pitch having decent results.

Hayden Wesneski Pitch Mix
Pitch Usage GB% SwStr%
Slider 32% 27% 15%
Four-seam 24% 44% 9%
Sinker 23% 69% 7%
Cutter 13% 42% 16%
Change 8% 38% 15%

All of his pitches grade out as average with the sinker generating a ton of ground balls. Because he puts a ton of balls on the ground or in the air, he had a league-best 12% LD% (min 30 IP).

His ADP started around 400 and improved to 300. This helium is worth it and I suspect his ADP will climb as more people dig in.

Mike Clevinger (311 ADP)

Simply, the 31-year-old has been at peak form when his velocity is at or over 95 mph. The issue is that he has not been able to keep up his velocity.

His fastball averaged 94.4 mph for the first four games and he posted a 3.18 ERA, 10.6 K/9, and 1.12 WHIP. Then he dealt with a tricep injury in late May that put him on the IL. From then on, his fastball sat at 93.4 mph while he posted a 4.53 ERA, 6.6 K/9, and 1.21 WHIP.

As the season went on, he backed off his effective cutter (15% SwStr%, 38% GB%) and slider (13% SwStr%, 27% GB%) and started throwing his sinker (5% SwStr%,46% GB%) more often.

I can see the upside with Clevinger when he’s throwing hard and utilizing his breaking pitches. If he is not doing that, he’s kind of useless. He’s worth a late dart if he’s having a productive (i.e. velo up and throwing strikes) Spring Training.

Cal Quantrill (313 ADP)

Quantrill has broken his ERA estimators the past two seasons with an ERA around a run lower than those estimators.

Cal Quantrill
2021 2.89 4.07 4.43 4.52 4.01 .267 .178
2022 3.38 4.12 4.39 4.50 4.31 .278 .243

I’ve found that maintaining a low BABIP with runners on base is not a skill, so I don’t expect him to maintain the low ERA. The rest of his profile is, at best, replacement level.

His 11 K%-BB% ranked 43rd out of 45 qualified pitchers. Additionally, his four-seamer is around league average and none of his other pitches even reach the average mark.

Cal Quantrill’s Pitches
Pitch SwStr% GB% Usage
Cutter 9% 42% 36%
Sinker 5% 43% 33%
Four-seam 8% 23% 15%
Change 12% 54% 12%
Curve 12% 42% 4%

He’s not the worst choice in a draft-and-hold league because of a nice floor but has none of the upside of the other pitchers being drafted around him.

Justin Steele (314 ADP)

The 27-year-old lefty kicked it into another gear when he went just fastball-slider about two-thirds of the way through the season.

Eventually, a back injury cost him his September, but it was a stark turnaround. In the first half, he had a 4.15 ERA, 8.6 K/9, and 4.0 BB/9. In the second half, they improved to 0.98 ERA, 11.5 K/9, and 3.2 BB/9.

Among qualified starters, his second half 22% K%-BB% is comparable to Corbin Burnes (24 K%-BB%), Justin Verlander (23% K%-BB%), and Yu Darvish (21% K%-BB%). Not bad company.

There is room for upside if he happens to develop a third pitch. I feel he’s a must-draft even if he’s going 100 picks earlier than his current ADP.

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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