Early ADP Thoughts – Starting Pitcher, Part II

Today’s ADP piece is looking at the SPs beyond the top 50. This is where you can win leagues. Let me emphasize “can” because leagues are rarely won or lost at the draft table alone. After all, there’s a reason we play out the six months of the season and don’t just go off a projection set. Usually a good 40-50% of many rosters turn over every year, at least in mixed leagues in the 10-15 team range.

Even if there are only 6-7 player slots turned over out of a 23-man roster (which is 25-30% turnover), there will still be many players moving in and out those slots. The point is that you shouldn’t get too precious about your draft picks in the mid-to-late rounds because a lot of them aren’t going to be on your roster very long anyway. Pitchers in particular have huge variance year-to-year so take your guys in this part of the draft.

Previous Editions:

STARTING PITCHER (click here for ADP list)

  • Jeff Samardzija (pick 196) might not have bounced back as well as some of us expected, but he shaved over a run off his ERA and further showed himself as one of the few workhorses left in the market.

  • Shark is one of just six starters to throw 200+ IP in each of the last four seasons (Scherzer, Bumgarner, Lester, Hamels, and Quintana).
  • Carlos Rodon (200) and James Paxton (204) are two of my AL Leap Year candidates as I could see both lefties turning into major fantasy assets in 2017.
  • Sonny Gray (203) had a disastrous 2016 with two injuries eating over two months of his season and no doubt impacting his results even when he was on the field.
  • Gray had five outings of 7+ ER (tied for most w/James Shields), something he’d done once in career prior to ’16. There’s just no way he’s this bad when healthy.
  • Drew Pomeranz (209) had the 18th-best swinging strike rate (11%) aiding him to a career-best 27% K rate.
  • There is some health risk (had stem cell injection for elbow in Oct.), but at the price I’m keeping an eye on Pomy. Yeah, I called him “Pomy” – pronounced pah-mee.
  • Jason and I discussed how maddening both Michael Pineda (221) and Robbie Ray (222) can be on a recent podcast.
  • If they are around their average price, they are both viable gambles, though their Min Pick (160 for MP, 177 for RR) suggests they could have a big believer in the league, boosting them from the early-60s to the low-40s among SPs. At that cost, I’m probably out.
  • Taijuan Walker (228) made my NL Leapers as I believe in the talent and thing that the bone spurs were a big factor in him not breaking out as many expected in ’16. He could be adding a two-seamer to help curb his HR issue, too.
  • I find it interesting that Marco Estrada (232) and Matt Shoemaker (238) are paired as the 64th and 65th SPs off the board because while there are sharp differences in how they succeed, I view them somewhat similarly.
  • It’s probably because neither throws particularly hard and has a HR issue based on working more up-and-down in the zone as both lean fastball/changeup (well, Shoe’s is a splitter, but same difference).
  • Both have a solid K% and Estrada’s better at stifling hits while Shoemaker walks very few batters to keep their WHIP totals in check and mitigate the damage from the HRs.
  • Shoemaker was hit in the head last year and we haven’t seen him pitch since, but if he doesn’t show ill effects from that event in Spring Training, he should be a solid investment.
  • Meanwhile, Estrada has the 13th-best WHIP (1.08) and 20th-best ERA (3.30) in baseball since ’15, yet many are still waiting for the other shoe to drop likely because he also has the 12th-worst FIP (4.28). At this cost, he’s got some wiggle room for regression.
  • Hell, throw Ian Kennedy (241) in there with them. He’s the 66th SP off the board and shares their HR issue, though he doesn’t limit base runners to the same level so his ERA and WHIP take a hit, but he gets more Ks to offset it a bit.
  • I don’t know what to expect from Garrett Richards (251) after he eschewed TJ surgery for rest and rehab. A big spring could push his ADP up 50+ slots so if you have confidence in him, hopefully you have an earlier draft to cash in at this price.
  • Jharel Cotton (265) is so filthy and I’m pretty geeked about him, though I doubt I’ll be alone by the time late-February rolls around.
  • Ivan Nova (288) likely won’t emulate his Pittsburgh numbers for a full season, but he’s probably going to add a few strikeouts and drop some walks off his 17% K and 7% BB rates en route to a full season in the mid-3.00s. I’m buying.
  • Tyler Glasnow (297) has always had a walk issue (career 12% in minors) and it came to a head last year as he walked five batters per nine innings both in the minors and in his 23.3-inning MLB debut. I’m concerned walks will remain an issue and leave Glasnow well shy of the expectations tied to his lofty prospect status (top 10 this year and last; top 50 the two years before that).
  • Zach Davies (299) is likely to get some fantasy love tied to Eno tabbing him as perhaps the next Kyle Hendricks (67).
  • Daniel Norris (309) has shown flashes in each of his 13-start campaigns the last two seasons. The next step is staying healthy. An oblique has gotten him each of the last two seasons (also had a back strain in ’16).
  • Adam Conley (313) followed up on the promise he showed in ’15, but there isn’t any discernible hype around him. If there’s no improvement, you’re not really out anything, but if he goes mid-3.00s, high-1.20s with his WHIP, you pocket a little profit.
  • I never considered Alex Cobb (315) last year knowing it’d be a washout as he returned from TJ surgery, but I’ll be keeping a close eye on him to buy back in this year. He was rounding into a damn fine arm before the surgery and could be a hidden gem this year.
  • Speaking of injured arms with a legitimate sample of quality under their belt, Lance Lynn (319) is slated to return in from TJ this year. He had his surgery in November of ’15 so I don’t think he’s going to be too limited innings-wise.
  • I also like his teammate Luke Weaver (322), though the 23-year old will likely be held south of 162 IP.
  • Ervin Santana (322) has a 3.59 ERA and 1.23 WHIP the last four seasons combined and has lived within the normal variance of those figures every season. He’s a boring pick, but not a bad innings eater for the backend of a staff.
  • I’m feeling a Wei-Yin Chen (332) bounce back. Not sure if the elbow that cost him two months in the second half play any role in the 4.99 ERA before the injury, but I’m giving him some leeway in the first year of his big deal.
  • The NL is generally easier and Miami should’ve helped curb his HRs, but I just don’t think Chen is a 5.00 ERA arm.
  • Mike Foltynewicz (332) made some incremental improvements and continues to instill hope because of his nasty stuff. I’m getting some shares for sure.
  • Francisco Liriano (333) got back on track a bit with Toronto, though his skills didn’t match the 2.92 ERA completely. I don’t think a mid-3.00s is unreasonable, though.
  • Jose Berrios (369) was a huge prospect for Minnesota, culminating in a top-20 ranking across the industry last year, but he struggled to put anything together in 58.3 MLB IP last year yielding an 8.02 ERA.
  • But it’s not like he stunk all season, he had a 2.51 ERA/0.99 WHIP combo in 111.3 IP at Triple-A with a 29% K rate. Don’t forget about him on draft day when you’re searching for upside.
  • Berrios offers as much upside as anyone in the 10 pitcher cluster around him (5 before, 5 after) which includes unprovens like Jose De Leon (349) and Lucas Giolito (351) as well as injured Michael Wacha (375), a longtime Sporer Favorite. I’d go Wacha, Berrios, Giolito, and De Leon.
  • Don’t completely ignore Tyler Anderson (373) just because he’s in Colorado. The former 1st-round pick maintained his skills home and away en route to a solid mid-3.00s ERA. I think he can repeat.
  • Luis Severino (397) did a great job showing why we can’t get overhyped on 11 starts, especially when the skills said he wasn’t anywhere near the 2.89 ERA he had.
  • He posted the same base skills in ’16, but his ERA rose nearly three runs as his BABIP went from .265 to .324. I think there’s still more learning curve here and he might be a better play in ’18.
  • Zack Wheeler (404) wasn’t so good before his TJ surgery that you should expect a particularly smooth return. Probably more hassle than he’s worth.
  • I’m not completely out on Homer Bailey (407) despite essentially two missed seasons (34.3 IP since ’15) and awful results when he has played (6.29 ERA). He had three really solid seasons before that and was rounding into a solid mid-rotation arm (3.61 ERA, 1.19 WHIP in 562.7 IP).
  • Archie Bradley (410) hasn’t given us much to be excited about in his 177.3 IP as a major leaguer, but he was a huge pedigree guy coming up (#7 overall pick, 5x top-50 prospect) and he’ll be just 24 years old this season.
  • Bradley needs either substantial improvement to his fastball or major development in his changeup. The former would serve him against all batters while the latter would help him cut into a 138-point platoon split.
  • Matt Boyd (414) is like a poor man’s Daniel Norris and while I much prefer Norris, both could take multiple steps forward.
  • Shelby Miller (447) hit rock bottom in ’16, but showed plenty of promise in three seasons before that and now it costs nothing to see if he can recapture it.
  • A few super-deep arms I’m keeping an eye on: Josh Hader (455), Charlie Morton (484), Hyun-Jin Ryu (486), Luis Perdomo (490), Chad Green (502), Drew Hutchison (540), Matt Wisler (570), and Wily Peralta (579).
  • Hader is an interesting lefty prospect for Milwaukee and they have some shaky pieces in their rotation that could open up a spot for him in the first half of ’17.
  • Morton only lasted 17.3 IP before a blown hammy ended his season, but he’d added a ton of velo and tons of swinging strikes along with it.
  • Ryu is a major health risk so keep an eye on his Spring Training reports, but he’s going to start if healthy.
  • Perdomo was a solid Rule 5 pickup from StL for the Padres, posting an essentially replacement value season despite making the jump from High-A. He worked 93-95 MPH with a 59% GB rate in 146.7 IP.
  • Green flashed some skills (26% K, 12% SwStr) when he wasn’t giving up HRs (2.4 HR/9), but a 25% HR/FB and career 0.5 HR/9 in the minors suggest there was some bad luck.
  • Hutch is still just 26 years old and only has 417.7 IP under his belt, this isn’t a finished product and now he gets a season in Pittsburgh.
  • Wisler curbed his horrendous platoon split from ’15, but continued to suffer from a HR problem that saw him allow 3+ HR in a league-high five games (tied w/James Shields). The former top prospect could be an NL-only asset.
  • Peralta had a 2.92 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in 10 starts after returning from injury.
  • I’m not going to write an additional comment on these, but I’ll continue to monitor until they get a shot: Robert Stephenson (629), Mike Clevinger (656), Austin Voth (668), Shane Greene (670), Daniel Mengden (672), and Jesse Hahn (702).

I think this ending up being the longest entry in the series, which certainly doesn’t surprise me after what I mentioned in the intro. Obviously not all of the guys I like in range will pop, but many will and a handful will be truly spectacular.

It’s a great area to mine talent and opinions differ much more so you can really gain an edge. Among the top 50 starters, the average difference between their min and max pick is 62 slots. For 51-100, it’s 141 and then from 101 to 200, it’s 234 (there was little difference between 101-150 and 151-200, which is why I just group all 100 together).

As always, now it’s your turn. Let me know who you’re eyeing and avoiding in this range. This is a big area for sleepers, so let’s hear ‘em!

Paul is the Editor of Rotographs and contributes to ESPN's Daily Notes. Follow Paul on Twitter @sporer and on Twitch at sporer.

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I don’t know why Tyler Anderson isn’t receiving more fanfare. ERA / FIP / xFIP all in the 3.54 to 3.64 range in 19 starts last year. 50%+ ground ball rate and a 3.5 K/BB.

Also had a solid swinging strike rate of 10.7%.

I know Colorado is a scary place for pitchers, but if he maintains those peripherals he should repeat.


Agreed. Other traits I like:
* Big lefty (6’4, 215)
* Former first round pick
* Above average in O-Swing%, Soft%, and Hard%


Anderson in 2016:
– Home: 78.0 IP, 3.00 ERA, 3.56 xFIP, 265/315/414 batters’ line
– Away: 36.1 IP, 4.71 ERA, 3.82 xFIP, 269/325/444

That doesn’t fit anyone’s understanding of Coors Field whatsoever. At Coors his K% was higher, his BB% lower, his HR% slightly lower and his BABIP essentially the same. He gave up significantly fewer doubles at Coors.

I don’t have the tools to thoroughly search home/road splits historically but you know who else had inverted home/away numbers for a single season at Coors? Ubaldo Jimenez in 2010 when he put up an overall 2.88 ERA and was 2.63 at home and 3.19 on the road and finished 3rd in the CY voting. The next year? An overall 4.68 ERA fueled in large part by a 130 point jump in OPS against at home as BABIP climbed and he simply could not keep the HR monster at bay for a 2nd year in a row.

Sorry, but there’s a lot there that to me says he had a fluke year at home last year and is due for regression. I’d love to see a more comprehensive look at guys who have pitched well at Coors one year and how they did the next. My guess is most of those guys put up much worse numbers the next year.

baltic wolf
baltic wolf

I believe it happened to Jason Hammel one year too. And then there’s that abbreviated season that Juan Nicasio had in 2011 (before suffering that terrible injury on a liner back to the mound).
It’s really hard to repeat those kind of numbers at Coors Field. And IMHO it’s even more difficult to succeed there when the average velocity of your fastball is only 92. (As opposed to Ubaldo who could hit 97-98.)
It’s not inconceivable he could come close to repeating the numbers he had in 2016 if he throws the sinker more often this coming season. Brooks baseball says it’s a real “worm killer.” But history says (and Steamer projects) that it’s unlikely to happen.


OK, I got Ubaldo’s home/road ERAs mixed up. I think the point stands though – I’d be very dubious of a guy posting numbers that good at Coors 2 years in a row.


This. I will never draft a Col pitcher.