Starting pitcher might be the deepest fantasy position overall in terms of total players available. Each team employs at least five full-time starters on Opening Day, but that doesn’t mean you want to draft them all. Starting pitching value is an odd mixture of strikeouts, ratios, and overall team strength. You want to be selective when building a fantasy rotation, drafting a good mix of studs, young guns, and upside. Let’s take a look at several over/underrated players, breakout candidates, and our top sleeper picks at the starting pitcher position.
I absolutely love Gio at his ADP of 105. His 2014 numbers look decent but not great, and I’m hoping that most folks think they were just that. In truth, he had a horrible May, posting an ERA of 7.98 and a .323 BA against, and then was lights-out for the rest of the year. He’s perennially good for about 8.5 – 9 K / 9, and he’s still just 29 years old. On a loaded Nationals team where he might be the fourth-best SP, he should represent considerable value for the 2015 season.
It’s hard not to like the situation that Mr. Ross finds himself in. He’s coming off an elite year, in an elite pitchers park, with a strongly upgraded roster. It remains to be seen if the offensive additions can actually play defense at PetCo, but I feel like the run support should be generally improved. Ross used his home park to great advantage in 2014, allowing .60 HR / FB, an insanely low number. I think he has the chance to post top 15 SP numbers at a #28 SP price.
Pineda came back from major surgery late in 2014 and totally dominated the field. He was a mainstay for owners who were lucky enough to grab him, posting a 1.89 ERA over 13 starts, winning five games. The underlying stats don’t suggest he’ll be quite that good in 2015, but he definitely has the ability to be a front of the fantasy rotation starter at a back of the rotation price. Keep your eyes peeled as pick 200 approaches if you’re looking for one final SP.
Wacha was sidelined early in 2014, suffering from a rare type of shoulder stress reaction. He returned to pitch a bit down the stretch, and he was terrible. I’m going to give him a pass there. He was pitching at a sub-2.50 ERA before going down, and made 15 starts during the 2013 season to the tune of a 2.78 ERA. I’m willing to conclude that when he’s healthy, he’s a 3.00 or under ERA guy. He also pitches in the NL for the Cardinals, and therefore gets great defense behind him and above average run support. At ADP 135, I’m willing to take the risk on Wacha to be my third or fourth starter for the 2015 season – his ace upside, for me, is too great to ignore.
I wasn’t ever really a massive Shark supporter, but the move to the White Sox really has me feeling hands-off. He left the NL for O.Co in the AL, which wasn’t a terrible move, but now he’s moved to U.S. Cellular Field, which is a batters paradise. I’m expecting and ERA above 3.50, WHIP above 1.25, and a value nowhere close ADP 68.
Teheran was an innings eater for the Braves in 2014, but the underlying stats don’t support his lofty draft status in 2015. For starters, his ERA was 2.89, but his FIP and x FIP were 3.49 and 3.72 respectively, indicating that he was pretty lucky in addition to being good. Furthermore, his opponents BABIP was extremely low, suggesting regression to the mean. Finally, the Braves look like they’ll be a train wreck this year, and I’m not certain he’ll even get to 10 wins, much less the 14 he earned in 2014. I’m shying away in all formats.
I’ve never really understood the hype with Bailey, or the reason he got a $100+ million contract. He’s never had an ERA below 3.49 in any full season, and he’s never won more than 13 games. Worse yet, he’s never had a K / 9 above 8.57. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a legit MLB starter, but I don’t see any great reason to make sure he’s on my team when healthy, and he’s coming off an injury. Nothing to see here, in my eyes.
Holland finally made it back to the major in time to start all of five games in 2014. All he did was dominate to the tune of a 1.46 ERA and 2 Wins, while serving up exactly 0 home runs. He’s mostly forgotten in drafts so far, but I think he might be a monster of a sleeper. Texas should be better overall this year, and Holland is their ace. If you can add him anytime past ADP 200, feel free.
Cingrani was all the rage in 2014 drafts, coming off a 2.92 ERA with 10+ K/ 9. But he struggled early, eventually succumbing to a shoulder injury after a highly ineffective MLB showing. He’s been given the all-clear for 2014 and there really isn’t any reason why an injury-free Cingrani shouldn’t be a value in almost any format. His ADP makes him the kind of risk we really like as fantasy owners: zero.
Average draft position (ADP) information is courtesy of FantasyPros and is aggregated from Yahoo, CBS, and ESPN draft data.