Dollar Drafts: Starting Pitchers

First, a brief introduction to my roto strategy when it comes to pitchers.  In general I downgrade pitching because I see the 5 categories as essentially counting categories that you can still excel in as long as you focus on reaching your innings cap.  Most leagues will set an innings cap around 1,250 innings.

Now a word on the math of pitching.  In a 10-team league with 9 pitcher spots, I am going to assume that most owners will go with 6-7 starters and then 2-3 relievers in their lineup.  With 15 teams in each league, there are essentially 75 starting pitcher slots up for grabs.  The majority of these pitchers will be owned in your league.  That means you will have to pay attention to the battles for 4th and 5th pitcher slots, as well as pitchers who may be in line for starts if someone is injured or ineffective.

If your league has an innings cap of 1,250 innings and you play a 25 week MLB schedule, you could space your innings out to 50 per week.  If you have 7 starters, and expect to get an average of 6-innings per start from them, you can expect 42 innings from starters each week.  Over the course of the year, your starters will pitch more than 80% of your innings.  With this much contribution, it is important to get the most bang for your buck.  Do not go chasing wins, but rather aim to garner the highest K/9 in the league.  This will put you in good position to win the most points you can in K’s and should help you with ERA and WHIP.

Pitching may be one of the more volatile positions heading into spring training.  In addition to potential for injuries, and various pitchers coming back from injuries, there are usually several 4th and 5th starter positions up for grabs.  A great spring from a relatively unknown arm can throw someone into fantasy relevance.  With this in mind, I have highlighted a few rotations to keep an eye on during spring training as well as some possible $1 arms to target if you are picking in the next few weeks.

To briefly recap, these are possible $1 auction values in AL or NL-only, 10-team, 5×5 roto leagues with the following positions: 2C, 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, MI, CI, 5 OF, UT, 9 P and a $260 budget.

Assumptions for the starting pitcher end game:

  1. There are many SP who also qualify as RP.  Many of these pitchers are coming into camp stretched out to challenge for starting pitcher roles.  These are the pitchers profiled here.  Pitchers set in bullpen roles will be profiled in the RP article.
  2. Many owners had great success drafting prospect arms in 2013 and reaping the benefits when those players reached the majors (Jose Fernandez, Shelby Miller, Gerrit Cole).  I assume players like Kevin Gausman will cost more than $1 in an AL-only league, and long shots to make the Opening Day roster such as Marcus Stroman will not be allowed to be drafted in leagues due to eligibility requirements.

American League:

SP: Bud Norris, Chris Capuano, Andre Rienzo, Shawn Marcum, Jarred Cosart, Danny Duffy, Tyler Skaggs, Mike Pelfrey, Phil Hughes, Samuel Deduno, David Phelps, Scott Kazmir, James Paxton, Nick Tepesch, Colby Lewis

Andre Rienzo: Currently slated as the #6 starter in Chicago, Rienzo made a brief MLB debut in 2013.  He flashed elite K-potential in the minors, and while his K/9 was 6.11 in 2013, he suffered from a high BB/9 rate.

Danny Duffy: Duffy should be in a battle for the 4th or 5th starter slot in Kansas City with Yordano Ventura and Bruce Chen.  In 2013, Duffy flashed his K-potential with 22 strikeouts in 24.1 innings.  If he can harness a K/9 around 8 (which would place him in the top 10 of the AL according to 2013 stats) he would become a great option, especially in roto leagues.

Sam Deduno and Phil Hughes: Hughes had 2 double-digit win seasons in New York with K/9 rates in the mid-7’s.  Moving to Minnesota gives him a chance to rejuvenate his career.  Meanwhile, Sam Deduno is one of the future arms in Minnesota.  With K/9 in the 9 range during the his minor league career, Deduna could transform into an elite strikeout pitcher in fantasy.  He needs to harness his control, a BB/9 rate of 3.42 in 2013 is too high, but has great potential.

Recommendation: Even though I downgrade starting pitching in roto, I am still hoping to land at least one “ace” level arm.  It is my feeling that come the end of the season you will be streaming starters, so as long as you own 2-3 must start arms, feel free to add and drop the rest of your staff throughout the year.  And definitely be sure to reach that innings cap.

National League:

SP: Brandon McCarthy, Alex Wood, Mike Leake, Brett Anderson, Henderson Alvarez, Nate Eovaldi, Jacob Turner, Andrew Heaney, Wily Peralta, Jennry Mejia, Kyle Kendrick, Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, Wandy Rodriguez, Jeff Locke, Tyson Ross, Tim Hudson, Joe Kelly, Ross Detwiler, Tanner Roark, Gavin Floyd, Tyler Thornberg

Jennry Mejia: Meija is in a crowded competition for a rotation spot in New York, but the 24-year-old pitcher certainly has the tools to make an impact.  In 2013, Meija had 27 K’s in 27.1 innings.  While his 1.32 BB/9 is probably unsustainable, even if that goes up to the low 3’s, he is a solid option.

Ross Detwiler: Detwiler could find himself part of what I consider the deepest pitching rotation in baseball (Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister in Washington).  Add in the fact that Nationals could have one of the most potent offenses, and he is certainly a guy worth owning. He is a year removed from a 10-win season, and while his K/9 is not great, he shows good control and could be a source of wins (though don’t go fishing for wins).

Marlins: Jose Fernandez is the only must own starting pitcher in Miami.  However, at least 3 other arms are worth considering, especially for $1.  Henderson Alvarez, Nate Eovaldi, Jacob Turner and Andrew Heaney are all interesting young arms.  Eovaldi and Heaney are both potential sources for strikeouts.  Heaney is rapidly rising in many rankings, so if you are drafting early, I would target him while you can still get him for cheap.

Tim Hudson: In 13 of his 15 MLB seasons Tim Hudson has finished with double-digit wins.  Even in 2013, he ended the year 8-7.  Additionally, he has a career K/9 of 6.06 (interestingly enough, that puts him ahead of all-time greats like Greg Maddux, Dave Stewart, Juan Marichal, Orel Hershiser and Dizzy Dean to name a few) and BB/9 of 2.71.  Hudson is a fierce competitor, pitching in a somewhat weak hitting NL West, in a pitcher park, so he is worth a flier.

Recommendation: Same as the AL, I am aiming to grab a top arm and then take a shot on some young arms with high upside.  I am not afraid to own several $1 arms, especially since you will be streaming at the end of the season.

Dollar Draft Series

CatcherCorner InfieldMiddle InfieldOutfieldStarting PitcherRelief Pitchers

2 thoughts on “Dollar Drafts: Starting Pitchers”

  1. Nice work Pete.

    In a deep league like this with an innings limit, I would try to minimize my need for reliance on these arms by loading up on as many relievers as I could. Many cheap SPs are going to do nothing but blow up your ratios, but you can get a lot of positive innings out of non-closing RPs.

    1. Great point Tommy. Be sure to check out my $1 RP next week. These $1 SP are definitely matchup plays unless someone emerges as the 2014 version of Jose Fernandez.

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