Do Not Draft: Starting Pitchers

Hello and good morning! First off, sorry I didn’t get an outfield “do not draft” list to you last week. Here in Iowa we’ve been buried by at least a foot of snow in the last week, which resulted in a lot of snow removal daily. It almost felt as if I started my own snow removal business (folks out east probably know what that’s like). Hace no fear – I wil make up for that in a few weeks.

Today I’m bringing you three starting pitchers to avoid on draft day. This one is a little tougher because there are a lot of factors to be taken in when drafting pitchers. Do you want a guy with a high strikeout rate,maybe a pitcher friendly home park is a priority, do you prefer veterans that will put up solid numbers or a young upside guy that can light the world on fire (or crash and burn quickly). There is a lot of risk when it comes to drafting pitchers, but as long as your league rules allow it you can stream pitchers fairly easily as well – just in case you chose poorly on on a few selections or wait too long to fill out your rotation.

Michael Fulmer, Tigers

Michael Fulmer isn’t a bad pitcher if you’re looking at things from just a baseball perspective. For our purposes that doesn’t really do us any good. Fulmer is a pitch-to-contact kind of pitcher (74% balls in play last season), which doesn’t always play the best in the game of fantasy baseball. If he’s not on his A-game, things can go south for him in a hurry.

Fulmer is projecting as the 43rd pitcher off the board right now, which falls right in line with where I have him ranked (#44). I have him ranked that high because he can limit his damage to an extent, posting a sub-4.00 ERA each of his first two years, but there isn’t much upside for additional points on top of what you’re going to get for innings pitched and wins.

Fulmer broke onto the scene in ’16 with great success, but saw those numbers were scaled back in ’17. His K/9 of 7.5 in ’16 dropped to 6.2 last season. The rate of 7.5 isn’t a great number, but 6.2 is very lackluster and below league average. Even keeping his WHIP between 1.11 and 1.15 – it’s tough to project a huge game out of him.

If you’re playing in a points league, there’s not much Fulmer is going to do for you on a regular basis. He would be the kind of guy you’d roster to exploit certain matchups, and a matchup pitcher is not someone you draft that early – if at all. The Tigers haven’t done him any favors by ripping all the pieces out from behind him, leaving a below-average offense for support.

The bottom line on Fulmer, take the risk on a higher-ceiling player later in the draft rather than drafting the “safe pick” when it rolls around to Michael Fulmer.

Zach Godley, Diamondbacks

It seems everyone is in on Zach Godley strictly based off his successful 2017 campaign. His current ADP has him as the 31st pitcher off the board. Excuse me if I think that’s a bit high (#45 on my board). Yes, let’s clap our hands – that ’17 was a nice season for him, but let’s also factor in that it could’ve been his best season he’ll ever have.

Last season was Godley’s first full season at the major league level. His two seasons prior he totaled 36 appearances both in the rotation and out of the bullpen. In ’16 saying Godley was bad would sum it up safely. He sported an ERA north of 6.00, his K/9 was 7.2, which put his K/BB rate at 2.4. Those numbers are supported positively from his role in the bullpen. If you look strictly at his SP numbers, which I remind you is why we’re here, he was bad. From the starting role Godley put together a 7.31 ERA, a K/9 rate of 6.4 and a K/BB rate of 2.00. Yuck.

Now let’s look at 2017. Godley started 25 games, making one appearance out of the pen. He posted an ERA of 3.37, a K/9 rate of 9.6, and bettered his K/BB rate to 3.11. Those numbers all point to a guy that should be included in the top 30 off the board, but you can’t look at just one season! When you compile his starting numbers from his career the numbers would say something entirely different.

Godley has a career BABIP of .296. That might be a little high and could regulate itself over the course of the next few seasons. Other data shows 63% of the plate appearances batters put the ball in play against Godley suggesting the BABIP might stick. It seems to me Godley is two different pitchers, you just don’t know which one you’re going to get each time he steps foot onto the mound.

Bottom line on Godley, he’s not a top 30 pitcher. Don’t take the risk banking on one good season. You could very well end up with the Zach Godley that posts an ERA north of 5.00 and lacks the strikeouts you’re looking for. Look elsewhere that early.

Dylan Bundy, Orioles

Dylan Bundy projects as the Orioles #1 option in the rotation this year. At one time many people in the baseball industry thought that was a given with the hype surrounding him and the success he showed in the minors. Unfortunately for Bundy, that hasn’t really translated at the big-league level quite yet – granted it’s only been two seasons.

Bundy is currently projecting as the 47th pitcher off the board, in the 18th round. He hits my list at #65, which would likely put him somewhere around the 23rd round. I’m not sure what owners are looking at, perhaps K/9 of 8.2 in his career, that have him as a top 50 option, but nothing else suggests he’s deserving of that value.

Bundy has made 24 appearances out of the bullpen in his career, but because we’re talking about starting pitching we’re going to disregard those numbers today. In his career as a starter (42 games) Bundy has an ERA of 4.33, a WHIP of 1.23, K/9 of 8.4, and a K/BB ratio of 2.77. Not considering the small number of games started, when I see numbers like that I’m not throwing that guy into a top 50 SP group. He may be hindered a bit by BABIP, but last year his BABIP was lower than in ’16 and his ERA was higher, so that argument can’t fully be made.

As mentioned earlier, Bundy lining up with other teams #1 options is also going to hurt his value. Pitchers with career ERA’s over 4 are generally going to be your back-end rotation guys. If Bundy was even lined up as the O’s #3 option, I’d like his value a lot better than being an “ace” of a rotation. The numbers show he’s simply not that at this point.

Bottom line on Bundy, there’s no reason to take him in the first 20 rounds. The only thing he’s shown he has good for at this point are strikeouts and that’s not enough to weigh him over other guys such as Lance Lynn or Taijuan Walker, who are both projecting to go 2-3 rounds later than Bundy.

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Now that I’ve given you my side of the starting pitcher position, let’s hear yours! Leave your fantasy questions in the comment section below or on Twitter, @KennyGarvey. Catch you next week as I give you my “Do Not Draft” list of outfield options!

 

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Kenny Garvey

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I'm from eastern Iowa, yes there are more things than just corn here. I'm a baseball nerd. If there's a game televised you can bet I've got it on! Family and baseball keep me sane. Fantasy baseball far outweighs fantasy football, no doubt about it!

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