Luis, will you be my Masahiro baby?

Considering the lyric, I should probably talk about Raisel Iglesias too, but I’ll stick with his teammate for now. Luis Castillo and Masahiro Tanaka are two starting pitchers I really like. Castillo is another man crush and Tanaka pitches for my Yankees so I’m ready to gush!

Luis Castillo SP Cincinnati Reds
Fantrax ADP: SP 32 and 115th Overall

*Checks Date*. It is not 2018. *But wasn’t Luis Castillo on every breakout list last year?* Yes. It’s happening this year guys.

Luis Castillo needs to find consistency. There are risks. But, you are drafting Castillo at a point in the draft where risks abound. It’s easy to be pessimistic about pitchers, if for no other reason than the finicky nature of the position. But, you can’t win without them so find the ones you like and target them. This is a flag-planting talent being drafted outside the top-20 starting pitchers.

It was a tale of two seasons. Big hype, lowered velocity and questions of pitch tipping resulted in a first half ERA of 5.49 in 2018. He gave up home runs, lost focus with men on base, and was dropped by many owners. But, check out his second half.

2.44 0.96 3.17 .268 13.5 (season) 4.93 48% .362

That swinging strike rate over the entire season placed Castillo 8th among starting pitchers. This is (in part) due to his changeup which is one of the best swing and miss pitches in baseball. Castillo’s 2018 was certainly strange. Aside from the chasm in results between the first and second half, Castillo’s strand rate was only about 70% which is exceptionally low. Also, the perception that his home ballpark holds him back wasn’t evident. His Home ERA was 3.51 while his road ERA was 5.03. So how do we make sense of what 2019 Castillo should be?

Lowering his walk rate by 2 points a year ago gives me a rosy outlook for Castillo. The Ks will be there, but they aren’t empty strikeouts. Keep in mind that this is the Robbie Ray, Chris Archer portion of the draft. Now imagine a pitcher with similar K upside, but with developing command and a propensity to induce ground balls. He pitches in the NL so I think a 3.50 ERA upside is more than reasonable. When you project upside, there has to be a reasonable path to success. For Castillo, with maintained velocity and that wicked changeup, you don’t have to look much further. He has shown flashes, but I’m looking for him to build on those second half gains in 2019.

  • My Advice

Castillo is not a guarantee. But again, this is the portion of the draft where you just have to identify your guy. In a deep league, I’m comfortable with Castillo as my SP3. In TGFBI, I took Castillo 114th overall as my SP3 with Verlander and Wheeler on my staff. There are no reaches at this point. But, make sure you find a guy with top 20 upside – Castillo has the clearest path to that result. Another option? Read on

Masahiro Tanaka SP New York Yankees
Fantrax ADP SP 35 and 129th Overall

The positive? Top 20 K/BB ratio in baseball at 4.54 K/BB in 2018. The negative? Homers. You knew this. But, ERA is volatile anyway, right? We can live with a 3.75 ERA given the upside for Wins and strikeouts, right? As my SP4, I can. Tanaka induced a 47% GB last year, and this is a very underrated aspect of his profile. A 1.13 WHIP is also a very nice addition, especially in Roto leagues. Tanaka’s start to start consistency will always be of concern, but his season long numbers tend to end up in the same place. And they’re valuable.

Projections systems aren’t willing to go too far above 150 innings for Tanaka, and this is certainly part of his devaluation. But, even if he repeats his season from last year, you’re pleased.

Tanaka’s 2018 Ranks among starters with 150 IP:

ERA: 38th
xFIP: 18th
GB%: 21st
K%: 22nd
WHIP: 21st
SIERA: 16th
SwStr%: 9th

Oh and there’s this:

I’m not going to include his Wins total because it’s not necessarily predictive. But, the closer to 175 innings Tanaka gets as he pitches in a high-powered Yankees offense, the more he looks like a top 20 pitcher being drafted outside the top 30. I don’t get it. People are ignoring the obvious innings limitation to a guy like Buehler but are holding it against Tanaka.

  • My Advice

I have Tanaka as my 26th SP but I don’t expect you to have to take him there. Be aware of him anywhere after pick 100, but especially after 120. This puts you in the 12th-13th round range in a 12 team mixed league. Think of pairing Masahiro with relatively safe ERA types you may already have by the point where you draft Tanaka; Mikolas, Wheeler, Taillon. My ideal start would look something like this; Carrasco, Wheeler, Castillo, Tanaka where you’re using a 3rd, 6th, 9th, and 12th round pick on starting pitching.


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Written by 

Avid Fantasy Baseball player, Yankees fan, amateur gambler, dog-lover. @AssemblyColin