Take the meaning of this article however you’d like. Going in to this Fantasy Baseball season I have a few pitchers that, I don’t want to say I refuse to own, but I will be staying as far away from them as possible. Whether it be age, regression, lucky seasons or many other factors, here’s my list of pitchers you should really think twice before drafting:
When it comes to Darvish, it’s much less about talent and much much more about injury. After lighting the Major Leagues on fire in his first two and a half years to the tune of a 39-25 record, injuries got the best of Darvish. He underwent the dreaded Tommy John surgery and would up the rest of the 2014 season, all of 2015 and the better part of the first four months of 2016 (he made 6 starts over 4 months). That’s what concerns me. Once he made his way fully back, he was far less dominant. Although his 11.84 K/9 was the second highest of his career and his 2.78 BB/9 was the lowest of his career, he still showed many signs that the Darvish of old may just be a thing of legends at this point. His Fly Ball/HR rate was at 12.0%, BABIP was at a less than desirable .290 and ended the year with an ERA of 3.41. The upside is there if you really like Darvish but, as far as i’m concerned, I will pass on a pitcher that’s missed the better part of 2 years and didn’t look his best after he returned.
I have such high hopes for Archer. Much like Darvish, he has elite level stuff. Unlike Darvish, though, Archer suffers from three major issues that many people write off much too quickly. That would be his terrible HR/FB rate last season (16.2%) which lead to 1.34 HR per game, His walk rate (3.48 and 3.82 per 9 the last two years) and the Rays inability to score runs (3.48 RPG for Archer last season). All of this lead to a 4.02 ERA, and 19 losses. Although I’m not all the way out on Archer, I do believe he will be the victim of yet another down year. If you draft him, plan on him under performing and be happy when he ends the year with a record hovering around .500.
This one is going to be short and sweet. In the immortal words of our fearless leader, Donald Trump, Porcello’s 2016 season was FAKE NEWS. Whenever a pitcher has been the epitome of “meh” for the first 7 years of his career and then has a career high in Wins, Ks and IP and a career low in ERA, Losses, Walks, HR/FB and BABIP all in the same season…it’s a bit fishy. If you were lucky enough to ride the Porcello train to the playoffs last season, good for you. The real Porcello is much closer to the 2015 guy that went 9-15 than the 2016 guy that went 22-4.
See: Porcello, Rick
although I will admit his ceiling is much higher than Porcello, I’m not buying it. Once again, I think Hendricks is much closer to his 2015 self (8-7, 3.95 ERA) than his ridiculous 2016 self (16-8, 2.13 ERA
My issue with Tanaka is fairly simple, he cannot seem to stay healthy. Although last season he did manage to make 31 starts, he missed 10+ starts in each of his first two seasons and always seems to be one pitch away from suffering yet another one. If he can stay healthy, he’s already proven that a repeat of last seasons 14-4 record with 7+ K/9 is possible. In the world of Fantasy Baseball though, I’m not the kind of guy that necessarily likes to risk it. If you’re enamored by the high upside, be my guest. Just don’t be surprised when he only makes 20 starts this year and you’re stuck wondering if its worth it to keep him on your bench or try and get whatever you can for him on the trade market. Oh, and the guy has a career HR/FB rate of 14.1% in a stadium with one of the shortest outfield fences in baseball. That will catch up to him eventually.