Starting Pitcher Busts are pretty prevalent each year in Fantasy Baseball. Everyone is always on the lookout for the next hot prospect or breakout starter. Yet, the fact of the matter is that the majority of these players do not live up to their expectations.
Let’s face the facts: there is only one Clayton Kershaw. Then there is just a small tier of elite guys below him that are completely trustworthy. After that, picking starting pitchers is as much of a crapshoot as selecting middle-round running backs in Fantasy Football
So finding starting pitcher busts is about finding the guys that are being over-hyped and therefore over-valued. There will always be players that spike one year due to some luck on their side, but seeing through the trees to find what is most likely to happen is the key to seeing the starting pitcher busts.
The rankings referenced are the Expert Consensus Rankings at Fantasy Pros as of March 14th. Make sure to check out my full rankings of starting pitchers.
2018 Starting Pitcher Busts
Luis Severino, NYY – ECR : SP10, 40th Overall
Severino was an absolute stud last season in his first full year in the big leagues. He finished with a 14-6 record, 2.98 ERA, 1.040 WHIP and 230 strikeouts. That is elite production.
However, he finds himself as one of my starting pitcher busts because I think there is a big fat case of regression coming his way. As I seem to have to reiterate: being one of the starting pitcher busts does not mean that he is unusable as a player. He will still be a Top-25 pitcher, I just do not think he is Top 10 at the position or Top 40 overall.
Severino had a 10.7 K/9 last season. He had not had a number that high since rookie ball. In the two previous seasons, he had not broken 9.0 in the category. So I think his strikeouts will definitely come down a notch.
When he broke into the majors in 2016 he had a 5.83 ERA. That is a far cry from the sub-3.00 he put up last season. I think it will be closer to 2017 than 2016, but it is still somewhere in the middle. I would guess he will have a 3.90-4.10 range. While that is still really good, that is not good enough for Severino’s price point.
Yu Darvish, CHC – ECR : SP12, 50th Overall
— Cubsessed (@CubsessedCubFan) February 14, 2018
As I already said in my starting pitcher rankings, I am lower on Darvish than the consensus. It is not just about his dreadful World Series, although that is a big part.
Darvish started two games in the 2017 World Series. He had zero strikeouts. You read that right. His ERA for the series was 21.60. It really could not have gone worse, especially when you think about his team losing in a Game 7.
Like I said, Darvish is one of my starting pitcher busts not just because of that terrible series. His numbers were down across the board last season. He had the lowest strikeouts per nine innings of his career. He had the highest ERA of his career. Darvish had the highest home run rate of his career. He seems like a pitcher on the decline.
So when you combine a decline in stuff with an apparent pitching-under-pressure problem, I do not want to spend a fifth-round pick on him. The pressure thing is not a good sign for a player going to the most pressure-filled franchise in the league.
Gerrit Cole, HOU – ECR : SP20, 82nd Overall
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Cole was seen as a massive addition to the World Series Champions. They basically stole him from Pittsburgh and now seem to have one of the deepest staffs in the league. I am here to pump the brakes on my fellow Texans.
Cole has been mostly good, and for one season (2015) was spectacular. Since that year, his ERA has crept higher in each subsequent year. Cole’s WHIP has been over 1.25 each of the past two years. Most importantly, he gave up 31 home runs last year.
That last stat is what leads into the real reason he is one of my starting pitcher busts: switching to the A.L. There is a reason that almost every major free agent starting pitcher chooses the National League. Having to face the designated hitter is a huge disadvantage.
So if Cole is already giving up more and more home runs, he is now going to face much better home run hitters. Nine of the top eleven home run hitters from 2017 played in the A.L. and 19 of the Top 27. His new division is full of mashers. I think there will be a steep curve to getting used to his new league, making his current price tag much too rich for the value he will provide.
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