2017 Fantasy Baseball: Drafting A Pitching Staff After Round 15
In Fantasy Baseball, there are many strategies that people use in order to put their team in the best position to win. When it comes to drafting, there are strategies that many people use but there are also some that are more rare and unconventional. Today we will be looking at one of these strategies. What would it look like if you waited until after the 15th Round before even starting to build your pitching staff.
This strategy has obvious advantages. In a category based league, which is the type of league that I will be analyzing with this strategy, it would theoretically allow you to dominate the hitting categories. You could stack your hitters and get great production throughout all of the stats while the other owners worry about balancing their roster.
Then, there are the disadvantages, which are as obvious as the advantages. It would leave you at a huge disadvantage in pitching. Again, theoretically, you would have the worst pitching in your league, so you would need to top every hitting category in order for it to pay off. It seems like punting an entire half of the categories.
However, I don’t believe this is true. I believe that great hitting is more scarce than great pitching when you get later into the draft. I fully believe that if you draft right, that this strategy could help you top the hitting categories while still staying competitive in the pitching categories.
Still, you need to nail your draft, and that is where we come in. Let’s analyze the current CBS ADP and try and build a nine-man pitching staff after the 15th round.
Drafting A Pitching Staff After Round 15
Matt Moore, SP, San Francisco Giants
Since we are assuming that this is a 12-man league, I had to begin by looking for players around the 180th pick range in CBS ADP, as that is where the 16th round would start. Matt Moore’s ADP is 179.26, which makes him a bit of a stretch, but I still thought it was OK to assume that he would be here at my 16th round selection.
In 2013, Matt Moore was one of the top pitchers in baseball for the Tampa Bay Rays, finishing ninth in the AL Cy Young voting. He dropped off after that season, as injuries and other factors made many forget about him. However, he showed enough signs of his old self during the 2016 season for the Giants to want to trade for him at the trade deadline. At first glance, while his overall season stats were good, they weren’t great and didn’t change much once he moved to AT&T Park. In fact, his ERA was exactly 4.08 both in Tampa Bay and in San Francisco last season. Also, his BB/9 rose by 1.4 after the move. You have to look deeper until you see the real improvements.
Moore cut his HR/9 in half and shaved off almost an entire H/9 after the move. He also struck out 1.6 more batters per nine innings. But the most interesting part is his FIP, which dropped from a 4.51 all the way to a 3.53 after the move. These improvements and a FIP that is way lower than his ERA all point to improvement from an already solid 2016 season. His production across all pitching categories makes him worthy of ace status on our team.
Robbie Ray, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks
Next up on our team was Robbie Ray, who sits comfortably in the range of our next pick with a 199.57 ADP. I knew that Ray was someone that I had to have on this team. Ray ranked ninth in the majors in 2016 with 218 strikeouts, and having a player who could compete with the best of ’em in the strikeouts category was a must have for this team.
The good doesn’t even end there. The big reason why Ray falls this far in drafts is due in large part to his high ERA. Last season he had a 4.90 ERA, which could kill the entire category for your team. However, you shouldn’t panic. Ray’s ERA was a 3.52 the previous year, which shows that he could bring it down to a respectable number. Also, his FIP last season was a 3.76, which suggests that last season’s ERA was a fluke. If he is able to keep down his ERA while maintaining his high strikeout totals, he will be a big factor in our team’s staff.
Drew Pomeranz, SP, Boston Red Sox
With a good all-around ace and a big-time strikeout artist out of the way, I wanted to draft someone that I believe could help to keep our ERA low while still contributing with plenty of strikeouts and wins. Enter Drew Pomeranz. I know that he had a hard time going from San Diego to Boston, but I believe that had more to do with injuries than going away from a pitcher’s paradise in San Diego.
Pomeranz had an amazing start to the season for the Padres, earning himself a trip to the All-Star game. His 17 starts in San Diego gave him a crazy 2.47 ERA with great strikeout production. After being traded to the Red Sox, his first ever season topping 100 innings finally got to him. Nagging injuries kept him from producing like he had in San Diego. However, with his first “full” season under his belt and an entire offseason to rest up, I think that Pomeranz is a steal as the third starter for our team.
Neftali Feliz, RP, Milwaukee Brewers
Now that we have three solid starters, it is time to work on another pitching category (saves). Though not elite, I believe that Feliz (ADP of 221.72) is head and shoulders above the rest of the closers that would be available at this point.
Yes, he closes for the Brewers, which leads many to wonder how many save opportunities that he will get. Yes, he hasn’t been a full-time closer since his early playing days for the Rangers, but I still believe that Feliz is a talented pitcher who can handle a closer role.
He was one of the best closers in the league when he was with the Rangers, and there is really no one else challenging him for his role. So if he can rekindle any sort of his old self, you may have a player who could really help in the saves category for our team, while also being a decent ERA and WHIP contributor.
Anthony DeSclafani, SP, Cincinnati Reds
I think we are starting to see a pattern here. In this type of strategy, the best way to go is to draft younger pitchers who are solid already but could breakout and become even better. At least that is what our draft position seems to be supplying us with. Anthony DeSclafani is the next player to meet this criteria, with his ADP of 234.5
While not a strikeout artist, he posted a 3.28 ERA in 20 starts last season with only 2.2 BB/9. I fully believe that while the ERA could rise, he is due for growth in other categories this season which makes him a great target as our fourth starter on this team.
Ryan Madson, RP, Oakland Athletics
At this point, we are going to reach for a couple of players, so ignore the fact that the following players ADP might be closer than they have been. The player that I chose to pick next is Ryan Madson. After doing a solid job manning down the closer spot in Oakland last season, we believe that he will be able to do a solid job again this year to surpass his 260.33 ADP.
He may have a bit of competition, and the A’s may not produce the most opportunities, but at this point in the draft, he is the best closer available and as good of a bet as any to reach 25-30 saves.
Bartolo Colon, SP, Atlanta Braves
I couldn’t make this team without adding Big Sexy! In all seriousness, even though he carries a meme-like profile, he is actually one of the most undervalued players in all of Fantasy Baseball. At this point, I felt like I had a solid rotation, yet one that surely had a weakness in the WHIP category. Many of my pitchers that I had drafted up to this point struggle greatly with control. That’s where Bartolo and his 274.06 ADP comes in.
Colon finished first in the National League last year with a 1.5 BB/9 which propelled him to a very good WHIP. The veteran pitcher doesn’t strike out many batters, but he gets the job done in the ERA and WHIP department, which is great for our fifth starter.
Kyle Barraclough, RP, Miami Marlins
I have to admit that I am quite surprised that Kyle Barraclough, while being a popular sleeper, only has an ADP of 277.18. People are most likely scared off by the fact that he isn’t the closer. However, I fully believe that he will win the closers job and produce great results from that spot.
Even if he can’t win the closer role, he will be one of the best middle relievers in all of baseball. Middle relievers still have plenty of value. Barraclough in a middle relief role would provide strikeout totals of a low-end starter, which is a huge plus from a relief pitcher. He also would be a huge contributor in the ERA department and could even have value in the WHIP category as well. Closer job or not, Barraclough is worth this pick.
Josh Tomlin, SP, Cleveland Indians
I’ll keep it brief with this last pick. Tomlin led the league in BB/9 last year, so he will be a big contributor in the WHIP department. Playing for the Indians should also help his win totals. While he wont be getting you many strikeouts and could hurt your ERA a tad bit, he is a very solid sixth and final starter for this team. Especially if he can build off of last year and make improvements to other parts of his game and become a more multi-category pitcher.
All in all, I feel like this strategy could certainly work. If you nailed your offensive picks and drafted pitchers in a way similar to the one described above, I believe that you can dominate the hitting categories while staying competitive in the pitching categories. I might even have to give this strategy a shot in one of my league this year (I probably won’t draft 15 straight batters though).
Thank you for reading this article! Make sure to check out other great articles from our SCFE Draft Kit!
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