STARTERS: 2019 Gambles

Most starting pitchers can be considered gambles in one form or another. Some are gambles worth taking. Others should be avoided.

Here, we will discuss gambles to avoid and define them as SP who are likely to be significantly overvalued on draft day.

This doesn't mean you should avoid targeting all of the guys listed here, but it does mean that you should think twice before bidding full value on them.

Last season, we helped you avoid investments in guys like Andrew Cashner (RHP, BAL), Drew Pomeranz (LHP, SF), Chase Anderson (RHP, MIL), and Lance Lynn (RHP, TEX), all of whom had rough seasons in 2018.

Let's identify these risky SP for 2019 by looking at those who earned at least $5 in 2018 but had a sub-100 BPV:

<100 BPV, 5x5 $5+, 2018*

Name                League  Ctl  Dom   HR/9  GB%  H%   S%   SwK%  FpK%  5x5 $  BPV
==================  ======  ===  ====  ====  ===  ===  ===  ====  ====  =====  ===
Lopez, Reynaldo         AL  3.6   7.2   1.2  33%  27%  73%   10%   60%     $7   44
Barria, Jaime           AL  3.3   6.8   1.2  37%  27%  78%   11%   55%     $8   49
Teheran, Julio          NL  4.3   8.3   1.3  38%  22%  72%   12%   61%     $8   49
Keller, Brad            AL  3.2   6.2   0.4  54%  30%  77%    9%   59%     $9   56
Anderson, Chase         NL  3.2   7.3   1.7  34%  24%  75%   10%   63%     $6   56
Newcomb, Sean           NL  4.4   8.8   1.0  43%  28%  74%   11%   54%     $5   59
Williams, Trevor        NL  2.9   6.6   0.8  41%  27%  76%    8%   61%    $15   60
Chacin, Jhoulys         NL  3.3   7.3   0.8  42%  26%  72%    9%   58%    $15   62
Lester, Jon             NL  3.2   7.4   1.2  38%  29%  80%    9%   57%    $12   63
Martinez, Carlos        NL  4.6   8.9   0.4  49%  30%  77%   11%   60%     $7   64
Mengden, Daniel         AL  2.0   5.6   1.4  40%  25%  69%    8%   62%     $6   64
Rodriguez, Dereck       NL  2.7   6.8   0.7  39%  27%  78%    9%   57%     $9   65
Quintana, Jose          NL  3.5   8.2   1.3  43%  29%  74%    8%   65%     $5   73
Yarbrough, Ryan         AL  3.1   7.8   1.1  38%  30%  73%    9%   59%    $10   74
Bumgarner, Madison      NL  3.0   7.6   1.0  43%  29%  78%    9%   64%     $5   77
Freeland, Kyle          NL  3.1   7.7   0.8  46%  29%  80%   10%   62%    $19   78
Gibson, Kyle            AL  3.6   8.2   1.1  50%  29%  76%   12%   58%    $11   78
Urena, Jose             NL  2.6   6.7   1.0  50%  27%  69%    9%   59%     $6   78
Manaea, Sean            AL  1.8   6.0   1.2  44%  26%  72%   10%   64%    $15   82
Holland, Derek          NL  3.5   8.9   1.0  40%  30%  76%   11%   63%     $6   83
Keuchel, Dallas         AL  2.6   6.7   0.8  54%  31%  73%    9%   60%     $6   84
LeBlanc, Wade           AL  2.2   7.2   1.3  37%  28%  74%   10%   63%    $11   85
Boyd, Matt              AL  2.7   8.4   1.4  29%  27%  67%   11%   58%     $9   85
Cahill, Trevor          AL  3.4   8.2   0.7  53%  28%  69%   12%   57%     $6   88
Minor, Mike             AL  2.2   7.6   1.4  34%  27%  68%   10%   58%    $11   89
Sabathia, C.C.          AL  3.0   8.2   1.1  44%  31%  76%   11%   61%     $8   89
Fiers, Mike             AL  1.9   7.3   1.7  39%  28%  79%    9%   66%    $14   96
*min 40 IP

Not all of the guys in the above exhibit are likely to underperform, but many of them have a good shot to do so. Here's a closer look at five guys in each league who are likely to be overvalued on draft day.
 

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Jaime Barria (RHP, LAA) put up a valuable 3.41 ERA and 1.27 WHIP in 2018, marks that helped him generate $8 of value in 5x5 leagues. But those stats were driven by a friendly 27% H% and 78% S% more than anything else. His underlying skills were firmly disappointing: 6.8 Dom, 3.3 Ctl, 37% GB%, 49 BPV. They suggested his ERA should have been in the mid-4s. There's some extreme regression coming here.

Mike Fiers (RHP, OAK) delivered a strong 3.56 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in 2018. His skills foundation was pretty strong too: 7.3 Dom, 1.9 Ctl, 39% GB%, 96 BPV. But they were the result of pinpoint control that he hadn't shown in the past, as well as a helpful 28% H% and 79% S%. He doesn't carry much room for profit at his 340 ADP.

Brad Keller (LHP, KC) is being drafted as a SP3 or SP4 in some leagues after the 3.08 ERA and 1.30 WHIP he produced in 2018. Problem is, those marks did not come with much support from his skills. He posted a subpar 1.9 Cmd, a mark that has little hope for improvement given his mediocre 9% SwK% and 59% FpK%.

Reynaldo Lopez (RHP, CHW) still carries some intriguing SP2 upside, and if you look at his surface stat trends, you might think he's primed for a breakout. Both his ERA (4.91, 4.72, 3.91 ERA) and WHIP (1.57, 1.32, 1.27) have shown steady improvement over the last two seasons. But his underlying skills remain stuck in the mud, which is why he has posted a 5.00+ xERA during the past two years. He remains an intriguing stash in keeper leagues as long as you have a bench, but he's being overvalued in the market (263 ADP).

Ryan Yarbrough (LHP, TAM) also provided some good value in 2018 ($10 in 5x5 leagues) on the back of his 3.91 ERA and 1.29 WHIP. But if you're expecting similar results in 2019, you're making a mistake. His below-average skills (74 BPV) have no hope for improvement given his marginal ability to miss bats and get strike one. He's another pitcher with no profit potential in 2019 drafts.
 

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Jhoulys Chacin (RHP, MIL) had the best season of his career ($15 in 5x5 leagues) in 2018 at age 30. Will it repeat? No way. His skills were basically unchanged from what we're used to: 7.3 Dom, 3.3 Ctl, 42% GB%, 62 BPV. The difference was a 26% H%, which was the lowest hit rate we've ever seen from him. He's another SP with a ton of negative regression potential.

Jon Lester (LHP, CHC) is a post-peak pitcher that is being drafted based on his name (191 ADP) more than anything else. Check out his BPV trend over the last three seasons: 135, 120, 105, 63 BPV. His rates of whiffs and first-pitch strikes are waning too. It's best to use a 4.00 ERA as your baseline here.

Jose Quintana (LHP, CHC) used to be an easy bet for an ERA in the low-3s and a helpful WHIP. But his marginal stuff has caught up with him the last couple of seasons, and his so-so swinging strike rate over the same period does not support the jump in strikeouts we've seen from him recently. He's being drafted as a sub-4.00 ERA pitcher (192 ADP), but the more likely scenario is he'll continue to struggle to keep his ERA below 4.00.

Julio Teheran (RHP, ATL) still is getting attention as a rotation mainstay in 2019 drafts (283 ADP). While his stats in 2018 might seem to indicate that it was a bounceback year for him (3.95 ERA, 1.17 WHIP), a fluky 22% H% deserves most of the credit for them. His overall skills foundation was wobbly at best (49 BPV) due to his chronic struggles against lefty bats (1.0 Cmd vL). He's a former rotation anchor that is on the downswing of his career.

Trevor Williams (RHP, PIT) also is being drafted as a mid-rotation arm so far in 2019 (288 ADP). But he's another guy that you'll want to avoid at his market price. His 3.11 ERA and 1.18 WHIP were generated by a 27% H% and 76% S% more so than good skills (60 BPV, 4.51 xERA).


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.