It’s the end of the fantasy season, so let’s take stock of this season’s draft busts and see how they will influence your draft next season. I contend that paying early for starters or closers is too risky a proposition. For every Roy Halladay or Mariano Rivera, there are Ervin Santana’s or Brad Lidge’s waiting to blow up. Let’s take stock and see what we learned.
Reasons to not draft pitchers early:
Jake Peavy (PAD)
A lot of people want to knock him down for next season. He’s pitching in the American League, he’s older, less durable, and he no longer pitches in camouflage uniforms. I say who cares. You can get him relatively cheap next season (rounds 6 or 7 hopefully), but you spent most of this season hating the guts out of Peavy. Put it behind you and draft with confidence next season.
Brandon Webb (ARI)
Webb is a tragic case. Touted year in and year out for being durable, Webb’s elbow finally ignored its supporters and destroyed many a fantasy team’s trophy chances. Not only that, he’s lost a significant amount of leverage this off-season with potential suitors. You hope that Webb sticks in the National League, and perhaps his arm problems are mentioned enough to scare everyone else off. Pursue, but do so with caution.
Cole Hamels (PHI)
The face of bust. He’s even more obnoxious than Peavy or Webb because injuries are not his problem. Ten wins on a 90-win team with the kind of stuff he has? His walk and strikeout rates remain superb, but his hit rate per nine innings is at a career-high 9.6. Nothing more annoying than drafting a guy with great stuff on a great team and have luck kick your counting stats in the teeth. Depending on his workload during the playoffs, you should be able to draft him with confidence next season.
Francisco Liriano (MIN)
Liriano came with a lot of risk. Steer clear of this former phenom unless it’s very late in the draft. He’s been nothing short of horrific all season, and I’m not sure I could recommend him in anything short of a 10-team AL-only league. Liriano is an Icarus of sorts, a star who burned too brightly. Good for a speculative pick next season if you’re feeling lucky.
Joba Chamberlain (NYY)
Blargh. Blurf. Insert other vomiting sound effects. The hype machine really inspired a lot of false confidence in this chunky fellow. He was merely passable for most of the season, and then the Joba Rules set in. He’s got a great skill set, but he does not know how to use it as a starter. Perhaps with a season behind him, Joba will improve. My advice is to avoid at all cost. A pitcher of similar value next season is Brandon Morrow. And no, you wouldn’t draft Morrow anywhere near the first 20 rounds, would you? Let someone else take the chance next season.
Studs drafted after the studs:
Zach Grienke (KAN)
It’ll be a shame if he doesn’t win the Cy Young this season. I feel like he’s almost 1st Round material next year, but you can have him there. He’ll more likely end up getting drafted in the 2nd or early 3rd round depending on the level of hype next March. Grienke is stone-cold stud, and you likely won’t see him drafted past the 10th round until he’s 40. Hope you enjoyed the ridiculous return on your modest investment.
Matt Cain (SF)
A guy I avoided this year because I believed he would regress. He showed remarkable composure for a pitcher with such bad luck (bad run support, possible confidence issues pitching next to Tiny Tim) and posted an incredible line. A sub 3.00 ERA with a 1.18 ERA, and that was with a vastly reduced strike out rate. He pitches in the soft NL West and I love his chances for next season. He will fall further than you think in drafts next year.
Chris Carpenter (STL)
I don’t understand it. Peavy and Webb go down, but Carpenter survives into the postseason? What? He’s the 12th best player in the Yahoo game despite missing part of April? The ratios are mouth-watering, he pitches for a winning team, and he’s healthy. I’m pretty sure this is a perfect storm-type season for Carpenter, and hopefully you were lucky enough to believe the unbelievable. As for next season, cojones will be necessary if you’d like to reach for his services.
Kevin Correia (PAD)
Another NL wunderkid, Correia has been on sleeper lists and then was roundly forgotten. Fast-forward to this season, and he’s traded to the Padres. NL West plus Petco equals Wandy-like home/away splits. As long he sticks with the Pads he’ll make a great value pick towards the end of drafts. 21 quality starts, a sub-4.00 ERA, and a promising second half performance show us there is talent left after Peavy split.
Fernando Rodney (DET)
I’m not sure how this happened. Everyone drafted Brandon Lyon. If you drafted Rodney, you expected two or three saves and terrible ratios. He was a late-round closer who was disposable. 36 saves, 2 wins, and 60 strike outs later and I still don’t believe it. Yeah, his ratios were horrible, but you got those dirty, grimy saves anyway. The save is such an ugly, ugly stat.
Hopefully we’ll all go into next season realizing we don’t need to draft Mariano Rivera in the early rounds, or Tim Lincecum in the first. There is value everywhere in major league pitching. Jered Weaver, Jair Jurrjens and others will attest to that. Till next time, or you can catch me on the forums under the name Tom Sellecks Beautiful Mustache. Thanks for reading!
Residing in Chicago with my ever-patient wife, I live a quiet life of grad school, two jobs, and writing with a little music mixed in. I particularly enjoy when one of my pitchers gives up a homer to one of my hitters. Jones!
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