2023 Fantasy Baseball: Beware of these bust-candidate pitchers in drafts
The term “bust” might be harsh for some, but the following pitchers are being overvalued in fantasy baseball drafts.
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Boston Red Sox: Kenley Jansen
Jansen is locked in as Boston’s closer but is in the decline phase of his career, and as one of the slowest pitchers in baseball, he could be affected by the pitch clock. Garrett Whitlock could emerge as a superior option to close in Boston at some point this season.
Chicago Cubs: Justin Steele
Steele is being drafted around the top 250 picks despite incredibly shaky peripherals. He managed just four wins with a 3.18 ERA across 24 starts last year and will likely struggle in the category again this year, still pitching for the Cubs and with an ERA almost certain to rise.
Chicago White Sox: Dylan Cease
Michael Kopech is too deep of a pick, so let’s go with Cease as overvalued. He’s a very good pitcher who is now being drafted as a GREAT one — as a borderline top-10 fantasy starter. Expecting some regression in BABIP and HR/FB%, THE BAT projects a 3.86 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP, neither of which would’ve been top-30 among starters last year. Similar fantasy pitchers are available multiple rounds later.
Cincinnati Reds: Hunter Greene
Greene is one of the hardest-throwing starters in MLB history, and his inclusion here is no fault of his own. But playing for a Reds team projected to win the third-fewest games could be a real problem for accumulating wins, and pitching in arguably the most favorable hitter’s park in baseball won’t do any favors for Greene's ERA (THE BAT projects 4.42). I have Dustin May ranked higher, and he’s available three or four rounds later.
Colorado Rockies: Daniel Bard
Bard is a 37-year-old coming off a career-best season who still has to pitch in Coors Field for a team projected to win the fewest games in MLB this season. THE BAT projects a 4.87 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP, and that’s without the knowledge of Bard's velocity being down this spring.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Tony Gonsolin
Fantasy managers were admittedly wary of Gonsolin (SP55 in Yahoo leagues) after he finished with the fifth-most wins in baseball last year despite pitching the 89th-most innings and sporting a K-rate outside the top 25. He needs to be buried even further in fantasy drafts now that he’s sidelined with an ankle injury in addition to the inevitable regression.
Miami Marlins: Sandy Alcantara
Here’s my case against a Miami pitcher without a top-25 K rate last year being drafted as a top-five fantasy ace. Simply put, Alcantara’s team prevents him from racking up wins, and his low strikeout rate could lead to a real ERA spike with the no-shift rules. There are many ways to get hitters out, but those who rely less on strikeouts are inherently more vulnerable to ERA fluctuation.
Milwaukee Brewers: Devin Williams
Williams has the upside to finish as fantasy’s top closer with Josh Hader out of town, so this is all about health. There’s some concern that Williams' nasty “Airbender” causes too much stress on his arm, and his injury history includes cortisone shots in the knee, a calf issue, elbow soreness and shoulder problems.
New York Yankees: Clay Holmes
Holmes is the favorite to open the season closing for the Yankees, but Michael King could quickly emerge as the superior option. And with World Series hopes this season, New York could be looking for an upgrade (or someone “proven”) at the trade deadline.
Philadelphia Phillies: All relievers
The Phillies have four co-closers listed on most depth charts, and all enter with questions. Craig Kimbrel has the most experience and upside, but he has also seen decreased velocity this spring. Moreover, manager Rob Thomson has stated that he plans to go without an official closer this season.
Texas Rangers: Jacob deGrom
DeGrom is inarguably the best pitcher alive per inning right now, but his considerable injury risk is simply too high to spend a second- or third-round fantasy pick to get him. I like to gamble on fantasy picks as much as anyone, but even I’m scared off by deGrom’s past health issues; I hope I’m wrong.
Toronto Blue Jays: Chris Bassitt
Bassitt was fantastic last season but now goes from one of baseball’s best pitcher’s parks in Citi Field to one of the more favorable places to hit in new-look Toronto. That means he’ll also be pitching in the AL East, but even more concerning is Bassitt’s velocity and spin both being noticeably down in spring training.