Let’s look at the pitchers being selected inside the top 100 on average in Yahoo Fantasy Baseball drafts that are overvalued.
Max Scherzer, Nationals (ADP: 13): Three-fingered fastballs? Mysterious knuckle pain? A stress fracture that he’s attempting to pitch through but that has lingered since last season? These are not questions we want associated with a starting pitcher we’re taking with a borderline first-round pick. I understand how good Scherzer is when he’s healthy but it’s wise to draft healthy pitchers since even they are injury risks. Why start the year with a hurt hurler?
Chris Sale, Red Sox (ADP: 22): One Red Sox lefty since 1988 has had an ERA under 3.50 at Fenway in at least 15 starts. The Green Monster swallowed even Hall of Fame southpaws like Lefty Gomez (who said pitching in Fenway was like pitching in a phone booth, assuming anyone still knows what a phone booth was) and Whitey Ford (who sought to avoid pitching there with an ERA of 6.16 in 87.2 career innings and 12 starts vs. a 2.16 ERA in 246.1 innings and 31 starts against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium).
I know that Sale is really good and likely to be good no matter where he pitches but Fenway is a stiff headwind. It will hurt him and his statistics. Last year, he had a 3.88 ERA at home and I would expect at least that at Fenway. So book him for an ERA like last year’s 3.34. Plus, he lost 1.7 mph off his fastball last year, very concerning. The 2015 K/9 may not ever come back.
Jake Arrieta, Cubs (ADP: 27.5): Lost a mile per hour off his fastball last year. Worse it declined as the season went on compared with 2015 when it increased late in the season. His 3.69 ERA in the second half (4.19 FIP) may be the pitcher you’re buying. No one seems to be fully pricing in this risk.
David Price, Red Sox (ADP: 47.5): Price is actually an excellent cautionary tale for what may be in store for Sale. And I know that Price’s Ks and BBs last year were great but the whole point of Fenway is that it’s The Monster that’s the ERA crusher for lefties. You can’t escape it. Plus Price was hurt but now will supposedly be okay after a short stint on the disabled list, maybe. We’ve heard this song before.
Carlos Carrasco, Indians (ADP: 61.5): You see the theme, right? No injury optimism for pitchers. Just drafting a pitcher in a single-digit round PERIOD is injury optimism. Like Price, Carrasco seems to be battling elbow woes which could have an outcome ranging from a slow start to ending his career.
Mark Melancon, Giants (ADP: 85): He’s a very good closer but we need strikeouts over innings, as I’ve discussed here in great detail. In real-life, Melancon is rock solid. He is very likely to hold the job, of course. But he’s going to have you treading water with Ks and when you pay this price for saves you need surplus Ks. Guys like Edwin Diaz and Ken Giles are going later and will get about 40 more Ks. Think of what you pay for that from a starter.
Andrew Miller, Indians (ADP: 93.5): Miller’s surplus Ks are awesome but he’s not a closer. He’s also not a guy who can throw 100 innings or even 80-plus given that he’s piling up those Ks by throwing his slider and insane 61 percent of the time, according to Fangraphs. This elevates the injury risk given that the slider is baseball’s most deadly pitch not only to hitters but also to the guys who throw them excessively. You can find Miller’s value far more cheaply with Brad Hand of the Padres, who threw 89 inning last year and is in line to ramp up his Ks even more by elevating the usage of his nearly equally devastating slider over last year’s 30.3 percent.
Rick Porcello, Red Sox (ADP: 98.8): We all love the Red Sox pitchers, apparently. The park is not good for any of them, even a righty like Porcello. Fenway is a batting average machine. Porcello hit his ceiling last year and wasn’t that valuable aside from the wins, which are very difficult to project in the 14-to-20 range. Challenge yourself to find this year’s Porcello way later.