ADP Tiers – Looking for Starting Pitching
By Steve Ross
Diving into the current NFBC ADP data this past week, I’ve been looking for pockets of potential value at different positions. I like to identify these heading into drafts and highlight rounds where I want to target a position. Knowing your tiers is important to know when you need to dive into a position, or just as importantly, know when you can wait on one. Starting pitching is no different. At certain points in the draft, you’re going to have to dive into it and knowing certain rounds where you like a tier and rounds when you want to draft elsewhere is critical to building a balanced line-up and rotation.
With that in mind, I’ve identified a group of 4 pitchers going one after the other in the 16th round of a 15 team league that I think there’s potential value in.
Michael Wacha – NFBC ADP (235)
There’s a lot to like about Wacha at his price this year. There was a sizable difference between his xFIP at 3.88 and his ERA of 4.13 last year. His average fastball velocity also went up to 95.6MPR, from 93.8MPR in 2016. His K/9 was 8.58 and paired a decent swinging strike rate of 9.6% with a 48% ground ball rate.
I’d like to think that despite his propensity for contact, he could get a little luckier and have a BABIP this year lower than .327. Wacha’s main issue is the amount of hits he gave up, which was 170 in 165.20 innings. That also caused him to get pulled earlier in games. I’m hopeful for a little positive regression on the BABIP front and give up fewer hits, meaning more innings, thus more K’s and potential for wins. A mid 3 ERA and sub 1.3 WHIP are certainly within reach.
Julio Teheran NFBC ADP (236)
It’s been said that Sun Trust Park was built for Freddy Freeman. That may be true, but it certainly wasn’t built for Julio Teheran. Coming off a solid 2016 season with a 3.21 ERA, many of us got burned by Teheran in 2017 as he posted a 4.49 ERA and his K/9 dropped to 7.22. Unfortunately it appeared to be well earned with a 4.96 xFIP. Basically he just gave up too many home runs and he gave up most of them in Atlanta. His home ERA was 5.86 compared with 3.14 on the road.
The juiced ball and tougher park hasn’t been kind to the fly ball pitcher. His slider usage dropped significantly in favour of his sinker, which has pushed him up to almost 65% fastballs. Unfortunately this resulted in a drop in K rate, without an increase in ground balls. Hopefully an offseason to review what went wrong could offer an opportunity for positive regression. He’s not without risk, but if he continues to struggle at home, he’s still streamable on the road and pitches one of the easier divisions.
Jacob Faria NFBC ADP (237)
The rookie of this group, Faria had an excellent start to his big league career in June of 2017, but fell off somewhat in July and August before being placed on the DL with an abdominal strain. Faria admitted on The Fantrax Baseball Show with Ralph Lifshitz and Andy Singleton that he’d been carrying the injury for a month before he sought help for it, explaining the fall off. He would only pitch another 8 innings in September.
The sample size is small here, which exacerbates the risk, however in his short stint with Tampa and prior to that in Durham, Faria had displayed a lot of potential. While only pitching in the low 90’s, the change-up is a legit plus pitch and he has a developing slider. I’m hopeful for around an 8.5 K/9 with a high 3 ERA and decent WHIP, but you could only get 150 innings this year.
Patrick Corbin NFBC ADP (238)
Coming back from TJ surgery in 2016, Patrick Corbin wasn’t great, with a reduced K’s and a jump in BB rate. However the well-used adage that command is the last thing to come back after Tommy John looks to be holding up in this instance. Corbin was much improved in 2017, with a 4.03 ERA and 178 K’s in 189.2 IP. The most encouraging thing for me was that, apart from a 4.7 ERA in September, he pitched extremely well in the second half in which his K rate surged, giving me confidence that his strength and command are likely to hold up better this time around.
Corbin’s only other bad month was May, in which he had a 9.00ERA, largely due to two blow-ups. One in Colorado where he gave up 8 earned in 4 innings and 7 in 4 in Milwaukee. If you used him for the Coors start, I don’t know what to tell you. With the K/9 up to 8.45 and the BB/9 down to 2.89, along with a 50% ground ball rate, the potential is obvious. Corbin’s xFIP was only 3.89 last year and I think further improvement is certainly possible. If he can maintain the gains and improve his WHIP a little more, there’s profit to be had at this ADP.
There’s potential value in this tier. Outside pick 200, there are no sure things, but this is a pocket that I’ll be looking at in drafts. Feel free to pick your poison. Personally I love the upside of Corbin here and if they ever tell us that they have put a humidor in Arizona, I would be comfortable taking him a few rounds earlier. After Corbin, I feel like Teheran is the other one who could throw enough innings to get you 180-200K’s at a decent ERA if everything came together. I’d take Wacha over Faria based on track record.