ALTERNATIVE: 2020 Points Draft Guide - Pitchers

Earlier this week, we focused on Points leagues with our batters preview. Today, we turn to pitchers. 

When evaluating pitchers in points leagues, you can easily find yourself a slave to the elusive, unpredictable, and migrating Win. Yes, you have injury and performance risk that always makes selecting pitching targets tricky. But in points leagues you don’t care if a hurler stinks, just that he gets his five innings with his team in the lead and hopes the bullpen can hold it.

Most leagues count a Win as 15 points. With starters averaging less innings than ever, their chance for wins decreases as well. But middle relievers remain too unpredictable to roster them for wins. So closers, as fickle as they are, have become better and better targets. We are going to assume seven points per Save for our purposes, Pitchers also get that point for each whiff.

Since wins are so fickle, you need to target the most predictable points – strikeouts. Focusing on high Dom rates on winning teams gives you the best chance of scoring. Keep in mind as we attempt to identify tiers that there are so many pitchers it’s hard to separate them. With fewer gaps between them and smaller ones at that, this is more of a continuum that a tier. This is especially true when you realize two more wins moves a pitcher up or down several tiers.  But deal with this we must…

To begin your preparation, simply multiply the number of pitchers needed per team by the number of teams in your league. Then run our Custom Draft Guide and count down that number of pitchers to get replacement value. In a twelve team league with nine pitchers, that would be 108 pitchers with a replacement value of 268 points. In our hitter’s preview, we saw that their replacement value was 405 points.  So you need to add 137 points to each pitcher to make them equivalent to their hitting peer. If there is a significant point difference between tiers, add that value in as well to take advantage of talent gaps.

Aces High

Former teammates Justin Verlander (RHP, HOU) and Gerritt Cole (RHP, NYY) top the charts at 516 and 514 points respectively. We project one less win for Cole, but his higher 13.8 Dom, 18% SwK%, and youth could easily make him the top dog. Verlander’s 12.1 Dom and 17% SwK% give him plenty of star power, just with less further upside at his age. Our projection expects some regression, so a repeat would exceed our prediction.

The next tier lies fifty points down from the top two. Stephen Strasburg (RHP, WAS) leads this second tier with 466 points. His health held him back several years, so we project a dozen less innings for Strasburg than other top hurlers. Jacob deGrom (RHP, NYN) has significant upside from his 457 point projection as we only project fourteen wins. If his bullpen and offense return to form, this seems very reasonable.

After a thirteen point gap, we get a trio featuring two young guns and a crafty veteran.

Zack Greinke – 444
Walker Beuhler – 444
Shane Bieber – 439

Little upside exists with Zach Greinke (RHP, HOU) whose Dom falls half a batter each year to 8.1 in 2019. His Ctl has dropped, too, but it can’t go much lower than his latest – 1.3.  If Walker Beuhler (RHP, LA) can reach 200 innings, he could score even more points with his newly improved offense.

Luis Castillo (RHP, CIN) could easily surpass our 428-point projection featuring only fourteen wins with his much improved offense. With an insane 24% SwK, Josh Hader (LHP, MIL) could increase his performance simply by pitching in more save situations.

Eduardo Rodriguez (LHP, BOS) possesses solid skills to come in at 422 points. The control problems that weaken his WHIP don’t matter in this format. But his lack of ability to pitch deep into games could hinder his ability to reach our 15-win projection.

Max Scherzer (RHP, WAS) on the other hand, remains a prime skills set with some durability concerns as he reaches his later thirties. If he stays healthy, Scherzer could add one hundred points to his projection.

Aroldis Chapman – 417
Brad Hand – 416
Charlie Morton – 413
Robbie Ray – 411
Trevor Bauer – 410
Lance Lynn – 410
Brandon Woodruff – 410
Lucas Giolito – 409
Blake Snell – 407
Jack Flaherty – 406

Here we start to see some closers emerge as points leaders. They don’t possess the upside of ace starters, but they consistently score like leadoff hitters. Brad Hand (LHP, CLE) will have to catch all the breaks on a weaker team and avoid repeating his late season fade to reach 38 Saves. Charlie Morton (RHP, TAM) could surpass his 14-win, 174-inning projection if he stays healthy in possibly his final season. Lucas Giolito (RHP, CWS) simply needs to repeat his newfound 11.7 Dom and 14 wins to move up a few tiers.

Yu Darvish – 400
Jon Lester – 400
Clayton Kershaw – 399
Jose Berrios – 396
Brandon Workman – 396

If Yu Darvish (RHP, CHC) can repeat his second half, which featured a 12.6 Dom, and stay healthy, he could easily eclipse his 11-win projection and propel himself near the top. Beware of Jon Lester (LHP, CHN) who will find it hard to reach our 15-win projection. As he gets older, his skills wane so there is little upside here.

Craig Kimbrel  -392
Patrick Corbin – 392
Sonny Gray – 392
Aaron Nola – 392
Hector Neris – 390
Jake Odorizzi – 388
Archie Bradley – 388

Your best chance for improvement in these projections resides with the starters. Patrick Corbin (LHP, WAS) particularly could best his 12-win projection with his Dom near 11. Similarly, Aaron Nola (RHP, PHL) could do the same with a strikeout rate a batter less per inning than Corbin.

Second Tier

German Marquez – 384
Carlos Carrasco – 380
Max Fried – 374

The health questions regarding Carlos Carrasco (RHP, CLE) cause a low 160-inning projection that he could easily surpass if he posts a full season. Since young pitchers often find their innings limited, we only project Max Fried (LHP, ATL) for 174 innings.

Matt Boyd – 369
Zack Wheeler – 369
Jose Quintana – 368
Hansel Robles – 366
Mike Minor – 365
Raisel Iglesias – 363
Mike Clevinger – 362

Remember when dealing with a pitcher with a known injury like Mike Clevinger (RHP, CLE), you will replace him in your active roster on the days you know he resides on the Injured List. So if he misses a month, and a replacement player scores about 40 points a month, you add that into his projection. Therefore an impact player for part of the season has more value than a mediocre player over a full season with the same projection.

Roberto Osuna – 360
Kenley Jansen – 359
Madison Bumgarner – 357
Chris Paddack – 357
Liam Hendriks – 356

Despite all the knocks on him, Kenley Jansen (RHP, LA) still posts an 11.2 Dom, 68% FpK, and 16% SwK so he his skills still work. We project one less win than most closers so he could easily move up. With a full year as closer, Liam Hendriks (RHP, OAK) should exceed our 30-save projection despite a slight drop from his 13.2 Dom and 18% SwK.

The Sweet Spot

Some tremendous profits here if they can regain their previous form.

Corey Kluber – 354
Mike Foltynewicz – 354
Carlos Martinez – 354
Alex Colome – 354
Luke Weaver – 353

Beware of overbidding on Corey Kluber (RHP, TEX). Kluber only posted a 4.95 xERA before his injury, failing to find his pinpoint control. A year later, after a freak injury, at 34 years old, expect some struggles the first half if and when he regains it.

Each of these next question marks could simply score more points by exceeding our conservative inning projections.

Jonathan Gray – 350
Caleb Smith – 349
Sean Manea – 349
Kenta Maeda -348
Mike Soroka – 348

Another solid group of starters that could yield a nice profit. In this format, the ERA and WHIP damage from pitching in Colorado becomes irrelevant for Jonathan Gray (RHP, COL).

Sean Doolittle – 343
Noah Syndergaard – 339
Marco Gonzales – 338
Masahiro Tanka – 337
Jakob Junis – 336

Without question Noah Syndergaard (RHP, NYM) represents the biggest upside in this bunch. The projection may seem conservative but 2019 represented Syndergaard’s career high in innings. He has surpassed 184 innings only once before. Despite his Thor persona, Syndergaard had never won more than 14 games.

Closer Run

This tier presents some good closers for reliable, consistent points.

Ken Giles – 333
David Price – 331
Joe Jimenez – 331
Kirby Yates – 330
Hyun-Jin Ryu – 330
Keone Kela – 330
Ian Kennedy – 328
Kyle Hendricks – 325
Joe Musgrove - 322

Profit potential here lies in one recovering from injury – David Price (LHP, LA) and one who finally posted a healthy season Hyun-Jin Ryu (LHP, TOR). Kyle Hendricks (RHP, CHC) can surpass our 11-win projection, but with a 7.6 Dom he depends heavily on run support to garner his points.

When targeting pitchers below this point, target high Dom starting pitchers as well as starters on good teams to maximize your profit and win your points league!


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