STARTERS: 2020 Gambles

Most starting pitchers can be considered gambles in one form or another. Some are gambles worth taking. Others should be avoided.

Here, we will discuss gambles to avoid and define them as SP who are likely to be significantly overvalued on draft day.

This doesn't mean you should avoid targeting all of the guys listed here, but it does mean that you should think twice before bidding full value on them.

Last season, we helped you avoid investments in guys like Jaime Barria (RHP, LAA), Jhoulys Chacin (RHP, MIN), Jon Lester (LHP, CHC), Jose Quintana (LHP, CHC), and Trevor Williams (RHP, PIT), all of whom fell short of expectations in 2019.

Let's identify these risky SP for 2020 by looking at those who earned at least $5 in 2019 but had a sub-100 BPV:

<100 BPV, 5x5 $5+, 2019*

Name              Lg  Ctl  Dom   HR/9  GB%  H%   S%   SwK%  FpK%  5x5 $  BPV
================  ==  ===  ====  ====  ===  ===  ===  ====  ====  =====  ===
Hudson, Dakota    NL  4.4   7.0   1.1  57%  28%  81%   10%   56%    $11   41
Davies, Zach      NL  2.9   5.7   1.1  40%  28%  77%    7%   53%     $8   44
Alcantara, Sandy  NL  3.7   6.9   1.0  45%  28%  74%   11%   60%     $5   47
Anderson, Brett   NL  2.5   4.6   1.0  54%  28%  73%    8%   59%     $7   47
Teheran, Julio    AL  4.3   8.3   1.1  39%  28%  75%   10%   60%     $8   52
Plesac, Zach      AL  3.1   6.8   1.5  39%  26%  76%   10%   61%     $7   56
Fiers, Mike       AL  2.6   6.1   1.5  40%  26%  74%    8%   65%    $15   59
Sanchez, Anibal   NL  3.1   7.3   1.2  38%  28%  74%   10%   64%     $9   62
Gonzales, Marco   AL  2.5   6.5   1.0  41%  31%  72%    8%   65%    $13   69
Anderson, Chase   NL  3.2   8.0   1.5  35%  28%  73%   11%   62%     $7   70
Samardzija, Jeff  NL  2.4   6.9   1.4  36%  25%  75%    9%   61%    $16   73
Miley, Wade       AL  3.3   7.5   1.2  50%  30%  75%   10%   56%    $10   75
Means, John       AL  2.2   7.0   1.3  31%  27%  75%   10%   63%    $14   76
Civale, Aaron     AL  2.5   7.2   0.6  40%  26%  80%    9%   62%     $5   80
Kelly, Merrill    NL  2.8   7.8   1.4  42%  30%  71%   10%   58%     $6   84
Young, Alex       NL  2.9   7.7   1.5  48%  26%  78%   13%   60%     $5   85
Happ, J.A.        AL  2.7   7.8   1.9  40%  29%  69%   11%   59%     $6   85
Smith, Caleb      NL  3.5   9.9   1.9  26%  26%  72%   13%   60%     $7   86
Bailey, Homer     AL  2.9   8.2   1.2  44%  31%  68%   11%   63%     $8   91
Lyles, Jordan     AL  3.5   9.3   1.6  40%  30%  75%   11%   63%     $9   91
Roark, Tanner     AL  2.8   8.6   1.5  36%  33%  74%    9%   57%     $6   94
Minor, Mike       AL  2.9   8.6   1.3  40%  29%  77%   12%   61%    $18   94
Stroman, Marcus   NL  2.8   7.8   0.9  54%  31%  78%   11%   57%    $12   95
Leake, Mike       NL  1.2   5.8   1.9  47%  30%  75%    9%   63%     $6   96
Lucchesi, Joey    NL  3.1   8.7   1.3  47%  29%  70%   11%   62%     $8   98
Bassitt, Chris    AL  2.9   8.8   1.3  41%  28%  74%    9%   62%    $12   98
Gray, Jon         NL  3.4   9.0   1.1  50%  32%  76%   12%   64%     $7   99
*min 40 IP

Here's a closer look at ten starting pitchers who are likely to be overvalued on draft day.
 

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Chris Bassitt (RHP, OAK) is another OAK hurler with some significant downside potential in 2020. The 3.81 ERA and 1.19 WHIP he put up in 2019 came with decent skills (98 BPV), but his command sub-indicators did not support those skills (9% SwK%, 62% FpK%). Don't be surprised if Bassitt posts an ERA in the mid-4.00s in 2020.

Mike Fiers (RHP, OAK) set a career-high in innings pitched in 2019 (185 IP). He paired that durability with some decent stats too (3.90 ERA, 1.19 WHIP). Problem is, the skills that he put up were the worst we've ever seen from him over a full season: 6.1 Dom, 2.6 Ctl, 40% GB%, 59 BPV. At age 35 and coming off a 5.00+ xERA season, expect some big regression from Fiers in 2020.

Marco Gonzales (LHP, SEA) dropped his ERA below 4.00 for the first time in his career in 2019 (3.99 ERA in 203 IP). But that mark came with absolutely no backing (5.12 xERA). In fact, his skills in 2019 were well below median levels: 6.5 Dom, 2.5 Ctl, 41% GB%, 69 BPV. His 8% SwK% confirms that he just doesn't have the stuff to be anything more than an end-rotation arm.

Mike Minor (LHP, TEX) had one of the best seasons of his career in 2019 (3.59 ERA, 1.24 WHIP in 208 IP). While his skills weren't bad (94 BPV), they supported something closer to a mid-4s ERA (4.51 xERA). A career-high 77% S% was the real reason behind his success last season. Expect significant regression here.

Julio Teheran (RHP, LAA) is another former high-upside SP that is becoming a SP to avoid. His xERA has landed around 5.00 in two of the last three years. His fastball velocity struggles to reach 90 mph now. And his skills have been subpar in each of the past three seasons.
 

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Brett Anderson (LHP, MIL) stayed healthy in 2019, posting only the third 175+ IP season of his career. But we have to bet against his ability to stay healthy in 2020 given his chronic injury woes. And both Anderson's skills (47 BPV) and command sub-indicators (8% SwK%, 59% FpK%) suggest that his stats will regress a lot even if he does stay healthy.

Zach Davies (RHP, SD) delivered mid-rotation value in 2019 (3.55 ERA, 1.29 WHIP in 160 IP). Before you view him with a similar profile in 2020, note his gradually increasing xERA trend over the past four seasons: 3.99, 4.48, 4.28, 5.30 xERA. He doesn't do a good job of missing bats or getting a high volume of strikes either. Davies carries a lot of downside heading into 2020.

Dakota Hudson (RHP, STL) is being drafted as a mid-rotation SP in some leagues (312 ADP). That's because he put up a strong 3.35 ERA in 175 IP during 2019. However, that mark came with zero support from his underlying skills: 7.0 Dom, 4.4 Ctl, 57% GB%, 41 BPV. An 81% S% saved him. Expect his ERA to head north of 4.00 in 2020.

Mike Leake (RHP, ARI) is recovering from a fractured wrist, which has contributed to his avoidance in many leagues (605 ADP). Some owners might be tempted to stash him at the back of their rotation given his history of decent stats, but before you do the same, note his xERA trend: 3.89, 3.98, 4.25, 4.75 xERA. His fastball velocity is on a four-year decline too.

Jeff Samardzija (RHP, SF) had his best season in 2019 since 2014 (3.52 ERA, 1.11 WHIP in 181 IP). The true fuel behind that surge was a 25% H% and 75% S% though. Neither his base skills (73 BPV) nor his command building blocks (9% SwK%, 61% FpK%) give hope that Samardzija will be able to contribute at a high level again in 2020. He's extremely overvalued at his current 330 ADP.


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