Hellllooooo! The Mock Draft Army returned this week and we had a good time in the chat room.  More importantly, it was interesting to see how a few weeks off has affected the draft status of several players with the soon to be announced (hopefully) plans for the return of baseball.  Over the next few weeks, I’ll cover a position and look at potential draft values based upon ADP and a few AVOIDS as well.  This week we will cover starting pitchers and focus on those in Rounds 10-20 as that’s where the return on investment can be significant.

Value Shopping

Kyle Hendricks , Chicago Cubs. Hendricks surprisingly was chosen in the 19th round of Thursday’s 10-team mock and at 12.5 in the 12-teamer this week.  His ADP over the last three weeks in the NFBC was 156 or 13.1 in twelve team leagues which hasn’t changed since March 11th, the beginning of the pandemic shutdown.  In 2019, Hendricks finished with a very respectable 3.46 ERA and 1.13 WHIP over 30 starts and a K/9 of 7.5.  His numbers were similar in 2018, but Fangraph’s projections have a significant regression in both ERA and WHIP for 2020.  This could explain the reason he is not being taken any earlier, as he is definitely not a sexy pick.  With a projected ERA of as high as 4.32 by Steamer, the low price on Hendricks can make him a draft day value as others go for the sexy names.  Target in Rounds 12-13, and he becomes a value after Round 14.

James Paxton , New York Yankees. Paxton had surgery for a cyst on one of his lumbar discs.  He is reportedly throwing simulated games and should be ready to go whenever the season is to resume.  Paxton is still going around Round 14 in most of our mocks.  His ADP from his surgery date of February 4th to March 11th was 175.  Now that he will be ready for the start of the season, his ADP has jumped all the way to 127.  This is a 10th round cost for Paxton and his price will rise even more once people start seeing him pitching in “spring training” in June.  If you draft now, target him in Rounds 10-11 and he is a bargain any time after that. I don’t expect this price to hold for long.

Sean Manaea , Oakland Athletics. Manaea missed most of 2019 with shoulder issues but returned late in the season and pitched well. He won four out of five starts averaging six innings per outing.  He benefited from a low BABIP which translated to a miniscule 1.21 ERA. Do we expect that this year? Of course not, but it shows that he was healthy and should be someone you are targeting in your drafts, especially at his current ADP price.  In our mocks this week, he went in the 15th round in the 12-teamer and 17th in the 10-team mock.  Since March 11, his NFBC ADP is 182 which is in line with our mocks.  He is usually the third A’s pitcher taken as the young tandem of Jesús Luzardo and Frankie Montas have been the darlings of the Mock Draft Army.  Manaea should be targeted in Rounds 13-15.  He has the potential to be a major value.

Carlos Martínez , St. Louis Cardinals. After suffering from shoulder issues that limited his innings over the last two years, Martinez appeared to have won a starting role with the Cardinals during spring training.  He is still only 28 years old and if he can regain his form from 2017, he will be a solid addition to your fantasy squad.  He was taken at 12.12 in the twelve teamer this week and at 18.4 in the 10.  Martinez is another pitcher not projected favorably by Steamer with a 4.23 ERA.  These are the types of pitchers that can win you championships, those that are projected for some major regression and shied away from by your draft mates.  His NFBC ADP is 170 since March 11th, making him a target in Rounds 13-15.  Out of the pitchers I’ve already mentioned, he probably runs the biggest risk, but he can deliver a big reward.

Pitchers To Avoid

Now let’s move on to a few pitchers I believe you should avoid.  I am basing this on the belief that when baseball returns, the teams will be playing in their home parks.

German Márquez , Colorado Rockies. In our 12-team mock, Marquez was taken one pick before Carlos Martínez at 12.11.  With baseball’s return looking like they will play in Colorado, Marquez’s value has taken a roller coaster ride in my opinion, but his ADP hasn’t.  Once there was an expectation that games would not have been played in Colorado, I would have expected Marquez’s draft stock to rise but his ADP has stayed the same. From January 1st through March 11th his ADP was 181. From March 11th to April 30th it was 183. From the period of April 30th to May 8th his ADP was 179.  Since the shutdown, and the various expectations of where the teams would play, his ADP has held rock steady at 183.  If the plan is to play in Colorado, I'd avoid Marquez no matter what his ADP is, but I’d think about it if they play in an alternative site.

Robbie Ray , Arizona Diamondbacks. Strikeouts, who needs strikeouts? Ray will get you those, but it will be at a cost of a high ERA and WHIP.  Ray was taken at 13.7 in our 12-team mock and his current ADP in the NFBC is 154.  I tend to favor pitchers who have low ERA and WHIP potential and Ray is not that type of pitcher.  Can you win with him? Yes, as  seven of the top 100 finishers in the NFBC 2019 Main Event took him as one of their first five pitchers in their drafts (Thank you Todd Zola).  Ray did have an uptick in his HR/FB percentage and this could have led to his higher than normal ERA, but his ERA has been on the rise each of the last two years and can’t be solely blamed on the live ball of 2019.  In this range, you’ll find Kyle Hendricks , Hyun-Jin Ryu , and Kenta Maeda who cannot compare in strikeouts but carry less of a risk in damaging your ERA and WHIP.

Lance McCullers Jr, Houston Astros. I know I’m in the minority here as McCullers is touted frequently as someone who you should be targeting in drafts.  His ADP is extremely reasonable having gone in the 21st round of our 10-team mock, and in the 18th round in the 12-teamer.  Honestly, he could be a candidate to be in the value part of this article, but any pitcher coming off Tommy John surgery who hasn’t pitched in over a year is an avoid for me.  I’d be more inclined to say yes if he had some innings under his belt at the end of last season like Sean Manaea (I know, not the same health issue).  He’s being drafted at pick 14.8 in the NFBC, so our mockers are getting a discount, and at that bargain price I might take a flyer depending upon how my roster is constructed at that point.  If you can take him at a discount, maybe, but in general I’d stay away from pitchers coming back from Tommy John.

Once Rob Manfred announces the expected return of baseball, there will be a flurry of talk, mocks, and predictions.  Hopefully by the time I get behind the laptop for next week’s article we will have some answers as to when this is going to happen. I am always available on Twitter for questions @gasdoc_spit and follow me for the posting of the Mock Draft Army schedule each Saturday.  Join in and have some fun! Stay safe all.