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As fantasy baseball players we love to focus on the early rounds of drafts. Well do I have news for you, that isn’t where leagues are won. Leagues are won in the middle to late rounds in drafts.

At a fantasy baseball conference, Rob Silver discussed how the best player in the world was able to succeed in 2021. He noted that he profited the most on his middle to late-round picks which lead to the notion: perhaps we spend too much time analyzing the early rounds when we in fact should be focusing on players who have higher ADPs.

It makes sense. There is so much focus on the first couple of rounds, heck, even the first round that it’s almost like there isn’t an advantage there. You are going to find your advantage later on, with players people are more unsure of. Players where analysts have a lot of differing opinions. 

This is where you can find your advantage or edge. This is where you can win leagues.

I created a list consisting all pitchers with least 60 innings pitched last season. It also doesn’t contain any pitcher who is currently going as a top 100 pitcher according to NFBC ADP. This does include RPs so figure it really removes about the top 75ish starting pitchers.

I purposely did this because it creates an easier image to find pitchers who stick out against the rest. Or as I like to call it, finding the best of the worst. 

It is sorted by ERA as default. Also please note some of the columns sort funny, this is something we are working on.

The best in each category (100 IP min). 

ERA: Eric Lauer 

K%: Andrew Heaney

BB%: Zach Eflin

K-BB%: Andrew Heaney

FIP: Antonio Senzatela

xFIP: Zach Eflin

SIERA: Zach Eflin

SwStr%: Josiah Gray

CSW%: Austin Gomber

Zach Eflin

There is a lot of Zach Eflin here and his ADP of 180 is likely due to his uncertain health status. He had surgery on his right patellar tendon in September and it usually takes about six to eight months to recover from that procedure. This means he might not be healthy until May and then he has to ramp up. 

Eflin is super interesting because this is his final year of arbitration, which means he is going to want to prove himself. He was off to a decent start in 2021 with a 4.17 ERA, 18.8 K-BB%, 3.68 FIP, 3.81 SIERA, and 28.3 CSW% in 105.2 innings. He was one of few with a lot of good on this chart.

In my opinion, his ADP is so worth it. If he comes back on the earlier end of surgery he would be in the rotation on Opening Day. He was highly touted for a reason coming into the 2021 season. He made some real changes and looked like he was taking the next step. 

Andrew Heaney

I’m not going to talk a lot about Heaney because it drains my soul from my body. A lot of analysts love him because of his underlying metrics and strikeout capability. The problem is he has those same numbers and high upside every single offseason and it never comes to fruition. 

I guess he is one of the “best of the worst.” Sigh.

Eric Lauer

Eric Lauer did a whole lot in 2021 if you weren’t paying attention. He upped his velocity and also made a pitch mix change. It’s a small sample of 106.2 innings but it all seemed to work as he finished with a 3.04 ERA.

The K-BB% is about average with the FIP and SIERA calling for regression, but even if he ends up with a high three ERA it would be a win. 

Nestor Cortes Jr.

Of this grouping, Cortes Jr. has the third-best ERA, fifth-best K%, the best K-BB%, and the tenth-best SIERA. The whacky delivery timing seemed to work really well for Cortes Jr. in 2021 and he could be a solid option for you in drafts as the 140th pitcher off the board.

Josiah Gray

I can’t discuss “best of the worst” without mentioning the one and only Josiah Gray. Gray had the highest SwStr% of the group being tied with Domingo German and Griffin Canning. 

Now the underlying metrics aren’t great but when a pitcher has two breaking balls with insane whiff ability it’s hard not to take a chance. He barely made the grouping coming in as the 109th pitcher off the board but he sits behind pitchers like Cal Quantrill and Casey Mize, two pitchers who don’t seem to have nearly the same amount of upside. 

Tylor Megill

Do I even have to talk about Tylor Megill? I mean you all know my love for him, right? He has two fantastic breaking balls with a low SIERA and above-average K-BB%. All he needs is a sure spot in that Mets rotation and watch out!

Michael Wacha

I will die on this hill as well. Wacha made a change in the last month and a half by altering his pitch mix and he produced a near 30% strikeout rate. Something happened, and while it is a super small sample, this is where you take your chances. 

German Marquez and Antonio Senzatela

I’m not putting Senzatela in the same realm as Marquez in terms of skill-set but they both fare well compared to the others in this grouping. 

Marquez has a ton of talent with a dirty knuckle curve that can be unstoppable in some starts.

Senzatela is a weak contact pitcher who somehow has decent underlying ERA metrics.

If you are in a daily league or don’t mind dealing with Coors Field perhaps you take a shot on German Marquez as the 103rd pitcher off the board and Antonio Senzatela as the 249th.

Adrian Houser

I actually came into this liking Adrian Houser but I might take a step back here. He is showing a lot of bad compared to others. 

The 3.33 ERA is fantastic of course but his 10.7 walk rate and 6.3 K-BB% is a tough pill to swallow. He also has a low SwStr%, low SIERA, and low CSW% compared to the others. 

I’m starting to ponder the question, why take the risk with a pitcher who doesn’t seem to offer the same upside as other pitchers in the same ADP range? 

He has always been someone who could beat out their underlying metrics so at least there is that.    

The worst in each category (100 IP min.)

ERA: Jorge Lopez

K%: Dallas Keuchel

BB%: Zach Davies

K-BB%: Dallas Keuchel

FIP: Mike Foltynewicz

xFIP: Marco Gonzales

SIERA: Zach Davies

SwStr%: Adrian Houser

CSW%: J.A. Happ

Yea don’t draft these guys (except for Marco Gonzales).

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Michael Simione

Michael Simione

Michael Simione is the owner of SPStreamer.com. He started the blog based on a Twitter account he created back in 2018. He specializes in pitching as well as streaming pitchers. He most importantly is a die-hard Mets fan.

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