In last week's column, I examined some wacky preseason NFBC hitter ADP stats. So, following the same format, let's head to the mound and give the pitchers the attention they deserve.
Jon Lester SP Ranking: 9
Robbie Ray SP Ranking: 55
Coming off a Cy Young worthy campaign in 2016 and having posted an ERA no higher than 3.34 and a WHIP no greater than 1.12 from 2014-2016, Lester seemed like an ultra-safe draft day investment. But as I've learned over the years, there is really no such thing as a safe starting pitcher in fantasy baseball. Through 29 starts this season, the veteran southpaw sports a 4.30 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP. Not exactly what owners had in mind when they confidently selected him as their staff ace. On the other hand, Ray is enjoying a career year, highlighted by a 2.74 ERA through 25 starts to go along with a gaudy 12.3 K/9 rate.
Masahiro Tanaka SP Ranking: 18
Luis Severino SP Ranking: 99
This tale of two Yankees is an intriguing one indeed as Tanaka, the club's Opening Day starter, has been inconsistent all season, pitching to a 4.73 ERA through 28 starts. Meanwhile, Severino, who wasn't even assured a rotation spot heading into Spring Training, has assumed the ace roll in his first full big league season. Listen, it's only a matter of time before Tanaka undergoes Tommy John surgery. Until that happens, he will be nowhere near any of my fantasy rosters. Congrats to those of you who drafted Severino in a keeper league.
Julio Teheran SP Ranking: 25
Gio Gonzalez SP Ranking: 77
The owner of a 3.31 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP since the beginning of August, Teheran is doing his best to salvage what has been a lost season. But the damage is already done. Still, don't give up on this guy. He will only be 27 on Opening Day 2018 and has already built a solid enough track record to suggest that a bounce back is likely. He might have been a little overvalued this year. but will surely be undervalued next year. The case of Gonzalez is the exact opposite. I've always been a fan of Gio, and for the bargain price of two bucks, he's turned out to be one of my better purchases in Mixed Auction Tout Wars. But a 2.68 ERA through 29 starts? Who could have expected that from a pitcher who prior to 2017 seemed to be on the decline? It would be a mistake to pay list price for Gonzalez next spring.
Rick Porcello SP Ranking: 28
Ervin Santana SP Ranking: 87
One season removed from a Cy Young award, Porcello has returned to his old form, best described as mediocre. At this point, he barely deserves a mixed league roster spot. The Red Sox righty is not someone I'll be targeting next season. Few owners were targeting Santana this season, but the 34-year-old continues to exceed expectations, delivering mid-rotation production at a fraction of the cost. One auction dollar was all it took to add Erv to my Tout Wars staff, and I'll continue to draft him as long as my league mates continue to undervalue him.
Francisco Rodriguez RP Ranking: 18
Greg Holland RP Ranking: 33
For years, we all waited for K-Rod to collapse, but it never happened. At least not until this year, and the breakdown was ugly. Rodriguez was bounced from the Tigers' closer role by early-May and jettisoned from the Tigers team by late-June. He was then released by the Nationals in mid-July after signing a minor league deal a few weeks earlier. His big league career is probably over. Holland missed the entire 2016 season as he recovered from Tommy John surgery and did not enter 2017 as Colorado's clear-cut closer, so he wasn't even drafted in many mixed leagues. But despite a rocky (no pun intended) month of August (9 1/3 IP, 14 ER), Holland is once again performing at an elite level. Top-10 stopper entering 2018? Absolutely.
Zach Steinhorn is the 2016 Mixed Auction Tout Wars champion. Follow him on Twitter @ZachMLB