The subject of pitching, pitching staffs, and how rugged 2017 was on the arms of our team is pretty much rhetorical at this juncture.
If you have been listening to The Tout Wars Hour (on the FNTSY network every Thursday night at 9 PM ET), you have heard Justin Mason, Todd and I talk a lot the past few weeks about how to deal with hurlers next year without hurling.
I confess that I am a guy who always went for the "good pitching beats good hitting" maxim, and for many years in Fantasy Baseball, that seemed to work. But not anymore, as witnessed by Mike Podhorzer's dominant victory in AL Tout this year, for example.
As my teams tumbled from the top and hot starts over the first couple of weeks, I thought of the guy who smashes his head against the wall repeatedly but never understands the way to mitigate the problem is to try another approach. And, though I hide behind age (I get Medicare now) and have the hashtag #iambecomingabesimpson, I like to think I am capable of learning. At least when it comes to baseball.
A little over a week ago, Justin initiated a cluster of mock drafts and I decided this off-season to work at assembling second-tier pitching staffs this year to the best of my ability, assuming the likes of Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer, Chris Sale and Corey Kluber are out of reach. In fact, there is a good chance that if I had a top-5 pick, I would be hard-pressed to select any of this quartet of aces in an era of hitting. Not to mention, I am trying to figure out how to win without being arm heavy.
So, I have concocted a list of starting pitchers I think I can get from the fifth round on in a straight draft. Note that in an ideal world, I would like to hold off on grabbing a hurler until the seventh round if I could, but I suspect aside from getting lucky, that will be as much a ticket to doom as selecting too many pitchers.
My plan is to really keep track of my mocks and, if you will, build an ADP of these guys by which I will try to draft for real come March 2018. So, I will be writing about this and tracking it periodically during the off-season, sometimes here, and sometimes on the Hotpage.
As of now, here are the guys I am looking at with a little rationale along with where the player was selected in the Couch Managers Mock Justin initiated. Note that this league is a 5x5 with 15 teams, so the sixth round begins with Pick #76. Also note there might be additions and subtractions to this list as the stove heats, then cools.
Robbie Ray #70: An ace in the making as part of arguably the best starting troika--with Zacks Greinke and Godley--Ray will get whiffs if nothing else, and that is the starting point. However, as a late fifth rounder, his skill set is hardly a secret. And, his team can hit.
Alex Wood #90: Surprisingly high for a pitcher with just one very good season under his belt coupled with an injury history. On the other hand, it was a monster good year and Wood was certainly not overused (152.3 innings). But, pitching as a lefty behind Kershaw has to be a comfy slot in the rotation of a good team.
Kyle Hendricks #95: Kind of the perfect #2 guy, not strikeout heavy, but definitely has control, keeps the ball down, and also is on a very good team.
Aaron Nola #101: Certainly a potential ace on the Phils, who are improving and kind of fun. But, 184 whiffs over 168 innings.
Sonny Gray #110: He's back and will be a quiet one of many in the Bronx.
Jimmy Nelson #116: Another great season from a former #1 who whiffed 199 over 175.3 innings.
Zack Godley #121: 165 whiffs over 155.3 innings on the same team as Robbie Ray.
Danny Salazar #125: It is getting to be crapshoot time, but we can all agree the talent is there.
Jose Berrios #136: Pretty good rookie season on a team that wound up being a lot better than we thought. The questions are was the team a fluke, and thus Berrios one? I'm guessing Jose is for real.
David Price #140: Looks good in the playoffs, and is surely not bullpen material, making Price a solid gamble for a pitcher who was among the likes of Sale and Scherzer just two years ago.
Danny Duffy #146: Like a few guys on this list, Duffy has trouble staying healthy. Ideally, in drafting a lot of these guys, the injury factor is mitigated a little.
Jon Gray #151: Another injury worry, but more serious and developing talent.
Mike Clevinger FA: 172 picks gone, and Clevinger is still out there, but for how long?
So, walking away with six of these guys to go with a pair of closers and a seventh mystery starter is what I am looking at.
Follow me along the adventure. And, feel free to comment.
Follow me @lawrmichaels.