Last year, in this space, we articulated our core principles when it comes to drafting Scoresheet pitchers. Essentially, we think that you should draft for depth, be sure to mix in risk, and grab innings later where you can. In lieu of reprinting last year’s article, or just appending it and writing +1 at the end, we’ll instead offer in this space a mélange of “guys we like.”
Everybody who we’re mentioning is available in more than 50 percent of leagues, so caveats abound. These are not the best players available—rather, they tend to be players who we find ourselves willing to draft relative to where they are generally perceived to be taken. Of course, that means in your league, some of these players may be taken early, and other players who we aren’t as high on become valuable targets. As it says in our book on self-worth, every plausible draftee is valuable at the right point in the draft.
Everyone listed here is ranked haphazardly in something approximating order. Onward!
Chris Bassitt (36% owned): A lot of the pitchers we fill out our rotation with tend to be soft-tossing performance-first players or hard-throwing injury cases. Bassitt is a little feistier than our usual type, as his fastball gained a few ticks last year, and he nearly has a rotation spot locked up with little pressure behind him. In fact, the whole A’s rotation seems Scoresheet-friendly, particularly…
Rich Hill (2% owned): who it seems is not overwhelmingly believed in after he torched the league in limited appearances last year. While it’s unlikely that Hill is hiding a portrait of an aged Clayton Kershaw in his attic, even the downside seems downright average. We’re more worried about the risk of injury rather than poor performance, but a healthy Hill stands more chance of being a valuable playoff starter than his peer group.
Tyler Duffey (10% owned): While much of what little praise there is for the Twins rotation is given to Kyle Gibson, he didn’t end up the best pitcher in his rotation last year. Duffey is unlikely to be as good in the upcoming year as he was at last season’s end, but he could fall back some and still be the Twins’ most valuable pitcher, if he doesn’t become the first to fall prey to the rise of Jose Berrios.
Tyler Skaggs (14% owned): One of our favorite draft day bargain bins is filled with Tommy John surgery returnees. Although sometimes these pitchers come back late or not at all, often you get a player who has worked harder in rehab than ever before in his life to date. In Skaggs’ case, his injury was all the way back in 2014, giving him plenty of time to return to form, which last we checked, was starting to look like a solid mid-rotation starter. The Angels’ hesitation to pitch him in April lowers his draft status somewhat, but he could be one of the better starting pitchers by rate available in the draft.
Mat Latos (4% owned): The 25th round needs love too. To reiterate our general Scoresheet philosophy, your team needs more innings than you think, especially early in the season. Latos is volatile, but unlikely to lose his job immediately. By some standards, he wasn’t a disaster last year, even as his record, ERA, and attitude indicated otherwise.
Jerad Eickhoff (38% owned): He has opportunity, performance, and a little bit of breakout potential. His major league performance last year may leave him less underpriced than some other names on this list, but he’s a more than passable fifth or sixth starter, and he could even enter a playoff rotation if his game broke right.
Bartolo Colon (40% owned): Well, he’s not a keeper. Do you care? As it stands, Colon will move to the bullpen upon Zack Wheeler’s midseason return, but life has a funny way of reacting to distant plans. Colon has become a somewhat bankable performance pick, and even his weaker starts provide bulk innings, which are especially valuable in the early season.
Adam Conley (10% owned): There’s maybe a faint whiff of buzz around Conley, who had a strong second half amidst an ignored wreck of a team. We’d hop on board as well, although the immediate threat to his rotation slot is somewhat worrisome. There’s cause for optimism, and even a back-end starter is at least left-handed, an advantage when reacting to shifts.
Adam Warren (3% owned): Although he doesn’t quite fit with the tone of this article, Warren is unlikely to be a highly drafted crossover. He’s an underdog in the fight with Kyle Hendricks for a rotation slot, and his invite means that he’ll spend most of spring with an ill-defined bullfight role. Our hole is that he snaps out of it at some point.
Bud Norris (25% owned): 25 percent owned? Really? Well, he’s our official deep draft shrug. As with Latos in the AL, you need to take somebody, and there’s really no pressure on Norris to pitch all that much better than Triple-A Pitcher to run out some starts for a while. There is fourth starter upside here too—this isn’t a floor-only pick. Even deeper leaguers can try Ryan Weber (0% owned).
This Week’s Podcast
In preparation for this week’s draft, the Outcomes traverse the pitching landscape. They answer a few philosophical questions, name a few players of interest, and manage to insult ever Academy Award nominated movie of 2016 between them. Don’t be Furiosa with us, just give it a listen.