Pitcher List Mock Draft No. 3: Ben Pernick’s Picks

Ben Pernick breaks down his picks from the 12th spot in Pitcher List Mock No. 3.

In my first mock draft of the year, I felt like I was dominating. I got so value in the early going and absolute steals later in the draft. But that was the #2EarlyMocks, and I didn’t do nearly as well facing the savvy Pitcher List crowd. My strategy was to get starting pitching early, precisely because I know it’s the opposite of Nick’s strategy so I expected the top pitchers to be better bargains relative to ADP than the mid-round starters. It played out…interestingly. I was feeling cocky having won my second Pitcher List Fantasy League championship in 3 years, and the positively priceless prize, a stuffed platypus, but my stars-and-scrubs rotation may prove to look foolish several months from now.

This was a 12-team mixed league snake draft with 3 OF, 1 C, 2 UT and 9 pitchers. Unfortunately I forgot that when I saw the ClickyDraft board’s 5 OF spots so I overloaded on OF which put a wrench in my strategy. I had the turn at the 12 pick, which I don’t think is an enviable draft position, but if you prepare correctly I think you could not let it get the best of you. I’m not saying I did, at least this time around, but perhaps you can learn from my errors. On to the picks:


1.12 – Gerrit Cole (SP, New York Yankees)


King Cole sure made his fantasy owners merry old souls. If he were staying in Houston, there’d be absolutely no doubt that Gerrit Cole would be the top starter. Still, even though he moved to New York, I’m not worried he’s going to suddenly forget his secret to success playing half his games in a new city. The Astros continued to get more and more magic out of his arm, and statistically, he was the best pitcher in the American League, with a fantastic 20-5 record with a 2.50 ERA, 0.895 WHIP and 326 Ks. I believe he is in his own tier above the other “ace” starters as the only top starter with an upward trajectory, durability, and with 26 more Ks than the next-best starter. And as far as continued improvement goes, it’s worth noting just how dominant he was after a disappointing April and May. From June 1 on, he had a 1.63 ERA in over 140 innings, and that is bananas. And he just kept getting better, with a K-BB that improved every month from June to October and a wOBA allowed that improved every month from May to October. With his five positive pVAL weapons and entering 2020 at just 29, I don’t get why folks assume he can’t get even better, regardless of team. After the first six or seven hitter picks, you can arguably get similar-quality players in the next rounds…the same cannot be said for SP. I doubt he’ll last this long in other drafts, so if you can get him after No. 8, I think he’s a great value.


2.13 – Juan Soto (OF, Washington Nationals


I was thrilled to get Juan Soto here, regardless of positions. Soto had an amazing sophomore campaign to prove his legendary 2018 debut was no fluke, hitting .282 with 34 HR, 110 R, 110 RBI, and even 12 SB in 659 PA. In his age-20 season, Soto posted a similar K/BB to Freddie Freeman with superior 91 mph exit velocity and with improvements to his launch angle (LA) (from 6 degrees in 2018 to 12 in 2019) and exit velocity (2018: 89 mph 2019: 91 mph and 97 mph on FB/LD). He still isn’t quite a batting-average asset with a repeated 20% K rate, but perhaps it should be seen as a feat that he kept it from rising while increasing his hard contact and launch angle, and can hone that aspect in 2020. While Soto is not particularly fast, I don’t think it’s outlandish to project another 10 steals as a 21-year-old who has excellent game awareness. As such a mature preternatural hitter, it’s worth dreaming on his 2020 ZIPS projections (Granted, from pre-2019): ZIPS .304 44 HR 113 R 125 SB 7 SB. That’s a top-six player, and his floor is also absurdly high. If he can cut his K rate, he could resemble current-day Mike Trout.


3.36 – Pete Alonso (1B, New York Mets)


The Rookie of the Year seems like a slam dunk in Round 3, but I’m not so sure this pick won’t backfire. I’d love if Pete Alonso can come close to his rookie campaign in which he hit .260 with 53 HR, 103 R, 120 RBI 1 SB 693 PA, delivering on his 80-grade power and crushing most expectations. Granted, Statcast believes he over-performed based on his exit velocity (90.6 mph) and 9.5% Barrel/BBE rate. Even then, Alex Chamberlain ranked him the third-biggest over-performer in expected barrel rate (+5.2%), so most are projecting a substantial power decline to 30-35 HR, in which case he would basically be Matt Olson with more walks. On the other hand, any non-egghead knows he’s a beast of a human and based both on his scouting, minor league performance (36 HR in 2018), Home Run Derby victory, and basically everything, his true talent is one of the best mashers in baseball. In 2020 he could easily improve his barrel rate and power to stave off any regression and perhaps even improve in his age-24 season, which would make him a great get before the 1B early talent drop-off.


4.37 – Shane Bieber (SP, Cleveland Indians)


Knowing that this was a Pitcher List mock and the general strategy would be to wait on starting pitching and attack in the early mid-game, I felt I should zag where they zig and stabilize my rotation early, and Shane Bieber seems to be quite the stabilizer. At just 23 years old, he posted a stellar season, going 15-8 with a 3.28 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and 259 Ks in 214  ⅓ innings. I believe in the Indians’ ability to make aces out of pitchers with strong breaking pitches, which gained some pop with his curveball gaining 3 mph to 83. Although in 2018 he had concerns with being too hittable in the zone, it seems clear he learned how to live effectively outside the zone more, as while his Zone% dropped from 48% to 40% his O-Swing% and O-Contact% improved, leading to a fantastic 14 SwStr% and 30 K%. With his numbers supported by a 3.36 SIERA, I don’t expect a large negative regression, and it’s possible he can even take another step forward in his age-24 season. After him I felt the SP pool really goes down at least a tier.


5.60 – Jonathan Villar (2B, Miami Marlins)


Although last year was likely Jonathan Villar’s peak (well, second peak), his fantasy power/speed upside may have me ignoring reality due to wearing Villar Goggles. Last year he hit a studly .274 with 24 HR, 111 R, 73 RBI, and 40 SB in 642 AB. He benefited both from the bouncy-ball environment combined with the cozy Camden confines, as well as the Orioles’ willingness to let him run. His raw speed isn’t what it once was with a sprint speed of 27.9 ft/sec sprint, and although his instincts help him, he may be closer to 25-30 SB with Miami. Then again, it’s easy to forget he’s still only 28 and perhaps he continues to build on his improved skills, with a career-best 25% K% and 9% BB%. However, now that he’s left the penny-pinching Orioles and found his way in Miami, his power projection takes a big hit going from one of the best to worst parks for home runs, though hopefully the walls moving in will help negate that somewhat. At least he’ll likely keep nabbing bags.


6.61 – Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (3B, Toronto Blue Jays)


I can totally understand why this pick may seem like a reach. I took Vladimir Guerrero Jr. above Eugenio Suarez, who popped 49 homers, and instead took a player who, from a production standpoint, was not even a top-150 player last year at pick No. 61. Then again, I had already pushed hard on power with my Alonso/Soto combo, and Vlad seemed to be the only hot corner on the board who could be a potential boon in the batting average category. While his 2019 season clearly outweighs his minor league stats, I think only a fool would project the 20-year-old for a repeat of the 2019 season. Perhaps his early-season oblique injury, which many assumed was an excuse to keep him from the majors, was real and hampered him throughout the season as obliques often do. Or it could’ve just been the bad quality contact, with a 6.7 launch angle (427th among hitters) and 31% Sweet Spot% (356th). The 65 present hit tool and 80-grade present raw power is what I’ll lean on (as evidenced by his MLB-leading 118.9 mph max exit velocity), and I’m optimistic his conditioning will improve after his first harsh reality check. I’m not quick to cast aside a player who averaged over a .350 AVG, .600 SLG% and 180 RC+ as an 18-year-old, as his minor league statheads and scouts agreed that he’s a superstar-caliber talent. Oh and did we forget when he annihilated the Home Run Derby record with 91 HR, besting Stanton by 30 tates? I sure didn’t. For what it’s worth, Steamer projects a .295 AVG and 25 HR, 165 R+RBI and 3 SB, which I’d be happy with, but there’s clearly upside for so much more.


7.82 – Jorge Soler (OF, Kansas City Royals)


I must say I’m a bit surprised that Jorge Soler doesn’t seem to be getting much respect for such an amazing season. You could make a fair argument that statistically, he was as good or better than Pete Alonso and 50 picks later. He hit .265 AVG, 48 HR, 95 R,117 RBI, 3 SB, in 589 AB, 679 PA, with a fantastic .569 SLG. Unlike Alonso, Statcast actually supported his season and even hinted that better is possible, with an elite 93 mph exit velocity an 17% Barrel/BBE% that led to a .272 XBA and .573 XSLG. And even more encouraging is the significant in-season improvement, hitting .240/.307/.495 with a merely average 106 wRC+ in 374 PA in the first half, and then going .299/.411/.665 with an insane 1.076 OPS and 173 wRC+ in the second half. I believe it was a real skills improvement since over that time, he improved his plate discipline from an 29% K% and 8% BB% in the first half to a 23% K% and 15% BB%, as well as large improvements in FB/LD rate%, pull%, and Hard%. So why no hype? Granted, this comes after several injury-riddled seasons of mediocrity and disappointment, but perhaps all he needed was some health to finally untap what we’ve always known was massive potential, and he’s still just 27. He deserves less skepticism and I expect him to move closer to the top 50. 


8.83 – J.T. Realmuto (C, Philadelphia Phillies)


He’s been so reliably solid, excitement over him has been Realmuted. It may not be noisy but J.T. Realmuto continues to gradually improve his power every year, with a 90 mph exit velocity and improved barrel percentage. He’s essentially the Trout of catchers, in that he has such a high floor, with ample playing-time volume and well-rounded production and that bankable production at a volatile position is well worth the cost. It’s also worth mentioning that he is still quite fast with an 89th percentile sprint speed. Although he didn’t quite have the Christian Yelich-esque power breakout some hoped for after he left the Marlins’ spacious park and depressing team, other catchers have voiced that the first year on a new team can be tough offensively as the player focuses on learning their new pitchers and game-calling. Then again, the years of catcher wear-and-tear may get him eventually, and I totally forgot about his meniscus surgery this offseason. Still, he’s only 28 and I think that his slow improvement still may skyrocket and this could be his true star breakout year, and if not it’s still a nice floor, like Realmuhogany.


9.106 – Amed Rosario (SS, New York Mets)


After being critical of other middle-round shortstops, I got a bitter taste of my own Amedicine. I’ll admit being swayed by seeing how much higher he went in the #2EarlyMocks and can see this as a reach. Sure his season line of .287 with 15 HR, 75 R, 72 RBI, 19 SB is nothing to sneeze at, especially from a 23-year-old, but shortstop is so deep that I could’ve waited much longer and grabbed the poor man’s version in Tommy Edman or Kevin Newman in the last round (Didi Gregorius and Elvis Andrus also went in the last round), both of whom went undrafted. But the Amed Rosario optimist would point to his three-year rapid ascension in exit velocity, from 84 mph to 87 to 89 from 2017 to 2019, although his barrel rate remained poor at 4%. Still Statcast supported his newfound batting average skill with a .288 xBA. One can argue he’s like a poor man’s Ozzie Albies in the all-around approach, and Rosario has the superior raw speed. But he isn’t refined with 10 CS and could stop getting the green light as a result. I’d still approve of him after pick 150, but honestly I think I’d rather just wait forever at shortstop if I don’t get the top options from Francisco Lindor to Marcus Semien.


10.107 – Nicholas Castellanos (OF, Free Agent)


I likely would have waited and addressed pitching here had I realized it was a three-outfielder and not a five-outfielder hypothetical league, but even so it was a tough choice between Nicholas Castellanos and Rosario. But it’s hard not to dream on the possibilities after his outstanding run once he was no longer suffering in the Tigers den. Although he was easily on pace for his worst season in the early going, he went on an amazing tear post-trade, hitting .321 with 16 HR, 43 R, and 36 RBI in just 225 PA with the Cubs. While surely some of that is coincidental, surely he felt more motivated by being on a competitive team and in a better offensive environment. That run wasn’t all a fluke as he had a .460 xwOBA from August 1 on. We’ve always dreamed on what kind of hitter he’d be off the Tigers, so unless he ends up in an equally poor hitter situation, I’m optimistic on his 2020 outlook and expecting a .290 average with 30-35 taters.


11.130 – Roberto Osuna (RP, Houston Astros)


I had planned on waiting for a closer, so imagine my pleasant surprise at being able to land a top-three closer despite waiting 10 rounds. Perhaps teams were wary of being judged by Alex Fast and his brilliant piece on how we’re drafting closers wrong. Roberto Osuna had his best year yet, although Osuna is seen as a steady boring option, I think many are overlooking the significant improvements that the 24-year-old made. His K% rose from 21% to 29%, backed by a career-best 17% swinging-strike rate. Part of that was getting a big bump in fastball velocity, averaging 96.9 mph in 2019 from 95.7 in 2018, and 95.0 mph in 2017. All four of his most-used pitches had a positive pVAL, and while he mostly went with his power fastball-change combo, his less frequent slider and cutter actually scored a higher pVAL, with pVALs of five for the slider and seven for the cutter. And even the sinker, which was a negative pVAL, still had a 38 O-Swing%, so it has potential. With so many weapons and such a young age, I’m expecting him to continue to dominate with his extra velocity and has the potential to be even better.


12.131 – Danny Santana (OF/1B, Texas Rangers)


I was hoping to get David Price before I was sniped, but I felt that despite the risk, DanSan’s power/speed combo has not been getting the respect it deserves. Granted, I think he’s the kind of player who at least in early mocks seems to be easily forgotten or overlooked; in the #2EarlyMock I got him at pick No. 235. He hit a fantastic .283 with 28 HR, 81 R, 81 RBI, and 21 SB in 474 AB (511 PA), making him arguably the most valuable waive-wire pickup of the year. He’s always been fast, but most think the power was a total fluke, and I’m not so sure. In limited MLB playing time in 2018, he actually had a 91 mph exit velocity, up a ton from previous years where it was a middling 85 mph. Then in Triple-A he hit .264 with 16 HR, 12 SB in 342 PA in 82 games, for a .233 ISO. Also people discount the fact that he didn’t play a full season; over 650 PA his 2019 would extrapolate out to 36 HR 27 SB 103 R 103 RBI. So if he can stave off a regression and play a full season, the fantasy upside is top-two-rounds-worthy. But with a 30% K% and 4% BB%, and a 30% HR/FB in the second half, this pick does have a high amount of bust potential.


13.154 – Brad Hand, (RP, Cleveland Indians)


I decided to bite on the Hand that feeds my pitching rate stats. Brad Hand stayed healthy all year and went a studly 6-4 with a 3.30 ERA, 1.238 WHIP, 84 Ks and 34 saves, third-most in baseball despite his team’s disappointing year. Baseball guru Ariel Cohen pointed out in a September in The Case for a Second-Tier Closer  that second-tier closers have a good ROI rate and are generally a wiser investment than top-tier or low-end closers, and Hand gets grouped into high-end but should be considered among the top-tier options. In a full season uncontested as closer, he posted a fantastic 35 K% (95th percentile) for the second straight year, and reduced his BB% from 9% to 7% with a SIERA of 2.93 and xwOBA of .281 that were better than his 2018 rates. It is of mild concern that his fastball and sinker lost an mph or two, which perhaps played some role in his jump in hard percentage allowed to 40% from 32% in 2018, and why he missed most of September with arm fatigue. But he may have been a bit unlucky with career-best 2.80 FIP, 2.93 SIERA and xwOBA .281 better than 2018. He’s boring but reliable, as he still had four straight years of 60+ games and general dominance, and still has upside for 100 Ks if the team decides to use him in more non-game situations.


14.155 – Domingo German (SP, New York Yankees)


I may have taken Domingo German above the ADP, but mid-tier pitchers were all pushed up; I took him after German Marquez and Sean Manaea and before Kenta Maeda. Still, it was painfully evident at this point that I waited way, WAY too long for a No. 3 starter, and figured rolling the dice on the 18-game winner would be my only long-shot gamble to still contend in wins. But I totally overlooked the suspension continuing into 2020, though we still have no idea about that, but that aside he’s a far better pitcher than most guys still on the board. He fulfilled my 2019 “bold” prediction of being a top-60 starter by being a top-30 starter for most of the season, with an 18-4 record, 4.03 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 153 Ks in 143 IP. Despite losing over a mile an hour on his fastball velocity, he still succeeded mostly due to leaning on his money pitch seven-pVAL curveball as his primary pitch and getting better results on his changeup. He has the talent to pitch like a No. 2 starter as he did in the first half, but right now there’s more questions than answers.


15.178 – Willie Calhoun (OF, Texas Rangers)


Even though my offense was loaded, I couldn’t pass up Willie Calhoun at this value. After he hit .269 with 21 HR, 51 R and 48 RBI in only 309 AB, you could make a convincing argument that he deserves to be a lot closer to power/average types like Castellanos and Eddie Rosario than he’s been going. After appearing devastated by failing to make the team in the spring, he hit well in Triple-A, with a .297 batting average and eight home runs, but what was most surprising was he complemented his 14% K% with a 19% walk rate. This is likely just a glitch as he’s never shown much patience before, and this walk rate did not carry over to the majors. But if he could even get to a 9% or 10% walk rate, his ability to perform like a top-20 outfielder go way up. But it’s worth noting Statcast was bearish, noting his weak 6% barrel rate and saying his .524 slugging percentage deserved to be just .452. But I expect continued improvement from the 25-year-old.


16.179 – Mitch Keller (SP, Pittsburgh Pirates)


I know Nick has argued that Mitch Keller deserves better thanks to his excellent stuff, but I’d like to give another side of the argument. Sure, despite his ugly 1-5 record and 7.13 ERA over 48 innings, it was just 11 games, and I believe he was the unluckiest pitcher in all of baseball. His slider is a beastly secondary and his curve is nearly a Money Pitch, so it’s certainly puzzling why his 96 mph fastball allowed a .461 AVG and 44% LD%, resulting in a shocking -10 pVAL. But lest you think it was still deserved, consider that he doesn’t have control problems, didn’t allow many homers and showed dominance with an excellent 29 K% and 7 BB%. Thus, he had a fantastic 3.19 FIP, and while his SIERA was worse, it was still just 3.78. Yet you may persist that he deserved his failure due to deserving hard contact on pitches in the zone. And to that I say, belying Keller’s horrific .392 wOBA is an above-average .314 wOBA, with his .348 AVG allowed shrinking to an xBA of .265 and his .546 SLG% down to an xSLG of .411. I think he’s the 2020 Bieber, aided by the fact that Keller will have a new pitching coach with a less backward approach.


17.202 – Brandon Workman (RP, Boston Red Sox)


Did I need a third closer? Not really. Did I want to double down on ERA and WHIP while getting solid wins and a possible 100 Ks? You betcha. Brandon Workman quietly had a fantastic season, going 10-1 with a 1.88 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 104 Ks in just 71 ⅔ IP, yet he’s not taken seriously as a closer option, which I think is ridiculous. He hardly allowed any elite contact with a miniscule 0.3 Brl/PA and while he was one of the biggest overperformers, his.173 xwOBA was still top-20, with a xBA of just .173 and xSLG of just .233. (99th and 100th percentile, respectively). He got more giddyup on his fastball up to 93 mph, but he may have benefited even more from increased cutter usage, up to 47%, nearly double his usage in 2017. That extra eight pVAL cutter weapon allowed his curveball to play up to a 12.5 pVAL. He had an amazing 67% contact rate against, essentially turning his opponents into Jeff Mathis. His one weakness is control, with a dangerous 16 BB% but his 36 K% does give him more wiggle room. I expect him to remain closer and excel on a still-excellent team offensively and defensively, and will scoop him up everywhere at this price.


18.203 – C.J. Cron (1B/DH Minnesota Twins)


C.J. Cron’s season was solid but easy to overlook in such a powered-up environment, as he hit just .253 with 25 HR, 51 R, and 78 RBI in 458 AB. But let me ask you: Who do you think has the sixth-best barrel-per-PA in baseball? It’s Aaron Judge. But after him is Cron. Cron hit the ball harder while cutting his K rate down over 4 points, but you wouldn’t know it from his surface stats. That’s because he underperformed his metrics, with a cromulent xBA of .277 and xSLG of .548 thanks to a career-best 91 mph exit velocity (88 mph in 2018). He still may get moved as teams never seem to want him (maybe he makes bad puns like me) despite the fact he’s improved nearly every year, and looked poised for a career best before his thumb injury derailed his season. If he can continue to improve his excessive 43 GB%, I think he can be a cheap source of a .270 AVG and 30+ dingers. Still, his weaker performance vs righties (just .225 this year) makes him a platoon risk on a contender, and with an early mock ADP of 274, I should’ve waited a few more rounds.


19.226 – Aaron Civale (SP, Cleveland Indians)


Sure, this might have also been a reach, but I wanted to balance my high-upside bust pick with a safer pick who I still believe has unrecognized upside. Aaron Civale continued to prove skeptics wrong with a 3-4 2.34 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 46 Ks in 57 ⅔ IP, and while he has an underwhelming K rate I think he could be more than just a Toby. Statcast thinks he wasn’t just lucky and still deserved most of his weak contact, with his .269 wOBA mostly validated by a .278 xwOBA (88th percentile). That’s tied with Jack Flaherty and beats Noah Syndergaard, Lucas Giolito and Zack Greinke. How? He has a slow fastball, but has 96th-percentile breaker spin, and on a team that routinely makes the most out of pitchers with bad fastballs. He had a varied arsenal with three positive pVAL pitches (slider, sinker, cutter), and he also dominated two levels of the minors. I could see him getting up to a 25 K% (he did have a 26 K% in Triple-A) while keeping a mid-3s ERA, with a Zach Davies floor who could be the next Kyle Hendricks, and perfect-world upside of Cookie Carrasco if he sharpens his arsenal and bumps the Ks. And just like cookies, regression is baked into the price.


20.227 – Casey Mize (SP, Detroit Tigers)


This is a dice roll on the Tigers pulling a Rick Porcello. Granted that was a different era, but they’re not the Rays, and if he’s healthy they may cave to fan pressure to give them SOMETHING to be excited about. Casey Mize dominated High-A and Double-A with a 0.88 ERA and 30 Ks in 30 ⅔ IP in High-A and then a 0.95 in Double-A until his June 10 shoulder injury scare, and when he came back he wasn’t the same. While he did still spend most of his season at Double-A, he’s likely behind Matt Manning on the depth chart, but I think Mize can cut him in line if Triple-A remains such a hostile environment for pitching in which perhaps only elite talent can survive. I may have pounced too early, but I still think he can be promoted in May, and even a June call-up may not stop his meteoric Mize to the top.


21.250 – Ryan McMahon (2B/3B, Colorado Rockies)


This wasn’t at all based on a team need, but I just felt Ryan McMahon fell way too far here, especially considering his second base eligibility. In his first mostly full season, the 24-year-old hit a solid .250 with 24 HR, 70 R 83 RBI, and 5 SB in 539 PA. He was having a big second half until he cratered in September with a brutal .195 average, but it’s possible that fatigue may have played a role as its not uncommon for rookies. Although he certainly has his flaws, namely a concerning 30 K%, he’s a sleeper OBP source with a 10% rate, and his power can make up for many flaws. The Rockie rocks a 90th-percentile exit velocity, at 91 mph, which gives him 35- to 40-HR upside when combined with Coors Field, though to realize it he will need to cut down on his excessive GB% and K%. But seeing all of his flaws and the stats he amassed in spite of it, I’d roll the dice again as an overlooked endgame 12-team option.


22.251 – Josh James (SP/RP, Houston Astros)


I recognize that there may have been far more practical picks, and Josh James is really more of a 15-team play, but he has 12-team upside that’s at least worth talking about. JJ reminds me a bit of Edwin Diaz as a dominant pitcher who mostly just fell prey to the luck devils. Although his 2019 line came with an unsightly 4.70 ERA and 1.32 ERA (especially for a reliever), he still logged a 5-1 record and 100 Ks in 61 ⅓ IP, and he was a Statcast Gloria…because he’s Allred. It gave him one of the largest differentials between his actual .304 wOBA allowed and expected .263 wOBA. In fact, his xBA of .171 and xSLG of .286 were 99th and 98th percentile, respectively, and even with his problematic walk rate, his .263 xwOBA was 93rd percentile. That doesn’t account for the fact he started the year roughly after missing time with an injury, but finished strong with a 3.24 ERA, 41% K%, 9% BB% in 17 IP in the second half. He had trouble locating his fastball and changeup to induce swings outside the zone like he did in his debut, but I think he could still benefit from using them more often. I still hold out hope he finds his way into a rotation spot and can provide 120-150 high-impact innings, and if that happens, he could even outperform Julio Urias.


23.274 – Seth Lugo (RP, New York Mets)


If it weren’t the last pick, I’d hope to snag him in the 300s, but I think Seth Lugo can still provide value here. Unlike James, Lugo had an excellent season, going 7-4 with a 2.90 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 6 saves and 104 Ks in 80 IP, but like James, he also had Statcast metrics as red as Rudolf’s nose. He had the highest curveball spin rate in baseball and his K%, xBA (.183, K% and xwOBA (.237) were all 99th percentile. He really improved his effectiveness this year, going from an 18% K-BB% in 2018 to a 28% K-BB% this year. He says he still wants to be in the rotation, and if they grant it to him and he can stay healthy he could be a top-30 starter with 180+ Ks. He deserves another look with his diverse array of secondary pitches, though even if he’s not, he should at least provide a high floor with another 100 Ks with some relief wins and vulture saves. Unlike James, this is likely his peak, but its a mighty fine peak if he can increase the volume, and a far better gamble than most late game starters getting taken here. 

(Photo by Gerry Angus/Icon Sportswire)

Ben Pernick

I've been writing for Pitcher List since the beginning, and have been a fantasy baseball addict now for 20 years. I grew up as a Red Sox fan in New York, but now I declare allegiance only to my fantasy teams.

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