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8 Risers and Fallers from the MLB Delay

Mar 25, 2020

Rich Hill is just one player whose value gets a nice boost from the MLB delay

As you may already know (unless you’re a hermit who doesn’t believe in the internet or are still fervently attached to your Nokia from the ’90s), Major League Baseball has postponed the start of the 2020 regular season indefinitely due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Sure, this obviously pushes back the beginning of the fantasy baseball season, but the effects on our fake sport are far more encompassing than that and have significantly altered player values. So which players are most affected by MLB’s delay and why? We here at FantasyPros are always looking out for you and have reached out to our featured experts to tackle this important question. See who the biggest risers and fallers are below.

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Q1. Which player has moved up your rankings the most with the delay to the season and why?

Rich Hill (SP – MIN) 
“Hill moved from being undraftable to one of my foremost targets with the news of the season being pushed back. There are many others, primarily injured played (Mike Clevinger, Justin Verlander, Yordan Alvarez, Willie Calhoun) and pitchers with innings limits (Julio Urias, Lance McCullers, Jesus Luzardo, Hyun-Jin Ryu), but Hill still takes the cake. He should now be ready to roll on opening day and has quite literally been one of the best pitchers inning for inning over the last five years. Since he took over as a starter, he carries a 2.91 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, and strikes out 10.7 batters per nine innings. I’d grab Hill in the 21st round (right after I take Avisail Garcia) just to be safe and ensure I land him.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

James Paxton (SP – NYY) 
“Paxton plummeted down all rankings after undergoing back surgery in early February. Now it’s time to re-evaluate. Before MLB delayed the season, the southpaw was making good progress in hopes of a late-May or early-June return. That means he could be ready when/if the season begins. While there’s no guarantee Paxton can even last through a truncated season, drafters no longer need to pay a premium for a starter with a 30.1% K rate (seventh-highest among all qualified starters) over the last three years.”
– Andrew Gould (FantasyPros)

Jesus Luzardo (SP/RP – OAK) 
“Initially, he was facing an innings cap that restricted his value a bit, but now that we are looking at a truncated season as a best-case scenario, we can throw out innings limits and evaluate pitchers strictly on talent. He’s arguably the best starting pitching prospect that will be pitching in a club’s rotation out of the gate. He looked great earlier this spring, topping out at 97 MPH with a sharp slider and changeup.”
– Ryan Amore (Pitcher List)

Shohei Ohtani (SP/DH – LAA) 
“Nearly every pitcher who faced innings limits has moved up in my draft rankings with the delay, but Ohtani has taken the most significant jump. The Angels had stated that he likely wouldn’t be able to pitch until mid-May at the earliest, leaving him as a part-time DH who would likely pitch roughly half the innings of a typical starter. But now, it seems highly likely that Ohtani will be ready to pitch whenever the season begins and his throwing on five days of rest will have far less of an impact with a shortened season. His precise value depends on your format, but with Ohtani looking likely to contribute as both a hitter and pitcher right from the start, his value has shot up.”
– Dan Harris (FantasyPros)

Q2. Which player has moved down your rankings the most with the delay to the season and why?

Zack Greinke (SP – HOU) 
“I was bearish on Greinke anyway because of his declining strikeout rate, but it was hard to ignore a pitcher who had thrown at least 200 innings in nine of his last 12 seasons. Now, Greinke’s ability to eat innings simply isn’t worth as much as it used to be. With the injuries to Chris Sale and Noah Syndergaard, among others, Greinke remains an SP2 for me, but only barely. I’d much prefer to wait a bit and take starters who remain undervalued because of earlier innings-limits concerns.”
– Dan Harris (FantasyPros)

Kyle Tucker (OF – HOU) 
“I hate to say this, but I’m not reaching for Tucker anymore like I was doing a few weeks ago. He is a classic five-tool player with 30/30 potential even as a rookie, but without spring training to win the job over Josh Reddick, it seems likely that he won’t even open the season on the Astros’ MLB roster. He’ll be up sooner than later, but in a shortened season, he goes from probably playing 85% of the year to maybe 50% of the year. I can’t afford to draft a player like that in the 12th round any longer.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

Dustin May (SP/RP – LAD) 
“This offseason he was an upside target late in drafts as the potential fifth man in the Dodgers’ rotation, but then he got off to a slow start this spring with a side injury that pushed him back. Alex Wood has since emerged as the favorite for the last spot. May could pick up a spot start here or there, but barring an injury, his role looks suspect right now and the shorter season gives him less time to force the issue.”
– Ryan Amore (Pitcher List)

Domingo German (SP – NYY) 
“Chris Sale, Noah Syndergaard, and Tyler Beede technically drop the most, but everyone should know to remove all three Tommy John surgery recipients from 2020 draft boards entirely. Not everyone may think to do the same for German, who still must serve 63 more games of an 81-game suspension for domestic violence regardless of the season’s length. There’s no guarantee the season (if there even is one) lasts that long.”
– Andrew Gould (FantasyPros)

Thank you to the experts for risers and fallers. Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter for more advice all season and check out our latest podcast below.

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