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8 Players Hurt By the Delayed Start to the MLB Season (2020 Fantasy Baseball)

May 8, 2020

A shortened season lessens the value of Zack Greinke’s durability.

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Last week we looked at 10 players whose value is on the rise due to the delayed start to the 2020 MLB season. This week, we’re examining players whose value has taken the biggest hit.

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Q: Which player has moved down your draft board the most as a result of the delayed start to the 2020 fantasy baseball season?

Zack Greinke (SP – HOU)
Putting aside players like Clint Frazier, who had snuck onto my board because of injuries to Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge but has now fallen out of range entirely, Greinke is someone who I really can’t see drafting at anywhere close to his ADP this year. Part of his value comes from the fact that he was a virtual lock for 200 innings, reaching that mark in nine of his last 12 seasons and five of his last six. With a shortened season, and expanded rosters likely leading to extra relievers on staff, the value of all innings-eaters decreases. But unlike many others in the same category, Greinke (now 36 years old) has seen his strikeout rate decrease for three straight years, to the point where it’s now barely above 8.0 per nine innings. With fewer innings, strikeout rates are even more important for starters, and Greinke’s slippage in that area drops him even more than the general slide for most pitchers who rely on their volume of innings pitched for part of their value.
– Dan Harris (@danharris80)

Trevor Story (SS – COL)
Prior to COVID-19 rearing its ugly head, Story was my favorite first-round shortstop. But at this point, it seems like a toss-up as to whether MLB teams will play games in their home ballparks. If Story (and Nolan Arenado) don’t have that extreme luxury, there is no way they’ll return first-round value. Coors Field is legitimately a 35% bonus for hitters in home games, and while it’s still possible Story plays in Coors, this is too much risk to undertake in Round 1 with a similar player like Francisco Lindor available to you.
– Bobby Sylvester (@bobbyfantasypro)

Nolan Arenado (3B – COL)
The delay to the regular season has brought about more questions than answers, and one of the commonly floated ideas involves teams playing games in designated ballparks. If this were to happen, hitters from the Colorado Rockies would receive a downgrade. Perhaps Nolan Arenado would hit anywhere, but the removal of Colorado’s thin atmosphere, coupled with how deep third base is in 2020, means that I can’t invest a first-round pick with confidence. I am not comfortable buying with increased uncertainty.
– Mario Mergola (@MarioMergola)

Nate Pearson (SP – TOR)
Had the season begun on time, I was very optimistic Pearson would receive a quick call to the parent Blue Jays at some point in early May. Now, with a shortened season probable, Pearson will likely be kept in development for quite a while. He’s a terrific pitching prospect with the right repertoire, high velocity, and excellent mound presence. I think he’ll eventually be the ace of the Blue Jays’ staff, but he (and I) will have to wait. I’ll drop him down a bit.
– Bernie Pleskoff (@BerniePleskoff)

Giovanny Gallegos (RP – STL)
With Jordan Hicks likely ready, or almost ready, to begin the shortened season, Gallegos has the most to lose among relievers. Gallegos should still post a 30%+ strikeout rate and a WHIP that hovers around 1.00, but he will not get the 25 saves that I expected back in February. Between Hicks, Ryan Helsley, and the John’s (Gant and Brebbia), I don’t see Gallegos getting more than 15-20% of the save chances in St. Louis. The fact that Gallegos wasn’t named the closer even when Hicks was slated to miss half the season is telling.
– Carmen Maiorano (@carmsclubhouse)

Trevor Bauer (SP – CIN)
The number one thing Bauer has going for him is his durability. Over the last two seasons, he has defied league standards by consistently throwing 120+ pitches per outing. This unique endurance, to me at least, is completely believable after you read about the intelligent, data-driven work he has put into his arm. Unfortunately for Bauer, a shortened season takes away a lot of the advantage his dependability usually brings to the table. A good half dozen younger starters have jumped him in my rankings since it has become clear MLB isn’t playing anywhere near 162 games this year.
– Jon Anderson (@JonPGH)

Alex Verdugo (OF – BOS)
Alex Verdugo suffered a stress fracture in his back last season and was slated to miss the first month of the 2020 campaign. He recently deemed himself 100 percent healthy and could return when MLB officially starts. However, it’s hard to trust a player who has been dealing with back and oblique injuries since last August. As the main attraction in the Mookie Betts trade, Verdugo will have a lot of pressure to produce right away. The 23-year-old outfielder also expects to platoon with right-hander Kevin Pillar. The MLB suspension did allow Verdugo’s back to fully heal, and while he has upside (85.2% contact rate in 2019), I am having a hard time buying into him staying healthy, even in a shortened season. He slashed .294/.349/.440 with 12 home runs, 44 RBIs, 43 runs, and four stolen bases across 377 plate appearances in 2019. Despite the upside, Verdugo has too many health questions to count on in a shortened 2020 season. I rather wait to take chances on outfielders Nick Senzel, Austin Hays, and Trent Grisham, all three players who are within a few spots of Verdugo in the latest expert consensus rankings.
– Brad Camara (@beerad30)

Madison Bumgarner (SP – ARI)
The fantasy assets that gain the most value from a shortened season are either A) players who would’ve began the year on the injured list or B) starting pitchers who would’ve faced innings limits such as Jesus Luzardo and Julio Urias. That means that one of the fantasy assets which loses value due to a delayed start is starting pitchers who are innings compilers. Madison Bumgarner was already going to be a somewhat risky fantasy bet due to a declining skill set, but he still had value in that he has thrown over 200 innings in seven of the last nine seasons. A 3.90 ERA spanning 110 innings just isn’t as valuable as a 3.90 ERA spanning 210 innings. When it comes time to draft, keep this thought in mind when constructing your pitching staff.
– Brendan Tuma (@toomuchtuma)

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