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Do Not Draft These 10 Pitchers (2023 Fantasy Baseball)

Do Not Draft These 10 Pitchers (2023 Fantasy Baseball)

There are many reasons to avoid a player in drafts, from injury risks to anticipated regression in performance. I’ll also note that this season, I’ll be stocking up on hitters in the first three rounds where I can.

The quality of hitters beyond the top 45 falls off a cliff, and with newfound depth at SP, I’ll be acquiring most of my pitching in the middle rounds this season.

So, while the below pitchers may end up performing well this season, you’d be wise to avoid them at their current draft price (all ADP data courtesy of FantasyPros).

Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit

Do Not Draft These 10 Pitchers

Pitchers to Avoid in the Top 40 Picks

Jacob deGrom (TEX – SP) | ADP 29

When healthy, Jacob deGrom is the most dominant starter in baseball. But coming off of 64.1 IP in 2022 and 92 IP in 2021, why do we assume deGrom will give us more than 150 IP in 2023? As the old saying goes, you can’t win your draft in the early rounds, but you can lose it. The injury risk alone is enough for me to avoid deGrom at his current ADP.

Dylan Cease (CWS – SP) | ADP 30

On the surface, the numbers looked great in 2022; 227 Ks across 184 IP and a 2.20 WHIP. And at only 27 years old, you could convince yourself there is room for improvement. But a closer look under the hood gives some reason for pause. Dylan Cease was dead last among qualified starters with a staggering 78 walks on the season, good for a BB% of 10.4. And he was third among qualified starters with 10 unearned runs. These are the type of stats that tend to catch up with a pitcher. Couple that with Cease overperforming his xERA by half a run last season, and count me out at his third-round price this season.

Shane McClanahan (TB – SP) | ADP 32

Shane McClanahan was arguably the best starter in baseball for a stretch of the 2022 season. But the end of his year gives me pause heading into 2023. After returning from his left shoulder impingement on Sept. 15, McClanahan posted a 5.79 ERA across his three September starts. The bump from 123.1 IP in 2021 to 166.1 IP in 2022 seemed to take a toll on the young lefty. While his future remains bright, I need 190+ innings to invest in a starter in the first four rounds. I’ll take the under for McClanahan in 2023.

Spencer Strider (ATL – RP, SP) | ADP 34

The same innings and durability concerns I have with McClanahan are also present with Spencer Strider. He threw 96.1 innings in 2021 and increased his workload to 131.2 innings in 2022. Does anyone realistically expect Strider to throw more than 150 innings in 2023? It’s also incredibly hard to be a consistently elite starter throwing only two pitches over 95% of the time (Strider’s changeup, his third pitch, actually had a positive run value for hitters). Strider will likely be good in his limited innings in 2023, but given his third-round price tag in a 12-team league, there are better options.

Edwin Diaz (NYM – RP) | ADP 41 & Emmanuel Clase (CLE – RP) | ADP 41

Nothing against Edwin Diaz and Emmanuel Clase as pitchers, but count me out on closers in the top-40 (or top-41) picks. Only one of the top four drafted closers finished the season ranked in the top 140 last year. Josh Hader finished with a 5.22 ERA, Raisel Iglesias had only 17 saves and was traded and Craig Kimbrel had only 22 saves and a 1.32 WHIP. Investing in closers early may work if you pick right, but given the volatility of the position and the quality of hitter you need to pass on in the top 40, I’ll take my chances on finding this season’s Daniel Bard, Scott Barlow or Clay Holmes after pick 200 instead.

Pitchers to Avoid in the Middle Rounds

Kyle Wright (ATL – SP) | ADP 96

Kyle Wright had a fairytale season in 2022, leading the league with 21 wins. Even still, Wright only finished as the 25th overall SP thanks to fewer than 1K/IP and an average ERA and WHIP. To illustrate the point, take a look at these blind resumes:

IP Ks ERA WHIP Yahoo 2022 Rank
Starter A 180.1 174 3.19 1.16 ??
Starter B 185.2 174 3.20 1.18 135

Starter B is Logan Gilbert, who had a respectable 13 wins on the season. Knock Wright’s win total to 13 (fellow Brave Max Fried had 14 wins across more innings and with a better ERA and WHIP), and Wright would have finished right with Gilbert in the 135 range. Don’t pay for last year’s wins this season. Avoid Wright before pick 135.

Nick Lodolo (CIN – SP) | ADP 124

Is it just me, or is the Nick Lodolo hype train getting ahead of itself? The No. 7 overall pick in the 2019 draft, Lodolo showed promise in his first big league season, posting 131 Ks across 103.1 IP. But Lodolo was a bit lucky last season-posting a 3.66 ERA with an xERA of 3.97, and still plays his home games at the most hitter-friendly park this side of Coors Field. With average exit velocity, hard hit percentage, barrel percentage and walk percentages all ranking in the bottom half of the league, substantial improvement is needed just to break even on his draft-day price tag.

Joe Ryan (MIN – SP) | ADP 138

I hate to say it, but Joe Ryan just isn’t the top-40 starter he is being drafted as. Ryan threw four pitches last year, and three of them posted positive run values for hitters. His fastball was his only effective pitch, and I’m skeptical that a righty throwing his fastball at 92 MPH with a fastball spin rate ranking in just the 38th percentile across baseball will be able to replicate his 2022 success.

Lucas Giolito (CWS – SP) | ADP 148

As a Nationals fan who watched Lucas Giolito pitch in the minors (and eventually get traded for Adam Eaton), it pains me to say it, but it’s time to give up on Giolito until he proves otherwise. Last season, Giolito was a net negative on your team posting a 4.90 ERA and 1.44 WHIP that were not even career worsts. His strikeout totals can be enticing, but with an average exit velocity, hard-hit rate, xBA, xSLG, barrel percentage, walk rate and chase rate all below league average in 2022, let someone else draft Giolito and cross their fingers for a rebound.

Beyond our fantasy baseball content, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Baseball Tools as you prepare for your draft this season. From our free mock Draft Simulator – which allows you to mock draft against realistic opponents – to our Draft Assistant – that optimizes your picks with expert advice – we’ve got you covered this fantasy baseball draft season.

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