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Fantasy Baseball Draft Advice: Michael King, Nick Lodolo, Chris Sale (2024)

Fantasy Baseball Draft Advice: Michael King, Nick Lodolo, Chris Sale (2024)

It’s never too early to begin thinking about innings limits for starting pitchers. MLB teams are certainly thinking about them already. Teams spend so much money on pitchers’ arms that they need to treat them as delicately as possible. You may think that this article is too early, but consider how we’re already drafting.

Eury Perez is coming off a season where he struck out 108 batters in only 91 innings. He also had a 3.15 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP all as a 20-year-old. While the excitement is still high with an ADP of 99, it sure seems possible that it could have been higher. However, we’ve already seen the Marlins limit his innings last season. Even though he had a 2.36 ERA through 11 major league starts, the team sent him back to the minor leagues in July to limit his innings. He was recalled again in August, but you have to be aware of the possibility of it happening again when drafting him.

Below you’ll see more pitchers that could have innings limit this season for a variety of reasons.

Innings Limits to Monitor (2024 Fantasy Baseball)

Michael King (SP – SD)

Michael King was acquired by the Padres this offseason in the trade that sent Juan Soto to the New York Yankees. While he has made sporadic starts with the Yankees over the past four seasons, with San Diego he’ll be asked to be a full-time starter.

As with most relief pitchers, King’s minor league career began as a starter. Between the 2017 and 2018 seasons, he pitched 310 combined innings showing that he could handle a starter’s workload. That is a long time in the past though at this point. Since then, the most innings that he pitched were last year’s 104.

One of the differences between King and the options listed above is that the Padres don’t have the depth of pitching that the Dodgers or Rays have. If they are going to compete in a very difficult NL West, they are going to need Yu Darvish, Joe Musgrove and King to deliver in their starts. To manage King’s workload, the Padres may give him some short starts and rely on their remade bullpen instead.

Nick Lodolo (SP – CIN)

There was a lot of hype with Nick Lodolo going into the 2023 fantasy baseball season. It was easy to see why coming off a dazzling rookie debut. Over 103 big-league innings in 2022, Lodolo struck out 131 batters while walking 39 batters which led to a mid 3’s ERA. But 2023 would be a step back due to injury.

Most pitcher injuries are typically to the elbow or shoulder areas. Lodolo’s injury was actually to his left leg. Initially, the diagnosis was left calf tendinosis. Later, it was determined that it was a stress reaction in his left tibia which shut his season down already in early May. For the season, he ended with an ERA over six and a WHIP of 1.74. However, when you look at the game log it paints a different picture.

After his first three starts, Lodolo had a 2.12 ERA with 27 strikeouts to six walks in 17 innings. Then, in his last four starts, while the strikeout-to-walk ratio was still fine (20 strikeouts to four walks), he began giving up earned runs in droves. He surrendered 20 earned runs in only 17 innings mainly because he surrendered nine home runs. That has all the makings of a pitcher who was pitching injured.

Going into the 2024 season, Lodolo should be fully recovered from the leg injuries. It still appears that the Reds will limit his innings. His most innings pitched so far in a season are 115 which was 2022 between the major leagues and the minor leagues. While he may reach the threshold again, it’s hard to envision a scenario where the Reds ask him to pitch much more than that.

Chris Sale (SP – ATL)

For the first time in his career, Chris Sale will be pitching in the National League in 2024. It will also be the first time that he won’t be asked to be the ace of his team in over a decade. This offseason Sale joined the Atlanta Braves to solidify the middle of their rotation with another left-handed option.

Most of the projection systems are optimistic about the innings pitched for Sale for the 2024 season. The Bat is the fewest of any of the projections, but still projects 121 innings pitched. That would be his most innings pitched since the 2019 season. Since the start of the 2020 season, Sale has only been able to muster a total of 149 innings pitched as he has dealt with a variety of injuries during that time.

The Braves are going to play the regular season as one of the favorites to win the World Series. It’s too early to know that for sure, but Braves management has to realize that a playoff run is likely. With that in mind, the Braves would be wise to save their best arms for the postseason. Sale may reach 130 innings pitched this year, but not in the regular season. It seems more probable that his regular season innings will be in the 110-inning pitched range.

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