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Fantasy Baseball Draft Advice: Spencer Strider, Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Zach Eflin (2024)

Fantasy Baseball Draft Advice: Spencer Strider, Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Zach Eflin (2024)

ERA minus FIP is a quick and dirty stat available to sort at FanGraphs to help identify lucky and unlucky pitchers. No statistic is infallible. Yet, a positive ERA minus FIP indicates a pitcher was unlucky, and a negative suggests they were lucky, absent more data.

The subjects of deeper scrutiny in this piece are the qualified starting pitchers and a handful of eye-catching ones with at least 80 innings in 2023 and the highest positive ERA minus FIP marks.

2023 Positive ERA Minus FIP Leaders

Spencer Strider (SP - ATL)9.2 ADP

Spencer Strider's 3.86 ERA in 2023 didn't do him justice. According to FanGraphs, among qualified pitchers in 2023, Strider was second in xERA (3.09), second in FIP (2.85), first in xFIP (2.92), first in SIERA (2.86), ninth in WHIP (1.09), first in strikeout rate (36.8 K%) and first in wins (20). According to the value-based-ranking (VBR) metric, Strider was the third-most-valuable pitcher last season despite lousy luck relative to his eye-popping underlying data. He's worth his Average Draft Position (ADP).

Zack Wheeler (SP - PHI) | 25.6 ADP

Zack Wheeler was the 10th-most-valuable pitcher last year. Yet, his 3.61 ERA was higher than all of his ERA estimators. Philadelphia's ace had a 3.21 xERA, 3.15 FIP, 3.54 xFIP and 3.53 SIERA. Wheeler also had a 1.08 WHIP and 26.9 K% in 192.0 innings. The veteran righty is an elite workhorse and a reliable, high-upside SP1 at a fair price.

Aaron Nola (SP - PHI) | 46.6 ADP

Aaron Nola was killed by homers (1.49 HR/9) and a dreadful strand rate (66.4 LOB%) last season. As a result, his 4.46 ERA was much higher than his 3.77 xERA, 4.03 FIP, 3.63 xFIP and 3.75 SIERA. Unfortunately, the veteran righty had the same issues in 2021, resulting in a 4.63 ERA versus a 3.35 xERA, 3.37 FIP, 3.37 xFIP and 3.26 SIERA.

Nola had a 29.6 CSW% last season, the lowest mark of his career. Fortunately, he closed the season on a high note. Nola twirled a 2.35 ERA, 3.42 xFIP, 3.13 SIERA, 0.96 WHIP, 4.5 BB% and 25.8 K% in four starts spanning 23.0 innings in the playoffs. Nola can live up to his top-50 ADP. Nevertheless, having only to go back to 2021 to see the same issues that plagued him in 2023 provides a reason for pause before pulling the trigger on him at his ADP.

Zach Eflin (SP - TB) | 81.6 ADP

Zach Eflin is grossly undervalued as the SP23 in ADP. He was the sixth-most-valuable pitcher last season. Moreover, Eflin's success wasn't a fluke. The Rays unlocked the veteran hurler.

Across a workmanlike 177.2 innings, Eflin was third among qualified pitchers in xERA (3.11), fourth in FIP (3.01), third in xFIP (3.12), third in SIERA (3.30), second in WHIP (1.02) and 12th in strikeout rate (26.5 K%). Eflin should be drafted at least a dozen picks earlier than his current ADP, making him a screaming value outside the top 75 picks.

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Josh Shepardson is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Josh, check out his archive and follow him @BChad50.

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