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St. Louis Cardinals: How Fantasy Relevant are the Redbirds? Part 2 – Pitchers

Adam Wainwright first inning struggles

After a disappointing 2016 season for many of the St. Louis Cardinals pitchers we are hoping for a bounce back season from them. The defense surely had a lot to do with the poor pitching performances. I’m a believer that the defense can be much improved over last season. This will help keep ERA’s in check all across the pitching staff and allow starters to go deeper into games.

Pitcher wins are almost completely unpredictable on a start to start basis. However, I do expect the Cardinals staff to be a good source of wins. They have the right combination of a strong offense and good bullpen to make those early leads hold up. The strikeout rates among their starters are what this staff seems to be lacking.

Today we will look at the pitchers only. Check out Part 1 – Hitters, for more analysis.

Starting Pitchers

(Note: ADP = Average Draft Position, according to Fantasypros. Approximate round based on 12 team leagues)

Carlos Martinez (ADP – #73, approx 6th round)

Rusty: He has arrived as one of the NL’s best and he is worthy of being one of the first 20 pitchers taken. The last two seasons he has proven himself a strong player across the board.

Adam: Martinez is a strong pitcher. However, he doesn’t have the strikeout rate to compete with the top pitchers. He seems to really dial his pitches back until he gets in a situation where he needs a strikeout. This is a great thing in real life, but not so much for his fantasy stats. You don’t want to rely on him as your ace, but he can be a strong #2.

Lance Lynn (ADP – #303, undrafted)

Rusty: He could fall in the draft due to health concerns. Keep in mind, he’s motivated (contract year) and had more recovery time (18 months instead of 12) than most TJ pitchers. Consider the risk of a slow start, but target him as a very good 4th starter.

Adam: Lynn has the potential to be a steal of a pick. He has been a solid fantasy pitcher his entire career, pushing the top 20 at times. Getting rehab starts in at the end of last season allowed him to have a normal offseason and I believe he will come back strong.

Adam Wainwright (ADP – #202, approx 16th round)

Rusty: Here is the guy likely to have the highest variance in draft position between local and national drafts. Many will leave him alone after last year, but there is probably that one guy in every local league that will reach for him as his second pitcher like it’s 2014. If you put together a strong top 5, consider taking a flyer on him as your 6th or 7th SP as a low-risk, high-reward candidate. He says he found his curveball. Just don’t expect too much.

Adam: I’m probably staying away from Wainwright. It wouldn’t surprise me if he had a bounce back season because he was coming off of injury last year. I just won’t be betting on it. It seems like for every reason there is to be optimistic there is another reason to be pessimistic. Age is starting to become a concern with him.

Mike Leake (ADP – #422, undrafted)

Rusty: His skill set doesn’t play great in fantasy so he probably goes undrafted. However, if you are thin on SP, he should be a solid performer in WHIP, IP, and Quality starts (if your league uses those). He’s a guy you should be able to count on to not have a matchup-ruining blowup, but this isn’t a guy you want to be leaning on if your eyes are on the playoffs.

Adam: He will likely benefit the most from an improved defense but he still isn’t a guy to be drafting. He can be used as a streamer against bad offenses throughout the season though if your league doesn’t prioritize strikeouts too much.

Michael Wacha (ADP – #378, undrafted)

Rusty: In all likelihood he will go undrafted, but monitor him early in the season. If the 2015 version appears, grab him quick and ride him as far as you can. He hasn’t proven himself durable yet, but Derrick Goold gives us reason to be hopeful. Still, wait for him on the waiver wire, not in the draft.

Adam: I like the idea of drafting Wacha in shallower leagues. Leagues where there are useful pitchers constantly on waivers. If Wacha is healthy, he should perform like a #3 pitcher. You just need to have a backup plan in place in case his shoulder starts acting up again.

Relief Pitchers

Oh delivers a pitch

Seung-Hwan Oh (ADP – #81, approx 6th round)

Rusty: Don’t pay for saves. RP are plentiful late in drafts, especially if your league uses save/holds as opposed to straight saves. He will be a solid option as long as he continues last year’s success. Just don’t go drafting him before you have filled all your other starting slots.

Adam: I agree with no paying for saves given their variance year to year. I will however pay for high strikeout rates. Oh has a very high strikeout rate combined with a secure job on a team the figures to win a lot. He seems like a really good player to grab once the elite closers are gone.

Trevor Rosenthal (ADP – #452, undrafted)

Rusty: Injury and bad luck played a big role in his struggles last season. Still, he probably doesn’t get saves unless Oh fails, but if your league has SVHD then he has value there, in Ks, and IP if the multi-inning narrative plays out. Think more Delin Betances and less Andrew Miller. If he has value in your league then someone will take a late round flyer. If not, he’s just next in line behind Oh.

Adam: The clear handcuff for Oh. Rosenthal has the potential to be valuable in all leagues if he is used in a multi-inning role. He could rack up the strikeouts and a solid ERA combined with a lot of innings will help smooth your pitching ratios.

Happy Drafting! Thanks for reading!

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Rusty Groppel
I'm a diehard Cardinals fan that feels privileged to write about his favorite team in this corner of cyberspace. I'm also the bass player for the best damn band in the 618, Tanglefoot. Check us out some time.
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