The still-to-be-determined start of the 2020 MLB season has added an interesting wrinkle to fantasy baseball draft prep. We at SI Fantasy want to provide you with the best possible information heading into your drafts in these unprecedented times.
Our "Draft or Pass" video series takes a closer look at a fantasy player that will be debated often leading up to fantasy drafts, in many cases, because of the delayed start to the season. Are our hosts targeting this player specifically? Are they avoiding him entirely?
Today's feature focuses on Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Yu Darvish.
Draft or Pass at current ADP: 23 (SP)
Cubs starting pitcher Yu Darvish had to go through baseball hell these last few years.
After being traded from the Rangers to the Dodgers in 2017, and pitching reasonably well over his nine starts (3.44 ERA, 49.2 IP, 4.69 K/BB ratio), Darvish cruised through the postseason against Arizona and Chicago. But in the World Series, Darvish got tattooed by the Houston Astros. He went 0-2, lasted just 3.1 IP while giving up 8 ER and a WHIP of 3.3.
At the time, it was believed that Darvish was tipping his pitches, but as we know now, the Astros had stolen the signs.
He then signs a six-year, $126 million contract with the Cubs in the 2017 offseason, and only lasts eight starts all season, pitching to an ERA near 4.95.
Eventually, Darvish started to get right. Last season his ERA was just under 5.00 over his first 17 starts, and he couldn't stop walking batters. Then he got into a groove and finally looked like the stud top-of-the-rotation starter the Cubs had paid all that money.
Over the final three months of the season, Darvish spun a 2.95 ERA with 124 strikeouts and a WHIP of 0.826. The control was the best of his career, and consequently, his K/9 rate was the best he's had since 2013 with Texas.
So which Darvish will fantasy owners see in this projected shortened season? The second half Darvish with brilliant command going deeper into games with a K/9 rate of 11.5? Or the “Darvish from hell” that couldn’t get past five innings without walking the ballpark.
During spring training, SI Fantasy analyst Shawn Childs wrote up Darvish to improve upon his terrific second half in 2019.
“With a strong second half, a rebound in his walk rate (2.8), and repeated success in his strikeout rate (11.5), Darvish will be drafted as an SP2 with ADP of 66. The key to a further step forward is the success and value of his fastball. He pitched 132 more innings than 2018 while having an up and down career in command. A front runner that pitches better when ahead in the count. Look for a push toward 15 wins with a sub 3.50 ERA and over 250 strikeouts with 32 starts.”
In a 12-team league, Darvish is currently going off the board as the SP19, and 62nd overall pick. Like Shawn, I tend to buy in on Darvish getting right from his strong second half and supporting the Cubs in perhaps their final season with the bulk of their roster from the 2016 World Series. I’ll buy Darvish at his current ADP.
READ MORE: 2020 Chicago Cubs Fantasy Team Preview
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