2019 Fantasy Baseball: Stay Away From These Pitching BUSTS!
2019 Bust Pitchers
Patrick Corbin (SP, WAS)
The biggest sucker pitcher in 2019 for me is Corbin. He’s coming off a great season (3.15 ERA and 246 Ks over 200 innings) highlighted by a massive jump in his K rate (11.1). Over his first 139 games in the majors, Patrick had a 4.12 ERA with 651 Ks over 745.2 innings while showing risk in his WHIP (1.348). Corbin entered last year with 7.9 Ks per nine. His success is driven by one plus pitch (slider – .148 BAA), which he threw a career-high 41.3 percent of the time in 2018. Last year he added a low volume curveball (.273 BAA) helping the value of his slider. Corbin is a serviceable arm that makes more sense as an SP3 or SP4 rather a foundation ace. Natural fade for me this draft season.
Update: Over the last two weeks in the high-stakes market, Corbin has an ADP of 51 as the 14th starting pitcher drafted. His 2018 season (11-7 with a 3.15 ERA and 246 Ks over 200 innings) looks astounding especially when considering that his overall package should have translated to an even lower ERA. I have a tough time trusting as a Fantasy ace in 2019, which means I’ll avoid him in all drafts. Over nine innings of work this March, Patrick has a 3.00 ERA with three Ks. I expect him to be serviceable while having a big step back in Ks plus fade in ERA and WHIP. His $140 million contract is going to be a problem for the Nationals.
Andrew Heaney (SP, LAA)
When doing the team outlooks for 2019, I came away with a good feeling on the direction and upside of Heaney. Unfortunately, Andrew developed a left elbow in early March putting a red flag next to his name on my cheat sheet. Last year Heaney finished with the best command of his career (K rate – 9.0 and walk rate – 2.3), which should be the foundation skill set for a breakout season. His ADP (167) is starting to fade in March as Fantasy owners wait for a cleaner update on his health. Proceed with caution here.
Update: The excitement and value of a pitcher in the Fantasy market can turn on a dime, which is highlighted by the recent injuries to Luis Severino and Clayton Kershaw. Heaney made some progress with his left elbow over the last couple of days, but I don’t trust that he’ll be right in 2019. In his first two games, Andrew walked four batters and allowed four hits over 1.2 innings. Heaney has an ADP of 167 in early March, which paints him as an SP3 in the high-stakes market.
Jon Lester (SP, CHC)
After a down season in 2017 (4.33 ERA), Lester pitched well last year (18-6 with a 3.32 ERA and 149 Ks over 181.2 innings). His walk rate (3.2) continues to move in the wrong direction with a sharp decline in his K rate (7.4). Jon struggled with home runs over the last two seasons (50 HRs over 362.1 innings). He pitched well over his first 16 starts (10-2 with 2.18 ERA, .208 BAA, and 74 Ks over 95 innings) despite allowing ten HRs and issuing 32 walks. Lester struggled over his next eight games (8.01 ERA, 77 baserunners, 20 walks, and 12 HRs over 39.1 innings). He stabilized over his last eight starts (1.71 ERA and 44 Ks over 47.1 innings). Jon struggled against LH batters (.279 BAA). His AFB (91.0) is fading along with the value of his cutter (.266 BAA). He still has a plus curveball (.198 BAA) and changeup (.191 BAA). With questionable value in his WHIP and Ks, Lester will have more fade in his ADP (182). He pitches for a good team with a long resume of success. If his command comes back, so will his ability to strikeout batters. Possible 15+ wins with a 3.50 ERA and only 150 Ks.
Update: When doing the player profile for Lester in early February, I gave him a chance at a rebound season based on his lengthy resume and the overall talent of the Cubs. With that said, I wanted no part of him as a sliding SP3 in the high-stakes market. His risk in WHIP looks to be black mark along with his poor showing over the second half of 2018 (4.50 ERA and .303 BAA). His ADP now sits at 195, but he went at pick 239 and 223 in my two recent slow 15-team drafts. It was so bad that I couldn’t even follow my own thoughts on him (I selected him at 223) as I didn’t trust the next group of starters drafted after him (Ross Stripling, Alex Wood, Steven Matz, Josh James, Colin McHugh, and Kevin Gausman). Veteran arms can rebound, but I wouldn’t overpay for his direction. In his three games this spring, Jon has a 5.19 ERA with ten Ks over 8.2 innings.
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Kyle Hendricks (SP, CHC)
Hendricks has a nice five-year resume in the majors (52-33 with a 3.07 ERA and 668 Ks over 789 innings). His walk rate (2.0) is top shelve, but his K rate (7.3) faded for the last three seasons. Over the last three months of the season, Kyle went 9-3 with a 2.78 ERA and 91 Ks over 107 innings. He allowed two runs or fewer in 17 of his 33 starts. His only bad month came in June (1-4 with a 7.03 ERA) when Hendricks lost his command (15 walks over 24.1 innings). He did show more risk vs. RH batters (.259 BAA). Kyle is a ground ball pitcher (48.9 percent in his career. His AFB (86.9) is one of the shortest in the game, but he has a great changeup (.184 BAA). Batters crushed his low-volume curveball (.483 BAA) while his sinker (.293 BAA – .226 BAA in 2017) is now a liability. I see more downside than impact value. Tread carefully here as disaster is looming just around the corner.
Update: Hendricks falls in a tough category for me at pitcher. He’s a soft tosser than relies on elite command and a plus changeup to get batters out. I don’t like the direction of his velocity, which points to his arm taking a big step backward. His ADP sits at 127 making him the 45th pitcher drafted in 2019. Kyle allowed two runs and six baserunners over his first 4.1 innings in March with five Ks. Hendricks don’t fit the mold I’m looking for one of my top foundation arms.
Mike Foltynewicz (SP, ATL)
Last year Foltynewicz had a significant improvement in his game without pushing his walk rate (3.3) into a winning area. His success was driven by the best fastball (96.4) of his career plus growth in his secondary stuff (slider – 106 BAA, curveball – .177 BAA, and changeup – .175 BAA). Mike relied more on his four-seam fastball (.235 BAA) than his sinker (.305 BAA), which wasn’t the case early in his career. He finished with his highest K rate (9.9) of his career with batters only hitting .195 against him compared to .313 in 2015, .263 in 2016, and .277 in 2017. His stuff played well against righties (.208 BAA) and lefties (.183 BAA). Over his first 16 starts, Foltynewicz had a 2.02 ERA and 107 Ks over 89 innings. He regressed over his last four starts in July (6.94 ERA, 35 baserunners, and six HRs over 23.1 innings). Mike pitched well in nine of his final 11 starts leading to a 2.55 ERA and 69 Ks over 70.2 innings. His next step is cleaning up his command to help him push his inning total to a workhorse area. His fastball and complimentary stuff scream upside, but repeated success requires more strikes thrown. Not ready to be an ace while possibly being a trap as an SP2 in the high-stakes market.
Update: Foltynewicz pitched two shutout innings in late February with one strikeout. His right flared up before his next start. The Braves are being cautious with his arm, but any elbow issue has to be looked at carefully by Fantasy owners. Mike throws hard while relying on a slider as his second best pitch. High volume slider pitchers tend to have more risk for TJ surgery. Over the last couple of weeks, his ADP slipped to 93 as the 33rd pitch drafted. Before last season, Foltynewicz had 4.79 ERA and 1.461 WHIP over 382.2 innings in the majors. Risk/reward type player who looks much easier to avoid with a red flag drooped on his name at every Fantasy website in March.