It’s pure chaos atop the pitching ranks in 2023, with no consensus No. 1 fantasy ace and a growing cult of drafters who prioritize 70-inning relievers over 190-inning starters. In a year without a vintage Pedro or Kershaw to provide clarity and order, things quickly descend into tribalism. Some of us have simply renounced all early-round pitchers, preferring to build rotations from late-game fliers and prospects, enhanced later by aggressive waiver adds. To each their own.
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We certainly have no shortage of polarizing top-of-draft pitchers to discuss, as none of these guys is entirely without red flags. Let’s begin with a player who flummoxes fantasy managers at least as much as he flummoxes opposing batters.
Go here for 2023’s most polarizing hitters.
Jacob deGrom, SP, Texas Rangers (ADP 31.5)
We can reliably say that deGrom’s innings will be of the highest quality imaginable. Hopefully, everyone can agree on that. The past two seasons, he has struck out an incredible 14.3 batters per nine innings while producing dead-ball-era ratios (1.90 ERA, 0.63 WHIP) with absurd control. He has struck out more than 13 hitters for every walk he has issued the past two years. Healthy deGrom is as good as it gets — arguably as good as anyone in the fantasy era. If we could guarantee he’d pitch 150 innings in 2023, he’d surely rank as everyone’s top starter.
And that right there is the problem. We haven’t seen deGrom reach even 100 frames since 2019, and he has thrown only 156.1 the past two years. Since spring 2021, he has been sidelined at various times by elbow, shoulder, forearm and oblique issues. He’s actually dealing with an injury to his side/oblique right now. Projection systems are all over the place on his innings forecast for 2023. No one is about to issue any guarantees with regard to his workload. Again, all we can say is that when he pitches, for however long he goes, it’s gonna be great.
For me, deGrom is a much easier sell in a Yahoo default roto format than he is anywhere else. Around here, the public game includes a very reachable innings cap, which means that even an 80- or 90-IP season from deGrom can have immense value. Thus, he deserves a bump (or downgrade) based on your platform. Also, if you enter a draft caring exclusively about upside, this is your guy.
Spencer Strider, SP, Atlanta Braves (ADP 26.2)
So much about Strider resembles a classic closer, including…
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