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  • Michael Simione

Pitchers Who Gain More or Less Value in Points Leagues

Stock Photo: USA Today


Imagine you are walking through a beautiful forest. The foliage breathtaking, the sky blue, and the birds are singing. All of a sudden out of the corner of your eye your phone lights up. It’s big, tall, and hairy. You jerk your head to look and it is staring you in the face. This enigma, legend, or what some call a myth isn’t bigfoot. It’s a points league invite!

Points leagues are a fantasy baseball format that isn’t discussed too often. If you are in a points league you have to rank players differently compared to roto and categories. For pitchers, in my opinion, you have to look at wins, innings pitched and strikeouts. Yahoo!, ESPN, and Fantrax all have different scoring but regardless of the format, it pays to aim for the three categories I previously mentioned. Ratios mean very little in these leagues and should not be targeted. Let’s dive into some pitchers whose values are more or less in a points league. Also if you want to give it a listen we did a podcast episode on points leagues here.

Note: At the end of each paragraph I will say how much you should drop or raise a pitcher. Everyone has their own rankings and tiers so I will just state what you should do with each player in your own rankings. For instance, I have drop Alcantara one tier down. If he is in your tier 7 I would drop him into your tier 8 (assuming each tier is on average 10-12 pitchers).

Value Goes Down

Hyun-Jin Ryu

Ryu provided value in points leagues in 2019. While he lacked in strikeouts he did finish with 14 wins and 182.2 innings. So why does his value go down? For one thing, he signed with the Toronto Blue Jays. The Blue Jays finished 2019 with only 67 wins, which means you have to expect his win total to go down. They do have an exciting group of young players in their lineup and should gain more wins but you don’t want to draft on speculation. Another reason his value goes down is the innings. Ryu can never stay healthy as he only eclipsed 150 innings in 3 out of 8 seasons. While steamer has him reaching 186 innings I just can’t see it happening. All in all with Ryu likely getting fewer wins and innings pitched coupled with the low strikeout rate, you should drop him in your rankings for points leagues.

Value Down: Drop one to two tiers down.

Jacob deGrom

I know it is very weird to see deGrom on a list where someone is saying his value should go down. Especially when it is coming from a Mets fan like myself! Let’s look at pitchers win totals who are going around the same ADP.

*All win totals from 2014 on.

deGrom: 9, 14, 7, 15, 10, and 11. 11 win average.

Verlander: 15, 5, 16, 15, 16, and 21. 15 win average.

Scherzer: 18, 14, 20, 16, 18, and 11. 16 win average.

While Scherzer has the highest win average his bullpen is very bad and I expect his win total to be around 14. But you can make a case for taking Verlander over deGrom in a points league. Gets just as many strikeouts and has a bullpen behind him that ranked second in ERA in 2019. The Mets did improve their bullpen but there are still a lot of question marks. Although a slight move, I can see moving deGrom from the first or second pitcher off the board to the third behind Verlander and Cole.

Value Down: Drop one pick down.

Sandy Alcantara

A lot of analysts including myself love Sandy coming into 2020. He increased his sinker usage and he was very impressive in the last two months of 2019. When it comes to points leagues he has to drop down in the rankings. In 12 teamers he may not even be rosterable. The Marlins have added some pieces to their lineup but mostly guys who they can use as trade pieces halfway through the year. I don’t expect them to provide more wins. Sandy finished 2019 with six wins and a K/9 of 6.89. He is mainly a weak contact pitcher and while he could provide good ratios the lack of wins and strikeouts will hold him back big time in points leagues.

Value Down: Drop one tier down.

Matthew Boyd

Boyd is a pitcher who gives me a little reluctance for points leagues. He had the innings (185.1) and strikeouts (11.56 K/9) to be an asset. The main issue is the team he plays for. The offense is very subpar and he got lucky that he was able to grab nine wins. Especially when six of those came in the first half. Their bullpen had the seventh-highest ERA at 4.94 which means even if he leaves the game with the lead it likely won’t hold.

Value Down: Drop to the bottom of his current tier.

Caleb Smith

Caleb Smith is of course like Sandy when it comes to the team behind him. Caleb can provide a good amount of strikeouts but unlike Sandy his issue is health. Last year was the first healthy year for Caleb and he seemed to get worn down. He hit 153.1 innings pitched. Before that, his highest total was 77.1. At age 28 health and inning count have to be the main concern for him in every league format. But being on a team where he will have a low win total and likely at most 150 innings pitched, his value goes down in points leagues.

Value Down: Drop one tier down.

Marcus Stroman

I happen to be down on Stroman in every format this year, but even more so in points leagues. As I stated with deGrom the Mets have improved their bullpen but there are still a lot of questions. Steamer projects him to have 11 wins, 179 IP, and a 7.76 K/9. Only the innings are encouraging here but I don’t know if I can believe that. Stroman is a ground ball pitcher and relies on defense. The Mets defense isn’t the best and we could be looking at a lot of four to five-inning outings from Stroman in 2020. Lack of wins, strikeouts, and potentially innings drops him down.

Value Down: Drop one tier down.

John Means

Means is pretty low on the radar as is, according to current ADP. Means miraculously provided you twelve wins in 2019. Unfortunately, he should regress overall and with the league’s worst bullpen behind him (5.79 ERA). Not only that but Means only had a K/9 of 7.03 and pitched 155.0 innings. He doesn’t provide any value in points leagues and should be dropped even further in ADP.

Value Down: Drop one tier down.

Chris Archer

Archer is a pitcher a lot of people hate. He has so much potential but has burned fantasy owners for the past four years. Archer only provides one of the three categories you are looking for in points leagues. He has high strikeout potential as he put up a 10.75 K/9 last year (has in years prior as well). The past two seasons he hasn’t eclipsed 150 innings but has been healthy in the past which makes his health somewhat shaky. Also, he is on the Pirates. The Pirates went 69-93 last year with a bullpen who put up an ERA of 4.91 ranking 23rd overall.

Value Down: Drop to the bottom of his current tier.

Value Goes Up

James Paxton

Personally, I think Paxton is underrated already. I’m a firm believer that he will be much better in 2020 because I think it took him half a season to adjust to the likes of New York. Although he only pitched 150.2 innings he still provided 15 wins with an 11.11 K/9. He is going late in drafts and shouldn’t be. I would take his 150 quality innings any day. With a solid bullpen and top offense behind him, I can see a 15 win minimum. That is huge in points leagues.

Value Up: Raise him a full tier up.

Robbie Ray

In leagues besides points, Ray kills you in the ratios department. In 2019 he had a 4.34 ERA and a WHIP of 1.34. This is points league’s though and Ray is a lot more valuable. He provides strikeouts (12.13 K/9), innings (174.1 IP), and wins (12). Those 12 wins should rise as they have bumped their staff and had the 12th best bullpen ERA.

Value Up: Raise him a full tier up.

Lance Lynn

Lynn seems to be undervalued overall, but he becomes a complete stud for points leagues. Just like Ray, he provides it all. 208.1 innings, 10.63 K/9, and 16 wins. The only worry could be the bullpen but they have a young lineup who should put up runs daily. Plus if he put up 16 wins last year, why can’t he this year? Lynn is a great pitcher who produces a lot of weak contact (0.0 Barrel% on two breaking pitches) and knows how to keep the ball in the park. He would be a great asset.

Value Up: Raise him to the top of his current tier.

Mike Fiers

I’m not a big fan of Fiers overall as he lacks any kind of strikeout potential. That being said he should move up for two reasons. He almost always provides innings, anywhere from 170-185 and certainly could in 2020. The second is that he is on the Athletics. They are like the Rays and Astros as they always seem to get a lot out of their pitchers. Fiers produced 15 wins last year. The Athletics still have a great offense and a top 10 bullpen. Expect wins and innings from him, making him have a little more value.

Value Up: Raise him to the top of his current tier.

Kenta Maeda

Maeda is a pitcher I am constantly targeting this year. He will be the Dodgers #3 pitcher and provides everything you need in points leagues. You might be questioning me when I say that because Maeda has only reached 150 innings twice in four years. But this year he is their number three and I don’t think they move him into the bullpen like last year. In 2016 they let Maeda start the entire year and he had a line of 175.2 IP, 9.17 K/9 with 16 wins. That is perfect for points leagues. His strikeout potential could be even higher as he was top ten in SwStr% in the second half. Plus he has the Dodgers offense behind him along with a top-five bullpen.

Value Up: Raise him a full tier up.

Ryan Yarbrough

Yarbrough pitched 14 starts in 2019 and impressed a lot of fantasy baseball owners. He had one of the lowest xwOBA’s in the second half when he was promoted to a starter. At age 28 he’s deemed to breakout and provide fantasy baseball value in all formats. In points leagues, I would value him even more. While the strikeouts won’t be a strong point he should provide innings and a lot of wins. The Rays are a 90 win team with the best bullpen in the majors (3.71 ERA). I wouldn’t be surprised if Yarbrough ended up with 15 wins in 2020.

Value Up: Raise him a full tier up.

Shane Bieber

Yes, I have Bieber in this section. Bieber is currently going as a top 10 pitcher. Currently, behind Clevinger and Flaherty I would move him ahead of them. Bieber pitched 214 innings with an 10.88 K/9 while producing 15 wins. Bieber is legit with a solid offense behind him and top-five bullpen to keep his leads. I see no reason for him not to replicate 2019 in 2020. I have worries about Flaherty’s legitimacy and the team behind him. Clevinger scares me with his health and isn’t a workhorse like Bieber should be.

Value Up: Raise him up two spots

Trevor Bauer

People either love him or hate him and I can see why. Regardless of what you think about him, he has pitched at least 175 innings in the last five years. The guy is a beast and will always be on the mound. His K/9 was a 10.69 so you get the strikeouts. And he gathered 11 wins between the Reds and Indians last year. The Reds hired a new pitching coach and should be a much better team. They also have a decent bullpen. While this is a make or break year for Bauer, even if he puts up a four ERA he will be of value in points leagues.

Value Up: Raise him a full tier up.

Madison Bumgarner

Besides 2017 and 2018 Bumgarner was always a reliable workhorse for fantasy owners. He seemed to get back to that last year as he put up 207.2 innings. The K/9 isn’t bad (8.80) and pretty much on par with his career average. He only grabbed nine wins but moves to Arizona and has a much better team around him. Steamer projects him at 11 wins and I can see as high as 15. Not a lot of guys can give you 200 innings which makes him more valuable in points leagues.

Value Up: Raise him a full tier up.

Eduardo Rodriguez

Speaking of potential workhorses, we now look at Eduardo Rodriguez. In 2019 he amassed 19 wins in 203.1 innings with a 9.43 K/9. He basically was the perfect points league pitcher. Steamer projects him at 205 innings with a 9.40 K/9 and 14 wins. I really like this projection as I don’t think the 19 wins happens again with that horrid bullpen behind him. Rodriguez is a sleeper of mine for points leagues specifically as a lot of people seem to shy away from him. Look for him late as the strikeouts seem legit with an 11.7 SwStr%.

Value Up: Raise him a full tier up.