2021 Starting Pitchers Very Early Preview

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Looking at the 2020 season numbers only, these are the pitcher’s tiers going into the 2021 season, rated by speX. If you are not familiar with speX, it is a Simple Pitching Estimator indeX, an aggregate indicator of sorts comprised of other stats, namely CSW, (K-BB)/IP, SIERA, and real FStrike%, weighted and scaled so the higher, the better. It has descriptive and predictive values.

Please be aware that 2020 numbers by themselves might not be enough for proper forecasting and it is just a starting point. Also, remember that the higher speX, CSW, (K-BB)/IP, and real FStrike%, the better; for SIERA works the opposite way. The cutoff I used was 40 IP.

I’ve divided them into different tiers, where they all should be considered to be of the same quality and interchangeably so in the end the choice is about relative value and you have to place the ADP in this equation, so if two pitchers are in the same tier, the best selection in terms of a higher ROI is the one with a higher ADP too.

Tier 1

The best of the best, no need to add too much about them, just that either choice of Bieber or deGrom as the first SP taken from the board should be fine.

Tier 2.

My favorite pitcher this year, Darvish, didn’t make it to the upper echelon by these measures, but he is still an elite option, of course.

A lot of people do not give Maeda the credit he deserves and his durability is always in question, but his success this year is just a confirmation of his capabilities. Also, the #2EarlyMocks ADP for him, at 49.2, is very fair in my opinion.

Will Glasnow live up to the hype? Is a pitcher of his kind (very few different pitches) able to survive when batters adapt to his stuff? Well, if said pitcher keeps throwing this hard, it is just a matter of consistency.

Tier 3

My favorite tier for two reasons: one, it kind of shows Cole and Bauer could be passed for other cheaper options and two, you can wait for Nola and Lamet (health pending) and your ROI should be better.

Kershaw might get a bump in his current 31.3 ADP which would make him less appealing, due to the WS.

Tier 4

Kevin Gausman was my most gratifying pick early this season; resigning with San Francisco and its comfy pitcher ballpark was a great thing for his value and although some might be worried about the sustainability of his gained velocity, I just want to remind you that that gain trend started timidly in 2019. I’m still all in with him.

Corbin Burnes was taken at a 65.7 ADP, the 23rd pitcher off the board: that should be a crime and that’s all I have to say about it.

Tier 5

I’m hesitant to draft Luis Castillo at his #2EarlyMocks 28.6 ADP while having Plesac and Bundy at 80.3 and 97.9 respectively. I still believe Castillo has the highest ceiling but I feel comfortable with the other’s floor.

Greinke keeps proving to be a solid and well-priced option and Eovaldi is intriguing, although health will always be a concern, his 270 ADP is almost for free.

Tier 6

This tier offers the biggest variance in terms of ROI and will almost get you some SP4, SP5 guys that will produce SP3, and even SP2 numbers.

My personal choices are: Mahle, Carrasco, Paddack, Lindblom and Ryu (185, 80, 102, 366 and 74 ADPs).

Complete list

You can check for yourself the complete list below and see why I am not too excited about Max Fried, Julio Urias and Dustin May for next season although this could change as we get closer to the next year.

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