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Deeper Late Round Draft Fliers for Wins


Wins are a fickle stat and often don’t seem to benefit the most deserving pitchers in the game. One need only look at the leaderboard last season to see the likes of Hector Santiago, Josh Tomlin, and Collin McHugh with as many wins as Jose Quintana.

That can make it frustrating and often difficult to project wins for pitchers, though some important things to consider include run support, pitch efficiency, and the quality of the bullpen backing up the starting rotation. Using those factors, here are 3 pitchers currently being taken SP60 or later who are good bets to provide double-digit wins.

ADP values taken from NFBC.

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Late Round Wins Sleepers for Fantasy Drafts

Jordan Zimmermann, Detroit Tigers

ADP: 323 overall

Zimmermann had a very disappointing debut season with the Tigers, posting his highest ERA since 2010 and the highest WHIP of his career. He started off looking like a Cy Young candidate in April, going 5-0 with an 0.55 ERA. The remainder of the first half of his season was not up to his normal standards, but he managed a respectable 3.95 ERA with a 3.58 FIP. While that was slightly below expectations, his season really derailed in the second half of the season when he went on the DL with a neck injury. When he did return to the mound, he posted a 13.97 ERA in 9.2 innings pitched. Even with all this, he managed to earn nine wins in 18 starts.

In early returns of the 2017 draft season, Zimmermann has been completely buried as the 89th starting pitcher off the board. Even considering his down season, this is a perplexing draft slot for him. He is only 30 years old, maybe beyond his prime but far from the age of demise, and his velocity was in line with his norms prior to his injury. His returns this spring have been positive as well, as it has been reported that he has looked good while on the mound.

For a player with the sustained track record of Zimmermann and his apparent return to form early this spring, it makes little sense for Zimmermann to be drafted where he is. However, his bounceback potential and opportunity for wins on a team that will contend for a playoff spot is something that should make him a target later in drafts.

 

Tyson Ross, Texas Rangers

ADP: 374 overall

There are a lot of question marks and risks associated with Ross this season but a return to health combined with run support he’s never had before could propel Ross to a career-best win total. In Ross’ three healthy seasons with the Padres (2013-2015), the Padres' offense never ranked higher than 23rd in runs scored per game. After an offseason move to the Rangers, things are looking better for him in that regard, as last season the Rangers scored the eighth most runs in the league and their offense remains largely intact.

This doesn’t alleviate all the concerns surrounding Ross and his ability to rack up wins this season, however, as he is inefficient on the mound due to both his high strikeout and walk totals. In his last healthy season, 2015, it took him 16.5 pitches on average to complete an inning. As a result, his average start was shorter than six innings. This put extra pressure on the bullpen to maintain any lead and left more time to lose a positive decision. Another issue surrounding Ross is his health. Matt Harvey is the pitcher garnering the most attention for returning from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome this season, but Ross is doing so as well. He is expected to be back by late April or early May, but it is unclear how effective he will be or if he will be on any sort of pitch count or innings limit to start the campaign.

Ross’ price at the draft table already reflects this concern, as he is being drafted behind players like Jose de Leon, Lucas Giolito, and Matt Andriese, all of whom are likely to spend time in either the minor leagues or bullpen. A player of Ross’ talent who is likely to get substantial run support for the first time in his career is worth a flier.

 

Drew Smyly, Seattle Mariners

ADP: 214 overall

Smyly has been limited by injury or poor performance for much of his career, last year likely being the most frustrating season of them all. He managed a career-best 175 innings but failed to capitalize with strong on-field performances. That has him buried as the 60th starting pitcher off the board in current ADP, but should give Smyly a great chance to earn his first double-digit win season of his career.

An offseason trade from the Rays to the Mariners provides Smyly with a slight upgrade in outfield defense and a more significant upgrade in run support. Last season, the Mariners offense scored over half a run more per game than the Rays, and the Mariners have upgraded their lineup with the addition of Jean Segura in the offseason.

Other offseason acquisitions made by the team included Jarrod Dyson and Mitch Haniger, both of whom are known as strong defensive outfielders. Good outfield defense is always a positive for starting pitchers, but it takes on extra importance with Smyly given his heavy fly ball profile.  In part due to this heavy fly ball profile, Smyly has surrendered home runs at a concerning rate throughout his career. This leads us to another positive piece of news in regards to his change of team this offseason. Rather than facing the daunting lineups of the A.L. East, which averaged 1.33 home runs per game (excluding the Rays), Smyly will face the poor Angels and A’s lineups along with the Rangers regularly this year, all of which combined to average 1.10 home runs per game in 2016. Given Smyly’s propensity to serve up homers, this change in opponent should benefit him as well. All of these things make Smyly an intriguing bounce-back candidate and a good candidate to rack up some wins.

 

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