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Starting Pitcher Fantasy Baseball Busts Who'll Keep Junking It Up In 2024

brady singer fantasy baseball rankings draft sleepers waiver wire pickups starting pitchers

One bust of a season can be enough rationale for fantasy baseball owners to steer clear of a player going forward. For others, it can open the door for a buy-low opportunity with hopes of a bounce-back return to form.

However, it’s realistic for us to understand that many players never come back the same. A down year can be a fluke, or it may be indicative of a concerning trend. Predicting the new normal for players is a crucial part of the draft strategy, and identifying the sunk cost of a true bust when you see one is critical.

This article explores several starting pitchers who busted in 2023 compared to their ADP and unfolds why their struggles are likely to continue. There may still be some fantasy value left to salvage, but none of these players should be expected to perform at a pre-2023 level.

Be sure to check all of our fantasy baseball lineup tools and weekly lineup resources:

 

Tyler Anderson, Los Angeles Angels

At this point, it’s safe to assume that Tyler Anderson’s 2022 dominance was the exception, not the rule. Across 30 appearances, the southpaw produced a phenomenal 2.57 ERA, 3.31 FIP, and 157 ERA+ over 178 2/3 innings pitched. The outstanding campaign included Anderson’s first and only All-Star bid and landed him a three-year, $39 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels.

Heading into 2023, expectations were understandably elevated for Anderson. Unfortunately, the lefty failed to deliver. Not only did regression strike, but Anderson experienced his worst campaign yet in the majors. The struggles included a 5.43 ERA, 4.92 FIP, and 82 ERA+ across 27 appearances. Had Anderson pitched 21 additional innings, therefore reaching the 162-inning threshold to qualify for ERA, he would have ranked third worst among starting pitchers in the majors last season. 2023 wasn’t just disappointing; it was unsalvageable from a fantasy perspective.

Digging deeper into Anderson’s 2023 metrics, the struggles are further legitimized. His 5.06 xERA and 5.52 xFIP are hideous overall numbers. Those marks consisted of a .340 xwOBA, .259 xBA, .434 xSLG, and a 30.9% groundball rate – well below his 38% career average. While Anderson continued to induce weak contact, his campaign was plagued by control issues. He threw first-pitch strikes on just 59.9% of at-bats, down from a 65% career average. This resulted in a horrible 10.2% walk rate – up from a 4.8% walk rate in 2022 and a 7.1% career mark.

From a fantasy standpoint, there is not much to sink our teeth into with Anderson. At 34 years old, it’s safe to conclude that 2022 was an outlier performance. Anderson has never been a particularly attractive fantasy asset, underscored by an uninspiring 20.1% career strikeout rate. The gratuitous risk is not worth the reward.

 

Lance Lynn, St. Louis Cardinals

Unlike Tyler Anderson, Lance Lynn has been an appealing fantasy target throughout most of his career. That reputation was flipped on its head last season as Lynn was roasted by opposing hitters to the tune of a 5.73 ERA and 5.53 FIP across 32 starts. While there was some room for positive regression in Lynn’s advanced numbers, it was undoubtedly the worst season of his major league tenure.

There is no sugarcoating it – Lynn got lit up last season. He surrendered a league-leading 44 home runs in 183 2/3 innings pitched. That includes a .461 xSLG and a generous 10.4% barrel rate. While he retained some real-life value as an innings eater, there are only so many implosive outings a fantasy manager can withstand.

Lynn will be turning 37 this coming May, and it’s not outside the realm of possibility that he is simply approaching a natural cliff. Lynn relies overwhelmingly on the fastball. He threw fastball variations on 79.3% of pitches in 2023 and has led the league in fastball usage multiple times in his career. Lynn’s average fastball velocity sat at just 92.2 MPH last season, below the league average and a noticeable decline from his pre-2022 mark of 93.5 MPH.

Some view Lynn as a bounce-back candidate in 2024, though it’s more likely that the decline will continue. He’s losing velocity and lacks an effective off-speed repertoire needed to reinvent his pitching style at this point of his career. Lynn may be worth a speculative late-round pick but don’t be surprised if he doesn’t amount to much more than an occasional streaming option this season.

 

Brady Singer, Kansas City Royals

At only 27 years old, Brady Singer certainly has the most potential to bounce back out of all the names highlighted in this article. The former first-round draft pick struggled during his early MLB exposure in 2020 and 2021 but appeared to turn a corner in 2022, posting a 3.23 ERA over 153 1/3 innings pitched. Given his strong performance and top-prospect pedigree, expectations heading into last season were high.

Unfortunately, Singer’s 2023 campaign did not have many redeeming qualities. Over 29 starts, he produced a 5.52 ERA and 4.29 FIP. Excluding his respectable 7% walk rate, Singer’s metrics were ugly across the board. That includes a .276 xBA, 91 MPH average exit velocity, .346 xwOBA, .452 xSLG, 18.9% strikeout rate, and a horrendous 48.6% hard-hit rate. The results likely would have been much worse if not for his 50.2% groundball rate.

Looking broadly at Singer’s four-year career, inconsistency has been a headline. There are flashes of the front-end starter the Kansas City Royals have always envisioned, but altogether, he’s just been average. Singer owns a 98 ERA+ for his career. He’s shown no ability to miss bats consistently (22.7% whiff rate), and his reluctance to throw his changeup (just 6.3% of his pitches in 2023) leaves Singer with effectively a two-pitch arsenal. There may not be a next level to his game.

Singer isn’t a lost cause just yet. It’s reasonably likely that he will fare somewhat better in 2024. He’s young enough to improve, but 2022 created an expectation that Singer was blossoming into an ace. That no longer looks to be the case. The singer is still worth taking a chance on in later rounds, just at a much lower ADP than he carried this time last year.



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