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Value is everyone’s favorite word come draft season in fantasy sports. Here at Rotoballer, we put a big emphasis on comparisons to make sure you have the right information to assemble the best team in your league. In this edition of Early ADP Analysis, we’ll focus on two young starting pitchers who have dealt with injuries through their careers but are looking for big 2019 campaigns for different reasons.

Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Jameson Taillon is very close to officially being tabbed the Bucs’ ace, especially with his second half of 2018. He also established himself as a fantasy asset that was capable of being an SP2 in almost any format.

New York Mets starting pitcher Steven Matz should just have the acronym IL (injured list) added as a title after his name. The 27-year-old has never not been placed on the DL at least once since being called up to the bigs in 2015. However, 2018 was better to him as his only absence was at the beginning of August, and he finished the year making 30 starts, which was a career-high. 

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Jameson Taillon - ADP 60

Going into 2018, Taillon assumed the role of ace for the Pirates once they traded Gerrit Cole to the Houston Astros. The Bucs’ right-hander did more than his fair share in making an impact on the hill. He finished the year 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA, while fanning 179 and walking just 46 in 191 innings. It was the 27-year-old’s first full season in the bigs and even though he struggled a bit early in the season, his second half was definitely one to write home about.

Pre All-Star Break, Taillon had some in Pittsburgh worried that he wasn’t going to be able to live up to his lofty expectations as a number two overall pick in 2010. Through 19 first-half starts, he had 103 punchouts (23.3 K%) and 30 walks (6.8 BB%) which isn’t a terrible run down at all; however, he had trouble keeping the ball in the park, surrendering 12 home runs (12.9 HR/FB%).

Then things turned around for Taillon. He added a slider to his repertoire in May and luckily it got better as the season went on. He ended up throwing it 18.5% of the time, en route to his stellar stat line. He allowed two or fewer runs in nine of 13 starts after the Mid Summer Classic. While his K% dropped a bit (22.2%) post-All Star Break, his BB% dropped over two percentage points (4.7%). He also kept the ball in the yard more, allowing just eight homers (10.3 HR/FB%).

The 27-year-old had an entire offseason to perfect his sider, which clearly has become an important pitch for him. Add in calling PNC Park his home field and Taillon’s ADP is generous as a rock-solid SP2 in fantasy baseball.

 

Steven Matz - ADP 256

Matz had his busiest season to date in 2018, mostly because he was actually able to pitch. He finished with a paltry 5-11 record and 3.97 ERA. Keep in mind that he toed the rubber for the same Mets team that helped Jacob deGrom to only a 10-9 record.

His career high in starts is great news because it means he's healthy; however, the standard baseball card stats don't paint such a pretty picture. As you dig deeper, Matz registered a solid 23.2 K% but a career-high 8.9 BB%. The southpaw's biggest issue proved to be the long ball, as he had a 16.6 HR/FB%. For the season, that total ranked him among the 10 worst of all starting pitchers who threw more than 150 innings. That is not a club you want one of your starting pitchers to be a part of.

With just an fWAR of 0.8 in 2018, Matz was about as valuable to his own team as he was to your fantasy roster. It’s hard to tell you that better results can be expected this season. As a 26-year-old, he had his first almost completely healthy campaign and it produced below average results across the board.

 

The Decision

I think Taillon is the pretty obvious selection here, even with a significant difference in price. Then Matz is just too unpredictable, even at his almost free ADP.

The Pirates’ hurler is coming into his own and isn’t looking back. Depending on your draft spot and overall strategy, say you take a frontline starter with your first two picks, you could load up on hitting and grab Taillon in the sixth which would be a great one-two punch for a starting rotation.

Take confidence in Pittsburgh's ace because he’s shown he has what it takes to lead a staff but 2019 could very well be the year he takes the next step into the national spotlight.

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