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Mid-Round Starting Pitchers - Fantasy Baseball Draft Values and Targets

Robbie Ray - Fantasy Baseball Rankings, MLB Injury News, Draft Sleepers

Welcome officially to the 2023 fantasy baseball season! Spring training is in full force, and fantasy managers are gearing up for another exciting season in the MLB. Once you reach the middle rounds of drafts, everyone is looking to draft players that can provide a great return on value. You can start taking calculated risks on emerging prospects, overlooked veterans, players returning from injury, or even players with some playing time concerns out of the gate. The early rounds are critical, and the late rounds are where you can take your chances on dart-throw sleepers, but the middle rounds can make or break your roster.

Today, we're looking at some middle-round starting pitchers for you to consider drafting in your season-long leagues this season. Are their ADPs undervalued? Will they make significant fantasy contributions and become a priority mid-round draft target? Read on to see our take.

Our editors have hand-picked these specific MLB players for your draft prep enjoyment. Usually only available to Premium subscribers, the five outlooks below are meant to give you a taste of the in-depth analysis you receive with our industry-leading 2023 Draft Kit. Be sure to subscribe today to start reading all of our in-depth 2023 player outlooks and many other premium articles and tools including Team Sync, the Live Draft Sync assistant, Custom Rankings Service, and so much more -- available exclusively in our 2023 Draft Kit.

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Robbie Ray, Seattle Mariners

Robbie Ray wasn't the ace in Seattle he had been in Toronto, but he was still more than solid with a 12-12 record and 3.71 ERA over 189 IP. His 3.59 xERA and 3.58 xFIP were both a little better than his ERA, so betting on slight improvement in 2023 would be prudent. However, Ray might have an easy path to going back to the ace level.

He introduced a sinker to his repertoire against righties last season that didn't generate whiffs (8.2 SwStr%), didn't get him ahead in the count (48.7 Zone%), and allowed RHB to hit .315 with a .595 slugging percentage. Scrapping it in favor of the fastball (59.4 Zone%, 11.4 SwStr%) and slider (19.5 SwStr%, 39.2 Zone%, 35.6% chase) he previously relied on could work wonders. Even if he doesn't, Ray will always be an excellent source of strikeouts in fantasy (27.4 K% last year) and figures to earn his fair share of wins with Seattle's improving roster. An ADP of 99.21 is a fantastic price for Ray's combination of floor and ceiling.

-- Rick Lucks - RotoBaller


Logan Webb, San Francisco Giants

It was another solid season for the Giants' young righty, as he put up a 3.18 ERA with a 1.16 WHIP. The bad news was that his strikeout rate dropped nearly six full points down to 20.7%. The SwStr% also dropped two points down to 11.4%, below league average. This is all pretty concerning, as we were really hoping Webb could stick to his ways of being a high GB% pitcher (he did this) while maintaining an above-average strikeout rate, something which not many pitchers are able to do.

The silver lining here is that Webb has the stuff to do a lot of different things. The strikeout rate decrease last year was probably the result of him ditching his four-seam fastball in favor of the sinker (he used that pitch 33% of the time and did not get many whiffs at all on the pitch). If he stays a sinkerballer primarily, he will fail again in strikeout rate - but it does come with the benefit of the high ground ball rate that helps with ERA so much. He also has a strong slider and changeup combination to use, so there's some hope here that he can return to a good strikeout rate. All things considered, Webb is a high-floor, but low-ceiling pick for 2023 at his ADP around 110.

-- Jon Anderson - RotoBaller


Zac Gallen, Arizona Diamondbacks

Gallen had a career year in 2022, throwing 184 innings and posting a sparkling 2.54 ERA with an elite 0.91 WHIP. He was outstanding in the middle months of the season, throwing 44.1 scoreless innings from early August into September. His strikeout rate was strong but short of greatness at 26.9%, but it did come with a really good 6.6% BB% - putting him above 20% in K-BB%, which is something we love to see. Gallen mostly gets the job done with pinpoint command and deception. None of his five pitches had stunning marks in SwStr%, but he mixes them well and throws them in places that make things difficult for opposing hitters. His arsenal is deep (four pitches thrown above 14% usage), and all of those pitches serve a purpose. Success is nothing new for Gallen, as he had a great stretch in 2019 and was good again in 2021, pitching well when healthy. He is certainly one of the league's better pitchers. His price has been elevated to new heights this year (a top 15 SP), which takes away almost all of the upside - and the lower K% does give us some hesitation on him, but all things considered, Gallen is a fine SP2 pick for a fantasy team in 2023.

-- Jon Anderson - RotoBaller


Triston McKenzie, Cleveland Guardians

Triston McKenzie didn't excite fantasy managers with his 11-11 record last season, but his 2.96 ERA over 191⅓ IP certainly turned heads. Unfortunately, betting on a repeat would be unwise. His ERA estimators were substantially higher with a 3.77 xFIP and 3.54 xERA, and many projection systems peg him in the 4.10 range for 2023. His .237 BABIP against is probably unsustainable, as his .222 xBA was 21 points higher than his .201 batting average against. His .397 xSLG was too high to support any kind of sustainable contact management ability, and his 92.7 mph fastball isn't that impressive in this age of velocity. McKenzie generates strikeouts at a 25.6% clip thanks to a great curve (22.4 SwStr%, 43.4% chase rate), but it's only his third pitch behind his heater and a less impressive slider (14 SwStr%, 31.1% chase). The Guardians aren't exactly an offensive powerhouse, so McKenzie might not earn many wins even with high innings totals. You should bake substantial regression into your projection, and that likely means passing at his current ADP of 95.82.

-- Anderson Pickard - RotoBaller


Joe Musgrove, San Diego Padres

San Diego Padres right-hander Joe Musgrove (toe) has long been viewed as a potential star after being taken with the 46th overall pick of the 2011 draft. Twelve years later, that notion has come to fruition as a potential fantasy stud in 2023. After making just eight starts in the shortened 2020 season, Musgrove's career took off following a trade from the Pittsburgh Pirates to the San Diego Padres. Over two seasons with the Friars, the right-hander owns a 3.10 ERA, 19.6% K-BB%, and has won 21 games, all of which rank within the top 20 among qualified starting pitchers in that time.

His performance has been excellent and he's been able to take the ball every fifth day as a member of the Padres, although a broken toe suffered in the weight room in the final days of February has put his Opening Day status in serious jeopardy. Nonetheless, Musgrove ranks 16th in innings pitched and 18th in starts as a Padre. Steamer projections for 2023 aren't as kind as he's pegged for a decline in ERA (3.78), K% (24.9%), and K-BB% (19.2%), albeit with a 13-win season across 32 starts as a potent Padres offense will back him. Entering his age-30 campaign, Musgrove is being snatched around 86th overall in 12-team standard leagues. He's our 21st-ranked starting pitcher, right in line with his work over the last two seasons, thus solidifying his ADP for 2023.

-- Brenton Kemp - RotoBaller

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