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As we’ve discussed before, points leagues are a bit of a different animal from the more popular head-to-head and rotisserie formats. One of the most obvious differences between them is how pitchers are valued.

In a points league, the top pitchers routinely outearn the top hitters. Most analysis will tell you to favor bats in roto or H2H, and that’s not wrong; if you’re playing points, though, throw that out the window. That said, not all pitchers are created equal, and some are less valuable than you might expect in this format.

Today, to finish up this series, we're looking at some potential starting pitcher sleepers and busts, or draft targets and avoids in points leagues.

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Overvalued for Points Leagues

Marcus Stroman, Toronto Blue Jays

Stroman is one of only seven starting pitchers who have thrown at least 200 innings in both of the last two seasons, and he just posted a 3.09 ERA. Sounds great! Of course, he is also now at 560 MLB innings with a K/9 barely above 7.00, ran a 1.30 WHIP over the last two years, and last season was the first time he’d won more than 11 games. Also, that tidy 3.09 ERA was partially the resulted of an elevated strand rate. In H2H leagues and rotos without an innings cap, Stroman is a solid guy to have on your roster. In points, he’s a lot less appealing.

Lance McCullers, Houston Astros

McCullers racks up a ton of strikeouts, but he has trouble going deep into games and hasn’t proven he can stay healthy. The 24-year-old has three MLB seasons under his belt, and he has yet to start more than 22 games or exceed 125 innings. A balky back led to two separate stints on the disabled list for McCullers last season, and he’s also dealt with arm injuries as a pro. Despite playing for a contender, McCullers has just 19 major-league wins so far thanks to his inability to provide volume. Until he does, he’ll remain challenging to own, particularly in points leagues.

Michael Fulmer, Detroit Tigers

Fulmer’s modest price tag (he’s just inside the top 200 ADP) is perfectly fine in head-to-head and acceptable in rotisserie. In points leagues, though, he may be best avoided. The team context in Detroit is grim, which makes it hard to believe he’ll improve much upon the 10 wins he contributed last year. He’s also thrown 324 innings at the big-league level and has a 6.9 K/9 and 18.6 K% to show for it. There seems to be a lot of optimism around Fulmer having strikeout upside, but he was never really a big K guy in the minors either. Then, of course, we have to acknowledge that he’s working with a surgically repaired elbow.


Undervalued for Points Leagues

Jeff Samardzija, San Francisco Giants

Shark has thrown at least 200 innings in five consecutive seasons entering 2018, which pretty much automatically makes him interesting. He also got his strikeout rate back up to its prior levels last season after a dip in 2015-16, and posted a 3.8% walk rate, easily the lowest of his career. Pounding the zone came at a price, of course, as Samardzija also allowed more home runs than he ever had before. Those bombs were a major contributor to him carrying a 4.42 ERA; the only other qualified starters who ran a 20% K-BB and an ERA above 3.53 were Masahiro Tanaka and Chris Archer. Despite that, he was still a top-30 SP in most points leagues due to the elite K-BB%. Imagine how valuable he could be if he manages to curb the homers a bit.

Ervin Santana, Minnesota Twins

There were just 41 complete games in MLB last season. Santana had five of them, tied with Corey Kluber for the league lead (nobody else had more than two, and only six pitchers even got that far). If your points league still rewards pitchers for going the distance, Santana is easy money; mine does, and he barely finished outside the top 20 starters. Even if not, the veteran has been rather reliable for most of his career, even if he’s thoroughly unexciting. Santana has produced an ERA under 3.50 over 180 or more innings in three of the last five seasons; he ran a 3.95 over 196 innings in 2014 and a 4.00 in the following (injury-shortened) year. In 2016-17, only 10 pitchers bettered Santana in ERA and only 16 had a lower WHIP. A finger injury will cost him the first month of 2018, but he should resume being a sneaky-good asset in points leagues once healthy.


More Points Leagues Analysis & Draft Values

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