Last time around, I recapped all the National League starting pitchers that had been taken so far in our Rotographs staff mock draft. The biggest names, Clayton Kershaw, Stephen Strasburg, Zack Greinke, Gio Gonzalez, et c. are all unsurprisingly already off the board, but the names that come in this set and next week’s are perhaps a bit more interesting. At the very least, this is surely a more volatile group!
This time last year, Lincecum was going in the late 20s or early 30s in most drafts and while it isn’t hard to figure out why he lasted about 100 picks longer this time around, the extent of his slide is somewhat surprising. While his drop from 2009 to 2010 was larger in terms of lost WAR, he went from absolutely fantastic to merely really good, so the drop was forgivable if still disappointing. 2011 to 2012 was a free fall from good to downright poor, even if his ERA was a full point higher than his FIP.
Even though I don’t think Lincecum will have another complete failure of a season, this pick isn’t without some risk. There’s a boatload of other pitchers that came shortly after him that I’d rather have than bad Lincecum, though there are far fewer pitchers in all of baseball I’d rather have than good Lincecum. That said, I think the definition of good Lincecum has changed. The days of 7-8 wins are probably gone and the calculation then becomes a bet between a four- or five-win pitcher and a two-ish win pitcher, and the lower upside makes him a gamble I’m less interested in making. One thing to keep an eye on is his back. I expect he’ll have some stiffness there as spring training opens, but if reports of back issues linger past the start of games, it might be worth selling on him or avoiding him all together if you have the luxury of a later draft date.
My favorite pick out of this set is either Garza at 12.6 or Jackson at 13.7, but either way it’s a pitcher from Wrigley. Garza’s injury doesn’t worry me…much. Anytime someone gets far off the normal timetables, it catches my eye and while everything looks good for now, his weird elbow anatomy makes it harder to find players to whom I feel comfortable comparing him. If he is healthy – and that is my overwhelming expectation at this time – he’s a solid source of strikeouts this late in the draft and while he’s no longer a young pitcher, I think he still has a little ceiling to reach.
As for Jackson, chances are you either like this pick or you wouldn’t love it 70 picks later either, he’s that polarizing. He added the strikeouts people wanted from him, but it came at the cost of an increased home run rate, as both increases would seem to be tied to the rather pronounced increase in his fastball usage. Come summer, Wrigley isn’t going to be particularly kind to his flyball tendencies, but for the first few months of the season, he should be able to get away with it. If nothing else, I’d consider grabbing Jackson for the April and May with the plan to sell high on him at the first sign of trouble as Wrigley becomes more home-run prone.
A few people commented on the last set of players with surprise that Harvey hadn’t been picked yet, well, now he has. His ten game cameo for the Mets last season went about as well as it possibly could have and his minor league numbers are good at every level. He was a quick riser, spending no more than 20 games at any one level, so I’ll be curious how opposing hitters do against him the second or third time they see him. That’s more of a problem for 2014 than for 2013, and it’s not a reason to stay away, but it is worth noting.
Next time: Rounds 16-20, where a surprising amount of value is still available!