by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Prior to the news of his injury the outlook of Sonny Gray was not necessarily high. In our most recent update of the Rotoprofessor Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide we had him ranked as the 51st starting pitcher. That’s not to say that there wasn’t value, as he still is in line for a rebound when healthy. In fact, here’s what we had to say about him:
“Injury limited him to 117.0 innings in ’16, and when he was on the mound he was horrendous (5.69 ERA, 1.50 WHIP). While we expected a regression from his ’15 success, this was extreme. Gray allowed a lot of home runs (1.38 HR/9) considering his home ballpark and groundball ways (53.9%) and he suffered from some poor luck (.319 BABIP, 63.9% strand rate, 18.7% line drive rate). He’s not as good as he was in ’15 (2.73 ERA, 1.08 WHIP), but he’s also not this bad. The answer should lie somewhere in the middle, and that holds value.”
However, when we factor in the missed time to open the year how does our outlook change? Is he even worth drafting?
First, we have to try and figure out how much time he’s going to miss. The talk is that he’s going to be shutdown for at least three weeks, which means he won’t resume throwing until late in March. Since he isn’t stretched out, he’s then going to need time to work up to going 6+ innings (aka go through the Spring Training motions). You would think that, at best, that puts him out until the middle of April with the potential to miss the entire month. That’s assuming there isn’t a setback, which is always possible.
That means we are taking 3-6 starts away, and that obviously has a negative impact. The fact that he already brings limited strikeout stuff hinders him even further. He owns a career 7.59 K/9 and is coming off a season where he posted an 8.0% SwStr%. His slider is his best strikeout pitch (17.89% Whiff%), but it’s not a pitch he throws very often (11.21%).
Fewer starts for a limited strikeout pitcher… That’s not a formula we like seeing. Throw in decent, but not spectacular, control (career 2.89 BB/9) and there isn’t much to love (even with an above average groundball rate in a favorable home ballpark).
In deeper formats he’s worth stashing, as he should be a solid option once healthy. However, in shallower formats you should be able to draft a pitcher with more upside over the long haul. Put him in the 60-70 range of starters (similarly valued to the likes of Ivan Nova), but without much upside. That means for most, he’s underwhelming at best and not a player to target.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball
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Make sure to check out our 2017 Rankings:
|Starting Pitcher||#1-20 |02/27/17