Carlos Osorio/Associated Press
Major League Baseball’s top starting pitchers could become more valuable than they already are in fantasy baseball leagues if the season is shortened.
If starting pitchers are making around 15 appearances, fantasy owners would have little room for error when selecting their rotations, which could lead to pitchers being taken over hitters in a few early rounds. As such, Gerrit Cole and Jacob deGrom could be chosen in the middle of the first round in some drafts because of the consistency they bring to the mound.
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported Saturday that the proposal being prepared by MLB features between 78 and 82 games, and a regionalized schedule could be played. If that is the plan for the 2020 campaign, the elite starters may have more of an advantage because of decreased travel and experience against hitters in their respective divisions.
Fantasy Baseball 1st-Round Mock Draft
1. Ronald Acuna Jr., OF, Atlanta
2. Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels
3. Christian Yelich, OF, Milwaukee
4. Cody Bellinger, 1B/OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
5. Mookie Betts, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
6. Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland
7. Gerrit Cole, SP, New York Yankees
8. Trevor Story, SS, Colorado
9. Trea Turner, SS, Washington
10. Jacob deGrom, SP, New York Mets
11. Juan Soto, OF, Washington
12. Nolan Arenado, 3B, Colorado
1. Gerrit Cole, New York Yankees
2. Jacob deGrom, New York Mets
3. Max Scherzer, Washington
4. Walker Buehler, Los Angeles Dodgers
5. Justin Verlander, Houston
6. Stephen Strasburg. Washington
7. Jack Flaherty, St. Louis
8. Shane Bieber, Cleveland
9. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
10. Blake Snell, Tampa Bay
Gerrit Cole rarely suffered a poor start in his final season with the Houston Astros.
He lasted at least five innings in all but one start and struck out 10 batters in 21 appearances. If he brings the same consistency to the New York Yankees, Cole will remain on top of the pitcher rankings throughout the 2020 campaign.
Cole’s high strikeout rate and his 2.50 ERA should entice a few owners in the middle of the first round. In 2019, he made six starts against American League East opposition and averaged 10.1 punch outs, including a pair of 14-strikeout outings.
Cole’s 21-7 regular-season mark in September and October should also be intriguing for owners who want to justify selecting him over a slugger in the first round. He would be more than worth a high selection if he comes close to earning 10 wins and keeps his strikeouts-per-nine innings mark over 12 for the third consecutive season.
Jacob deGrom has three straight seasons with double-digit wins, a strikeout-per-nine inning rate over 10 and 200 total strikeouts. The New York Mets ace also has back-to-back campaigns with an ERA under 2.50, which could be hard to replicate against the lineups of the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies.
He posted a 7-3 mark against National League East opposition in 2019, and he would have earned a few more victories if he received proper run support.
Despite owning a 1-2 record versus Atlanta, deGrom lasted at least six innings in three starts, struck out 39 batters and gave up nine earned runs. He posted similar numbers against the Washington Nationals, as he did not concede more than four runs in any of his four appearances. If he contributes at a similar level against NL East opposition in 2020, deGrom could put himself in the position to win plenty of games.
His biggest concern comes with the New York Mets offense, as he had at least two no decisions from June on in 2019. As long as deGrom posts high strikeout totals and keeps his ERA down, he should carry value as a top-10 fantasy pick, even if the wins do not come in bunches.