Collette Calls: Bold Predictions Accountability - Pitchers

Collette Calls: Bold Predictions Accountability - Pitchers

This article is part of our Collette Calls series.

Last week, I reviewed the 30 preseason bold predictions for hitters; this week it is time to look at the pitching predictions. Like last week, I'll assign each prediction a grade on the 20-80 scouting scale and let you agree or disagree with me in the comments.

Lance McCullers Jr. finishes top 3 in AL Cy Young (grade = 60). It may happen? McCullers finished second in the AL in ERA, ninth in strikeouts, tied for third in wins and had the lowest opponents' batting average among AL starters. The 11 percent walk rate was the one blemish, but a 3.16 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 13 wins and 185 strikeouts was a solid return on investment even with the one stint on the injured list. 

Jaime Barria finishes as a top-175 pitcher (grade = 20). Barria made 11 starts and appeared in 13 games with a 4.61 ERA and a 1.57 WHIP in 56.2 innings. His strikeout rate cratered from 21 to 14 percent, and he was simply too hittable.

A.J. Puk finishes as a top-125 pitcher (grade = 20). Puk was not everlasting as he worked 13.1 innings at the big league-level allowing 25 baserunners around 16 strikeouts. He has pitched less than 90 innings the last four calendar years combined, so it is very tough to imagine he has a path forward as a big-league starter. It might be time to see just how durable he can be out of the bullpen. 

Yusei Kikuchi finishes as a top

Last week, I reviewed the 30 preseason bold predictions for hitters; this week it is time to look at the pitching predictions. Like last week, I'll assign each prediction a grade on the 20-80 scouting scale and let you agree or disagree with me in the comments.

Lance McCullers Jr. finishes top 3 in AL Cy Young (grade = 60). It may happen? McCullers finished second in the AL in ERA, ninth in strikeouts, tied for third in wins and had the lowest opponents' batting average among AL starters. The 11 percent walk rate was the one blemish, but a 3.16 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 13 wins and 185 strikeouts was a solid return on investment even with the one stint on the injured list. 

Jaime Barria finishes as a top-175 pitcher (grade = 20). Barria made 11 starts and appeared in 13 games with a 4.61 ERA and a 1.57 WHIP in 56.2 innings. His strikeout rate cratered from 21 to 14 percent, and he was simply too hittable.

A.J. Puk finishes as a top-125 pitcher (grade = 20). Puk was not everlasting as he worked 13.1 innings at the big league-level allowing 25 baserunners around 16 strikeouts. He has pitched less than 90 innings the last four calendar years combined, so it is very tough to imagine he has a path forward as a big-league starter. It might be time to see just how durable he can be out of the bullpen. 

Yusei Kikuchi finishes as a top 100 pitcher (grade = 30). Kikuchi made progress in 2021, lowering his ERA below 4.50 for the first time in the majors, and once again bumped up his strikeout rate over the previous season. The larger problem was he fell back into his problem with homers as his home-run rate tripled from 2020 while his walks remain on the high side for a starting pitcher. 

Jonathan Hernandez finishes as a top-125 pitcher (grade = 20). Hernandez never made it out of camp as he was shut down with arm pain in March and had Tommy John surgery on April 12, which likely makes him undraftable in 2022 redraft leagues. 

Caleb Smith finishes outside the top 400 (grade = 60). Smith worked mostly as a swing man in 2021, finishing with a 4.83 ERA, a 1.37 WHIP, allowing 1.6 homers per nine innings and walking one hitter for every two he struck out. He was more effective as a reliever (2.70 ERA, .201 AVG) than he was as a starter (6.95 ERA, .232 AVG) in nearly the same amount of innings. Simply put, any success he will have in the future likely will come out of the bullpen, as he is not a starter. 

Robert Stephenson is a top 250 pitcher (grade = 30). He made it into the top-250 pitchers, but he really did not contribute much. Two wins, one save and a 1.30 WHIP in 46 innings while helping with a 3.13 ERA with 52 strikeouts. He rediscovered some of his 2019 skills, but it is tough to work nearly 50 innings at the big-league level with so few decisions to show for it. 

David Price is a top 40 pitcher (grade = 20). Price never settled into the rotation and ended up working as a Swiss Army Knife type guy throughout the season. He did contribute five wins and a save in nearly 74 innings, but the 4.03 ERA and 1.43 WHIP did not help fantasy owners. 

Drew Pomeranz finishes as a top-125 player (grade = 20). Mark Melancon simply stole the golden opportunity for Pomeranz and never gave it back. Pomeranz also couldn't stay healthy as me missed time in May and June with forearm issues and then was shut down for good in mid-August when he hit the surgical table for Tommy John surgery.

Anthony DeSclafani finishes as a top-150 pitcher (grade = 70). Disco finished the season tied as the 26th-best pitcher by Earned Auction Value. He missed two starts, but finished with career-bests in ERA, WHIP, wins and opponents' batting average. Not bad for a pitcher who had an ADP of 503 when the prediction was made. The Giants once again took another organization's castoff and turned the pitcher around in the right direction. 

Michael Kopech is a top-75 pitcher (grade = 40). Kopech did not make it into the top 75, but he was by no means a bust because he struck out 103 hitters in 69.1 innings and won four decisions with a 3.50 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. He still had value for fantasy owners, albeit in a different capacity than expected on draft day. Even as the Chicago staff waned down the stretch, manager Tony LaRussa left the returning fireballer in his relief role and he should be fun to watch in the postseason. 

Triston McKenzie is not a top-100 pitcher (grade = 70). McKenzie was the 67th pitcher off the board in draft season, but didn't even finish in the top 100 for starting pitchers (105) and finished 171st overall. He helped in strikeouts (28 percent) and WHIP (1.18) but that came at the cost of a 4.95 ERA and 5 wins in 24 starts. It was such a weird season given the low WHIP despite a 12 percent walk rate and the ERA less than 5.00 given he allowed 1.6 homers per nine innings. Growing pains were tough on him this year, as I expected. 

Matthew Boyd is a top-60 pitcher (grade = 20). Boyd made it through 15 starts this season before an elbow injury shut him down for the season. He had surgery in late September on his flexor tendon, avoiding TJ surgery. When he did pitch, he was more effective than he was in previous seasons, but he was not around much to enjoy Detroit's success later in the season, hence the 3-8 record. 

Scott Barlow is a top 150 pitcher (grade = 80). I was most proud of this one because Barlow was third on everyone's depth chart behind Greg Holland and Josh Staumont, yet Barlow bested them both and finished as the 65th best pitcher after going 212th during the draft season. The KC bullpen was not as rigid as expected in its usage, so Barlow swooped in with 16 saves and five wins along with a 2.42 ERA, a 1.20 WHIP, and a 30 percent strikeout rate. He was a wonderful return on investment for someone with an ADP of 546.

Hansel Robles is a top-400 player (grade = 60). Robles made it in at 397 finding new life when he got to Boston and finishing the season with three wins and 14 saves around some unsightly work with Minnesota. The walks were a problem with both teams, but Robles has rediscovered some dominance since moving to Boston and may have just worked his way into the closer conversation for 2022 if Matt Barnes continues to be invisible due to overuse this season. 

Craig Kimbrel is a top-8 closer (grade = 70). This should have been an 80, but the late trade to the south side derailed what was an incredible comeback season. Even after losing the full-time closer role after the trade, Kimbrel finished the season as the 10th-most value relief pitcher in fantasy thanks to 100 strikeouts in 59.2 innings, a 2.26 ERA, a 0.91 WHIP and five wins along with 26 saves. He had an ADP of 200 during draft season and was going as the 16th closer off the boards due to the heavy dose of recency bias. 

Tejay Antone is a top-100 pitcher (grade = 30). Antone was excellent when he pitched with a strong strikeout rate and ratios while winning two games and winning three more. Unfortunately, he worked juts 33.2 innings around a forearm injury that eventually led him to the surgery table for the procedure which matches his first name in late September. 

Josh Lindblom is a top-100 pitcher (grade = 20). Maybe my worst prediction of the bunch. He was not hurt, he just simply sucked beyond belief. Five homers and 36 baserunners in 16.2 innings sent him to the DFA list and he never returned in season. 

Steven Brault is a top-150 pitcher (grade = 20). Unlike Lindblom, Brault was hurt most of the season. He got hurt late in spring training, missed a huge chunk of time, came back late in the season and re-injured his lat muscle after seven ineffective starts.

Alex Reyes is a top-120 pitcher (grade = 70). Reyes finished the season as the 34th most valuable pitcher after finishing draft season just outside the top 150. Ten wins and 29 saves along with 95 strikeouts and an ever-improving ERA made for quite the valuable season around his unseemly 1.36 WHIP. 

Tanner Scott is a top-150 pitcher (grade = 20). Only one Tanner made the top 150, and it wasn't Scott. Scott did get five wins in relief, but no saves, and way too many walks hurt his ERA (5.17) and WHIP (1.57). Scott has the velocity and the movement, but the lack of command is going to keep him away from any decent leverage situations for any other club. 

Nick Pivetta is a top-150 pitcher (grade = 70). Pivetta finished the season as the 111th best pitcher in fantasy and was particularly nasty in the ALDS this season. He finished draft season outside the top 200, but nine wins and a rediscovered strikeout rate helped him find value even with rather pedestrian ratios. 

Corey Kluber is not a top-125 pitcher (grade = 80). Kluber finished the season as the 220nd pitcher because he missed half the season and finished with five wins and pedestrian ratios. He was the 82nd pitcher off the board in draft season and I laid out the reasons for staying far away, which held up when his body held up. 

Joe Ryan is a top-200 pitcher (grade = 30). Ryan was not a bust, but he only made five starts in the big leagues because the Rays slow-played him while he was trying out for and then eventually pitching for Team USA in the Olympics. Ryan looked terrific in his five starts late in the season with his invisiball and is going to have some helium this winter during draft season. Just remember you read about him here first very early in 2021, much like when Logan Webb was my 2020 bold prediction for the Giants. 

Julian Merryweather is a top-250 pitcher (grade = 20). For one glorious opening weekend, Merryweather looked amazing. It was not to last as a strained oblique cost him four months of the season and he wasn't the same guy upon his return. He has 26 innings at the big-league level and turns 30 next month. I'll draft him again, but this time in the reserves rather than in dollar days. 

Ian Anderson is not a top-150 player (grade = 70). Anderson finished the season 244th in our Earned Auction Value calculator after spending draft season just inside the top 100. My concerns with Anderson heading into the season was how his body would respond to increased workload, and that was an issue when he missed a chunk of summer with right shoulder inflammation. Nine wins, decent ratios and 124 strikeouts gave him value, but it is rather impossible to return an investment on a to 100 pick when missing 25 percent of the season. 

Elieser Hernandez is a top-60 pitcher (grade = 20). Hernandez's 2021 season nearly ended before it began as he pulled his oblique in the third inning of his first start, then re-injured himself in his first game back from that in early June. He eventually returned to the roster in mid-August but did not look anything like he did in 2020. 

Thomas Szapucki finishes in the top 5 of roto value on the Mets' staff (grade = 20). Szapucki had one outing with the Mets, looked terrible, and eventually had ulnar transposition surgery in mid-July to repair a nerve issue in his pitching elbow. 

Matt Moore is a top-200 pitcher (grade = 20). Moore worked as swing man who had some effectiveness the first time through a lineup before they then bashed him rather well. It is amazing Philly stayed in contention as long as they did while giving Moore 73 innings to post a 6.29 ERA and 1.59 WHIP. 

Will Harris is a top-250 pitcher (grade = 20). Harris underwent Thoracic Outlet Syndrome surgery in late May and ended the season with just six innings of work.

Grade

Percentage of Predictions

20

47%

30

13%

40

3%

50

0%

60

10%

70

20%

80

7%

Rather proud of how the predictions on Kimbrel, Kluber, Barlow, Pivetta, and Anderson held up but disappointed in the high if not unavoidable bust rate on some of the pitching calls given the circumstances of this season. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jason Collette
Jason has been helping fantasy owners since 1999 at RotoJunkie, Fanball, Baseball Prospectus and now here at RotoWire. You can hear Jason weekly on many of the Sirius/XM Fantasy channel offerings throughout the season as well as on the Sleeper and the Bust podcast every Sunday. A ten-time FSWA finalist, Jason won the FSWA's Fantasy Baseball Writer of the Year award in 2013 and the Baseball Series of the Year award in 2018 for Collette Calls.
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