Fantasy Baseball 2023: Spencer Strider is one of the most polarizing early round pitchers

In 2023, the pitching ranks are in utter chaos, with no consensus, the #1 fantasy ace, and a growing cult of drafters who prioritize 70-inning reliefs over 190-inning starters. In a year without an old Pedro or Kershaw to bring clarity and order, things quickly descend into tribalism. Some of us simply gave up all early-round pitchers, preferring to build rotations of flyers and late-game prospects that are later enhanced with aggressive waiver adds. To each his own.

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We certainly don’t have a shortage of polarizing top-of-draft pitchers to discuss, as none of these guys are entirely without red flags. Let’s start with a player who messes up fantasy managers at least as much as opposing batsmen.

Here are the most polarizing thugs of 2023.

Jacob deGrom, SP, Texas Rangers (ADP 31.5)

We can confidently say that deGrom’s innings will be of the highest quality imaginable. Hopefully everyone can agree on that. For the past two seasons, he’s hit an insane 14.3 batters per nine innings while producing dead-ball-era ratios (1.90 ERA, 0.63 WHIP) with absurd control. He’s hit over 13 hitters for every walk he’s spent over the past two years. Healthy deGrom is as good as it gets – arguably as good as anyone else in the fantasy era. If we could guarantee he would pitch 150 innings in 2023, he would surely be anyone’s best starter.

And that’s where the problem lies. We haven’t even seen deGrom hit 100 frames since 2019 and he’s only thrown 156.1 in the past two years. He has been sidelined at various times since spring 2021 with elbow, shoulder, forearm and oblique issues. He’s struggling with an injury to his side/oblique right now. Projection systems are everywhere on his 2023 innings forecast. No one is going to make any guarantees regarding his workload. Again, all we can say is that no matter how long he goes, it’s going to be great when he hits.

To me, deGrom is much easier to sell in a standard Yahoo Roto format than anywhere else. In the area, public play includes a very achievable innings cap, meaning even an 80 or 90 IP season from deGrom can have immense value. Therefore, it deserves a raise (or downgrade) based on your platform. Even if you’re in a draft that’s all about topside, this is your guy.

Spencer Strider, SP, Atlanta Braves (ADP 26.2)

So much about Strider actually resembles a classic Closer, including the triple-digit speed, the goofy K-Rate (38.3K%) and the fastball/slider arsenal – and of course the facial hair. And let’s not forget the peacocking after K:

Strider is just a delight statistically and aesthetically. Last year he hit 202 batters in just 131.2 innings while posting a 2.67 ERA and 1.00 WHIP at the age of 23. He’ll give the occasional walk, but that’s less of a concern if nobody can actually hit your stuff (.179 BAA). .

It’s reasonable to ask whether Strider can remain a top-notch elite starter for the long haul, with essentially an arsenal with two pitches. On the other hand, These two playing fields are both among the most overwhelming in the game. He makes the polarizing list primarily because nobody knows exactly where to pin his innings; He certainly doesn’t hit 200 (not many do), and projection systems have him anywhere from 120 to close to 170. Strider dealt with an oblique injury at the end of last season and he has a UCL repair in his recent past, but he is perfectly healthy at present, enjoying a dominant spring.

If you want to join Dalton Del Don in ranking Strider as no worse than the #3 starter going into 2023, I get it. Like deGrom (but for different reasons), Strider is another guy you can feel a lot better about playing in a traditional standard Yahoo innings-limit format. In our game, your primary concern is the K rate, not the total Ks.

To be perfectly honest, Bieber is only making this list because, for the second year in a row, people are going out of their way to explain that they won’t call him up — eh this guy over here. Perhaps that’s because Bieber is a glaring exception among the early-round starters, as he doesn’t throw a zillion miles an hour. In fact, his speed has decreased in each of the last two seasons.

But good … come on. Bieber managed to batter 198 last season while giving up just 36 walks over 200.0 innings. His ERA was 2.88 and his FIP was 2.87. It’s hard to look at his year and decide that the surface-level stats were a fluke. Bieber just controls you very much deep arsenal that includes more than one high-impact wipe-out pitch. He’s something of an artist, a master technician, the tunnel builder of a tunnel builder. He’s given us four consecutive good-to-brilliant seasons, and this spring he fooled people:

Bieber is also one of the best bets to reach 200 innings among all starters, which is a high number in the current era. While some of you avoid him in drafts (again), I consider him one of the safest high-end starters in the player pool.

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