The pitchers in this tier can help in one or two categories but aren’t the most reliable arms.
James Paxton, NYY
Paxton had back surgery in early February and the initial reports said he would miss months of action. Fast forward to mid-March and his expected time missed in about six weeks. It’s still enough to warrant dropping him down in the rankings but if we can still get four months of Paxton, he’ll be a steal at his current ADP. He’ll have a 3.50 ERA with 140 strikeouts and a good amount of wins.
Jose Urquidy, HOU
Urquidy is locked as the Astros No. 4 starter. While some of the offenses improved, the division is looked at as one of the weaker ones this season. He has a good pitch mix with an above-average fastball and changeup. He needs to improve his strikeout rate, finished at 8.8 K/9 last season. With a full season ahead of him, Urquidy will help support your team with strikeouts and wins. The ratios may hurt but not much.
Jon Gray, COL
Gray was decent last season, posting his second-base career ERA but the WHIP and walk rate were an issue. Surprisingly, he was better at home than on the road. But that hasn’t been the case throughout his career. If you draft Gray, he’ll give you a mid-4.00 ERA with a 1.30 WHIP and 175 strikeouts. It’s nothing impressive but at least you know what to expect from Gray as a 19th round pick.
Joey Lucchesi, SD
Lucchesi has decent stuff but nothing that will blow batters away. He’s finished with an ERA over 4.00 and WHIP over 1.20 in his first two seasons. Pitching in San Diego helps and the offenses outside of the Dodgers aren’t the strongest. But with only two pitches, there isn’t much mystery behind Lucchesi. He’s another one that will give you a good amount of strikeouts with a low 4.00 ERA.
Marcus Stroman, NYM
Stroman started strong in the first half with the Blue Jays (2.96 ERA, 1.227 WHIP) outside of a 6-11 win-loss record. The move to New York saw a jump in his ratios but he also saw an increase in his strikeout rate. With a full season for the Mets coming up, things aren’t going to get better. The defense behind him is horrible and he’ll be facing some tough offenses. He won’t kill your pitching stats but he’s not going to pitch to a surprise season.
Caleb Smith, MIA
Smith had two different seasons last year. He had a 3.50 ERA in the first half and a 5.42 ERA in the second half. His walk rate improved a little bit but is still over 3.0 BB/9. Smith allowed 33 home runs last season. There is some stuff to like about Smith but pitching against those other four teams in the NL East doesn’t make me want to draft him. He does have the potential to reach 200 strikeouts, though.
Masahiro Tanaka, NYY
Tanaka had a weird 2019 season. His ERA and WHIP increased greatly compared to his 2018 season. Yet, his walk rate and HR/9 rates stayed the same even with an increase of 26 innings pitched. However, looking at the last couple of seasons and how much Yankee Stadium favors hitters, Tanaka isn’t more than a back-end arm in 12-team mixed leagues.
Lance McCullers, HOU
McCullers was building a nice resume for himself, outside of the 2017 season. He missed the 2019 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. So far this spring, he has three strikeouts and two earned runs in 2.2 innings. There is still risk about limited playing time or reaggrevation but McCullers offers the most upside of the pitchers in this tier.
Mike Foltynewicz, ATL
Foltynewicz has had one good season throughout his career and that came in 2018. Last year started out rough, posting ERAs over 6.00 in April, May and June. Then in the second half, something changed. Foltynewicz had a 2.65 ERA in his final 10 starts. If you do draft him this season, expect a stat line in between his 2018 and 2019 seasons.
Joe Musgrove, PIT
Musgrove saw some regression in his second season with the Pirates. While everything else looked bad, he improved his K/9 rate. Then again, posting an 8.10 in May doesn’t help his overall numbers. I think the ratios will come down a little and with the increase in his fastball, the strikeouts will be there. The only stat he won’t help you in is wins. Musgrove isn’t a bad pick in round 18.