When discussing risky players, Adalberto Mondesi comes to mind. Although Mondesi provides a massive ceiling, the floor, injuries, and other risks make him a risky pick in previous years. Mondesi sometimes triggers a heated player argument on whether to buy or sell that value early in drafts. Usually, Mondesi sits as a second-round pick in 15-team leagues, but now his ADP sits around 50 in early Draft Champions leagues.
Some of the most seasoned and best fantasy baseball players discuss the idea of taking calculated risks later in the draft, not early, since we play a game of accumulation for rotisserie formats. As we scour the early ADP, we find a few notable pitchers sitting near or past pick 400 that come with risk. However, given the late ADP of a 26th or 27th round pick, we’ll decide whether or not they’re worth buying or selling for 2022 redraft leagues.
Buy or Sell – Two ADP Fallers In 2022 – Corey Kluber and Dinelson Lamet
Corey Kluber (SP – TB)
One of the most difficult pitchers to evaluate heading into 2021 is Corey Kluber. He suffered several injuries in 2019 and 2020, including a broken forearm on a 102.2 mph liner, plus the oblique and shoulder issues heading into 2021. After workhorse type numbers averaging over 218 innings from 2014-2018, Kluber totaled 36 2/3 innings pitched in 2019 and 2020.
In Corey Kluber’s only season as a New York Yankee, he boasted a 3.83 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 24% strikeout rate, and 9.7% walk rate in 80 innings. Most of that production came in the first two months since Kluber missed three months before returning for the final month. One notable difference from 2014-2018 involved the pitch mix change. Kluber dropped the fastball usage and relied on the secondary pitches in 2021.
We notice the drop in fastball usage from the 2016 and 2017 seasons. That’s likely due to the ineffectiveness of Kluber’s fastball, particularly the sinker and four-seamer. Kluber’s sinker resulted in a .425 wOBA in 2021 compared to a .363 wOBA in 2018, and .362 wOBA in 2017. Overall, Kluber had positive results even though not at the elite level from 2014-2018.
Kluber’s Pitch Mix & Results
According to Baseball Savant, Corey Kluber used three pitches over 25% of the time in the curveball (29.4%), cutter (27.2%), and sinker (25.1%). Also, Kluber sprinkled in the changeup at 13.8%, with the four-seamer the least at 4.6%. From a whiff rate and wOBA perspective, the curveball and changeup performed the best, evidenced by a 39.1% whiff rate on the curve and a 40.2% whiff rate with the changeup. Meanwhile, the curveball resulted in a .243 wOBA, with the changeup allowing a .187 wOBA.
Kluber’s cutter also looks like a sneaky pitch with a 13.7% swinging-strike rate and 26% whiff rate. However, the .284 BA, .403 SLG, and .354 wOBA look concerning. Kluber’s curveball typically possessed above-average horizontal movement with 5.8 inches more in 2021. That aligns with the previous seasons per Baseball Savant. Outside of the curveball, only Kluber’s cutter possesses above-average movement, especially horizontally that again aligned with previous years.
Overall, we’re dealing with a small 2021 sample, so take the data with a grain of salt. From a Statcast Swing-Take standpoint, Corey Kluber thrived in the heart and shadow areas. However, he still performed well in the shadow zones but not in the heart of the zone in 2021. Although we can’t expect prime Kluber at 35 years of age, there’s still a chance he provides an ERA below 4.00 like in 2021 when healthy.
Should We Buy or Sell Kluber?
With the Tampa Bay Rays, Corey Kluber still sits in the AL East. However, the Rays home park rates as a pitcher’s park, as evidenced by the 0.96 (No. 29) wOBA and 0.90 (No. 24) Home Run Park Factor per EV Analytics. That’s drastically different than the Yankees, as I noted in last week’s buy or sell article covering Jon Gray and Jameson Taillon, with the Yankees having the 5th-highest Home Run Park Factor at 1.16.
One area that concerns us involves Kluber’s ability to make the third time through the order in 2021 with a 2.31 ERA through the first time, then a 5.52 ERA and 4.11 ERA in the second and third. For reference, in 2018, Kluber boasted a 2.33, 3.06, and 3.02 ERA through the first through third times through the order.
Early STEAMER Projections have Kluber with a 4.32 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 21.9% strikeout rate, and 8.1% walk rate in 148 innings. STEAMER expects the BABIP to drop near the career averages at .292 compared to a career rate of .299. However, they project the LOB% to drop to 71.9% with a 74.7% throughout his career. Regardless with an NFBC ADP inside the top-400, Kluber looks like he’s worth the risk in 2022, meaning we’ll buy more than sell.
Dinelson Lamet (P – SDP)
One pitcher full of risks heading into 2021 was Dinelson Lamet. A right UCL strain landed him on the injured list in April. Before that, Lamet dealt with a biceps/elbow injury towards the end of 2020 that caused him to miss the final postseason games. Lamet returned for one appearance in late April, then guess what – he left with forearm tightness. The Padres placed Lamet on the IL again and returned in early May.
Clevinger will miss 2021 after TJ surgery. Dinelson Lamet was hurt in postseason. #Padres are fortifying rotation with Darvish, Snell, Musgrove, plus Paddack with pospects Morejon, Weathers, Gore in the wings.
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) January 18, 2021
Coming off the IL, Lamet made eight out of ten starts with two relief appearances too. During that ten-game stretch, Lamet reached the five-inning mark twice with a total of 32 1/3 innings. In late June, Lamet suffered yet another injury (shoulder) and returned in September to pitch out of the bullpen for the final month. Overall, we’re dealing with a tiny 47 innings sample in 2021 for Lamet. That said, take some of the following metrics with caution.
Lamet’s Game Logs
Again, tiny sample alert, but sometimes it’s helpful to look at the data visually. Dinelson Lamet’s 2020 season looked like an outlier with the elite 2.09 ERA and 0.86 WHIP with a .234 BABIP and 80.4% LOB%. With the BABIP, LOB%, and walk rate regressing, Lamet’s ratios increased. Add in the injury concerns, and Lamet should have held the “do not draft” label in 2021.
We notice the BABIP regressed over 100 points, plus the K-BB% dropped from 27.3% in 2020 to 18.1% in early 2021, and then 13.4% as a reliever to close the season. Lamet’s four-seamer went from 97 mph in 2020 to 95.5 mph in 2021. However, the four-seamer sat at 95.9 mph in 2019, so not far off from previous seasons.
Even the pitch mix didn’t change much from 2020 to 2021. Lamet relied on the slider and four-seamer to account for over 90% of his pitches. The effectiveness of Lamet’s slider looked similar to previous years, with a 22.3% swinging-strike rate, 39.1% O-Swing%, and 42.5% Whiff% in 2021. The 2021 .215 wOBA increased from a .144 wOBA in 2020, but it’s still an elite pitch.
Interestingly, Lamet’s slider doesn’t stand out from a movement standpoint. However, the slider remained Lamet’s best pitch. Lamet’s slider boasted a Run-Value of -8 in 2021 and -18 in 2020.
We’ll note that Lamet performed similarly from a Statcast Swing-Take standpoint. Although Lamet didn’t thrive the same in the heart of the zone as in 2020, we imagine it would rate closely to 2019 and 2020 with more innings pitched.
Should We Buy or Sell Lamet?
After Dinelson Lamet sat with an ADP around pick 100 in 2021, he holds an ADP near pick 400 in early Draft Champions leagues on NFBC. A few players nearby Lamet include Brady Singer, Josh Lowe, Tony Kemp, Lorenzo Cain, and Evan Longoria. Anytime a player drops almost 300 picks, it indicates the draft market adjusted, and rightfully so.
Dinelson Lamet is ready! 🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/tkRF54eTfN
— Héctor Gómez (@hgomez27) December 25, 2021
Injuries and small samples headline the concerns for Lamet heading into 2022. That said, the early STEAMER projections align given the 3.14 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 32.4% strikeout rate, and 8.2% walk rate in 52 innings pitched. STEAMER doesn’t project Lamet for a single start, meaning he could thrive with the ratios and K-BB% as a reliever. With that late ADP, Lamet feels worth the risk with the chance that he earns some starts and remains healthy for a decent stretch in the 2022 season. The final verdict involves buying the ADP for Lamet but selling the idea of those elite 2020 ratios since they’re likely the outlier season.
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