Fantasy Baseball: Chris Archer, Jose Berrios highlight 12 pitchers who might not be worth the trouble anymore

So much of Fantasy Baseball analysis is geared for the long haul, a recognition that noise is all too common over short spurts and regression is inevitable over a long enough period of time.

But check the calendar. There is no long haul anymore. There's just a sprint to the finish line, and those who run it best will have the last laugh over the those who couldn't or didn't bother to amend their process.

That is easier said than done, of course.

For the purposes of this piece, I'm going to focus on what I'm calling the hot stove effect. No, not the metamorphical hot stove that keeps the coals of baseball burning in the offseason, but the proverbial one that we should have learned not to touch by now.

These 12 pitchers have burned us time and time again, and it's enough. Enough, I say!

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Chris Archer PIT • SP • 24
2018 season
ERA4.41
WHIP1.43
IP114.1
BB38
K121

Chris Archer seemed like an ideal change-of-scenery guy when the Rays dealt him at the deadline. In the ways we normally measure ability — velocity, strike percentage, swinging strike rate — he was positively normal. It seemed like only a matter of time before the results backed it up, and the hope was the move to an easier division in an easier league with a new coaching staff to pinpoint whatever small issue he needed to correct would get him back to being an innings-eating strikeout artist. But he has only been worse with the Pirates, failing to turn in even a quality start in five chances.

I still believe that whatever's keeping him from reaching his top-15 potential is small, so cutting him loose could end up doubling your misery if someone else is the beneficiary. I wouldn't plan to start him the rest of the way, though.
Bench or drop? Bench

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Jose Berrios MIN • SP • 17
2018 season
ERA3.74
WHIP1.14
IP163.2
BB46
K165

Yeah, the numbers still look pretty good, but the trend is fairly troubling, most notably the fact that Jose Berrios' average and peak fastball velocity was down 2-3 mph in his most recent start Sunday against the Athletics. It was reportedly because of a stomach issue — and I'm not doubting he was sick — but in conjunction with some uncharacteristic control issues that have resulted in 3.8 walks per nine innings over his past 13 starts and a 4.68 ERA over his past eight, maybe the health concerns don't end there.

It's telling that a pitcher who I argued with vein-popping passion was a borderline ace on the Fantasy Baseball Today podcast a couple weeks ago is now someone I'm unwilling to start until I see him dominate again. Still, as with Archer, you can't gift wrap him for someone else. 
Bench or drop? Bench

Andrew Heaney SP •
2018 season
ERA4.25
WHIP1.19
IP146.0
BB38
K138

Andrew Heaney has a 6.67 ERA in August, with only one of his five starts qualifying as what we'd call "good." But in spite of him pitching poorly, all of them have lasted at least five innings, which is sort of a blessing and curse.

My theory for why he's struggling (and may ultimately be shut down) is because he's in his first full year back from Tommy John surgery, which means he threw only 33 2/3 innings in his previous two seasons combined. But the Angels' willingness to ride him in spite of it, resulting in seven starts of seven innings or more just since the start of June, gives him an uncommon ceiling in today's pitching landscape.

I'm not sure he has faltered enough for me to cut him loose.
Bench or drop? Bench

Sean Manaea SP •
2018 season
ERA3.59
WHIP1.08
IP160.2
BB32
K108

Sean Manaea still has yet to fall flat on his face despite a strikeout rate and BABIP (still an unbelievable .247) that suggest he should. A closer look, though, reveals a more gradual regression to the mean — i.e., he has a 4.54 ERA over his past 21 starts. What's worse are the strikeouts. In four of his 10 starts since the start of July, he recorded just one, only five times throwing the minimum number of innings required for a quality start. So what we have here is a pitcher who isn't providing strikeouts or innings and has growing concerns about his run prevention.

As far as 2018 is concerned, his DL stint is his death knell.
Bench or drop? Drop

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Robbie Ray ARI • SP • 38
2018 season
ERA4.73
WHIP1.46
IP85.2
BB48
K111

I've said before that backing Robbie Ray as a Fantasy ace is my most regrettable decision from draft prep season, as basically all the red flags have flown full staff all season. The BABIP has normalized. The hard contact has yielded even more home runs. The tightrope walk he was performing with the walks has instead turned into a game of hopscotch. He has done nothing right ... except continue to miss bats at an elite rate. So what if it's just some little mechanical tweak that gets him pitching in the zone enough to record double-digit strikeouts every other start, as happened down the stretch last season? He's unusable in his current form, but exposing that kind of upside to the rest of the league is dangerous this time of year.
Bench or drop? Bench

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Nick Pivetta PHI • SP • 43
2018 season
ERA4.76
WHIP1.29
IP136.0
BB38
K162

Speaking of upside, isn't Nick Pivetta kind of just the right-handed version of Ray, if we're overlooking what Ray did last year? Ah, but should we overlook it? Surely, Ray's peaks have been higher and longer-lasting in the majors than Pivetta's have, and even now, the swings-and-misses are more plentiful. But Pivetta doesn't seem nearly as flawed, boasting a much lower walk rate and suffering from worse BABIP luck. Bottom line, though, is we have yet to see any sustained success from Pivetta, as exemplified by him following up three strong starts to begin August with 11 earned runs in his next 10 1/3 innings. I don't think it's out of the question to drop him, but I'd rather not.
Bench or drop? Bench

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Jose Quintana CHC • SP • 62
2018 season
ERA4.33
WHIP1.39
IP135.0
BB60
K116

By now, Jose Quintana's only redeeming quality is his past, which doesn't count for much at this stage of the season. His swinging strike rate is fifth-worst among qualifiers, his walk rate is way up, his 4.74 FIP suggests his ERA could be even higher, and he has actually had good BABIP luck, in spite of his struggles. There's also the fact manager Joe Maddon rarely lets him go the minimum six innings required for a quality start, but with the way Quintana has pitched, can you blame him?
Bench or drop? Drop

Vince Velasquez SP •
2018 season
ERA4.05
WHIP1.26
IP129.0
BB53
K142

Vince Velasquez and Nick Pivetta are often lumped together as good strikeout pitchers who show flashes of greatness and happen to pitch for the same team, but by now it's not exactly a toss-up which of the two is better. Pivetta is a slightly better bat-misser, a vastly better control pitcher and someone whose extensive injury history isn't as likely to hold him back as he approaches his career high in innings. No, Velasquez is the one with that sort of history, and lately he has had trouble going even five innings.
Bench or drop? Drop

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Sean Newcomb ATL • SP • 15
2018 season
ERA3.57
WHIP1.29
IP141.0
BB67
K131

Sean Newcomb's presence here shows just how quickly a player's fortunes can turn (and probably should this time of year), because if I had written this article a week ago, he'd be a candidate to drop. His next start may reveal he still is, but seeing him give up two hits in six innings with his best swinging strike total in two months last time out gives me pause. Four of his past nine starts have been truly awful, though, and there's a longer trend of declining strikeouts and rising walks that suggests he's not as good as his overall numbers. It's fair to say he's on thin ice.
Bench or drop? Bench

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Luis Castillo CIN • SP • 58
2018 season
ERA5.07
WHIP1.31
IP136.2
BB41
K131

In a season of highs and lows, Luis Castillo has been just as maddening in the second half, delivering two nine-strikeout efforts that show the full extent of his ability but not even a quality start in the other four. At this point, I don't know under what circumstances you can make the case to start him, so even though he may have the game's best changeup and a world of upside, I'm thinking let's try again in 2019.
Bench or drop? Drop

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Tyler Anderson COL • SP • 44
2018 season
ERA4.79
WHIP1.29
IP148.1
BB52
K140

Seeing as Rockies pitchers already have so much farther to go to earn our trust, there isn't a lot of leeway when they begin to fall apart. Jon Gray, sure, but Tyler Anderson was barely a strikeout-per-inning guy at his best. His strength has been generating weak contact, as has been typical of this current generation of Rockies pitchers, but as skills go, his results aren't as reliable as missing bats altogether or keeping the ball from sailing over the fence. His 4.72 FIP supports his recent rise in ERA (a 11.39 mark in five August starts — ick), and he has already set a career high in innings.
Bench or drop? Drop

Nathan Eovaldi SP •
2018 season
ERA4.15
WHIP1.15
IP89.0
BB12
K74

Well, it was fun while it lasted. We keep squinting to find new reasons for optimism over Nathan Eovaldi because he throws hard, but now seven years into his big-league career, we should know how it ends. Replacing the slider with a cutter worked for about six weeks, but it's not fooling hitters anymore, resulting in a 7.41 ERA and 2.24 WHIP over his past four starts. The upside isn't enough to put up with that kind of downside.
Bench or drop? Drop   

Senior Fantasy Writer

Raised in Atlanta by a board game-loving family during the dawn of the '90s Braves dynasty, Scott White was easy prey for the Fantasy Sports, in particular Fantasy Baseball, and has devoted his adulthood... Full Bio

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