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Sep 16, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Zack Greinke (21) pitches during the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
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Fantasy Baseball: Arizona Diamondbacks Pitchers Preview


January 19, 2017

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After looking at the Arizona Diamondbacks’ hitters and their potential fantasy baseball contribution in 2017, it’s time to look at the arms that will round out the Arizona pitching staff to see if we can shake out some value.


The Starters
Zack Greinke
The jewel of the pre-2016 acquisitions for the Diamondbacks. After his sparkling 1.66 ERA, 0.84 WHIP and career high 222 strikeouts in 2015, he nearly tripled his ERA and added 50% to his WHIP  in 2016, inflating those numbers to 4.37 and 1.27 WHIP while striking out half as many batters. Greinke has a history of inconsistent performance, and had some bad luck outliers (his HR/FB% nearly doubled). He’s currently ranked as the #20 fantasy baseball pitcher on FantasyPros, behind Masahiro Tanaka and Kyle Hendricks. It seems to be a massive drop for Greinke, and an over-reaction to last year. Greinke had an unsustainable 2015, and it all came crashing down in 2016. He should bounce back in 2017.

Taijuan Walker
Walker currently projects to a 4.04 ERA and 1.24 WHIP, with 8.22 K/9, but he is highly likely to exceed those values. The 24 year old went into July with a 3.29 ERA last year, and a 5.68 ERA following that point. He underwent surgery to clean up bone chips in his foot that he admitted affected his push off, and his ability to pitch pain free. He gave up too many home runs, and is going to a band box, so it could be a long season for Walker. Still, if he is fully healthy, he is worth a look, especially if he impresses in Spring Training. He’s a round 20+ lottery pick in your fantasy baseball drafts. Don’t go out of your way to get him, as his upside is ~3.75 ERA and 1.10 WHIP.

 Robbie Ray
Ray is a head scratcher, as his 11.25 K/9 doesn’t quite match up with his 4.90 ERA and 1.47 WHIP. It’s easy to tell a story with Ray as one of the breakouts of 2016. His BABIP is in the .350s, his HR/FB% was elevated from his short career prior to 2016. His final numbers belie his peripherals, as well. In the second half, his OPS allowed went down, but his ERA went up. Ray’s going to need to work on his stuff, as batters “figured him out” the second time through the order last year, as his ERA in the middle innings was a stunning 7.22. It’s hard to ignore that K-rate, and if you get some low-ERA, low-K contact guys, then Ray might help balance out your fantasy baseball roster on the cheap. And he might just break out for you.

Archie Bradley
The great hope for the Arizona Diamondbacks rotation (other than Shelby Miller coming out of the sewer) is that Archie Bradley returns on his promise as the #7 overall pick in the 2014 draft. There is some promise there, as he struck out more than a batter per inning last year, but gave up a 5.02 ERA. He walks too many batters and gives up too many home runs, but if he can undo one of those issues, he can have some mixed-league relevance. Don’t draft him except in the deepest of leagues.

Shelby Miller
Shelby Miller for Dansby Swanson, Aaron Blair and Ender Enciarte may go down as one of the worst trades in MLB history. Miller was extremely good for the Cardinals and Braves, and became an unmitigated disaster in Arizona. He even got bombed in AAA after his demotion, yielding a 3.91 ERA in eight AAA starts. His stats weren’t unlucky either, he was just giving up insane amounts of hard contact last season. Miller should go undrafted, especially given that his FIP has been over 4 for three straight years now. If you’re trying to find a silver lining for deep league relevance, his second-half ERA was a smidge under four.

Patrick Corbin
Once upon a time, Corbin was a promising young pitcher in the Diamondbacks system. He had a 3.41 ERA and the peripherals to match back in 2013. However, despite his low strikeouts he was still a valuable fantasy baseball commodity. In the eve of the 2014 season, he underwent Tommy John Surgery and missed all 2014 and most of 2015. His 2016 was an unmitigated disaster as he posted career highs in BB/9 and HR/9. Corbin has only three pitches (fastball-slider-change-up), and he lost velocity on both the fastball and the slider. He also increased his velocity on his change-up (when you can’t differentiate speeds between fastball and change-up, what good is your change-up?). He is destined for a middle relief role, but is currently slotted as their #5 starter.

Braden Shipley
Shipley may get the call up mid-season or be the #6 or #7 starter, depending on his Spring Training. However, after posting decent numbers in AAA, he put up a lackluster 5.27 ERA and 1.54 WHIP last season in eleven starts. If he’s behind Corbin in the pecking order, he isn’t worth your time unless he starts to turn it on.

The (Fantasy Baseball Relevant) Relievers
Fernando Rodney (CL)
Who knows what you are going to get with Rodney in 2016? He had an 0.31 ERA with a nearly 3:1 K/BB ratio with the Padres, and a 5.89 ERA (with a K/BB ratio just about half that). Unless you believe that 40 year old closers can suddenly build on a stunning 28 2/3 innings after a career of mediocrity, stay away from Rodney in your fantasy baseball drafts. You’d be better off taking one of the setup guys for when Rodney inevitably loses his job.


Jake Barrett
The man that ceded the closer job to Enrique Burgos last year, he doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. He never pitched more than 30 innings at a level in a single season before being dropped into the bullpen last year. He performed well down the stretch, yielding zero runs in 15-of-16 appearances to end the season. He’s my bet to be the mid-season closer in Arizona once Rodney implodes.

Enrique Burgos
The closer for part of the year that gave the Diamondbacks so much reason for hope that they went out and got Fernando Rodney. He had WHIP in the territory of some relievers’ ERA. He’s third in line at best and not worth your time.

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