We have reached the recap portion of the fantasy baseball season. After a shortened 2020, it’s definitely been a grind going through this for the last seven months. We’ll recap the pitchers, followed by the hitters and then look at where I was wrong and where I was right to help build for an even bigger 2022 season.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers Starting Pitcher Julio Urias — The left-hander will also crack the “Where I was Right” list, as I had the starting pitcher as a breakout candidate. Urias has helped fantasy owners in a big way in 2021, as he has pitched to a 3.01 ERA and a major-league-best 19 wins entering the final week of the season. Urias was being drafted as the 45th pitcher back in the preseason. There’s no doubt that he will be considered a top-20 option in 2022.
2. San Francisco Giants Starting Pitcher Kevin Gausman — The 30-year-old enjoyed a breakout season in Year 9. The signs were there in 2020, as Gausman finished with a 3.62 ERA in the shortened season. However, he has taken his game to the next level and will garner Cy Young votes. He enters the final week with a 2.87 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 14 wins. The 10.8 strikeouts per nine innings are extremely impressive as well. Drafted as the 52nd pitcher, Gausman destroyed his draft-day value in 2021.
3. Toronto Blue Jays Starting Pitcher Robbie Ray — Fantasy owners fall for the trap of drafting elite pitchers early every single season even though there are examples every year of great pitching seasons by guys that were afterthoughts. Urias and Gausman were draft-day values, but Ray was a forgotten man in March. The left-hander had an average draft position of 290 and all he has done is lead baseball in strikeouts with 244. The front-runner for the American League Cy Young Award, Ray has pitched to a 2.68 ERA and 1.04 WHIP. Ray has always been able to rack up the strikeouts, but his control has limited his upside. Ray has thrown more strikes and found a way to dominate in the very hitter-friendly AL East.
1. Philadelphia Phillies Starting Pitcher Aaron Nola — The right-hander could find himself on the bounce-back candidates list in 2022, but for now, it was a disappointing season for Nola. The Phillies starter was drafted as the eighth pitcher in March but struggled mightily. He entered the final week with a 4.64 ERA and 1.12 WHIP. Nola pitched to a 6.00 ERA in June and is pitching to a 6.58 ERA in September. There’s no doubt fantasy owners who drafted Nola have been scrambling all season to improve their ERA.
2. Cincinnati Reds Starting Pitcher Luis Castillo — It was a roller coaster of emotions for fantasy owners who drafted Castillo in 2021. The right-hander entered June with an eye-popping ERA of 7.22. However, when the weather heated up, so did Castillo. The 28-year-old dominated in June and July and entered August with a 4.22 ERA. Castillo struggled in August (4.58 ERA) but pitched well in September (2.49 ERA). Overall, Castillo has a 4.05 ERA and an awful WHIP of 1.35. I refuse to believe two great months should overshadow three poor pitching months, especially when Castillo was the 10th pitcher drafted in March.
3. Chicago Cubs Starting Pitcher Kyle Hendricks — The right-hander was drafted as the 25th pitcher in March, but he disappointed fantasy owners this season. He has allowed the fifth-most runs by any pitcher. Hendricks has a 4.81 ERA with a 1.35 WHIP, killing any pitching ratios for fantasy owners. However, in one of the quirkiest stats of the year, Hendricks has 14 wins, good enough for fifth in baseball. A pitcher with the fifth-highest ERA has the fifth-most wins. Figure that one out.