The fantasy baseball season has finally concluded and I hope many have finished as champions. This season was certainly a grind, especially after a shortened 2020, but the process remained the same which led to strong results. We will recap where I was wrong and finish up on a high note for the season on where I was right.

Where I Was Wrong:

Los Angeles Starting Pitcher Dylan Bundy — I spotlighted the right-hander as an undervalued candidate for starting pitchers and completely whiffed. The former top-five pick in the MLB Draft finished in the top 10 in American League Cy Young voting in 2020, but was drafted after Round 10 in March. This looked like a nice buy-low option if you were waiting on a starting pitcher, but Bundy was a disaster in 2021. The 28-year-old finished with a 6.06 ERA, was demoted to the bullpen during the season and ended up on the injured list. Most fantasy owners probably gave up on Bundy after the first couple of months and for good reason. It will be interesting to see what team takes a chance on the former top prospect this offseason after an extremely disappointing year.

Oakland Athletics/Miami Marlins Starting Pitcher Jesús Luzardo — This was extremely frustrating as Luzardo finished top-10 in AL Rookie of the Year voting in 2020 and showed signs that he could become a viable starting pitcher for fantasy owners. I had the 24-year-old pegged as a breakout candidate, but he struggled with the A’s with a 6.87 ERA. Oakland decided to move on from the left-hander and traded Luzardo to the Marlins. He didn’t fare much better, as Luzardo finished with a 6.44 ERA in 12 starts with Miami. The good news for Luzardo is he’s still very young and his strikeout rate remained strong at 9.3 strikeouts per nine innings. However, his walks per nine innings went from 2.6 in 2020 to 4.5 in 2021. I’m not giving up on the talent, but Luzardo will need to do a lot in 2022 to earn the trust of fantasy owners.

Los Angeles Dodgers Starting Pitcher Walker Buehler — In 2020, Buehler didn’t even average five innings a start so he often wasn’t even qualifying for a win when he was on the mound. Coming off a shortened season, I was very skeptical the Dodgers would let their young starting pitcher throw a ton of innings. I was very wrong. In fact, Buehler was second in all of baseball in innings pitched with 207.2. The talent was never in question, but the workload was and that is why I was hesitant to draft the pitcher in the second round. However, fantasy owners that did were benefited, as Buehler was his dominant self by finishing with a 2.47 ERA. He will be in the conversation to win the National League Cy Young Award.

Phil Backert

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