Opening Day is right around the corner, and I hope you have drafted your fantasy baseball team already. If not, here is a short recap of all the Mariners fantasy breakdowns we have written this month. Let’s start with the players that with pitchers.
Mariners fantasy advice recap – pitchers
Marco just gets better every year, just like red wine. We recommend drafting Marco once you see pitchers like Lance McCullers Jr., Dylan Bundy, and Patrick Corbin start to come off the board. Marco is a special talent that is still overlooked around the MLB. So, don’t be afraid to take Marco instead of some mainstream names like McCullers Jr. and Corbin. Plus, Marco will have a better team behind him which will help on defense (directly impact Marco’s stats), a better bullpen (more wins), and a better offense (more wins).
The Big Maple is another valuable fantasy baseball asset in the Mariners rotation. But with Paxton, there is always the worry about injuries. Going into the season, he doesn’t have any health issues and looked great in his Spring Training debut which is both green lights. For James, we recommend taking him a little after Marco. Once you see pitchers like Triston McKenzie, and Andrew Heaney starts to come off the board, that’s the time to look for Paxton. If you are worried about Paxton’s ability to bounce back from a bad 2020, keep in mind that it will be the first time Paxton is a part of a six-man rotation (additional rest) and is back in a more pitcher-friendly ballpark.
Justus Sheffield had a fantastic 2020 season as a rookie and his offseason adjustments paid off. Now, can he continue trending in the right direction? Chris says yes. Sheffield is your ideal sleeper pick and would be a great late-round selection to add depth to your staff. Sheff is low in the rankings and you could wait until pitchers like Matthew Boyd and Drew Smyly get selected. If you have worries about Sheff, he is just 24-years-old and was once a highly-touted prospect. He should only get better from here on out.
I haven’t been very high on Chris Flexen yet. Obviously, Spring Training is a small sample size and doesn’t always translate to how one will pitch during the season but it’s hard to not make assumptions. Up until yesterday, his Spring stats weren’t all that good. But in yesterday’s game, Flexen bounced back and brought his ERA down to 6.23. Flexen has struck out 14 batters in 13 innings but has allowed nine runs and two home runs. It’s a very mixed bag. That being said, I don’t think anyone plans on drafting Flexen and neither should you. Let him go undrafted and keep an eye on him during the season.
Analytical baseball fans love Kikuchi, and for good reason. His advanced statistics made a big leap from 2019 to 2020 and it seems like he’s continuing to improve based on Spring Training numbers. Kikuchi has a 3.24 ERA in three starts and has struck out nine batters in 8.1 innings. Walks remain an issue for him but I think he’s worth gambling on this year for fantasy baseball. Andrew Simon even thinks that Kikuchi is a darkhorse candidate to win the Cy Young this season. We recommend drafting Kikuchi pretty late in the draft, probably in the same area as Justus Sheffield. Once you see names like Taijuan Walker and Mike Minor get selected, you should take a look at Kikuchi but you don’t need to take action immediately. There should be a few betters options around that time.
I am a huge fan of Justin Dunn’s changes this offseason. Control and consistency seem to still be an issue for the young pitcher but I think it’s worth the gamble. First things first, we still don’t know if Justin Dunn will be the sixth starting pitcher or not, so there is a risk. Additionally, Logan Gilbert is expected to debut this year which makes Dunn’s situation even more complicated. But, I think it makes sense to take Justin Dunn with your last pick in the draft because I don’t think anyone will take him. That being said, you could also just hit free agency and monitor him.
You might have the temptation to draft Nick Margevicius but you shouldn’t. He has been even better than Justin Dunn in Spring Training, but I don’t think he’s going to be the sixth starting pitcher. Not only do we have so many left-handed pitchers in the rotation already, I think Dunn has a higher ceiling based on the changes he made. Still, I have a lot of respect for Nick and I think he would be utilized in the bullpen this season, which means he practically has no fantasy value. But you never know, Dunn has three minor league options while Nick has two more left. Maybe Marge will be the sixth starting pitcher, we will have to see.
You won’t see Logan Gilbert until later in the season, so you shouldn’t draft the Mariners prospect. But, you need to keep an eye on the news so you can pick him up off free agency as soon as he is called up. Gilbert is a highly-touted prospect so even non-Mariners fans will be eager to pick him up once he is called up. I also don’t think Gilbert is as valuable as a player like Jarred Kelenic and isn’t worth stashing on your bench until he gets called up. However, if you are in a dynasty or keeper league, Gilbert should be drafted in the late rounds.
Montero only has value if he is named the Mariners closer. There is a bit of risk with Montero because we still don’t know what the Mariners will do in the ninth inning. It could be a committee, it could be Montero, it could be someone else. The former Rangers closer hasn’t had the greatest Spring Training which makes me a little worried because some other relievers have been amazing. So, I wouldn’t count on Montero as you would normally. I would much rather have closers who have a guaranteed job like Ryan Pressly and Trevor Rosenthal. But, once the closers become thin, Montero is a good pick.
Now, onto fantasy advice for Mariners infielders.