Fantasy Baseball: Jake Arrieta and Lance Lynn Sign Deals

(David Banks-USA TODAY Sports)

Even with Spring Training in full swing three pitchers remained unsigned almost two weeks into March. Jake Arrieta, Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb. Over the weekend two of the three found their home for 2018. Jake Arrieta landed with the Philadelphia Phillies and Lance Lynn will take the bump for the Minnesota Twins. Now the questions becomes, what should fantasy baseball players do with the two pitchers?

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Jake Arrieta

The Philadelphia Phillies have reeled in their second big fish of the winter by signing Jake Arrieta to a three year deal that will pay him $75 million. It seemed as though he would be elsewhere when the 2017 season ended and it became more clear when Chicago signed Yu Darvish.

Arrieta has been a player on the decline over the past three season. His innings has dropped around 30 innings each of the past two seasons from 229 in 2015 to 168 in 2017. The reduced innings have combined with a diminishing K/9 dropping from mid 9’s to mid 8’s. The other major concern with Arrieta is he home run rate spiking over the past three seasons, going from 7.8% to 14%.

When you combine an increased home run rate and a diminishing ground ball rate on a pitcher heading to Philadelphia sounds like a recipe for disaster. Per ESPN Park Factor which “compares the rate of stats at home vs. the rate of stats on the road.” Citizens Bank Park has the best HR rate of any park in the majors.

As we turn our attention towards the 2018 season, fantasy baseball owners should expect more the latter when it comes to Arrieta. He should have 170 strikeouts with an ERA approaching 4 over 170 plus innings. While he could outperform these numbers, the last three years say we should expect a continued decline and not a resurgence.

Since March 1st, Arrieta is 106 overall and the 38th pitcher off the board per NFBC ADP. I would take former teammates Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks over him, as well as Alex Wood. It does feel like Arrieta is going in about the right range. I however would prefer him closer to the top 50 or so among pitchers instead of the top 40 spot he currently fills.

Pitcher Lance Lynn

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Lance Lynn

Lance Lynn, another pitcher who was tied to the Phillies during the winter also found a home over the weekend. He signed a 1 year and $12 million deal with Minnesota Twins. Lynn rebounded to throw 186 solid innings a season ago after battling injuries in 2016. His numbers were up a bit across the board but should normalize to career norms in 2018.

I expect Lynn to put up a solid innings total approaching 180 or so. This is guy who has been 185 or more in three in their last four seasons played. I don’t want to project 200 plus innings for Lynn because of his late start to spring. I would not be shocked to see him get some extended spring trainging.

As for his other numbers, I would expect his K/9 to be at or around 8 and have north of 170 strikeouts. The low to mid threes feels like a realistic expectation for his ERA and WHIP around 1.3 or so.

Lynn’s home run to fly ball rate ballooned in 2017 and cause his HR/9 to more than double his 2014 and 2015 seasons. The move to Target Field isn’t great for Lynn’s home run rate but with some normalization even with the park shift, he should see a reduction in his HR/9.

In NFBC drafts, Lynn is coming off the board as the 91st pitcher and 234 overall. That feels like tremendous value for a pitcher whose numbers aren’t far off from Arrieta. I expect to see his ADP rise as the season approaches into the top 75 for pitchers and inside the top 200 overall and still I would take shots on him in upcoming drafts at that price.

Alex Cobb should find a home soon or he will be in serious danger of missing extended time. Stay tuned to 60 Feet 6 Inches for the latest.

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