Surprising Starters – NL

Here are five NL players who will likely be starting for their teams and are worth a gamble at the end of drafts.

Jhoulys Chacin, Atl

From the sounds of things, Jhoulys Chacin will make the Braves starting rotation. With the majority of the Braves starters not quite ready for the majors, Chacin might hold down the job all year. Chacin has never been a great starter, but he’s had stretches of being valuable even though Coors was his home park. Over his career, he has been slightly better on the road (not a surprise).

Home / Away HR/9 K% BB% K-BB% FIP xFIP
Home 0.89 16.80% 9.80% 7.00% 4.26 4.13
Away 0.74 19.60% 9.70% 9.90% 3.78 4.01

Considering that Atlanta rates as a below average HR park and a neutral Run park, there’s certainly a chance that Chacin could produce his Away split over the course of a full season. That might not amount to a standard league draftable pitcher, but in deeper leagues Chacin is a name to keep an eye on. He’s only 28 years old. He doesn’t have the velocity that he used to have but he’s made up for it somewhat with better movement. He will likely always lack pin point control, but there’s always potential that he reinvents himself on an intelligently run team (yes, that was a dig at both Colorado and Arizona). I wouldn’t draft Chacin in all but the deepest of leagues, but I would monitor his first few starts closely. He could be an intriguing add.


Juan Nicasio, Pitt

Ray Searage. Blurb over.

In all seriousness, Searage is the biggest plus in Nicasio’s corner but there have always been things to like about Nicasio. He’s had decent strikeout stuff in some years but has always had a bit of a walk problem. He had his best year in 2015 as a full time reliever. Don’t read too much into the velocity increase in 2015. It’s likely an effect of not having to pace himself for six innings of work. Nicasio might not hold up over a full season but he’s in the absolute best place to succeed. He seems to be getting some hype after an incredible spring so the asking price might be a bit higher than a month ago but Nicasio is as good of a lottery ticket as there will be.


Trevor Story, Col

At one point Story had a bit of prospect buzz but a lot of that has died down. There is still something there though. Story has a bit of power and some speed. His one carrying skill has been a great ability to get on base. His career MiLB OBP is .348 versus a .263 AVG. I would expect Story to strikeout a lot when he first comes up so he’s definitely a better play in OBP leagues. He’s ownable in all leagues though. A starting SS in Coors is pretty much the only argument needed. It’s possible that Story chips in double digits in both HR and SB with decent contextual stats. The average could be bad, but Nick Hundley batted over .300 in Coors last year so anything is possible.


Carl Crawford, LAD

The old Carl Crawford is never coming back but there’s still a bit of value to be had. In 69 games last year, he hit 4 HR, and stole 10 bases. His .265 AVG wasn’t great but overall the numbers weren’t terrible. With Andre Ethier out for a while, Crawford should be the LH side of the LF platoon. This is good news as he should only play when he has the advantage. Crawford could be a solid bench OF in all formats. He has the ability to chip in steals still and he should be leading off. With Dave Roberts as the new manager, I would be shocked if the Dodgers don’t run. Crawford could steal 20+ bases if he’s healthy.


Robbie Erlin, SD

Robbie Erlin is an old favorite of mine and I’ve been waiting a while for him to get healthy. It appears as though he has won a job in the SD rotation and is actually healthy. Erlin won’t wow anyone with strikeouts, but he makes up for it by limiting free passes. I will gamble on any SP in Petco who doesn’t walk guys. Erlin’s career FIP is 3.69 and his xFIP is 3.81 in 133 total innings. It’s not a big sample, but I think there’s hope for a sub 4 ERA with a great WHIP. He likely won’t win a lot of games or strikeout many guys, but he’s a guy I’d draft late in a deeper league. Erlin is only 25 and there’s always a chance he develops his pitches to generate more Ks.


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