Philadelphia Phillies 2021 Fantasy Baseball Preview – Pitchers

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

With most fantasy baseball leagues drafting over the next few weeks, now is the perfect time to assess what the Philadelphia Phillies have to offer. As we turn our attention to the mound in Part 1 of this preview, we can see that there a number of viable options on this club that can provide real help for the 2021 season.

We all know that success in baseball, like any sport, is about more than surface numbers. But when it comes to fantasy baseball, our best bet is to solely concern ourselves with production, no matter the source. So let’s dig into some projections to help us decide where to draft Phillies hurlers this year (or if they should be avoided entirely).

The Philadelphia Phillies offer several enticing pitchers with fantasy value in 2021.

For drafting purposes, we will assume a 12-team, 23-round draft for a league that uses standard pitching categories (wins, saves, strikeouts, ERA, and WHIP). Also, let’s assume that there will be a 162-game season this year.

Aaron Nola

No surprise here, as Aaron Nola will be the first Phillies pitcher off the board unless there is something seriously wrong with your league. But exactly how early should he go? Nola is generally being considered as a borderline top-10 starting pitcher as we head into this season, and he’s ranked as high as #6 by one outlet. Maybe my opinion is skewed by seeing him so frequently, but I just don’t see it. Nola will give you solid counting stats, as he’s developed into the workhorse that the Phillies hoped he would. But I’d be very hesitant to take him instead of exciting arms with more upside like Walker Buehler. I personally bump him down a bit, but not too much. Expect 15 wins, 210 strikeouts, and an ERA in the mid-3.00s. You can begin targeting him in the middle of the third round.

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Zach Wheeler

Zack Wheeler was around the 30th-ranked starting pitcher this time last year, and his first season with the Phillies did nothing to hurt his case to stay right in that area. His 2.92 ERA (in a shortened season, of course) was the best of his career, and he looked very comfortable in his new home. One area of concern is the drop in his strikeout rate. Usually a strikeout-per-inning pitcher, Wheeler fanned just 6.7 hitters per nine innings in 2020. This year, expectations should be tempered for a pitcher with an injury history like Wheeler, as he attempts to greatly increase his workload for a normal length schedule. Because of the volatility of pitcher wins, be happy with a wins total of 12 or above. A 3.75 ERA and about 150 strikeouts also seem like reasonable numbers. Wheeler is a valid choice starting in the eighth round.

Zach Eflin

Many people are high on what Zach Eflin can supply for the Phillies going forward, and with good reason. He made a huge jump in his strikeout rate last season, and he deserved much better than the 3.97 ERA he finished with. Expect that number to come down this year as he gets better luck on batted balls, and 200 strikeouts should also be in play for Eflin. For your fantasy team, he makes for an excellent fifth or sixth option among your starting pitchers. Eflin is typically going in round 18 in early mock drafts, but I’d be fine taking him as early as the 16th round.

Spencer Howard

Spencer Howard was, simply put, not good in his first taste of MLB action last year. He should be monitored closely this spring and, if you have a late draft, maybe you could take a last round gamble on him. But honestly, I don’t know how you can expect Howard to push himself to 150 innings or so this year after he struggled with injuries in 2020. Maybe the situation will be different this time next year, but Howard shouldn’t really be on your radar.

Hector Neris, Archie Bradley

Presumably, there will be a camp battle between these two to determine who will (at least initially) be the closer for this team. Even if either of these players looks dominant in camp and claims the job definitively, the nature of bullpen usage makes it really tough to spend even a mid-round pick on either. Once you’re purely selecting bench hitters and depth pitching, around round 19 or later, then you’d be within your rights to select either of these hurlers. As a best-case scenario, either Neris or Bradley holds the job all year and rattles off 30+ saves, making you look like a genius.

Matt Moore, Chase Anderson

With either of these guys, any type of value will be tied directly to whether or not they can win a rotation job in spring training. If that’s the case for either of them, they would be worth a shot in the final three rounds as you put the finishing touches on your pitching staff. They certainly aren’t exciting options, but remember that Anderson won 30 games and sported a cumulative 3.71 ERA from 2016-18 and Moore pitched to a 2.65 ERA in Japan last year. If one or the other locks down a rotation spot but happens to go undrafted in your league, put them on your watch list and be ready to pounce if they look good early.

Vince Velasquez

Avoid this guy at all costs. Then again, you already knew that. I hope.

dark. Next. Phillies' 3 biggest strengths in 2021

Unfortunately, the Phillies don’t offer any exciting arms in the farm system who might be able to help your fantasy team (or the actual team) this year. So that’ll be a wrap for this pitchers preview. Next time, we’ll take a look at what Phillies hitters you may want to build your team around.