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The ability to find undervalued players, coupled with the ability to avoid overvalued players could possibly be the biggest key to winning your fantasy baseball leagues. Of course, injuries also play a huge part, but to get off to a great start in your draft and gain that edge, understanding player’s value is key. Today we speak on some overvalued starting pitchers.

I don’t think there is any position that has a swing in value from year to year than starting pitcher. Injury is the biggest factor that plagues starting pitcher, but they are also the most susceptible to a drop off than any other place. Take 2013 as a great example. On the positive side there was Francisco Liriano. Injuries certainly were a factor in his fall from fantasy grace, but then just when everyone wrote him off, he finds a career resurgence in Pittsburgh.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, a guy like C.C. Sabathia. He was enjoying a long, successful career, and while age certainly played a part, he fell off the map in a real hurry.  To find a guy like Liriano that was on his way back up in 2013, and to stay away from the 2013 version of Sabathia is how to give yourself a chance to win.

It is nearly impossible to predict injuries, so your job is more trying to find guys who are being drafted sooner than they should be for other reasons. It could be because there is a young gun that everyone wants to have on their team, or sometimes a pitcher had a career year and people raise their value too high based on that great season.

Below are three pitchers that I feel are being overvalued this draft season. While I use the rationale above for two, the third is a guy returning from major injury who I am not anticipating coming back as strong as others think. As always, you can follow me on Twitter @fightingchance.

Overvalued Starting Pitchers

Jake Arrieta, Chicago Cubs

Listen, obviously Jake Arrieta is good. He had one of the best seasons for a starting pitcher in a while. He is on a great offensive team, he pitches in the National League, and has been near a strikeout an inning pitcher throughout his career. He had a very unspectacular start to his career, and has turned it around the past two seasons and became the NL Cy Young Winner last season.

All of this success has propelled him to being drafted in the second round. Clearly his last two seasons were good, but are we totally convinced that he is going to be this amazing pitcher that is going to be a perennial 20 game winner and strikeout 250 batters? Personally, I am not sure. I think there is a strong chance that he has some regression in 2016, and even if it isn’t dramatic that will make him fall down the starting pitching rankings.

After Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer, the next ten to twelve pitchers are very close together as far as value is concerned. Personally, I would pass on Arrieta in the second round and wait until the third or perhaps fourth round and get a starter who is likely to have very similar statistics at the end of 2016.

Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers

Darvish has been one of the more deadly strikeout pitchers in the Majors since his debut a few years ago. He has been one of fantasy baseball’s aces since he started in the States, before an injury cost him half of 2014, and then Tommy John Surgery forced him to miss all of 2015.

In his two and a half seasons he has struck out 680 batters in 545 innings, and even in the American League has been one of the best pitchers in baseball. However, he hasn’t pitched in the Majors since August of 2014, and he isn’t due back until late May or early June if everything goes well. My problem with Darvish is he is being drafted among the top 35 starting pitchers, and with the uncertainty around his injury and his return that is just too soon for me. What happens if he suffers a setback, he could easily be pushed back until the All-Star Break. Can you draft your third pitcher and have him miss half the season and be ok with that?

Most pitchers who come back from Tommy John are iffy the first year back, and are more like their regular self the second season after the surgery. If the price tag on Darvish would come down to maybe a round in the late teens I could get on board, but the 11th or 12th round is just too soon for me to take a guy who might not take the mound before the Fourth of July.

Steven Matz, New York Mets

Let me start out by saying that I really like Steven Matz for 2016. He had a great Minor League career, his time with the Mets was a wild success. He dealt with a back and oblique injury in the tail end of 2015, but we saw plenty to like in his future. Matz has a strong fastball, knee buckling breaking pitches, and a changeup to keep batters on their toes. The future is very, very bright for Steven Matz.

He was 4-0 in his six regular season starts, and despite a few too many walks, Matz was dominant in the Majors. All of that being said, he has six regular season starts and three in the postseason to his name. He was average at best in the posteason, and after throwing just 140 innings in 2015 between the Majors and the Minors, he is almost definitely going to be on some sort of innings restriction in 2016.

He has been touched up for some runs early in Spring Training, but I still expect a strong year from the Mets’ hurler. However, my problem is that he is being drafted too high. Right now Matz is being drafted around the tenth round, and around the top 30 among starting pitchers. And while he has looked very strong so far, it is hard to pass on a veteran who has put several strong seasons together over a young gun who barely has had 50 innings in the Majors. Matz looks very good and he should have a very nice career, but there have been too many young guys before him who have started strong before and struggled for me to trust him that soon in drafts.

Be sure to check out my overvalued infielders and overvalued outfielders too!

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