Shane Bieber faced off against the Dodgers in Spring Training. He bested Trevor Bauer, allowing only two runs, and striking out nine

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Welcome to the Mock Draft lab.

This is where we are running experiments, crunching the numbers, and proving hypotheses, so you can reap the rewards of our hard work. The rules for this exercise were simple: Take the best pitcher in each round without reaching more than 10 spots away in either direction. (This kept us honest and realistic as to who would be available and prevented any major overpays for talent.)


The first simulation that I'm offering as a tool going into your fantasy drafts is a breakdown of the best pitcher available in each round left for the taking. This has been achieved by studying the results of numerous mock drafts, cross-referencing those results against average draft positions, and the plain old eye test.

How should something like this be applied? Well, imagine yourself in this situation: You've gone best player available for the first six rounds and realize that starting pitcher is a bigger hole on your team than the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Reference this handy-dandy sheet to assuage those concerns. Not to fear, there's plenty of talent to be had in the next round, the round after that, and the round after that.

This is based on a mid-round draft position in a 12 team league. Obviously, higher rated players could fall because there's no accounting for the taste, or lack thereof, of your fellow managers.

RoundPitcher
1Shane Bieber - CLE
2Max Scherzer - WSH
3Luis Castillo - CIN
4Tyler Glasnow - TB
5Lance Lynn - CWS
6Liam Hendriks - CWS
7Kyle Hendricks - CHC
8Ian Anderson - ATL
9Zach Plesac - CLE
10Chris Paddack - SD
11Patrick Corbin - WSH
12Sixto Sanchez - MIA
13Devin Williams - MIL
14James Paxton - SEA
15Alex Colome - MIN
16Mike Soroka - ATL
17Dustin May - LAS
18Jose Urquidy - HOU
19Ryan Yarbrough - TB
20Jameson Taillon - NYY
21Matthew Boyd - DET
22Tony Gonsolin - LAD
23Zach Davies - CHC

As you can see, there is talent at every level of the draft, both for starters, relievers, and guys who can do both. The highlights:

SHANE BIEBER

Beginning at the beginning, I can't tell you how much I like getting Shane Bieber anywhere in the back half of the first round. The reigning Cy Young winner looked transcendent last season, and I've seen just as many fantasy projections that squarely place him in the conversation as the #1 overall pitcher. Getting a guy who led the league in strikeout percentage, strikeouts, ERA, and wins is a no-brainer. It's not his fault that he doesn't pitch in New York.

LUIS CASTILLO

A couple rounds later, I believe you can still snag a dude that's about to prove he could be an ace on pretty much any staff. His numbers have improved from year to year, specifically cutting his walks and increasing his strikeouts. Without Bauer in the rotation, Castillo will be the Opening Day starter and can use this chance to solidify himself as a premier pitcher.

DEVIN WILLIAMS

In the middle rounds of the draft, I am all about jumping on Devin Williams. The man has a pitch so mesmerizing that it got a name: "The Airbender." He uses a normal circle change grip, but himself sees it as a reverse slider, or what was one time known as, a screwball. He's been ridiculously valuable as Hader's setup man, piling up holds left and right and center. Look here for the possibility of him assuming the closer role if the trade talk surrounding Hader finally comes to fruition.

JAMESON TAILLON

Nearing the end and looking to fill out your roster, I think Jameson Taillon provides a ton of upside this season. He's coming off of a second Tommy John surgery, and the Yankees have already said they plan to ease him into the rotation by having Cole take two starts before his first. (This sets him up to face the Baltimore Orioles, by the way, a team who doesn't have a clear second baseman on the team). However, he's completely rebuilt his throwing motion, which should be more sustainable for his elbow.

Of course, exhibition games don't predict future success, but Taillon has looked tremendous in his four outings. He has one earned run and 14 strikeouts over the 8.1 innings, and this could, finally, be the season that he lives up to the lofty expectations of his high draft status.

ZACH DAVIES

In the final round, I'm a big fan of Zach Davies, who put together a respectable season for the Padres last year, proving to be a valuable waiver wire addition. Once San Diego decided they were going the nuclear route and compiled the best staff in baseball, Davies saw himself dealt to the Cubs, as a part of the Darvish trade. The increased use of his change up resulted in more strikeouts. The change of scenery to a weaker division should provide a boost to his stats across the board.

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USA Today

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Getty Images

Welcome to the Mock Draft lab.

This is where we are running experiments, crunching the numbers, and proving hypotheses, so you can reap the rewards of our hard work. The rules for this exercise were simple: Take the best pitcher in each round without reaching more than 10 spots away in either direction. (This kept us honest and realistic as to who would be available and prevented any major overpays for talent.)

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