It happened again last night.
Jacob deGrom pitched spectacularly, shutting out the Philadelphia Phillies for eight innings and recording his 11th consecutive quality start. And... the New York Mets failed to score even a single run while deGrom was still in the game, resulting in yet another no-decision for their ace. During this stretch, baseball's ERA leader (1.68) has a record of just 2-4, despite eight separate outings in which he held the opposition either scoreless or to just a single run. It's downright depressing for Mets fans.
However, to invested fantasy managers, there's not a lot to complain about. Even with an unremarkable 5-4 record in 2018, deGrom currently ranks No. 9 overall among starting pitchers, both on the ESPN Player Rater and in ESPN points league standard scoring. He's currently rostered in 99.4 percent of all leagues, and even with run support of just 3.79 from his team, it's obvious to one and all that he's more than getting the job done.
But in terms of pitchers who are not nearly as dominant, that darn win-loss record -- especially one that has been augmented by a strong lineup propping up an otherwise not-so-impressive season -- can be the cause of a completely unwarranted perception shift.
Let's look at three head-to-head comparisons to show you what I'm talking about:
Sure, Rodriguez has been the more valuable pitcher in ESPN points leagues thus far. However, if we swapped out the run support these two have seen this season, and assume a four-win swing for both men, Rodriguez would only be nine points better than Gibson. On the Player Rater, the change in win totals would actually tip the scales for Gibson (4.35 to 4.14).
Here's another instance where the roster percentage and the total point output lean toward one pitcher, despite the fact that the other has actually been more consistent. While a win swing would clearly shift the balance of power toward Heaney, the difference in WHIP (where Heaney has the edge 1.17 to 1.31) already has the Angels left-hander ahead on the Player Rater, as-is.
Putting aside the fact that Wacha is out until after the All-Star break with a strained left oblique, with a few more runs coming his way and thus a winning record on the year, Lopez would actually be edging out Wacha in ESPN points. He also would sail past Wacha on the Player Rater, 2.87-2.68, if the Cardinals pitcher hadn't been nearly as fortunate with his team's bats.
It's not just a case of "woulda, shoulda, coulda," and yes, the points are what the points are. But the fact is there's not nearly as much separating these pairs of pitchers as perhaps initial impressions might cause you to think. It behooves you to take a closer look.
Other "unlucky" pitchers deserving of further scrutiny from fantasy managers include Kevin Gausman (4.11 ERA, 3.50 RS), Tyson Ross (4.41 ERA, 3.94 RS), James Shields (4.53 ERA, 3,63 RS) and Tanner Roark (4.76 ERA, 3.50 RS). I'm not saying you should actively pursue these guys, but if you're currently using a pitcher like Brent Suter (4.53 ERA, 5.88 RS) simply because he's won eight games this season, you may be in for a rude awakening in the season's second half.