We looked back at the surprising pitchers for 2017 earlier this week, and now we will break down the pitchers who disappointed. This was a crazy season in which many of the elite pitchers went down with an injury at some point. I will try and balance injury with ineffectiveness to determine the pitchers who let fantasy owners down. You won't find pitchers such as the San Francisco Giants' Madison Bumgarner and the New York Mets' Noah Syndergaard on this list, because injuries derailed too much of their season.
1. Chicago Cubs Starting Pitcher Jon Lester -- A season after pitching to a 2.44 ERA, the veteran left-hander moved up draft boards and was taken as a top 10 pitcher in March, according to FantasyPros.com. However, Lester's ERA increased by almost two runs, as he finished this season with a 4.33 ERA. He made as many starts as he did in 2016 but finished with 20 less innings, which caused him to strike out almost 20 less hitters. The positive for Lester was his durability, but between an increase in ERA and drop-off in strikeouts and wins, he didn't come through for fantasy owners.
2. San Francisco Giants Starting Pitcher Johnny Cueto -- The veteran battled injuries in 2017, but he was able to make 25 starts, which I feel is enough to determine if a pitcher was successful or not. Cueto finished 2016 with a 2.79 ERA, but like Lester, his ERA jumped almost two runs in 2017, as he finished with a 4.52 ERA. Maybe one of the lessons learned this year is to not rely on veteran pitchers coming off great seasons, but that is a debate we can have next March. Cueto also had a 1.45 WHIP, which just kills fantasy owners, and his win total dropped from 18 in 2016 to eight. It will be interesting to see how far Cueto falls in drafts next March, as he has been one of the elite and durable pitchers the past few seasons.
3. Boston Red Sox Starting Pitcher Rick Porcello -- Porcello's regression could have been predicted, but a year after winning the American League Cy Young Award, the right-hander shot up draft boards in March and was being taken as a top 25 starting pitcher. Porcello was 22-4 in 2016, but 11-17 in 2017, as his ERA went from 3.15 to 4.65. The 28-year-old equaled his start total and had almost the same amount of innings and strikeouts as 2016, but the ERA jump was just too much to overcome. Porcello also finished with a 1.40 WHIP after a 1.01 WHIP in 2016. It should be noted that this past season was close to the pitcher Porcello has always been, and I hope fantasy owners weren't fooled by one magical year.
4. Atlanta Braves Starting Pitcher Julio Teheran – This was the season the 26-year-old was supposed to take the next step and become one of the elite pitchers in the game. However, the right-hander regressed in a major way, finishing the year with a 4.49 ERA. Last year, Teheran had a 3.21 ERA, which caused him to be drafted as a top 30 pitcher. Teheran finished with the identical amount innings from last year, but his strikeout total dropped by nearly 20. This will be something to monitor, but Teheran was a completely different pitcher at home than he was on the road. He pitched to a 3.14 ERA on the road, but a 5.86 ERA at home in a nearly identical amount of innings.