This article is part of our Mound Musings series.
This might be a rather unusual look at a fraternity of pitchers I call "the Greybeards." As the 2021 season winds down, there has been considerable conversation, as there always is, looking at who might be worth targeting next spring. And, not too surprisingly, many analysts warn about the dangers of drafting an aging arm. However, in the same chat, they often remark that the older pitcher in question posted some eye-popping numbers this season, making them a valuable part of fantasy rotations.
Wait a minute. We need to beware, but that old guy surprised everyone (or almost everyone) with a better-than-expected performance? Somehow that seems conflicting.
I'll admit, I tend to really focus on the hot young arms coming into their own, often semi-ignoring those aging veterans. There are viable reasons. The most popular veterans got to be that way because they had performed well, often for many years. That usually equates to at least a full price purchase, and sometimes a purchase price at a premium based on heavy name recognition. A declining price tag was almost always a result of declining performance. It seems logical. He was a very good and reliable starting pitcher, but he's getting older, and his skill set must be deserting him. And, then …
Here's the scenario. You have a very competent pitcher, often a No. 1 or "ace" of a staff, who puts up excellent peripherals year after year, before slowing down and having his numbers gradually decline over two or