Draft Prep: 10 Starters To Draft Late In Deep Leagues
On Pitcher List, we craft our rankings based on 5×5 H2H 12 team leagues as it is far-and-away the most popular format for Fantasy Baseball, as well as setting a good baseline to adapt for varied leagues. Many of you play in deeper leagues, such as a large bench sizes or 14-16 teamers, with drafts going well past the Top 250 picks. This article is geared toward those leagues, highlighting pitchers that can provide value for your team despite being selected past the #250 mark. Note: All ADP metrics are according to Fantasy Pros and players are listed in order of their ADP, not personal rank.
1. Dylan Bundy (ADP #278, Baltimore Orioles) – It was hard to contain my excitement last season when Bundy displayed ace-like ability across a stretch of three starts in August, striking out 19 Ks and surrendering just 3 ER in 18.2 innings, but it didn’t last through the end of the year as his Fastball command was questionable down the stretch. There has been plenty of talk about Bundy getting the approval to throw his Cutter this season, which should help keeping batters off his straight heater. If he can get ahead with a combination of the two, he has two deadly offerings in his big hook and filthy Changeup that should keep the strikeouts flowing. There’s plenty of upside here making Bundy a smart flier at the end of drafts.
2. Jharel Cotton (#284, Oakland Athletics) – It was a small sample for Cotton during his September call-up last season, but we got a great taste of what the 25-year-old can do – Four-Seamers and Changeups down in the zone that induce a boatload of infield pop-ups, mixed in with a Cutter that displayed potential as a strike-getting and putaway option. His home field will do him plenty of favors taking advantage of his fly-ball mentality and he has a history through the minors of strong strikeout numbers and low walk rates. The downside here is if he’ll be able to limit the longballs over the course of a season, though I’m more than willing to take that chance at his cheap price.
3. Lance Lynn (#308, St. Louis Cardinals) – One of the biggest sleeper names this draft season is Lynn, who will fit comfortably in the Cardinals’ rotation after missing all of 2016 with TJS. Despite, all the fanfare, the whispers haven’t reached the masses and Lynn is sneaking to the waiver wire in shallow leagues. Given the exceptional amount of recovery time he’s had, he won’t come paired with a typical innings limit we’ve seen in the past, allowing a possible 180+ innings well within reach. Prior to his injury, Lynn was a 8.00 K/9 pitcher who hadn’t allowed hard contact above the 28.2% mark in four years as he commands his Fastball exceptionally well. Sure, the walks aren’t ideal and a 1.30 WHIP may be en route, but with his low ERA numbers and strikeout production that’s a steal after the 300th pick.
4. Alex Cobb (#308, Tampa Bay Rays) – Cobb returned from TJS at the end of 2016 and it was nothing like we had seen in the past: 6.55 K/9, a horrid 8.59 ERA and 1.77 WHIP. It was a very small sample size of just five starts and given a proper off-season, it’s worth the chance to see if Cobb can reclaim his former self, which was a Top 30 starter with a sub 3.00 ERA, 8+ K/9 and sub 3.00 BB/9 numbers. Given the major upside at play here, there’s value to be had considering he’s going for the price of waiver wire fodder.
5. Daniel Norris (#311, Detroit Tigers) – Second half splits can often be lost in the mix when evaluating players during the off-season and don’t let it happen to you with Norris. After maxing out around 94mph during most of the year, Norris closed the season topping out above the 96mph mark across six starts, even hitting 97.5mph in his final outing of the season. That velocity translated to a 10.90 K/9 and 3.12 ERA in that span, promising numbers to say the least. He won’t even be 24-years-old at the start of 2017 and it’s possible he retains that heat through the season, presenting a superb target for your draft.
6. Joe Musgrove (#314, Houston Astros) – There was a lot to like about Musgrove’s debut on the Astros last season, where he hinted at a 8.00+ K/9 upside with his excellent breaking balls and One-Seam Fastball. His control is solid where walks will rarely be an issue (near 1.00 B/9 across all minor league stops!), with the question being if he can limit the 34.6% hard contact he allowed in 2016. Even a slight step forward brings a good return of investment given the major discount he is being given on draft day.
7. Robert Gsellman (#315, New York Mets) – During the spring, it will be important to monitor the Mets’ rotation situation as both Zack Wheeler and Gsellman are fighting for that fifth spot. Currently, it looks like Gsellman has the inside lane who did good work during his callup last season: a 2.42 ERA/2.63 FIP, 8.46 K/9 and a solid 54.2% groundball rate. Starting in the NL Easy will do him favors as his Slider/Fastball combination will help limit the longballs over the season. It might be a bit boring, but he’ll be a productive member at the back of your staff given the playing time.
8. Matt Andriese (#321, Tampa Bay Rays) – Andriese is getting lost in the mix and it is understandable – the right-hander held a 4.37 ERA last season across 127.2 innings that is hard to look past. However, he did so with a 3.78 FIP, 7.68 K/9 and a minute 1.76 BB/9, both numbers that can be repeated (if not improved upon) in 2016. The secret lies in Andriese’s Changeup, which exhibits a vertical drop differentiation of ten inches from his Four-Seamer, displaying impressive deception that should sustain its 17.6% whiff rate with plenty of upside for more. There’s room for growth on the back of this pitch, making an 8+ K/9 feasible with the same low WHIP and BB/9 within the realm of possibility as the ERA shrinks to respectable levels.
9. Andrew Triggs (#345, Oakland Athletics) – It was easy to miss Triggs’ final five starts of 2016, though they were incredibly impressive in their small sample: 8.34 K/9, 0.40 BB/9, and a 2.78 ERA with a xFIP of 2.88. Unfortunately, a back injury ended his season early, though he’ll be planted in the A’s rotation out of the gate and could be a positive asset. Don’t expect the same level of production and keep a short leash, though you will be hard pressed to find greater upside past the 23rd round.
10. Jose Berrios (#380, Minnesota Twins) – Many are writing Berrios off after holding a poor rookie season in the bigs and it’s hard to blame them after Berrios carried an atrocious 5.40 BB/9 and 8.02 ERA. What most are forgetting is that the 22-year-old has plus stuff with a history of better command through the minors. There’s plenty of time for Berrios to develop at the big league level and given more time it’s not far-fetched for the kid to be fantasy relevant during 2017, with a K/9 above 8.00, BB/9 under 3.00 and a serviceable ERA/WHIP. Don’t expect the world too soon, but it would be unwise to ignore him completely.