Starting Pitchers to Consider After Pick 300

These late round pitchers could prove to be valuable targets

As we move into the 2022 fantasy draft season, you’ll want to make sure you check the depth of position for starting pitchers. There can be tremendous value found late that usually hangs around on the board longer than expected. I have outlined five specific examples of who you will be able to bolster your fantasy rotation with towards the back end of your drafts. Make sure you queue them up so these names don’t get lost in the shuffle.

 

*Numerical draft data was taken from the NFBC platform from the time period of February 22nd – March 3rd.* 

 

Stephen Strasburg (WSH)

ADP 274.30 (Min Pick: 193 / Max Pick: 368)

Stats: 2019 (Last Full Season)

The Forgotten Ace returns this year after a series of injuries wore off the luster of the 2019 World Series MVP. At the time, he had reached the pinnacle of what was heralded as the modern-day Nolan Ryan. His injury history is as long as a CVS receipt, but that is baked into the ADP price.

2020 was cut short due to a carpal tunnel surgery after just 2 starts. 2021 was marred with nagging IL stints that eventually led to shoulder inflammation and nerve irritation in his neck. Does the positive outlook mean that his body hasn’t been beaten down by the rigor of the 162 game seasons? Yes. But significant injuries piling up is a cause for concern.

This late I’m always eager to gobble up as many shares as I possibly can for a potential ace run this season. This is a perfect opportunity for you to solidify your fantasy staff and go from good to elite. There aren’t many humans on earth that can rack up 250K’s in the big leagues – Strasburg just so happens to be one of them.

 

Alex Reyes (STL)

ADP 276.22 (Min Pick: 122 / Max Pick: 419)

Ah, the StatCast darling. His page is littered with red across the board. Reyes is equipped with elite offerings in the following categories: xBA, xSLG%, Barrel%, K%, Whiff%, Fastball Velocity, and Curveball Spin. Whew. However, there are some definite question marks tied to the player and they are significant.

First, the Cardinals need to decide if he’ll be coming out of the bullpen again or be stretched out as a starter. With the injury history Reyes has, I would prefer him in high leverage situations, but that leads to my next point.

Secondly, the tendency to nibble at times came back to bite Reyes in 2021. Walk issues came and went and even reared their ugly head in the playoffs along with the walk-off homers. Back in August, he was removed as the team closer after giving up multiple game-winning homers and the playoffs had a poorly timed injury to then-current closer, Giovanny Gallegos.

There’s something to be said for your psyche ending the season giving up a series-clinching walk-off shot. How he responds to that will be a true testament to how many obstacles he’s overcome on his ascent to the majors.

However you shake it or bake it, Reyes being deployed as an All-Star reliever or getting stretched out as a starter, I’m buying at every opportunity. The arm talent is so electric that he’s bound to find success in whatever his role may be. Buy on the uncertainty before the team shows their hand.

 

Cristian Javier (HOU)

ADP 285.13 (Min Pick: 229 / Max Pick: 350)

One of the most popular sleepers of the early draft season, Cristian Javier is one heck of a K machine. Boasting a similar swingman profile to Alex Reyes, the expectation is that Javier is the Astros’ 6th starter on paper. But, BUT! With the bleak outlook on Lance McCullers’ elbow recently, Javier is the most likely choice to slide into the 5th slot. With an electric arm, there is no reason to think that he can’t hold down a spot over the majority of the season.

2021 saw Javier gain 1.3 MPH on his fastball velocity and 1.6 MPH breaking ball velocity. Sporting a ridiculous 49% whiff rate on his slider, there is elite K upside for the backend of your rotation if Javier winds up being your SP4 – SP5. The 4-seamer is nothing to write home about, but with the combination of velo gains + whiff rate on the slider, there is a lot of untapped potential if he can get to 5 innings/start. This situation is worth monitoring throughout the shortened Spring Training, even if you take a chance on drafting Javier under the premise he will open the season in the bullpen.

 

Corey Kluber (TB)

ADP 324.26 (Min Pick: 277 / Max Pick: 363)

My ears usually perk up when Tampa Bay goes after an aging vet that has seemingly been cast aside. Most recently with Charlie Morton, they find a way to maximize what these pitchers do well and can minimize the aging curve.

Never truly relying on velo – we’ve seen these types of veteran pitchers dominate fantasy baseball before (I’m looking at you, Zack Greinke) – Kluber is a long way away from the 2x Cy Young winner he once was, but that doesn’t mean a slight evolution can’t yield terrific results. Even a no-hitter in May against the Rangers showed that Kluber’s elite command/ball placement is still there.

Last year he was terrific at suppressing exit velo and keeping his HardHit% relatively low. A shoulder strain that lasted three months derailed what was shaping up to be a very useful season in the Bronx. Taking into account his GB%/FB%, both of these metrics started to revert back to career averages at 45%/22% respectively.

 

Dylan Bundy (MIN)

ADP 392.61 (Min Pick: 355 / Max Pick: 487)

Bundy is the classic prospect that leads to the question “what if?” Now only 29 years old, there’s a glimmer of hope that Bundy can find the secret sauce in Minnesota. I’ve always been a huge believer in the ability and while the numbers didn’t look great on the surface last year, there’s hope under the hood. CSW% hovered around 30% and FIP/xFIP were both significantly lower than ERA. Bundy threw his slider 3.9% less in ‘21 compared to ‘20, turning a wildly ineffective pitch into a run value break-even point.

With the right pitch mix and some pure luck by getting away from the cursed franchises of Baltimore/LAA, Bundy could find himself on the move to a contender by the deadline. It’s worth a flier late to see what’s still in the tank.

 

Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Michael Packard (@artbyMikeP on Twitter & IG)

Collin Carlone

Collin is somehow a fan of the Phillies & Dodgers simultaneously; although Matt Stairs had some thoughts about that back in ‘08. In his spare time, he plays disc golf like a pitcher in hopes to defy physics enough to be featured by Pitching Ninja.

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