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Your classic 12 team, 25 man roster format, will sift through 300 players in creating the other 11 competitors to conquer for fantasy glory. Once you kick it up a notch to 15 teams, rosters start looking uniquely constructed, especially yours, if you choose to wait a little bit longer on pitching in favor of all the electric bats on display in the top 100 – I’m looking at you Dominic Brown.

I’ve paid extra attention this offseason to some deep starting pitchers, which in early drafts, I have gladly targeted at their current price tags to create some SP depth. These guy are somewhat overlooked, placed in the 300+ sphere in Razzball’s top 500 rankings, and sure to give you heart palpitations come April 2nd and beyond. Why care about them? Well, it really only takes one or two of these guys to hit and you’re staring at a top 40 SP that you paid a Jered Weaver price tag for.

That tag apparently says $3m on it too. Wait, wasn’t that what Dellin Betances got in his horror story arbitration hearing over the weekend? Something seems a bit off. If Randy Levine thinks Betances is surely worth less than $5m, I can’t imagine his thoughts on Jered Weaver.

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Tyler Glasnow (372 overall) 

More than happy to spark the bandwagon on this one, but I have a feeling it’s already off the ground. Continuing along the theme of inspiring, but not groundbreaking SP prospect debuts in recent years, Glasnow’s was just that. Big stuff, two pitches, no control, presence. I watched his first career start against the Cardinals last year with anticipation and boiling down it down to four phrases was pretty easy. When it comes to young pitching prospects, our leash is generally short and easily cut, but for good reason. Young starters generally lack control, and when they don’t, they generally lack the ‘stuff’ to kindle some intrigue in fantasy owners. The combination of ‘stuff’ and control usually means they’re too highly touted to fall under the radar. But rocky debuts push guys like this nicely back under the covers. While some of the best arms that we consider ‘young’ in today’s crop of the top SPs are over the age of 25. Glasnow is 23 years old. I know there aren’t any people kicking him to the curb in dynasty leagues, but he’s not really on the radar for redrafts, and I support the gamble.

If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you’ll realize I’m a fan of betting on mechanical changes in players that others may be overlooking. My ‘change’ philosophy can even extend to pitchers adding third pitches – which Eno Sarris does a great job of breaking down each year. When you combine both a mechanical change and a new pitch grip, we’re presented with my prospect crush, Tyler Glasnow. While I would like to see results off these changes before investing, *cough* James Paxton *cough*, at pick 300+ we need not be greedy. Glasnow both shortened his stride to the plate in order to dampen the affects of the run game, and adopted a new changeup grip, a pitch he threw only 3.6% of the time in his 23.1 MLB innings.

Simple, concise, understandable storylines to follow for 2017. It looks like he’ll start at AAA Indianapolis, but if these improvements stick, I don’t see any reason why Huntington and the Pirates front office hold him down past May. Fangraph’s Steamer has Glasnow at 130 innings with a 10+ K/9 and a sub 3.9 ERA. The WHIP will likely be a little gross, but Steamer and ZiPS both pegged Glasnow for a 10 K/9 with two pitches. As a starting pitcher. Sign me up if Christmas comes early for this future ace.

Robert Gsellman (360 overall)

There are a ton of varying opinions on Gsellman coming into 2017. Baseball Prospectus being the entity highest on his potential (see top 100 prospects). I’m finding myself somewhere in the middle, which is a classic cop-out, but your opinion should hinge on how much you believe in the Warthen Slider. Gsellman started throwing it last season and his jump to a 8.5 K/9 pitcher was all the sudden accepted as the norm. The negative is he only did it for 44 innings, and Warthen’s magic can’t be the sole reason for night to day success in my eyes. The positive is that it looked liked a genuine improvement in his overall profile as a 23 year old starter, his FIP, xFIP, and BABIP all agree.

I strongly believe in Glasnow over Gsellman for 2017 in roto formats, but that’s assuming you aren’t expecting to slot this SP into your lineup on day one (think 15 teamers). The Mets’ 2011 amateur draft flyer has the asset that is Zack Wheeler’s unfortunate medical history working alongside him. 5th starter for New York? Gsellman is nearly a lock, and we haven’t even seen a pitch thrown. What we have seen is crazier things happen to Mets’ starting pitchers, so keep an eye on Gsellman, and his great hair.

Luke Weaver & Michael Wacha (373 overall, 320 overall)

Ishikawa. Matheny. Two things that make Cardinal fans angry, with Wacha’s shoulder in the conversation for third. Humor me, but the Cardinals are projected for a 76 win season by PECOTA, yet they have a rotation that gets to decide between Wacha, Weaver, and Lance Lynn for their 4-5 starters? This is the same PECOTA that has a Brewers team at 76 wins? With Matt Garza and Wily Peralta as their 4-5? I have to be missing something.

Weaver has flown through the Cardinals’ system, and topped it off with some head scratching numbers in 2016. He managed to maintain a 11.15 K/9 over 36.1 innings, with a swinging strike rate below 10%. for 2017 he projects for a high 3s ERA by Fangraph’s Steamer, and his 2016 xFIP at 3.34 backs up the fact that he isn’t Jered Weaver bad. He’s basically a random number generator at this point, but the two things he has working for him are a good track record of control and the Cardinals pitching development behind him. High floor low ceiling asset, but I keep looking at his 10.29 K/9 in AA and wondering if that could propel him closer to an 8.5 K/9 in his major league career.

Wacha’s has been a roller coaster. From 17 wins and postseason dominance, to postseason collapse (Ishikawa!) and injuries. The hope is there at only 25 years old, but the path towards a full time bullpen role ominously hangs overhead. For now, the signs are positive, with Matheny raving about Wacha’s spring bullpen, and hope he re-discovers the release point on one of the better changeups the league has seen.

Whichever of these two gets the job, I’m happy to bench on my roster if Glasnow/Gsellman/De Leon are gone. The Cardinals always seem to find a way, and chances are Lance Lynn won’t be 100% for the whole season. That means at some point, both will have value. Deep leaguers, take notice.

Jose De Leon (355 overall)

Even though Evan Longoria may passively imply he doesn’t like you De Leon, I am more than happy to add you to my fantasy team for substantially less money than you’re making right now. If you’re a Rays fan who is content with Matt Andriese being your number five starter, I apologize, but De Leon is immensely more interesting of an arm to slot into that rotation. The falloff in strikeouts is a little bit worrisome (11.57 K.9 in AAA to 7.94 K/9 in MLB – both 2016), but most projection systems seem optimistic that was just a fluke. De Leon possesses a great combination of swing-and-miss offspeed pitches, coupled with good control. His final outings in AAA were insanely dominant, now it’s just a matter of time before the Dodgers wonder how much better he could’ve been in the more strikeout prone NL West.

When De Leon comes up to the bigs this season due to injury or Adriese boring everybody, I don’t expect worse than 9.5 K/9 and a 3.6-3.7 ERA. Yes, he is that good, and ranked at 355 overall. We’re overlooking an arm that got off to a slow start in a small sample size last year, if you can’t give him a second chance at this price tag, feel ashamed, cause the Red Sox gave Rich Hill a fifty-ith chance and it panned out. I’d put De Leon’s chance to outperform his ADP somewhere in the 80% range. 355 is way too low, even for an AL East starter.

My roto big board for these SPs?

Glasnow – De Leon – Gsellman – Wacha – Weaver

 

 

You can follow Lance on Twitter, @LanceBrozdow, if you prefer to act like a proper millennial.

 
  1. Tim says:
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    How about Lance Lynn at 513? People forget how good he was. He has a 8.7 K/9 for his career with an ERA in the 3’s. Still recovering from TJ but he’s only 29 and should be back early this season. I’ll be targeting him.

    • Lance

      Lance says:
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      @Tim:
      No doubt!

      He was actually the guy that got ousted from the post to keep it relatively concise. I like him for some early season innings. Combo Lynn with a guy like De Leon or Glasnow, who will likely be down in the minors to start the year, and you can frankenstein your way to a cheaply priced load of quality innings.

      I do have a feeling with the rotational depth the Cardinals have (yes, even with Reyes down – Marco Gonzales, John Gant come to mind) they won’t be afraid to limit his innings or 10DL him if soreness emerges. They’ll also be watching pitch count obviously. I don’t think it’s fair to expect the 8.7 K/9 to come back, but something in the realm of 7.5-8 K/9 with a 3.75 ERA wouldn’t be crazy.

      Thanks for the read.

      • Tim says:
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        @Lance: Good point. He may be a draft and stash. But even so, with your very last pick you could do worse!

      • What's A Drexl? says:
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        @Lance: if the 8.7 was the last he had when last seen i doubt it’s much worse now. the BB rate is the thing that’ll go up just post TJ, but he’s NOT just post TJ as he was pitching back in september.

  2. Mr. Addison Clark says:
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    Great post. Question: Who has more upside this season? Dylan Bundy or Lance McCullers?
    I like Bundy cause of the SP/RP thing but McCullers and his strikeouts are enticing too.
    Thanks!

    • Lance

      Lance says:
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      @Mr. Addison Clark:
      Thanks!

      Lance McCullers has much more upside for this season. If he stays healthy (big if) and throws 180+ innings, he’s gonna K 200+ easily. That is gorgeous in roto for a guy being drafted outside the top 40 SPs in NFBC (Insanely good value).

      I tailored this column to roto leagues, which don’t take into account the added value of SP/RPs. From my experience, that’s definitely more of a points league feature (defined RP slots). Bundy would definitely be one of the top SP/RPs in that format, but McCullers will have the edge in upside regardless.

  3. CMUTimmah says:
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    I think a guy that’s cheap and has high upside is Manaea. Pitches per out, K rate, and WHIP all look pretty good. Not to mention he would have fallen in the top 30ish for swinging strike %. Most of his averaged stats come in around top 30 (BB/9,K/9,WHIP,etc).

    This guys is and after thought in ESPN’s rankings. Yahoo is a bit higher on him, so he might not be a steal compared to those ranks.

    • Lance

      Lance says:
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      @CMUTimmah:
      Manaea is a nice mid tier SP, but he’s going inside the top 200 in NFBC, and from the drafts I’ve done already, I think his ADP will climb as the spring progresses.

      I was really looking at guys who are much deeper than Manaea, 250+ NFBC and 300+ for Grey’s ranks. Manaea is around 170 NFBC.

      But I’ll still address Manaea. I’m a fan, he looks like a 8-8.5 K/9 guy to me, with a high 3s ERA until we see how much ‘better’ that Oakland defense really got, his catching core concerns me a bit for framing (small factor, but Greinke for example, has a pitch profile similar to Manaea and got screwed by bad framers last year). I like his two plus offspeed pitches, the K potential won’t hit the like of his minor league numbers (10+ K/9) because he doesn’t really have advanced velo on the fastball. He has good command though, which means a nice floor, and not a lot of ‘blow up’ games that you see when guys just don’t have a pitch working.

      I’ll definitely have some shares around the 13th round or so if I can get him there.

      • CMUTimmah says:
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        @Lance: Thanks for the reply, I guess since I’m still just starting my “big board” mock up for different league types, I wasn’t expecting Manaea to really be on the top 16 round radar before I started looking into pitching data. (I like to get my own feel for guys before looking at ADPs, that way I don’t punt anyone because I don’t “Feel they are a 5th rounder” before taking a step back and really analyzing that they aren’t a 5th rounder. If that makes sense…)

        I just think that Manaea’s 92 average on his fast ball is OK with his swing and miss % still above average. As he becomes a more polished pitcher, swing and miss usually holds or slightly improves.

        BTW – I wasn’t discounting any of your thoughts above, and I’m with Tim on Lance Lynn. If I can get him in the late rounds and start my roster off with a possible middle tier pitcher on the DL for basically free, that’s a bonus. TJ is a fickle betch, so you never know what you’re going to get when they actually return.

        De Leon has to have a pretty prohibitive pitch count and innings limit this year, no?

        • Lance

          Lance says:
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          @CMUTimmah:
          I that is a great method to use before looking at ADP.

          With Manaea, I’m fine with the 92 fastball as well because of his plus command. And do agree that the K/9 will inflate with time, I’m just not sure if all of that will come to fruition this season. His value is solid regardless, I don’t have any reservations taking him around his ADP. Just figured I would point out why I’m not 30+ higher on him than this ADP. Gonna be fun to watch him and that terrible As team haha.

          No worries too man! Always for some healthy discussion.

          De Leon I imagine will be on a limit, but I’d put it somewhere in the 120-140 IP range (really don’t know until we hear from TB camp though). He can get deeper into games cause of his control, so if it’s more of a pitch limit I’m not to worried about continual 5 IP outings with a short leash.

          I’m a little more optimistic that a majority of those innings come at the major league level too, as opposed to somebody like Josh Hader. He’s gonna mow through AAA.

  4. Racehorse says:
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    Lance –

    Can you comment on Luis Perdomo …

    Yes, the Padres are lousy … but he does throw allot of ground balls with his still developing sinker, and he does have mid-90’s gas … Perdomo is a Rule 5 draft from the Cardinals and someone in San Diego thought highly enough of him to keep him around last season while he was taking his lumps …

    What do you think ?

    • Lance

      Lance says:
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      @Racehorse:
      Ehh, he’s so far off my radar outside of a late flyer in an NL only league (talking really, really deep). He’s still gotta make the roster for the Pads, and if he fails to do that, I wouldn’t be too confident in much of anything at all.

      The Padres signing him doesn’t impact me at all. They needed a body last year and he had a pulse (hadn’t pitched above high A before that).

      Fastball for him sits 94 from what Fangraphs says, so not even really that hot. CH and SL aren’t plus yet. Just a lot of development needed, he’s 23 so you never know when something might stick, but don’t bank on it this season.

      You have guys like Reynaldo Lopez going near him who if you’re looking that deep, I would much rather have.

      • Racehorse says:
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        @Lance: no problem on the “ehh” … I forgot to say that it’s a 16 team dynasty league with a 13 man minor-league roster component …

        so yeah, we’re mining (or at least trying to mine) everything from known prospects to the minor leaguers, to high school and college players that have yet to be drafted, to kids people see in their sandlot leagues in California (really) … it’s that kind of dynasty league …

        Thanks for the response, it is appreciated — keep up the great work because I need all the help I can get!

        • Lance

          Lance says:
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          @Racehorse:
          Fair enough, I probably wouldn’t have been so harsh if I knew that!

          But I still think even in that respect there would be more value in other guys that aren’t Perdomo.

          More under the radar guys a I would try to take a peek at are Braves’ SP Michael Soroka (fantastic control, young, but projectable) and Sandy Alcantara (hard throwing, Cardinals develop pitching well).

          They’re both on some top 100 lists, but ya never know who might have slipped through the cracks.

          Feel free to follow me on twitter @LanceBrozdow, if you ever have something you want an opinion on. Always willing to help a fellow fantasy addict rationalize a decision!

  5. kenly0 says:
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    What are your thoughts on Josh Hader?
    Over/under 15 starts? And what kind of production?
    I just keep remembering from last spring how Braun was comparing him to Kershaw and Bumgarner.

    • Lance

      Lance says:
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      @kenly0:
      I personally like Josh Hader as a prospect a lot. Anybody that stands out like him, with his flowing blond hair, sidearm delivery, and disgustingly good slurve/slider from that slot (lefty killer) – is really hard not to like. His change is good enough and will help to mitigate any split issues he may have between lefty and righty batters.

      There are talks of the pen, but the Brewers don’t have any pitching. They’re going to try their best to make him their future ace, doesn’t make sense to throw him to RP at 22-23 years old.

      This season though, I’m not sure if I can be all in, but there is upside because of how good the K numbers will be, so definitely more appealing in roto. I think the Brewers leave him down in the minors until June-July and see if there is any improvement from the 10%+ walk rate at AAA last season. The walks are the ultimate issue and I don’t know how long before it’s corrected, or at least improved, development on a guy like this may take a bit.

      I’ll take 14-16 starts so right about a push. Would like to see what his innings workload will be before I cement any guesses though, will be keeping an eye on Brewers camp. Hasn’t really exceeded 130 in pro ball yet, so maybe 150-160 total? 80 IP in AAA, 70 in MLB would give him right about the 15 starts. If you’re very interested, see how his control is looking in spring, I bet he gets some nice looks.

      The production will be a lot of Ks (10+ K/9), with high 3 ERA, with a pretty high WHIP (1.4, so won’t be pitching deep into games). Longer term, if he can get down to a 2.5ish BB/9, he can be a great fantasy asset (#1-#2 potential). Can’t rush guys like this.

      No offense to Braun, but I have strict rules of knocking off around the top 25 players in the game when making comps. Nobody will ever be Kershaw, nobody will ever be Bumgarner. They may have aspects of those two pitchers’ game, (ie. side arm delivery of Bum), but I hate generalizing that out to the player as a whole.

  6. goodfold2 says:
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    yeah on gsellman i thought ralph was guano huffing on him, till i saw where quite a few others had him.

    • goodfold2 says:
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      @goodfold2: and it’s not a “cop out” to take the middle ground on somebody. go see projection systems, they by nature are in this boat. baseball prospectus the stats lines projected are usually boring as shit since a good projection system it’s hard for them to even believe to expect far outside so many standard devo’s.

      • Lance

        Lance says:
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        @goodfold2:
        Definitely a lot to take in.

        BP does a great job with their PECOTA though I think, I love their percentile outcomes, the range of possibilities helps visualize a player’s ceiling a ton as opposed to seeing a slash line and having only that to gauge success with.

        Gsellman should be interesting, he just needs a stache to fit in with Harvey-Synd-DeGrom now!

        • goodfold2 says:
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          @Lance: i’m not bad mouthing pecota, i’m just saying good projections are by nature conservative, since science/math pretty much goes by what it knows, and “breakouts” are rare events, so most of their projections won’t be crazy good or bad.

          • goodfold2 says:
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            @goodfold2: yeah, even with matheny 76 wins seems batshit compared to MIL for sure.

            • Lance

              Lance says:
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              @goodfold2:
              Nah I know you’re not, sorry if I came across like that!

              Agree with your point on projections for sure, just a lot of things that can’t be factored in.

              Cards at 76 is insane to me, that’s basically the 2016 Angels minus 2 games, and I don’t think anybody thought they were nearly that good last year

  7. Chuck N Chino says:
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    What about Charlie Morton?

    • Lance

      Lance says:
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      @Chuck N Chino:
      He’s an interesting flyer, honestly not one I had thought about too much cause of the injuries but if he’s healthy, I don’t see why with his repertoire, he can’t get back to the Ground Chuck of old.

      Not one I am particularly targeting per say, but it looks like he may be the 5 in that Astros staff, so AL only relevant indeed.

      According to NFBC ADP he’s right in that 500 window, and the guy that keeps jumping out to me near there is Reynaldo Lopez, so that’s who I’d gravitate towards, even if Lopez doesn’t start the year in the rotation, I like him better. Just much more upside and around that overall slot, I would bet that’s what people want as opposed to the higher floor of production Morton may give them.

  8. What's A Drexl? says:
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    you should actually read that longo article, nothing in it “implies” anything negative about de leon, he laments having lost a good player and friend in forsythe and actually says the team “got better” by doing the trade.

    • Lance

      Lance says:
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      @What’s A Drexl?:
      Meant it more as a joke! But reading it back, definitely didn’t come across like that hahaha

      My apologies! I definitely fell prey to ‘massaging’ that line a little bit.

      I’m sure Longo is a great guy, doubt any guy would actually voice that strong of a displeasure for a trade.

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