In case you haven’t noticed, we are now less than two weeks away from Opening Day folks. Most of you are avid baseball fanatics so I know you don’t need a reminder, but it just feels awesome to be able to say it. After another long winter the best day of the year is almost upon us. Back again to look at some discounts you might find in your upcoming drafts, here are some starting pitchers I feel like will significantly outproduce their current draft prices.
Last year prior to drafts Castillo was one of the most hyped up players in fantasy baseball. Owners that drafted him were surely disappointed early on, as he posted a 5.49 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, and .264 batting average against in 103.1 innings in the first half. Those that were patient (or stubborn) enough were rewarded with a completely different pitcher in the second half of the season. In 66.1 innings to close the year, he posted a stellar 2.44 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, and .204 average against. He improved his K-BB% from 13.7% to 21% and his FIP from 4.77 to 3.61. He has a very underrated offense behind him which will allow him to be in line to get plenty of wins this year. His end of season numbers weren’t able to be salvaged to attractive values, and will be looked over by many as a result. Castillo is a perfect post-hype sleeper pick this season and should significantly outproduce his current asking price.
Steamer Projections: 11-10, 4.00 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 3.74 xFIP, 8.92 K/9, 2.73 BB/9 in 173 innings (29 GS)
Yu is one of the biggest lottery tickets entering drafts this season, but at this price it is one I’m willing to buy. Obviously there is the injury risk, but it is near impossible to find anyone going this late with the ability to generate a 10+ K/9. Ks are king in H2H and Yu has the repertoire to stay in line with his career 11.04 K/9. Of course he is also susceptible to walks (9.1% BB rate) as well as allowing home runs, as evidenced by his 12.3 HR/FB%. Darvish has some of the filthiest stuff in the entire league, and sports an impressive 12.1% swinging strike rate through his career. I like him a lot in H2H leagues because the Cubs offense will give him the opportunity to secure a win every time he goes out there. He is only 32 years old, and could be in line for a huge bounce back season if he stays healthy. At his current draft position he isn’t going to hurt you terribly if he falters, and could potentially yield ace-like numbers this season.
Steamer: 9-7, 3.77 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 3.65 xFIP, 10.18 K/9, 3.01 BB/9 in 139 innings (24 GS)
The biggest gripe with Bieber is that he throws too many strikes, and hittable strikes at that. An unimpressive fast ball poorly located was the main culprit of his 85.4% zone contact rate. The upside is that rarely walks batters, at just a 4.7% mark in 114.2 innings last year. But in order for Bieber to make the next step he must get better at locating his fast ball in the zone, and/or rely more on his filthy slider (26% swinging strike rate) to generate whiffs. Further developing his curveball would also allow Bieber to not rely on his fast ball as much. The Indians have a loaded rotation, but he seems primed to have the 5th spot in the rotation locked up. An impressive K:BB ratio and high strikeout upside makes Bieber a popular candidate to make a big leap forward this season.
Steamer: 9-7, 3.86 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 3.69 xFIP, 8.02 K/9, 1.79 BB/9 in 139 IP (24 GS)
Pivetta is a guy that looks like he should have finished with better numbers when you look at his peripherals. Across 164 innings last season he posted a lofty 4.77 ERA, but a FIP of 3.80. He posted a 3.51 SIERA, and a .326 BABIP that was the highest among qualified starters last year. Pivetta had a stellar 27.1% strikeout rate (13th best), and walked 7.4% of batters he faced. Pivetta excels at striking out batters and allowing lots of poorly hit balls. His ground ball rate of 46.7% was 15th best, and allowed hard-hit contact just 31.9% of the time. So it appears he had a lot of bad luck last year that skewed his numbers quite a bit. However, Pivetta must limit the long ball (career 1.48 HR/9 and 17% HR/FB) as well as pitch better with runners on base if he really wants to take that next step. If he can keep his ERA below 4.00, his high strikeout rate and backing by a much improved offense should allow him to win plenty of games and be an excellent value in your H2H drafts.
Steamer: 11-9, 3.98 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 3.73 xFIP, 9.69 K/9, 3.03 BB/9 in 160 IP (29 GS)
Sean Newcomb will be one of the elite arms in the league before all is said and done. Newk had an excellent 1st half, posting a 3.51 ERA and 1.28 WHIP while racking up 97 strikeouts across 105 innings. The second half was not so kind, but he has never pitched that many innings in a season so let’s give him a break. Some point to his command and walks as an issue going forward (career 12% walk rate), but again he is still very young at 25 and can improve upon this going forward. The big lefty also carries elite strikeout potential, as he has flashed with his 23.3% strikeout rate and 10.4% swinging strike rate. Newk has a powerful 4-seamer, and a sharp curve that can make hitters look foolish at the plate. He also didn’t miss a single start last year (30 GS, 164 IP), and can be relied on by the Braves to eat plenty of innings this year. The Braves have a powerful lineup behind him and I can see him winning 15 games this season. Newk has the most upside of guys being drafted outside the top 200.
Steamer: 11-10, 4.17 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 4.33 xFIP, 9.25 K/9, 4.37 BB/9 in 177 innings (31 GS)
It is true Skaggs has quite an injury history and has failed to crack more than 126 innings in a season. The good news is that Skaggs pitched the most innings of his career last year, and was pretty solid in doing so. In 125.1 innings last year he posted a respectable 4.02 ERA and 1.33 WHIP, along with a 3.63 FIP. He struck out batters at an impressive 24.2% rate, backed by an 11% swinging strike rate. Skaggs was also able to limit the long ball, improving his HR/9 from 1.38 in 2018 to just 1.01 in 2019. He was able to induce more ground balls, improving from a 36.9% rate in 2018 to 44% last season. With a clean bill of health, Skaggs can improve upon last year’s success and help many fantasy teams along the way. At this price Skaggs represents a lot of upside and not much risk considering he’s coming off draft boards around the 20th round.
Steamer: 10-9, 3.97 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 4.14 xFIP, 8.43 K/9, 3.02 K/BB, in 157 innings (28 GS)
Others to consider: