Last week we took a look at some later-round hitting targets that can help catch you up in your batting categories. The gift I bring you this week is a look at some pitchers to target who appear ahead of their peers. Oh, the poo that I had to sludge through to do this research. I tried finding team notes for how they’re expecting to handle their pitchers in the early weeks of the season. I have to give a shout out to Jeff Zimmerman for his “Mining the News” articles over on Fangraphs. They were extremely helpful and a must-read. After sludging through the team outlooks about where teams expect their starters to be by opening day, I took a look at Derek Carty’s The Bat to try and find some values. The reason I used The Bat is that the projection system takes into account the team schedule, which, in a shortened season means a lot. The pitchers on this list have a pretty decent ADP range, but grabbing pitchers that aren’t going to throw limited pitches in their first couple of starts should give you a head start against the competition.
Jose Berrios, SP – This note actually applies to all of the Twins starters. Twins pitching coach, Wes Johnson indicated that their starters should be ready to throw 90-100 pitches from the get go. Berrios carries the highest ADP at 101. For those counting, that’s SP24. According to The Bat, Berrios is projected to be tied for the sixth-most wins (5), and finishing just outside the top 30 in strikeouts and WHIP. However, if you’re going to tell me Berrios is going 90-100 pitches right away, I’m willing to bet he outpaces some of those pitchers ahead of him.
If you’re looking for a cheaper Twins option, Kenta Maeda has been landing around pick 170, while Jake Odorizzi goes after pick 200. I love both Maeda and Odorizzi in the shortened season at that price. The Twins offense is once again stacked, so run support should not be an issue. Finally, the pitcher that the shortened season was created for, Rich Hill, is going around pick 250, which is simply a steal. Hill is also projected to finish with an ERA south of 4.00, which places him in the top 35 starting pitchers.
Frankie Montas, SP – If you’ve had the pleasure of watching any of Montas’ starts from last year, it’s a thing of beauty. Hard upper 90s fastball combined with a filthy slider and splitter that had opposing hitters looking silly. When discussing his role with the team, A’s pitcher Chris Bassitt noted that, “I think Montas could throw five right now if he wanted to.” That interview was on July 8th. I know it’s a little bit of he said, she said, but if sounds like Montas is on track to hit the ground running once the season starts up. Montas has a little helium behind him and has an ADP around the 140 mark. However, he has the skills to take a big leap this year.
Andrew Heaney, SP – Heaney is the poster child for the shortened season. He’s only crossed the 100 innings pitched line twice in his six major league seasons. Angels manager Joe Maddon, noted on July 4th that he expects his starters to hit 90 pitches by the end of summer camp. He also made note that Andrew Heaney and Dylan Bundy were already at 55 pitches. Both Heaney and Bundy are going after pick 225, making them fine dart throws towards the end of drafts. Despite being the 55th starting pitcher drafted, Heaney is projected to finish in the top 50 starting pitchers in ERA, while finishing in the top 25 starters in WHIP and K/9.
Corey Kluber, SP – Another day, another positive report on Klubot. As of July 4th, Kluber was already up to throwing 85 pitches. That type of workload in early July has him on track to have a normal workload once the season restarts. Another note from that simulated game, teammate Mike Minor threw 77 pitches. I was already on Rangers’ pitchers coming into this year and this just gives me an extra incentive. With their new stadium opening which features a retractable roof, the days of sweltering heat (hitting weather) is over. Kluber has an ADP of 118, while Minor sits at 168. Both are affordable options that should give you a head start on your opponents.
Robbie Ray, SP – As of July 6th, Robbie Ray was reported throwing 80 pitches at “pretty much max effort”. While Ray’s ratios can fluctuate a little more than what we like to see, he makes up for it with his strikeout stuff. In fact, he’s projected to pick up the 16th most strikeouts among starters. With an ESPN ADP in the 180s, Ray seems like a steal.
Joe Musgrove, SP – Everyone’s favorite sleeper came into Summer Camp being able to throw 5 innings and 75 pitches. Being that far ahead, should allow him to ramp up to a normalish workload by the time the season starts up. Musgrove comes at the discount price of 225, making him a later-round target of mine. In 2019, Musgrove had some stretches of pitching that could end up being league winning in the shortened season. In April last year, he threw 35 innings of 1.54 ERA ball.
Chris Paddack, SP – Here’s our first top 100 pick. However, this note is for the full Padres pitching staff as pitching coach, Larry Rothschild “feels the Padres are already ahead of the curve.” As of July 1st they were ramped up to three innings of work, which is where they usually are with three weeks to go in Spring Training. If you’re not into Paddack’s ADP of 65, perhaps I can talk to you about Garrett Richards and Dinelson Lamet. Richards is another pitcher who greatly benefits from the shortened season as he hasn’t crossed the 80 innings pitched line in the past four seasons. Lamet is currently sitting at an ADP of 175, which Richards is post pick 250.
Carlos Carrasco, SP – This is for a trio of higher priced starters, but as of June 24th, the Indians starters were ahead of their normal spring training schedule. While this probably doesn’t change much for Shane Bieber or Mike Clevinger, it might make me bump up Carrasco slightly. On July 11th, Carrasco went 4 innings on 68 pitches. He also lands in the top-25 pitchers in projected ERA and WHIP, making him a steal just past pick 110.
Wade Miley, SP – I know, I know; we all got burnt by Miley’s poor September, but he was so good the rest of the year. This note actually goes towards the entire Reds rotation, as catcher, Tucker Barnhart noted that all the starters were throwing around 60 pitches heading into Summer Camp. That should have them ramped up for a relatively normal start to the year. Sonny Gray and Luis Castillo are already appropriately priced, but Miley, Trevor Bauer, and Anthony DeSclafani are all targets of mine to add to the pitching staff.