I briefly considered doing a closers to target post, but that’s Smokey’s domain and I didn’t want any trademark infringements happening. I do like the price of (insert closer name going after 200th overall) because of SAGNOF! Today concludes the fantasy baseball sleepers‘ portion of our program. *nudges homeless woman sleeping on my couch that I tried to get Cougs to agree to a threesome with* No more sleepers, Francine. Meh, I’ll let her rest. Like the outfielders to target and the middle infielders to target (shortstops and 2nd basemen), this post is necessary. You need to target the right names at the end of the draft for starters. Last year’s starters to target post included Danny Salazar and Shelby Miller. The year before included Corey Kluber and Sonny Gray. This year…the world! Well, not the world, just some starters. As with other target posts, these guys are being drafted after the top 200 overall. Anyway, here’s some starters to target for 2016 fantasy baseball:
Drew Smyly (Yahoo 201) The Emoticon feels to me like he could easily have a 2015 Shelby Miller-type season in him, i.e., terrible team, walks away with a surprising year. Let’s just look at his career numbers thus far: 395 IP pitched, 8.8 K/9 and a 3.24 ERA. That’s better than, dare I say, my boy, Sonny Gray. Oh, and Smyly is only 26 years old. He is the epitome of “You could likely draft all starters after the 200th pick and be fine.”
Patrick Corbin (ESPN 212) Okay, some of these late starters are simply this scene being played out in real life: “Clara Bell, have we ranked Corbin yet?” “Mai-Ling, easy on the cuticles!” “Are you getting a manicure during our rankings summit?” “With the 220th pick, I take Mike Trout!” “We’re ranking, not drafting, and Trout’s gone already!” And that’s how Corbin was forgotten until that late in the ESPN rankings. Corbin feels to me like a guy that will be ranked at the tail end of the top 100 next year as a top 25 starter. He’s now two years removed from Tommy John surgery, is only 26 years old, and his last full year was a 3.41 ERA with a 7.7 K/9. You know who that feels slightly better than? Sonny Gray. I swear that will be the last time I mention him.
Lance McCullers (ESPN 213) DL him and pick up someone else, then when McCullers-Cullers-Cullers — sorry, my Ice T CD started skipping — you activate him and see what happens.
Nathan Eovaldi (Yahoo 283, ESPN 403) I’ll admit to being slightly less under the spell of Eovaldi’s velocity this year. Throwing 96.7 (!!!) MPH on average is amazing for a starter, but having a career 4.06 xFIP in 614 1/3 innings only gets the goose pimplies so jacked. Would I draft Eovaldi? Oh yeah, and way before 400th overall, but, as with most late starters, I wouldn’t hesitate on dropping him early on in the season either.
Aaron Nola (Yahoo 300, ESPN 249) Not only is Nola safe (Aaron, obviously; NOLA isn’t safe unless you have beads, a Hurricane from Pat O’Brien’s and it’s before 11 PM) because he has great control. (See, right there, Nola and control don’t belong in the same sentence unless we’re talking about Aaron. There’s no control in NOLA. It is godless! Damn, I love NOLA.) Since Nola won’t walk anyone, the worst that happens is he have decent ratios and a terrible win-loss record. Actually, that might be the best that could happen too. Also, I already gave you my Aaron Nola sleeper.
Kevin Gausman (Yahoo 323, ESPN 251) At some point this year, Gausman will get inexplicably yanked from the rotation leaving us scratching our heads, which will have us saying, “Damn, I have more dandruff than C.J. Wilson.” Which reminds me, I need to write “Fantasy Baseball” on my Pert shampoo bottle.
Jose Berrios (Yahoo 328, ESPN unranked) When I went over my Jose Berrios fantasy this offseason, I might’ve overestimated the Twins’ frugality. It’s FRU-JOUL-LAY, it’s Italian! They are some cheap bastards. I can’t believe they’re actually considering going into the season with Nolasco at the back of their rotation rather than promoting Berrios, who has already cruised through Triple-A. Maybe they could send Berrios to Japan for a few years and bring him back when he’s 27 and in need of Tommy John surgery. Like how teams adopt pop songs as their anthems, the Twins should go with this song. “Promotin’ pitchers in the summer when the sale on them, the eff you other teams bragging about? You overpaying for it!”
Tyler Duffey (Yahoo unranked, ESPN unranked) And Grey unranked. The Duffman — Oh, yeah — might actually be the real reason Berrios isn’t in the rotation, but don’t tell Preceding Blurb Grey; it’ll only upset him more. Preceding Blurb Grey, “Someone say something?” Nothing here, man, carry on. Duffey looked great in a short stint last year — 8.2 K/9, 3.10 ERA. Though, he’s not that good. Yay, short-lived excitement! His player evals are all over the map like a drunk cartographer. Some think he’ll be the best Twins pitcher, which is saying nothing, some think he’ll be bumped from the rotation quickly, which is saying he’s nothing, i.e. Tyler got stuffey or TTYL Duffey.
Brandon Finnegan (Yahoo 347, ESPN unranked) I don’t have Finnegan (or Duffey) in one of my favorable tiers that I have in how to draft a fantasy rotation. But even as I said there, that doesn’t account for deeper starters in deeper leagues. That’s where Finnegan comes in. On a sidenote, I expect Coghlan to come into Finnegan’s, because they both sound like drunk Irishmen, and, yes, drunk is redundant in that sentence. Reason I wanted to take a second to make extra notice of Finnegan is if he takes a step forward in control, his value could go soaring. Unfortch, his control is a bit of a mess.
Joe Ross (Yahoo unranked, ESPN 230) Maybe I’m remembering this wrong (I’m not), but Ross was highly sought after last year when he didn’t have a starting job and then he performed well — 8.1 K/9, 2.5 BB/9 and a 3.64 ERA. So, this year, naturally, no one cares about him. Huh? Y’all people confuse me. And, yes, I said you people!
Andrew Heaney (Yahoo unranked, ESPN 232) Andrew “The Brain” Heaney will need all his smarts if he’s going to take the step to the next level but the pedigree is there like a schnauzer.
Rich Hill (Yahoo unranked, ESPN 305) Where I have him ranked (270s) and for where he’s being drafted (around there), I’d take the gamble, but I’d be lying if I had huge hopes for Rich Hill. Sometimes I can’t see anything but the negative in guys. Damn, I’m such a feminist.
James Paxton (Yahoo unranked, ESPN unranked) This is something that seems to happen often with Big Box sites. I can think of Dee Gordon at Yahoo as an example from a few years ago. When Gordon was a rookie, he was ranked in the top 75 overall. He naturally disappointed, but then when he had a chance to play again, Yahoo didn’t even rank him. Like he somehow went from potentially great to no potential. One such example from this year: Paxton. I get that he disappointed last year, Karns could steal his rotation spot and the shine is off of him, but he still does have great stuff. On a related note, I like Nathan Karns too. Though I never know if I should call him Nate, which is kinda annoying.
Vincent Velasquez (Yahoo unranked, ESPN 265) You’re gonna love Velasquez for huge chunks of 2016. His stuff is too filthy not to love. He is young and wild and free ft. Bruno Mars, so likely this year is going to play out like this: You, “Velasquez just struck out 13 Braves! I’m grabbing him in all leagues, don’t care that he walks the house.” You after his next start, “Tell me he didn’t just give up 5 ER in 3 IP to the same Braves he just shut down. Tell me this! Please!”