Last Minute Pitching Sleepers from the RotoExperts Staff
So you're looking for pitching sleepers. Yeah, aren't we all. Today is your lucky day. The RotoExperts staff has come together to identify their favorite unappreciated hurlers, so you can take advantage in your final drafts of the 2018 Fantasy Baseball season.
In case you missed it, you can also see our favorite hitting sleepers as well. But now, on to the business at hand. Here are our favorite pitching sleepers for your consideration. Each RotoExpert was asked to name one pitcher in the AL and one pitcher from the NL. Each expert defines the term sleeper differently, so the various choices should offer something for Fantasy owners in all formats.
American League Pitching Sleepers
Jake Ciely - It should have never been up for discussion if Mike Clevinger would be in the rotation, as he's much more skilled than Josh Tomlin. With Danny Salazar starting the season on the DL, there is no question surrounding Clevinger's use. Clevinger's real appeal is his strikeout ability with a 27.3 K% last year and the fact that he'll top a strikeout per inning to go with a sub-4.00 ERA.
Tim McCullough - Mike Clevinger earned his spot in the 2018 rotation with his pitching toward the end of the 2017 season. He’s got terrific swing and miss stuff (12.4 percent SwStk rate) with three breaking pitches that generate close to 20 percent SwStk rates. If he can command his fastball a bit better, we could be looking at a Top-20 pitcher. However, the command problem looms large, as his fastball is where the 12 percent walk rate comes from. Your fellow Fantasy owners will avoid Clevinger because of the walks, so draft him in the mid-to-late rounds and keep your fingers crossed that at age 27, he takes a leap forward in command and realizes his vast potential.
Scott Engel - From reports, it seems like finally getting knee surgery has done Eduardo Rodriguez some good. He showed signs of how effective can can be early last season before it became an issue again. Rodriguez has live stuff and now that he is healthy and confident you will see results. The strikeouts were there last year and he had an ERA under 3.00 over the first two months. It's simply about him being available to pitch now for a great value return.
Michael Waterloo - I'm going to roll the dice here and have optimism that A.J. Puk's biceps tendinitis is not overly serious. Even after the signing of Trevor Cahill, the Athletics don't have a ton of depth in their starting rotation. Puk, who hasn't pitched above Double-A, had an impressive spring training, striking out seven batters over 10.2 innings while allowing four earned runs. Puk is the perfect draft-and-stash pitcher if you have the room on your bench. He can be a true difference maker for Fantasy owners as the 143rd starting pitcher off the board.
George Kurtz - I know, Charlie Morton has been inconsistent throughout his career. Well, he seemed to figure it out last season and although we always preach not to chase wins, every starter for Houston has value because this team is likely to win somewhere around 100 games. I’m all in on all Houston starters.
Doug Anderson - Blake Snell may be held back by the Rays offense, but I'm convinced he's turned the corner and enters 2018 as one of my favorite pitching sleepers. As someone who gets to see most Blake Snell starts from the press box at Tropicana Stadium, I can admit it's been painful at times. Some pitchers can't throw strikes. With Snell you got the feeling that he just didn't want to. He'd get up 0-and-2 on a hitter and then start nibbling. Despite all the success in the minors, he didn't seem to trust his stuff. Snell's frustrating ways earned him a demotion to the minors a little after the All-Star break. Rather than sulk, he got together with Triple-A pitching coach Kyle Snyder (now Tampa Bay pitching coach) and tweaked his mechanics and position on the mound. The results were instant. His new mechanics and a different pitch mix led to a 3.49 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, and 8.61 K/9 in the second half. Wins may be hard to come by on the Rays, but otherwise Snell looks an awful lot like a No. 3 Fantasy starter.
— Yants (@YancyEaton) March 20, 2018
National League Pitching Sleepers
George Kurtz - Everyone is afraid that new manager Mickey Calloway is going to go with some kind of platoon at closer between Jeurys Familia and A.J. Ramos even though the pitching coach stated that it will be Familia at the top of that list. I might be worried if Ramos was a LH, but he’s not. Familia will be a Top 10 closer this season.
Michael Waterloo - The only person holding Amir Garrett from being Fantasy relevant is manager Bryan Price. To open spring training, Garrett was the ninth pitcher on the Reds depth chart. But after the performance that Garrett has put forth during the spring, even Price can't mess this one up. Anthony DeSclafani and Brandon Finnegan are hurt yet again, leaving the door open for Garrett to nail down one of the final two rotation spots. Outside of Luis Castillo, no pitcher on the Reds has more upside than Garrett. Remember, prior to getting called up last year, Garrett had a ton of helium behind him as a top prospect. He was held back with an injured him last year, but has a plus-fastball, a plus-slider and a good changeup, and can be a SP3 for your Fantasy team this year.
Tim McCullough - As an elite groundball pitcher (58.6 percent GB rate), the Rockies hoped Tyler Chatwood would thrive in the Coors Field environment, and to an extent they were right. However, whenever he pitched outside his home park, his ERA (3.49) and Hard Hit percentage (29.1 percent) were also terrific. That’s why the Cubs signed Chatwood this winter. They believe that with some coaching he can reduce his walk rate, increase his strikeout rate and help him capitalize on his worm-burning groundball rate. You can select him in the final rounds of your draft or pick him up for a buck or two at auction and potentially join the Cubs in stealing this gem from the clutches of Coors.
Jake Ciely - Luis Castillo nears 100 mph on the radar, has a devastating changeup and a terrific slider. If Castillo makes the jump to 180 innings, he'll flirt with 200 strikeouts. In case you are wondering, only 16 pitchers reached that mark last year. Castillo also held opposing hitters to a .198 AVG, which only three of those 16 pitchers managed to do.
Scott Engel - It won't be too long before Brad Ziegler is taken out of the closer role. The Marlins are not a contender and don't need to have the veteran linger in the spot. Kyle Barraclough will get the opportunity and will lock down the job quickly with his impressive arsenal. Don't forget about him just because it did not happen last year as hoped.
Doug Anderson - Do you really think Alex Wood, Rich Hill, and Hyun-Jin Ryu will all stay healthy? Of course not. When that inevitable injury comes Walker Buehler will be ready. In his short late season audition Buehler had issues with control. A look at his minor league numbers says this won't be a long-term problem. Buehler has high octane stuff and his strikeout potential is off the charts. Who will have the most impact of any pitcher called up this year in the National League? Buehler? Buehler? Anyone?
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Jeff Roberson
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