Dumpster Dives and Dynasty Finds: Pitchers
Each week of draft season, I’ll be digging through the dumpster to find players for the deepest of deep league owners. I’ll also look at some prospects who have a decent acquisition cost in dynasty leagues. The projections next to the player’s name are an average of THE BAT, ATC, Steamer, and ZIPS, projections systems found on Fangraphs. NFBC ADP data is from the date range 02/01/2019-03/20/2019. Let’s dive in to the pitcher pool!
Forrest Whitley, HOU (ADP 250): 577 PA, 57 IP, 4.19 ERA, 4.28 FIP, 1.33 WHIP, 9.59 K/9, 3.87 BB/9, 3 W
Whitley is the top-pitching prospect in all of baseball and it’s for good reason. He’s had double digit K/9 in every stop along the way of the minor leagues thus far. He throws hard, has a great breaking ball, and has plus command. He incurred a bit of a bump in the road last year when he was suspended for 50 games after testing positive for a “drug of abuse”. While it moved his timeline back some, his future remains just as bright as it did before the failed test. He should debut sometime in late 2019 after he shows he can dominate Triple-A. He’s overrated in redraft leagues, in my opinion, but he should be taken much higher than this ADP in dynasty leagues.
Julio Urias, LAD (ADP 274): 74 IP, 3.85 ERA, 4.12 FIP, 1.32 WHIP, 9.18 K/9, 3.77 BB/9, 5 W
Urias has fallen off the radar since making his debut with the Dodgers at age 19. The phenom threw 77 innings to a 3.39 ERA and 9.82 K/9 in 2016 as a teenager. Those are the kind of numbers that typically lead to superstardom. Unfortunately, Urias had a very serious shoulder injury that caused him to pitch just 70 total innings between all levels since. The good news is that Urias is now healthy and throwing harder than ever. He’s going to start out the year in the Dodgers bullpen but with the way LA uses the DL for their starters, it’s likely he gets a few starts. In dynasty leagues it’s imperative that Urias is owned with a target breakout for 2020. He was once the most promising pitcher in the game; let’s see if he can recapture that promise in 2019.
Matt Boyd, DET (ADP 325): 164 IP, 4.38 ERA, 4.46 FIP, 1.29 WHIP, 8.12 K/9, 2.86 BB/9, 9 W
Boyd has been a buzzworthy pitcher in Spring Training so far due to an uptick in velocity. 2017 consisted of 135 innings of awfulness (5.27 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 7.33 K/9) but 2018 showed some real improvement. He threw 170.1 innings and lowered his ERA down to 4.39, the WHIP to 1.16, and raised his K/9 to 8.40. In this pitching environment, those are useful numbers to the back end of your fantasy rotation. The one hesitation I have regarding Boyd is the horrific outfield defense lined up to play behind him. A fly ball pitcher in a big ballpark with slow outfielders? That’s not necessary a recipe for success. Still, he’s a legit 5-pitch starter that has improved velocity and strikeout upside. I’m rolling the dice on Boyd late in drafts.
Michael Pineda, MIN (ADP 333): 118 IP, 4.11 ERA, 3.91 FIP, 1.27 WHIP, 8.55 K/9, 2.33 BB/9, 8 W
Well, here we go again. The Michael Pineda experience is back and open for business and here I am waiting in line to get on the ride. We know how this ends, but the way it ends is actually good for pick 333. This is a pitcher coming off Tommy John surgery but he’s sitting 94-95 with his fastball and throwing that quality slider. The stuff has never been the problem for Michael Pineda, though. He just gives up hit after hit after hit. He’d honestly be better off living outside the zone a bit more. He has good control, put poor command, meaning he throws strikes, just not quality strikes. He’s far too hittable but there’s massive strikeout upside that makes him worth the risk in the late rounds.
Chris Paddack, SD (ADP 344): 122 IP, 3.66 ERA, 3.66 FIP, 1.16 WHIP, 9.09 K/9, 2.13 BB/9, 7 W
My obsession for Chris Paddack hasn’t been hidden. I wrote about him in my weekly FantasyPros article here. The short of it: he’s more likely to be in the MLB rotation than Whitley or Urias and he’s had a more impressive spring. He’s going to be a superstar pitcher and it’s time to buy in now. He should be going 150 picks earlier than his ADP in redraft leagues.
Derek Holland, SF (ADP 375): 145 IP, 4.29 ERA, 4.42 FIP, 1.38 WHIP, 8.10 K/9, 3.60 BB/9, 8 W
In 2013, Holland pitched 213 innings to a 3.42 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, and 7.99 K/9. Since then he’d been either injured or performing much, much worse. Prior to 2017, he threw 135 innings with a 6.20 ERA, 1.71 WHIP, and 6.93 K/9, so I’m not really surprised that owners are discounting his comeback 2018 season with the Giants. In his age 31 season, he threw 171.1 innings and had a 3.57 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, with 8.88 K/9. How’s that for a return to fantasy relevance? The thing is, I’m moving forward with that as the new normal. San Francisco’s Oracle Park fits his pitching style perfectly. He’s a great option for your last pick as the park gives him a high floor.
Caleb Smith, MIA (ADP 501): 118 IP, 4.12 ERA, 4.22 FIP, 1.31 WHIP, 9.17 K/9, 3.69 BB/9, 7 W
Smith is a 27-year old lefty that the Marlins acquired from the Yankees in the Giancarlo Stanton trade. He pitched 77 innings in his Miami debut last season with a 4.19 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, and 10.24 K/9. Just because he’s a Marlins pitcher that posted a 4+ ERA last year doesn’t mean he’s irrelevant for 2019. Check out those strikeout numbers! He’s recovering from offseason lat surgery but he’s been able to get into Spring Training games recently. I’m expecting him to miss a few weeks but given his age, I doubt the Marlins monitor his workload too closely this season. Keep an eye on how his rehab his going so you can pick him up if he’s doing well.
Pitching prospects are a risky proposition, but necessary for the health of your dynasty league. They get injured much more often that hitters and can be harder to predict. Still, you need pitchers and the cheapest way to get them in dynasty leagues is to have them as prospects. I’ve mentioned Whitley and Paddack as pitchers I’m interested in for 2019 and beyond but here are some more that could make noise this season.
Jesus Luzardo, OAK: Age, 21 ETA: 2019
The top lefty pitcher in baseball, Luzardo broke out in a big way in 2018. He pitched across 3 levels including a short (but unsuccessful) stint at Triple-A. He’s likely to start the season back in Triple-A to show that he can master that level before making his debut with the A’s. He’s going to be a stud with high strikeout rates once he finds his groove in the big leagues.
A.J. Puk, OAK: Age 23 ETA: 2019
Puk was primed for a MLB debut sometime in 2018 when his elbow blew out in Spring Training. He underwent Tommy John surgery and is expected to return to game action in June. That puts him on track for a late summer call up to the big leagues if all goes well. Drafted in the first round out of the University of Florida in 2016, Puk has the highest strikeout upside in all the minors. He had about 13 K/9 in the minors in 2017 and scouts see him as a huge upside arm. He’s a tall (6-foot-7) lefty with a unique delivery, mid-90’s fastball, potentially elite slider, and an above average curveball and changeup. Keep an eye on his rehab because Puk is going to be a monster.
Brent Honeywell, TB: Age 23 ETA: 2019
Honeywell’s situation is nearly identical to Puk’s. He’s recovering from the same surgery and was expected to make his debut last year. He’s a righty that throws a plus screwball to go along with a good fastball and multiple other secondary pitches. He doesn’t quite have the strikeout upside of Puk, but he’s still going to be a big plus in that category. He should make his MLB debut sometime in the first half.
Here are some more players that should contribute at the big league level in 2019 (in order of preference for 2019):
Alex Reyes, STL
Kyle Wright, ATL
Mike Soroka, ATL
Josh James, HOU
Justus Sheffield, SEA
Dylan Cease, CWS
Logan Allen, SD
Mitch Keller, PIT
Touki Toussaint, ATL
Jon Duplantier, ARI
Below are some pitchers that I’m high on with ETAs beyond this season (in order of preference):
Casey Mize, DET: Age 21 ETA: 2020
Matt Manning, DET: Age 21 ETA: 2020
Michael Kopech, CWS: Age 22 ETA: 2018 (recovering from Tommy John surgery)
MacKenzie Gore, SD: Age 20 ETA: 2020
Brendan McKay, TB: Age 23 ETA: 2020 (possible two way player)
Sixto Sanchez, MIA: Age 20 ETA: 2020
DL Hall, BAL: Age 20 ETA 2020
J.B. Bukauskas, HOU: Age 22 ETA 2020
Hunter Greene, CIN: Age 19 ETA 2021
Matthew Liberatore, TB: Age 19 ETA 2022