2019 Fantasy Baseball Pitching Sleepers: Under-the-radar arms to target in drafts

More than any other position, pitchers tend to drive fantasy owners crazy. The annual fluctuation at this position leaves our heads spinning, as so many hurlers experience changes in their velocity or deal with significant injuries. And because of the volatile nature of the pitching position, winning fantasy owners tend to be the ones who find some gems during the second half of their drafts.

Here are 10 arms who will be available after pick 150 and have the potential to provide production that far exceeds their price tag.

Eduardo Rodriguez, Red Sox (ADP-155)

When healthy, Rodriguez is pretty darn effective. After all, the southpaw went 13-5 with a solid 3.82 ERA and a dazzling 10.1 K/9 rate last season. He also succeeded at limiting line drives (20.1 percent) and hard contact (27.9 percent). The 25 year old’s depressed draft price is surely a reflection on having made fewer than 25 starts in each of his four big league seasons, but Rodriguez is someone with the potential to strike out 200 batters if he moves past persistent knee woes.

Rick Porcello, Red Sox (ADP-161)

Porcello is unique on this list by virtue of having no breakout potential. After all, it’s hard to break out when you earned a Cy Young award (don’t tell Kate Upton) three years ago and won 17 games last season. But fantasy owners are drastically underrating the value that comes from owning an innings eater who posts respectable ratios on one of baseball’s winningest teams. With a 3.99 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP across a whopping 617.2 innings from 2016-18, Porcello is an excellent candidate to be a shallow-league rotation staple.

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Shane Bieber (ADP-166)

Owners who dismiss Bieber on the basis of his rookie season 4.55 ERA are making a massive mistake. The youngster has plenty of swing-and-miss skills (9.3 K/9 rate) and elite control (1.8 BB/9 rate). His undoing last year was an unfortunate .356 BABIP and a 69.4 percent strand rate, and normal luck would have pushed his ERA closer to his 3.30 xFIP. By making improvements against lefty batters, Bieber could be another jewel in a dominant Indians rotation.

Kenta Maeda, Dodgers (ADP-179)

Maeda bounced between the rotation and bullpen last season, logging a career-best 11.0 K/9 rate and posting solid-but-unspectacular ratios (3.81 ERA, 1.26 WHIP). His inconsistent recent role has likely suppressed his draft cost, but the right-hander should be more of a rotation mainstay this season. And with few hurlers tossing 200 innings these days, owners should be happy to watch Maeda work 160-170 frames in front of a talented Dodgers squad.

Jon Gray, Rockies (ADP-198)

Gray carried some fantasy buzz heading into 2018, but any excitement was squashed when he posted an ERA above 5.50 in each of the initial three months of the season. Bad luck (.376 BABIP, 64.0 percent strand rate) played a major role in his first-half struggles, and most owners were quick to jump off before he logged a 1.66 ERA in July and a 4.01 mark in August.

Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Jon Gray throws against the Los Angeles Angels in the first inning of a spring training baseball game Wednesday, March 6, 2019, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Can Jon Gray bounce back in 2019? (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Although his home park is a reasonable deterrent, Gray is a pretty attractive late-round option when noticing that he owns a 3.54 xFIP and a 9.5 K/9 rate across nearly 500 career innings.

Collin McHugh, Astros (ADP-230)

After taking one for the team and dominating out of the bullpen last season (1.99 ERA, 0.91 WHIP), McHugh will get his chance to reclaim a rotation spot this year. Although the right-hander won’t match his per-inning relief success, he posted a solid 3.70 ERA, a 1.25 WHIP and an 8.4 K/9 rate across 102 starts with the Astros from 2014-17. With the backing of a talented lineup and deep bullpen, the veteran has the potential to win plenty of games.

Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit
Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit

Seranthony Dominguez (ADP-235)

Although many fantasy owners ignore relievers who aren’t poised to hold a closer’s role, those who win their leagues know that skilled setup men are vitally important in the Yahoo standard format. Such is the case with Dominguez, who will now mainly work the seventh or eighth innings before watching offseason acquisition David Robertson secure most narrow wins. As someone who limited baserunners (0.93 WHIP) and induced plenty of grounders (55.7 percent) and soft contact (55.7 percent) last season, Dominguez should be a lineup fixture in leagues with innings limits.

Ryan Pressly (ADP-238)

Already in middle of a solid season with the Twins, Pressly took off after being traded to the Astros last summer. Across 23.1 innings as a member of Houston’s ultra-effective staff, the right-hander logged a 0.77 ERA, a 0.60 WHIP and a gaudy 10.7 K/BB ratio. As they have done with other hurlers, the Astros had Pressly rely more on his off-speed offerings, and the results were remarkable. Even without recording a single save this season, the 30-year-old could have a major impact in shallow leagues.

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Touki Toussaint (ADP-240)

Toussaint was stellar across a pair of Minor League levels last season (2.38 ERA, 10.8 K/9 rate) before holding his own (4.03 ERA) across his initial 29 frames in the Majors. Although his inconsistent control is a concern, the youngster has enough swing-and-miss ability in his three-pitch arsenal to grab a mixed league bench spot while we all monitor his initial 2019 starts.

Joe Musgrove (ADP-244)

Musgrove owns a puzzlingly low ADP for someone who is entering his prime (26 years old) and posted respectable ratios (4.06 ERA, 1.18 WHIP) last season. Already in possession of elite control skills (career 2.1 BB/9 rate), the right-hander made strides in limiting long balls in 2018 (0.9 HR/9 rate). By making some improvements on the .446 SLG he allowed to lefty batters a year ago, Musgrove could take a major step forward.

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