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2018 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers: Starting Pitchers

Nine starting pitchers who might vastly outplay their draft position.

MLB: Spring Training-Los Angeles Angels at Colorado Rockies Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Blake Snell, Tampa Bay Rays (ADP: 215.5)

Snell has the potential to post a 25.0% strikeout rate, but the concern is his high walk rate. His second half of the season was spectacular as he posted a 3.49 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and a 3.2 BB/9. His success the second time around was due to a position change on the mound. If Snell can continue the success he had in the second half, he could be a top 30 pitcher in 2018.

Michael Clevinger, Cleveland Indians (ADP: 218.0)

Clevinger was just named one of the Indians’ rotation pieces, so expect his ADP to climb. With his elite strikeout rate and swinging strike rate last season, he has become one of the industry's favorite sleeper picks. His one major flaw is his knack for walking batters. With a 12.0% walk rate, Clevinger could be this year's Robbie Ray.

Tanner Roark, Washington Nationals (ADP: 250.8)

Why does everyone hate Tanner Roark so much? I really don't understand why he is going so late in drafts this year. In the past four years, he has posted an ERA below 3.00 twice. He has good control and the upside of a 22.0% strikeout rate. He should get a good amount of wins pitching for a loaded Nationals team this season, so don't be afraid to use a late round pick on this 31-year-old sleeper.

Michael Wacha, St. Louis Cardinals (ADP: 267.2)

It’s easy to forget that Wacha was an All-Star as recently as 2015. With a below average swinging strike rate the past three seasons, it seems that Wacha is spending this spring primarily working on his curveball and cutter. With a good amount of ground balls and low walk rates, Wacha has the potential to be a top 30 starting pitcher if he can miss more bats.

Luiz Gohara, Atlanta Braves (ADP: 288.8)

Gohara made a name for himself after starting the season at A+ and then reaching the majors by the end of the season. When he reached the majors he posted an impressive 13.4% swinging strike rate and 9.51 K/9, making him a consensus top 50 prospect within the industry. At 21 years old he shows a lot of potential, but he does give up a good amount of hard contact and could struggle with walks. His immense upside gives him the potential to be this year’s Robbie Ray, which makes his current ADP a steal in upcoming drafts.

Eduardo Rodriguez, Boston Red Sox (ADP: 338.2)

Rodriguez was a top prospect coming up through the minors, but truly made a name for himself last year as he struck out more than a batter per inning. With a knee injury, Rodriguez is most likely to miss most of April. His immense upside makes him a great pick at his ADP to stash in your DL spot until he returns.

Sean Newcomb, Atlanta Braves (ADP: 350.3)

Newcomb has struggled with command throughout his years as a professional. While the walks may cause him to have a high WHIP, there is no denying his strikeout potential. With a good strikeout and curveball combination and an 11.1% swinging strike rate, there is no reason to believe that Newcomb cannot strikeout more than a batter an inning. Newcomb has the upside of a Brad Peacock but also has the floor of a Nick Pivetta.

Andrew Heaney, Los Angeles Angels (ADP: 423.8)

Heaney has missed a majority of the past two seasons due to injuries, so we have yet to see his full potential. In his small sample size of 21.2 innings last year, we saw him post an incredible 13.5% swinging strike rate. This ability to miss bats could lead to more than a strikeout per inning.

Heaney made his second start this spring on March 5 and looked quite good. He went three innings, striking out five batters and allowing just two hits. Don’t expect Heaney to get a whole lot of innings due to his history of injuries and the potential six-man rotation the Angels may implement with the Shohei Otani joining the team. But on a per-start basis, Heaney could become a viable asset for your fantasy team in 2018.

Tyler Anderson, Colorado Rockies (ADP: 425.0)

With his ability to induce ground balls and soft contact Anderson can limit the number of home runs against him, even if his home park is in Colorado. While his batted ball data is quite impressive, it is his ability to limit walks while also missing bats that really makes him one of the biggest sleepers going into 2018. With a 12.0% swinging strike rate, it is possible that Anderson averages over a strikeout an inning while also having a walk rate below 8%. This would put him in elite company and makes him worth a flier with your last pick of the draft if you are still in need of starting pitching help.

Other Notables: Jameson Taillon, Kevin Gausman, Aaron Sanchez, Dinelson Lamet, Sean Manaea, Patrick Corbin, Jordan Montgomery, German Marquez


Which sleeper are you taking a flier on in 2018?

This poll is closed

  • 29%
    Blake Snell, Tampa Bay Rays
    (241 votes)
  • 33%
    Michael Clevinger, Cleveland Indians
    (268 votes)
  • 11%
    Tanner Roark, Washington Nationals
    (89 votes)
  • 10%
    Michael Wacha, St. Louis Cardinals
    (87 votes)
  • 15%
    Luiz Gohara, Atlanta Braves
    (123 votes)
808 votes total Vote Now