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Staff Post: Pitchers to target in 2020

The Fake Teams writers tell you who to target on the mound in 2020.

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If you’ve been following along for the last month and a half, you know the drill by now. Each man among us will give you one of his favorite targets at the position. And later today, we’ll tell you who to avoid. So be sure to circle back around this afternoon...

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Patrick Corbin, Nationals (Mark Abell)

NFBC ADP: 45.84

Corbin is currently being drafted around pick 45 in NFBC drafts. 15 pitchers pitched at least 200 innings last year. Corbin is one of those 15, and one of only six players to have back-to-back seasons of 200+ innings pitched. So he’s durable. Among those 15 players last season, Corbin ranked sixth in SIERA, 8th in K/9, 7th in K/BB, 5th in ERA, 9th in wins, had the sixth fewest losses, and was seventh lowest in HR/9. He is a top five pitcher in 2020.

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Corey Kluber, Rangers (Garrett Atkins)

NFBC ADP: 101.05

If you remove 2019, Corey Kluber has averaged 218 innings pitched and 246 strikeouts per season since 2014. He owns a 2.85 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP over that same stretch. Remember, Kluber broke his arm on a line drive comebacker in 2019. A fluke injury. He is one of the most consistent arms in baseball. Let’s not write him off after a poor seven-game stretch. In 2017, Kluber had a 5.06 ERA over his first six starts. Then, he went on to win the Cy Young that same season! Kluber still has “best pitcher in baseball” upside. How many pitchers can say that about who have an ADP of 100 overall?

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Jesus Luzardo, Athletics (Jonathan Butler)

NFBC ADP: 122.10

Jesus Luzardo hasn’t had the easiest road to the majors after having Tommy John surgery in 2016 and then issues with his rotator cuff last year. But he enters 2020 healthy, and is looking to prove to the league what he can bring. Throughout his time in the minors, Luzardo displayed his command and control with a walk rate sitting around 6% and a strikeout rate around 28%. He has excellent command of his nasty fastball and slider, with a changeup that is still improving. Luzardo has opened Spring Training with 5 Ks and 0 BBs in 5 innings pitched, and he is ready to turn into a fantasy stud. He is going after guys like Mike Soroka, Zack Wheeler, and Frankie Montas. In a great ballpark and with a high ceiling, Luzardo is a steal at 122nd overall.

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Lance McCullers Jr., Astros (Heath Capps)

NFBC ADP: 190.80

I drafted McCullers at pick 220 in The Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational, and I’m thankful he hung around the board that long, as I got even more of an injury discount than what is currently happening in NFBC leagues. McCullers is entering 2020 healthy after missing all of 2019 due to Tommy John surgery. McCullers has amassed a 3.64 ERA and 10.10 K/9 over the course of his career, and he is still only 26 years old. A realistic over/under for innings is around 120, according to Houston brass. But given the state of the Houston rotation, it wouldn’t surprise me if McCullers surpassed 130 innings—which is the number that the ATC projects.

In his first outing of the spring, McCullers faced three men, threw 10-of-16 pitches for strikes, and hit 94 mph on the radar gun. He also struck out Paul Goldschmidt with his curveball. More than the results, though, is the health. We already know McCullers is good. If he can approach 130 innings, you’re looking at a sub-4.00 ERA and more than a strikeout per inning. I’ll take that from my fifth starter, which is what McCullers is to me in TGFBI. It’s time to see that awesome curve on display again!

Well, that’s it for targets. Of course, there are tons more to choose from. These were just a select few. Who are you guys and gals drafting this year?