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2022 Fantasy Baseball: 5 potential breakout pitchers to target

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These hidden gems will help you accumulate strikeouts and some excellent ratios next season.

MLB: ALCS-Boston Red Sox at Houston Astros Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Fantasy baseball is all about value: getting early-round production with your late-round pick or at the waiver wire. Maximizing every selection is a must, and we help you do that by identifying five potential breakout pitchers for the 2022 season.

5 Potential Breakout Pitchers For 2022

Tanner Houck, Boston Red Sox

After losing several pitchers to free agency, including Eduardo Rodriguez, the Boston Red Sox should be able to hand a rotation spot to right-handed phenom Tanner Houck out of Spring Training.

Let’s hope he can have some role stability in 2022. This season, he started 13 games and pitched five out of the bullpen. However, the truth is he has the ability to be an effective mid-rotation starter both in fantasy and real life.

In 2021, he had a 3.52 ERA in 69 frames, but it came with a much better 2.58 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching). He also had 11.35 strikeouts per nine innings, compared to just 2.74 walks. His numbers, and his arsenal, scream “breakout.”

Nate Pearson, Toronto Blue Jays

The baseball world has been waiting for a Nate Pearson breakout for at least a couple of seasons now. The flamethrower, however, hasn’t been healthy for the most part. He had to deal with a sports hernia in 2021, but Toronto Blue Jays’ general manager Ross Atkins said he should be good to go for Spring Training.

When healthy, Pearson boasts a 100 MPH fastball and a filthy slider that will help him rack up the strikeouts, and good minor league numbers back up his lofty prospect status.

Kansas City Royals v Cleveland Indians Photo by: 2021 George Kubas/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Cal Quantrill, Cleveland Guardians

In a way, you could say Cal Quantrill already broke out in 2021. However, that’s not the case, even though he pitched 40 games (22 starts) and 149.2 innings with a 2.89 ERA. What I’m saying is that there is more potential to be untapped.

In the season as a whole, Quantrill had a 19.6% strikeout rate. During the first half, it was 16.0%, with a 4.23 ERA. But he took it up a notch in the second half, increasing his strikeout rate to 22.4% and had a microscopic 1.94 ERA.

Quantrill plays for a team known for its excellent development of pitchers, and should be one of the hidden gems of the 2022 season.

Ranger Suarez, Philadelphia Phillies

Remember Ranger Suarez from our closer report days? Yes, he was a shutdown reliever for the Phillies, perhaps the only reliable member of an otherwise awful bullpen. He had a 1.12 ERA as a reliever, but since the Phillies also needed some innings and length in the rotation, they sent him there.

Generally speaking, the transition from bullpen arm to starter is somewhat painful, but Suarez was excellent in the rotation, too, with a 1.51 ERA in 65.2 episodes, in which he struck out 65. In other words, he didn’t lose effectiveness at all.

Barring an unexpected development, Suarez will open the year in the Phillies’ rotation. He is somehow flying under the radar, but you should use this to your advantage and grab him for your fantasy team. He won’t have a sub-2.00 ERA again, but he could contribute around 160 innings of a mid-to-high-3.00s ERA and close to a strikeout per frame.

Aaron Ashby, Milwaukee Brewers

Aaron Ashby’s pitching ability is not in question at this point: he impressed in a variety of roles in 2021, with a 4.55 ERA in 31.2 innings, but with a much better 3.58 FIP. His ability to miss bats with multiple pitches, particularly his nasty slider (42 percent whiff rate), makes him a lock for strikeouts.

The only problem with Ashby is that his role appears to be uncertain. The rotation is full, with Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, Freddy Peralta, Eric Lauer, and Adrian Houser, but even in a multi-inning relief role Ashby can break out and help your fantasy team significantly.