Today we wrap up starting pitcher coverage with our SLEEPERS, everyone’s favorite post. I know, because the pageviews tell me so. Anyway, it’s a fun one always. Hopefully there’s a name here that you weren’t considering, otherwise we could have done a bit better.
As for the definition of sleeper, some put an ADP number on it. I am not so strict. We’ll operate from the idea that a sleeper is anyone who can significantly outperform their draft position. As such, you’ll see an interesting list here.
Join us in the comments with sleepers of your own!
Trevor Rogers, Miami Marlins (Mark Abell)
NFBC ADP: 91.52
Draft rank: 38th
One thing Miami does all too well is produce elite pitcher after elite pitcher. Trevor made big strides last season thanks to an increase in his velocity. He had a 2.64 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP last year, with a 7-8 record and striking out 10.62 per nine innings. He gets hard hit off his fastball and he walks batters at an average level, but his changeup is elite (33.7% whiff rate). He has now seen two straight years of success with it and has upped his usage of that pitch to almost 30%. At this point he should continue to dominate, putting him among the 20 best pitchers in the league.
Bailey Ober, Minnesota Twins (Skyler Carlin)
NFBC ADP: 254.96
Draft rank: 99th
Bailey Ober made his major league debut for the Minnesota Twins in 2021, where he was understandably inconsistent in his 92 1⁄3 innings pitched. After posting a K/9 of 10 or higher in every year he spent in the minors, Ober recorded a K/9 of 9.36 in 2021. He also had a 4.19 ERA while allowing 1.95 HR/9. Given the fact that his four-seam fastball only reached an average velocity of 92.4 MPH in 2021, maybe using the four-seam 58% of the time led to his woes. Ober also has a changeup, a slider, and a curveball in his pitching arsenal that he could improve upon for the 2022 season. Seeing that the Twins don’t have a star-studded rotation, playing time shouldn’t be an issue for Ober as he’s projected to be the second or third pitcher in Minnesota’s rotation. If he can lower his fastball usage and get more control of his other pitches, Ober could be a nice value with a NFBC ADP of 259.78.
Tony Gonsolin, Los Angeles Dodgers
NFBC ADP: 308.22
Draft rank: 122nd
What if I told you, you could go beyond pick 250 overall and still get the #3 starter on the Dodgers? That’s right, as of right now the third guy in the World Series favorites’ starting rotation is Tony Gonsolin. Since his major league debut, Gonsolin has a 2.85 ERA with a 1.09 WHIP over 142 1⁄3 innings pitched. Those are pretty great numbers. Last year, he saw a huge jump in walked issued. I think it was due to his multiple IL stints. He was never able to get in a groove with consistent starts. His Statcast numbers back up a potential breakout. Gonsolin was 85th percentile in xSLG and 88th percentile in xBA. He also had 78th percentile hard hit percentage. At his current ADP, Gonsolin just needs to be the pitcher he already has been in the majors to be a fantasy asset.
Eric Lauer, Milwaukee Brewers (Andrés Chávez)
NFBC ADP: 310.13
Draft rank: 123rd
One of the most underrated starters in baseball, Lauer quietly finished with a 3.19 ERA in 118 2⁄3 innings in 2021. Don’t sleep on his second half improvement: he posted a 3.83 ERA in the first half and a 2.60 ERA after the break, in 62 1⁄3 innings. After the All-Star Game, the left-hander increased his K/BB to 3.71, from 2.25 before the halt. It’s nice to have a guy who could finish with an ERA around 3.50 and nearly a strikeout per inning at his price (314 ADP in NFBC).
Dakota Hudson, St. Louis Cardinals (Heath Capps)
NFBC ADP: 412.00
Draft rank: 160th
The 160th pitcher off the NFBC board has a career 3.14 ERA? Sign me up! You’re getting the low ADP cost here due to last year’s elbow injury, but Hudson returned to the majors last year after working his way back from Tommy John surgery in under a year. Another offseason removed from that should (theoretically) add to his health and strength. He isn’t going to wow you with his strikeout ability, but he’s a ground ball artist who is backed by a great Cardinals defense. Add in that the home park is a great one for pitchers and that St. Louis should again be a playoff contender, and I’m loving the spot to build in some ratio help this late in my draft and holds.