Every fantasy season people look for the best players to get to lead their team. Realistically, however, you cannot get every 5-star athlete and you have to pick up a few guys who fly under the radar, but still produce. We call them the “sleepers”. This list will be three of the starting pitcher sleepers.
Starting off the list at number one is Tyler Chatwood. Chatwood will be rounding out the starting rotation this season for the Chicago Cubs after a five year career with the Colorado Rockies. Durability is the biggest issue with Chatwood as in his 6 year MLB career he has never surpassed 158.0 innings. However, starting at the 5th spot, the Cubs do not expect him to be a work-horse for them. Realistically, if he can produce 155-180 innings in the 2018 season, he will be just what the Cubs are expecting. Switching over to the Cubs will be a huge help to Chatwood as he has a strong defense behind him. This is beneficial to a pitcher of his style as he relied on ground-balls for 58.1% of his putouts in the 2017 season, one of the highest in the MLB. Over the past two seasons with the Rockies the six-foot right hander produced a 4.28 ERA. While this does not exactly stand out, it is worth mentioning that when he was on the road his ERA dropped significantly to 2.57. Being out of Coors Field made a huge impact on the success of Chatwood, and while he will not be an Ace anytime soon, he is sure to make a solid pitcher who you can get in the later rounds.
Coming in at the 2 spot is Mike Clevinger. “But he hasn’t even officially made the finalized rotation yet!” Here me out. In the 2017 season, the 6-foot 4-inch, right hander appeared in 27 games, starting 21 of them. He posted a 3.11 ERA and 137 strikeouts over 121.2 innings pitched. Control seems to be the biggest issue for Clevinger (4.4 walks per 9-innings pitched), however, he still managed 10.1 strikeouts per 9-innings pitched. The 27-year-old did show that when he is accurate, he can be deadly. Having an arsenal of four pitches, 12.4% of his strikes were swung at and missed. While replacing Clevinger would result in a predicted 3.1 losses, the Indians have a good, consistent pitcher in their hands. For this reason, Clevinger will go roughly 140-160 innings this season, and will be a great addition to any fantasy team as a starter who can be picked up cheaply, or in later rounds.
Rounding out the third spot is Taijuan Walker. The 6-foot 4-inch, right-hander, did not impress last season with an 8-8 record, 3.49 ERA, and 1.328 WHIP starting 28 games. However, he was plagued with injuries last season, battling heel blisters throughout the season. As far as his arm went, however, it stood up to the challenge of 157.1 innings pitched with the introduction of his slider. Walker also calls Chase Field his home, which increases runs scored by roughly 20%, ranking the third toughest place to pitch in the MLB, which is noticeable with his road ERA being on 2.92. Luckily for Walker, the Diamondbacks have added Jarrod Dyson to the outfield which should help the club defensively. Alongside the addition of Dyson, a full season from Ketel Marte should bring some more defensive into the infield at the shortstop position, where the team struggled last year. In addition to these two player additions, Chase Field is set to get a humidor. This should make the stadium more favorable for pitchers, putting it in the conversation with parks like AT&T and Petco, as well as Dodger Stadium; all of which are notoriously great for pitchers. Walker should be a 14-15 win pitcher this season, assuming he can avoid anymore foot problems, which should be behind him. He will make a great late round pick for a team on a budget, who needs someone that will produce. Walker will most likely bring his ERA down to 3.15 as well, which should help the team produce more wins at home.
This concludes the list for three sleeping pitchers lurking the draft table in 2018. Look to pick one of them up on the cheap, or in late rounds for a solid addition to your fantasy team.
All Picture Credit: MLB.Com