With all the depth and inconsistency with starting pitching, it’s important to plan your 2017 Fantasy Baseball Late Round Pitcher Targets on draft day. Starting pitching can be one of the most inconsistent positions in sports, so drafting it in later rounds is advantageous. This allows you to load up on hitting in earlier rounds, where you can find the most consistent production.
When drafting starting pitchers in these later rounds, it’s important to draft for upside. Even though big names can be enticing, a majority of big name pitchers in later rounds have limited upside. Examples include Jordan Zimmerman, Michael Wacha, and Adam Wainwright. The best solution is to let other players draft these pitchers and look for 2017 Fantasy Baseball Late Round Pitcher Targets with more upside.
Even though there are many great pitchers with upside in the late 100s like Tanner Roark, Steven Matz, Marco Estrada, Jon Gray, Aaron Nola, and Sean Manaea, we’re going to focus on starting pitcher sleepers worth drafting after pick 200. These are the draft picks that will make the difference between winning and losing teams.
Below are five starting pitcher sleepers worth targeting on draft day to complete your pitching staff.
2017 Fantasy Baseball Late Round Pitcher Targets
Jameson Taillon, Pittsburgh Pirates
Taillon pitched very effectively in his rookie campaign with the Pirates, and will now be second in the rotation. The second year product will have a huge responsibility in a weak rotation, which will give him a lot of starts. Taillon was great in his rookie campaign, going 5-4 with 85 strikeouts, a 3.38 ERA, and a 1.12 WHIP. Taillon only had one game where he allowed more than four earned runs and never had a month with an ERA over four.
The upside from his young arm and the number of starts he should get are attractive in later rounds.
ESPN’s category rankings list Taillon as the 59th pitcher and 217th player overall. So far, Pittsburgh hasn’t listed an inning limit on Taillon, which is important to track. Taillon should benefit from getting 30 starts in one of the most pitcher friendly ballparks in baseball. He also has exactly the kind of upside you should be looking for in pitchers at this point of drafts.
You’re not drafting superstars anymore, you’re placing your chips on the best bets to hit the jackpot. Feel confident in drafting Taillon in the 19th round or after.
Matt Moore, San Francisco Giants
As a Giants fan, I’m excited to see what Moore can do after a full spring of working with the Giants pitching staff. The former Ray showed great promise in a Giants uniform, including a strong postseason appearance. Even though he had a couple rocky performances, Moore’s strikeout totals were great. Moore will learn a lot from the Giants pitching staff and the aces in the rotation. Moore finished last season with a 13-12 record, 178 strikeouts, a 4.08 ERA, and a 1.29 WHIP.
ESPN has the Giants fourth starter ranked as the 64th pitcher, and the 229th overall player. I know his ERA and losses last season don’t make him look too appealing, but I believe in his situation. I see Moore getting 180 strikeouts, a 3.60 ERA, and a 1.22 WHIP, with about 13-14 wins. This is all based on working with a great staff and being in the best pitchers park in the league.
Because Moore isn’t a big name or a young rookie, he shouldn’t be someone you have to reach for in drafts. Feel confident in drafting Moore in the 22nd round of drafts as your sixth or seventh starting pitcher.
Joe Ross, Washington Nationals
The Nationals’ fifth starter had a great season until he missed two months with injury. The second year product from Cal went 7-5, with 93 strikeouts, a 3.43 ERA, and a 1.30 WHIP. Before suffering from shoulder inflammation, he posted a 3.30 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP. Even though he’s a control pitcher and not a strikeout pitcher, Ross has good command. He also has a great pitching staff, rotation, and lineup around him, which puts him in a strong position to succeed.
ESPN has Ross ranked as the 70th pitcher and the 254th overall player. This makes him a 25th round pick in most leagues, which is a great time to draft Ross. Even though the pitcher doesn’t have a high strikeout count, which is usually the main indicator of a pitcher’s success, his control will contribute well to wins, ERA, and WHIP.
Even though this makes me like Ross more in head-to-head categories and points leagues, he’s still a worthwhile look in roto formats. Look to draft Ross in the 25th round in drafts as your SP6 or SP7.
James Paxton, Seattle Mariners
After starting 2016 off in Triple-A and having several rough outings in June, Paxton turned it around in the last two months. Over these last two months, Paxton out-pitched the rest of Seattle’s pitching staff, including Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma. What’s most appealing is his strikeout numbers from 2016, especially in just four months. Paxton finished 2016 going 6-7, with 117 strikeouts, a 3.79 ERA, and a 1.31 WHIP. Both his ERA and WHIP are inflated after a rough first two months in the league, where he had a 4.27 ERA over that span.
ESPN currently has Paxton ranked 194th in their category rankings, but he has been the outlier on their draft software. The draft software has him ranked 255th overall, so right around the same spot as Joe Ross. This makes Paxton a prime starting pitcher sleeper, who should be in line for almost 30 starts if healthy. An optimistic expectation for Paxton in 2017 is 175 strikeouts, a 3.30 ERA, and a 1.25 WHIP. Paxton has great upside in the 25th round, so draft him with confidence a couple rounds earlier.
Zach Davies, Milwaukee Brewers
Davies had a very productive second year for the Brewers, even though he was on a team far from contention. The second year product finished among the top 200 players in Fantasy, and developed very effective pitches. Over his last 20 starts, Davies finished with a 3.48 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP. Davies only had four starts where he gave up over four runs, including a 1.71 ERA in the month of July. Throughout the whole season, he went 11-7, with 135 strikeouts, a 3.97 ERA, and a 1.25 WHIP.
ESPN has Davies ranked as the 72nd pitcher and the 261st overall player. Davies will likely fall in drafts because he’s not a big name on a team that is far from contending. This should actually give Davies a really big leash, and the possibility of hitting 30 starts this season. He also has some great command and strong pitches, which will help his strikeout count. I’m very confident in drafting Davies as a SP7 or a bench player, as he will likely return great value at this point in drafts.
Since bats are always more predictable when it comes to production, drafting pitchers late is always smart. The key is to target starting pitcher sleepers who have upside, as all of the pitchers above do. Focus on winning your categories by targeting pitchers who contribute among as many categories as you can, and by avoiding one trick ponies.
Look for these pitchers to all be strong choices after the 200th pick to finalize your rotation. Be sure and draft for upside at this point in drafts to find your starting pitcher sleepers.
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