2017 Fantasy Baseball Breakout Pitchers: Keep An Eye On These Starters
Finding quality pitching on your Fantasy Baseball team can be challenging and finding breakout starting pitchers is even tougher.
It is a long season and pitchers tend to deal with a multitude of injuries.
Even the most reliable pitchers can struggle or get hit with an injury (I am looking at you David Price).
In spite of these risks, every season there are pitchers that can provide good value for your team.
As you go into drafts this year, here are three pitchers who are prime for a possible breakout.
2017 Fantasy Baseball Breakout Pitchers
Aaron Nola, Philadelphia Phillies
Before having his 2016 season derailed with a low-grade flexor tendon sprain, Nola was putting up some great numbers. He posted a 2.65 ERA through 12 starts. Nola had a 4.17 strikeout to walk ratio, which would have placed him in the Top 15 pitchers in the Major Leagues last year. He was also one of the league leaders in called strike percentage.
His stuff is comparable with the best pitchers in the game. A high ground ball rate helps to reduce home runs and keeps his team in the game. The Philadelphia Phillies have the potential to be more competitive this season, which will also help his ability to get wins. If Nola can stay healthy, there is a great deal of potential for a tremendous season.
This spring, Nola’s velocity is sitting around 93-92 mph. This is higher than the 90 mph he was at last year. Obviously, this increase in velocity is due to all the rest he received during the offseason, but this is a really good sign. Until he proves the ability to pitch an entire Major League season, his health will continue to be a question mark. His current ADP is around 209 which is great spot to take some risks in your draft.
Blake Snell, Tampa Bay Rays
In 2016, Snell struck out 98 batters in 89 innings pitched. When looking for breakouts, it always helps to bet on a left hander that throws hard and has that kind of a K rate. A 9.9 K/9 helps to alleviate many problems. Keep in mind that Snell is only 25 this season. Last season, the Rays were careful with Snell, limiting his innings and thus frustrating the Fantasy community. This year Snell should be free to increase his workload. The wins, WHIP, and ERA gains should follow. This is a recipe for a Top 30 pitcher.
Snell struggled with his command at times in the zone last season. A 12.7% walk rate affected his ability to pitch deep into games. With another year behind him, this should improve. Pitching in the AL East can be difficult and the Rays do not have the most effective offense. Wins could be at a premium, but Snell’s strikeout ability can mitigate these negatives.
Dylan Bundy, Baltimore Orioles
Bundy has been one of the top prospects in the game for the past few years. However, injuries, including Tommy John in 2013 have delayed his progress. In the second half of 2016, the Orioles began to stretch Bundy out and let him be a starter. His K/9 in the second half was a nice 9.6. This shows the kind of upside he possesses. He also compiled a FIP of 4.70 in 2016, which is a bit concerning and shows that he can struggle.
There have been some research showing that he struggled to get through the lineup as he went later into games. However, this spring, he has done some work to alleviate this concern. Bundy has four extremely effective pitches now that he has added a cutter to his arsenal this spring. Having this new fourth pitch could be a large part of what leads him to breakout in 2017. He also shows an ability to generate pop ups, which is the most effective out available to pitchers. If he can continue to strike out batters at a quality rate and induce pop ups at his current rate, he has the chance to be a special pitcher.
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