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Much like my Second Baseman Busts post recently, I feel a definition for what makes a Starting Pitcher Sleeper is equally important. A Sleeper has more flexibility in definition than a bust does in my eyes at least. For me, a sleeper is a player who is drafted in the mid-to-late rounds in drafts and performs significantly better than their draft position.

For example, a pitcher taken in the 14th round of a Fantasy draft this year but performs at a Top 50 pitcher would be considered a sleeper to me. Although I loved Corey Kluber’s breakout season, I am not likely going to find another sleeper as dramatic as he was.

What I do hope to accomplish is digging into some numbers, peripherals, and perhaps a change of scenery to find players you can wait on in drafts, or can target for relatively cheap in Dynasty and Keeper leagues.

If these pitchers meet their draft value, you don’t lose anything, but if they EXCEED it, you have already earned a victory and found a certified sleeper pick.

Let’s dig in and find value in some starting pitcher sleepers.

Starting Pitcher Sleepers

Mixed League Sleepers

Jeff Samardzija, San Francisco Giants

Samardzija was about as much of a Jekyll and Hyde pitcher in his 2014 through 2015 seasons. His ERA jumped up just under two points last season. He gave up 30 more hits, had 40 less strikeouts, and gave up a whopping 29 home runs and 118 runs scored.

Needless to say, a far cry compared to his solid 2014 season. Aside from the win column, Shark’s numbers and confidence took a huge hit.

Enter the Giants, a team with an arguably better lineup, better defense, and no Designated Hitter. His current ADP in NFBC drafts is 165 and if he can bounce back close to his 2014 form, that is some fantastic value folks.

Joe Ross, Washington Nationals

Ross is not a lock for a rotation spot with the Nationals, but he is certainly the favorite. As soon as he joined the organization in 2014, he impressed and climbed quickly up the ranks. He made his first MLB starts last season, and stuck in the big leagues with some solid numbers over his first 10 games.

In 76.2 Major League innings, he ended up with 69 Ks, five wins, an ERA of 3.64 and a WHIP of 1.11, which is more than serviceable. Assuming he snags the fifth rotation spot, and that should be a safe assumption for now barring any other moves by the Nationals, Ross remains an unknown and with that comes fantastic value, which is why he is one of my starting pitcher sleepers.

His current NFBC ADP is around 210, so another late round gem. One thing that needs to be pointed out, however, is he may be on an innings limit of some sort due to his youth, and long-term plans. If this is the case, he also makes a perfect sell-high candidate around the All-Star break.

 

Deep League Sleepers

AL-Only Sleepers

Eduardo Rodriguez, Boston Red Sox   

I really enjoyed owning and watching this kid develop last season. He has three-plus pitches and held his own no matter where he pitched in 2015. Fenway is not the easiest of parks to pitch in, nor is Yankee stadium.

He struggled as most young southpaw pitchers do against lefties, but otherwise held a BABIP of .289, and a K rate of 7.25 per 9 innings.

Not too shabby for a guy who is currently outside the top 200 NFBC ADP in mixed leagues. In AL-Only leagues, he is a fantastic mid-to-late round pick here with plenty of upside. I would do cartwheels if he is my third or fourth Starter in an AL-Only league this season.

Andrew Heaney, Los Angeles Angels   

To most it will look like a tale of two-halves for Heaney, but his control was there all season long and his fast start was exciting to see. Screaming out of the gate with a 5-0 record in his first five starts, a 1.79 ERA and 31 Ks had Angels’ fans on the edge of their seats.

He still remains a highly touted prospect and if his first real taste of the Majors is any signal of what is to come, he is well worth the risk in 2016 and still affordable.

 

NL-Only Sleepers

Jerad Eickhoff, Philadelphia Phillies

Eickhoff seemingly came out of nowhere late in the season and did nothing but make hitters miss. He doesn’t have dominant speed, but his off-speed pitches are filthy and it equated to a 8.65 K/9 rate. Those numbers may in fact dip a bit in 2016, but for now he is well worth a flyer, especially in NL-Only leagues, and perhaps mixed leagues as the season progresses. Any pitcher who racks up the strikeouts, and has a dazzling 2.65 ERA and .257 BABIP should be monitored, but also taken with a grain of salt.

Steven Matz, New York Mets   

Matz was easily one of my favorite starting pitcher sleepers and late round flyer last season as the hype continued to build on his talent. However, injuries interrupted his call to the major leagues after dominating the PCL of all places.

When he did return from the injury to the majors, he looked like his old self with a sparkling ERA of 2.27, 8.58 K/ 9 and all in the post-season push. That is impressive and Matz should not be overlooked in 2016. In NL-Only leagues he is a must, and certainly a viable Mixed League pitcher as well.

 

Early 2016 Fantasy Baseball Rankings
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