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The Fantasy Lookout: 3 Surprisingly Solid Strikeout Starting Pitchers

strikeout starting pitchers
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There is no doubt that strikeouts are a pitcher’s best friend. If a starting pitcher is able to rack up the strikeouts and limit the free passes, then he is destined for success.

In this week’s Fantasy Lookout, we will take a look at three strikeout starting pitchers that were nearly free at the beginning of the year. All three of these hurlers rank near the top in terms of their K-BB% and swinging strike rate. We will take a look under the hood and see if their past success should continue in the future.

3 Surprisingly Solid Strikeout Starting Pitchers

Brad Peacock, Houston Astros

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Brad Peacock started the year off in the Houston bullpen, but since late May he has been a solid starter for the Astros. In fact, Peacock has been one of the game’s top strikeout starting pitchers. For the season as a whole among pitchers with at least 90 innings pitched, Peacock has the fifth best strikeout rate, 16th best K-BB%, and 18th best swinging strike rate. When you break down his strikeout metrics as a starter (77.2 IP) and reliever (20.1 IP), there is an insignificant difference.

When you look at Peacock’s batted ball profile, you see that he has done a great job of limiting solid contact. Peacock has posted the 14th lowest hard hit rate among pitchers with 90 innings pitched and has also limited line drives at a level less than the league average. The future looks bright for Peacock and his success should continue. Given his preseason NFBC ADP as the 208th RP off the board, his owners have turned quite a profit.

Jimmy Nelson, Milwaukee Brewers

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After a decent first full campaign in 2015, Jimmy Nelson regressed quite a bit last year. He saw his walk rate increase, strikeout rate fall, and both his ERA and WHIP balloon. Not a good combination. However, he seems back on track in 2017 as he ranks 17th in strikeout rate, 14th in K-BB%, and 31st in swinging strike rate among pitchers with at least 90 innings pitched.

Nelson has produced a ground ball rate north of 50-percent and his hard hit rate allowed is less than the league average. Nelson has had success this year despite his .346 BABIP. A slightly elevated line drive rate of 22.3-percent is to blame, but given his ability to induce soft contact (13th lowest in baseball), luck has not been on his side. Not many Fantasy owners were expecting a bounce back season out of Nelson, given his preseason NFBC ADP as the 137th SP off the board. However, those that took plunge have to be very pleased. Everything that Nelson has done looks to be repeatable and his future looks solid.

Zack Godley, Arizona Diamondbacks

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Zack Godley has been a pleasant surprise for the Diamondbacks this year. He started the season off in Triple-A and didn’t make his first start until April 26. Currently, among pitchers with at least 90 innings pitched, Godley ranks 18th in strikeout rate, 23rd in K-BB%, and seventh in swinging strike rate. He also ranks within the Top 15 in terms of both ERA and WHIP in all of baseball.

Godley’s batted ball profile is a thing of beauty. He holds a ground ball rate north of 55-percent and a line drive rate under 20-percent, all while limiting hard contact at a level significantly less than the league average. Godley looks to be the real deal and he is more than just one of the top strikeout starting pitchers. He has even been unfazed by the hitter friendly Chase Field, as his home/road splits are quite similar. With a preseason NFBC ADP as the 251st SP off the board, Godley did not have many supporters in March. However, his breakout campaign looks to be the start of many good things to come.


Looking at a pitcher’s batted ball profile and K-BB% is a great way to determine future success. The above mentioned strikeout starting pitchers tick all of the boxes and all of their futures look bright. Don’t forget about any of them come draft day next year. Until the next Fantasy Lookout, enjoy the games!


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Fabian Taylor

Fabian Taylor lives in Vancouver, BC. In his previous life, he traded natural gas for a couple firms in Calgary. He now trades stocks, bonds, and commodities out of a float home office. Family, finance and Fantasy Sports -- Is there anything else?
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