Hello and Welcome back Fantasy freaks and geeks.
In constructing your roster, fantasy owners want to fill their bench spots with pitchers, more specifically, upside pitchers. More pitchers on your roster lead to more opportunities and choices. Streaming pitchers and gaining the advantage of pitchers with two starts in a week are essential strategies in winning your fantasy leagues.
You had a chance to read about my Hitting Super Sleepers, I now bring you five pitchers who have a FantasyPros ADP of 350 or larger that I believe can help you win your fantasy baseball leagues.
2019 Fantasy Baseball Pitching Super Sleepers
Trevor May, SP/RP, Minnesota Twins (FantasyPros Overall ADP #373)
Trevor May is considered the front-runner for the closer job for the Minnesota Twins. May put together quite a season last year after missing 2017 due to Tommy John surgery. The 29-year-old went 4-1 with a 3.20 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, and 36:5 K: B over 25.1 innings.
If you remove the dreadful September 4 outing as an opener against Cleveland in which he gave up four earned runs in a single inning, May’s ERA clocked in at 1.85 last season. He finished the season with six consecutive scoreless appearances, including a line of 3.0 innings, zero hits, six strikeouts, and one walk over his three successful save attempts.
The Twins utilized May in various pitching roles last season but eventually ended up finishing the season as their closer. He has the arsenal of a closer and big strikeout pedigree. He averages 12.1 strikeouts per nine innings a reliever for this career. Furthermore, he averaged 12.7 K/9 over his past two seasons pitched. For comparison's sake, the top three closers in the saves category last year were Seattle's Edwin Diaz (career 14.2 K/9), Colorado's Wade Davis (career 11.5/9 since becoming a reliever), and Boston's Craig Kimbrel (career 14.7 K/9).
The right-hander will have competition this Spring Training in the form of newly signed Blake Parker, who has 22 saves over the last two seasons for the Los Angeles Angels. Parker is better suited for the setup man role based upon his pitching profile. May displayed a quality swing and miss production (15.4% SwStr%). At the current FantasyPros ADP, the selection of Trevor May fits in perfectly with the draft strategy of waiting on a closer as I discussed in the 2019 Fantasy Baseball Relief Pitcher Preview: Sigh of Relief.
Jesus Luzardo, SP, Oakland A's (FantasyPros Overall ADP #365)
"In my opinion, this guy is going to be an elite pitcher in the big leagues." A's top prospect Jesús Luzardo stole the show with some downright nasty stuff in his second Cactus League outing https://t.co/BEN8SsEIT9
— Martín Gallegos (@MartinJGallegos) February 28, 2019
Jesus Luzardo, a Baseball America top-10 prospect is unlikely to start the season in the majors. However, the southpaw will arrive in Oakland in 2019; the only question is when.
Luzardo has completed a swift recovery after undergoing Tommy John surgery in high school in 2016. The 21-year-old pitched at three levels last season, making it to Triple-A for his final four starts. He made a combined 23 starts and finished with a 10-5 record with a 2.88 ERA, and 129 strikeouts in 109.1 innings pitched.
MLB Pipeline ranked Jesus Luzardo No.12 overall on their national Top 100 list last summer and also named him the best left-handed pitching prospect in baseball. His fastball touches 98 mph with a high spin rate, his changeup has been called the best in the minors, and he can dial down his curveball as slow as 67 mph — the “turkey sub,” as it’s now known. Scouts marvel at this polish and poise at such a young age along with his supreme control, which is the best in the minors according to MLB’s Jim Callis (for two straight years now).
The left-handed Luzardo is a special talent and the next A's pitching stud. The A's current rotation is full of concerns. He should emerge as a serious candidate to be in the Opening Day rotation. Keep an eye on this young ace. He is one of the elite prospects in baseball and should be selected in all but possible shallow leagues. Luzardo is an excellent selection deep in your drafts based on his vast potential. Along with his extreme pitch arsenal, he should benefit from the pitcher's park and a top A's defense.
Will Smith, RP, San Francisco Giants (FantasyPros Overall ADP #386)
After returning from Tommy John surgery in May, Will Smith held the closer role for the second half of the season. He saved 14 games in 18 chances while posting a career-best 2.55 ERA. The 29-year-old posted 12.06 K/9 along with a .098 WHIP, 71:15 K: BB and 2.07 FIP across 53 innings pitched.
The southpaw is the best bet to open the season in the Giants' closer's role. However, there are concerns for Fantasy owners on how long he will hold onto to that role. There is competition within the Giants organization. Mark Melancon, who signed to a very lucrative contract in 2017, has failed to live up to his contract or even take over as the closer. After strong rookie seasons last year, Reyes Moranta and Ray Black look to be the future of the Giants' bullpen.
Another concern for Fantasy owners is how long is Will Smith going to be on the Giants? Smith has been the nucleus of a lot of trade rumors this offseason. Smith will be a free agent after 2019, which seems to make it inevitable that Smith will get traded. Keeping the southpaw as the closer will boost his trade value.
In shallow leagues, Smith is not even being drafted. At the very least, Smith should be on your Opening Day rosters to accumulate his saves chances. If you punt saves, owners will need to be reasonably active on the waiver wire to obtain the next man up for saves throughout baseball. That also holds for relievers who lose save chances because of either being ineffective or traded then subsequently placed in a different role. Will Smith is a great dart throw to collect saves early in the season and worth a late-round selection.
Justus Sheffield, SP, Seattle Mariners (FantasyPros Overall ADP #432)
Justus Sheffield "is ready," Kyle Seager's flexibility is helping him drive the ball to LF, and Shed Long... doesn't drink water?
— 710 ESPN Seattle (@710ESPNSeattle) March 1, 2019
Justus Sheffield, acquired in the James Paxton deal to the Yankees, has been exceptional for the Mariners so far this spring, allowing just one hit and one walk with six strikeouts through four scoreless innings.
The 22-year-old produced a 2.48 ERA and 123:50 K: BB in 116 innings and held opponents to a .195 average against between Double-A and Triple-A last season. The southpaw is regarded as one of the top left-handed pitching prospects in all of baseball. He pitched well enough to earn a September call-up with the New York Yankees last season.
Sheffield has a realistic chance to crack the Mariners' Opening Day rotation out of Spring Training, especially considering the state of Seattle's rotation. It seems that the Mariners are looking forward to Sheffield being a member of their rotation.
“Very confident,” Seattle Mariners manager Scott Servais said of his impression of Sheffield. “He’s ready to take the next step in his career, and the next step’s really the big league level. When does that happen? Does he break with us Opening Day? Is it somewhere during the season? He’s ready. You can see it when he takes the mound, he knows this is his time and he’s ready to go and grab it.”
Justus Sheffield will be a member of the Mariners rotation this season. Power left-handers are gold in baseball, and his three-pitch repertoire including a 97 MPH fastball will be the ideal stash option on your fantasy roster.
AJ Puk, SP, Oakland A's (FantasyPros Overall ADP #566)
#Athletics have 3 players on @BaseballAmerica's Top 100 Prospects list (and 2 of the Top 20)...
#7 LHP Jesus Luzardo (@Baby_Jesus9)
#18 LHP A.J. Puk (@Aj_Puk11)
#72 C Sean Murphy pic.twitter.com/rHpnOVxWnL
— Athletics Farm (@AthleticsFarm) January 23, 2019
A.J. Puk threw his first bullpen session a couple of weeks ago for the first time since last April. He will look to rebound from Tommy John surgery by ramping up his throwing sessions during Spring Training.
The A's No. 2 prospect according to MLB Pipeline is already throwing pitches from flat ground, and he is projected to make his big league debut at some point this season.
The 6-foot-7 southpaw struck out 184 batters in just 125 innings between Class A Stockton and Double-A Midland in 2017. That incredible 13.2 strikeouts-per-nine innings led all of Minor League Baseball. During Spring Training last season, Puk went 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA in four games including three starts before his injury.
MLB.com ranks him as the fourth-best left-handed pitching prospect in all of baseball. The Oakland A's will be extra cautious with their talented left-hander. He could be an excellent addition for the A's during their playoff push and a pitcher that owners should speculate and stash in deeper formats.
|2019 Fantasy Baseball Position Previews|
|Catcher||First Base||Second Base||Third Base||Shortstop||Outfield||Starting Pitcher||Relief Pitcher|
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