Welcome Fantasy friends and foes to my latest installment for the Fantasy Six Pack 2021 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit. I present you my 2021 Fantasy Baseball Pitching Super Sleepers.
A collection of five pitchers who all have an ADP outside of 350 and are free in most Fantasy leagues. Who doesn't like free stuff? Especially if they can help you win your Fantasy leagues!
Finding sleepers, and more importantly, deep sleepers, are a direct path to victory.
So let me show you the way in the 2021 Fantasy Baseball Pitching Super Sleepers.
2021 Fantasy Baseball Pitching Super Sleepers
Get prepared for the upcoming Fantasy Baseball season by using the Fantasy Pros Draft Wizard.
J.A. Happ, SP, Minnesota Twins
New #MNTwins pitcher J.A. Happ was the 54th pitcher selected in the 2004 MLB Draft (92nd overall).
20 of the pitchers selected ahead of him never even reached the Majors. Only two of them have a higher career WAR; Justin Verlander (2nd overall) and Gio Gonzalez (38th overall). pic.twitter.com/ETciREqeDb
— Twins Gems (@TwinsGems) January 25, 2021
J.A. Happ is entering his 15th season in the big leagues with the Minnesota Twins in 2021 after signing a one-year deal last month. Happ will add depth to a Twins starting rotation behind Kenta Maeda, Jose Berrios, and Michael Pineda. He brings consistency and durability to the Minnesota Twins. Happ made at least 25 starts, pitching 140 innings and striking out 130 batters in nine of the past 11 seasons.
The veteran southpaw has been viable for the New York Yankees the last few seasons. His 2019-2020 combined splits include a 14-10 record, 210.2 innings pitched, and a 4.57 ERA.
Happ owns a career 3.98 ERA, 1.301 WHIP, and 8 K/9 in 324 career appearances. He holds a 3.21 ERA in 15 playoff games and averages more than six innings in each start. In his last five starts last season, he struck out 31 hitters in 29.1 innings pitched while allowing only .220 batting average against and a 0.99 WHIP.
The 38-year-old is steady as they come without any significant shortfalls. Happ is a low-risk option for the AL Central favorite Twins and will help solidify their rotation.
Unless you are a Yankees fan, who still blames Happ for their early playoff exit last season, Happ is a deep sleeper target for Fantasy managers. Happ is currently free in Fantasy drafts and should be queued up in your upcoming drafts. He won't win your leagues for you, but he is a pitcher to set and forget in your lineups without forking out high-end draft capital.
Rich Hill, SP, Tampa Bay Rays
— FantasyPros (@FantasyProsMLB) February 13, 2021
As he enters his age 41 season for 2021, Rich Hill will be playing games in the AL East for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2021. Hill will add pitching depth to a Rays rotation that lost Charlie Morton and Blake Snell this offseason.
Fantasy managers are well aware of the injury issues concerning Hill. Since 2015, he has averaged under 100 innings pitched per season. However, he has posted an impressive 2.92 ERA during that period. In 2020, Hill was splendid with a 3.03 ERA and a 1.164 WHIP. He held opposing batters to a .204 average in eight starts with the Twins before that, Hill made 68 starts over four seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers and posted a 3.16 ERA, 3.71FIP, 2.8 BB/9, and 10.6 K/9.
Despite his age, Hill has exhibited no signs of slowing down. The southpaw will compete for a spot in the Rays rotation with fellow veterans Collin McHugh, Michael Wacha, and Chris Archer. The Rays are unique, to say the least, in how they utilize their pitching staff. This aspect should work in Hill's favor. His injury history limits his innings, but if managed correctly, Hill should reap huge dividends.
Rich Hill has been a stud when healthy. Of course, when is the ultimate question. It's hard to trust him in Fantasy. However, his elite production should outshine his trips to the injured list. Just make sure you have a deep pitching staff and stream away.
Garrett Richards, SP, Boston Red Sox
Garrett Richards is ready. pic.twitter.com/50vaz97Twz
— Red Sox (@RedSox) February 4, 2021
There are plenty of question marks concerning the 2021 Boston Red Sox rotation. With the addition of Garrett Richards, you can add another question for the Red Sox faithful.
Richards signed a one-year deal with the Red Sox with an option for 2022 last month. The former Padre spent two seasons in San Diego. However, his injuries derailed the right-hander for extended stretches over the past five seasons.
Richards played a notable role in helping the Padres to the postseason last season. He pitched out of the fourth spot in the rotation. He owned a 4.03 ERA in 2020 in ten starts, logging 51.1 innings while producing 46 strikeouts and a 1.25 WHIP. Richards chipped in with four appearances out of the bullpen at the end of the regular season when the Padres were putting together a postseason push.
While those stats won't jump out at you, there were positive indicators that Richards is getting stronger in less than two years removed from Tommy John surgery. The 32-year-old tied Max Scherzer for the 18th-fastest average velocity at 95.2 mph. His curveball is just as lethal with a spin rate in the 99th percentile, per Baseball Savant.
The obvious caveat with Richards is his durability or lack thereof. He hasn't started in more than 20 starts since 2015 with the California Angels. Richards finished his eight-year stint with the Angels in 2018 with a 45-38 record, 3.62 ERA, and 702 strikeouts in 187 appearances.
Richards certainly has upside and is currently projected to be the SP3 for the 2021 Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox took a chance on Richards staying healthy, and so should Fantasy managers.
Emmanuel Clase, RP, The Cleveland Baseball Team
#11 Emmanuel Clase - RHP
Bats: R Throws: R
Height: 6' 2" Weight: 206 lbs
Signed: Feb 11, 2015
Acquired in Kluber trade, Plus-plus fastball has nasty natural cut action & ranges 97-102 mph, Average slider 87-91 nice compliment to fastball still developing, command key. pic.twitter.com/2GY3AKbgtI
— Guardians Prospective (@CleGuardPro) March 24, 2020
Emmanuel Clase was traded with Delino DeShields Jr. to the Cleveland Indians for veteran right-hander Corey Kluber in December 2019. The 22-year-old right-hander was somewhat of an unknown commodity until Emmanuel Clase tested positive for steroids. Clase was suspended for 80 games last season on his way to be unavailable for the entire shortened 2020 season.
Clase made his MLB debut with the Texas Rangers in 2019 and posted a 2.31 ERA/3.43 FIP, 1.11 WHIP with 21 strikeouts over 23.1 innings of work. His numbers stood out, 8.1 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, and a 60.6 groundball rate with batters hitting only .230 against the dynamic right-hander.
“He’s been up to 102, averages around 100 with his fastball that has a unique cutting profile that makes it really hard to center up. He complements that with an above-average slider and we think he will slot into our bullpen and help be a weapon out there for us,” said Cleveland Indians President Chris Antonetti.
His upside, along with his pitching arsenal, is lethal. With Brad Hand now closing for the Washington Nationals, Cleveland will likely turn to James Karinchak to be their closer this season. Karinchak posted a 2.67 ERA along with a tremendous 17.67 K/9 as the high leverage set-up relief pitcher for Hand last season. However, Clase and Nick Wittgren will also get looks at pressure relief opportunities. They will compete with Karinchak, especially if he shows any signs of failure.
Currently, Clase owns an NFCBC ADP of 491, so he will be free in your upcoming drafts. Clase is an ideal pitcher in category leagues. He possesses the ability to provide advantages in ERA, WHIP, and strikeouts with possible save opportunities.
Joakim Soria, RP, Arizona Diamondbacks
732 MLB appearances.
3.01 career ERA.
— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) February 7, 2021
Joakim Soria possesses a wealth of closing experience, having produced 223 saves in his 13-year major league career. Soria moved on from the Oakland A's and just signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks on a one-year deal.
There is no set closer in Arizona where Stefan Crichton was forced to take over the closer role after Arizona traded Archie Bradley to the Cincinnati Reds at the trade deadline. Crichton, who has less than three years of MLB experience, saved five games in seven opportunities. He produced a 2.42 ERA while Arizona ranked 18th in bullpen ERA (4.60), 22nd in WHIP (1.463), and 25th in K-BB percentage last season.
Soria posted a 2.82 ERA and 1.254 WHIP over 22.1 innings last season for the A's. He managed to control any substantial damage by limiting hard contact, as evidenced by a top-six finish with a 3.2 barrel percentage, including allowing only one home run.
Fantasy managers still need to be cautious with the marriage of Soria and the Diamondbacks. His 10.4 BB% was three times higher than his career average (7.3 BB%) while allowing a career second-worst 3.9 BB/9. Additionally, the Diamondbacks play in the NL West, where the defending World Series champions Los Angeles Dodgers resides. The Diamondbacks will also have to battle the surging and vastly improved San Diego Padres. The 2021 PECOTA projects Arizona Diamondbacks to finish 79-83, which will limit save opportunities.
Soria should not have any issues earning the closing gig in the desert. He is currently not even being drafted in leagues, but that will change rapidly. Every Fantasy manager is scraping for saves, which will push up Soria's value but he remains a Fantasy pitching deep sleeper this season.
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