Last week, I spotlighted some National League position players who will benefit from the universal DH in 2020. This week, I’m going to turn to the important subject of starting pitching. You should already know all of the names in the top 100. They will go off the board quickly. Therefore, it will be helpful to you to have some other names to consider adding later in your draft.
When drafting a fantasy team, I advise against chasing players. If other owners are gobbling up starting pitchers, you should focus on position players in the early rounds. If your competition is chasing pitchers, they are leaving good bats behind. Don’t hesitate to grab a few. For example, I was able to get Max Muncy with the 99th pick in an early draft for that reason. His ADP is currently 65.
Imagine finding yourself in the 20th round of your draft, and you have acquired only three starting pitchers. Don’t panic. If you have prepared properly, you should have a cheat sheet of undervalued pitchers you can add in the final six rounds. I am going to help you build that list with some players who might deliver real value to your fantasy team. All of these players have an ADP above 200.
JOSE URQUIDY, ASTROS
Gerrit Cole and Wade Miley are gone, and that opens up two spots in the starting rotation of a team that’s still pretty darn good. Urquidy emerged from relative obscurity in 2019 and ended the season pitching five shutout innings in Game 4 of the World Series. In nine major-league appearances (seven starts) in 2019, Urquidy had a 3.95 ERA, 1.10 WHIP) and a very solid 19.8% K-BB. ADP 200.
DYLAN BUNDY, ANGELS
The best thing that ever happened to Bundy’s career was getting out of Baltimore. The off-season trade makes him fantasy relevant with an Angels team that has gotten better since last year. Bundy moves to a better pitcher’s park, with a better defense, and a team more likely to give him run support. He’s always had an elite slider that misses bats, ranking 15th in swinging-strike rate last year. ADP 226.
A.J. PUK, ATHLETICS
Puk was dealing with a strained left shoulder in spring training, but the delayed start to the season gave him plenty of time to heal properly. He has a rotation spot with a talented team A’s team, free of any innings limit in a short season. A healthy Puk is a towering presence on the mound at 6-foot-7. He has a four-seam fastball clocked at 97 mph, along with a good changeup, slider and curve. ADP 229.
JOSH JAMES, ASTROS
Joining Urquidy in the Astros starting rotation, James has real upside if he improves his control. His stuff is downright nasty. Case in point was his 14.7 K/9 as a reliever last year, along with a swinging-strike rate that would have ranked third among qualifiers, behind only Gerrit Cole and Max Scherzer. James had a 3.23 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 13.5 K/9 as a starting pitcher in the minors two years ago. ADP 233.
ADRIAN HOUSER, BREWERS
If you’re going to thrive pitching in hitter-friendly Miller Park, you’d better miss bats, or at least keep the ball on the ground. Houser was 6-7, 3.72 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 3.88 FIP, and 25.3 K% in 111.1 innings pitched last year. He also had a 53.4 GB%. But there’s another stat worth noting. The Brewers are in the NL Central, and they will play a weak schedule, with Detroit and Kansas City in the mix. ADP 239.
MITCH KELLER, PIRATES
Speaking of a weak schedule, Pittsburgh is also in the NL Central and benefits from playing Detroit and Kansas City. The Cardinals also don’t hit well, and the Cubs, Reds, White Sox and Brewers aren’t that scary. Keller’s 7.13 ERA and 1.83 WHIP was ugly in his rookie year, but his 12.19 K/9 and 3.47 xFIP bode well for 2020. He had a 26.8% swinging strike rate and a 50.5% chase rate on his slider. ADP 248.
NATE PEARSON, BLUE JAYS
You wouldn’t expect to find someone with this kind of talent with an ADP of 305, but the 23-year-old Pearson is one of the best pitching prospects in baseball. He was lighting up the radar gun with 100-mph fastballs in the spring and was unhittable. He also has a wipeout slider. The Blue Jays were going to be call this talented pitcher up at some point, so why not add him now in the short season? ADP 305.
NATHAN EOVALDI, RED SIX
Moving into the deep sleeper category, this 30-year-old starter is only 13% owned in ESPN leagues but can add value to your fantasy team if he stays healthy in 2020. His K% jumped last year in spite of having to battle injuries. He came back strong this spring, (eight IP, four hits, one BB, zero runs, 12 strikeouts) and is ready to join an underrated rotation. The short season should mitigate injury risk. ADP 322.
RICH HILL, TWINS
Let’s move to the weak AL Central and plug in a veteran pitcher with 65 career wins and a lifetime 3.82 ERA. Hill, 40, had a 4-1 record, with a 2.45 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and a 72:18 K:BB across 58 2/3 innings for the Dodgers in 2019. The delayed start to the 2020 season is a godsend to Hill, who should be able to throw 80-100 quality innings with an ERA below 4.00, a high strikeout rate, and a low walk rate. ADP 331.
ALEX WOOD, DODGERS
With 53 career wins and a 3.40 lifetime ERA, you might overlook Woods’ 2019 season with the Reds. He’s back with the Dodgers, healthy and throwing harder than ever. Any pitcher who has a rotation spot with the Dodgers is a viable fantasy option. It’s unlikely Wood takes on a full workload – even in a short season. So, there are risks to investing in Wood, but that’s why he’s a deep sleeper. ADP 362.
KYLE GIBSON, RANGERS
Gibson has ulcerative colitis and may opt out of the 2020 season. The autoimmune disorder makes him “high risk” in the coronavirus era. But if the 32-year-old plays for the Rangers, he could return value – especially since he costs nothing. If the Rangers can tap into his potential, like they did with Lance Lynn and Mike Minor in 2019, he could be a steal late in the draft, or off the waiver wire. ADP 381.