Rebuilding Recommendations: Keeper League Pitching Targets for Non-Contending Teams

Michael Simione | June 14th, 2019  

Unfortunately, the fantasy baseball season doesn’t always go your way. Whether it is injuries or your team under-performing, it could be a horrible feeling knowing that your team is done for the season. While I am a firm believer in always grinding through the season since you never know what can happen, sometimes holes are too deep to dig out of. Now it is early in the season, but if you are at the bottom of your league, here are some good pitchers to acquire if you are in a keeper league.

Adrian Sampson: Adrian has enjoyed a pretty good season, currently posting a 5-3 record with a 3.72 ERA. While his ERA should rise this year due to his 4.11 FIP, 4.89 xFIP, and 4.48 SIERA, I do believe he could have some value next year. Adrian’s biggest strength is his control. He has a 1.86 BB/9 and an above average F-Strike% of 61.7. He really utilizes his changeup well and is very accurate with it as you can see below.

His two best pitches are his slider and changeup both of which he has thrown more recently. They both have a positive pVAL and his slider has a solid 36.5 Whiff%.  I think his key to success is his changeup. When he has used it more, he has shown a lot more success in games; here is his game log for when he has used it the most:

4/30 5.2 IP 0 ER 0 BB 5 K’s

5/22 5.1 IP 1 ER 0 BB 5 K’s

5/28 5 IP 3 ER 1 BB 6 Ks

6/8 9 IP 1 ER 1BB 7 Ks

Adrian can be useful and he might come at a high price due to his current ERA. But if you are out of it already then what does it really matter? If he can learn to fix his pitch mix (which it looks like he is on his way), he can become more and more of an asset. That plus more and more experience as the year goes on makes him a potential keeper option.

Griffin Canning: Canning has started the year with a 2-2 record and a 3.56 ERA. I have a feeling Canning will be on a lot of sleeper lists going into next year. He does show regression for this year with a 4.03 FIP, 4.46 xFIP, and 3.86 SIERA. But Canning is impressive to me because while he can make batters swing and miss, he also shows good control. So far this season he has had a minimum of five strikeouts every start while having one or fewer walks in six out of his last eight games. His strikeouts are legit as he has a 20.5 K-BB%, 35.1 O-swing% and 16.0 SwStr% which are all above average. Canning will also be expensive to acquire but I have no doubt if you keep him next year you will be a very happy camper.

Pablo Lopez: Can be read here

Tyler Mahle: Can be read here

Cal Quantrill: Cal has started his major league career posting a 1-2 record with a 4.85 ERA in 5 games. Better days are ahead though as his FIP, xFIP, and SIERA all show around a 4.00 ERA. Cal is a young 25-year-old who throws 95 mph and provides a four-pitch mix. His best pitches are his changeup (41.1 Whiff%) and his slider (51.2 Whiff%) which both provide solid strikeout potential. He places his breaking pitches really well, as you can see below, he does a decent job at throwing them on the edges of the zone.  With Cal’s strikeout upside (18.4 and 17.5 SwStr% his last two starts) and solid control, he could definitely blossom into a good pitcher by next year. Plus, he should come relatively cheap to obtain in your fantasy league.

Provided by Baseball Savant

Josh James: Josh James was on everyone’s sleeper list coming into this season. Unfortunately, he got hurt in spring training and that was the end of that. But people shouldn’t forget about him as he is only 26 and throws 97 mph. James has worked mainly in the bullpen this year and his biggest issue has been his walks which are at a horrid 6.11 BB/9. Last year in 23 innings he only had seven walks and I really think he will get his control back. James’ upside is tremendous as he is in the 82nd percentile or higher in xwOBA, xSLG, xBA, K%, and fastball velocity (as you can see below).  I firmly believe he will get his chance in the rotation this year and once he gets a spot, he may never give it back. If you are looking to trade for someone in your keeper league this should be your number one option.

Provided by Baseball Savant

Dylan Bundy: Bundy has started the year 3-7 with a 4.50 ERA. I am sure many people are seeing his name and are either skipping this entire blurb or rolling their eyes saying “no chance I trust him.” Bundy might be finally figuring it out though. In May and June he has posted a 3.02 ERA with a 14.8 K-BB%. The reason he has been pitching so well is his slider. It has posted a 5.6 pVAL with a whopping 52.0 Whiff% so far this season. Bundy has used his slider more in May and June thus creating that above average ERA of 3.02. This year he has also lowered his fastball use and increased his changeup use, which is good because his fastball is pretty average. His above-average O-Swing% of 34.6 shows how well he is getting the batter to chase his pitches out of the zone. Bundy might have figured it out and we have to wait and see if this continues. He will come super cheap and could be well worth trading for and keeping if he continues his success.

Questions and comments?

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