We all know the top players at starting pitcher. If you’re going into your draft and you’re not hopeful to land someone like Gerrit Cole or Jacob deGrom, you may want to go back and do some research. Where you can really end up winning a league, however, is some of those late round sleepers that people will overlook and you can cash in on. With so many pitchers to choose from, how can you identify those diamonds in the rough? Well, you came to the right place. Let’s get into some of those options ahead of the 2020 season.
Luke Weaver, Arizona Diamondbacks
It’s been a wild ride for Weaver since coming up to the majors. He was nothing short of phenomenal during his first two years with the Cardinals, appearing in 22 games with a K/9 of 11, a BB/9 of 2.7 and a WHIP of 1.43. Then 2018 rolled around and the wheels completely came off for Weaver. His strikeouts dropped dramatically, he was walking guys at a much higher rate and he was downright hittable. The Cardinals moved on from him and shipped him to Arizona, where injury mainly derailed his season. However, when healthy, he looked like the Weaver of old, producing hope that a healthy 2020 will make the difference.
Through 64 1⁄3 innings in 2019, the trends were back on track. Strikeouts were up (9.6 K/9), walks were down (1.9 BB/9) and his swing-and-miss rate was the highest of his career at 10.4%. If it wasn’t for a forearm strain, we could have potentially seen big things from the 26-year-old righty. That’s where you step in and draft him on the low in 2020.
Many people will be scared off from his injury concern and overlook Weaver. While it’s reasonable to be wary of someone who was dealing with a forearm injury, he’s been deemed healthy and ready for Spring Training. He has a very powerful lineup behind him and should be able to rack up double-digit wins with ease. Unless someone in your league also reads this article (wouldn’t be a surprise) you should be able to nab Weaver in the latter half of your draft and reap the benefits.
Dylan Bundy, Los Angeles Angels
Bundy has needed a change of scenery since 2016. The Orioles did him the biggest favor of his career by getting him OUT of the American League East. Gone are the days of hitter-friendly ballparks and New York Yankees. Instead, he’ll deal with the spacious confines of Angel Stadium and teams like the Mariners. While his fastball isn’t strong, he produces a great changeup and slider that helped him produce a 13% swing-and-miss rate in 2019, the highest of his career.
Giving up the long ball has always been an issue for Bundy but moving out West will take away that sting. If you’re looking for wins, Bundy could be a sneaky source for them as well, as the Angels should carry plenty of power with the addition of Anthony Rendon in the offseason. In a new system and atmosphere, it’s not crazy to think that this could be the breakout from Bundy we all hoped for during his tenure with the Orioles.
Anthony DeSclafani, Cincinnati Reds
I love everything about the Reds this season. I love the additions they made, I love their chances to win the division — I just love the Reds. One of the dark horses in their rotation is DeSclafani, who quietly put together an impressive campaign in 2019. As if with Bundy, DeSclafani struggled with home runs. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t change stadiums and is still in Great American Ball Park. However, he made some strides in a number of different categories, giving the sense that he’s ready to take the next step.
If he was facing a right-handed heavy lineup, DeSclafani coasted. He posted a 9.1 K/9, a 1.06 BB/9 and just a 0.98 WHIP against righties through 84 2/3 innings. Of his 29 home runs allowed, 12 came against right-handed bats. It was the lefties that had their way against the Reds starter. If he faces a team that loads up on left-handed bats, I would be benching DeSclafani but that didn’t occur often in 2019. For as late in the draft, as you can take him, I think you’re getting some really good value here for a team that could be one of the dark horses in the National League.