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7 Potential Breakout Pitchers (2019 Fantasy Baseball)

Feb 13, 2019

Last week we took a look at eight hitters who our writers believe are candidates to break out in 2019. Today we’ll look at the hurlers doing their best to prevent hitter breakouts and offense in general.

Each year there are diamonds in the rough, arms from late in drafts that turn into studs. Trevor Bauer and Patrick Corbin fit the bill last season. Landing one of these bargain aces can lead to fantasy glory. Here are our writers’ top picks for pitcher breakout candidates this fantasy baseball season.

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Josh James (HOU)
“I’ll be banging this drum all pre-season because James is my No. 1 sleeper, and I expect to have him on 100% of my rosters. The polished rookie shredded the minors last season with a 36.3% K-rate. That mark was the best in all of baseball, then he continued to dominate when the Astros called him up, dropping a 31.9% K-rate which trailed only Verlander, Scherzer, Cole and deGrom. Not only that, but his WHIP was a sparkling 0.96 thanks to command over all his pitches which include a fastball that gets up to 101. James may not be your typical 22-year-old rookie, but he is ready to become an ace from the get-go.”
– Bobby Sylvester (@bobbyfantasypros)

Trevor Richards (MIA)
“I’d go with Josh James, but since Bobby is going with him, let’s mix it up a bit. Richards can be a true breakout pitcher this season for fantasy owners. His changeup is one of the most elite pitches in the game, and he saw a big rise in his K% in the second half last year, as well as a dramatic improvement with his second-half SIERA. The Marlins don’t have a lot going for them, but Richards is one of the bright spots.”
– Michael Waterloo (@MichaelWaterloo)

Eduardo Rodriguez (BOS)
“It feels like Rodriguez has been around forever, but he will still be just 26 years old at the start of the season. Injuries have long been a problem for him, and so staying healthy is always a concern when drafting a player like E-Rod in fantasy. Despite recovering from a surgically-repaired knee in 2018, however, Rodriguez posted the best season of his career. His 3.82 ERA, 3.65 FIP, 10.13 K/9, 3.24 K/BB, 1.26 WHIP, and .236 BAA were all career bests, and he struck out 146 batters in 129 2/3 innings. At his current ADP of 159 overall, Rodriguez could be a steal for fantasy owners late in drafts in 2019.”
– Mike Maher (@mikemaher)

Luis Castillo (CIN)
“The 26-year-old started his 2018 campaign on the wrong foot, to say the least. By the All-Star break, he had a 5.49 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, .269 BAA, and a 2.74 K/BB ratio. Post All-Star break something changed, and he ended up with a great 2.44 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, .206 BAA, and a 4.93 K/BB ratio. He started to put more trust into his changeup which made him look like an ace as he had a 1.09 ERA in September. The future is bright for Castillo and his second half of 2018 suggests he’ll break out for the Reds this year.”
– Kamran Hoda (@Kamran_H7)

Tyler Glasnow (TB)
“Glasnow, once a top prospect, struggled in a couple years between the minors and majors with the Pirates. However, he took substantial leaps once he was traded to the Rays mid-season. With a fastball-cutter combo, Glasnow is able to rack up the Ks (29.1% K rate). You can live with his walk rate (17.7% K/BB ratio in 2018), and you can certainly live with his .285 wOBA. For perspective, the league average is .315. I expect Glasnow to take lessons from Blake Snell last year to morph into a top-of-the-rotation starter. His current ECR of 208 is borderline highway robbery.”
– Carmen Maiorano (@cmaiorano3)

Joe Musgrove (PIT)
“Brandishing a career 21.0% strikeout rate, Musgrove may not possess the upside of a true breakout ace. Yet he offers immense profit potential as the 72nd starter off the board in the consensus ADP. An 11.5% swinging-strike rate suggests he could mow down more batters, especially if he maintains last summer’s uptick in slider usage. He also wields excellent control, as shown by issuing just seven walks in 10 second-half starts. His .281 xwOBA matched that of Patrick Corbin, narrowly besting James Paxton and Pirates teammate Jameson Taillon. He has the makings of a sneaky top-25 SP who will only cost a bench pick.”
– Andrew Gould (@andrewgould4)

Nick Pivetta (PHI)
“Most people are going to look at the 4.77 ERA from 2018 and run, but there’s a ton to like about Pivetta. He had a K/9 over 10 and walked less than three per nine innings in 2018. His swinging-strike rate was impressive at 12 percent, and he induced ground balls to nearly 47 percent of the batters he faced. His breaking stuff is nasty, with his curveball and slider being plus pitches. His fastball seems to be improving and clocks in at nearly 95 mph. The FIP could always be lower than his ERA with the Phillies, but there’s room for tremendous growth. Everything about his profile screams breakout.”
-Shane McDonald (@coachshanemac)

8 Potential Breakout Hitters

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