Pitchers to Target in Deep Leagues (2019 Fantasy Baseball)

by Josh Shepardson | @BChad50 | Featured Writer
Jul 9, 2019

Danny Salazar is working his way back to the majors.

The All-Star break is a nice opportunity to recharge the batteries from setting lineups on a daily basis, but that doesn’t mean gamers should take a break from looking to improve their roster. This week’s deep-league pitcher suggestions include a reliever with starter eligibility who’s returned to lights-out form in the pen after struggling in the rotation to open the year. He’s joined by a young righty who wasted little time reminding gamers of his strikeout upside in his first start of 2019 after missing all of last year rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. The last suggestion is a high-upside righty who’s on the mend and taking his rehab to the upper minors for his next start.

Import your team to My Playbook for season-long advice >>

Collin McHugh (HOU): Yahoo – 22%, ESPN – 34%
McHugh’s ownership rate at ESPN would normally keep him out of this piece since it’s over 25%, and his upside doesn’t warrant the special exception status of others I’ve skirted the rules for in the past. He gets the nod, though, because his ownership rate there (and at Yahoo, for that matter) is almost certainly inflated by lame-duck managers. McHugh’s demotion to the bullpen, without a doubt, resulted in him being cut by competitive gamers in many leagues. With that in mind, he fits the spirit of this piece.

Downright filthy in Houston’s bullpen in 2018, McHugh earned a rotation spot in the spring. The veteran righty was solid as a starter in 2017 and wanted an opportunity to start again this year, so the decision doesn’t look awful even in retrospect to his early-season struggles. Back in the bullpen since making his first relief appearance on May 12, McHugh’s been sharp. In nine relief appearances spanning 11.0 innings, he’s spun a 1.64 ERA (2.80 SIERA), 0.91 WHIP, 7.0 BB%, 32.6 K%, and 13.3 SwStr%, per FanGraphs. He’s also recorded two holds, so it’s possible he’ll help more than just ratios and strikeouts in leagues using holds or saves/holds as a category.

Dinelson Lamet (SD): Yahoo – 19%, ESPN – 6%
Lamet made his much-anticipated return for a challenging start on July 4 against the Dodgers in Los Angeles. He certainly would’ve been forgiven if knocked around, but he turned in a respectable effort, holding them to three runs on three hits, two walks, and seven strikeouts in five innings. The 26-year-old righty’s velocity was fine in his first big league start back from Tommy John. According to FanGraphs, the heater had an average velocity of 95.3 mph — it was 95.1 mph in his rookie season in 2017. He threw the pitch 50% of the time against the Dodgers, and he turned to his slider on the other half of his offerings.

Lamet coaxed eight swinging strikes in 80 pitches, netting two whiffs on his four-seamer and six on his slider, according to Brooks Baseball. Even before his elbow injury, he was largely a two-pitch pitcher who threw his changeup only 5.0% of the time in his rookie season. His limited repertoire will make him susceptible to left-handed heavy lineups until or unless his changeup takes a big step forward. After striking out 28.7% of the batters he faced in 21 starts spanning 114.1 innings in 2017, Lamet returned to high-strikeout form in his return. Gamers in need of strikeouts should give him a look, but beware of lefty-loaded lineups and understand the ERA risk he poses to your fantasy squad.

Danny Salazar (CLE): Yahoo – 19%, ESPN – 2%
Salazar has long battled injuries even dating back to his days in the minors, and he last pitched in an MLB game during the 2017 postseason. He’s made two Rookie Level rehab starts, and his next start will be on Thursday at Double-A. Zack Meisel of The Athletic reported that Salazar topped out around 93 mph in his first rehab outing. In a fantasy article for Yahoo after Salazar’s second rehab start, Dalton Del Don stated he’s “reportedly throwing 95/96 mph.” The reported step forward in velocity is promising for Salazar’s outlook.

The initial thought was Salazar would return to a bullpen role for the Indians, but per Cleveland.com’s Paul Hoynes, manager Terry Francona said he’ll remain on a “five-day starter routine and see how he responds to it.” Salazar’s ceiling is higher as a starter, so this news enhances his stashing worthiness. He deserves a look in leagues as shallow as 12-team mixers, and savvy gamers with a spot to spare should scoop him up before Thursday’s Double-A start. If he dazzles in that appearance, hype will follow and drive up his FAAB cost or potentially cause you to get sniped by another owner. If he fizzles out or suffers a setback, dump him for an alternative.

Import your team to My Playbook for instant Waiver Wire advice >>


SubscribeApple Podcasts | Google Play | SoundCloud | Stitcher | TuneIn

Josh Shepardson is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Josh, check out his archive and follow him @BChad50.

What's your take? Leave a comment

1Saquon Barkley (NYG)RB
2Alvin Kamara (NO)RB
3Christian McCaffrey (CAR)RB
4Ezekiel Elliott (DAL)RB
5David Johnson (ARI)RB
6Nick Chubb (CLE)RB
7DeAndre Hopkins (HOU)WR
8James Conner (PIT)RB
9Davante Adams (GB)WR
10Julio Jones (ATL)WR
 View All Rankings 
11Le'Veon Bell (NYJ)RB
12Odell Beckham Jr. (CLE)WR
13Joe Mixon (CIN)RB
14Travis Kelce (KC)TE
15Tyreek Hill (KC)WR
16Dalvin Cook (MIN)RB
17Todd Gurley (LAR)RB
18JuJu Smith-Schuster (PIT)WR
19Michael Thomas (NO)WR
20Mike Evans (TB)WR
21T.Y. Hilton (IND)WR
22Keenan Allen (LAC)WR
23Marlon Mack (IND)RB
24Antonio Brown (OAK)WR
25Aaron Jones (GB)RB
26Kerryon Johnson (DET)RB
27Damien Williams (KC)RB
28Derrick Henry (TEN)RB
29Adam Thielen (MIN)WR
30Leonard Fournette (JAC)RB
1Mike Trout (LAA)CF,DH
2Christian Yelich (MIL)LF,CF
3Ronald Acuna Jr. (ATL)LF,CF
4Cody Bellinger (LAD)1B,CF
5Nolan Arenado (COL)3B
6Mookie Betts (BOS)CF,RF
7J.D. Martinez (BOS)LF,RF
8Francisco Lindor (CLE)SS
9Trevor Story (COL)SS
10Javier Baez (CHC)2B,3B
 View All Rankings 
11Justin Verlander (HOU)SP
12Alex Bregman (HOU)3B,SS
13Gerrit Cole (HOU)SP
14Jacob deGrom (NYM)SP
15Freddie Freeman (ATL)1B
16Trea Turner (WSH)SS
17Anthony Rendon (WSH)3B
18Jose Ramirez (CLE)2B,3B
19Charlie Blackmon (COL)CF
20Xander Bogaerts (BOS)SS
21Starling Marte (PIT)CF
22Walker Buehler (LAD)SP
23Juan Soto (WSH)LF
24Jose Altuve (HOU)2B
25Whit Merrifield (KC)1B,2B
26Pete Alonso (NYM)1B,DH
27George Springer (HOU)CF,RF
28Manny Machado (SD)3B,SS
29Anthony Rizzo (CHC)1B
30Aaron Judge (NYY)RF,DH
1Anthony Davis (LAL)PF,C
2James Harden (HOU)PG,SG
3Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL)SF,PF
4Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN)C
5Kevin Durant (BKN)SF,PF
6LeBron James (LAL)SF,PF
7Stephen Curry (GSW)PG,SG
8Nikola Jokic (DEN)PF,C
9Damian Lillard (POR)PG
10Russell Westbrook (HOU)PG
 View All Rankings 
11Victor Oladipo (IND)PG,SG
12Paul George (LAC)SG,SF
13Joel Embiid (PHI)PF,C
14Kawhi Leonard (LAC)SG,SF
15Chris Paul (OKC)PG
16Jimmy Butler (MIA)SG,SF
17Kemba Walker (BOS)PG
18Ben Simmons (PHI)PG,SF
19Kyrie Irving (BKN)PG,SG
20Jrue Holiday (NOR)PG,SG
21Rudy Gobert (UTH)C
22Andre Drummond (DET)PF,C
23John Wall (WAS)PG
24Kyle Lowry (TOR)PG
25Donovan Mitchell (UTH)PG,SG
26Khris Middleton (MIL)SG,SF
27Bradley Beal (WAS)SG
28Kevin Love (CLE)PF,C
29Draymond Green (GSW)PF,C
30LaMarcus Aldridge (SAS)PF,C
Follow the Pros!

Follow us on Twitter @FantasyPros for exclusive advice and contests