Pitchers to Target in Deep Leagues (Fantasy Baseball)
A quartet of pitchers get the nod as touted adds this week, and only one has appeared in this space previously. He’s joined by a trio of rookies who are widely available and could help gamers down the stretch run of the fantasy baseball season.
Michael Pineda (MIN): Yahoo – 48%, ESPN – 23%
There’s a large gap in ownership rates between Yahoo and ESPN, hence, Pineda once again getting the nod in this piece. He wasn’t overly impressive in Tuesday’s start, but yielding four runs, six hits, and zero walks while striking out four in seven innings isn’t too shabby. He entered Tuesday’s start with a 3.07 ERA (4.68 SIERA), 1.26 WHIP, and 20.2% K% in five starts totaling 29.1 innings since the All-Star break, according to FanGraphs. He projects to draw the White Sox once again for a favorable matchup in his next start and an even dreamier matchup with the Tigers after that. Facing right-handed pitchers this year, the White Sox rank 28th in wRC+ (81) and the Tigers rank dead last (74 wRC+). Pineda should be rostered in 12-team mixers and larger formats.
Logan Webb (SF): Yahoo – 23%, ESPN – 2%
Webb dazzled in his debut, and that, reportedly, was good enough to earn him a start over the weekend against the A’s. The 22-year-old righty ranks as San Francisco’s fifth-best prospect, per MLB Pipeline. Using the 20-to-80 scouting scale, they grade his fastball a 60, slider a 60, changeup a 45, control 50, and overall grade a 50. The scouting report on FanGraphs is a bit less bullish with current grades of 50 on his fastball, slider, and changeup and future grades of 55 on all three, too. FanGraphs also grades his command as a 40 currently and 45 future, and his overall future value at 45-plus.
In his debut, he used his four-seamer 47.3% of the time, his sinker at an 11.8% clip, his changeup 19.4% of the time, and his slider at a 21.5% rate, according to FanGraphs. He held the Diamondbacks to just two runs (only one earned) on five hits, one walk, and seven strikeouts in five innings. Webb missed 80 games this year due to a suspension for having a steroid in his system. Otherwise, Webb’s season has been wildly successful.
In eight appearances (seven starts) at the Double-A level, he pitched 41.1 innings to the tune of a 2.18 ERA (2.57 xFIP), 1.28 WHIP, 6.7% BB%, 26.3% K%, 12.5% SwStr%, and 65.5% GB%. He made just one start at the Triple-A level before getting the ball for the parent club, but that Triple-A start was a seven-inning gem in which he coughed up only one run on seven hits, one hit batsman, and seven strikeouts. His upper-minor’s success and strong debut make him a rookie worth speculating on in leagues as shallow as 12-team mixers. His next start is a middle-of-the-road matchup with Oakland ranking 15th in wRC+ (97) against righties this season. If he sticks in the rotation after that turn, he projects to have mouthwatering matchups with the Padres (22nd in wRC+ at 88 versus righties) and Cardinals (25th in wRC+ at 86 versus righties).
Adrian Houser (MIL): Yahoo – 17%, ESPN – 4%
Houser’s spent time in the rotation and bullpen, and he’s settled into a groove since he was re-inserted in the rotation back on July 30. In his last four starts spanning 23.0 innings, he has ripped off a 2.74 ERA (3.46 SIERA), 0.96 WHIP, 5.3% BB%, 26.6% K%, and 12.0% SwStr%. He’s also done a fantastic job of keeping the ball on the ground (60.0% GB%) and avoiding hard contact (24.6% Hard%) during that stretch.
The 26-year-old righty has back-to-back starts forthcoming against the division-rival Cardinals. The Red Birds make for a tasty matchup for Houser as one of MLB’s worst offenses against right-handed pitchers. St. Louis ranks 25th in wRC+ (86) this year against righties, per FanGraphs. He’s worth streaming in leagues as shallow as 12-team mixers, and he could have staying power in leagues larger than that.
Tony Gonsolin (LAD): Yahoo – 13%, ESPN – 0%
How long Gonsolin will remain in the Dodgers’ rotation is an unanswered question, but he’ll make at least one more start, according to manager Dave Roberts, as reported by MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick. The 25-year-old righty has made three starts and one relief appearance spanning 18.0 innings for the Dodgers, and he’s spun a solid 3.00 ERA (3.90 SIERA), 0.94 WHIP, 1.4% BB%, 20.6% K%, and 12.2% SwStr%.
MLB Pipeline ranks Gonsolin as the sixth-best prospect in the Dodgers organization, and they grade his fastball a 60, curve a 60, slider a 50, splitter a 70, control a 50 and give him an overall grade of 50. As you can see here, FanGraphs, as with the aforementioned Webb, isn’t as impressed by Gonsolin’s stuff. Still, a 60 current and future grade on his fastball and 55 current and future grade on his splitter are nothing to sneeze at. He has bat-missing stuff and is backed by a loaded offense, which enhances his odds of picking up wins when he starts. Gonsolin ranks behind the other three starters featured in this piece in my free-agent addition pecking order, but he’s not a bad consolation prize if the other three are already rostered.