Dan Harris’s 10 Pitcher Sleepers (Fantasy Baseball 2020)
To help you prepare for your fantasy baseball draft, we are providing Dan Harris’s 10 pitcher sleepers entering the 2020 season. Below the sleepers, you’ll find Dan’s top-300 fantasy baseball rankings.
Mike Foltynewicz (ATL)
Foltynewicz was on nearly everyone’s bust list, and his awful return from an injury only confirmed everyone’s intuitions. But he really turned it on in the latter half of the season, pitching to a 2.65 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in the second half. No, he might not be the 2018 version of himself this year, but he certainly has more to offer than his overall 2019 numbers.
Luke Weaver (ARI)
Weaver was having an excellent 2019 season before forearm tightness essentially ended his season. He opted to rehab it, which immediately places a cloud over his 2020 outlook given the uncertainty that comes along with such an injury. His best-case scenario likely includes some sort of innings limit with solid, but perhaps not league-winning numbers. That’s a pitcher to take in the mid-teens rounds and hope everything falls in place.
Kenta Maeda (MIN)
Maeda should be the rare pitcher who benefits from a move to the American League. The Dodgers have moved him back and forth from the bullpen to the starting rotation to manipulate his innings and avoid paying him bonuses for years. Now, he should stick in the Twins’ rotation, and approach the 175 innings he threw in 2016. Given that he had the highest swinging strike rate (14.6%) and chase rate (34.8%) of his career last year and will be moving to a division that saw three of the other four teams rank in the bottom seven in runs scored in 2019, consider the needle on Maeda moving up.
Mitch Keller (PIT)
Keller’s time in the majors last year was . . . sub-optimal, to say the least. Other than his elite strikeout rate, pretty much nothing went right for the youngster in his brief time with the Pirates. But when your FIP is FOUR runs lower than your ERA, chances are pretty good you’re due for a rebound. Keller has an excellent fastball with an above-average slider and a decent curveball, more than enough to succeed in getting major league hitters out. If he can manage to limit his awful first innings of games with more consistency, he could provide plenty of value.
Griffin Canning (LAA)
When you watched Canning pitch last year, you just felt like you were left wanting more. His raw stuff is excellent, he misses bats consistently, and his control is solid. Yet his 4.58 ERA was entirely earned, and he never took that big leap everyone was waiting for. He may do so this season, though a smaller jump is more likely. Draft him for strikeouts, hope for the rest, because there’s enough upside to make him worth it.
Nick Anderson (TB)
Anderson was exceptional with the Rays, though Emilio Pagan got the vast majority of the save chances. With Pagan now out of the way, Anderson may have the chance to lead a committee of Diego Castillo and Jose Alvarado. Even if he doesn’t get the majority of the save chances, if Anderson pitches as he did with the Rays last year (52.6% strikeout rate), he’ll be worth owning no matter what.
Andrew Heaney (LAA)
Heaney’s 14.2% swinging strike rate was elite last year. But, as usual, he just couldn’t put it all together. There’s a monster somewhere inside Heaney – a 3.50 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 200 strikeout season lurks within. But it’s still a mystery as to whether fantasy owners will ever see it. Draft him for his potential and hope to see it this year, but don’t bank on the production.
Joe Musgrove (PIT)
Musgrove started out the season hot but cratered in May, pitching to an 8.10 ERA in the month. His overall numbers (4.44 ERA, 1.22 WHIP) won’t blow you away, but Musgrove saw major velocity gains on his fastball and cutter over the second half of the season. Wins will always be an issue but if he can continue to build on his velocity increases, he could find his way into being a back-end starter for your fantasy team.
Marcus Stroman (NYM)
Stroman had an excellent 2019 season, though he struggled somewhat after his trade to the Mets. The one thing missing, however, finally arrived, as his strikeout rate popped to over one per inning when he got to New York. After spending all offseason strengthening his core and now in a contract year, Stroman should be in a position to provide plenty of value pitching with a full year in the National League.
Chris Archer (PIT)
Archer’s season was an unmitigated disaster before he was mercifully put on the season-ending IL with a shoulder injury. His 5.19 ERA and 1.41 WHIP were entirely earned, as he walked more than four batters per nine innings for the first time in his career. But it is worth noting that Archer made some major gains in the second half, including improving on his FIP by more than 2.5 runs and his ERA by nearly a run. With still plenty of strikeout potential, Archer makes a low-cost, potentially high-reward option for the back of your staff.
Dan’s Top-300 Fantasy Baseball Rankings
ADP – Average Draft Position