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6 RP-Eligible Starting Pitchers to Draft (2024 Fantasy Baseball)

6 RP-Eligible Starting Pitchers to Draft (2024 Fantasy Baseball)

Pitcher eligibility isn’t important in every fantasy baseball league. Many leagues don’t distinguish between starters and relievers. However, in leagues that differentiate between them, it’s possible to gain an edge by slotting RP-eligible starters into an RP spot. For instance, gamers punting saves in head-to-head leagues can target RP-eligible starters instead of closers or non-closing relievers to enhance their outlook for recording wins and strikeouts.

Sometimes, the edge isn’t as apparent. In leagues with weekly lineup changes, gamers might have more starting pitchers projected to start twice in a week than they have SP spots. That gamer could potentially use all of those pitchers if one of them has RP eligibility. Furthermore, if a team is locked into a place in roto league standings for saves, using an RP-eligible starter might be more valuable. Pushing any edges, no matter how small, can be the difference between a mediocre finish and a championship in fantasy baseball. With that in mind, the following six RP-eligible starting pitchers are exciting targets.

RP-Eligible Starting Pitchers to Target

Cole Ragans (SP, RP – KC) | 103.0 ADP

Cole Ragans was a revelation for the Royals. According to FanGraphs, in 12 starts spanning 71.2 innings for Kansas City, the lefty had a 2.64 ERA, 3.57 SIERA, 1.07 WHIP, 9.4 BB%, 31.1 K%, 29.1 CSW%, 101 Stuff+, 102 Location+ and 104 Pitching+.

Ragans isn’t resting on his laurels after a breakout. Instead, he’s tinkering with his arsenal, reportedly working on a sinker/two-seamer.

There wasn’t anything flukey about his breakout. Ragans also pitched over 120 innings last season and 130 in 2022, setting the stage for 150-plus if he’s healthy all season in 2024. Gamers should be willing to reach an entire round ahead of Ragans’s average draft position (ADP) to secure him.

Michael King (SP, RP – SD) | 151.0 ADP

Michael King was a lights-out reliever for the Yankees in 2022 and at the beginning of 2023. They wisely gave him a chance to start, and the gamble panned out. In nine starts totaling 40.1 innings, King had a 2.23 ERA, 3.16 SIERA, 1.14 WHIP, 5.5 BB%, 31.3 K%, 33.3 CSW%, 112 Stuff+, 106 Location+ and 107 Pitching+.

He’ll ply his trade for the Padres after the Yankees shipped him to San Diego in a blockbuster trade. King’s new home ballpark is the most pitcher-friendly venue. PETCO Park has the lowest park factor for runs (0.860) and suppresses homers (0.931). Since King split time relieving and starting last season, he pitched only 104.2 innings. Thus, he’s likely to face an innings restriction of some sort this year. Nevertheless, King is undervalued for the quality of innings he’ll provide and worth reaching ahead of his ADP to pick.

Nick Pivetta (SP, RP – BOS) | 187.0 ADP

Nick Pivetta didn’t get off to a good start in Boston’s rotation last year. Fortunately, a move to the bullpen was what the doctor ordered. He thrived in a bulk-reliever gig. The righty’s stellar play earned him some starts mixed in with bulk-relief appearances during the summer.

In 13 appearances (eight starts) from July 31 through the end of the regular season, Pivetta spun a 3.94 ERA, 2.94 SIERA, 1.05 WHIP, 6.5 BB%, 33.6 K% and 31.8 CSW% in 61.2 innings. In addition, Pivetta had blistering pitch-modeling data, even when narrowed to only his starts. In 87.0 innings as a starter, Pivetta had a 118 Stuff+, 101 Location+ and 106 Pitching+. He’s an attractive target near his ADP, with the fallback of bulk-relieving on the table if he stumbles as a starter.

Ryan Pepiot (SP, RP – TB) | 207.0 ADP

Ryan Pepiot is a rarity in the fantasy baseball world. First, he was a well-regarded prospect. Second, Pepiot was successful in Triple-A, spinning a 2.84 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 8.9 BB% and 30.3 K% in 114.0 innings since 2022.

Third, he was sharp last season for the Dodgers after a shakier first taste of the majors in 2022. In 42.0 innings (five relief appearances and three starts) for LA last season, Pepiot had a 2.14 ERA, 3.25 xERA, 3.57 SIERA, 0.76 WHIP, 3.1 BB%, 23.9 K%, 28.7 CSW%, 98 Stuff+, 104 Location+ and 103 Pitching+. Yet, he’s cheap, despite his fantasy-friendly profile.

He’ll continue developing with the Rays after Tampa Bay acquired him in an offseason trade. Getting a pitcher of Pepiot’s pedigree after the 200th pick is a steal.

Kutter Crawford (SP, RP – BOS) | 322.8 ADP

Kutter Crawford is a textbook example of the importance of digging beneath surface stats when prognosticating future performance. In 31 appearances (23 starts and eight relief appearances), Crawford’s 4.04 ERA was underwhelming. Yet, his 3.30 xERA and 3.93 SIERA were more encouraging.

He also had a 6.8 BB%, 25.6 K%, 1.11 WHIP, 26.4 CSW% and nifty pitch-modeling data. Fortunately, Crawford’s pitch modeling didn’t crater in his starts. Instead, he had a 105 Stuff+, 102 Location+ and 103 Pitching+. Moreover, his fastball (107 Stuff+), cutter (110 Stuff+) and slider (114 Stuff+) were above-average offerings by Stuff+ measurements. Crawford will also attempt to add a splitter to his repertoire in the spring, giving him one more tool in his tool belt to retire opposing batters. Crawford offers gamers a lot of bang for their buck at his post-300 ADP.

Chris Paddack (SP, RP – MIN) | 346.0 ADP

Chris Paddack was cooking with gasoline out of Minnesota’s bullpen in his small sample after returning from Tommy John surgery. Including the playoffs, he had one walk, 14 strikeouts, a 3.12 ERA and 0.92 WHIP in 8.2 innings across four relief appearances.

Paddack also dialed his heater up to an average of 95.6 mph, the highest velocity of his career, and over 10 mph faster than his changeup (85.0 mph). The veteran’s fastball and changeup are legitimate weapons, but he’s lacked a useful breaking ball.

Paddack’s curveball has had a negative run value in his career. The 28-year-old righty is attempting to add a cutter/slider-type offering to his repertoire in the spring. If he can harness it as even an average pitch, Paddack could drastically out-kick his ADP as a useful fantasy option.

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

 

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