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Fantasy Baseball Draft Strategy: Ryan Pepiot, Kutter Crawford, Chris Paddack (2024)

Fantasy Baseball Draft Strategy: Ryan Pepiot, Kutter Crawford, Chris Paddack (2024)

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 RP-eligible starting pitchers are exciting targets.

RP-Eligible Starting Pitchers to Target

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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