2024 Fantasy Baseball: 12 sleeper pitchers don’t get enough love in checkers

By | March 20, 2024

Fantasy baseball analyst Dalton Del Don volunteers a set of draft sleeper candidates per position – he wraps things up with the pitchers!

Pfaadt struggled after initially being drafted out of Arizona last season, but he posted a 19.1 K-BB% after the All-Star break, which would have been in the top 15 among starters. He went on to post a 3.27 ERA and 1.09 WHIP with a K-BB% of 24.1 (which would have been behind only Spencer Strider in 2023) over five starts in the playoffs.

[Join or create a Yahoo Fantasy Baseball league for the 2024 MLB season]

Pfaadt remains curiously affordable at draft tables despite having a strong minor league resume and dominating in the postseason.

Imanaga is making his MLB debut at age 30, and the southpaw is reportedly flashing strong Stuff+. Most projection systems are bullish and call for a WHIP of 1.21 and a K-BB% that would have been top 20 among starters last season. Imanaga is available in over 180 choices in Yahoo drafts.

Kerkering enters the season fighting for a spot in Philadelphia’s bullpen, but he could easily finish as the team gets closer. The Phillies don’t have an obvious candidate to close (lefty José Alvarado likely opens with the role), while Kerkering posted a 1.51 ERA with a 0.89 WHIP and 79 strikeouts in 53.2 innings in the minors last year. He also threw high-leverage innings in the NLCS and already owns some of the nastiest things in baseball. Kerkering has the upside of being a top-five fantasy closer if given the opportunity in Philadelphia, but his ADP is outside the 225 picks in Yahoo drafts.

Chapman’s elite fastball returned last season as he posted a 2.95 SIERA (top 10) and third-best K-BB% (26.9) among relievers. He also posted the second-best K% (41.4) while striking out 103 batters in 58.1 innings. Meanwhile, David Bednar’s K-BB% dropped to 17.6 in the second half, and he’s currently dealing with a right crossbar tightness, so there are warning signs for the incumbent.

Bednar enters the season as Pittsburgh’s closer (if healthy), but Chapman is a role change away from being one of the most valuable fantasy relievers.

King was one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball last season, including a 2.02 ERA with a 1.09 WHIP and 45 strikeouts in 35.2 innings (six starts) after officially joining the rotation in late August. His overall numbers need context, as he pitched out of the bullpen for most of the season, but King’s CSW would have ranked second had he qualified – sandwiched between Spencer Strider and Tyler Glasnow. King’s K-BB% would have ranked sixth, ahead of Gerrit Cole. King is legitand he can now pitch in the NL West and at Petco Park after being traded to the Padres in the Juan Soto deal this offseason.

King has an injury history and will now be asked to start, but his upside is well worth his 131.1 ADP.

Yuki Matsui is also a fantasy sleeper who could emerge as San Diego’s closer.

Harrison is like many young pitchers who need to improve their control, but he may be the best lefty pitcher in baseball. He posted a 35.6 K% in Triple-A and will benefit from pitching in a park that dramatically reduces home runs. Harrison strange fought mightily against left-handed hitters (.333 BAA) once reached the majors after not giving up a single home run to a lefty in Triple-A all season (.171 BAA).

[2024 Fantasy Baseball Draft Rankings: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | SP | RP]

He had a WHIP of 0.87 with a 25.7 K-BB% against right-handed hitters during his brief stint in San Francisco, so while both splits will decline in 2024, you could consider them quite encouraging. Harrison looked dominant in his spring debut and enters his rookie campaign locked into San Francisco’s starting rotation.

Gore is a former top prospect who seems to have finally figured it out. His 25.9 K% would have been in the top 15 among starters had he qualified last season, while his 18.2 HR/FB% would have ranked second and will certainly regress. If Gore can take a step forward with his control, he will be a fantasy steal (246.9 ADP) even if he pitches for Washington.

Crawford posted a 3.96 ERA and 1.09 WHIP with 94 strikeouts over his final 88.1 innings after cementing himself in Boston’s rotation last year. He’s locked into the role entering 2024, and his K-BB% (19.6) after the All-Star break would have been in the top 15 among all starters for the season. Crawford is a key sleeper.

Brown’s ERA of 5.09 equated to a SIERA of 3.74 last season, so he faces regression in 2024. His 26.8 K% would have ranked 12th among starters had he qualified (he had only 6.1 innings needed), alongside Gerrit Cole and Zack Wheeler. Brown should improve in year two and will benefit from pitching for an Astros team projected to win the third-most games this season. Brown isn’t drafted as a top-40 starter in Yahoo leagues, but he is a top-35 SP on my board.

Canning likely won’t rack up wins pitching for the Angels, but he’s back on the fantasy scene thanks to increased velocity last season after returning from multiple injuries. Canning posted an 11.55 K/9 (30.1 K%) with a 3.26 FIP after the All-Star break, while his 23.9 K-BB% this season would have ranked behind only Spencer Strider. Canning has four effective pitches and strong numbers in the minor league, but he still goes for 65 SPs off the board.

Mason Miller undoubtedly did that the most imaginative upside in Oakland’s bullpen, but he’s a high injury risk, has a much higher ADP and “will gradually move up” rather than opening the season as a closer. Meanwhile, Oakland’s general manager mentioned Jiménez’s name first when asked about the team’s final situation. Jiménez posted a 1.72 ERA and 0.83 WHIP over his last 17 appearances after returning from a shoulder injury last season, so he appears to be a source for early saves that go undrafted.

Tiedemann struggled with injuries last season, but remains one of the best baseball players. His fat physique And nasty stuff has created a buzz Through Toronto camp. Once he gets his chance this season, Tiedemann will be one of fantasy’s most sought-after waiver wire signings.

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