Published On: Thu, Mar 8th, 2018

Cole, Berrios, Faria highlight 2018's breakout fantasy starting pitchers

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Get ready for your season with theScore’s 2018 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit.

The key to any successful fantasy baseball team is maximizing value in as many roster spots as possible. And while the goal of the first four rounds is generally “don’t mess up,” the challenge becomes much greater the further into the draft you go – making those mid-to-late rounds pivotal.

Here are eight pitchers available in the later rounds of your draft that are worth reaching for a round or two earlier than their average draft position (NFBC ADPs in parentheses):

Gerrit Cole, Houston Astros (ADP: 83)


Cole is the 27th pitcher off the board in NFBC drafts, but could easily wind up being a top-10 starter by season’s end. Many of last year’s struggles can be blamed on a dramatically high HR/FB rate relative to his career number. Expect that to dip, and with it, his ERA and WHIP numbers. Pitching for the Astros will maximize his win potential, and he could reach 200 strikeouts.

Jose Berrios, Minnesota Twins (ADP: 107)

Last season was a tale of two halves for this electrifying young righty, who posted a 2.79 ERA prior to the break and a 4.26 ERA afterward. Look for more consistency in his second full season on the mound, but be prepared for a few clunkers, as Berrios continues to work through command issues. There’s room for growth on the K side, and that Twins lineup should give him win chances.

Zack Godley, Arizona Diamondbacks (ADP: 128)


Any pitcher that gets a 22-percent strikeout rate on his curveball is worth mentioning here – and that isn’t even the most encouraging thing about Godley for this season. The Diamondbacks‘ use of a humidor is going to bring down the home-run rates for every pitcher – and with Godley’s at 15 percent last year, that development is significant. Don’t be afraid to reach for him.

Chase Anderson, Milwaukee Brewers (ADP: 172)

Anderson is going later than he probably should, but he isn’t necessarily worth going two or three rounds earlier. For starters, his 2017 xERA (4.11) was significantly higher than his actual ERA (2.74) – suggesting he was more than a bit fortunate. That said, his K rate (8.5) should hold steady and he has the pitch repertoire to sustain nice rate stats.

Dylan Bundy, Baltimore Orioles (ADP: 191)


A quick look at the second half of Bundy‘s 2017 season suggests this might be the year he puts it all together. Get past the rise in hit rate and the drop in strand rate – both should normalize in 2018 – and you see better command and a spike in his K rate. If he can hold those gains, he could return the most value of anyone in this draft range.

Jake Faria, Tampa Bay Rays (ADP: 234)

It appears drafters are putting a little too much focus on Faria‘s second-half struggles. He did unravel after the break last season, but showed plenty of promise beforehand – and there’s no way he doesn’t rebound from an ugly 52-percent first-pitch strike rate in the second half. He should be a great late source of Ks and won’t destroy your rate stats in the process.

Sean Manaea, Oakland Athletics (ADP: 250)


Manaea was one of the most hyped sleepers last season but failed to deliver, giving up far too many hits and struggling to maintain a solid strikeout pace after the break. The tools are there, for sure, but he faces an uphill battle, as he struggles with command and plays for a team that likely won’t provide much run support. Still, he’s worth taking a chance on for the upside.

Chad Green, New York Yankees (ADP: 295)

Green is a risky play simply because there’s no guarantee he’ll crack the Yankees‘ rotation. You probably wouldn’t reach for him if he remained a dominant long reliever. But he did return $21 in that role a season ago – and has the pitch mix to confound hitters multiple times through the lineup. If he remains in the rotation, Green could be the steal of your draft.

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)



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