Fantasy Baseball 2017: Top MLB Sleeper Pitchers - Roto Street Journal
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Fantasy Baseball 2017: Top MLB Sleeper Pitchers

Hello everybody and welcome back to fantasy baseball done right by The Roto Dragon. Last time out we looked at five hitters who can make the difference for your team this year, and this time we will be looking at the top MLB sleeper pitchers. Again, this piece is designed for the average, casual 10 team mixed-leaguer and these are all players who you may not be familiar with — who have a chance to be the difference maker that can win your league for you. Trust me, it’s always more fun to sip coladas on the beach as a winner and these guys can help you get to that promised land.

I will rate each player on a scale from 🔥 to 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 for potential impact. With 🔥 being borderline imaginary like Pete’s Dragon and 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 torching up a village like Smaug (yeah I know The Hobbit movies kind of sucked, but the dragon was still pretty sweet).

Sean Manaea, SP, Oakland Athletics (average draft position of 181)

Manaea jumped on the scene in Oakland last year with 7 wins and 124 Ks in 24 starts. He should be a good bet to increase his inning count by 40-60 innings this year which will let him hit double digit wins and decent strikeout totals. Where he helps you the most is his good control which should keep the whip low and help with the ERA. Guys like this are fantasy gold because he has a high floor but at only 25, he has a high ceiling too. Basically, he won’t hurt you and he may end up helping you more than you expect. Just remember that Oakland has nothing resembling a lineup so the wins will be capped by that.


Blake Snell, SP, Tampa Bay Rays (average draft position of 249)

Starting pitchers can only help you in 4 categories, which is why they are traditionally looked down upon as compared to hitters. This is why it is important to make sure that most of your starters rack up strikeouts to go along with the rest of their stats. Exceptions can be made for players that have average strikeout rates but great control (most of the good Japanese pitchers come to mind here) but otherwise, most of your starters should get Ks or you’re putting yourself in a hole. Snell is young (24) and he averages 10 strikeouts per every 9 innings (which is basically elite). Why is he coming so cheap at the draft? Well, he still lacks the control necessary to be a frontline starter and as such, his starting role is not guaranteed and can be lost if he strings together a few bad starts in a row. He had a very high batting average on balls in play last year (.356 compared to a league average around .300) which can either mean he is getting hit hard when hitters make contact or he was very unlucky last year. In reality, it’s probably a combo of both, but if that number normalizes at all he should see a much better ERA and Whip this year than last. When you’re looking at the last few rounds of the draft and everybody left is a scrub, you should be more than excited to grab a guy like Snell because the upside is huge for really no commitment. If he sucks, you cut bait early and it cost you a late pick. If he gets his command under control (which happens frequently for second year pitchers) then you could have a stud in the late rounds.


Cam Bedrosian, RP, Los Angeles Angels (average draft position of 215)

Bedrosian offers everything you’re looking for in a closer: high k/9 rate, solid whip and ERA and good nerves. The reason that Bedrosian comes cheap is because he hasn’t officially been granted the closer role by Mike Scioscia yet. That being said, Huston Street is already hurt (what else is new) and Street is just flat out trash. I would rather be a Stark at the Red Wedding than roster Street ever (and if you don’t know what the Red Wedding is, please do yourself a favor and go spend the next 75 hours of your life watching Game of Thrones, it really is worth it). There is some risk here because Scioscia is one of those managers who clings to their veterans too tightly but there’s a very good chance that Bedrosian will be so lights out by the time Street comes back in two months that he will keep the closer job all year at a fraction of the price to draft him.

🔥🔥 (only because his whole value is tied to the closer role).

Jharel Cotton, SP, Oakland Athletics (average draft position of 256)

Really? Another Athletics pitcher – are they that good? Oakland has a great history of developing young arms, and then trading them off before they have to pay them. We don’t really need to worry about the second part, because it doesn’t matter for our purposes, all that matters is that they develop good pitchers and they have a spacious ballpark that really favors pitchers. Much like Snell, you are buying this pitcher because he can throw fire, and if a RotoDragon can’t appreciate fire, who the hell can? I want late round flamethrowers that have shown some aptitude to not suck and Cotton hits that mark. Last year in very limited duty, he was essentially unhittable. I expect some regression but this is the pitcher that I most want to roster in all of my leagues for the upside and low cost.


Koda Glover, RP, Washington Nationals (average draft position of 361)

Okay, so here’s the out on a limb pick for this article. Glover is not being drafted in most leagues. Frankly, I don’t actually think Glover is even all that good, however, Dusty Baker is highly considering him for the closer role in Washington and he’s only 23. These kind of players either end up sucking or they become top of the line closers (there’s not a ton of middle ground for this profile of player). I am not arrogant enough to say that I know which he’ll be but the cost is minimal to find out. If he sucks, Washington will trade for a closer and this guy will be worth nothing, but if he’s good, then he could be a steal in the last round of a draft. These are the kinds of chances you have to take to win.


Be sure to check out our 2017 Fantasy Baseball Positional Rankings and our five MLB sleeper hitters that you can target in the later rounds.