With spring training coming to a close and the regular season just a week away I thought I’d take a look at some of the hot pitchers in 2018 to see if there are any surprised worth chasing this year. For those that have not drafted this is just another resource to take into consideration. For those that have completed their draft, this could serve as a hint on who to trade for or away, or maybe target on waivers. Click Here for a look at some of the hitters covered on Friday.
Note: All stats through 3/24
- Justin Verlander: 5 GS-22 IP, 1.64 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 24 K
Obviously he will not keep this up, but it’s nice to see he is pitching like the guy that came over to Houston last season. This should put to rest any fears of regression or overperformance in 2017 or age. Draft with confidence.
- Trevor Bauer: 6 GS-24.1 IP, 4.44 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 32 K
OK, maybe those second half numbers were not a sign of things to come. However, he can be a poor man’s Chris Archer with a slightly higher ERA but comparable strikeout totals and more wins. Best part is he will not cost you much on draft day.
- Tyler Chatwood: GS 6-21.1 IP, 2.91 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 23 K
We expected better numbers with the move out of Colorado. So far he’s showing that, but 11 walks shows the same control issues so expect an ERA of 3.50 or higher. He’s still a solid draft target, but he could hurt your WHIP at times.
- Marco Gonzales: GS6-21.1 IP, 1.69 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 18 K
Is anyone buying this? I know Safeco pitchers get a bump for their home park, he is just 26 years old, is a a former first round pick, and is should be recovered from Tommy John. Late bloomer? My thoughts are no, but I would not rule him out. He still struggles against righties so expect growth, but not to the extent we’ve seen this spring.
- Clayton Kershaw: 6 GS-21.1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 23 K
Two years of back issues bumped Kershaw from his own tier down to a tie with Sale, Scherzer and Kluber. His spring numbers are an indicator of how good Kershaw can be when healthy. He is still the man; he just comes with a slight DL risk now.
- Gerrit Cole: 6 GS-21 IP, 2.14 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 24 K
Despite his numbers Cole is still being drafted as a top-20 pitcher, or close to it. The ERA and strikeout totals give us confidence; the WHIP shows us he may not be any better than last season – flashes of brilliance mixed in with a smattering of “why the hell did I draft this guy”.
- Julio Teheran: 5 GS-21.2 IP, 0.87 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 12 K
Give this guy a mulligan for 2017. Remember we wrote off Sonny Gray after 2016 and look what happened. Teheran’s success depends on his control, and we’re seeing improvements in the early stages. Given his ADP, he makes a nice target and a pitcher that could produce an ERA in the 3.50 to 4.00 range with a moderate win total.
- Junior Guerra: 5 GS-20 IP, 3.15 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, 16 K
We like to look at his 2016 (2.81 ERA, 1.13 WHIP) and dream. If he does manage to make the opening day roster (still has one minor league option left) remember he has walk, fly ball and home run issues – not a good thing given his home park.
- Matt Harvey: 5 GS-20 IP, 4.50 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 18 K
Encouraging numbers considering the circumstances, maybe even enough for those to consider him a late round pick. However, Harvey is still mending, needs to recover some velocity and show a little more consistency before being worthy of ownership – and this coming from a fan.
- Dylan Bundy: 5 GS-20 IP, 7.20 ERA, 1.65 WHIP, 18 K
Not what you’d like to see from a former first round pick entering his third year in the bigs. The good news is he is better than this and still worthy of a roster spot, but keep an eye on his increasing fly ball and hard hit rate.
- Jordan Montgomery: 5 GS-21 IP, 3.43 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 20 K
This is what I expect from Montgomery more often than not, even though projections see him with an ERA just over 4.00. He was a big ground ball guy in the minors but showed a 1/1 GB/FB split last year – that’s one area I’d like to see some growth. Overall I buy his spring numbers.
- Lance McCullers: 4 GS-18 IP, 0.50 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 21 K
Obviously this will not hold. Health is the main takeaway here as a healthy McCullers has the potential to be a top-30 arm. I’ll give the injuries a mulligan based on his age (24); younger guys bounce back faster.
- Jon Gray: 5 GS-18.2 IP, 6.75 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 20
I have not looked at his pitch usage this spring, but one would hope these struggles are a result of playing with his curveball. If the spring struggles have a current owners worried or he falls in your upcoming draft, take advantage. The key is not to overpay – he does pitching in Coors so caution is always advised.
- Blake Snell: 5 GS-17.1 IP, 3.12 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 27 K
Snell cut his walks in half in the second half of 2017, and the increased strikeouts this spring mirror his minor league potential. This could be a bargain breakout pitcher with an ADP of 202 (79 for pitchers). Just don’t expect a high win total.
- Max Scherzer: 6 GS-26 IP, 4.15 ERA, 0.77 WHIP, 36 K
Ignore the ERA and 6 home runs allowed. Just focus on the control (3 BB), strikeouts and track record of excellence. Scherzer, short of an injury, is still worthy of his round one draft status.
- Noah Syndergaard: 5 GS-20 IP, 1.35 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 23 K
He took a slight bump in draft circles; he fell below deGrom on some lists, but Syndergaard is proving that last year’s injury is nothing to worry about. Hopefully if you drafted you took him over Bumgarner (ouch).
- Chris Stratton: 5 GS-22.1 IP, 4.03 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 25 K
speaking of Bumgarner, Stratton had a rotation spot locked up before the injury, but that injury solidified it. The fourmer first round pick threw 137 innings last year, has decent control and strikeout ability, and a ground ball approach that should play well in San Francisco. He could make a sneaky back-end starter.
- Zack Godley: 5 GS-20.1 IP, 2.21 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, 19 K
This is what those who pushed Godley into the top-30 wanted to see. That spring ERA will go up a point, but all signs are good for a repeat of 2017.
- Ben Lively: 5 GS-19 IP, 2.84 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, 13 K
A career 3.07 minor league ERA and solid control (2.60 BB/9)suggests a good young pitcher, but average strikeouts, an even GB/FB history and high contact makes one wonder how he achieved this. He is a complete wild-card as far as expectations.
- Bartolo Colon: 5 GS-18 IP, 3.00 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 10
Sadly we won’t get to see Colon hit this year (fingers crossed for inter-league play). He has walked only 2 batters this spring, but gave up four homers. I’m pulling for the 44-year-old in real life, and may even be temped in deeper leagues before the heat and humidity in Texas sets in. Yea, I have a soft-spot for Colon.
- Tanner Roark: 6 GS-28.2 IP, 7.23 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 13 K
Based on the simplistic odd/even year theory Roark seemed poised for a bounce back – so much for that. Given his late round cost I would let someone else draft him, drop him if this spring continues into April, and then scoop him up later if things turn around. He’s not this bad, but there have been years he hasn’t been good either.
- Justin Hancock: 6 G-6.2 IP, 1.35 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 7 K, 3 SV
The unimpressive 27-year-old was moved to the bullpen last season, and while his ERA and WHIP didn’t move much, he did see a big spike in K/9. He could win a bullpen role, but take those spring saves with a grain of salt.
- Dominic Leone: 9 G-9 IP, 1,00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 12 K, 3 SV
If not for the words of Mike Matheny you would swear Leone was in line to close things out in St Louis. He got his first real taste of success last year with Toronto, but that ugly walk issue has crept back up this spring (5 free passes). Gregerson and Lyons keep things in flux so Leone is a speculative add at best.
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