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Cheap Strikeouts for 2021 Fantasy Baseball Drafts

By now, you may have seen a few of my colleagues focusing on “cheap” or “bargain bin” shopping for different categories in fantasy baseball. You may have built an incredible pitching staff that will dominate your league with the exception of one whiff; a lack of strikeouts. Please don’t feel that you have struck out, as we will dig deeper into drafts to discover potential arms that can pile up strikeouts in a hurry-and much later in a draft.

Depending on how shallow your league is will determine how down we have to dig. To maintain on-brand with finding strikeouts at a discounted price, I am setting the search at any pitcher drafted outside the top-250 draft picks. Using NFBC ADP from February 20th until now puts us right at the 100th pitcher selected.

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Strikeouts on the Cheap

Josh Lindblom, Milwaukee Brewers


For starters, Lindblom is cemented in the Brewer’s starting rotation. This is good news because last year, he was re-acclimated to MLB and bounced into the bullpen for a short stint. More innings pitched, more batters faced, equals more strikeouts.

Lindblom has a very particular set of skills that many pitchers would die for. He features a vast array of pitches(four-seam fastball, cutter, slider, splitter, curveball, and changeup). The bad news, not all of these pitchers are extremely effective. The good news; he could ditch the pitch like the changeup that had a 58% hard-hit rate and increase usage on his slider that didn’t allow a single hard hit.

When you consider that his 5.16 ERA came with a 3.88 FIP and 4.09 WHIP, there is room for positive regression. Put his unlucky short stretch with his 25% strikeout rate, and this is a pitcher that needs to be considered on all of your fantasy teams.


Freddy Peralta, Milwaukee Brewers


Peralta tried to get by with a four-seam fastball, curveball, and changeup pitch mix. With struggles occurring, he dropped the changeup and introduced a slider in 2020. It was like instant kismet as the strikeout rate spiked immediately, as shown below.

Peralta will likely open the season in the Milwaukee bullpen. There is a good chance he gets used as a multi-inning reliever a couple of times a week, which isn’t entirely bad since he does have a limited arsenal. It wouldn’t take much to push his way into the rotation past groundball expert Brett Anderson. This should be a pitcher to monitor, especially in deeper format leagues, as there are numerous playing time pathways.


Matthew Boyd, Detroit Tigers


I know, I know, Matthew Boyd gave up all those home runs in 2020. As someone who rostered him for a few of those outings, it still stings. There, now that we have gotten that part out of the way, let’s talk about what made him one of last year’s draft-day darlings. I mean, he is only a wacky short season from a 238 strikeout, 23.9 K-BB% season.

The slider was evolving into one of the elite pitches in baseball. It jumped in swinging-strike rate(SwStr%) nearly every season since 2015 and missed a ton of bats. A good fastball paired with a wicked slider can only take a pitcher so far. Lurking in his arsenal is a changeup that had a 94 wRC+ in 2019, but sadly, it was 118 wRC+ in 2020. If he can get that offspeed pitch working a little better, the strikeout potential would soar.

All in all, if Boyd can avoid the blowups and work on the pitch mix with a better changeup, there could be a bounceback year in the making. Remember, a pitcher with a HR problem could get help from the new de-juiced baseball.


Spencer Turnbull, Detroit Tigers


One reason to believe in Turnbull as a massive help in strikeouts is his pitch movement. Below is Baseball Savant’s pitch movement profile chart.

What jumps out to me is that all of his pitches besides the four-seam fastball are above league average in a horizontal and vertical movement. Pitches thrown at the same speed have less movement than Spencer Turnbulls. This is probably a big reason for his strikeout rate to be over 20% each of the previous three seasons.

Turnbull has the makings of a pitcher that could strikeout a ton of batters if he could trust the breaking balls more and rely less on the four-seam fastball.

For more great rankings, strategy, and analysis check out the 2021 FantraxHQ Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit. We’ll be adding more content from now right up until Opening Day!

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