Last week I introduced a couple of new metrics that help to grade Stuff and Command. After giving an overview I looked at a series of potential breakout pitchers with above-average stuff and below-average command. Today I want to take a slightly different approach. Below is a table of all 54 of the 249 pitchers in 2019 who had above-average Stuff and Command grades.
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2019 Leaders in Stuff and Command
Unsurprisingly this list contains several of the best pitchers in all of baseball, however, looking through the list there are quite a few names that are being overlooked in fantasy leagues right now.
5 Potential Breakout Pitchers for 2020
Like several other former Orioles starters, Gausman has flashed immense potential only to continually disappoint. 2019 was no different however, the right-hander seemed to gain a second life upon moving to the bullpen with the Reds. Upon the move to the pen, his K% jumped almost 10% and he saw a small drop in BB%. The biggest adjustment was due to the increased emphasis on Gausman’s best pitch, his splitter. He was essentially a two-pitch pitcher last season throwing his fastball and splitter over 90% of the time. He appears to have a spot in the Opening Day rotation for the Giants and is essentially free in leagues. While his insane two-pitch reliance is likely unsustainable in the rotation, Gausman presents an interesting upside play if he can continue to use his best pitches more frequently.
Elieser Hernandez has an interesting combination of skills that he was able to flash at times in 2019. If he had qualified, his 16.7% K-BB% would have ranked 30th among pitchers in 2019. However, like many starters, he was victimized by the long ball. He had a ghastly 2.19 HR/9 and his ERA was over 5.00 as a result. However, based on his Stuff and Command scores. Hernandez has the traits of an above-average MLB starter. His 2019 numbers look much worse due to a disastrous seven innings pitched out of the bullpen. His presence on this list is driven by his incredible Stuff which places him in similar company to Justin Verlander and Jose Berrios. If he can be developed fully as a starter and can fix his third time through the order issues he could become a fantastic fantasy asset and one of this year’s bigger breakout pitchers.
Yet another Marlins starter, Lopez is a bit different from Hernandez. While Hernandez relies on above-average K numbers, Lopez is a bit more control reliant. He had a solid FIP but his ERA numbers were poor. The biggest issue a low LOB% which is typically extremely variable from year to year. With some positive regression in LOB%, Lopez could be a low-4 ERA pitcher which is perfectly viable for streaming and back-end of fantasy rotation purposes. His low walk totals should allow him to post a low WHIP.
Bundy is one of the most popular sleepers in all of baseball. Much like Gausman, the hope is that a change of scenery bodes well for his ability to reach the lofty expectations of his prospect hype. Bundy has always shown flashes that have allowed him to keep getting chances to anchor a rotation but his fastball has been his downfall. 2019 was a step in the right direction as he threw the fastball at the lowest rate of his career, instead trading it in for more changeups. The changeup appears to be an above-average pitch and if he can continue to throw fewer fastballs and sees an improvement due to the more neutral home ballpark, Bundy could be a solid cheap upside play in fantasy leagues.
The last name I want to highlight here is Nathan Eovaldi. The big Red Sox right-hander is being treated like a forgotten man thus far in draft rooms. His 2018 season was excellent and he played a starring role in the Red Sox World Series Championship with a dominating performance out of the bullpen. His 2019 was marred by injury and when he did manage to find the mound he was brutal. The pinpoint control he had shown in 2018 evaporated and he became victimized by the long ball. However, Command and Stuff paint a much different picture. Eovaldi has looked incredible to begin Spring Training and while I do not like to put much stock in that, his price is criminally low. Healthy enough entering the start of the season, Eovaldi is a great bet to vastly outperform his current ADP.
Others Of Note
There are are a few more potential breakout pitchers scattered throughout the list but many of them have no direct path to fantasy value. Trevor Richards was long a favorite of mine due to his incredible changeup but he likely is a long man at best for the Rays. They are an odd team so do not be surprised if he finds his way into a few save opportunities in 2020. Matt Andriese was quietly good out of the bullpen for the Diamondbacks but a move to the Angels may have given him a new life in the rotation. Keep an eye on him if he gets a job in that rotation (he should) as he could be a quietly solid waiver add.
Who are your favorite breakout pitchers for 2020? Drop some names in the comments below and we just might give you a shoutout on Twitter!
For more great rankings, strategy, and analysis check out the 2020 FantraxHQ Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit. We’ll be adding more content from now right up until Opening Day!
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