Sep 13, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Danny Salazar throws a pitch against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning at U.S Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Sleeper Pitchers for 2014


In an earlier post I explained step-by-step how I identify my sleeper pitchers. Read that first if you want to learn how to fish.

For you fantasy baseball owners who want your fish fired up for you and slapped on a plate in front of you, here’s my list of 2014 Sleeper Pitchers:

 

Alex Cobb

I know, I know. Alex Cobb is actually ranked very highly as a pitcher and could hardly be considered a sleeper. Still, his underlying skills suggest that he’s capable of even more. After being hit with a come backer in 2013 and missing time, his early ADP suggests that he’s being slightly undervalued.

We have him pegged for the numbers below. Notice how much Cobb keeps the ball on the ground, which keeps his home runs allowed low.

 
IP
Wins
ERA
WHIP
GB%
HR/9
 
Alex Cobb 2014 Projections190133.231.2157%0.72

 

Danny Salazar

Danny Salazar is such a sleeper that he quietly slips into bed with you. It’s creepy, but you don’t say anything because he has a 96 mph fastball. What’s more, Salazar has a 14% whiff rate (SwStr%) on that pitch, which is no snoozer.

I actually used that joke before in this list of hitting and pitcher sleepers, but I’m the worst at repeating my own jokes and metaphors. You don’t get new material when kids enter your life and you haven’t watched anything but Dora the Explorer for 5 years.

I’m very unapologetic when it comes to Danny Salazar as there is little new that can be said about him. He’s become such a trendy sleeper pitcher that his early ADP is showing that he’s actually becoming over valued. Yet, you look at his strikeout numbers and you start to tingle, even if the projections are based off very little MLB experience.

 
IP
ERA
WHIP
K
K/9
Danny Salazar 2014 Projections1603.311.1319611.0

 

Sonny Gray

Sonny Gray also runs the risk of shifting from a sleeper to being over valued as he got a lot of exposure during 2013′s playoff run. But he’s also the legit article.

Gray leans on both his fastball and slider, and they both work. He’s also further proof that Billy Beane grows pitchers in a secret genetics lair hidden deep beneath Oakland.

Sonny’s projections below include his 2013 ratios. Notice that is K%, BB%, SwStr5 and ground ball rate are hit all the sweet spots when it comes to predicting a breakout.

 
IP
W
K
ERA
WHIP
K%
BB%
SwStr%
GB%
Sonny Gray185131543.601.2925.7%7.7%9.5%52.9%

 

Kevin Gausman

Kevin Gausman had such a poor start to his young career that he’s flying totally under the radar right now, which is actually what you want in a sleeper (and in a stealth fighter jet).

But let’s lot forget how improved Gausman’s pitching was toward the end of 2013. He had a near 5-to-1 K to walk ratio for the year and he still had that killer fastball that clocks in the high 90′s.

The Baltimore Orioles have something to gain if they start him in Triple A to start 2014 – they’ll buy additional service time. But make no mistake, Gausman will eventually be 1b to Dylan Bundy‘s 1a in the Orioles rotation.

Watch his spring training closely. He’s young so the computer didn’t spit out favorable numbers for him, but as you can see below, his underlying skills are excellent, which could add up to a breakout.

 
IP
Win
ERA
WHIP
K/9
BB/9
GB%
Kevin Gausman 2014 Projections15094.021.308.02.342%

 

Corey Kluber

Corey Kluber had a mini breakout last season. The reason is that his fastball velocity has actually increased from his initial cup of coffee in to 2011 from 92.0 to 93.2. That bodes well for his SwStr%, so he has that going for him, which is nice.

Kluber also throws 5 pitches – a fourseamer, cutter, sinker, slider and changeup. This is relevant because young Corey (sorry, for some reason I always picture an 80′s Corey Feldman from the Goonies when I think of Kluber) is quickly learning to mix his pitches differently, growing into a fine pitcher right before our eyes.

HIs underlying skills could add up to a breakout and his growing maturity could hasten it.

 
IP
K
W
ERA
WHIP
K%
BB%
SwStr%
Corey Kluber185169123.901.2922.4%5.4%10.4%

 

Alex Wood

Alex Wood always had excellent control in the minors and possesses a wicked changeup that gets way more than its share of swing and miss. Plus, like the Oakland Athletics, St. Louis Cardinals, or Tampa Bay Ryas, I give Atlanta Braves pitchers a tiny, slight bump because they have a proven pitcher development system.

But Wood has a delivery that is weirder than Chris Sale‘s. As a result, folks have long predicted he’d either blow out his arm and find a place in the bullpen. But as Chris Sale has shown, it’s working until it’s not working. And Alex Wood sure has been working it.

He logged just 77 major leagues innings last season at age 22, but they were excellent, highlighted by a 3.13 ERA and a 8.9 K/9.

 
IP
K
Wins
ERA
WHIP
Alex Wood 2014 Projections165147113.581.28

 

Tyson Ross

Tyson Ross saw his fastball velocity increase as the season went along. But the new 94+ mph fastball still doesn’t have anything on his slider, which generated an insane 24.8% SwStk%. That’s an out pitch, folks.

But he just sneaks under my thresholds for K/BB, so I’m tagging him as a sleepy sleeper. If the velocity gain stays, he could be this year’s Andrew Cashner. If the velocity gain was temporary, he could be a long reliever.

No projections for Ross, just a watchful eye.

 

Again, if you want to learn step-by-step how I identify sleeper pitchers, read this.

Tags: Danny Salazar Fantasy Baseball MLB Pitchers Sleepers