Six fantasy baseball strikeout stars: Pick up six pitchers before it’s too late

Modern major league rotations are in constant flux. Feels It seems like there have been more rotations than usual in recent days. This trend could only get more pronounced with 16 make-up games planned between now and the All Star break.

Surprisingly, many of the new-to–rotation pitchers are strikeout artists. This is exactly what fantasy managers want in a pitcher. Simply put, a pitcher who can't hit the ball often means he is probably dirty and less likely to be able to adapt to his more prominent role. If you have the roster space, this is prime time to speculate on high-upside pitchers.

These six pitchers share key traits. Each of them has struck out at minimum 30% of all batters they have faced, both in the majors as well as the minors, since last season's start. They are between 22-24 years old and each has either been drafted into his big-league team's roster within the past 10 days, or is being widely discussed as a possible new member. All six share the same trait: They aren't rostered in enough ESPN leagues for their striking prowess. Get them now!

Six fantasy baseball strikeout stars: Pick up six pitchers before it's too late

Aaron Ashby, Milwaukee Brewers: A preseason sleeper Ashby, a former student of mine, has been promoted to a more senior role in the team’s rotation as a result of injuries. Freddy Peralta Recent developments include Brandon Woodruff. Ashby has been outstanding throughout the season, despite shifting his role constantly — his 89 fantasy point score ranks 67th out of all pitchers. He has five starts, five short-relief, and one long-relief appearance. But what is most notable about his performance lately has been slight improvement on his control. His four previous appearances include Monday's 12-strikeout win against the Phillies. Chicago CubsHis career rates are 7.6%, 66.4% for the first pitch strike and 53.8% pitches within the zone. Ashby gets a ton of grounders thanks to his 96-mph sinker, and while it's easy for fantasy managers to dream of a “left-handed-Peralta” comp, Ashby isn't really that style of pitcher. Ashby is a K-generating, elevated floor type and a universal add-and start with a rotation spot.

Six fantasy baseball strikeout stars: Pick up six pitchers before it's too late

Shane Baz, Tampa Bay Rays: He has been pitching brilliantly for Triple-A Durham during his rehab stint. Baz is now eligible to activate from the 60-day disabled list. He pitches a combination of 97-mph fastball and slider. That's why he is part of the 30% plus K rate crew. Baz will have Tropicana field as his home. He also pitches for one of most highly-respected organizations when it comes to developing pitchers. He will be needed by a mix-and match pitching staff, which doesn't like pushing its starters too far in terms seasonal workload. It's not difficult to claim that he'll continue to be the Rays' second highest-earning pitcher in fantasy.

Six fantasy baseball strikeout stars: Pick up six pitchers before it's too late

Edward Cabrera, Miami Marlins: He was to be summoned for Tuesday's game. Cabrera should not be allowed to play in that game. However, he still has a high-90s fastball and elite changeup that should provide him with a source of strikeouts. Cabrera is similar to Baz. He will be a home-owner of extreme pitchers' conditions, which should mask his lackluster control. Cabrera has walked 14.3% all the hitters that he faced between Triple A ball and the majors. While his 2022 outcome range is most likely the greatest among all six pitchers, it's hard to overlook a pitcher who has such raw stuff.

Six fantasy baseball strikeout stars: Pick up six pitchers before it's too late

Roansy Contreras, Pittsburgh Pirates: Contreras is a sleeper prospect. His fastball velocity soared after his inclusion by the New York Yankees In the January 2021 Jameson Taillon Trade, and we were able to see the results. He averaged almost 97mph with the pitch in his initial two starts for Pittsburgh over the past eight days. All of Contreras' pitches have a great deal of spin — we're already talking 90th-percentile-or-better on his fastball and curveball — and, just as the two names above him, he'll work his home games in a plenty friendly environment to a pitcher. He won't have much run support with the Pirates, which will hurt his win potential. However, he may be able to benefit from the low pressure environment as he transitions to the majors. Contreras was a sleeper in 2022, and he is easily the sleeper on this list.

Six fantasy baseball strikeout stars: Pick up six pitchers before it's too late

Grayson Rodriguez, Baltimore Orioles: Rodriguez, the only pitcher in professional baseball who has faced at least 500 batters and struck out at least 40 percent of them since last season's start, is widely believed to be in line for a promotion by Orioles. His stellar Triple-A pitching performance thus far has made him a highly sought after prospect. The team has already promoted top prospect Adley RutschmanIt is clear that the Orioles have a bright future. Rodriguez is a key player in that. Rodriguez is widely considered the best minor league pitching prospect, with at least four or five high-quality offerings. These include his slider, cutter, slider, curveball, changeup, and fastball. I find him a bit like Jacob deGrom Rodriguez was just 14 years old at the time of his big league debut in 2014. Rodriguez was available in 91.8% ESPN leagues. If you wait for the news about his promotion in the next days, you will be in a rush to grab him and be subject to a huge FAB bid or waiver position.

Six fantasy baseball strikeout stars: Pick up six pitchers before it's too late

Spencer Strider, Atlanta Braves: His Monday big-league debut didn't turn out as promising, but he struck out 7 of the 19 batters he faced. The total included 14 swings, misses, and 14 called strikes. Strider's fastball averaged 98.2 miles per hour, which is the same elite velocity that made him one spring training's most notable breakthrough stories. Although he walked 11.4% of the batters he faced this season between bullpen and rotation, he could use some control improvements. He also needs to work on his changeup to avoid a platoon split. However, he still has plenty of strikeout potential, and is a good candidate for a spot in the rotation. Strider should immediately be added to all formats and given a new role.

Some other thoughts from strikeout artists:

  • From 2021-22, another member of the 30% plus K club Cade CavalliIt might be a possibility that, could soon be considered as a potential candidate for a Washington Nationals Rotation spot. Although he struggled to get on the Triple-A Rochester roster, he threw a seven-inning gem this past Saturday. Cavalli could be needed as the Nationals' rotation is extremely thin. Stephen StrasburgRehabilitating someone is not always easy.

  • Hunter Greene You may recognize his name, especially since he began his own company. Cincinnati RedsHe lost his no-hitter on May 15 but has struggled to this point at the major league level. He still has an above-average 14.2% swinging rate and has been one the most unlucky pitchers (4.78 StatcastxERA), so I would keep him around while he adjusts to big-league competition.

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