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Later-Round Pitcher Values for WHIP - Fantasy Baseball Draft Targets (2024)

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When drafting pitchers, we usually prioritize strikeouts, ERA, wins, and saves before the fifth category in standard 5x5 leagues - WHIP.

Plenty of very effective pitchers in Major League Baseball manage run prevention with elite control, great groundball rates, or the ability to induce soft contact.

I have always held that WHIP was an underrated stat when evaluating pitchers. In a nutshell, WHIP tells us how many baserunners a pitcher allows per inning. The fewer baserunners, the better as it's harder for the opposition to score runs without men on base. And when a pitcher does give up loud contact that results in an extra-base hit, it does less damage when the bases are empty. Let's take a look at some pitchers who you can target in the late rounds who likely won't hurt your WHIP this season.

Be sure to check all of our fantasy baseball lineup tools and weekly lineup resources:


Aaron Civale, Tampa Bay Rays

Last Season Stats: 7 wins, 3.46 ERA, 116 SO, 1.16 WHIP
ADP: 221
Baller Move: 190

Civale was dealt from Cleveland to Tampa Bay last year, finishing 2023 with 122 innings pitched across 23 starts. His 3.46 ERA was the best mark of his career since his rookie season and his xERA of 3.71 and FIP of 3.57 suggest that it was not a fluke.

With Jeffrey Springs and Drew Rasmussen on the shelf and not set to return until the second half of the season (plus with Glasnow now in L.A.), Civale slots in as Tampa's #2 starter behind Zach Eflin. His ERA took a jump in Tampa as he struggled a bit with the long ball (seven HR allowed in ten starts), but he maintained solid control and upped his strikeouts in a big way (29% in Tampa vs. 20% in Cleveland).

We know that the Rays get the most out of their pitchers and Civale is a guy who can throw 5-6 different pitches. We've seen other Tampa pitchers have major success without having elite velocity (Springs, Rasmussen, Eflin) and it's certainly possible that Civale is the next success story.


Kenta Maeda, Detroit Tigers

Last Season Stats: 6 wins, 4.23 ERA, 117 SO, 1.17 WHIP
ADP: 257
Baller Move: 242

The 2023 version of Maeda looked a lot more like what we had come to expect from him during his time in L.A. and his first season in Minnesota (2020). In his age 35 season after coming off an entire missed season due to Tommy John surgery, Maeda delivered a solid season, holding opposing hitters to a .237 average with a 27.3% K% and a 6.5% BB%.

Now he heads to Detroit as the third starter in a revamped Tigers rotation that could be pretty good if things go right. If Maeda can stay healthy, he's a good candidate to provide solid ratios as the crafty veteran uses his slider and changeup to keep hitters off guard even with a fastball that tops out around 91 MPH.


Cristopher Sanchez, Philadelphia Phillies

2023 Season Stats: 3 wins, 3.44 ERA, 96 SO, 1.05 WHIP
ADP: 283
Baller Move: 248

Sanchez came pretty much out of nowhere last season to give the Phillies 99 innings of pretty darn good pitching. He had only a handful of starts in 2021-2022 and no real track record of being anything more than average in minors with both Tampa Bay and Philly.

The results last season were better than the Phillies could have ever hoped for, but we have to wonder if it's sustainable or not with Sanchez having no history of being this good across his major or minor league career.

A 4% BB% is fantastic and among the best in baseball, but there are some concerns with hard contact when you're throwing a 91-92 MPH fastball over 50% of the time. His changeup was tremendous and led to a lot of swings and misses - and he threw it more than ever before last year (32%).

Perhaps the tweak to his pitch mix was the change he needed to get over the hump, but some regression could still be coming this season. At this price, however, I think he's well worth taking a shot on to see if he can replicate those numbers or at least come close.


Reese Olson, Detroit Tigers

Last Season Stats: 5 wins, 3.99 ERA, 103 SO, 1.12 WHIP
ADP: 325
Baller Move: 310

The Tigers' most promising pitching prospects were once Casey Mize and Matt Manning, but Olson came over in a trade with Milwaukee in 2021 and quickly worked his way up through each level of the minors with some impressive stats at each stop.

His fastball sits in the mid-90s and he throws both a slider and a changeup. He finished with a solid 24% K% while walking only 7.8% of hitters he faced. And what was most impressive was probably the 83 hits allowed over 103 innings pitched.

He did have a bit of a home run problem, allowing 14 long balls. But with some more seasoning, he projects as a quality middle-of-the-rotation arm and, hopefully, he can build on his solid finish to the 2023 season as he was at his best over his final 31 innings (1.44 ERA in September/October).


Kutter Crawford, Boston Red Sox

Last Season Stats: 6 wins, 4.04 ERA, 135 SO, 1.11 WHIP
ADP: 328
Baller Move: 300

I think Crawford might be the best value of any pitcher on this list. He's projected to break camp as the fourth starter in the Boston rotation and he's coming off a sneaky good year. One look at his Statcast profile gives us an indication of how solid his underlying numbers were.

A nearly 19% K-BB% is darn good and the xERA backs up the idea that he underperformed in ERA (his FIP was 3.83, too). He allowed just 107 hits in 129 innings, but like Olson had an issue with homers as he allowed 17 of them across 23 starts. I'd love to see the groundball rate up, but we are talking about a guy with pretty good stuff and solid control who is still relatively young (27 years old) here.

He spent time as a reliever last year, bouncing in and out of the rotation. But the odds of him sticking in the rotation this year are high, especially if he pitches effectively early in the year. Don't forget about him near the end of your drafts!

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