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2019 MLB Fantasy Outlooks - Starting Pitchers


Here at RotoBaller, we've been producing fantasy baseball analysis all offseason. As part of that, our awesome MLB team has written up detailed 2019 fantasy baseball outlooks for 400+ players. These player outlooks include RotoBaller's analysis on how we expect a player to perform in 2019, where to target them in 2019 drafts, and supporting stats to back up the analysis. Typically, we only include these outlooks for Premium subscribers, but we have another special treat for you today.

Over the next few weeks, we'll be releasing some player outlooks for each position. Normally only available to Premium subscribers, the outlooks below are meant to give you a taste of the in-depth analysis you receive with our industry-leading 2019 Draft Guide. Our editors have hand-picked these specific players for your enjoyment. You will want to enjoy our 2019 MLB Rookies piece as well, you can find it here.

Today we are getting the party started with a look at fantasy baseball starting pitchers who we expect to make an impact in 2019. Make sure to subscribe to read all 400+ of our 2019 player outlooks, available exclusively in our 2019 Draft Guide.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season MLB Premium Pass for 50% off, with exclusive access to our season-long articles, 15 in-season lineup tools and over 200 days of expert DFS research/tools. Sign Up Now!

 

Trevor Bauer, Cleveland Indians

2018 was the breakout campaign that many had been projecting for Trevor Bauer with 12 wins, an ERA of 2.21, and 11.34 K/9. The ERA got better with each passing month as the season went on, showing the in-season changes that the hurler can make. To add to this, Bauer dropped his walks to 2.93 per nine from a 3.06 mark in 2017, and, at the same time, added close to one and a half strikeouts per nine, which had him fourth in the K/9 stats.

Besides, the HR/9 dropped to 0.46 from 1.28 the year before, and this placed him second only to Jacob deGrom in the league. The only significant change in Bauer’s approach was his slider usage at a 15% clip, up from 5% the year before. These changes mean that fantasy owners should expect the gains to stick, and perhaps get better with another offseason of dabbling with the pitch mix. The only downside in 2018 was a fluke injury that ended his season early, limiting Bauer to some spot starts down the stretch.

For 2019, owners should expect another Cy Young-caliber campaign with a low ERA and high-win combo as the main calling card. Concerning draft position, Bauer might not be in the top tier of starters yet but should be a top-10 pitcher off the board. This is one starter to buy into the hype, as even a top-30 draft position might have surplus value to justify the pick.

--Jon Denzler - RotoBaller

 

Tyler Glasnow, Tampa Bay Rays

The first thing that stands out when you look at Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow is that he throws gas and misses a lot of bats. It's not by coincidence he was once the Pirates top prospect; he reaches the upper-90s with his heater and struck out a whopping 10.96 hitters per nine innings in 111 2/3 frames with Pittsburgh and Tampa last year. The right-hander is still very young, too, and he won't turn 26 until August. Perhaps that's why he has struggled with his control in three seasons in the bigs (5.03 BB/9).

Although you can't expect Glasnow to give you a ton of innings in his fourth season – he hasn't gone over 111 2/3 innings yet – his strikeout upside makes him one of the best late-round sleeper arms out there. His 3.47 xFIP shows that his 4.27 ERA wasn't as bad as it should've been last year, maybe if not for his high 18.3 percent HR/FB rate. If the youngster can somehow figure a way to limit his walks and stay around the zone more often, look out. He also added a slider in 2018 that could become another deadly offering to complement his changeup and curveball, if he can control it with effectiveness.

The Rays are one of the better organizations for developing young pitching talent, so Glasnow is in good hands and is even more valuable in dynasty/keeper leagues. With an ADP of 165, he should definitely be on everyone’s radar near the 13th round.

--Keith Hernandez - RotoBaller

 

Andrew Heaney, Los Angeles Angels

Andrew Heaney had a productive 2018 and has the potential to be an ace this upcoming season. The former 2012 ninth-overall pick put together a very respectable 2018 campaign, going 9-10 with a 4.15 ERA. The wins may still be limited as the Angels are destined for another mediocre year under new manager Brad Ausmus, but all of Heaney’s peripherals should improve.

After missing the last two seasons recovering from Tommy John surgery, the left-hander blew by his 2015 career-high in innings (105.2), throwing 180 last year. The Angels' starter had no problem handling this increased workload, although it seemed like he started to fatigue by the end of the season. After a rough start, Heaney really found his groove from May – July, including a one-hit complete-game shutout on June 5. He averaged a 3.25 ERA and 1.07 WHIP across these three months, before cooling off in August.

The 2019 season will determine whether the former top prospect makes the changes necessary to become a bonafide stud. He needs to start games stronger; his opponents had tremendous success against him the first time through the order. He also needs to improve against right-handed batters (4.77 ERA) and maintain his home ERA (3.22) while on the road, all while sustaining a 4.00 K/BB. If Heaney does that, then he could reach 200ks next season and far exceed his ADP of 175.

--Ben Holmes - RotoBaller

 

Joey Lucchesi, San Diego Padres

San Diego Padres left-hander Joey Lucchesi was a mixed bag in his rookie season. After battling a strained hip in May, Lucchesi finished his season compiling an 8-9 record with a 4.08 ERA and 1.29 WHIP across 130.0 IP. He showed a great ability to rack up strikeouts and keep the free passes down with a 26.5 K% and 7.9 BB%.

Lucchesi needs to improve on keeping the ball in the ballpark; his 1.59 HR/9 was exacerbated by a disastrous September in which he allowed seven longballs. Given his track record, it is very feasible once he re-establishes the ground-ball ability he demonstrated in the minors. Pitching in pitcher-friendly Petco Park will also help his cause as it is continuously ranked in the lower half of MLB Park Factors for home runs.

Just a two-pitch pitcher primarily, he'll have to remain crafty at retiring batters, but expect Lucchesi to pitch closer to his 2018 SIERA mark of 3.64. He will also find success in 2019 by maintaining his strikeout rate and limiting his walks to keep the WHIP at a respectable level. However, counting on him for more than a dozen wins on a below-average Padres team is a bit ambitious. At a current ADP of 215, Lucchesi is still worth grabbing to fill out the back end of your fantasy rotation.

--Riley Mrack - RotoBaller

 

Yusei Kikuchi, Seattle Mariners

Yusei Kikuchi is the latest star from the Nippon Professional Baseball league to make his way over to the United States. The Seattle Mariners broke the bank to sign Kikuchi in what has been a strange offseason, and intend to slide him in atop their rotation to begin the 2019 campaign. Can we expect continued dominance from the 28-year-old southpaw in his MLB debut? Read more in our 2019 Draft Guide!

 

Zack Wheeler, New York Mets

Zach Wheeler broke out for the second time in 2018, posting a career-low 3.31 ERA, and career-high in wins with 12. After decent years in 2013 and 2014, injuries and other struggles kept him from sustaining early-career success, 2018 might finally be the return to form... Find out more in our 2019 Draft Guide.

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