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Four Breakout Starting Pitchers For Fantasy Baseball - AL Edition (2024)

Kutter Crawford - Fantasy Baseball Rankings, Draft Sleepers, MLB News

The term "breakout" drives much of the stress in a fantasy baseball player's life during draft season. Everyone's looking for the next breakout, but very few will ever find one.

Luckily, I've got four enticing American League starting pitchers that have a great shot at breaking out in 2024 and returning well on their ADPs. It isn't advised to draft too many of these types, but sprinkling in a breakout name here and there in your draft will provide bountiful returns for you this season.

Check back in the next couple of days for the National League version of this article. There were so many intriguing breakout candidates at the starting pitching position that we had to split it into two articles!

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


Starting Pitcher Breakout Candidates

Kutter Crawford, Boston Red Sox

Kutter Crawford was a pleasant surprise in 2023, with a decent 4.04 ERA, 3.83 FIP, 1.11 WHIP, 25.5% strikeout rate, and 6.8% walk rate. His 284 ADP and previous numbers signal he can be a nice rotation cog, but there's a solid chance the 27-year-old becomes a fantasy stud this season.

As the 3.83 FIP indicates, Boston's abysmal defense did a number on Crawford's counting stats. A 24th-ranked Boston defense (-20 DRS in 2023) should make massive strides this season, with elite defenders Tyler O'Neill and Ceddanne Rafaela now entering the outfield rotation.

Additionally, a 104 Pitching+ grade, 3.25 xERA, and .208 xBA all indicate Crawford can make the leap in 2024. With his spot in the starting rotation secured -- even considering an 11th-hour Boras client signing -- Kutter Crawford should be in line for a breakout season.

Taj Bradley, Tampa Bay Rays

Taj Bradley had a rough going of it in his rookie year with a 5.59 ERA and 4.79 FIP through 104 2/3 innings pitched, but it's not nearly enough to write off his immense talent.

His first two stints in the majors (April 12 to April 24, May 18 to July 29) were much maligned due to a 5.67 ERA through 16 starts, but a 3.48 xFIP, 3.55 SIERA, and 30% strikeout rate prove that the 22-year-old was pitching quite well in his first tastes of the majors.

While his last seven appearances saw him hold a 5.40 ERA and 6.46 FIP through 30 innings pitched, three demotions and a move to the bullpen in just your first year of major-league pitching can take its toll.

The former top prospect's 105 Pitching+ grade, his encouraging performances in 2023, the departure of Tyler Glasnow, and the loss of Shane McClanahan to injury mean that a less rocky ride is ahead in 2024. While a 261 ADP after poor counting stats in 2024 signals that Bradley isn't underpriced, his talent is still at a discount.

Reese Olson, Detroit Tigers

It's a good idea to look for late-season surges, and Reese Olson quietly delivered some of the league's best pitching down the stretch of his rookie season. In his last six starts, the 24-year-old put up a sparkling 1.51 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 26.3% strikeout rate, and .151 opponent batting average.

A 3.56 FIP, 3.63 xFIP, and .248 xBA down the stretch signal that maybe we shouldn't be heralding him as a possible Cy Young candidate, but Olson has a good shot at finding his way into the upper tiers of starting pitchers.

Erick Fedde, Chicago White Sox

It may be hard to wrap your head around a 30-year-old starting pitcher with a career 5.41 ERA having a breakout year, but Erick Fedde has as good a shot as any 30-year-old.

Fedde's last year in the majors was unsightly, with a 5.81 ERA, 5.15 FIP, 16.4% strikeout rate, 10.1% walk rate, and 13 losses through 27 starts for the lowly 2022 Washington Nationals. However, in a 2023 respite with the KBO's NC Dinos, he held a 2.00 ERA, 2.38 FIP, 2.29 xFIP, 29.5% strikeout rate, 4.9% walk rate, and 0.95 FIP through 30 starts.

"But KBO!" may be flying out of your mouth as you read this, but it isn't an accurate retort in this case. Outlined in a profile by The Washington Post's Jesse Dougherty, Fedde's work with a baseball training lab and physical therapy facility prompted mechanical and physical upgrades, a reworking of his pitch usage, and an addition of a sweeper. Seeing those types of changes from any pitcher warrants attention, but his performance in the KBO makes it difficult to ignore in fantasy baseball.

For what it's worth, the KBO isn't bush league; a 2.00 ERA across 30 starts and a KBO MVP award are extremely impressive achievements. While the Chicago White Sox's deplorable defense and lack of offensive firepower may make his life difficult, he's likely to well overperform his 481.6 ADP.

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