Don't have an account?
Join the Best Live Fantasy Chat Community!

Lost password? [X]

Receive free daily analysis:

NFL    NBA    MLB

Already have an account? Log in here.

[X]

Forgot Password


[X]

Prospect Starters that Could be Impact Relievers


Last year around this time I wrote some words about Dakota Hudson and how he could be a stud in 2018 — but as a reliever, not a starter, which had been his role in the minors to that point.

From last March at Rotographs: “And for me, Dakota Hudson has immense potential as a high-leverage reliever. He doesn’t miss a ton of bats as a starter but he has a great fastball-slider combo and outstanding ground-ball numbers.”

The goal of today’s piece is to replicate that successful crystal ball moment and look at eight rookie pitchers that could be studs out of the bullpen in 2019 for a low cost and/or snapped off the waiver wire. And it doesn’t mean they can’t return to the starting role down the line, just as Hudson may for the coming season. Here are some starting pitcher prospects that could see success as relievers in the near future.

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!

 

 

Zac Gallen, RHP, Marlins

I’ve been a fan of Gallen for a while now and he comes from the same organization as Hudson (St. Louis) although a trade landed him in Miami last year. He was a stud at the Triple-A level in 2018, striking out 136 batters in 133.1 innings but his modest stuff will land him in the No. 4/5 slot of a big league rotation. A move to the ‘pen, though, could better match his skillset.

He has above-average control and his cutter is his best pitch. This would allow him to come into games, work quickly with his funky delivery and focus on putting the ball in play. I’m no baseball coach but incorporating his legs more into his delivery could also help him tap into some added velocity.

 

Jesus Tinoco, RHP, Rockies

Tinoco is an imposing man on the mound and has moved from the tall, skinny teenager I remember from the Jays system to looking more like Albert Pujols on the mound. Filling out his body has also robbed the young Rockies starter of athleticism and he struggles to consistently repeat his delivery and doesn’t finish his arm action, leading to balls up in the zone. That, in turn, has resulted in home-run issues. A move to the bullpen could help Tinoco narrow his focus over one to two innings rather than five or six, which could help him realize some of this potential. It would also allow him to trim his four-pitch repertoire and perhaps see improvements on the remaining offerings.

 

Deivi Garcia, RHP, Yankees

Now let’s get really crazy here and pick a 19-year-old hurler. The Yankees have a number of starting pitching prospects and the money to buy veteran replacements at a moment’s notice so the bullpen might be the best way for Garcia to get his feet wet in the Majors. And his smallish frame does create some durability concerns. He already reached Double-A briefly in 2018 so Garcia is not as far away from the Majors as his age might suggest. He has a solid, low-effort delivery and has a curveball with plus-plus potential. Pairing it with his fastball, which can reach the mid-90s as a starter, could keep big league hitters off balance especially with the shorter stints.

 

J.B. Bukauskas, RHP, Astros

Like Garcia, Bukauskas doesn’t have the biggest frame and the effort in his delivery definitely has some scouts projecting him as a future reliever. His ugly short-arm action is both a benefit and a detriment.  Bukauskas generates outstanding spin rates and can be difficult to pick up but it could also lead to injury and it’s hard to envision him having anything better than average command/control. Still, his fastball/slider combo could be downright dominant out of the bullpen as a high-leverage reliever with the ability to generate both strikeouts and ground-ball outs.

 

Kyle Funkhouser, RHP, Tigers

It’s been a frustrating time for Funkhouser who, at one point, had the potential to go near the top of the 2015 draft but inconsistencies in his junior year cost him a few million dollars when he gambled on a return to college for his senior year. He didn’t rebound as hoped and ended up signing as a fourth-round pick. He’s battled injury and inconsistencies as a pro, too, but he’s also shown flashes of promise.

The Tigers are building up a solid stable of arms so Funkhouser’s best option might be to open his career in the ‘pen while he irons out his issues. He can get a lot of ground balls with a good downward plane on his fastball but he lacks a reliable strikeout pitch and modest athleticism leads to command/control issues.

 

Michel Baez, RHP, Padres

The Padres’ pitching prospect ranks are absolutely stacked so some hurlers are going to have to look to the bullpen for big league roles. As a big, tall hurler, this young Cuban struggles to repeat his delivery over the course of five or six innings so, like Tinoco above, shorter stints could allow him some relief. Baez, 23, can already hit the upper-90s as a starter so triple-digits could be easily in his reach as a reliever. And the one- or two-inning stints would allow him to put a pitch or two in his back pocket and focus on his fastball and slider.

 

Kyle Muller, LHP, Braves

Like the Padres, the Braves have a lot of near-ready pitching prospects so there isn’t room for everyone in the starting rotation. Muller has moved more methodically through the minor leagues than a lot of their pitchers but he’s finally closing some ground and reached Double-A in 2018. He rushes his delivery at times so the shorter stints may benefit him and allow him to focus more on his mechanics.

Muller threw a lot of curveballs to both right-handed and left-handed hitters in the Arizona Fall League but he also struggled to find the strike zone with the pitch. Focusing on just two pitches could help the fastball -- which can touch 95 mph as a starter -- and slider improve more quickly.

 

Trent Thornton, RHP, Blue Jays

A bit of an enigma, Thornton has good stuff, including a mid-90s fastball and high-spin curveball but he gives up a lot of hits because of below-average command. He struggles to repeat his delivery so, like many of the arms above, shorter stints could allow him to tap into the unrealized potential. If he can find his niche in the bullpen, his stuff is of the high-leverage variety.

More MLB Prospects Analysis




More Recent Articles

 

Running Back Start/Sit Advice - Week 14

Pierre Camus and Chris Mangano break down the running back position to help with tough fantasy football lineup decisions for Week 14 of the 2019 NFL season. They decide who to start or sit among those in RB3 or flex consideration. Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest... Read More


Week 14 Fantasy Football Staff Rankings

Below you will find all of RotoBaller's fantasy football weekly rankings, tiers, player news and stats for the 2019 NFL season. Our Ranking Wizard displays our staff's rankings for various league formats, all in one easy place. Here's what you'll find: Weekly PPR Rankings Weekly Half-PPR Rankings Weekly Standard Rankings Dynasty League Rankings     Fantasy... Read More


Fantasy Football Booms, Busts - Zach Pascal, Jamaal Williams, Gardner Minshew

Whether this is the first week of your playoffs, the last week of your regular season, or the time to win a DFS league to pay for your holiday presents, this is the most crucial week of your fantasy football season. While my booms from last week (Robert Woods, Jack Doyle, Dede Westbrook, Kyle Allen)... Read More


Wide Receiver Snap Counts and Target Trends - Week 13 Analysis

Wide receivers are essential components toward your ultimate goal of securing league championships. As many of you prepare for your Week 14 matchups, an expanding collection of tools are available that can provide you with an extensive level of knowledge. Those results provide the foundation for this weekly statistical breakdown of the wide receiver position, which... Read More


Week 14 Stream Team - Free Agent and Bye-Week Streamers

Now that the playoffs are beginning in most leagues and the final march for a championship has begun, streaming becomes a  necessary strategy. Knowing who to add and when to start them could be the ultimate difference-maker in a weekly matchup. Making the right streaming decisions could easily be the difference in winning a championship.... Read More


Wide Receiver Start/Sit Advice - Week 14

Pierre Camus and Chris Mangano break down the wide receiver position to help with tough fantasy football lineup decisions for Week 14 of the 2019 NFL season. They decide who to start or sit among those in WR3 or flex consideration. Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest... Read More


The King's Week 14 Lineup Rankings and Analysis (Premium Content)

Welcome back, RotoBallers! Below you will find my Week 14 fantasy football lineup rankings for the first round of your playoffs. The ranks are available in PPR, Half PPR, and Standard formats. They will be updated as needed, so make sure to check back for the latest versions, especially on the weekends. Skill Position analysis versus... Read More


Fantasy Football Disaster Recovery: Playoff Panic

Welcome to Disaster Recovery, where each week I'll examine why your studs played like duds. This isn't a place to find out why you should have sat a player for somebody else on your bench. Disaster Recovery is here to examine the guys who you didn't think twice about starting and to help you decide if you should... Read More


Thursday Night Football Matchups Analysis - Week 14

It's that time of year again! While many will be caught up in the thrills of the holiday season, those lucky few who have risen to the top of their fantasy leagues will be sweating over lineup decisions in pursuit of a championship (in most league formats). To our fantasy owners who have managed to... Read More


The Tape Tells All - Derrius Guice Fantasy Outlook

Welcome to another edition of "The Tape Tells All," where I break down some film of an NFL's player performance and try to draw some fantasy football conclusions from that film. This week, I'm looking at Washington running back Derrius Guice, who's finally healthy and finally getting a chance to show why people were so... Read More


Quarterback Leaderboards Before the Fantasy Playoffs - NFL Next Gen Stats

You won't believe it, but you weren't dreaming. That turkey you stuffed your face with a few days ago? Real. Those three games on a Thursday? Real, indeed. Your weekly meeting with football on the telly this past Sunday? Also real. All of that together only meant one thing: the fantasy football regular season is... Read More


Fantasy Playoffs Warning Signs: Wide Receivers

We all know a good wide receiver is important. Most leagues are PPR and more receivers are played than other positions. But the key is finding those wide receivers with favorable matchups. Just like with other positions, it is difficult to know at draft time which defenses will be good or bad by the time... Read More


Offensive Line Rankings Analysis: Week 14

Week 13 had the season's first snow game, a potential SuperBowl preview, and an incredible play from the Miami Dolphins special teams! If you haven't seen it have a look and come back. Now let's move onto Week 14. If you aren't in playoff contention, then this article could help you with some DFS selections.... Read More


Week 14-16 Playoff Defense (DEF) Streamers and Starts - 2019 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

The playoffs are here, and that means we're going to do things a little differently. I want to take a look at the playoffs as a whole (and in this case we are considering Weeks 14-16) and determine which DSTs you can ride all the way through and which ones you should stream this week.... Read More


NFL Survivor Pool Picks (Week 14) - Targets and Avoids

If there were a dozen people left in a survivor pool this past week, odds are those pools are down to just several. The upsets began Thursday when the Bills beat the Cowboys, and continued Sunday when the Dolphins and Redskins won as 10-point underdogs. If you're somehow still alive in your pool with just... Read More