Heading into the 2021 fantasy baseball season, there was plenty of debate regarding how to draft starting pitching. Do you draft early and grab the aces, or can you wait and build a solid rotation with pitchers from the third or fourth tier?
As it stands today, both decisions have been right. Gerrit Cole and Jacob deGrom have been phenomenal, while the likes of Carlos Rodon and John Means have already banked no-hitters for their teams. Obviously, there are exceptions, but for the most part, pitching has been strong across the board, and there are still a number of unheralded starters sitting on your waiver wire.
Remember when Kevin Gausman was in Baltimore working as a punching bag for the AL East? His move to Pittsburgh was fairly unsuccessful, but landing in San Francisco has been a revelation for the 30-year-old right-hander. Well, there must be something in the Bay Area water, because Gausman has been joined by Anthony DeSclafani as the latest success story in reclamation projects by the Giants.
Drafted by the Marlins in 2014, DeSclafani spent the majority of his professional career getting slapped around at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati. He missed all of 2017 after undergoing Tommy John surgery and appeared to be getting back on track until the 2020 season, when he fell apart and posted a 7.22 ERA over just 33 ²/₃ innings. He signed with the Giants in the offseason and hasn’t looked back.
Giants pitching coach Curt Young helped DeSclafani alter his pitch mix, increase the use of both his curveball and changeup, and demanded that the veteran pound the strike zone. Trusting a pitcher-friendly home ballpark has certainly helped. DeSclafani also is throwing far more first-pitch strikes and getting ahead of hitters in the count more frequently. The results speak for themselves, with his 2.00 ERA and 0.94 WHIP over six starts this season.
DeSclafani isn’t the only one who is enjoying a strong start yet sitting available on your waiver wire. Athletics lefty Cole Irvin had a rough two starts to open the season and everyone began to ignore him. Over his past four starts, though, Irvin hasn’t allowed more than two runs in a game and has a 29-3 strikeout-walk rate over that 25 ¹/₃-inning span.
There is plenty of pitching available to you right now. It’s just a matter of doing some digging. Royals lefty Danny Duffy, Dylan Cease of the White Sox and the Pirates’ JT Brubaker are all waiting for you. Make the move and strengthen your rotation.
Howard Bender is the VP of operations and head of content at FantasyAlarm.com. Follow him on Twitter @rotobuzzguy and catch him on the award-winning “Fantasy Alarm Radio Show” on the SiriusXM fantasy sports channel weekdays from 6-8 p.m. Go to FantasyAlarm.com for all your fantasy baseball advice.
Originally published at https://nypost.com/2021/05/08/these-lower-tier-pitchers-can-make-big-fantasy-baseball-difference/ on .