Top Pitchers who Gain Value from a 6-Man Rotation or Teammate Injury
Updated: Jul 15
With the shortened season and the league trying to squeeze in as many games as possible, there could be up to 8 games a week per club. With so many games in such a short amount of time, teams will be forced to employ a six man rotation with possibly even an occasional 7th (spot starter) or “opener.”
**UPDATE: June 30th. The main details of the 2020 season were finally announced and we have some new insight on how it may effect rosters and starting pitchers. The new season consisting of 60 games over 66 days, will NOT utilize double headers, due to health and safety precautions, but will only have 6 off days in about 9 and a half weeks. There's no telling how managers will choose to deploy their starters or how injuries or illness may affect their availability, but it is highly probable that with so few off days and the rosters carrying up to 60 players, that many pitchers and position players will get their chance. Also, it makes sense that in such a short season clubs will be less hesitant to move away from a struggling veteran and move on to their emerging prospects.
Here is a list of 19 players, many of them top prospects, who either figured to begin the season in the bullpen or in the minors, but could now very well find themselves rounding out the starting staff. If not in the early days when rosters are expanded, then possibly as the season wears on and teams get desperate for some new talent or spark. Add these guys to your fantasy roster or at least monitor them over the coming weeks and see who actually earns a spot.
(In no particular order)
Even if there wasn’t any adjustments to the season, the Angels most likely would have employed a six man rotation anyway. Featuring plenty of off injured starters in the past, the Angels have presumably learned their lesson and would benefit by allowing Ohtani to throw one day a week and bat in at least 4 games, possibly 5. He has ace type stuff and with a shortened season Ohtani (SP) could shoot up the rankings because he no longer will lack as many starts as other pitchers may accumulate. While other team aces could throw 12 games in a 60 game schedule, Ohtani could start around 9. If hes able to shake off the rust and throw like he did in his rookie year, 9 quality starts (even if the first few are capped at 4 innings), is more than worth a mid-late round pick.
The 40 year old lefty who loves to compete, has had a tough time staying on the field. When healthy enough to pitch however, he's been extremely productive. Over the last 5 years his ERA has averaged just below 3.00 and his K rate has consistently been above 1 per inning. This last season was no different for Hill, posting a 2.45 ERA and 72 K's over 58 2/3 innings. The crafty lefty features one of the dirtiest curve balls in the game and when players look for it, he paints the corner with his 4-seamer. Hill won't pitch deep into games, but is said to be ready whenever play resumes, and will definitely have a spot among the 6-man rotation. The delay allowed his elbow enough time to heal and having the extra man in the rotation only helps his value. He is a must own, worthy of a 18th round draft pick.
Although his metrics say otherwise, Civale constructed a very useful 10 starts for fantasy owners last year. The heavy sinkerballer didn’t accumulate a ton of ground balls, but did limit home runs to a 0.62 per 9 innings. He doesn’t strike out a ton of guys either, but the 2.34 ERA would more than play in fantasy leagues. And to those who say it was a fluke, he had an identical ERA over 13 starts in the minors.
The Uber driver from Pennsylvania fared extremely well last year after his call up. A stand out through the minors, the 25 year old showed no signs of slowing down in the majors where he threw for a 1.59 ERA over 9 games (5 starts). He displayed the same type of out getting ability in the few weeks of spring training, and although the metrics lean the other way, Dobnak has been very consistent through every stop in his professional career. He’ll look to continue the trend in 2020, where he should be handed the ball every 6th game.
Even if Rich Hill is healthy enough to man the fifth spot, you have to believe Dobnak can beat out Jhoulys Chacin for the sixth.
The Blue Jays have a lot of possibilities for their rotation, and much of it will come down to who’s healthy, but if Toronto wants to have a look at their future a bit early, they’ll look no further than the number 8 overall prospect, the 6’6”, 100 mph throwing Nate Pearson. For anyone out there who tuned into the Futures Game last season, they witnessed what Pearson can do. Among the best young talent in the world, Pearson stood out, throwing near unhittable gas with movement, making opposing hitters look silly. His spring numbers were also spectacular, however it was only over 7 innings. If the Jays give him a shot, he’s a must add on upside alone and he may even be worth stashing, even if he’s not given the job outright at the start of the season.
The two way prospect was called up halfway through the season last year and showed why he’s considered the top pitching arm in the Rays #1 ranked farm system. After giving up only 9 runs in nearly 74 inning in the minors, McKay got the call and over his first three starts gave up a total of 3 runs in 16 innings. After that however, the league figured him out a bit and he struggled. He eventually headed back to the minors and then back up again, where he ultimately ended the year in the Rays bullpen. McKay finished the season with 56 K’s over 49 innings, a 5.14 ERA, but a much better 4.03 FIP. If the Rays do employ 6 full time starters and do away with their famous “openers,” McKay figures to get a fair share of the starts and could turn into a solid piece for fantasy squads. He did have a bum shoulder during the delay, but reports state he'll have no restrictions when the league resumes.
Dustin May is the Dodgers top pitching prospect and performed very well last season. With a fastball that touches the high 90’s and a filthy cutter/slider, May could be the next young, ace-type starter the Dodgers farm system continues to produce. He deserves a spot on all fantasy rosters. Ross Stripling Stripling was great when given a chance to fill in as a starter in 2018. Then with high expectations the following year, many owners spent an early mid-round selection on him only to be left scrambling to replace the injured starter. When Stripling did return, he did so as a reliever. He's always been a good arm regardless of when he pitches, regularly producing an ERA in the mid 3's, more than a strike out per inning, and a very low WHIP. If the Dodgers don’t hand the keys to Dustin May out of the gate, Stripling would likely get the first crack as a starter/opener and could stick all year, greatly increasing his value from fringe player to must start. AJ Puk Sustaining a shoulder injury early in spring, Puk figured to lose his spot for at least the early portion of the season. With the delay however, he’s back on fantasy radars. Expected to be given a starter job, the 6’7” Puk has been a well hyped prospect for a couple of years now. If he’s healthy enough to last 5 innings, he could make a nice addition to fantasy staffs in all leagues. If not, he’ll probably be in the bullpen as a swing guy and start occasionally as a two or three inning opener, limiting his value.
Chris Bassitt Bassitt surprisingly pitched very well last season in Oakland and was fairly consistent all year. With nearly a strike out an inning and a 3.01 era at home, Bassitt could be a useful arm on fantasy teams once again. He and Puk should round out the 5th and 6th starter roles and with the injury history to Oakland’s top arms, you can bet they will stick to the 6-man rotation for the entire shortened season.
Kwang Hyun Kim
Kim pitched very well in the KBO league before signing with the Cardinals. He threw 8 shutout innings in early spring, giving up 5 hits, 1 walk and striking out 11. He would be the obvious choice for a sixth starter and may even beat out a teammate for a top 5 slot. He could prove useful in fantasy leagues.
Jordan Montgomery Montgomery was likely to be handed a starting job after Severino went down with injury, but now he’s basically a lock to be out there every five days. With good strike out potential, the help of a dominant bullpen and the likelihood of plenty of run support, Montgomery could be a fine back end starter in most leagues.
Anthony Kay was thought of as a top prospect when he came over from the Mets in the Marcus Stroman deal and did relatively well in AAA for the Jays. He eventually pitched in three games for the big league club and produced a 5.79 ERA over 14 innings, but didn’t give up a home run (a rarity for The AL East). Walks could be a problem for the young left hander, but if given the chance, he could be worth a spot on your bench and worth starting in the right matchups.
Sean Newcomb/Kyle Wright/Bryse Wilson
Over the last few years, all three of these guys were (at some point) labeled as a top 10 prospect in the Braves farm system. Newcomb, who had a fine rookie and sophomore season eventually had trouble with walks and was sent to the bullpen, while Wright and Wilson didn’t fare nearly as well in their initial call ups, but did pitch effectively in the minors. Newcomb was rumored in the off season to possibly be heading back to the rotation, but would indeed have to beat out the other two to earn the spot. Cole Hamels is thought to be ready for the beginning of the delayed season and Felix Hernandez surprised everyone with an excellent showing in early spring training. If Hernandez does earn a starting spot, that would leave the 6th rotation slot up for grabs and any of these guys could conceivably thrive if handed the position. Wilson also threw well in spring, possibly giving him a leg up on the competition. Ultimately, they’re going to redo another shortened version of spring training whenever play resumes, and it will be up to the players to go out and win the job. The situation deserves monitoring as the season draws closer, and could result in a helpful back of the rotation piece for fantasy teams.
Jose De Leon
It’s a bit of a stretch to believe De Leon will be starting games this season for the Reds, but his highly enticing K rate is off the chart. He may project more as a reliever for this upcoming season, but last year in the minors he was pitching predominantly as a starter. He could end up an opener with some decent value.
If the Padres actually intend on being competitive this year, then bringing up their top prospect may be the right move. During a shorten season anything can happen and promoting Gore would add another fine young arm to an already talented, youthful staff. He may be worth the stash right now.
Webb was a force in the minors last season, but after his call up he struggled, especially on the road. Possessing a nice k/9 ratio and a FIP more than 1 point lower than his ERA, if given another chance he could surprise, especially when throwing at home in the leagues best pitchers park.