2019 Fantasy Baseball: Breakout Pitchers

Shawn Childs

2019 Breakout Pitchers

Eduardo Rodriquez (SP, BOS)

Fantasy owners continue to wait for Rodriguez to turn in a full season of starts where his foundation stats suggest impact value. His K rate (10.1) improved in each season in the majors with a slight growth in his walk rate (3.1) over the last two years. Eduardo did set a career high in wins (13). After a slow start over his first six games (5.29 ERA), Rodriguez looked elite over his next 13 starts (8-3 with a 2.61 ERA and 71 Ks over 72.1 innings). Unfortunately, he landed on the DL for seven weeks with a ligament issue in his right ankle. Bostin gave him three starts in September (4.20 ERA and 23 Ks over 15 innings) before shipping to the bullpen after a poor showing against the Yankees (five runs and 11 baserunners over 3.2 innings). He threw the ball well against RH (.238 BAA) and LH (.234 BAA) batters. His AFB (93.3) remained in line with his career resume while making the transition to a cutter (.220 BAA)/changeup (.246 BAA) pitcher. His slider (.208 BAA) graded well while batters also struggled to hit his sinker (.239 BAA) and four-seamer (.232 BAA). There’s a lot to like here with a high ceiling if he can solve his command issues and stay healthy for a full season. With an ADP of 155 in the 15-team high-stakes market, a Fantasy owner will need to place their bet on his step forward. Possible 15+ wins with a sub 3.00 ERA and 200 Ks with 30+ starts.

Update: Rodriguez looks to the 2019 wild card pitcher for the Red Sox. If his arm does make the expected step forward, Boston has an excellent chance of holding off the Yankees in the AL East. After two games in spring training, Eduardo allowed two runs and seven baserunners over four innings with five Ks. On the verge of greatness if he avoids the disabled list in 2019.

Jesus Luzardo (SP, OAK)

Luzardo pitched at almost every level in the minors over the last two seasons. Last year he started the year at High A and finished the year at AAA. Jesus didn’t have any problem with AA (7-3 with a 2.52 ERA and 86 Ks over 78.2 innings). His stuff lost value at AAA (13 runs, 32 baserunners, and two HRs over 16 innings). His K rate (10.4) is elite while offering strength in his walk rate (2.1). Luzardo has a mid-90s fastball with more upside. His curveball is a plus asset while offering a changeup of value. This season he’ll most likely start the year at AAA, but Oakland has plenty of his holes in their 2019 starting rotation. Possible Walker Buehler type impact while being limited to about 150 innings on the year.

Update: The cat is out of the bag on Luzardo in 2019. Over his first three games for the A’s this March, Jesus hasn’t allowed a run over 5.2 innings with ten Ks. His ADP moved to 224 over the last two weeks in the high-stakes market with more momentum expected this spring with continued success.

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Joey Lucchesi (SP, SD)

The Padres have no complaints about the path of Lucchesi early in his career. Over 41 games in the minors over three seasons, he went 11-10 with a 2.25 ERA and 212 Ks over 187.2 innings with excellent command (K rate – 10.2 and walk rate – 1.9). Joey made San Diego’s rotation out of spring training. Over his first nine starts in the majors, Lucchesi had a 3.23 ERA and 48 Ks over 47.1 innings, but he did allow eight HRs. He missed five weeks with a hip injury. Joey had a 4.57 ERA over his last 82.2 innings with 97 Ks and 15 HRs. Most of his failure came in four starts (21 runs, 34 baserunners, and nine HRs over 13.2 innings). Lucchesi allowed 22 of his 23 HRs to RH batters. His AFB (90.4) is below average. He has a plus changeup (.228 BAA) and success with his show me curveball (.214 BAA). Batters did have success vs. his four-seam fastball (.266 BAA and 14 HRs over 305 at-bats). His command points to more upside across the board while drawing Fantasy owners attention due to his ability to strike batters out. With a full season of starts, Joey looks to be on a path for a sub 3.50 ERA with 180+ Ks while offering value in WHIP. Priced (ADP – 207) to pay off as long as he cleans up the damage in home runs.

Update: The Padres’ offense is going to be competitive in 2019, which gives Lucchesi a chance at more wins than expected supported by many good innings. Over his first five innings in March, Joey allowed one run and two hits with four Ks. If he pushed his inning total over 180, Lucchesi would be a very good SP3 in deep leagues with a chance to be drafted as an SP2 in 2020.

Chris Paddack (SP, SD)

Paddack has outpitched his draft value (8th round in 2015) in each season in the minors. He missed half of the 2016 and all of the 2017 seasons with a right elbow injury that required TJ surgery. Over three season in the minors, Chris went 13-6 with a 1.82 ERA and 230 Ks over 177.2 innings. Hix walk rate (1.0) is incredibly low while offering impact value in Ks (11.7 per nine). Batters only have 123 hits against him in his career. Paddack has a fastball that can reach the mid-90s with a plus changeup. His curveball continues to improve. With only seven starts on his minor league resume at AA, Chris should still start the year at AAA with the majors not being that far off. His next step is adding more innings to his resume. San Diego should push him to about 135 innings in 2019 with an excellent chance to reach the majors early in the year. Future ace with electric value expected in all areas. Worth a bench spot in deep leagues due to the Padres lacking talent in their starting rotation.

Update: After three games this spring, Paddock has 14 Ks over 8.2 innings with a 2.08 ERA. He’ll start the year at age 23 with some lost time in his minor league development due to his injuries. The Padres can’t lean on him in 2019 as his arm is too crucial for their future. Last year he threw 90 innings in the minors. If he starts the year at AAA, each game pitched will be a loss to a Fantasy owner this year due to his expected innings cap. His early March ADP (422) is favorable in the high-stakes market while Fantasy owners battle the upside of his arm and the value of his expected innings. If his price remains free, Chris will be an intriguing draft and hold if he starts the year in the minors.

Julio Urias (SP, LAD)

The Dodgers have done their best to try and limit the innings of Urias early in his career. Over six seasons in the minors, he has a 15-8 record with a 2.76 ERA and 364 Ks over 310.1 innings. Julio missed most of the 2018 season after his recovery left shoulder surgery that occurred in June of 2017. His K rate (10.6) has been high in the minors with a mid-level walk rate (3.0). Last year he made only eight appearances in the minors (5.40 ERA and 19 Ks over 11.2 innings) before receiving four innings in the majors in September (no runs, no walks, and seven Ks) and 6.1 innings in the playoffs (two runs and five Ks). His AFB (93.1) projects to be league average while offering a slider, changeup, and curveball. Impact arm that will start the year at AAA while still looking to build up his inning total. If he gets a chance in the majors, I don’t expect him to pitch deep in games. His best value this year may come in the bullpen for the Los Angeles.

Update: Urias almost has the same path as Chris Paddack in 2019 as far as expected innings, but Julio doesn’t have a clear path to a starting job. With Clayton Kershaw battling a left shoulder injury in March, Urias will fight Ross Stripling for the 5th starting job in lA. Over his first two games in March, Julio allowed one run over three innings with four Ks. His fastball looks to be improved this spring, which is another sign of his potential breakout. His ADP sits at 272 in the high-stakes market. If given a choice between Paddack and Urias, I would look toward Paddock.

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