2024 Fantasy Pitcher Breakouts – Sporer’s Picks

Andrew Dieb-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s not get too hung up on the actual phrasing of “Breakout”. These are guys I like at their market rate and have them outperforming their draft cost. Breakout, Sleeper, whatever your term is… these are the guys I like buying because they can deliver a strong profit.


Changelog

  • 3/15/2024: Initial list

Ranking Methodology

  • ADP is based on 30-day rolling NFBC Draft Champions Leagues.
  • $ Values are based on standard 5×5 12-team league using the FanGraphs Depth Charts and these Auction Calculator settings. They default to a player’s most valuable position, so if the first base list includes a catcher, it will show that player’s value at catcher.
  • ADP and $ Values are updated as of the last update date on this post.
  • 5-game eligibility was used for these lists to cast the widest net (though that’s not a big deal at SP).

Top 100 Bargains

Top 100 Bargains
Rank Name Team Pos Change ADP $
1 George Kirby SEA SP 33 $25
2 Evan Phillips LAD RP 89 $9

George Kirby is a Top 40 pick so we are dealing with small margins here to call him a breakout. He’s SP5 on my current rankings but will jump a spot to SP4 with the recent Gerrit Cole news. Kirby is in a tight SP8-10 window during early March drafts as you have to go to the decimals to separate the ADPs of Kirby, Pablo Lopez, and Tyler Glasnow. I’m obsessed with 80-grade command and can easily see a path toward more strikeouts as he further develops his arsenal entering his third MLB season. Even if his 23% K rate doesn’t jump, he’s one of the stronger bets for 200+ IP so he could still deliver a Top 20 K total.

Did you know that Baseball Reference lists one of Evan Phillips’s nicknames as High Leverage Honey Bun? That and that alone is why he’s on this list. OK fine, it’s not the only reason. Being the closer on one of the best teams in baseball coming off back-to-back elite seasons also drives my interest in Phillips. Some may be bothered by him only notching 24 SVs, but that didn’t stop him from being 5th best RP on the Auction Calcultor thanks to his tiny ratios (2.05 ERA, 0.83 WHIP). I have no idea why he’s the 11th closer off the board… I’m taking maybe five guys ahead of him (Diaz, Duran, Hader, Clase, Doval).

Breakouts from 101-200

Breakouts from 101-200
Rank Name Team Pos Change ADP $
3 Bailey Ober MIN SP 136 $7
4 Hunter Brown HOU SP 169 $9
5 Yu Darvish SDP SP 184 $13

It is worth noting that Bailey Ober is rapidly moving up the board and might not even fit in this ADP range come late-March. I’m still interested, but he just might not be a bargain and instead be more of a fair market price guy. He’s going around pick-120 in early March drafts, up about 25 picks from his January-February range, but he’s still 2 rounds cheaper than teammate Joe Ryan and I just don’t see any reason to buy Ryan when Ober is cheaper. Hell, even if they’re matching prices I still like Ober. I don’t hate Ryan, I just wish he was a bit cheaper.

I’ll quote myself from the SP rankings with regards to Hunter Brown: “I’m staying bought in as these skills definitely have substantial upside. He might only need some standard regression on that HR/FB rate to deliver a good season, but if he also takes a step forward with his skills, then a full scale breakout could be on tap. He isn’t ‘cheap’, but SP53 is plenty affordable for this profile.”

I’m not quitting Yu Darvish. With a post-150 ADP, I just think he’s priced to buy and cheap enough that if he doesn’t have a full rebound, he won’t kill you. He still had a perfectly solid 17% K-BB despite the ugly ratios (4.56 ERA, 1.30 WHIP) with the upside to do much, much more! I realize he’s 37 years old, but we’re not that far removed from him dropping a 3.10 ERA/0.95 WHIP combo at age-35.

Breakouts from 201-300

Breakouts from 201-300
Rank Name Team Pos Change ADP $
6 Cristopher Sánchez PHI SP 223 -$2
7 Kutter Crawford BOS SP 250 -$3
8 Robert Suarez SDP RP 212 $1
9 Griffin Canning LAA SP 266 $2

If you’ve been following any of my work since last summer, you knew Cristopher Sánchez was going to be in here. He was my second half breakout pick who came through beautifully and I like him to keep it up for a full season in 2024. He has great control, a true three-pitch arsenal highlighted by a brilliant changeup, and a guaranteed role heading into his age-27 season. After 150 IP last year between AAA/MLB, there shouldn’t be any volume concerns for the emerging lefty, either.

Kutter Crawford has been a major March riser for me, shooting up 30 slots a couple updates ago in my SP rankings and then another 5 in the latest, now sitting at SP37. It’s not that I just discovered he was good, but rather I finally gave him the necessary to deep-dive to realize he deserved to be way further up my board. I liked him as a later round target in my Fall drafts and he even fell to me in one of those drafts, but as we turn the calendar to draft season, I’m now seeking him out at the top end (meaning the early pick — the terminology can read confusingly when discussing draft picks) of ADP range. In the last week of ADP data (Mar. 8th-15th), he’s gone as early as 207 and as late as 255, so even at the top end, he still fits in this breakout tier. He already had a premium WHIP at 1.11 last year and his 19% K-BB suggests he can definitely bring that 4.04 ERA down quite a bit. And after 129 IP last year, he shouldn’t have any restrictions when it comes to taking 30 turns in the rotation.

I’m a “Pay for Saves” kinda guy so I don’t have many later round targets, but I’m all over Robert Suarez taking over the role in San Diego. It’s not just the long-term contract, either, but the strong skills (98 mph heater, 18% K-BB in 75 MLB IP) paired with the deal and depature of Josh Hader clearing the path for Suarez to take over. He was more pedestrian in his 28 IP last year (13% K-BB), but he remained damn near unhittable (4.9 H9) and I’m confident the 33-year-old righty can lock down the 9th for the Padres this year.

I’m a sucker for waaaaay too many Angels pitchers with Griffin Canning being chief among them this year. Don’t think for a second I’ve quit on Reid Detmers or Patrick Sandoval, though. And of course I still see some upside in Chase Silseth. If I lose all my leagues this year, overdrafting Angels SPs could (will?) be a major reason. Jokes aside, if Canning can shave down that HR rate, there is major upside potential here. He took a huge step forward with his skills last year (19% K-BB was up 7 pts from ’21), but the 1.6 HR9 kept him from really soaring (4.32 ERA). Even a 1.2 HR9 would be palatable if he holds those K-BB gains. His presence on the Angels keeps him cheap, too… and the others for that matter, I think that’s part of why I end up getting 1-2 of ’em in a lot of my drafts. Maybe they’ll hit a Ewing Theory with Ohtani gone?! Jeezus, how old am I that I remember the Ewing Theory??? That theory can legally drink now. Remember “Page 2” at ESPN?

Breakouts from 301+

Breakouts from 301+
Rank Name Team Pos Change ADP $
10 Gavin Stone LAD SP 445 -$8
11 Matt Manning DET SP 427 -$10
12 Garrett Crochet CHW SP 520 $1

Gavin Stone had a weird debut last year, posting a 9.00 ERA/1.90 WHIP combo in 31 IP with a paltry 15% K rate. So why am I still interested in him? First off, it’s just 31 innings so obviously I’m not going to make too many sweeping judgments one way or the other, but I was also impressed by his 14% Swinging Strike rate that suggests he deserved a waaayyy better K rate. He has a starter’s arsenal highlighted by a great changeup and looks like he will have a role in the rotation coming out of camp due both to his success in Spring Training (24% K-BB in 10 IP) and frankly, a lack of viable options for the Dodgers.

Matt Manning delivered a misleadingly strong 3.58 ERA last year as his 5.13 SIERA suggests. With just a 9% K-BB, he would certainly need another .214 BABIP to put up another ERA that strong unless he can substantially improve his skills profile. That’s where my interest comes in, I think the 26-year-old can take a big step forward. We’ve seen a 1.5 mph boost in velocity this Spring, yielding some strong results, including a 34% K and 12% SwStr rates which are way above his 16% and 8% career marks, albeit in just 8 IP. Spring numbers are always going to have sample size caveats, but sharp improvements can still be positive indicators. At his draft price, it’s essentially a no-risk bet. If he falls back to his career levels and his ERA pushes up toward last year’s SIERA, he’s an easy cut.

Garrett Crochet is getting a shot in the rotation after essentially two years off (13 IP last yr) and while I doubt we can expect a ton of volume from the live armed lefty, I’d take a month or two of quality work from one of my last picks.


Full Rankings Without Tiers

No tiers. Just the rankings.
Full Rankings Without Tiers
Rank Name Team Pos Change ADP $
1 George Kirby SEA SP 33 $25
2 Evan Phillips LAD RP 89 $9
3 Bailey Ober MIN SP 136 $7
4 Hunter Brown HOU SP 169 $9
5 Yu Darvish SDP SP 184 $13
6 Cristopher Sánchez PHI SP 223 -$2
7 Kutter Crawford BOS SP 250 -$3
8 Robert Suarez SDP RP 212 $1
9 Griffin Canning LAA SP 266 $2
10 Gavin Stone LAD SP 445 -$8
11 Matt Manning DET SP 427 -$10
12 Garrett Crochet CHW SP 520 $1

 





Paul is the Editor of Rotographs and Content Director for OOTP Perfect Team. Follow Paul on Twitter @sporer and on Twitch at sporer.

6 Comments
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dl80
1 month ago

Are we calling Darvish the “best player of this generation”?

Or was Kershaw or Degrom (or Verlander/Scherzer for that matter) on the initial list and removed?

Last edited 1 month ago by dl80
dl80
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul Sporer

I really thought for a long time that I was missing something! Thanks for this article and the correction, Paul!

It does make me wonder what you think of Degrom. I am not expecting any value this year, as August seems like the best case return.