Searching For Strikeouts: Five Late Round Options Worth Targeting (Gausman, Eickhoff & More)

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Finding pitchers seems to be easier today than ever before as new, young arms are popping up like weeds. Right now we have over 30 pitchers projected to strikeout at least 190 batters this season, showing that finding help in the category may not be as difficult as one would think… Then again, the majority of those pitchers are going to be selected in the early rounds so finding someone who can help late could ultimately be the difference.

Who is to be found in Round 20 or later who can kick in a significant number of strikeouts? Let’s take a look:

 

Kevin Gausman – Baltimore Orioles
Current ADP – 242.20

We took an in-depth look at Gausman at the beginning of February (click here for the article) and nothing has changed. Even with the addition of Yovani Gallardo, however misguided, Gausman should finally be locked into a rotation spot. There are no more excuses… No more moves between the rotation and the bullpen… No more demotions to Triple-A…

As it is he posted an 8.07 K/9 as a starter in 2015, courtesy of a 10.9% SwStr% (including his time in the bullpen), and owns a minor league career 9.0 K/9 (including an 8.8 at Triple-A). While pitching in the highly competitive AL East is going to limit his overall appeal, the former elite prospect certainly has the potential to post a significant number of strikeouts and work a lot of innings.

 

Anthony DeSclafani – Cincinnati Reds
Current ADP – 263.32

When we think of a Reds’ starting pitcher it’s Raisel Iglesias that grabs our attention. It’s justified, but it’s also caused his draft day cost to rise and given another Reds’ starter an opportunity to fly under-the-radar.

DeSclafani posted an 8.28 K/9 in the second half of ’15, with an 8.40 mark in August and 9.61 in September. His slider (19.85% Whiff%) is his best weapon, but his curveball improved as the year went on:

  • August – 12.50% Whiff%
  • September – 19.32% Whiff%

It makes sense that he started incorporating it more (15.94% in September) and could indicate what’s in store for him. Consider him a great buy in the later rounds.

 

Matt Moore – Tampa Bay Rays
Current ADP – 270.12

Another pitcher we’ve already discussed (click here to view), the biggest question facing Moore has always been his control not his stuff. After returning from injury in ’15 he showed an improved walk rate both in the Majors (3.29 BB/9) and minors (2.8 BB/9). While the strikeout rate wasn’t there overall (6.57 K/9), he displayed swing and miss stuff (9.9% SwStr%) and a put away pitch (19.01% Whiff% on his changeup). He showed flashes (16 K over 13.2 IP in back-to-back starts in mid-September) and with more time removed from his injury he could return to form.

 

Jerad Eickhoff – Philadelphia Phillies
Current ADP – 320.26

Acquired as part of the Cole Hamels trade, Eickhoff posted an 8.65 K/9 in eight starts for the Phillies in ’15. On a rebuilding team he should be given ample opportunities and the NL East should offer a nice opportunity. With three pitches that generated a Whiff% of at least 13.73% (topped by his slider, at 25.64%), why not take the gamble? It’s a small sample size and wins could be tough to come by, but there’s upside.

 

Rubby De La Rosa – Arizona Diamondbacks
Current ADP – 407.80

He’s always a popular late round target, isn’t he? He’s no longer viewed as the ace, thanks to the additions of Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller, which should help to take off some of the pressure. Throw in his 11.1% SwStr%, which justifies better than last year’s 7.16 K/9, and there’s upside. Home runs are going to continue to be an issue, limiting his value, but if it’s strikeouts you seek he’s worth the late round gamble.

Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, Brooks Baseball

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