STARTERS: Young targets, 2019

Young starting pitchers often are risky investments. But when they own a sturdy skill foundation, they can turn into very attractive targets, especially for those in keeper leagues.

Here are the starting pitchers age 28 or under who have posted the best skills so far in 2019:

75+ BPV, Age 28 or Under*

Name         Age  Ctl  Dom   HR/9  GB%  H%/S%   hr/f  FAv   SwK%  FpK%  Ball%  BPV
===========  ===  ===  ====  ====  ===  ======  ====  ====  ====  ====  =====  ===
Cole, G       28  2.3  13.7   1.5  40%  34/68%   21%  96.7  15.7%  62%    33%  201
Snell, B      26  2.2  13.0   1.1  43%  32/72%   17%  95.5  19.2%  69%    35%  197
Glasnow, T    25  1.7  10.2   0.6  52%  28/83%    8%  96.6  12.0%  62%    34%  169
Smith, C      27  2.4  12.1   1.2  30%  25/83%   14%  92.2  16.6%  61%    33%  161
Boyd, M       28  1.9  10.8   1.0  38%  30/70%   10%  91.2  13.4%  65%    32%  159
Bieber, S     24  2.1  10.6   1.6  41%  27/79%   17%  93.2  13.7%  61%    36%  155
Marquez, G    24  1.6   9.0   1.0  53%  31/74%   15%  95.5  13.8%  68%    32%  149
Paddack, C    23  1.9   9.8   0.7  44%  21/80%    8%  93.8  11.9%  74%    29%  147
Stanek, R     27  1.8  10.2   0.9  32%  21/85%    8%  97.7  19.4%  64%    35%  145
Weaver, L     25  1.9   9.7   0.9  41%  30/75%   10%  93.9  10.7%  62%    35%  143
Montas, F     26  2.0   9.2   0.6  52%  32/81%    9%  96.7  12.0%  61%    35%  142
Mahle, T      24  1.9   9.5   1.2  43%  32/75%   16%  92.7   9.3%  67%    34%  139
Fried, M      25  1.8   8.4   1.2  56%  30/80%   19%  93.9  10.7%  66%    35%  136
Syndergaar, N 26  2.0   8.9   1.1  51%  31/65%   13%  97.8  11.1%  65%    33%  135
Woodruff, B   26  2.7  10.4   1.0  40%  33/75%   12%  95.7  11.7%  59%    35%  131
Lopez, P      23  2.4   9.2   0.9  53%  31/57%   13%  93.7  11.1%  57%    36%  131
Castillo, L   26  3.9  10.9   0.7  60%  25/81%   14%  96.0  14.9%  51%    40%  129
Berrios, J    25  1.6   8.5   1.3  36%  31/76%   12%  92.8  10.1%  65%    32%  125
Lucchesi, J   26  2.4   8.6   0.9  53%  32/68%   12%  90.7  10.7%  55%    36%  120
Buehler, W    24  1.8   8.4   0.9  40%  29/66%   10%  96.6  10.6%  61%    34%  120
Canning, G    23  3.0  10.1   1.7  38%  25/74%   15%  93.1  17.7%  68%    38%  118
Rodriguez, E  26  3.1  10.0   1.2  43%  37/64%   13%  92.5  13.0%  64%    37%  117
Rodon, C      26  4.4  11.9   1.0  43%  37/65%   11%  91.5  12.1%  55%    38%  117
Matz, S       28  2.6   8.8   2.1  46%  29/80%   21%  92.6   9.1%  57%    35%  114
Nola, A       26  3.6  10.3   1.6  45%  37/76%   21%  92.6   8.8%  57%    37%  111
Gray, J       27  3.4   9.9   1.6  48%  31/71%   23%  95.7  12.1%  65%    36%  111
Name         Age  Ctl  Dom   HR/9  GB%  H%/S%   hr/f  FAv   SwK%  FpK%  Ball%  BPV
===========  ===  ===  ====  ====  ===  ======  ====  ====  ====  ====  =====  ===
Strahm, M     27  1.4   7.4   1.1  35%  30/78%   10%  90.9   9.2%  65%    31%  107
Soroka, M     21  2.8   8.3   0.2  57%  22/89%    4%  93.3  10.4%  62%    35%  107
Taillon, J    27  1.9   7.2   1.0  50%  29/66%   13%  94.7  11.9%  68%    31%  106
German, D     26  2.7   8.9   0.8  39%  25/78%    9%  93.4  13.3%  59%    33%  105
Lyles, J      28  3.2   9.3   0.8  43%  26/86%    9%  92.3   9.8%  65%    37%  103
Giolito, L    24  3.8  10.5   0.6  38%  29/72%    7%  93.5  11.7%  61%    35%  102
Peralta, F    23  3.5  10.5   2.5  29%  41/63%   18%  92.0   9.7%  61%    34%  101
Flaherty, J   23  3.4   9.7   1.5  39%  29/72%   18%  94.0  12.2%  61%    38%  101
Kikuchi, Y    28  2.1   7.3   1.2  46%  26/74%   13%  93.2   9.1%  60%    35%   99
Williams, T   27  1.7   7.0   0.7  40%  30/72%    7%  91.8  10.1%  69%    32%   99
Swanson, E    25  0.9   6.1   3.4  33%  30/48%   24%  92.4   7.9%  65%    33%   97
Lauer, E      24  2.4   7.6   1.2  45%  32/67%   11%  91.4   7.2%  62%    35%   96
Perez, M      28  2.6   8.3   0.8  40%  26/86%    9%  94.5  10.5%  66%    34%   95
Ray, R        27  5.0  11.5   0.7  44%  32/78%    9%  92.6  12.4%  55%    40%   95
Chirinos, Y   25  1.1   6.0   1.8  37%  18/87%   18%  93.5   8.3%  67%    34%   94
Gausman, K    28  3.6   9.4   0.9  44%  30/67%   11%  93.7  12.9%  64%    34%   94
Eflin, Z      25  1.9   6.8   1.2  44%  28/83%   10%  93.7   9.6%  70%    34%   94
Norris, D     26  1.9   6.9   1.2  40%  32/70%   12%  90.4   8.3%  68%    35%   91
Turnbull, S   26  3.7   9.1   0.8  45%  31/83%    9%  93.6  11.7%  61%    39%   86
Skaggs, T     27  3.3   8.7   1.3  33%  33/67%   13%  90.8   9.1%  59%    37%   80
Stroman, M    28  3.5   7.7   0.6  57%  31/80%    9%  92.5  10.6%  59%    38%   80
Musgrove, J   26  2.9   7.4   0.4  45%  27/64%    4%  91.7  11.4%  62%    34%   78
Bundy, D      26  3.7   9.1   2.1  35%  26/73%   19%  90.9  12.9%  61%    37%   77
Bauer, T      28  4.5  10.2   1.2  36%  25/70%   13%  94.7  11.5%  55%    38%   77
Lopez, J      26  3.5   8.5   2.2  39%  32/64%   24%  93.4   9.2%  56%    38%   76
*min 20 IP

Let's take a closer look at some of the more intriguing young SP targets in the game.
 

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Shane Bieber (RHP, CLE) had a so-so April (3.62 ERA in 27 IP), but he has blossomed so far in May: 35/2 K/BB, 201 BPV in 29 IP. His overall skills feature a heavy dose of swings-and-misses (13.7% SwK%). In fact, his 155 BPV is the best in the game among pitchers age 24 or under. Bieber remains a strong investment.

Griffin Canning (RHP, LAA) has shown some really enticing skills in the four starts he has made in 2019 during his rookie season: 10.1 Dom, 3.0 Ctl, 38% GB%, 118 BPV. In addition, two of his command sub-indicators are firmly elite, which gives his skills even more upside: 17.7% SwK%, 68% FpK%. He has been able to keep hitters off balance due to his multiple swing-and-miss pitches.

Domingo German (RHP, NYY) owns an elite 2.70 ERA and 1.01 WHIP after 53 IP. Sure, those marks have been helped by a 25% H% and 78% S% that aren't likely to be so friendly as the season moves along. But German's skills have been very good: 8.9 Dom, 2.7 Ctl, 39% GB%, 105 BPV. He's missing a lot of bats (13.3% SwK%) and pounding the strike zone at a high rate (33% ball%). And he has been especially lethal against LH bats (6.0 Cmd, .603 OPS vL).

Lucas Giolito (RHP, CHW) is starting to turn his rotation anchor upside into results. His skills have gone from bad to good: 10.5 Dom, 3.8 Ctl, 38% GB%, 102 BPV. He's missing bats (11.7% SwK%) and pitching in the strike zone more often that he has in the past. And after enduring some major struggles against LH bats in 2018 (1.2 Cmd, .832 OPS vL), he's faring much better against them so far in 2019 (3.7 Cmd, .592 OPS vL).

Frankie Montas (RHP, OAK) was an intriguing end-game pick in 2019 drafts. Those that speculated have been rewarded with a 2.40 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in 60 IP, marks that come with a lot of support from his underlying skills: 9.2 Dom, 2.0 Ctl, 52% GB%, 142 BPV. His command sub-indicators have been good too: 12.0% SwK%, 61% FpK%, 35% ball%.

Martin Perez (LHP, MIN) wouldn't seem like a young pitcher worthy of your investment, but at age 28, he still has plenty of good years ahead of him if he can sustain the gains he has shown in 2019. He has re-worked his delivery, which has helped him add velocity and miss bats (10.5% SwK%). Just note that his shiny stats (2.01 ERA, 1.05 WHIP) have been helped a lot by a friendly 26% H%, 86% S%, and 9% hr/f. His skills have been good but not great (95 BPV).
 

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Max Fried (LHP, ATL) was another intriguing end-gamer that has generated good value to owners who drafted him in 2019.  His stats have been excellent (2.96 ERA, 1.12 WHIP in 54 IP). Those stats have been accompanied by a lot of support from his skills too: 8.4 Dom, 1.8 Ctl, 56% GB%, 136 BPV. His ability to pair together strikeouts and groundballs gives him both a high floor and high ceiling.

Pablo Lopez (RHP, MIA) owns a 5+ ERA after 48 IP, leaving him on the waiver wire in many leagues. But his skills continue to project him as a young pitcher with good upside: 9.2 Dom, 2.4 Ctl, 53% GB%, 131 BPV. He's another pitcher that can both miss bats and induce groundballs.

Chris Paddack (RHP, SD) owns the best skills of any starting pitcher in the game age 23 or under. His stats have been ace-like (1.77 ERA, 0.74 WHIP in 51 IP). And his skills haven't been far behind: 9.8 Dom, 1.9 Ctl, 44% GB%, 147 BPV. His command sub-indicators have been some of the best in the game, especially his ability to throw strikes early and often: 11.9% SwK%, 74% FpK%, 29% ball%. Just keep in mind that his surface stats are likely to erode a bit once his friendly 21% H%, 80% S%, and 8% hr/f normalize a bit.

Caleb Smith (LHP, MIA) has built upon the gains he showed during his first full season in 2018. After posting a decent 87 BPV that season, Smith's skills have bloomed so far in 2019: 12.1 Dom, 2.4 Ctl, 30% GB%, 161 BPV. Few pitchers are missing bats at the rate that Smith is (16.6% SwK%). And he's reaching those levels while still pounding the strike zone (33% ball%). There's a lot to like here.

Luke Weaver (RHP, ARI) has taken a nice step forward this season after a rough 2018. He has a 3.14 ERA and 1.06 WHIP after 10 starts, marks that have been supported strongly by his skills: 9.7 Dom, 1.9 Ctl, 41% GB%, 143 BPV. One of the biggest keys for him has been finding a strikeout pitch against lefty bats. He had a 1.7 Cmd and gave up a .841 OPS to them in 2018. He owns a 5.2 Cmd and .601 OPS vL this season.

Brandon Woodruff (RHP, MIL) was another pitcher that was hyped heavily in preparation for 2019 drafts that has delivered on that promise in the early part of 2019. His 3.51 ERA and 1.22 WHIP come with the backing of a strong array of skills: 10.4 Dom, 2.7 Ctl, 40% GB%, 131 BPV. He has been dynamic against RH bats (6.8 Cmd, .548 OPS vR). There's even more upside here if he can improve against lefties (2.2 Cmd, .832 OPS vL).


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.