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Landing a late round pitching gem can be key to winning a Fantasy Baseball championship. There will be some that emerge off the waiver wire, but drafting one or two late in the draft can really put a team in a good position. Here are some of my favorite targets who typically go in Round 20 or later in 12-team leagues.
Jharel Cotton, Oakland A's
Cotton has an excellent changeup and the disparity between his fastball and change his 15 miles per hour. Cotton made five starts with the A's last season, going 2-0 with a 2.15 ERA, 0.82 WHIP and a 23:4 K:BB rate with a 12.5 percent swinging strike rate. While it's a small sample, he showed good skills in the minors. He had a K/9 of 10 and a BB/9 of 2.6 in the minors.
Marco Estrada, Toronto Blue Jays
No one seems to want him. Pitching in the American League East the last two seasons, Estrada posted ERAs of 3.13 and 3.48. He increased his strikeout percentage to 22.8 percent last season. He doesn't throw hard, but uses a great changeup and location to get enough soft contact. People tend to overlook WHIP and Estrada had a 1.04 two years ago and 1.12 last season.
Mike Foltynewicz, Atlanta Braves
Foltynewicz showed improvement as the season went on last year. Home runs were an issue for him, but after allowing 11 in his first 49 innings, he allowed seven in the final 74.1 innings. He pitched 123.1 innings with a 4.31 ERA and 1.30 WHIP, so some might shy away. He had an 8.10 K/9 and took a step forward with a 2.55 BB/9. Foltynewicz averages 95 miles per hour with his fastball and had a 10 percent swinging strike percentage.
Robert Gsellman, New York Mets
He should be the Mets fifth starter and he was impressive in his brief time last year. In 44.2 innings, he had a 2.42 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and a 42:15 K:BB ratio. He had a 54.2 percent ground ball rate and a 29.8 percent hard hit rate.
Francisco Liriano, Toronto Blue Jays
He's inconsistent and coming off a bad year, but he had a 3.38 ERA in each of the two previous seasons before a 4.69 ERA last season. He has struck out more than a batter per inning in five straight seasons. He induces ground balls, gets a lot of swings and misses, but needs to cut down on the walks. Liriano pitched better in 10 games he pitched with the Blue Jays after the trade last season with a 2.92 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 9.5 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9. Some believe being reunited with Russell Martin helped. Liriano has had a dominant spring and considering how cheap he is, it's worth taking him late to see if he can be consistent. The strikeouts will be there for Liriano. The key for him is the walks.
Daniel Norris, Detroit Tigers
Norris has a chance to really surpass his draft value. In 14 games last season over 69.1 innings, Norris had a 3.38 ERA, 9.22 K/9, 2.86 BB/9 and a 10.5 percent swinging strike rate. Norris threw more first-pitch strikes in the second half and induced more swings and misses and is finally healthy.
Ivan Nova, Pittsburgh Pirates
Nova was a different pitcher after he was traded to the Pirates from the Yankees. Nova started 11 games after the deal and went 5-2 with a 3.06 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and a 52:3 K:BB ratio in 64.2 innings. Nova threw first-pitch strikes 58 percent of the time with the Yankees in 2016, which increased to 67 percent with the Pirates. Nova's ground ball rate increased from 49.4 percent to 56.6 percent with the Pirates, and he cut down on the home runs. Pittsburgh has a lot of success with improving pitchers coming from other teams.