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10 Late-Round Pitchers to Target in Points-League Drafts

While doing the research for my first late-round pitchers article, I found a ton of intriguing names. Way too many to fit into just one list. So after focusing on categories and roto leagues last time, today I wanted to cater to points-league managers.

There are some overlapping names from last week. Sometimes, upside is just upside and you want to chase it no matter what the league type. But the seven new pitchers listed here have one thing in common: in addition to ratio or strikeout upside, they are also likely to have high-innings upside. That’s a priority because innings add up to a lot of direct points. They add up to indirect points as well. High innings totals mean pitchers stick around later in games and qualify for more wins (which pay out big time). And, in some leagues, Quality Starts add even more points on their own. So while ratios (ERA/WHIP/K/9 rate) still mean something indirectly, they carry less importance than in category and roto leagues.

Before getting to the list, I also wanted to note that I left off Shane Baz. Though he’s not likely to accumulate a ton of innings in 2024 because it’s his first year back from Tommy John surgery, he’s still one of those guys who has too much upside not to target. But I didn’t include him here because I just don’t believe he’ll be available with these other late-round pitchers. I’m thinking inside pick 150 once draft season rolls around. Assuming he’s healthy. But if for some reason you’re drafting before Spring Training, do target him above the following names.

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10 Late-Round Pitchers to Target

Bryan Woo SP Mariners ADP 189

2023: 4-5 87.2IP 93K 4.21 ERA 1.21 WHIP

With only 101 professional innings under his belt, all of which came in Double-A or lower, the Mariners promoted Bryan Woo last season. Though there were some ups and downs, his 87.2 Major League innings went pretty well. If his 4.21/1.21 ERA/WHIP doesn’t wow you, perhaps take a quick look at his Statcast page. Lots of red (which is good). The average exit velocity and hard-hit rates (82nd percentile and 81st, respectively) are especially encouraging. Along with an xERA of 3.48, a home ballpark that ranks as the most pitcher-friendly, and a presumed spot in the rotation, there’s a ton of optimism that the soon-to-be 24 year old will have even better results in his second season. Will he accrue enough innings to make an impact in points leagues? Well, the Mariners were the only team to have three 190-plus-inning starters in 2023. And Woo did throw a combined 133 innings in the minors and majors. So it sure seems possible.

Braxton Garrett SP Marlins ADP 190

2023: 9-7 159.2IP 156K 3.66 ERA 1.15 WHIP

A nasty slider (40.7% whiff rate), pin-point control (97th percentile walk rate), a 49% ground ball rate (80th percentile), and consistency in an inconsistent environment (24 of his 30 starts yielded three runs or fewer) all led to a breakout performance for Braxton Garrett in 2023. He was particularly solid down the stretch. He pitched to a 2.56 ERA in his final 11 starts (7 of which were quality starts). Also, he threw 159.2 innings overall, maintained a respectable K rate of 23.7%, and figures to be right in the middle of the Marlins rotation to begin the season. With underlying numbers that generally back up the breakout (3.68 FIP, 3.42 xFIP), and a home ballpark that ranks in the top 10 best environments for pitchers, the 26-year-old seems like the perfect, high-floor, high-innings, late-round pitchers to target in a points league.

Nick Pivetta SP/RP Red Sox ADP 191

2023: 10-9 142.2IP 183K 4.04 ERA 1.12 WHIP

Nick Pivetta turned his 2023 season around in a big way. After 10 appearances, the veteran’s ERA was still over 6.00 and his WHIP teetered around 1.5. He would then go on to set career lows in ERA (4.04) and WHIP (1.12). And career highs in K/9 (11.54) and wins (10). This was the result of a couple of dominant stretches, the last of which led to a September ERA/WHIP of 2.43/0.81 with 43 strikeouts and just five walks over 33.1 innings. Whether the Red Sox will use him in a more traditional starting role in 2024, or whether he’ll continue to be a bulk-reliever hybrid, is up for speculation. But if your points league requires RP spots in your lineup, the righty seems like a perfect option. He still threw 142.2 innings overall after compiling 179.2 in 2022 (with 12 quality starts). The points could rack up quickly. With an ADP in round 17, it seems like they’ll come pretty cheap.

Brayan Bello SP Red Sox ADP 219

2023: 12-11 157 IP 132K 4.24 ERA 134 WHIP

After holding his own in a sophomore season that was very encouraging at times, Brayan Bello carries some serious upside going into 2024. You might not love the righty’s ERA and WHIP (4.24/1.34), but it was significantly better (3.71/1.26) before his last two starts against top-notch offenses (@ Rangers, vs. Rays). And what really sets the youngster apart, in a points league especially, is the volume. He accumulated 163 innings combined, went at least six in 17 of his 28 starts (15 quality starts), and was a workhorse in the minors (153.1 innings combined in 2022 and 117.2 at age 20 in 2019). He’s also well-suited to Fenway Park (2nd most difficult for pitchers according to Park Factors) with a ground ball rate that is ranked in the 92nd percentile and a solid BB/9 rate of 2.58. Throw in a new slider he was tweeting at the end of the season, a sweeper generating a 20% swinging-strike rate, and you have plenty of optimism that the righty, still just 24 years old, can take the next step. He’s one of the most intriguing late-round pitchers.

Cristopher Sanchez SP Phillies ADP 253

2023: 3-5 99.1IP 96K 3.44 ERA 1.05 WHIP

You’ve got to love it when a young pitcher turns his greatest weakness into his biggest strength. Cristopher Sanchez did exactly that in 2023. After posting a 4.2 BB/9 rate in his minor league career, the 26-year-old brought that all the way down to a sparkling 1.45 at the Major League level! The amazing control then allowed his sinker and changeup to be more effective, inducing a chase rate ranked in the 97th percentile, and a ground ball rate of 57.7% (95th). That’s a good combination when you play half your games in Citizens Bank Park, ranked 4th-worst for pitchers in home runs allowed. The results were a solid breakout for the lefty. Granted, it was just 99.1 innings. Granted, there’s no way to tell whether those improvements will continue at an elite rate. But with 149 combined innings last year, a confirmed spot in the rotation, and an ADP pushing round 20, he seems like a worthwhile points-league risk.

Kenta Maeda SP Tigers ADP 258

2023: 6-8 104.1IP 117K 4.23 ERA 1.17 WHIP

OK, let’s get the negative stuff out of the way first. Kenta Maeda will be turning 36 at the beginning of the season, he had an unimpressive overall ERA of 4.23 last year, Tommy John surgery kept him out for all of 2022, and he had nagging injuries early in 2023. This all explains why his current ADP would make him a last-round pick in standard-sized leagues. But consider this: after a triceps injury kept him out for two months (and resulted in him yielding 10 runs in an April start), he pitched to a 3.36 ERA/1.09 WHIP while striking out 103 over his last 88.1 innings. Bottom line: when healthy, Maeda is still capable of front-end-of-rotation numbers. Also, his new home, Comerica Park, is ranked 7th best for pitchers according to Park Factors. Will being a full year removed from surgery result in more innings, more Quality Starts, and more points? Hopefully, the short, two-year contract will help the Tigers push their trusty veteran. Among late-round pitchers this late in the draft, there’s really no harm in taking a chance.

Seth Lugo SP Royals ADP 278

2023: IP 146.1 8-7 140K ERA 3.57 WHIP 1.20

In a season when even the very best pitchers took their lumps, Seth Lugo sure was a model of consistency in 2023. In addition to putting up a very respectable 3.57 ERA/1.20 WHIP, the veteran righty threw a career-high 146.1 innings, gave up more than three runs just five times, and posted a most-impressive 17 quality starts in just 26 attempts. Not bad for a guy who’s pretty much been a reliever his whole career. Granted, his new team, the Royals, aren’t likely to offer much run support. And also granted, the upside isn’t terribly high for a 34-year-old. But as your last pick in a 23-round draft? No downside either. Seems like a nice points-league pick to anchor your rotation, especially in leagues that directly reward Quality Starts.

Nestor Cortes SP Yankees ADP 299

2023: 5-2 63IP 67K 4.97 ERA 1.25 WHIP

I know many of us were skeptical that Nestor Cortes would be able to repeat his amazing 2022 performance (2.44 ERA/0.92 WHIP). And based on early APD, it seems like the skepticism has become confirmation after his ineffective 2023 campaign (4.95 ERA/1.25 WHIP). But let’s face it, last season was lost to injury. The lefty essentially missed four months. And much of the biases are based on the 28-year-old’s 91.6-mile-per-hour fastball (ranked in the 16th percentile according to Statcast). That sure didn’t matter much before last season. In fact, nothing much has changed since then except for two really bad starts (7 ER @ Rangers and 6 ER vs. Rays) in what turned out to be a small sample size (just 12 starts). His xERA was still a respectable 3.71, his K/9 was actually up to 9.52, and his home ballpark is still not a bad place for left-handed pitchers (11th most favorable to pitchers facing righties). Can we assume a bounceback? No. Is his draft price asking us to? Also, no. Seems like an easy gamble to me.

Logan Allen SP Guardians ADP 505

2023: 7-8 125.1IP 119K 3.81 ERA 1.40 WHIP

Despite an early ADP that would leave him out of standard drafts, Logan Allen held his own in 2023. His early-season prowess was particularly impressive when he allowed three runs or fewer over his first eight starts. And the overall numbers were pretty decent too (3.81 ERA and an 8.55 K/9 rate). Sure, he isn’t getting the Tanner Bibee or Gavin Williams sort of love (because Statcast numbers are pedestrian), but as of now a rotation spot seems likely. And although he doesn’t have one dominant pitch (his 91.4 fastball velo ranks in just the 14th percentile), he has a five-pitch arsenal that could certainly take a step forward in his age-25 season. The lefty’s also got a 145-inning season under his belt now, too, so a full workload could very well make him a points-league asset. Especially if that hefty 3.5 BB/9 rate comes closer to his 2.9 in the minors. The cost is literally a last-round flyer. Could do much worse with late-round pitchers.

James Paxton SP Red Sox ADP 551

2023: 7-5 96IP 101K 4.50 ERA 1.31 WHIP

The return of James Paxton was one of the fun stories of 2023. After not pitching for essentially two full seasons, his velocity returned to pre-injury levels and his curveball was back to generating a 38% whiff rate. If you exclude his last three starts, when a knee injury prevented him from “finishing pitches,” he compiled a 3.34 ERA/1.14 WHIP with a 9.96 K/9 rate. Conclusion: Big Maple’s still got it. The only question is health. That’s the reason, combined with not actually having a team yet, why the 35-year-old is relegated to very late-round pitchers. Considering he held up well in Fenway Park, ranked 2nd-most difficult for pitchers according to Park Factor, he has the potential to be a nice bargain wherever he lands. His ability to go deep into games (11 of his 19 starts were either 6+ innings or 100+ pitches) makes him an ideal candidate for points leagues. Just make sure your league has IL spots.

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