The starting pitcher pool is deep this year. The 60th ranked starter, according to the FantasyPros rankings, is Jason Hammel, who is coming off a season where he went 10-7, posted a 3.74 ERA along with a 1.16 WHIP, and punched out 172 batters over 170.2 innings. With everyone having a deep pitching staff, finding the breakout starting pitchers becomes even more imperative.
When we talk about a pitcher breaking out, we are looking for pitchers that will be putting together their best season of their career to date. The following breakout starting pitchers are all ready to take the next step in their careers. The reasons that the stars become aligned vary depending on each situation. Sometimes it is a trade, sometimes it is a more stable situation with better role definition, and sometimes it is due to maturity and experience.
Before unveiling this year’s breakout starting pitchers, let’s first look back and see who stepped up their game in 2015. These pitchers put themselves on the Fantasy radar in a big way,
- Dallas Keuchel: A dramatically increased strikeout rate helped him win 20 games and the AL Cy Young.
- Rasiel Iglesias: Former reliever was dominant in the second half for the Reds.
- Chris Archer: Finished with a sub-3.00 FIP and his 252 Ks were fourth most in baseball.
- Noah Syndergaard: Led by his fastball, Thor made a seamless transition to MLB.
- Lance McCullers: Astros rook impressed despite not ever throwing a pitch in Triple-A.
- Erasmo Ramirez: The former Mariner took full advantage of opportunity with the Rays, elite swinging strike rate suggest further gains ahead.
This list does not even include other starters that confirmed their 2014 breakouts with solid campaigns last year. Pitchers such as Carlos Carrasco, Jacob deGrom, and Gerrit Cole all told the world they are here to stay by posting even better stats than the year prior.
Enough with the past, let’s now unveil the 2016 breakout starting pitchers.
Breakout Starting Pitchers
Kevin Gausman, Baltimore Orioles
Gausman is coming off a season where he had an undefined role. He made eight relief appearances with the O’s along with his 17 starts with the big club. He also pitched at three different levels in the minor leagues, where he made a total of six starts.
Despite the lack of continuity, Gausman had decent numbers over his 112.1 innings at the major league level. Among pitchers who threw at least 100 innings, Gausman finished 34th with a K-BB% of 15.7-percent thanks to the 26th best swinging strike rate of 10.9-percent. He also seemed a touch unlucky with the long ball, given his HR/FB rate of over 13-percent, especially when you consider his batted ball profile.
Expect career best numbers across the board and a Top 60 SP campaign.
Carlos Rodon, Chicago White Sox
When you look at Rodon’s 2015 season as a whole, you see decent, but not spectacular numbers. However, this hides the true development of Rodon, as he improved greatly in the second half. Usually, I find that first half/second half splits are quite arbitrary; however, with rookies, I think they hold a little more weight since they need to adapt to life in the big leagues.
While his ERA showed minimal changes, Rodon drastically improved many of his key statistics after the All-Star Break.
Rodon still needs to work on limiting the free pass, but his strikeout potential is tantalizing. Rodon should expand on last year’s second half success and breakout in a big way in 2016.
Luis Severino, New York Yankees
With a career minor league ERA of 2.30 and a WHIP of 1.02 in 321 innings, it shouldn’t have been a surprise that Severino had success at the major league level right out of the gate.
As we head into 2016, Severino should post a higher strikeout rate and lower walk rate versus his 2015 figures. On the flip side, he may not be as lucky with both his BABIP and LOB% figures again. Despite doing a solid job of limiting hard contact, Severino was also unlucky with the long ball, so expect his HR/FB rate of over 17-percent to regress this year. There might be a slight uptick in his ERA, but other than that Severino should show improvement in all other facets of his game.
Severino has laid the groundwork for a Top 50 SP season and anything less would be a surprise.
Taijuan Walker, Seattle Mariners
Walker has the prospect pedigree as he was constantly near the top of the prospect lists from 2012 through 2014. He showed some promise last year as he posted the 22nd best K-BB% among qualified starters at 16.6-percent. On the other hand, he did a poor job of stranding runners and he finished tied for the sixth worst LOB% at 67.8-percent.
For the year, Walker struggled with the long ball, and he gave up a greater amount of hard contact than is desired. That being said, he showed decent improvement as the year wore on and that sets him up nicely for 2016.
If Walker can maintain his dramatic improvement in his walk rate, 2016 should be the year that he turns potential into performance.
Patrick Corbin, Arizona Diamondbacks
Corbin showed no ill-effects from his Tommy John surgery as he was solid once he finally returned this past July. His numbers, albeit in a smaller sample size, were slightly better than his successful 2013 campaign. He increased his strikeout rate, lowered his walk rate, and quite dramatically lowered his hard hit rate allowed.
As we look towards 2016, Corbin should find some relief as his BABIP of .327 likely regresses closer to the league average. Also, don’t be shocked if Corbin’s innings get capped at some point given his recent surgery.
Elbow issues derailed Corbin’s development, but now he appears to be back on track and ready to breakout in 2016.
Get in on the ground floor and enjoy the ride. These starting pitcher breakouts are ready to carry you to Fantasy paradise. Make sure you continue to check out all of the awesome SCFE Fantasy Baseball content to help get you ready for the upcoming season.
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