2024 Fantasy Baseball: 12 starting pitchers to pick up based on how they looked in spring training

If you’re like me, you have a lot of injured pitchers right now. Fortunately for us, the waiver wire is replete with interesting pitcher alternatives.

So why weren’t they drafted in the first place? Well, draft status is usually a reflection of past performance, and by and large, these pitchers’ past performance leaves something to be desired. Breakouts do happen, though, for a large number of players (and especially pitchers) every year, and oftentimes, when a breakout is on the horizon, it will first reveal itself in spring training.

Analyzing players on their spring performance is a tricky endeavor. They’re not out there competing, after all, but preparing. Hitters may not have their timing down yet. Pitchers may not have a feel for all their pitches yet. Suffice it to say that not everyone is bringing his A game.

Furthermore, the players most likely bringing their A game are the ones with the most to prove, and the ones with the most to prove are also the ones least likely to be drafted in Fantasy. It’s reasonable to expect, then, that there will be a certain number of spring training fakeouts every year. In fact, generally speaking, you’re better off ignoring spring training stats.

But it can also go the other way, as was demonstrated most dramatically in 2021. In the lead up to that season, three pitchers who were widely undrafted began hinting at better things to come. Their names were Robbie Ray, Carlos Rodon and Trevor Rogers, and you can see how that 2021 season turned out for each of them:

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Ray, you may remember, went on to win AL Cy Young, and Rodon placed in the top five. Rogers, meanwhile, was runner-up for NL Rookie of the Year. If you picked up even one, it was completely transformational for your pitching staff. If you picked up all three, chances are you won your league.

Granted, not every year can be like that one, but every year, pitchers who don’t start out as prized Fantasy assets go on to make a significant Fantasy impact. Who has the best chance to be this year’s Ray, Rodon or Rogers? Based on what I observed this spring, I’m thinking any of these 12 could be.

Of course, the most likely scenario for each is that you’re dumping him at the end of April and moving on to something else, so when possible, casting a wide net is advised. But since you don’t have unlimited roster space, I’ve listed them by order of priority.

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