If there is one thing fantasy baseball owners already have learned from the spring injuries to Mike Clevinger and Luis Severino, it is how much of a need there will for a deep dive into the starting pitcher pool if they want to be successful this season.
It happens every year, but having two such high-profile players already go down hammers home the point even more. The depth of the position is vast, and you should have no problem finding arms at the array of tiers within the pitching rankings, but scooping up the right late-round gems can get you off to the start you need to win your league.
With the loss of Clevinger and day-to-day concerns over Carlos Carrasco’s hip, taking a longer look at Indians starter Aaron Civale could be a great way to go. His current average draft position of 249.89 puts him as a 20th-round pick in 12-team leagues, so the cost is already minimal.
Though not a big strikeout guy, Civale’s strength is in his command, particularly of his secondary offerings — something few young hurlers are able to exhibit during the early stages of their career.
Civale does a great job of mixing in his breaking stuff and finishes off most hitters with a cut fastball that induces extremely weak contact. Last season’s 2.34 ERA over 57 ²/₃ innings was a nice build off his already strong minor league totals, and you should see close to 150 innings from him this season.
Another of the more unheralded stars in spring training actually comes to us in a former prospect who eventually found enough success overseas who could get a shot at joining the Brewers’ rotation. As a prospect in the Dodgers organization in 2008, the now 32-year-old Josh Lindblom had some buzz as a youngster, but a number of injuries derailed what could have been a promising career.
He attempted a few comebacks that never amounted to much before finally heading out to the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO), where he spent a year with some success in honing his craft. However, another attempted comeback in the majors in 2017 was met with struggle once again, and he headed back to Korea. But last season turned a corner for Lindblom, as he developed yet another pitch and proceeded to dominate the typically hitter-friendly KBO with a six-pitch arsenal and veteran savvy.
He finished the year with a 2.50 ERA and 1.00 WHIP over 30 starts and won the KBO’s version of the Cy Young award. Now with Milwaukee, he takes the mound with talent, confidence, very little mileage on the arm of a 32-year-old and a ridiculously favorable 353.69 ADP.
Both Civale and Lindblom are just the tip of the iceberg with regard to the wealth of talent found in the starting pitcher pool. Guys like Zach Davies and Nate Pearson join them as strong candidates for a quality season. Don’t be afraid to take some chances late as you may miss out on some otherworldly talent.
Howard Bender is the VP of operations and head of content at FantasyAlarm.com. Follow him on Twitter @rotobuzzguy and catch him on the award-winning “Fantasy Alarm Radio Show” on the SiriusXM fantasy sports channel weekdays at 4 p.m. Go to FantasyAlarm.com for all your fantasy advice, MLB lineups and DFS weather updates .