Fantasy Baseball: 5 Starting Pitcher Sleepers to Target in 2017
LHP Tyler Anderson, Colorado Rockies
ESPN End of Season Ownership: 12.7%
There might be a natural tendency to avoid pitchers in Coors Field like the plague, but don’t let that sully your opinion of Tyler Anderson. Similarly, a lot of pitchers can get tied up in the “What could he be in a full season?” kind of hype. But the crossroads of those two spots could make Anderson a nice value pick late in drafts.
His numbers look pretty darn good, Coors be damned. Anderson comes with the first-round pedigree and reached the big leagues for the first time in 2016 while hitting the ground running. He made 19 starts and threw 114.1 innings with a 3.54 ERA that’s backed by a 3.59 FIP. He fanned 7.8 batters per nine, walked just 2.2 per nine and mostly kept the ball in the park (0.9 home runs per nine).
How does he do it? He’s a devotee of the holy trinity of pitching. He gets strikeouts, walks nobody and keeps the ball on the ground. With a 50.9 percent ground-ball rate -- 16th-best among 69 National League pitchers who threw at least 100 innings last year -- he has a leg up on a lot of his previous Coors counterparts.
Based on results, Anderson doesn’t seem to care about pitching at Coors, as he posted a 3.00 ERA at home (versus a 4.71 mark on the road). FIP tells a much more balanced story -- 3.51 home; 3.78 on the road -- but ultimately, he kept the ball on the ground (51.5 percent) and in the park (0.9 HR/9) at home. As he matures, the hope would be he rounds into a better road pitcher, but the early returns are encouraging.
One spot he’ll have to improve is against righties, as they roughed him up a bit to the tune of a .273/.323/.460 batting line (.333 wOBA). Still, one can do worse filling out the backend of their fantasy rotation with a player they aren’t terribly married to. Why not go with a lefty who can hit the mid-90s with his fastball and throws a very good changeup (19.8 percent whiff rate).
He has largely shirked a curveball, a pitch that traditionally doesn’t play well due to the altitude at Coors. Instead, he’s opted for a fastball/change/cutter-heavy repertoire that should play well in Denver. He might be a hot commodity a year from now.