Fantasy baseball owners should look to give these pitchers a second chance

Everyone loves a good comeback story.

Sometimes it’s a team overcoming a big hole in a series, such as the Red Sox digging themselves out of an 0-3 hole in the 2004 ALCS (sorry, Yankees fans) or the 1992 Bills coming back against the Oilers after trailing by 32 points.

Other times it’s players, such as Alex Smith playing football again after nearly losing his right leg, a hobbled Willis Reed returning to the court to inspire his team to a Game 7 victory in the 1970 NBA Finals or 39-year-old Justin Verlander winning a Cy Young Award after coming back from Tommy John surgery.

Sometimes, it’s just a player coming off a down year (or years), trying to prove they still have what it takes to compete at a high level.

No one is going to pretend Miami’s Trevor Rogers had a good season in 2022. After finishing second in Rookie of the Year voting in 2021, he won just four times in 23 starts last year.

He owned a 5.47 ERA and walked 9.4 percent of the batters he faced, the 20th-worst mark among pitchers who threw a minimum of 100 innings. Opponents also hit .272 against him, the 19th-highest in the majors.

Trevor Rogers
The Marlins’ Trevor Rogers

But there are reasons why Rogers is among Roto Rage’s favorite arms to target late in drafts this year.

Over his last four starts of 2022, Rogers had a 3.72 ERA, 29.9 percent strikeout rate, 1.09 WHIP and a .233 opponents average. He also had a 3.37 FIP and 2.66 xFIP, which indicates he was unlucky.

Rogers has also looked solid this spring, limiting opponents to a .217 average and maintaining a 1.00 WHIP with a 17-3 strikeout-walk rate. (Just ignore the 10 earned runs, it’s spring training.)

Rogers is still just 25 years old and only one year removed from going 7-8 with a 2.64 ERA, 10.62 strikeouts per nine, .214 opponents average and a 14 percent swinging-strike rate. He had a sophomore slump, it happens. He still has all the talent and upside he had in 2021.

That happens to work out great for fantasy managers because Rogers isn’t being drafted as a top-30 pitcher, the way he was last year. His average draft position of 240.18, according to Fantasy Alarm, makes it worth taking a shot on his bounce-back potential. Considering Miami’s track record for developing young pitchers, Roto Rage believes this is a perfect low-risk, high-reward situation.

Sean Manaea (240.03) is another pitcher who was pretty awful in 2022, posting career-worst marks in ERA (4.96) and homers allowed (29) while with San Diego. His 2.85 walks per nine innings and 1.30 WHIP were his worst marks since 2017, and his 90.3 mph exit velocity ranked in the bottom 8 percent of the majors.

But Roto Rage believes there is hope for the 31-year-old lefty as he moves to San Francisco — and it goes beyond the Giants’ recent history of resuscitating middling careers of pitchers Kevin Gausman, Carlos Rodon, Alex Cobb, Alex Wood and Anthony DeSclafani.

The Giants' Sean Manaea delivers a pitch during a spring training a game.
The Giants’ Sean Manaea delivers a pitch during a spring training a game.

Despite the brutal numbers, Manaea’s 12 percent swinging-strike rate (15.6 percent with his changeup and 13.6 percent with his slider) ranked 21st in the majors. That is a good sign, as was the 4.05 xERA and 3.96 xFIP. An even better sign: His velocity has been up this spring, and over 17 ²/₃ innings he had a 14-3 strikeout-walk rate with a 0.96 WHIP and .215 opponents average. If he can stay healthy, keep his velocity up and continue to generate swings and misses, being in San Francisco will be a godsend — and fantasy managers will reap the rewards.

Kenta Maeda of Minnesota (284.4) had a career-worst 4.66 ERA in 2021 before undergoing Tommy John surgery that forced him to miss all of 2022. From 2016-20, however, Maeda was 53-36 with a 3.75 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 9.9 strikeouts per nine. Throughout his career, he has a 13.5 percent swinging-strike rate — and that includes a 20.7 percent rate with his slider, a pitch opposing batters have hit .193 against, and 20.9 percent with his splitter, which opponents have hit .180 against. Sure, we haven’t seen him in a while, but we know what he is capable of doing when healthy.

Here’s one more for you: Detroit’s Eduardo Rodriguez (283.72) made just 17 starts in what became a roller-coaster 2021 season (4.05 ERA, 3.4 BB/9, career-low 7.5 swinging-strike rate) marred by injuries, and the lefty stepping away from the team for personal reasons. If we go by spring training numbers (no earned runs over 13 innings, 15-2 K-BB, .229 opponent average), the Tigers’ Opening Day starter looks to be worth a flier.

Starting Pitcher Rankings

  1. Corbin Burnes, Mil
  2. Gerrit Cole, NYY
  3. Max Scherzer, NYM
  4. Sandy Alcantara, Mia
  5. Spencer Strider, Atl
  6. Aaron Nola, Phi
  7. Shane McClanahan, TB
  8. Brandon Woodruff, Mil
  9. Shohei Ohtani, LAA
  10. Cristian Javier, Hou
  11. Jacob deGrom, Tex
  12. Justin Verlander, NYM
  13. Julio Urias, LAD
  14. Shane Bieber, Cle
  15. Luis Castillo, Sea
  16. Zack Wheeler, Phi
  17. Dylan Cease, CWS
  18. Max Fried, Atl
  19. Kevin Gausman, Tor
  20. Zac Gallen, Ari
  21. Yu Darvish, SD
  22. Framber Valdez, Hou
  23. Alek Manoah, Tor
  24. Joe Musgrove, SD
  25. Carlos Rodon, NYY
  26. George Kirby, Sea
  27. Triston McKenzie, Cle
  28. Robbie Ray, Sea
  29. Logan Gilbert, Sea
  30. Blake Snell, SD
  31. Luis Severino, NYY
  32. Clayton Kershaw, LAD
  33. Nestor Cortes, NYY
  34. Kyle Wright, Atl
  35. Hunter Greene, Cin
  36. Nick Lodolo, Cin
  37. Joe Ryan, Min
  38. Jeffrey Springs, TB
  39. Pablo Lopez, Min
  40. Freddy Peralta, Mil
  41. Lance Lynn, CWS
  42. Logan Webb, SF
  43. Jesus Luzardo, Mia
  44. Chris Sale, Bos
  45. Lucas Giolito, CWS
  46. Luis Garcia, Hou
  47. Charlie Morton, Atl
  48. Jordan Montgomery, StL
  49. Alex Cobb, SF
  50. Reid Detmers, LAA
  51. Drew Rasmussen, TB
  52. Brady Singer, KC
  53. Dustin May, LAD
  54. Jon Gray, Tex
  55. Tyler Glasnow, TB
  56. Sonny Gray, Min
  57. Kodai Senga, NYM
  58. Patrick Sandoval, LAA
  59. Edward Cabrera, Mia
  60. Nathan Eovaldi, Tex
  61. Chris Bassitt, Tor
  62. Hunter Brown, Hou
  63. Andrew Heaney, Tex
  64. Tyler Mahle, Min
  65. Trevor Rogers, Mia
  66. Jameson Taillon, ChC
  67. Grayson Rodriguez, Bal
  68. Jose Urquidy, Hou
  69. Ross Stripling, SF
  70. Tony Gonsolin, LAD
  71. Sean Manaea, SF
  72. Merrill Kelly, Ari
  73. Jose Berrios, Tor
  74. Clarke Schmidt, NYY
  75. Noah Syndergaard, LAD
  76. Tyler Anderson, LAA
  77. Michael Kopech, CWS
  78. Miles Mikolas, StL
  79. Jack Flaherty, StL
  80. Zach Eflin, TB
  81. Marcus Stroman, ChC
  82. Carlos Carrasco, NYM
  83. Roansy Contreras, Pit
  84. David Peterson, NYM
  85. Hayden Wesneski, ChC
  86. Bailey Ober, Min
  87. Eduardo Rodriguez, Det
  88. Aaron Civale, Cle
  89. Justin Steele, ChC
  90. Taijuan Walker, Phi
  91. Eric Lauer, Mil
  92. Steven Matz, StL
  93. Kyle Bradish, Bal
  94. Martin Perez, Tex
  95. Ranger Suarez, Phi
  96. Tanner Houck, Bos
  97. Matthew Boyd, Det
  98. Lance McCullers Jr., Hou
  99. Brayan Bello, Bos
  100. Domingo German, NYY
  101. Kenta Maeda, Min
  102. Garrett Whitlock, Bos
  103. Cal Quantrill, Cle
  104. Mitch Keller, Pit
  105. Jose Suarez, LAA
  106. Michael Wacha, SD
  107. Braxton Garrett, Mia
  108. MacKenzie Gore, Was
  109. Yusei Kikuchi, Tor
  110. Jared Shuter, Atl
  111. Nick Martinez, SD
  112. Tylor Megill, NYM
  113. Brandon Pfaadt, Ari
  114. Adam Wainwright, StL
  115. Aaron Ashby, Mil
  116. Ken Waldichuk, Oak
  117. Josiah Gray, Was
  118. Ryan Pepiot, LAD
  119. Corey Kluber, Bos
  120. Mike Soroka, Atl
  121. Graham Ashcraft, Cin
  122. Johnny Cueto, Mia
  123. Matt Manning, Det
  124. Drew Smyly, ChC
  125. Cole Irvin, Bal
  126. Ryne Nelson, Ari

Team Name of the Week

Born-Again Cristian