Fantasy Baseball 2020: Projections for Lucas Giolito, Top Pitchers on the Rise

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMay 22, 2020

Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Lucas Giolito (27) pitches in the first inning of a spring training baseball game against the Chicago Cubs, Friday, March 6, 2020, in Mesa, Ariz. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

The fantasy baseball landscape will change if the shortened Major League Baseball season, which was reported by The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal, is approved.

The increase in divisional games and the smaller amount of starts will affect draft strategy when it comes to pitchers. Some hurlers, like Lucas Giolito of the Chicago White Sox, could rise up draft boards.

Giolito finished fifth in strikeouts-per-nine-innings in 2019, and he resides in the American League Central alongside two of the league's weaker teams. The Minnesota Twins' Jose Berrios could also benefit from more matchups with AL Central bottom feeders the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals.

Although David Price does not have a long history with his new National League West foes, he may be an intriguing fantasy option if he continues to post a high strikeout total.


Fantasy Baseball Pitchers on the Rise

Lucas Giolito, Chicago White Sox

Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

Giolito experienced a significant rise in production in 2019, as he eclipsed his previous career best in strikeouts by 103.

The right-handed hurler's 228 punchouts moved his strikeouts-per-nine-innings rate from 6.5 to 11.6. That bodes well for a short season because he can still produce strikeouts at a high rate despite being in line for fewer appearances.

In 2019, four of his six 10-strikeout performances came against AL Central opposition, with three of them occurring versus the Royals. Giolito went 8-3 against divisional opposition. He had multiple victories versus three of the those teams and won his only start at Detroit.

The 25-year-old has an average draft position of No. 54, per Fantasy Pros, but he could be worth a fourth-round pick in 12-team leagues because of his divisional performance.

That would move him above the Philadelphia Phillies' Aaron Nola and San Diego Padres' Chris Paddack, who appear set to face tougher lineups from World Series contenders in their respective National League divisions.


Jose Berrios, Minnesota

John Bazemore/Associated Press

Berrios was five punchouts away from his second consecutive 200-strikeout campaign in 2019.

The right-handed pitcher has had a strikeout-per-nine-innings rate over eight for the past three years, and his walks-per-nine-innings fell to a career low 2.3 last season.

Berrios achieved the most divisional success against the White Sox, with a 4-1 record and a trio of performances with eight strikeouts. The 26-year-old also went 2-0 versus Cleveland and did not allow more than three earned runs in his four appearances against the Indians.

The success against the top half of the AL Central, plus the expected struggles of the Royals and Tigers, could reap rewards for Berrios, who has an ADP at No. 70. He should experience a similar boost to Giolito, which could be as high as 10-15 picks depending on how fast starting pitchers go off the board.

With that in mind, the Minnesota man could end up as a late fourth-round or consistent fifth-round pick in most leagues.


David Price, Los Angeles Dodgers 

Gregory Bull/Associated Press

The unfamiliarity between Price and National League batters may help him get off to a fast start.

The lifelong American League hurler has made 13 appearances versus NL West franchises, and if you take the Dodgers off that list, the total falls to 10. Of course, the adjustment process could hurt the southpaw as well, but that should not be a huge issue given his experience.

Although he posted his second single-season ERA over 4.00 in 2019, Price fanned 128 batters over 22 games. If he lowers his ERA and produces a similar strikeout rate, he could become a strong third piece of the Los Angeles Dodgers rotation behind Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw.

Fewer games could also help the 34-year-old avoid injuries since he started 30 games once in the previous three seasons.

Price carries solid mid-round value with an ADP of No. 147, and if you hold his experience in high regard, he could move up to the 10th or 11th round.


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90Statistics obtained from Baseball Reference