STARTERS: 2019 LIMA targets

The Low Investment Mound Aces (LIMA) Plan is a way for you to allocate resources to cheap, high-skill pitchers without paying high-skill prices, thereby allowing you to spend more of your money on hitters without sacrificing the quality of your starting rotation.

Our latest iteration of the LIMA model suggests that the best LIMA targets are those who are projected to meet the following thresholds:

  •     Control rate (BB/9) of 2.8 or better;
  •     Dominance rate (K/9) of 7.0 or better;
  •     Command ratio (K/BB) of 2.5 or better.

LIMA values can vary based on your league context. We encourage you to use our Custom Draft Guides to see customized LIMA values for your league.

Last season in this space, we identified guys like Kyle Gibson (RHP, MIN), Josh Hader (LHP, MIL), and German Marquez (RHP, COL) as attractive LIMA targets, and all of them delivered profit to many of their owners in 2018.

Here are the top 2019 projected LIMA SP targets in a 5x5 mixed league:

  • LIMA SP Targets 2019
    
                                 ---------Projected 2019--------
    Name                 League  Ctl  Dom   Cmd  HR/9  BPV  LIMA
    ===================  ======  ===  ====  ===  ====  ===  ====
    Archer, Chris            NL  2.9  10.2  3.5   1.1  129    A
    Peacock, Brad            AL  3.7  11.1  3.0   1.0  118    A
    Salazar, Danny           AL  3.4  10.6  3.1   1.1  118    A
    Pineda, Michael          AL  2.3   8.8  3.8   1.3  118    A
    Honeywell, Brent         AL  2.5   8.8  3.6   0.9  115    A
    Pivetta, Nick            NL  3.0   9.5  3.2   1.2  114    A
    Loaisiga, Jonathan       AL  3.1   9.8  3.2   1.2  114    A
    Lucchesi, Joey           NL  2.7   9.1  3.4   1.2  113    A
    Paulino, David           AL  2.7   8.8  3.3   1.0  107    A
    Junis, Jakob             AL  2.1   7.9  3.7   1.3  105    A
    Ray, Robbie              NL  4.5  11.6  2.6   1.2  105    A
    Erin, Robert             NL  1.7   7.0  4.1   1.2  102    A
    ------------------------------------------------------------
    Strasburg, Stephen       NL  2.6  10.8  4.1   1.0  144    B+
    Maeda, Kenta             NL  2.7  10.2  3.8   1.0  130    B+
    Castillo, Luis           NL  2.5   8.8  3.5   1.2  120    B+
    Strahm, Matt             NL  3.1  10.1  3.3   1.1  113    B+
    Wood, Alex               NL  2.6   8.7  3.3   0.9  113    B+
    Musgrove, Joe            NL  1.8   7.6  4.2   1.2  112    B+
    Heaney, Andrew           AL  2.3   8.5  3.6   1.4  108    B+
    Luzardo, Jesus           AL  2.3   8.0  3.5   0.8  107    B+
    Eovaldi, Nathan          AL  2.1   7.6  3.6   1.2  106    B+
    Reyes, Alex              NL  3.8  10.2  2.7   1.3  102    B+
    Matz, Steven             NL  3.0   8.7  2.9   1.1  101    B+
    Soroka, Michael          NL  2.2   7.4  3.4   0.3   98    B+
    Skaggs, Tyler            AL  3.0   8.7  2.9   1.1   97    B+
    DeScalfani, Anthony      NL  2.3   7.8  3.4   1.6   97    B+
    Woodruff, Brandon        NL  3.1   8.4  2.8   1.0   95    B+
    Leake, Mike              AL  1.6   6.1  3.8   1.0   95    B+
    Anderson, Tyler          NL  2.9   8.5  3.0   1.3   94    B+
    Karns, Nathan            AL  3.4   9.1  2.6   1.5   93    B+
    Name                 League  Ctl  Dom   Cmd  HR/9  BPV  LIMA
    ===================  ======  ===  ====  ===  ====  ===  ====
    Pena, Felix              AL  3.0   8.5  2.9   1.2   93    B+
    Smyly, Drew              AL  2.4   8.0  3.4   1.6   93    B+
    Lopez, Pablo             NL  2.3   7.2  3.0   1.1   92    B+
    Nova, Ivan               AL  1.9   6.4  3.4   1.7   90    B+
    Glasnow, Tyler           AL  4.4  10.2  2.3   1.0   90    B+
    Roark, Tanner            NL  2.7   7.8  2.8   1.2   89    B+
    Cueto, Johnny            NL  2.4   7.2  3.0   1.8   86    B+
    Richards, Trevor         NL  3.0   8.4  2.9   1.1   86    B+
    Keller, Mitch            NL  3.3   8.4  2.6   0.9   85    B+
    Richards, Garrett        NL  3.6   8.4  2.3   0.6   83    B+
    Zimmermann, Jordan       AL  2.0   6.9  3.4   1.6   83    B+
    Wainwright, Adam         NL  3.1   7.6  2.5   0.8   78    B+
    Peralta, Freddy          NL  4.7  10.7  2.3   1.1   76    B+
    Hardy, Blaine            AL  2.6   7.1  2.7   1.1   76    B+
    Suter, Brent             NL  1.8   6.0  3.3   1.2   75    B+
    Buchholz, Clay           NL  2.7   6.9  2.6   1.1   73    B+
    Fried, Max               NL  4.3   9.0  2.1   0.6   72    B+
    Toussaint, Touki         NL  4.3   9.2  2.1   0.6   72    B+
    Smith, Caleb             NL  3.6   9.0  2.5   1.4   71    B+
    Cahill, Trevor           AL  4.3   8.6  2.0   1.2   70    B+
    Senzatela, Antonio       NL  3.0   6.8  2.3   0.9   69    B+
    Borucki, Ryan            AL  2.6   6.3  2.4   1.0   69    B+
    Miley, Wade              AL  2.7   6.4  2.3   1.0   68    B+
    Gomber, Austin           NL  3.3   7.6  2.3   1.0   66    B+
    Barria, Jaime            AL  2.9   7.1  2.4   1.1   65    B+
    Faria, Jake              AL  3.9   8.5  2.2   1.1   63    B+
    Davies, Zach             NL  3.1   6.7  2.2   0.9   63    B+
    Rodon, Carlos            AL  3.8   8.1  2.1   1.3   63    B+
    Lauer, Eric              NL  3.4   7.6  2.3   1.1   63    B+
    Odorizzi, Jake           AL  3.7   8.4  2.3   1.4   62    B+

Let's take a closer look at a bunch of intriguing LIMA targets in each league.
 

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Matt Boyd (LHP, DET) just missed our cutoff of the top LIMA SP heading into 2019 drafts. But he has flashed good skills in the past, most recently in the second half of 2018: 9.1 Dom, 1.8 Ctl, 27% GB%, 122 BPV. In fact, he posted a 120+ BPV in two of the final three months of 2018. He was particularly dominant against lefties for the first time in his career (6.8 Cmd vL). If he can make a similar jump against righties, Boyd could deliver some nice profit at his current 323 ADP.

Jake Faria (RHP, TAM) is another post-hype arm worthy of your attention as a LIMA target. He's coming off a season that was torpedoed by an oblique strain. When he's right, he's able to handcuff RH batters and pile up strikeouts in bunches. He's a great buy at his current 650 ADP.

Tyler Glasnow (RHP, TAM) is another young TAM hurler worthy of your investment. Glasnow was used strictly as a SP during the final two months of 2018 and posted a 137 BPV in August and a 108 BPV in September. That skills burst was fueled by attacking hitters (63% FpK% in August, 67% FpK% in September), which supports the control improvements he showed during the same period. Given his prior top prospect pedigree, age, and 2018 skills growth, Glasnow has some legitimate breakout appeal in 2019.

Brent Honeywell (RHP, TAM) likely won't make an MLB impact until the second half of 2019 as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. If you have a reserve spot though, Honeywell makes for an excellent stash, particularly for those looking for emerging LIMA arms. He has multiple strikeout pitches and could become an impact SP once he builds up his arm strength.

Jonathan Loaisiga (RHP, NYY) probably will not start the season in the NYY rotation. After all, he struggled in the majors on the surface in 2018 (5.11 ERA, 1.54 WHIP) in a tiny sample size (25 IP). But his underlying skills were fantastic: 12.0 Dom, 4.4 Ctl, 49% GB%, 126 BPV. A 39% H% and 20% hr/f doomed him. With his ability to miss bats and keep the ball on the ground, Loaisiga is a premium $1 target. And he's one you can get at that price (582 ADP).

Brad Peacock (RHP, HOU) turned himself into an impact reliever in 2018 (180 BPV in 65 IP), one season after posting good results (3.00 ERA, 1.19 WHIP) mostly in a starting role. His ability to succeed in both roles gives him some intriguing LIMA appeal.

Michael Pineda (RHP, MIN) carries a lot of profit potential in 2019 drafts. He might not be ready at the start of the season as he recovers from TJ surgery. That said, Pineda put up an elite 130+ BPV in three straight seasons from 2015 to 2017. He hasn't been able to keep his ERA below 4.00 largely due to gopheritis, which should be lessened by his new home park. Pineda is one of the top LIMA targets in the game and could be a huge profit generator.
 

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Tyler Anderson (LHP, COL) has not added much value at all since his strong rookie season in 2016 (3.54 ERA, 1.29 WHIP in 114 IP). That said, Anderson continues to own some premium command sub-indicators (12% SwK%, 65% FpK%). His ability to miss bats and attack hitters gives him the tools to post another sub-4.00 ERA.

Corbin Burnes (RHP, MIL) had a strong debut as a reliever in 2018, but is expected to transition back into a starting role in 2019. He missed tons of bats (16% SwK%) and posted skills (106 BPV) that profiled him as a mid-3s ERA arm (3.55 xERA). At age 24, Burnes remains a good investment in keeper leagues.

Anthony DeScalfani (RHP, CIN) has teased us before, but hasn't been able to stay healthy enough to emerge as an impact SP. Nonetheless, DeScalfani was really good in the second half of 2018 when he got healthy (118 BPV in 16 starts), skills that were hidden by a 20% hr/f. He's one of the better LIMA targets in the game.

Max Fried (LHP, ATL) is a high-upside young arm that is being left undrafted in many leagues (574 ADP). Use that as an opportunity to get him for nothing. While his control struggles are real, he did a better job of attacking hitters late in 2018. Now he needs to show those gains as a SP. Fried makes for an excellent LIMA target if you have a bench spot where you can stash him.

Joey Lucchesi (LHP, SD) has one of the better change-ups in the game among young SP. It's a pitch that helped him post an elite 144 BPV in 14 starts over the second half of 2018. He was very strong in September too (161 BPV in 25 IP). He also managed a 3.0+ Cmd against both lefty and righty bats. Lucchesi is a premium LIMA target heading into 2019 drafts.

Joe Musgrove (RHP, PIT) is another emerging pitcher that finished the 2018 season with a flourish. Musgrove had a very strong 123 BPV in the 2H of 2018, including some of the best command sub-indicators in the game (13% SwK%, 72% FpK% in 2H). Even if he starts the season slowly due to his recovery from abdominal surgery, the brittle Musgrove still carries 3.50-ERA upside that is worthy of your investment.

Nick Pivetta (RHP, PHI) posted a rough 4.77 ERA and marginal 1.30 WHIP in 2018. Both of those marks were inflated by a 34% H%. His 3.53 xERA was a better barometer of his upside. In fact, he put up a 120+ BPV in five of six months last season. There remains a lot to like here.

Matt Strahm (LHP, SD) had a mini-breakout in 2018 (2.05 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 112 BPV in 61 IP). While most of that work came in relief, Strahm has the goods to succeed in either role. And he carries some intriguing skill trends. Check out his first-pitch strike rate over the past three seasons: 53%, 59%, 66% FpK%. We know he can strike out batters, so if he can sustain that higher rate of 0-1 counts, Strahm could enjoy a breakout in 2019.

Brandon Woodruff (RHP, MIL) is one of the more intriguing, overlooked pitchers heading into 2019. He finished the season with a flourish out of the MIL bullpen and has shown good skills as a SP in the minors. He showed significant gains against lefties in 2018 (1.9 Cmd vL in 2017, 2.8 Cmd vL in 2018). Don't be surprised if Woodruff delivers sneaky value in 2019.


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.