STARTERS: Early deep league targets, 2021

If you play in a deep league, you know how difficult it can be to find available free agents worthy of stashing.

Here, let's take an early look at a bunch of overlooked guys with strong skill foundations who should be available in most leagues and could be worth slotting at the end of your staff.
 

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Kolby Allard (LHP, TEX) looked like a SP this spring that was ready to take a step forward in 2021 (15/4 K/BB in 11 IP). It was an exciting development from this former 1st round pick and 9C prospect. While he has been hidden in the TEX bullpen this season, both his results (3.52 ERA, 0.98 WHIP in 19 IP) and skills have been excellent: 31% K%, 2% BB%, 41% GB%, 204 BPV. And after struggling against righty bats in the past, Allard has a 31% K-BB% and .619 OPS against them. He's a premium target in deep leagues.

Dylan Cease (RHP, CHW) is showing some signs that he's tapping into his SP1 upside. His results have been very good (2.80 ERA, 1.25 WHIP in 35 IP). And they have come with the best skills of his career: 32% BB%, 12% BB%, 37% GB%, 114 BPV. He's still struggling to get strike one (50% FpK%) and isn't throwing the ball over the plate consistently (38% ball%), so his control remains a big risk. But this has been a growth year for him so far.


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Randy Dobnak (RHP, MIN) recently was demoted to the minors to get regular work, making him available in many leagues. While his upside is limited, tuck away the 19/0 K/BB in 15 IP with a steep groundball tilt that he showed this spring. And his early skills with MIN were better than you might realize (100 BPV). A 47% S% and 33% hr/f inflated his early stats.

Cole Irvin (LHP, OAK) owns a nifty 37/6 K/BB in 41 IP, a level of command that has driven his strong 125 BPV. Even though he doesn't miss a lot of bats (9.9% SwK%), he pounds the strike zone early (70% FpK%) and often (33% ball%). And he has shown an ability to limit barrels (6.6% barrel rate).

Jakob Junis (RHP, KC) hasn't been able to solidify a rotation slot yet. Still, his skills have been quite good: 28% K%, 8% BB%, 44% GB%, 124 BPV. His strikeout rate has been supported by a 12.1% SwK%. His issues have been hard contact; he has given up a 93.1 mph exit velocity and 10.9% barrel rate. That said, Junis owns enough intriguing skills to make him a worthy target in deep AL-only leagues.

Shane McClanahan (LHP, TAM) went undrafted in most leagues this season (694 ADP). Those who gambled on him have been rewarded with some nifty skills: 31% K%, 8% BB%, 47% GB%, 146 BPV. His command sub-indicators give his skills even more growth potential: 15.8% SwK%, 69% FpK%, 33% ball%. Limiting his hard contact (94.4 mph exit velocity) would help him convert those skills into even better results. There's a lot to like here.

Frankie Montas (RHP, OAK) has been dumped in many leagues due to his ugly early stats (5.50 ERA, 1.44 WHIP in 36 IP). Before you follow suit, note his solid 111 BPV and these command building blocks: 12.5% SwK%, 65% FpK%, 32% ball%. A 12.8% barrel rate has fueled his blowups, but that mark is well above the barrel rates he has shown in the prior three seasons (7.4%, 3.8%, 7.8% barrel rate). Montas carries some good profit potential.

Patrick Sandoval (LHP, LAA) hasn't delivered any value in the early-going (6.14 ERA, 1.50 WHIP in 7 IP). But he hasn't been given much of an opportunity either. When he has pitched, he has shown his ability to generate a lot of whiffs (14.5% SwK%) and keep the ball on the ground (55% GB%). Those strengths still are the fuel that could turn him into an impact SP if he ever throws more strikes.
 

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Adbert Alzolay (RHP, CHC) doesn't own impactful surface stats (4.50 ERA in 32 IP), but his skills suggest that mark should be much better: 29% K%, 6% BB%, 39% GB%, 146 BPV. His 14.3% SwK% and 63% FpK% support his strong command too. He's another pitcher that has been victimized by hard contact (90.2 mph exit velocity, 11.5% barrel rate).

Tyler Anderson (LHP, PIT) is a veteran pitcher that is enjoying a really strong start to the season that might be overlooked in your league. He has put up a 3.05 ERA and 1.04 WHIP in 41 IP. While his skills have been more average than impactful (95 BPV), his command sub-indicators support further growth there (13.7% SwK%, 64% FpK%, 30% ball%). He's a good short-term play.

Johan Oviedo (RHP, STL) has a chance to stick in the STL rotation. In three appearances, his skills have been solid: 24% K%, 7% BB%, 43% GB%, 104 BPV. In that tiny data sample, he has nearly doubled his swinging strike rate from 2020 (9.2% SwK%) to 2021 (17.6% SwK%). He's another overlooked young SP (749 ADP) that owns some good profit potential.

Logan Webb (RHP, SF) hasn't produced stats worthy of your time (4.86 ERA, 1.49 WHIP in 37 IP). On the positive side, he has been victimized by a 36% H% and 22% hr/f. He owns one of the steepest groundball tilts in the game (57% GB%), and he misses more bats than the average SP (11.1% SwK%). If he can throw more strikes (39% ball%), Webb could develop into a good mid-rotation arm.

Bryse Wilson (RHP, ATL) is the owner of some really smelly surface stats (5.50 ERA, 1.61 WHIP in 18 IP). His command (14% K%, 6% BB) and skills (55 BPV) don't give much hope for anything better. At least until you look at his command sub-indicators, which give his skills triple-digit upside due to his ability to pepper the strike zone: 10.0% SwK%, 71% FpK%, 33% ball%.


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