STARTERS: Young targets, 2019 updated

Let's update our list of the most skilled young starting pitchers in the game in order to help you identify stretch-run targets and premium stashes in keeper leagues.

There are some clear benefits of targeting young pitchers in the second half of the season, especially in keeper leagues. Last year in this space, a struggling Shane Bieber (RHP, CLE) was profiled as a good buy low target that carried the potential of impactful skills:

Shane Bieber (RHP, CLE) has endured some blowups during his first batch of starts in the majors. As a pitcher who relies more on command than stuff, that shouldn't be surprising. Still, Bieber has shown some of the best skills in the game among young starters: 8.8 Dom, 1.6 Ctl, 46% GB%, 139 BPV. A high 38% H% has been the primary driver of his mediocre surface stats (4.80 ERA, 1.44 WHIP). His 11.3% SwK%, 63% FpK%, and 33% ball% all confirm that he has the foundation to produce impactful skills. (7/28/2018)

As such, here are the starting pitchers age 28 or under who have posted the best skills so far in 2019, using a small IP threshold of 20+ IP to give us a larger pool for analysis:

100+ BPV, Age 28 or Under*

Name         Age  Lg  Ctl  Dom   HR/9  GB%  H%/S%  hr/f  FAv   SwK%  FpK%  Ball% BPV
===========  ===  ==  ===  ====  ====  ===  =====  ====  ====  ====  ====  ====  ===
Cole, G       28  AL  2.2  13.5   1.4  41%  31/78%  19%  96.9  16.2%  65%   33%  201
Clevinger, M  28  AL  3.2  13.8   1.1  43%  31/69%  20%  96.0  16.6%  65%   37%  183
Boyd, M       28  AL  1.9  12.0   1.6  37%  34/71%  17%  91.8  14.0%  65%   33%  180
Bieber, S     24  AL  2.0  11.2   1.2  44%  29/71%  15%  93.1  14.4%  63%   35%  171
Glasnow, T    25  AL  1.7  10.2   0.6  52%  28/83%   8%  96.6  12.0%  62%   34%  169
Buehler, W    24  NL  1.3  10.1   1.1  43%  30/72%  12%  96.6  12.3%  66%   31%  167
Hernandez, E  24  NL  2.0  10.8   2.0  35%  28/73%  19%  91.3  14.1%  68%   32%  153
Snell, B      26  AL  3.1  12.1   1.3  41%  34/70%  17%  95.6  17.8%  68%   36%  153
Woodruff, B   26  NL  2.2  10.4   0.9  44%  33/71%  12%  96.3  11.6%  62%   33%  149
Montas, F     26  AL  2.1   9.7   0.7  51%  32/79%  10%  96.8  11.5%  60%   35%  147
Peralta, F    23  NL  2.8  11.6   2.3  30%  42/61%  20%  92.4  10.7%  62%   34%  142
Weaver, L     25  NL  2.0   9.8   0.9  41%  31/76%  10%  93.8  10.6%  62%   36%  141
Paddack, C    23  NL  2.0   9.4   1.4  41%  22/79%  15%  93.9  10.9%  74%   30%  135
Marquez, G    24  NL  2.0   8.7   1.4  51%  32/64%  19%  95.6  12.8%  65%   34%  133
Urias, J      22  NL  2.8  10.7   0.8  35%  27/70%   7%  94.9  14.5%  54%   37%  130
Mahle, T      24  NL  2.3   9.3   1.6  46%  33/68%  20%  93.1   9.2%  68%   34%  130
German, D     26  AL  2.3   9.4   1.8  40%  28/73%  19%  93.5  13.7%  61%   34%  125
Fried, M      25  NL  2.6   9.0   1.2  54%  35/74%  20%  93.9  10.7%  65%   35%  125
Lopez, P      23  NL  2.1   8.6   0.9  49%  30/64%  12%  93.6  10.9%  55%   36%  124
Smith, C      27  NL  3.0  11.0   1.6  28%  24/78%  16%  92.0  14.1%  61%   34%  123
Giolito, L    24  AL  3.2  10.7   0.8  39%  29/74%   9%  94.0  14.4%  61%   34%  123
Chirinos, Y   25  AL  1.9   8.2   1.3  43%  26/77%  16%  93.1  10.6%  63%   35%  118
Syndergaa, N  26  NL  2.6   9.0   1.0  48%  32/68%  12%  97.8  12.5%  65%   33%  118
Rodon, C      26  AL  4.4  11.9   1.0  43%  37/65%  11%  91.5  12.1%  55%   38%  117
Strahm, M     27  NL  1.9   8.7   2.2  33%  32/66%  18%  90.8  10.4%  65%   32%  116
Ray, R        27  NL  4.2  11.9   1.5  38%  31/76%  19%  92.6  14.0%  59%   37%  115
Flaherty, J   23  NL  3.1  10.1   1.7  37%  29/73%  18%  93.9  12.9%  58%   37%  114
Sampson, A    27  AL  2.0   8.3   2.3  40%  37/67%  19%  92.0   9.9%  60%   34%  114
Yarbrough, R  27  AL  1.1   6.4   0.8  50%  23/54%  10%   n/a  10.9%  60%   33%  114
Soroka, M     21  NL  2.1   7.6   0.4  56%  29/79%   8%  93.2  10.8%  67%   33%  114
Bauer, T      28  AL  3.5  10.6   1.3  39%  28/76%  15%  94.7  12.0%  59%   37%  113
Nola, A       26  NL  3.6  10.1   1.3  49%  31/77%  18%  92.8   9.6%  60%   36%  111
Velasquez, V  27  NL  3.2  10.2   2.2  35%  29/76%  20%  94.5  11.8%  56%   37%  110
Berrios, J    25  AL  2.0   8.0   1.1  41%  30/80%  11%  93.0  10.4%  67%   32%  109
Rodriguez, E  26  AL  3.0   9.2   1.3  46%  31/73%  15%  92.7  11.9%  64%   37%  109
Canning, G    23  AL  3.0   9.7   1.6  37%  28/66%  14%  93.7  13.8%  56%   38%  107
Lucchesi, J   26  NL  2.7   8.5   1.2  48%  29/68%  13%  90.8  11.3%  59%   37%  107
Castillo, L   26  NL  4.4  10.5   0.8  56%  24/83%  15%  96.2  15.5%  54%   40%  106
Taillon, J    27  NL  1.9   7.2   1.0  50%  29/66%  13%  94.7  11.9%  68%   31%  106
Voth, A       27  NL  2.6   8.7   1.3  41%  30/68%  12%  92.8  10.9%  63%   35%  105
Musgrove, J   26  NL  2.3   8.1   0.9  43%  31/68%   9%  92.3  11.8%  64%   32%  103
Barria, J     22  AL  2.7   9.0   1.8  36%  25/78%  16%  92.1  11.1%  59%   37%  103
Quantrill, C  24  NL  2.2   7.4   1.5  49%  30/69%  18%  94.2  12.2%  54%   39%  102
Gausman, K    28  NL  3.1   9.4   1.0  39%  35/60%  11%  93.8  13.5%  64%   33%  101
Heaney, A     28  AL  3.7  10.6   1.8  33%  32/69%  15%  91.8  13.6%  65%   37%  101
Gray, Jon     27  NL  3.4   9.3   1.2  48%  33/75%  18%  96.1  12.1%  66%   36%  101
*min 20 IP

Let's take a closer look at some young rotation arms worthy of your investment.
 

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Jaime Barria (RHP, LAA) has inflicted his owners with a few clunkers so far in 2019, which have been the reason for his overall 6.63 ERA and 1.55 WHIP. But in a small 20 IP sample as a SP, his upside has been more evident: 9.0 Dom, 2.7 Ctl, 36% GB%, 103 BPV. He also owns a solid 3.60 ERA and 1.10 WHIP as a SP. At age 22, it's too early to write off Barria.

Shane Bieber (RHP, CLE) has gone from a pitcher with marginal results but electric skills to one with impactful results in both areas. He has a 3.43 ERA and 0.99 WHIP in 131 IP. His skills are some of the best of any pre-peak pitcher in the game: 11.2 Dom, 2.0 Ctl, 44% GB%, 171 BPV. He's missing more bats this season too (14.4% SwK%).

Griffin Canning (RHP, LAA) owns a 4.67 ERA in 71 IP as a SP in 2019. But a deeper dive confirms he remains a young pitcher worth monitoring. His skills have been much better than his ERA: 9.7 Dom, 3.0 Ctl, 37% GB%, 107 BPV. He's generating whiffs at a very high rate too (13.8% SwK%). The next step in his development will be to pitch in the strike zone earlier (56% FpK%) and more often (38% ball%).

Mike Clevinger (RHP, CLE) has been electric since returning from the injured list, and during his abbreviated innings so far this season, his skills have been the second best in the game among SP age 28 or under: 13.8 Dom, 3.2 Ctl, 43% GB%, 183 BPV. His 16.6% SwK% and 65% FpK% give solid support to those elite skills too. Clevinger could be a difference-maker for his owners down the stretch.

Domingo German (RHP, NYY) had a rough start recently that sent his ERA above 4.00. But owners of German should be pleased that he has converted his skills into flashes of good results in 2019. His skills have remained very good too: 9.4 Dom, 2.3 Ctl, 40% GB%, 125 BPV. He misses bats (13.7% SwK%) and pounds the strike zone (34% ball%). German remains a building block in keeper leagues.

Lucas Giolito (RHP, CHW) has gone from perennial disappointment to rotation anchor. He owns a 3.12 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 112 IP. While a 74% S% and 9% hr/f have helped him, we can't dismiss his emergence. Giolito's results have been supported by very good skills: 10.7 Dom, 3.2 Ctl, 39% GB%, 123 BPV. And those skills have been backed by a 14.4% SwK% and 34% ball%.
 

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Max Fried (LHP, ATL) is another young pitcher with mediocre results on the surface (4.15 ERA, 1.39 WHIP). But like others mentioned here, Fried's upside comes out when analyzing his skills: 9.0 Dom, 2.6 Ctl, 54% GB%, 125 BPV. His ability to miss bats and induce groundballs gives him upper-rotation potential.

Elieser Hernandez (RHP, MIA) also hasn't looked good at first glance this season (5.24 ERA in 34 IP). But as a SP, he has flashed skills that should put him on your radar: 10.8 Dom, 2.0 Ctl, 35% GB%, 153 BPV. In those starts, he is missing bats (14.1% SwK%) and getting strike one (68% FpK%) at elite rates.

Pablo Lopez (RHP, MIA) is another 4+ ERA young pitcher worthy of your consideration. His skills so far in 2019 have featured good command and groundballs: 8.6 Dom, 2.1 Ctl, 49% GB%, 124 BPV. His bugaboo has been not being able to get ahead of hitters early in counts (55% FpK%). If his shoulder strain is nothing serious, Lopez remains a good speculation in many leagues.

Chris Paddack (RHP, SD) firmly has become one of the elite young pitchers in the game during his rookie season, even as his workload has been monitored carefully. Paddack's skills have been excellent: 9.4 Dom, 2.0 Ctl, 41% GB%, 135 BPV. He's one of the best SP in the game at pounding the strike zone (74% FpK%, 30% ball%). And his fastball/change-up combo is enough to generate swings and misses (10.9% SwK%). He remains a premium building block.

Freddy Peralta (RHP, MIL) remains banished to the bullpen after the 7.07 ERA and 1.63 WHIP in 35 IP that he put up as a SP. Just keep in mind that those marks were the result of some crazy bad luck (42% H%, 61% S%, 20% hr/f). His skills as a SP were superb: 11.6 Dom, 2.8 Ctl, 30% GB%, 142 BPV. Early 2020 buy low targets don't get much better than Peralta.

Cal Quantrill (RHP, SD) doesn't have the prospect pedigree that others in the loaded SD farm system can claim. And his 4.57 ERA in 41 IP as a SP in 2019 might not inspire much confidence. But his skills have been quite solid: 7.4 Dom, 2.2 Ctl, 49% GB%, 102 BPV. He just needs to throw more strikes to gain some consistency (54% FpK%, 39% ball%).

Caleb Smith (LHP, MIA) has become one of the better young SP in the game so far in 2019. His results have been very good (3.30 ERA, 1.02 WHIP in 90 IP). And they have been backed by very good skills: 11.0 Dom, 3.0 Ctl, 28% GB%, 123 BPV. His 14.1% SwK% is one of the best in the game as well. If he could find a groundball pitch, Smith's emergence could take another step forward.

Matt Strahm (LHP, SD) has posted a 120+ BPV in each of the past three months. He has been particularly filthy during the last month (23/1 K/BB, 213 BPV in 17 IP), during which his fastball velocity has surged. He has become totally dominant against RH bats this season (7.4 Cmd vR). Strahm has been more dominant in relief than as a starter, but his 4.5 Cmd as a SP suggests he can still have value in that role down the road.


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