The elite left-handed starters have a big advantage just for the simple fact that most players see a lot more right-handed pitching. Look for teams that have not faced a Quality Left-handed starter for some time (five games or more) and you will have a nice winning investment. Here are my Top 5 Left-handed starting pitchers age 27 or younger going forward for the 2020 season. Blake Snell (TB) would be my #1, but it looks like he’s dealing with a major arm injury. Keep an eye on him!
No. 1 Max Fried (Atlanta Braves) AGE: 27 (2019: 17-6, 4.02 ERA, 1.33 WHIP)
Max enjoyed a breakout 2019 season and should be even better this year. Max had 173 strikeouts in 165.2 innings. His WHIP suggests he pitched into some bad luck last year as his ERA of 4.02 should be closer to 3.45. The Braves have a solid lineup and should win plenty of games this season. Max throws in the mid 90s, two types of a “plus” curveball (which he patterned after that of Sandy Koufax) and really good change-up. I see no reason (excluding injuries) why Max can’t repeat his 2019 season with a 20-win campaign. Grab him as top starter in your fantasy drafts this Spring.
No. 2 Julio Urias (LA Dodgers) AGE: 24 (2019: 4-3, 2.49 ERA, 1.08 WHIP)
Julio spent most of the last season in the bullpen and pitched extremely well. He recorded 85 strikeouts in 79.2 innings and will start this season as the 4th starter. For his career, Urias has 187 strikeouts in 184 innings. The Dodgers have refused every trade when teams asked for Julio ever since his rookie year back in 2016. He has also been on a strict pitch count which will likely increase to at least 180 innings this year. His “stuff” is dynamic featuring a mid to upper 90s fastball, cutter, slider, curveball and devastating change-up. I would expect his best season of his young career. Dodger Stadium ranked the 7th toughest in runs scored last year. Grab him in the mid to late rounds in your fantasy leagues. Love him!
No. 3 Justus Sheffield (Seattle Mariners) AGE: 24 (2019: 0-1, 5.50 ERA, 1.72 WHIP)
Might be #1 on this list in the very near future. The Mariners received Sheffield in the James Paxton trade to the Yankees. He was ranked #9 on Keith Law’s Top 20 Impact players for 2019. I would expect a bigger contribution this season. Had 84 strikeouts in 88 innings with a 2.56 ERA and 1.16 WHIP for AAA Scranton two seasons ago. He has nothing left to prove in AAA and currently listed as the team’s #3 starter. You will love his Mid 90s fastball, mid 80s slider, low 80s changeup. All three pitches are elite. Great athlete and he can field his position. One of my top MLB starting pitcher sleepers for the 2020 season. Pitchers park alert. T-Mobile stadium ranked the 10th toughest in runs scored last season according to MLB park factors and 4th two years ago. Great value on draft day in the late rounds. Huge upside!
No. 4 Joey Lucchesi (NY Mets) AGE: 27 (2019: 10-10, 4.18 ERA, 1.22 WHIP)
Joey is physically opposing on the bump standing 6″5. He should improve quite a bit in his third season. Had 158 strikeouts in 163.2 IP. Both career highs. Joey held opposing hitters to a .233 batting average. Joey has a drop-and-drive delivery and extreme overhand arm slot, two opposing forces which creates an odd look for batters. His fastball sits in the low 90s, maybe touching 94 MPH at times. I would like to see more first pitch off-speed pitches this season. Petco Park was the 3rd toughest stadium in runs scored last season. This guy has the potential to reach double-digit wins with lots of strikeouts. Late round sleeper for sure!
No. 5 Jesus Luzardo (Oakland A’s) AGE: 23 (2019: 0-0, 1.50 ERA, 0.67 WHIP)
The A’s are very exited of what they will see from this highly touted prospect. He’s been awesome in Cactus league action giving up just 1 run in 8 innings thru Sunday, March 8th. Jesus throws in the upper 90s, with a tremendous slider, curveball, and change-up. Last year, he recorded 16 strikeouts in 12 innings pitched all in relief. The A’s depth chart has Luzardo penciled in as the team’s 4th starter. He might be on an innings limit this year, but the potential for a breakout season is there. The Oakland Coliseum ranked as the 4th toughest in runs scored last year. Look for 10-15 wins with more strikeouts than innings pitched in 2020. Late round sleeper with ginormous upside!
Jeff’s success in MLB is well-documented here, The Sports Monitor of OK and Sports Watch Monitor. Jeff was ranked #5 last season and #3 two years ago at The Sports Monitor of OK. Early Bird MLB package is now available. Written by Jeff Hochman of 10StarPicks.com.