The top tiers have been the subject of discussion over the past couple of weeks, those aces and SP3/4 you may find forming a part of your fantasy rotation(s) as we head into the 2023 season. There comes a point in every draft, however, where the fantasy owner has to decide on those arms that will fill out the final roster slots designated for pitchers or alternatively, bench spots that may or may not be filled with starting pitchers.  With the way of the baseball world and teams’ use of the IR slot, it pays to have an extra arm or two in reserve on your roster, just a suggestion. And below, are some late round options for you to consider picking up late in your fantasy drafts. The ADP and projections are current as of the writing of this article, and it should be anticipated that those numbers will change as spring training progresses. Keep up to date on these SPs and the rest of the baseball player universe by checking out the FREE Fantasy Alarm 2023 MLB Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide.



José Berríos, Toronto Blue Jays (ADP: 212.82)


The Blue Jays banked big on Berrios continuing to be a dominant starter when they traded for him in 2021, but last season certainly did not work out as anticipated, with the righthanded posting the worst ERA and WHIP of qualified starters. With that spectacular fail in his portfolio, it is not a huge surprise he is going late in early drafts; it is sort of a shock his ADP is as high as it is (name recognition, perhaps?). If he can live up to the projections set forth above, though, going in the final third of fantasy drafts will make him a fantastic bargain. The Blue Jays, and those fantasy owners willing to take a gamble on his return to his former level of prowess, certainly hope that 

Edward Cabrera, Miami Marlins (ADP: 222.22)


Early word out of the Miami Marlin grapevine is that the team is considering a six-man rotation this season. If so, the projected innings pitched for the 24-year-old righthander could be in the cards. If the team opts to install newly signed veteran Johnny Cueto and second-year southpaw Braxton Garrett as the back end of a five-starter staff, then Cabrera will be a luxury on your rosters unless and until injuries force the Marlins to find a replacement SP. Given the state of the durability (or lack thereof) of major league baseball players, a spot in the rotation seems a likely possibility this season at some point for Cabrera. Patience may be necessary, but his skill set would reward those who can afford to grant him a bench slot.

Alex Cobb, San Francisco Giants (ADP: 235.18)


The veteran is back in San Francisco, where he enjoyed success after stumbling to open the 2022 campaign. He collected a career-high 151 Ks over a respectable 149.2 IP, and those came as he came to rely on his splitter over his four-seam fastball and curve, and word out of early camp is that he is seeking to add a cutter and slider into the pitching repertoire he presents to opposing hitters. Health for the 35-year-old righty, given his recent history prior to a healthy 2022, but if he can continue to take the ball every fifth day, the projections above seem reasonable, even a bit pessimistic, for a SP slated to be the SP2/3 option for the Giants, especially pitching in a favorable pitchers’ park for his home outings.

Hunter Brown, Houston Astros (ADP: 253.98)


The Astros have demonstrated a propensity to develop and nurture young pitchers over recent history, so banking on the hard-throwing rookie righthander as a late-round selection this season seems like a potential game-changing move, given his propensity to miss bats (9.74 K/BB rate in limited action last September). He looks to have a back-of-the-rotation slot heading into the spring, with Lance McCullers expected to be on the IR to open the campaign. The innings projection above may be a bit light, but also expect that the Houston brain trust will be reluctant to overtax this young arm. His ability to generate more than an average number of groundballs also plays into his effectiveness.

Garrett Whitlock, Boston Red Sox (ADP: 271.56)


Whitlock is coming off off-season hip surgery but is participating in early fielding drill this spring, and is expected to open the season as part of the Red Sox rotation. The team employed the 26-year-old righthander equally as a reliever and starter in his rookie season, but Boston also acquired additional bullpen help in the form of Kenley Jansen and Chris Martin, so Whitlock is slated as of now to be part of the starting staff for the Red Sox. The zero quality start projection reflects the suspicion that he will not be allowed to pitch deep into games, but his innings should be quality frames for his owners nonetheless.

Justin Steele, Chicago Cubs (ADP: 273.92)


Steele’s 2022 performance: 3.18 ERA, 126 Ks over 119.0 IP demonstrates the potential he possesses and it looks early on in the spring as though he will slot in as the No. 3 starter for the Cubs, behind Marcus Stroman and Jameson Taillon. The back issue that sidelined him during the last month or so of the 2022 season may be a factor in pushing down his draft position, but all indications are that he is ready to compete in the middle of the Cub rotation in 2023. The IP projection above may turn out to be conservative, if the team is willing to let him take a regular schedule of starts as a middle rotation starter. Another positive factor is his groundball inducing abilities, which will help him continue to avoid allowing opposing batters to clear the fences.

Eduardo Rodriguez, Detroit Tigers (ADP: 302.58)


We are now sliding into the range where the pitchers being profiled here, depending on your league size and the roster slots employed in the league format, may be available on the wire or as free agents following your draft. Rodriguez was a big move for the Tigers when they added him to their roster last season, and circumstances prevailed to diminish his impact tremendously. He was only toeing the rubber for the Tigers in 17 games last season, due to early season injury issues, and then him not being with the team due to taking time off to mentally regroup. Ideally, he will slot in as an innings eater middle-of-the-rotation starter, but his track record does not inspire extreme confidence. He is more of a streaming matchup option than a SP you plug in regardless of the venue and/or opponent. 

Hayden Wesneski, Chicago Cubs (ADP: 321.1)


Depending on how exactly the Cub rotation shakes out coming out of the spring, the rookie righthander (he has but 33 IP under his belt at the major league level) may be the final cog in the Chicago rotation, at least until Kyle Hendricks returns to action. He was impressive in his limited time as a starter/reliever last season, but there is the small sample size to consider, plus his underlying metrics point to some negative regression in his future, as the 83.9% LOB and .244 BABIP are likely unsustainable over more time on the hill. He is one to keep an eye on this spring, to jump on if he makes the Cubs' rotation when the team begins playing for keeps in the regular season.

Brandon Pfaadt, Arizona Diamondbacks (ADP: 363.8)


The 24-year-old righty split his 2022 season between Double-A Amarillo and Triple-A Reno, racking up 218 Ks over his 167 IP. There is due to be a fall off in the rate of strikeout production once he makes the move to the major league level of competition, but this is a pitcher that can miss a significant number of bats at whatever level he plays. He will need to impress during the spring to make the club on opening day, but you should anticipate his arrival as a member of the Diamondback rotation in 2023. For those in leagues with deep benches, taking a chance on Pfaadt is a worthwhile gamble so long as his ADP stays at the current level.

Domingo Germán, New York Yankees (ADP: 432.03)


Due to some injuries before the start of spring training suffered by Frankie Montas (shoulder) and Nester Cortes (hamstring), German has a real shot to make the fifth slot in the Yankee rotation. He offers decent strikeout production and his control aids in keeping his WHIP in highly useful territory. Granted, there has been some tarnish to his star since he was a valued fantasy asset back in 2019, and injuries have contributed to his problems. The split usage as starter and reliever does not seem to mesh well with his skill set, either, so if he can lock up a back-of-the-rotation role for a strong team such as the Yankees, and he keeps sticking around to the final rounds, he is a true sleeper option for this season.

Graham Ashcraft, Cincinnati Reds (ADP: 532.8)


Ashcroft is a pitcher offering high ceiling potential for essential no cost whatsoever in your drafts. He should be off your league opponents’ radar with that ADP, He features a high-90s fastball, yet does not pitch with enough dominance to feature as a high-strikeout arm. There is potential available for the 25-year-old righthander, but that will depend on his ability to develop his other pitches. He is locked in as the third starter heading into spring training, but that is for the Cincinnati Reds and that means he pitches in a non-pitcher friendly home park. If he makes you roster as an extreme end of the draft pick, he is not exactly an every-start useful SP, but rather one that should be used selectively depending on venue and opponent. Still, the cost is minimal and the ceiling could be high.

There will always be a point in your drafts where you need to choose between options that make you less than fully satisfied. If you are selecting pitchers late in drafts, the hope is that your choices live up to their potential, and are not mistakes that you will jettison in the first month of action. We all make poor picks, but if the cost is low, then the pain of working to correct your mistaken assumptions is much more bearable. There are other values you will find during your drafts, but the above are some options to consider if you are stumped during the pressure of the draft experience.



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