A lot attention is spent talking and thinking about the the best starters in fantasy baseball — and for good reason. But, that doesn’t mean that fantasy players should neglect the end of the draft. There’s value to be had in the later rounds, and here are five sleepers that could turn into gifts for fantasy owners this year.
Related: 2023 MLB Fantasy: Ranking the Top 30 Starting Pitchers
For sleepers, we like to look for players who are available in more than 50% of leagues. A name that’s available in over 90% of Yahoo! leagues that’s worth watching is Tigers LHP Matthew Boyd. Boyd returned to the Detroit Tigers this past winter, a place where he struck out a career-high 238 hitters in 2019. The 32-year-old spent most of last year recovering from flexor tendon surgery, but did look fine in his return with Seattle.
Armed with his signature slider and a refined changeup, Boyd’s looked good in the spring. The Tigers left-hander has struck out 17 over his first nine Grapefruit League frames.
Diamondbacks pitcher Drey Jameson has not had a perfect run through Spring Training thus far, but that doesn’t erase his potential. Jameson looked terrific in a brief stint in Arizona last season. The right-hander struck out 24 over 24.1 IP over the final month of the regular season. Not to mention, his 1.48 ERA ranked as the tenth-best (out of 130) in all of MLB in that stretch (min. 20 IP).
Rookie pitchers can be risky. But, Jameson’s stuff gives him a good chance to do well in his first full season.
Twins RHP Kenta Maeda will look to get back on track after he missed all of 2022 recovering from UCL reconstruction surgery. Maeda’s first season in Minnesota was phenomenal. After being traded to Minnesota from Los Angeles, Maeda went 6-1 with a 2.70 ERA and 80 strikeouts over 66.2 IP. The right-hander couldn’t replicate those results in 2021, but his stuff that stymie both left and right-handed hitters in the past can’t be ignored.
Owned in about 30% of Yahoo! leagues, Maeda has the stuff to be a nice value pick late in drafts.
New Giants pitcher Ross Stripling may have a tough time getting to double digits in wins this year, but he should be able to help for those who will need to eat up some innings. Stripling rode his splitter and curve to a 3.01 ERA with Toronto last season. The 33-year-old also possesses above-average control, an asset that keeps the WHIP down.
Stripling isn’t a strikeout machine, but should be able to accumulate a fair amount nonetheless.
On a Phillies roster that boasts incredible talent in the lineup, RHP Taijuan Walker might be a tad bit undervalued entering the 2023 season. A 2021 All-Star with the Mets, Walker can miss bats with a potent split-change, or a slider.
Walker went 12-5 with a 3.49 ERA and 132 strikeouts over 157.1 IP. The 30-year-old can be a nice source of wins in both H2H and roto leagues.