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Sunday, January 17, 2016

2016 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: LANCE McCULLERS SP HOUSTON ASTROS

Sometime it is just obvious a guy is going to be a star.  A top notch performer.  A future top tier fantasy baseball draft pick.  One such guy who has that "It Factor" is young Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers who was a 22-year-old made his debut during the 2015 to rave reviews.  What was not to like as McCullers justified his hype as a top Astros pitching prospect by firing off a 3.22 ERA and 1.19 WHIP while striking out 129 batters in 125.2 innings pitched in the hear of a playoff push last season.  Now having easily locked up a rotation spot for the start of the 2016 season, let's see why we think McCullers is an absolute must have for fantasy baseball purposes. 

The strikeout is the main weapon here for McCullers who rocked an insane 13.50 K/9 IP in his 32 innings at Double-A last season before getting the call to Houston.  Prior to that, McCullers had over a 10.00 K/9 both in 2013 and 2014 as well in the Astros system.  Clearly McCullers has the power arsenal that generates a high percentage of strikeouts and swings and misses and that will continue on into the majors as he showed in 2015.  This is a future 200-K dynamo and only an innings cap will hold McCullers back from reaching that level this season. 

In terms of the ERA and WHIP, McCullers has star written all over him in both categories as well.  Going along with his power stuff, McCullers is very tough to get a hit off of as he gave up only 106 hits in his 125. innings with the Astros last season.  Possessing a top 98-mph fastball and knee-buckling offspeed stuff, McCullers is a real chore for hitters to go up against.  About the only issue you can have with McCullers is the fact he struggles with his control as almost every single other young power pitcher does.  McCullers had a high 3.08 BB/9 IP last season but he figures to cut into that as he further develops.  When that happens, McCullers will go to the 2.50 ERA and 1.15 WHIP territory.  While that doesn't figure to happen this season, McCullers may not be that far off from that area code in terms of his numbers. 

When you put it all together, Lance McCullers is about as promising a young arm as here is for 2016 fantasy baseball.  We want McCullers on every team possible this season and we firmly suggest reaching a round or two early to ensure he is on your roster. 

2016 PROJECTION:  14-8 3.08 ERA 1.20 WHIP 188 K 

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