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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL SLEEPER/DRAFT BUST: LANCE McCULLERS SP HOUSTON ASTROS

No you did not read the title incorrectly and no your eyes are not deceiving you.  For the first time in Fantasy Sports Boss history, a player has been given the spring designation of being a draft bust and also a draft sleeper.  In the case of hard-throwing Houston Astros pitching youngster Lance McCullers, the label certainly fits.

First lets start off with the good and why McCullers makes for perhaps a tremendous sleeper that could pay off big.  To this point in his first two abbreviated years in the majors, we have gotten the glimpse at a guy who has all the tools to be one of the next great power pitching aces.  McCullers is pretty much all heat all the time and it is impressive to say the least.  Still just 23, McCullers came up in 2015 and rocked a 9.24 K/9 rate and a 3.22 ERA in 125.2 innings in showing a blazing fastball that touched 100-mph.   This cameo set McCullers up as a big sleeper for the 2016 season on the idea he could then push himself up into the upper tier of starters given his incredible and overpowering fastball.  Well as these things often do, McCullers went the other way as he suffered not only an early shoulder injury which was troubling enough but also a late elbow ailment when he did finally make it back to the mound.  Those are the two biggest injury issues facing any pitcher and McCullers got them in the same season.  No doubt that the stress that McCullers puts on his joint in unleashing so many extreme fastballs played a role and this is why so many are also scared of the similarly built Noah Syndegaard.  In between the injuries though, McCullers overpowered MLB hitters again as he struck out an insane 11.78 K/9 amount of batters (30.1 percent overall) to go with another 3.22 ERA.  Alas McCullers lost all semblance of control as his 5.00 BB/9 was putrid and up from the 3.08 the had the year prior.  It is likely that McCullers' injuries played a role in his awful control last season but both are still big concerns.

Now on the surface, again McCullers is a massive talent who can strike out 200 batters in his sleep if he got the chance.  It is likely he will be on an innings count this season and there is also the big threat of more injuries to come which could derail another season.  This is why McCullers is in BUST territory leading into the season.  On the other hand, McCullers's talent is rare and he could very well make good on his promise with good health and land as a top 20 pitcher.  That is where the sleeper angle takes shape.  So in essence you as the drafter have to decide how lucky you feel you are and go with him or against him.  There is no in-between with this.

2017 PROJECTION:  11-5 3.18 ERA 1.32 WHIP 175 K  


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