2024 Fantasy Baseball Late Round Targets: Strikeouts

Wrap up your draft by picking these arms with high strikeout upside.

Late-round starting pitchers can make or break your whole fantasy season. If you hit on a couple of your late picks you can land phenomenal value, turning a selection that many other managers wind up dumping to the waiver wire weeks later into a consistent producer all year long.

Each year there are fun late-round pitchers to give your team a boost. All of these pitchers had an ADP of 290 or later last year – Zach Eflin, Mitch Keller, Tarik Skubal, Bailey Ober, Kyle Bradish, Justin Steele, and more.

In this article, we’ll hone in not just on solid late-round options, but on pitchers that can give your fantasy squad a needed boost to your strikeout numbers. I’m defining “late round” as players with an ADP around the 200 mark or higher.


Hunter BrownHouston Astros

2024 ADP: NFBC P68, 177 Overall / ESPN P55, 151 Overall / Yahoo! 170 Overall / CBS 178 Overall

At times last year, Brown looked utterly dominant. At other times, he looked like he didn’t belong in a big league rotation. He reached the All-Star break sporting a 4.12 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, and a 28.1% strikeout rate through 94 innings – very respectable numbers for a 24-year-old rookie. Unfortunately, things got a whole lot worse from there.

In the second half of the season, Brown tossed 61.2 ugly innings. All of his numbers were much worse – a 6.57 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, and 24.8% strikeout rate. Ouch. Those numbers have left a bad taste in the mouths of fantasy managers leaving Brown to come off the draft board around pick 170, but there’s still a ton to like here.

Brown’s 155.2 total innings last year topped his previous professional high by about 30 innings, and you have to wonder how much fatigue played a role in those results. Additionally, his HR/9 moved from 0.86 before the Mid-Summer Classic to 2.48 afterward. That was the 10th-highest mark among pitchers with at least 50 second-half innings.

Brown has a five-pitch arsenal and the three pitches that combine to make up over 90% of his total offerings – a four-seamer, curveball, and slider – all grade out as above average according to both PLV and Stuff+.

Even if Brown doesn’t become a fantasy ace, he’s one of the best late-strikeout targets. His 27.1% punch out rate last year was 22nd in baseball, and there’s plenty of room for continued growth as he enters his age-25 season.


Cristian JavierHouston Astros

2024 ADP: NFBC P69, 179 Overall / ESPN P58, 158 Overall / Yahoo! 163 Overall / CBS 176 Overall

Javier is tied together with Brown not just by sharing a real-life rotation, but also because they often go right next to each other in fantasy drafts.

A 2.54 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, and 33.2% strikeout rate in 2022 followed by a dominant postseason run made Javier the darling of fantasy drafters everywhere last spring. He had an ADP of 56 in NFBC drafts last March. This year, you’re getting over a 100-pick discount on that price, but for good reason.

Javier struggled in 2023 with a 4.56 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, and 23.1% strikeout rate. Ok numbers for a back-of-the-rotation arm, but not for someone who was a trendy Cy Young pick before the season started. The 26-year-old righty lost a tick on his fastball last year as well as about 100 RPM on his two primary offerings, leading to a significant drop in chase and swinging-strike rates with his slider.

The Astros are one of the organizations I have the most confidence in to get the most out of their pitchers’ arsenals, so a winter of work could pay dividends for Javier. He also reported to camp 15 pounds lighter to help improve his delivery. A bounce-back campaign that lands Javier between his 2022 and 2023 seasons is on the table, and if he can do it, he’ll be a bargain this late in drafts and could get back to a mid-to high-20s strikeout rate.


Charlie MortonAtlanta Braves

2024 ADP: NFBC P86, 229 Overall / ESPN P68, 185 Overall / Yahoo! 200 Overall / CBS 232 Overall

Morton is one of the best late-round strikeout options. Since arriving in Atlanta for the 2021 season, Morton’s 27.5% strikeout rate is the 19th best among qualified starters, and he’s eclipsed 200 strikeouts in two of those three seasons.

The biggest question surrounding the 40-year-old is obvious: health. His track record in that department is spotty at best, and of course, as one of the oldest pitchers in the game, there’s an inherent risk here.

The good news is that even if Morton misses time and doesn’t have the significant workload of a frontline starter, his above-average strikeout rate will quickly rack up the punchouts for your squad when he is on the mound. He’ll be especially helpful in head-to-head leagues where he can have an outsized impact on the matchups he’s healthy for.

Morton’s become one of my favorite late targets on teams built around early-round low-strikeout guys like George Kirby or Logan Webb.


Reid DetmersLos Angeles Angels

2024 ADP: NFBC P90, 238 Overall / ESPN P76, 194 Overall / Yahoo! 249 Overall / CBS 244 Overall

In three years at the big league level, Detmers has continually posted better strikeout numbers. In a limited 20-inning stint in 2021, he struck out just 18.8% of the batters he faced, but that number has increased to 22.6% and then 26.1% in his first two full seasons as a starter. Last year’s mark was the 31st best among qualified starters.

Detmers’ most used offering is his four-seamer. Although the pitch gained a tick of velocity and saw a meaningful jump in PLV, it generated fewer swinging strikes and suffered worse contact results. The wise Nick Pollack believes it’s due to the mediocre pitch shape that he highlighted in his Top 400 Starting Pitchers for 2024 article.

I’m still hopeful for Detmers to reach another level. He’s still just 24 years old and will be in his third full season with the big league club. Maybe he fixes that fastball shape or maybe the changeup he started tossing 30% of the time over his final four starts sparks growth.

Whether 2024 proves to be the year it all clicks for Detmers or not, his current profile features enough strikeout upside to make a difference for your team at his current going rates, and there’s still reason to believe there could be more left for him to unlock.


Kyle HarrisonSan Francisco Giants

2024 ADP: NFBC P94, 254 Overall / ESPN P105, 254 Overall / Yahoo! 238 Overall / CBS 227 Overall

Harrison was one of many heralded starting pitching prospects to debut last season, and he handled himself well in his first taste of MLB action. He tossed 34.2 innings to the tune of a 4.15 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 23.8% strikeout rate, and 7.5% walk rate.

The Giants’ young lefty lives and dies with his four-seamer. He threw it at a 61% clip last year with phenomenal VAA and extension. The pitch worked wonders against righties but struggled against lefties. His second-most used pitch is a curveball that carries solid numbers – a 30% CSW% and 38.9% ICR. PLV loves both pitches, grading the fastball in the 77th percentile and the curveball in the 95th percentile. Harrison also tosses an unnotable changeup and sinker sparingly and worked on developing a cutter this winter.

PLV isn’t the only thing that likes Harrison. Many projection systems are pointing to a nice jump in his strikeout rate in his first full season as an MLB starter. ATC projects him for a 26.1% strikeout rate, the 32nd best among starters.

San Francisco’s rotation is utter chaos after Logan Webb, so Harrison should be locked in as a full-time starter. The Giants don’t always stick to conventional starting pitching roles, but Harrison is likely their next man up after Webb, and I don’t think they can get by without at least two starters they plan to handle 5+ innings each time out.


Nick LodoloCincinnati Reds

2024 ADP: NFBC P101, 267 Overall / ESPN P128, 258 Overall / Yahoo! 213 Overall / CBS 227 Overall

If Lodolo puts together a mostly healthy season, he’s an absolute steal in this range. It may be hard to forget that 6.29 ERA from 2023, but it was over just a seven-start stretch. He flashed brilliance in 2022, putting together a 3.66 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, and a 29.7% strikeout rate – the 14th-highest among all pitchers with at least 100 innings.

Lodolo’s been stuck doing bullpen work this spring while trying to get his leg back to 100%, but he should be appearing in a Cactus League game soon. Reds’ manager David Bell said that if everything goes well, Lodolo will be ready by Opening Day.

It’s hard to bet on a best-case scenario, but if you’re behind on strikeouts in the final rounds of your draft, there probably isn’t a better option than going after Lodolo. You just have to hope for the best health outcome or be in a league with IL slots to give you the flexibility you may need to roster him.


MacKenzie GoreWashington Nationals

2024 ADP: NFBC P105, 276 Overall / ESPN P140, 259 Overall / Yahoo! 250 Overall / CBS 255 Overall

Gore has nearly identical PLV projections to Harrison – a 4.15 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, and 25.8% strikeout rate. Those are legit numbers for a pitcher you’re drafting with one of your final picks, and the upside for Gore to become more is clear.

We saw legitimate growth from Gore’s first to second season. He moved his strikeout rate from 23.3% to 25.9% and his walk rate from 12% to 9.8%. There are legitimate changes to support those improvements too – a better CSW%, a four-seamer he located up in the zone more often, and a slider that he learned to command much better. Additional steps forward are certainly still in play.

Gore tossed a career-high 136.1 innings last year, so he should be set up for as full of a workload as he can handle. He struck out 151 batters last year, so a 200-strikeout campaign isn’t out of the question if he pushes 170+ innings.


Lance LynnSt. Louis Cardinals

2024 ADP: NFBC P117, 301 Overall / ESPN P84, 238 Overall / Yahoo! 242 Overall / CBS 303 Overall

We’re now two years removed from Lynn’s last great season, and if you guffawed at seeing his name included on this list, I don’t blame you. Last year was not kind to the veteran right-hander.

Lynn finished 2023 with an ugly 5.73 ERA split between 119.2 innings with the White Sox and 64 innings as a Dodger. Although his overall results were poor, he did maintain his strikeout stuff, punching out 191 batters along the way.

Expecting Lynn to bounce back to the best version of himself is a mistake as he enters his age-36 season, but is he really as bad as the results indicated last year? Probably not. Most projection systems see him pitching to a 4.40-4.50 ERA.

Lynn signed with the Cardinals this offseason and a return to where he began his big league career 13 years ago may inject some life in his arm. With the litany of pitching issues St. Louis faced last year – including the recent injury to fellow offseason signee Sonny Gray – the team should be pushing Lynn for as many innings as he can throw. There may be some ugly ratio starts along the way, but Lynn will be on the mound often and could threaten 200+ strikeouts again.


Jon GrayTexas Rangers

2024 ADP: NFBC P118, 309 Overall / ESPN P96, 249 Overall / Yahoo! 247 Overall / CBS 325 Overall

It seems like once each year Gray flashes elite stuff for a long enough stretch that I just can’t quit drafting him the following winter. From May 8th through June 24th last year, Gray posted a 1.97 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, and a 26.6% strikeout rate over an eight-start period. His overall numbers wound up much worse than that – 4.12 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, and a career-worst 21.6% strikeout rate.

Gray’s largely a two-pitch guy, tossing his four-seamer and slider as more than 80% of his offerings. The fastball’s just about average, but when he’s locating it well, he can go on those magnificent runs and overwhelm batters with his wipeout slider. The problem is that he’s lacked consistent command to reach new heights for a full season.

It seems unlikely that better command shows up during his 10th season, but it’s not fully out of the question. If he can do it for extended periods, I believe he can put it together for a full season. With the Rangers employing so many injured pitchers, Gray will play a pivotal role for the defending champs.


DL HallMilwaukee Brewers

2024 ADP: NFBC P124, 333 Overall / ESPN P157, 259 Overall / Yahoo! 246 Overall / CBS 324 Overall

If Hall lands a spot in the Brewers starting rotation, I love the strikeout upside he brings to the table this late in drafts. In 33 big league innings spread out over the last two years, Hall struck out 29% of the batters he faced.

Hall’s gotten rave reviews from his new teammates for his nasty offerings. Sure, it’s happening on the practice field, but we’ve seen it translate to the big league mound already, and we may have a chance to see it again from him this year as a starter.

ATC projects Hall for a 29% strikeout rate, the seventh-highest projection for any starter.


Robbie RaySan Francisco Giants

2024 ADP: NFBC P208, 662 Overall / ESPN P252, 260 Overall / Yahoo! 252 Overall / CBS 320 Overall

I don’t think you need a deep dive into Ray to know the kind of strikeout potential in his arm. Since breaking onto the scene in 2015, only Max Scherzer and Gerrit Cole have struck out more batters than Ray.

If you have a couple of IL slots in your league, I love the idea of drafting Ray and stashing him until he’s back on the mound after the All-Star break. He could be a much-needed boost to your fantasy squad’s pitching staff in the season’s final weeks.


Photos courtesy of Icon Sportswire
Adapted by Kurt Wasemiller (@KUWasemiller on Twitter / @kurt_player02 on Instagram

Mark Steubinger

Mark loves everything talking and writing about baseball - from every fantasy league format you can imagine to the unending greatness of Mike Trout. Mark has a degree in Sports Communication from Bradley University and works in radio production. He lives in central Illinois where his TV is permanently tuned to Chicago Cubs games.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Account / Login