Skip to main content

THE ACES

deGrom. Scherzer. Cole. Burnes. Buehler. These guys are highly coveted in fantasy baseball because we know what the numbers will look like at the end of the season.

But I am not here to write about those guys.

I’m here to talk about five pitchers who I believe you should target immediately in your dynasty league. Those who think ahead will be rewarded. 

What defines an ace in fantasy baseball? 

I’ll save you the trouble – A fantasy ace is who you set in your lineup and forget about. Benching is never an option — not at Coors or against the toughest of opponents.  

The ace will get and give you innings. Forget about wins. Jacob deGrom is arguably the best pitcher in baseball and even he can’t buy a win.

I’ve given you a very loose interpretation of what I believe is a fantasy ace. Now let me highlight the pitchers I believe could crack the top tier in next year’s drafts. More importantly, I’d try to buy now if you are in a dynasty league. 

I’m going off of Fangraphs 2022 projections in this article to help identify the next core of potential fantasy studs.  



Sandy Alcantara

Projections (2022) 12-11 / 200 IP / 3.59 ERA / 3.55 FIP / 3.67xFIP

(2021) 9-15 / 205.2 IP / 200 K / 50 BB / 3.19 ERA / 3.42 FIP / 3.45 xFIP 

Sandy’s been getting a ton of love from the fantasy baseball community lately.  Fangraphs’ Justin Mason currently has Alcantara ranked 12th (right after Nola) out of 200 SP’s in 2022. 

The Marlins also love him as evidenced by the five-year $56 million extension they agreed to just a few weeks ago. That type of commitment tells me the Fish are feeling good about Sandy going forward. 

Sandy Alcantara’s arsenal includes fice pitches. 

Sinker, slider, changeup, four-Seam fastball, and a curveball.

Why is this important? 

Pitchers who rely on a variety of pitches to get through a game have the advantage of mixing and matching.  Mixing the arsenal up keeps hitters guessing. Alcantara, as noted on the Statcast Pitch Arsenal chart, went to his sinker the most using it nearly 30% of the time. His slider usage sat at 24.1%, his changeup at 23.5%, and the ‘ol four-seamer at 21.6%. The curveball was the odd pitch out as he only used it 2.6% last season. 

Alcantara’s diverse pitch mix makes him an appealing candidate to take the next step in the coming season. 

In addition, Alcantara’s velocity on his four-seamer has steadily increased the past three seasons (2019: 95.6, 2020: 96.9 2021: 98.1)! Velocity increases are, without a doubt, a good thing.

Aaron Nola 

2022 projections 13-10 / 192 IP / 3.57 ERA / 3.51 FIP / 3.43 xFIP

2021 9-9 / 180.2 IP / 223 K / 39 BB / 4.63 ERA 3.37 FIP / 3.37 xFIP

There is a lot to like about Aaron Nola. Like Alcantara – Nola relies on five pitches. four-seam fastball, curveball, changeup, sinker, and cutter. 

On the surface, some of his 2021 stats don’t look particularly exciting, but this dude owned. He had a fantastic 223:39 K:BB ratio over his 180 innings of work. We love to see that.  

Nola attacked hitters with his four-seamer nearly 40% of the time, his curveball at 27%, and his changeup roughly at 20%. The Cutter was a pitch he barely relied on as he used it only 1.5% of the time. 

Nola’s fastball velocity was also up a tick in 2021 (92.5 vs. 92.3 / 2020). The 2021 peripherals (namely FIP and xFIP) suggest nothing is wrong here. Nola’s a fine pitcher to lead your fantasy staff. Draft with confidence after the big-name pitchers are off the board.  

Freddy Peralta

This is one guy who I am really high on.

2022 projections 11-9 / 163 IP / 3.82 ERA / 3.85 FIP / 3.94 xFIP 

2021 10-5 / 144.1 IP / 195 K /  56 BB / 2.81 ERA / 3.12 FIP / 3.66 xFIP

I’ll admit I am cheating a bit here because of a slight concern over workload, but we’ll get to that in a moment. 

I drool with excitement whenever I read about a pitcher working or refining a new pitch. Last winter I read that Peralta had been reworking his slider and using it during winter ball. 

The slider danced when he needed it to, but Peralta didn’t use it as much as I would have liked. 

Like Alcantara and Nola, Peralta does have a five-pitch arsenal. He primarily went to his four-seamer 51.6% of the time (accounting for well over 1000 pitches!). His reworked slider was used 26.4% (621 pitches), the curveball 10.9%, the change 9.8%, and the sinker only 1.3%.   

Peralta seems to get better as he gets older. His projections don’t seem particularly exciting in 2022, but if he begins to balance out the blazing fastball with his revamped slider – lookout. 

Don’t forget this is the same pitcher who made his debut punching out 13 Rockies at Coors Field. I would love to see him mix his pitches more, but his fastball is absolutely electric, and with it come the K’s.

 Set your target and pounce. 

HOT TAKES

What’s an article without a hot take? Here are two pitchers who I think have the ability to climb up on 2023 draft lists with their performances this year. 

Alek Manoah 

(2022) 10-8 / 147 IP / 4.12 ERA / 4.15 FIP / 4.13  xFIP

(2021) 9-2 / 111.2 IP / 127 K / 40 BB / 3.22 ERA / 3.80 FIP / 4.17 xFIP 

Alek Manoah made waves in the minor leagues right before his call up to the Blue Jays last year by posting a 27:3 K:BB ratio in 18 innings. 

On May 27th Manoah was called upon to face the Bronx Bombers for his first MLB start. He didn’t disappoint. Manoah went 6 innings and kept the Yanks to two hits and no runs while punching out seven and walking two.

I watched highlights and read about Manoah during last season’s spring training. He was impressive then giving the Jays a glimpse of what he could do at game time. Manoah caught my eye then. 

Manoah’s performance in the minor leagues caught my curiosity. His performance against the stacked Yankees lineup demanded my attention. 

Manoah’s four-pitch arsenal includes a four-seamer, which he used 36.2% of the time, a slider at 27.8%, a sinker at 26.7%, and a changeup at 9.4%. 

What stood out to me was how balanced his pitch usage was. He threw his four-seamer 667 times. His slider and sinker were used 512 and 492 times respectively. 

Manoah clearly has confidence in his stuff. I have no doubt he is a candidate to lead fantasy pitching staffs to glory as soon as next season and for many seasons to come. You should have bought him yesterday.

Max Fried

projections (2022) 12-10 / 185 IP / 158 K / 41 BB / 3.86 ERA / 3.91 FIP / 3.87 xFIP

(2021) 14-7 / 165.2 IP / 158 K / 41 BB/  3.04 ERA / 3.31 FIP / 3.45 xFIP 

If your team missed out on the pitchers I wrote about in this article then look no further than Mr. Fried. 

Fried got off to a slow start last year, which included a stint on the IL.  His healthy return to the mound led him to a 14 win season (19 QS) and ultimately a WS ring. He was a true innings-eater – he worked up to six innings or more 19 times in 2021.  His splits were strong. He went 7-3 at home with an ERA of 2.94. On the road, he was 7-4 with a 3.14 ERA.  The dude pitched well no matter where he was. 

His fastball velocity was up a tick last season at 93.8 vs. 93 in 2020. 

Fried, like the other pitchers in this article, relies on a variety of pitches (5). His arsenal includes a four-seam fastball, curveball, slider, sinker, and changeup. He attacked hitters with his four-seamer, curveball, and slider with regularity. He went to his fastball 39.1% of the time vs. his curve at 25.7% and his slider at 21.7%. 

Special note: 

I used Walker Buehler as a reference point when I wrote this article. Take a look at the numbers from 2020 + 2021 to see what I mean: 

Walker Buehler 

projections (2022) 13-9 / 198 IP / 3.80 ERA / 3.71 FIP / 3.69 xFIP

2020 16-4 / 207.2 IP / 2.47 ERA / 3.16 FIP / xFIP  

If Walker falls to you during your turn in a dynasty draft (startup) – No question he’s a sure-fire pick. The point I am trying to make is that for the first time in a long time pitching is the deepest it’s been. Even if you miss out on the top-tier aces there are enough reliable arms to get your team to the promised land at the end of the season.  

Thanks for reading! 

E

Join SPS Elite where you get access to our Discord chat, bonus articles, and much more!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: