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Fantasy Baseball Sleepers 2022 | Start These Sleeper & Breakout Players This Week

Is it just me, or were more pitchers getting lit up this week? Jesus Luzardo? Not great. Tylor Megill? Eek. Kyle Wright? More like Kyle Wrong.

On the other hand, we had a no-hitter from Reid Detmers, so maybe those were just blips on the map. Streaming pitchers can be risky because we are going after players who aren’t universally rostered, and there’s usually a reason for that.

What do I look for in identifying streamers? Well, I look at usage, pitch usage, change in velocity and pitch shape, and matchups. There are plenty of data points we can use to identify underachievers and overachievers, as well as pitching streamers to take advantage of on a week-by-week basis.

Let’s look ahead at some pitchers who are available in leagues for you to start in the upcoming week.

Fantasy Baseball Sleeper Starting Pitchers This Week

By Michael Waterloo

Josh Winder, Minnesota Twins

1 Start: @ Oakland Athletics

Full disclosure, I’m submitting this piece before Winder’s start against the Houston Astros. But even if the Astros blow him up, I feel comfortable using him in this spot against the A’s.

Winder’s a slider-first pitcher and has used that pitch, a curve, and a changeup to keep hitters off-balance and counteract his fastball, which batters have pummeled so far. Winder attacks the edges of the zone, which is a plus against an inept Oakland offense that has the highest strikeout rate in baseball.

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Dane Dunning, Texas Rangers

1 Start: vs Los Angeles Angels

I won’t lie, this matchup scares me. The Angels are clicking on all cylinders right now offensively and they are one of the most fun teams in baseball to watch. Even so, I’m trusting Dunning to return value in this start.

Dunning has allowed three runs or less in all six of his starts this year, including just four total over his last three outings. The former first-round draft pick has been living on the edges of the zone more, slightly increasing his whiff rate from last year while getting the opposition to pound the ball into the ground.

While the Angels lead MLB in home runs, they also lead MLB in strikeouts. This is the riskiest sleeper SP we’ve suggested so far, but I like the possible reward here.

Dakota Hudson, St. Louis Cardinals

1 Start: @ New York Mets

There isn’t much upside with Hudson, but he’s a solid floor option with a 3.56 ERA in six starts this year. He’s allowed three earned runs or less in all six of his outings this year, which gives him a good chance to win with a strong Cardinals offense behind him.

The Mets are a tricky matchup, but Hudson should be able to neutralize their lineup by keeping the ball on the ground, which he’s done on nearly 60% of batted balls this season. If you need a fill-in starter for the week, you could do worse than Hudson.

More Fantasy Streamers to Start

  • Hyun-jin Ryu, Toronto Blue Jays vs Cincinnati Reds
  • Tyler Wells, Baltimore Orioles vs Tampa Bay Rays
  • Michael Pineda, Detroit Tigers @ Cleveland Guardians
  • Kyle Bradish, Baltimore Orioles vs New York Yankees & vs Tampa Bay Rays

Fantasy Baseball Sleeper Hitters This Week

By Josh Shepardson

Many of these sleepers have favorable schedules next week. For a few hitters, that means a full slate of games.

However, some Colorado Rockies and San Francisco Giants position players found their way into this space with six-game schedules. Rockies hitters will benefit from a pair of three-game series at Coors Field. As for the Giants, they open the week at Coors before returning home for a three-game set.

Catcher: MJ Melendez, Kansas City Royals

The Royals play eight games next week, so Melendez should be busy. The bat-first backstop slugged 41 homers with a 1.011 OPS across two minor-league stops last year, so his upside is enormous.

He’s already gotten off to a good start with a .313 batting average and strong plate discipline during his first six games since being called up. Now that he’s starting to settle in, the 23-year-old rookie might make his presence known with authority next week.

  • Consider Starting: Elias Diaz, Colorado Rockies

First Base: Christian Walker, Arizona Diamondbacks

Walker’s .187 batting average is tough to stomach, but he’s ripped 13 extra-base hits while maintaining a solid walk and strikeout rate. Additionally, his batted-ball data hints at better days ahead.

Therefore, it’s worth taking a chance on Walker’s underlying numbers producing fantasy stats in the Diamondbacks’ forthcoming eight-game week.

  • Consider Starting: LaMonte Wade Jr., San Francisco Giants (also OF)

Second Base: Jorge Mateo, Baltimore Orioles (also SS/OF)

With nine steals in 10 attempts, Mateo is too valuable as a base thief to ignore in fantasy baseball leagues. His .243 average is tolerable and he has a bit of pop as well with nine extra-base hits, so don’t shy away from Mateo if you need speed.

  • Consider Starting: Jonathan Villar, Chicago Cubs (also 2B/3B/SS)

Third Base: Evan Longoria, San Francisco Giants

Longoria went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts in his return from the IL, but thankfully he has a few days to shake off the rust before next week’s games.

Longo is coming off one of his best offensive seasons in years (122 OPS+ last year) and should also benefit from a three-game series at Coors Field, where he has a career .303/.368/.574 slash line.

  • Consider Starting: Hunter Dozier, Kansas City Royals (also 1B/OF)

Shortstop: Jose Iglesias, Colorado Rockies (also 2B)

Iglesias isn’t the most exciting fantasy option, but he’s still a useful one with a .293 batting average since the beginning of 2019, including a .319 mark this year. His power and speed are lackluster, but his batting average moves the needle, especially in the current offensive climate. He also benefits from six games at Coors.

  • Consider Starting: Josh Rojas, Arizona Diamondbacks (also 2B/3B/OF)

Outfield: Alek Thomas, Arizona Diamondbacks

Thomas made his MLB debut on Mother’s Day and is already making waves, batting .385 with three extra-base hits over his first four games.

The 22-year-old outfielder has hit the ground running after tearing up Triple-A to the tune of a .996 OPS in 58 games there. After hitting for average and power in the minors with speed and on-base skills, Thomas appears ready for the big time. Hop aboard.

  • Consider Starting: Luis Gonzalez, San Francisco Giants; Mike Yastrzemski, San Francisco Giants; Brandon Nimmo, New York Mets

PREVIOUSLY: Fantasy Baseball Draft Sleepers 2022

Regardless of what type of league you play in, one of the most critical parts of draft prep is identifying top fantasy sleepers to target. Picking undervalued players with breakout or rebound potential who outperform their average draft position (ADP) — especially in later rounds — is key to having a successful season.

With that in mind, here are The Game Day’s best fantasy baseball sleepers for the 2022 season. In addition to choosing our top sleeper at every position, we’ve also highlighted our best fantasy hitter sleeper and best fantasy pitcher sleeper below.

Fantasy Baseball Draft Sleepers 2022

Frank AmmiranteAlejandro KirkBobby DalbecJean SeguraMatt ChapmanOneil CruzA.J. PollockDrew RasmussenRobert Suarez
Mike BarnerElias DiazBrandon BeltJonathan SchoopEduardo EscobarOneil CruzAndrew VaughnRanger SuarezPaul Sewald
Skyler CarlinElias DiazBrandon BeltJean SeguraAbraham ToroIsiah Kiner-FalefaAnthony SantanderJon GrayDylan Floro
Scott EngelJoey BartSpencer TorkelsonJeff McNeilAbraham ToroOneil CruzJesus SanchezTanner HouckDavid Bednar
Tyler MaherMitch GarverYuli GurrielJean SeguraMatt ChapmanJ.P. CrawfordMyles StrawMike ClevingerDavid Bednar
Kev MahserejianMitch GarverLuke VoitNick SolakMatt ChapmanHa-Seong KimAndrew VaughnYusei KikuchiJosh Staumont
Daniel PreciadoElias DiazCarlos SantanaNick SolakAlec BohmJose BarreroSteven KwanTylor MegillAnthony Bender
Jason RadowitzMax StassiFrank SchwindelGleyber TorresRyan McMahonBrandon CrawfordLane ThomasEduardo RodriguezPaul Sewald
Nick RobertsAdley RutschmanAlex KirilloffRyan McMahonJeimer CandelarioGleyber TorresMyles StrawHuascar YnoaWill Smith
Josh ShepardsonCarson KellyBrandon BeltJean SeguraEvan LongoriaBrandon CrawfordJorge SolerJoe RyanAndew Kittredge
Mike ThomsenMitch GarverLuke VoitKolten WongJosh DonaldsonOneil CruzBryan ReynoldsAaron AshbyRowan Wick
Chris WasselCarson KellyLuke VoitCavan BiggioMike MoustakasNicky LopezMichael ConfortoMarcus StromanGiovanny Gallegos
Michael WaterlooAlejandro KirkRowdy TellezCesar PrietoKevin SmithBryson StottAlex KirilloffEdward CabreraArt Warren

Fantasy Draft Sleeper Picks: Hitters

Oneil Cruz, SS, Pittsburgh Pirates

Cruz flashed a combination of speed and power across 62 games at Double-A last season with 12 home runs and 18 steals. He also cut his strikeout rate to 23.4% and batted .292 there before earning brief promotions to Triple-A (six games) and the majors (two games) at the end of the season.

The 23-year-old rookie is currently projected to be Pittsburgh’s starting shortstop. If he can hold onto that role, it wouldn’t be surprising for him to finish the season with at least 15 home runs and 15 steals. —Mike Barner

Cruz certainly doesn’t look like your prototypical shortstop, standing 6-foot-7 and cutting an imposing figure both in the field and at the plate. There’s a lot of power in that frame, though, which helped him launch his first MLB round-tripper during his brief cup of coffee last year.

If Cruz wins the Pirates’ starting shortstop job on Opening Day, he could deliver some helpful fantasy returns, especially in the power department. —Mike Thomsen

Mitch Garver, C, Minnesota Twins

Garver has been one of the best hitters in baseball over the past three seasons, slashing .254/.349/.546 with 46 home runs in 184 games. Per FanGraphs, his 135 wRC+ ranks 19th in MLB during that span among all players with at least 600 plate appearances, tied with superstars like Mookie Betts, Trea Turner, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

The main concern with Garver is injuries, as he’s yet to play more than 102 games in a season. If he can find a way to stay on the field, however, the 31-year-old slugger could finish as a top-5 fantasy backstop. —Tyler Maher

Alex Kirilloff, OF/1B, Minnesota Twins

Kirilloff was on his way to a productive rookie season last year before it was cut short by a wrist injury in July, leaving us all to wonder what might have been. Even so, he gave us a glimpse of his solid pop with 20 extra-base hits and 34 RBIs in just 59 games.

After undergoing wrist surgery, the former first-round draft choice will look to pick up where he left off.  If he stays healthy, the 24-year-old could return top-100 numbers. —Michael Waterloo

Kirilloff is seemingly healthy after battling a lingering wrist issue and is ready to become one of those notorious “post-hype sleepers” you always hear about. He didn’t do much in his first action last year, but Kirilloff has 25-homer power and enough speed to possibly get you 5-10 steals.

While he plays at two deep positions (1B/OF) depending on your league’s eligibility rules, you could find yourself with a steal if you’re willing to wait on him. —Nick Roberts

Alejandro Kirk, C, Toronto Blue Jays

Kirk has everything you want in a fantasy sleeper.

He hits the ball hard, ranking fourth in average exit velocity (92.3 MPH) among catchers with at least 150 plate appearances last year. He has terrific plate discipline as well, as evidenced by his 10.1% walk rate and 11.6% strikeout rate in 2021. Toronto’s lineup is also among the best in baseball, so there will be plenty of opportunities for runs and RBIs.

The only question mark for the 23-year-old is playing time, but that concern is overblown. Danny Jansen will retain a role due to his defensive skills, but Kirk should force his way into the lineup with his superior bat, which is capable of hitting .280 with 20+ homers. —Frank Ammirante

Steven Kwan, OF, Cleveland Guardians

Kwan is a lesser-known prospect despite an outstanding 2021 that saw him post a .934 OPS with 12 homers and 65 runs in 77 games split between Double-A and Triple-A. Thanks to his advanced approach at the plate and well-rounded skill set, the 24-year-old figures to open the season as a starter for the lowly Guardians.

Kwan has had multiple stops in the minors where he’s walked more than struck out — a good indicator of future success in the majors. He hasn’t shown a ton of power, but he should hit for a high average and steal some bases, making him a useful fantasy outfielder in deeper leagues. —Daniel Preciado

Evan Longoria, 3B, San Francisco Giants

Despite his name recognition as an established star, Longoria is being grossly undervalued. His ADP at the hot corner is outside the top-35, but he’s my 22nd-ranked third baseman.

After four straight seasons of middling performance, the three-time All-Star bounced back last year with his best offensive campaign since 2016. His 12.0% walk rate was the second-highest of his career and his 94.1 MPH average exit velocity was his highest by far since the Statcast era began in 2015.

Before dismissing his 2021 resurgence as a fluke, consider that the Giants’ current coaching staff has had the Midas Touch with other seemingly declining veterans such as Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, and Buster Posey. Whatever San Francisco’s coaching staff has been teaching is producing results for Giants hitters. —Josh Shepardson

Mike Moustakas, 3B, Cincinnati Reds

With the designated hitter now in both leagues, the expectation is that Moustakas will be the primary DH for Cincinnati. While defense has never been his strong suit, he still has plenty of pop in his bat at age 33 and is capable of belting 20+ homers for the sixth time in his career.

With less wear and tear from playing the field, Moose should be able to play more games and will likely see his batting average increase as well, resulting in more fantasy points per game. —Chris Wassel

Jesus Sanchez, OF, Miami Marlins

Sanchez showcased his impressive power potential with 14 home runs and a .238 ISO in just 64 games as a rookie last year. His 31.8% strikeout rate at the major league level is a concern, but his minor league track record offers hope for adjustments with regular playing time over a full season.

If the 24-year-old can improve his plate discipline enough, he’ll be less of a batting average drain and could get you 30 homers. His average exit velocity of 90.2 MPH last year was just a taste of his upside. —Scott Engel

Anthony Santander, OF, Baltimore Orioles

Santander came around after a slow start last year, batting .266/.302/.515 with 12 home runs in 46 games from Aug. 1 on. While his strikeout rate did tick up to 23.1%, he still finished the season in the 75th percentile in average exit velocity, 87th percentile in max exit velocity, and 73rd percentile in expected batting average.

With playing time not being an issue on a lackluster Orioles squad, Santander should see 550-600 plate appearances in the heart of Baltimore’s batting order (barring injury), making him a massive value in drafts right now. —Skyler Carlin

Lane Thomas, OF, Washington Nationals

Thomas will need to adapt against right-handed pitching, but against lefties he’s one of the best hitters in the world. While his career batting line is just .184/.287/.367 against righties, it’s an eye-popping .354/.454/.585 versus southpaws.

Can the 26-year-old make the adjustment? If he does, he’ll be one of the biggest breakout hitters in all of baseball, batting right in front of a guy named Juan Soto. —Jason Radowitz

Andrew Vaughn, OF, Chicago White Sox

Vaughn is an extremely skilled hitter who arguably should have gone first overall in the 2019 MLB Draft. Despite being in and out of the lineup last year, he held his own as a rookie and will likely be even better this year with more consistent playing time.

After showing solid power and plate discipline last season, Vaughn should continue to grow in his age-24 season with a full year of MLB plate appearances under his belt. Bet on his upside past pick 200. —Kev Mahserejian

Fantasy Draft Sleeper Picks: Pitchers

Aaron Ashby, SP, Milwaukee Brewers

Ashby is my choice to become the next great Brewers starting pitcher, making him a great sleeper selection for your staff. The lefty struck out 39 batters in 31 and 2/3 innings in his first MLB season last year after posting an absurd 14.2 K/9 rate in Triple-A.

After racking up an 11.0 K/9 rate in the minors, Ashby has outstanding swing-and-miss stuff. He’s the top prospect on one of the best pitching staffs in the league, so go out and get this guy late in your draft. —Mike Thomsen

David Bednar, RP, Pittsburgh Pirates

Bednar is simply a terrific value based on where he’s currently being drafted. It’s hard for Pittsburgh closers to generate much buzz these days, but Bednar is going to do the job well and slam the door consistently in any tight Pirates wins.

Bednar excelled in his first full season last year, compiling a 2.23 ERA, a 0.97 WHIP, an 11.4 K/9 rate, and a 3.19 xFIP. He should be good for 25+ saves this season and is a great later pick to combine with your top closers.

The 27-year-old righty is not being taken as a top-20 reliever in many leagues and will certainly outperform his draft range. —Scott Engel

Edward Cabrera, SP, Miami Marlins

Cabrera’s rookie season was a disaster last year, as he couldn’t command his fastball and allowed a lot of loud contact. It’s not the first time we’ve seen a young player struggle, however, and it typically takes pitchers longer to find their footing in the majors. He also showed promise with 28 strikeouts in 26 and 1/3 innings.

Cabrera has an exciting combination of skills and pedigree. He’ll face competition for innings from Miami’s arsenal of young pitchers, but he has the talent to grab a rotation spot and never look back. —Michael Waterloo

Mike Clevinger, SP, San Diego Padres

After missing all of last season due to his second career Tommy John surgery, Clevinger will look to reclaim his ace status with the Padres this year. Prior to his injury, he went 41-20 with a 2.96 ERA, a 1.15 WHIP, and a 10.2 K/9 rate across 489 and 1/3 innings from 2017-20.

While much of that success came with Cleveland, Clevinger should benefit from making half of his starts in Petco Park, which has historically rated as one of the sport’s most pitching-friendly venues. The 31-year-old will likely see his innings capped to ease the strain on his right arm, but his track record suggests he’ll be a huge boon to fantasy rotations if he stays healthy. —Tyler Maher

Giovanny Gallegos, RP, St. Louis Cardinals

Gallegos endured a rough transition to the closer role last year, but finished the season strong and played a key role in the Cardinals’ 17-game winning streak in September. He overcame those early struggles to convert 13 of his final 14 save opportunities and finish with an impressive 0.88 WHIP and 95 strikeouts in 80 1/3 innings.

The eight blown saves were a concern, but Gallego’s scintillating finish should give him confidence and job security heading into 2022. While he’s currently being drafted outside of the top 150, Gallegos has the stuff to finish in the top 125. —Chris Wassel

Jon Gray, SP, Texas Rangers

Sometimes a change of scenery is all a pitcher needs, especially when they pitch for the Colorado Rockies. Coors Field has long been a nightmare for pitchers, but Gray should have an easier time after signing with Texas during the offseason.

While Gray’s numbers fluctuated wildly with the Rockies, he’s always been one of the league’s better strikeout artists (career 9.2 K/9 rate) despite pitching half his games at altitude. If Gray can remain healthy in 2022, it’s hard not to envision his peripherals improving across the board in a slightly more pitching-friendly environment. —Skyler Carlin

Yusei Kikuchi, SP, Free Agent

Kikuchi has had a tumultuous start to his MLB career, but at least he’s trending in the right direction. His ERA and strikeout rate have both improved every year since he debuted with the Seattle Mariners in 2019.

While Kikuchi faded after a strong first half last year, he appears to be settling into the majors after a bumpy couple of years. He’s shown the ability to go deep into games and has compiled a solid 3.83 xFIP over his last 38 starts.

If Kikuchi keeps making strides, we could see him put it all together for a new team in 2022. —Kev Mahserejian

Tylor Megill, SP, New York Mets

Megill has tons of talent and an excellent repertoire for strikeouts, as evidenced by his 9.9 K/9 rate as a rookie last year. Despite an underwhelming 4.52 ERA last season (largely due to his fluky 18.8% HR/FB ratio), Megill’s 3.84 xERA points to better results this year, especially now that he has MLB experience under his belt.

Megill arrived in the majors with fewer than 150 professional innings, so he should only get better with time. The 26-year-old righty can be drafted past pick 300 in all formats and should be viewed as a strong value. —Daniel Preciado

Drew Rasmussen, SP, Tampa Bay Rays

It can be hard to keep up with all of Tampa Bay’s young pitching talent, but don’t sleep on Rasmussen. The main return in last year’s Willy Adames trade, Rasmussen notched a 2.44 ERA, a 2.86 FIP, and a 0.97 WHIP in 59 innings with the Rays after improving his walk rate from 6.4 BB/9 to 2.0 BB/9.

Tampa Bay knows how to develop pitchers, so it’s no surprise that Rasmussen is thriving there. The 26-year-old consistently posted monster strikeout rates in the minors and has a clear path to innings with Tyler Glasnow sidelined.

Take Rasmussen as a late-round flier to stabilize your rotation. —Frank Ammirante

Eduardo Rodriguez, SP, Detroit Tigers

Rodriguez had his ups and downs with the Red Sox, often frustrating fans with his inconsistency. While he never quite evolved into an ace, perhaps switching teams will do him some good.

Rodriguez won’t miss facing AL East opponents and should have more success in an easier division. He also stands to benefit from a much more pitching-friendly home park, especially for lefties.

With his numbers set to improve, E-Rod is a quality fantasy arm. —Jason Radowitz

Joe Ryan, SP, Minnesota Twins

I’m dumbfounded by the lack of love in the fantasy baseball community for Ryan. Despite his minor league success and strong debut season last year, he somehow has an ADP outside the top-60 starting pitchers — far below my ranking as the SP44.

After recording a 3.41 ERA, a 0.79 WHIP, and a jaw-dropping 12.5 K/9 rate in 66 innings at Triple-A last year, Ryan graduated to The Show and posted a 30:5 K/BB ratio with a 2.99 xERA and a 0.79 WHIP in 26 2/3 innings spanning five starts. Don’t be surprised when the 25-year-old rookie breaks out in 2022. —Josh Shepardson

Ranger Suarez, SP, Philadelphia Phillies

After shining in the bullpen last season, Suarez shifted to the starting rotation to close out the year. He was nothing short of spectacular there, registering a sparkling 1.51 ERA with a 1.08 WHIP and just under a strikeout per inning over his final 12 starts.

While it’s going to be hard for him to maintain those numbers over a full season, he clearly has the skills to be a starter based on his 2.72 FIP in 106 innings last year. The only downside here is that the 26-year-old will likely have his innings restricted, but that might not be a major issue depending on how long the lockout lasts. —Mike Barner

Huascar Ynoa, SP, Atlanta Braves

Ynoa had his struggles last season, but the 24-year-old has amazing stuff based on last year’s 9.9 K/9 rate and could be a league-winner that you can get at the end of your draft. While there’s a downside here in that he may not throw more than 125-150 innings, Ynoa should give your fantasy team a strikeout boost. —Nick Roberts

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