It doesn’t feel much like baseball season here in the northeast right now, but we’re playing games anyway. If anything the chilly weather can help pitching. Not all these guys are in cold weather cities, but these 10 young arms are full of breakout potential this season. (Click here for 2016 breakout position players).
10. Mike Wright
Baltimore Orioles — RHP
Wright was below average in limited time during the 2015 season. He was even flat out bad at times, finishing with a 3-5 record and a 6.04 ERA. Let’s call it a limited sample size — 44.2 innings while striking out 26 batters. Wright has the potential to be more like his minor league-self this season, where he went 9-1 with a 2.22 ERA in 2015.
9. Andrew Heaney
Los Angeles Angels — LHP
Heaney is a former No. 9 overall pick in the draft by Miami. After a rough seven game stint with the Marlins in 2014, Heaney seemed to bounce back strong for the Angels. Heaney went just 105 innings in 2015, but started 18 games and finished with a 6-4 record (3.49 ERA). If he makes a couple more starts this season and shows the ability to pitch deeper into games, he has some fantasy value.
8. Jake Odorizzi
Tampa Bay Rays — RHP
Odorizzi actually has been up in the majors since 2012 with KC and Tampa, but has become a full-time starter for the Rays the last two seasons. Odorizzi has been consistently getting better during his major league career, reaching a career best for innings (169.1) and ERA (3.35) in 2015. He’s still just 26 years old and seems to be on the right path, so watch for this kid to approaching 200 innings while continuing to lower his ERA in 2016.
7. Aaron Sanchez
Toronto Blue Jays — RHP
After bursting onto the scene in 2014 (24 relief appearances/1.09 ERA), Sanchez helped the Jays both as a starter and out of the pen last year. In total, Sanchez pitched in 41 games/92.1 innings and went 7-6 with a 3.22 ERA. Sanchez has a chance to use his potential to settle into a nice starting role with Toronto this season.
6. Aaron Nola
Nola might be just 22-years old, but he came on strong at the end of last season for a horrible Phillies squad. After being called up, he managed to go 6-2 in 13 starts while allowing an ERA of 3.59. Nola should improve while getting a full season under his belt in 2016.
Philadelphia Phillies — RHP
5. Raisel Iglesias
Cincinnati Reds — RHP
A glance at the stat sheet and you might not see much from Iglesias that catches your eye — he went 3-7 last season with a pedestrian 4.15 ERA. But dig a little deeper and you’ll notice his 104 strikeouts over 95 innings along with an average of .228 for opposing batters. Iglesias has all the tools to take a big step in 2016 and simply have a bit more luck.
4. Carlos Rodon
Chicago White Sox — LHP
Read any “2016 MLB breakout players” article and you’ll probably see Rodon’s name on the list. I’d love to be different, but he belongs here. He had a very solid 2015 going 9-6 for the White Sox, posting a 3.75 ERA while striking out a batter per inning over 139 innings pitched. At only 23 years old, Rodon is expected to take a leap this season.
3. Luis Severino
New York Yankees — RHP
Like Rodon, this is another obvious one. Severino isn’t getting all the hype because he’s on the Yankees, the kid’s legit. In 11 starts last season Severino struck out 56 batters over 62.1 innings, going 5-3 with just a 2.89 ERA. This 22-year old has big-time potential for 2016, with an even higher ceiling beyond.
2. Steven Matz
New York Mets — LHP
Matz is in the perfect position to succeed this season. In six regular season starts last year, Matz went 4-0 with a 2.27 ERA. Factor in his World Series experience along with the fact that he’s still buried behind all the aces in the Mets’ rotation (combined with Zack Wheeler returning at some point) and Matz becomes an afterthought. No pressure and all the talent … Matz is in a great spot to perform.
1. Marcus Stroman
Toronto Blue Jays — RHP
Stroman is a big name, but he still hasn’t proven that he’s an ace for a full season. He’s also never had the chance to. Stro was shifted into a starting role back in 2014 and was mediocre. Since then he’s been fantastic … in five regular season starts. He allowed just eight runs in 35 innings while opponents struggled to hit .200 against him. His price tag may already be there, but he’s worth it. If healthy, Stroman is an elite ace in 2016. If you can’t find it in the numbers, just remember Toronto preferred this kid on the mound in pressure playoff situations over David Price.
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