2024 Fantasy Baseball Pitcher Tips: Dark-horse Cy Young candidates to prioritize in drafts

Go here for my dark-horse HR leaders.

Tyler Glasnow, Los Angeles Dodgers 15/1 

Glasnow’s odds have dropped from 20/1 as recently as last week, so he's looking more like a value now than a true dark horse. Spencer Strider enters as the rightful favorite to win the Cy Young award this season, but Glasnow’s skills and stuff aren’t far behind. He also now gets to pitch in the NL West and for a Dodgers team that’s going to provide a ton of run support. Health remains the obvious issue, but Glasnow enters fully healthy and finally over his one arm injury that took years to properly diagnose.

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Glasnow has seen major “helium” in some fantasy drafts, but he remains a bargain in Yahoo with a 41.1 ADP over the last week. Glasnow's middling start in South Korea shouldn't have a big effect on his Cy Young odds or ADP.

Blake Snell, San Francisco Giants 25/1

Snell landed in a good spot to attempt to repeat as the Cy Young winner, as San Francisco is a pitcher’s park (thanks in part to weather) that’s decreased homers a near MLB-high 16% over the last three seasons. Moreover, newcomers Matt Chapman and Nick Ahmed join Thairo Estrada to form one of the league’s best infield defenses. Jung Hoo Lee also projects to have a plus glove in center field, and Patrick Bailey emerged as baseball’s best defensive player last year.

Snell is a rare pitcher who won the Cy Young last season while “leading” the league in balls thrown thanks to a left on-base percentage that was the ninth highest in MLB history. While this seems clearly unsustainable, that wasn’t even the highest LOB% of Snell’s career! He had a 1.20 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP after May 20 last season, recording 186 strikeouts over 135.0 innings. Snell has better command than you think, and he’ll benefit greatly from throwing to the game’s best pitch-framer and in a home park that’s among the leaders in decreasing walks.

The Giants enabled Logan Webb to finish second in Cy Young voting last year, and SF’s offense improved during the offseason. Snell is due for some regression in 2024, but he can make a run at repeating with some help from his new home park and defense. Snell should be motivated (he has an opt-out in 2025) and ready to go close to the start of the season. He’s a borderline top-10 fantasy starter.

Chris Sale, Atlanta Braves 40/1

Sale is considered a long shot because he hasn’t reached 160 innings since 2017, but we’ll take those odds for someone with his skills and in such a terrific environment. His K-BB% (22.6) would’ve ranked sixth among qualified starters last season, just ahead of Zack Wheeler. Sale’s velocity has crept back up this spring, when he’s declared himself healthy for the first time since 2018. Sale is 34 years old and owns the best K/9 (11.82) rate among all starters since 2016. He should rack up wins on a loaded Braves team projected to score by far the most runs in baseball this season; Atlanta’s rotation won more games last season than the Royals and Reds combined.

Sale is a dark-horse Cy Young candidate and a top-25 fantasy SP.

Bailey Ober, Minnesota Twins 90/1

The American League is better for long-shot candidates because they aren’t going against Spencer Strider, and Gerrit Cole is injured. Front-runner Corbin Burnes appears to be in decline and will miss Milwaukee’s terrific defense and home park that boosted Ks, while the next favorite, Kevin Gausman, enters the year dealing with a shoulder issue.

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Meanwhile, Bailey’s K-BB% (20.3) would’ve ranked 10th among qualified starters last season (he was just 15.2 innings shy), and his 1.07 WHIP would’ve ranked top-five. He dominated down the stretch while throwing more changeups and has shown increased velocity this spring. The Twins are quietly loaded and play in MLB’s worst division, so wins should be there. I have Bailey ranked as a top-30 fantasy SP, yet he’s 90/1 without the National League or Cole as competition.

Hunter Brown, Houston Astros 150/1

The American League is wide open when it comes to upper-tier pitching this year, and less-than-ideal environments will punish intriguing young arms like Tarik Skubal and Cole Ragans (who are also among the favorites). Enter Brown, who posted a 28.1 K% and a 3.32 FIP during the first half before wearing down (and suffering some bad luck) later during his rookie season. He should improve while adding a slider in year two, when he’s also nicknamed himself “Casino.” The Astros routinely produce big win totals for their starting pitchers, yet Brown is being treated like a Hail Mary here. His Yahoo ADP (SP47, 172.3) is also far too disrespectful.

Nick Pivetta, Boston Red Sox 150/1

Pivetta is a former prospect who may have finally figured it out last season. He posted a 3.27 ERA and a 35.8 K% over his last 82.2 innings after making some pitch-mix changes. Pivetta’s K-BB% (28.8) during his monstrous second half would’ve ranked behind only Strider for the season. After introducing a sweeper, Pivetta’s Stuff+ (127) ranked third among starters after June 1. Part of his dominance came in a bulk-innings relief role, but he also posted a 2.37 ERA with a 38:5 K:BB ratio (30.1 innings) over five starts to end the season. Pivetta simply looks like a different pitcher these days. Boston’s environment is hardly ideal, but Pivetta has a better chance to win the Cy Young than these long-shot odds suggest; and he’s an absolute steal with a Yahoo ADP of 189.6 over the last week.