Below are the rankings of starting pitchers for the 2020 fantasy season. The list was last updated on February 22, 2020. The rankings were done by Tim McLeod our Senior Baseball writer and the capsules were completed by Rich Wilson.
In some cases, the capsules and rankings might differ – See Dustin May.
1. Gerrit Cole (NYY) – A big contract, a big market, but a small ballpark. You can always talk yourself out of a player. Sure, his ERA might have a 3 handle, but so could the strikeouts.
2. Jacob deGrom (NYM) – Back-to-back New York pitchers lead the list. While he doesn’t have the crazy upside as Cole, he’s got more hardware.
3. Walker Buehler (LAD) – At some point, he will lead this list. When? Not sure, but three is pretty darn good.
4. Justin Verlander (HOU) – Father time will eventually catch up to Verlander and it could be in 2020. But, how can you bet against him?
5. Max Scherzer (WAS) – See Verlander…
6. Jack Flaherty (STL) – It was a ridiculous second half last season with a .142 average against. You know, it was a ridiculous first half as well. He’s good, really good.
7. Stephen Strasburg (WAS) – He pitched a lot of innings last season and the Nationals could bring him along slowly this season. He’s still got some of the best stuff in the game.
8. Shane Bieber (CLE) – 10K’s per nine, doesn’t walk anyone with an ERA and FIP that are basically the same in the low 3’s. Yeah, if he’s there, grab him.
9. Patrick Corbin (WAS) – There’s an argument to discount all Washington pitchers given their workload last year. But, Corbin has one of the best sliders in the game and will strike out a ton of guys.
10. Luis Castillo (CIN) – We loved him coming up through the Marlins system, but of course, they traded him. It’s a strikeout an inning with a 3.50 ERA.
11. Blake Snell (TB) – It was a tough 2019 season for the 2018 CY Young winner. Don’t be surprised if he bounced back big in 2020. He still struck out over 12 per nine with a FIP of 3.32 in 23 starts.
12. Chris Sale (BOS) – What do you say? Where do you pick em? Twelve seems as good as any place. In the end, nobody knows what he’ll do.
13. Lucas Giolito (CWS) – One of the true breakout players in 2018 should continue to grow in 2019.
14. Mike Clevinger (CLE) – An unfortunate knee injury knocks an otherwise stud down the list. Most will draft him earlier. Just remember, RISK is a four-letter word.
15. Aaron Nola (PHI) – The walks went up last year and the ERA followed suit. There’s still a like to like and he’s still only 26.
16. Sonny Gray (CIN) – He reversed a trend of two years of nearly a five ERA to pitch to a 2.87 ERA last season. He’s not that good, but expecting 180 innings with a strikeout an inning and a 3.75 ERA should be your guide.
17. Clayton Kershaw (LAD) – Kershaw at 17. WOW. Let’s face it, he’s not the same guy, but you know what, if he stays healthy, he could out-earn his draft position.
18. Charlie Morton (TB) – Is this really the last year for Morton? A shame if it is because he’s been one of the best pitchers in the Majors over the past two years.
19. Yu Darvish (CHC) – 11 K’s per nine. Less than three walks per nine. 33 home runs. If the ball gets de-juiced, Darvish could flourish. If it’s still juiced, he’s still a Top 20 pitcher.
20. Jose Berrios (MIN) – He’s a solid number two pitcher for your rotation that will get a ton of run support.
21. Mike Soroka (ATL) – He pounds the strike zone but had a very high foul ball rate last season. If he can tighten up his off-speed pitches, he could take the next step.
22. Noah Syndergaard (NYM) – He’s better than the 4.28 ERA he posted in 2019. Look more to his 3.60 FIP and strikeout an inning. There’s upside here.
23. Trevor Bauer (CIN) – His ERA doubled last year, but if he can stop the long ball, he’s got the stuff to be a front-of-the-rotation arm. Pitching half his games in Cincy will make life harder, but the stuff is still excellent.
24. Chris Paddack (SD) – Fastball/Change-up pitchers can see a regression in their second year. Don’t be surprised if we see that with Paddack. The good news is he doesn’t walk anyone so the ratios should also be decent.
25. Zack Greinke (HOU) – The stuff is just not what it use to be but Greinke always seems to find a way.
26. Tyler Glasnow (TB) – He has some of the nastiest stuff in the game but the fear of injury needs to be considered. If he’s healthy, he could be ace.
27. Eduardo Rodriguez (BOS) – Do you want to know what solid number three pitchers look like? It’s Eduardo Rodriguez. He’s solid and still only 26.
28. Hyun-Jin Ryu (TOR) – Will he defy the odds like he did last year. We are betting the under
29. Madison Bumgarner (ARZ) – The move to Arizona has to hurt, but the good news is that he should win more games.
30. Brandon Woodruff (MIL) – 10.5 K’s per nine, 2.2 BB/9 and a 3.01 FIP are not misprints. Woodruff could be a huge mover in 2020.
31. Zack Wheeler (PHI) – His TJ Surgery was worse than most and therefore, the recovery time was long. But 2018 and 2019 were pretty good with nearly a strikeout an inning, less than three walks per nine and a FIP in the low 3’s. Another guy with value?
32. Corey Kluber (TEX) – Does he return to form after an injury-plagued season? We have no idea, but remember, he’ll be 34 to begin the season.
33. David Price (LAD) – He’s got to be happy getting out of Boston. No more Yankees! No more Boston media. He still has great stuff and as the number three pitcher in Los Angeles, he has a chance to return significant value.
34. Shohei Ohtani (LAA) – There is a risk as Ohtani will be limited in his innings after returning from TJ Surgery. But, if he’s even 80% of what he showed in his rookie year, he’s going to be really good. Oh yeah, he also is pretty good at that hitting thing.
35. Frankie Montas (OAK) – An 80-game suspension always raises questions, but he looked good before his time off and arguably better in his two starts after returning.
36. Mike Minor (TEX) – A low BABIP, a high LOB% and you get a 3.59 ERA. If things normalize, he’s a 4.25 ERA pitcher or a number 3/4 pitcher on your fantasy team.
37. Jesus Luzardo (OAK) – Pitchers that have a premium change-up can have early success in the Major Leagues. Luzardo has one of the best to go with a 70-grade fastball – all from the left side. Now, can he stay healthy? If he does, he could blow-up much like Chris Paddack did last year.
38. Kyle Hendricks (CHC) – He’s kind of boring with his low strikeout rate, but not all of your pitchers look like Gerrit Cole. He’s a safe 3/4 pitcher.
39. Zac Gallen (ARZ) – Zac Gallen continues to climb draft boards. Yeah, he looked good last year, but it was in 80 innings pitched. Throw in four walks per
nine, a .284 BABIP and 84% LOB% and his 2.81 likely will not repeat.
40. Lance Lynn (TEX) – Lynn was finally healthy last year and looked great. He’s a great get for a number four pitcher.
41. Max Fried (ATL) – A strong prospect pedigree that started to show his potential last year. His high ground ball rate, over a strikeout an inning could position him to take the next step in 2020.
42. Dinelson Lamet (SD) – He still needs a pitch to get left-handers out, but he has a premium fastball and slider. He’s a nice growth investment.
43. Luke Weaver (ARZ) – Forearm tightness is never a good diagnosis, but assuming Weaver is healthy, there’s a lot to like. In 64.1 innings last season, he struck out over a batter an inning, walked less than two per nine while pitching to a 2.94 ERA. His underlying stats point to it being real…again, assuming he’s healthy.
44. Marcus Stroman (NYM) – At only 5-foot-7, I think it’s fair to say that Marcus Stroman takes his physical ability to the max. He’s been durable, solid and is the definition of a number four starter in the big leagues.
45. Robbie Ray (ARZ) – You buy Robbie Ray for the huge strikeout potential and the hope that he learns to throw more strikes. A low BABIP and high LOB% came together in 2017 and he looked like an ace (2.78 ERA). I wouldn’t bet on him returning to that form, but league average ratios with close to 200 strikeouts are definitely doable.
46. Mike Foltynewicz (ATL) – A flyball pitcher and a juiced ball don’t mix well. Folty gave up almost two home runs per game. If the ball is fixed, Folty could out-earn his draft slot.
47. Masahiro Tanaka (NYY) – Another guy that was really hurt by the juiced ball as his stuff flatten-out and he consequently got he got hit hard. Since everything he throws bends, a more “normal ball” could improve his ERA by at least a half a run and his strikeouts could return back to a strikeout an inning. Of course, will the ball change?
48. Julio Urias (LAD) – You’ve got to give it up for Julio Urias. He came back from a potentially career-threatening injury and looked really good. His stuff might very well play better in the bullpen, but the Dodgers manage innings better than any other major league team, so expect Urias to get plenty of starts.
49. Matthew Boyd (DET) – He doesn’t have the big fastball, but he throws strikes with pretty good secondary pitches. He was another guy that was killed by the home run (39) and when you are a fly ball pitcher with a juiced ball, well…you pitch to a 4.56 ERA. If you believe the ball will normalize in 2020, there might be some value here.
50. Dustin May (LAD) – I have to assume that Dustin May is ranked this low because of playing time concerns. However, the Dodgers have a history of not overworking their starters with frequent trips to the IL part of the equation. Therefore, I expect May to get plenty of innings this season. In fact, don’t be surprised if it’s in 140 to 160 range, much like Walker Buehler did in 2018. To double-down on the point, Buehler only threw 182 innings last season and is a Top 5 pitcher this year. Now for the fun part. May has nasty stuff with a heavy bat-breaking fastball that sits 96 MPH. He’s already got plus control and at 6-foot-6 will be very difficult to elevate. Sure, his command is not quite there yet, but the profile screams front-of-the-rotation. Assuming health, don’t be surprised if May is ranked in the Top 10 in next year’s list (Buehler was 7 in his sophomore year).
51. Kenta Maeda (MIN) – Well, at least he gets to be a starter. He misses plenty of bats and should pitch to a league-average ERA and WHIP.
52. Sean Manaea (OAK) – I learned something this spring. Sean Manaea has “Kramer hair.” In an interview I saw, it was at least six inches high. Awesome. After two healthy seasons to begin his career, Manaea spent most of 2019 on the IL. He was great when he returned pitching to a 1.21 ERA. However, his Major League history points to average stuff with average results.
53. Griffin Canning (LAA) – Canning ending the 2019 season on the shelf with elbow inflammation and therefore you must be cautious at the draft table. Prior to that, he had a solid major league debut striking out over a batter an inning. His control can fluctuate and he’s a fly ball pitcher, but the profile suggests a mid-rotation starter profile.
54. Carlos Carrasco (CLE) – Carrasco is a tough one to rank. 54 feels as good as any. Injuries are mounting and he isn’t’ getting any younger. It’s entirely possible he has another good season or two in the tank, but it’s equally logical that he’s in his decline.
55. A.J. Puk (OAK) – He’s never had great control and he still needs a better third pitch. However, he’s got a great fastball, is healthy and that could translate into a nice profit at the draft table.
56. Dallas Keuchel (CWS) – You know what you’ve got with Keuchel. He throws strikes, eats innings and wins games. Given the high-powered Chicago offense, that could be a lot of wins.
57. German Marquez (COL) – He’s got exciting stuff but Colorado just hurts the results.
58. Michael Kopech (CWS) – A bullish ranking for Kopech and I like it. He’s got premium stuff and while returning from TJ Surgery will have its challenges, the upside is still very high. In H2H leagues, remember, he’ll be capped at no more than 160 innings this year.
59. Zach Plesac (CLE) – He pitched to a 3.81 ERA but his skills point to a different pitcher. He struck out 6.85 per nine, walked 3.1 per nine and has a 4.94 FIP. There are warning signs on this one.
60. Andrew Heaney (LAA) – He’s got good stuff but when you’re in a juiced ball era and you’re a flyball pitcher, well…you post a 4.91 ERA. He’s an interesting talent and still only 28. I would be investing.
61. Anthony DeSclafani (CIN)
62. Brendan McKay (TB)
63. Sandy Alcantara (MIA)
64. James Paxton (NYY)
65. Luis Severino (NYY)
66. Carlos Martinez (STL)
67. Domingo German (NYY)
68. Yonny Chirinos (TB)
69. Michael Pineda (MIN)
70. Adrian Houser (MIL)
71. Jon Gray (COL)
72. Jake Odorizzi (MIN)
73. Chris Bassitt (OAK)
74. Jose Urquidy (HOU)
75. Caleb Smith (MIA)
76. Lance McCullers (HOU)
77. Kevin Gausman (SFG)
78. Garrett Richards (SD)
79. Josh James (HOU)
80. Steven Matz (NYM)
81. Mike Fiers (OAK)
82. Julio Teheran (LAA)
83. Ryan Yarbrough (TB)
84. Joe Musgrove (PIT)
85. MacKenzie Gore (SD)
86. Aaron Civale (CLE)
87. Jordan Lyles (TEX)
88. Dylan Cease (CWS)
89. Wade Miley (CIN)
90. Tony Gonsolin (LAD)
91. Mitch Keller (PIT)
92. Marco Gonzales (SEA)
93. Nate Pearson (TOR)
94. Alex Wood (LAD)
95. Joey Lucchesi (SD)
96. Dakota Hudson (STL)
97. Chris Archer (PIT)
98. Pablo Lopez (MIA)
99. Josh Lindblom (MIL)
100. Jose Quintana (CHC)
101. Zach Davies (SD)
102. John Means (BAL)
103. Matt Shoemaker (TOR)
104. Zach Eflin (PHI)
105. Johnny Cueto (SFG)
106. Eric Lauer (MIL)
107. Jordan Yamamoto (MIA)
108. Gio Gonzalez (CWS)
109. Rick Porcello (NYM)
110. Miles Mikolas (STL)
111. Anibal Sanchez (WAS)
112. Dylan Bundy (LAA)
113. J.A. Happ (NYY)
114. Jeff Samardzija (SFG)
115. Kwang-Hyun Kim (STL)
116. Tyler Beede (SFG)
117. Jake Arrieta (PHI)
118. Logan Webb (SFG)
119. Ross Stripling (LAD)
120. Reynaldo Lopez (CWS)
121. Joe Ross (WAS)
122. Vince Velasquez (PHI)
123. Shun Yamaguchi (TOR)
124. Danny Duffy (KC)
125. Adam Wainwright (STL)
126. Sean Newcomb (ATL)
127. Tanner Roark (TOR)
128. Merrill Kelly (ARZ)
129. Kyle Wright (ATL)
130. Forrest Whitley (HOU)
131. Jon Lester (CHC)
132. Yusei Kikuchi (SEA)
133. Brad Keller (KC)
134. Cole Hamels (ATL)
135. Kyle Gibson (TEX)
136. Chase Anderson (TOR)
137. Jordan Montgomery (NYY)
138. Patrick Sandoval (LAA)
139. Spencer Howard (PHI)
140. Kyle Freeland (COL)
141. Mike Leake (ARZ)
142. Sixto Sanchez (MIA)
143. Nathan Eovaldi (BOS)
144. Clarke Schmidt (NYY)
145. Alex Young (ARZ)
146. Ian Anderson (ATL)
147. Tyler Mahle (CIN)
148. Brett Anderson (MIL)
149. Homer Bailey (MIN)
150. Deivi Garcia (NYY)
151. Drew Smyly (SFG)
152. Justus Sheffield (SEA)
153. Luis Patino (SD)
154. Daniel Norris (DET)
155. Logan Gilbert (SEA)
156. Antonio Senzatela (COL)
157. Michael Wacha (NYM)
158. Kolby Allard (TEX)
159. Jose Urena (MIA)
160. Tyler Chatwood (CHC)
161. Taijuan Walker (SEA)
162. Ryan Borucki (TOR)
163. Steven Brault (PIT)
164. Justin Dunn (SEA)
165. Rich Hill (MIN)
166. Alex Reyes (STL)
167. Brent Suter (MIL)
168. Jacob Junis (KC)
169. Trevor Williams (PIT)
170. Logan Allen (CLE)
171. Spencer Turnbull (DET)
172. David Peterson (NYM)
173. Chad Kuhl (PIT)
174. Jeff Hoffman (COL)
175. Adbert Alzolay (CHC)
176. Trey Supak (MIL)
177. Erick Fedde (WAS)
178. Chance Adams (KC)
179. Peter Lambert (COL)
180. Ivan Nova (DET)
181. Alex Cobb (BAL)
182. Felix Hernandez (ATL)
183. Jordan Zimmermann (DET)