Jacob deGrom (NYM) – The only thing lacking in deGrom’s game is the wins and hopefully the addition of Francisco Lindor to an already strong offense, takes care of that problem.
Gerritt Cole (NYY) – In the past three full seasons, only four pitchers have topped the 300 strikeout mark. Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Chris Sale, and yes, Gerritt Cole. If you don’t land deGrom, Cole is one heckuva consolation prize!
Shane Bieber (CLE) – In virtually every pitching category last year, Bieber was at or near the top of the leaderboard. He induced a League leading 122 strikeouts, 18 more than runner up Jacob deGrom. A sure-fire First Round pick in 2021 drafts and worth every penny of that investment.
Trevor Bauer (LAD) – The odds of Bauer repeating that off-the-charts 2020 1.73 ERA are low, but does it really matter? A mid-3 ERA with 200+ strikeouts more than gets the job done.
Yu Darvish (SDP) – The Padres were looking for an “ace” when they traded for Yu Darvish and they got exactly that. The 93/14 K/BB rate in 76 IP in 2020 is a great indicator that the struggles he experienced in his first season in Chicago are clearly in the past. The Yu Darvish we witnessed in his first four seasons in Texas has returned!
Aaron Nola (PHI) – In 2019 the walk rates soared, causing some serious concerns. In 2020, we saw a return to form and with the elite strikeout rates, Nola returns to being the best southpaw in the game.
Lucas Giolito (CWS) – The Nationals loss has proven to be a huge White Sox win, and what a victory is has been. The fact that Giolito gets to face a steady diet of Indians, Tigers, and Royals bats will help immensely in his quest for a strong 2021.
Max Scherzer (WAS) – A tweaked hamstring definitely came into play and contributed to a rather un-Scherzer type 2020 campaign. Even in a mediocre year, at least by his standards, he did strike out 92 hitters in 67 1/3 IP and post a 3.74 ERA. How many pitchers can post those numbers and claim it to be a disappointment?
Walker Buehler (LAD) – How many innings will Buehler toss this season? Will he erase the memory of his recent April struggles? He’s good, really good, but there are simply too many unanswered questions to warrant Buehler being a Top-5 starter heading into 2021.
Luis Castillo (CIN) – Castillo reduced the gopher balls, kept the walks in check, and proceeded to produce a career best 3.21 ERA. Trevor Bauer has moved on. Will Luis Castillo be the next to depart?
Clayton Kershaw (LAD) – The Dodgers are in it to win it. Temper the workload expectations from Kershaw and you will be incredibly happy with the results.
Zac Gallen (ARZ) – Gallen posted a 2.81 ERA in 2019 and followed that up with a 2.75 ERA in 2020. The combined workload in his first two seasons is a scant 152 innings. That will change drastically in 2021.
Jack Flaherty (STL) – 2020 was a disaster for the Cardinals ace. After the nearly four-month delay to start the 2020 season, the Cardinals added an additional 2 ½ weeks of quarantine time because of an early season outbreak of Covid-19. Flaherty simply never got untracked. Better days are ahead.
Hyun-Jin Ryu (TOR) – We’ve heard all the concerns. He isn’t durable. He doesn’t strikeout enough batters. What he does do is consistently keep his team in the game, start-after-start. The last time that Ryu posted an ERA north of three was in 2017. He is worthy of a bit more respect from the Fantasy community.
Brandon Woodruff (MIL) – Woodruff proved to be less hittable and kept the walks in check last year and for good measure tossed in 91 strikeouts in 73 2/3 IP. It isn’t reflected in his win totals, but Woodruff took another step onwards and upwards in 2020.
Corbin Burnes (MIL) – Last year, Burnes struck out 88 batters in 59 2/3 IP. He has a legitimate shot at a 200-strikeout season while still being kept on a 150-inning limit. Not many pitchers will present you with that opportunity.
Carlos Carrasco (NYM) – Carrasco returned to the rotation last year and in 68 innings posted 82 strikeouts and a great 2.91 ERA. Moving from the Indians to the Mets should help as the offensive support won’t be nearly as offensive. The best news is that he’s in remission from Leukemia.
Lance Lynn (CWS) – Since his first full season way back in 2012, Lynn has tossed 175+ innings six times. He’s a workhorse and great addition to an already solid staff. Pencil in 180-to-190 innings and enjoy the ride.
Tyler Glasnow (TBR) – The stuff is truly nasty, but a lot of balls left the park last year (11 in 57 1/3IP) and his walk rate was far from stellar. Would I be shocked if Glasnow was a Top-10 pitcher in 2021? No, but at the same time I would not be totally shocked if he didn’t make our 2022 Top-25.
Blake Snell (SDP)- The second part of the Padres off-season SP upgrade was acquiring former Cy Young winner Blake Snell from the Rays. The overall numbers were good, but in 11 starts last year he failed to register a single quality start. Hopefully, the Padres will be less restrictive when it comes to his workload.
Kyle Hendricks (CHC) – He doesn’t sport the elite strikeout rates, but since breaking into the game seven years ago, Hendricks owns a 3.12 ERA. How many starters can lay claim to a 3.12 ERA over their first 1047 1/3 IP. My guess is very few.
Zach Plesac (CLE) – Plesac had some growing up to do in 2020, and after serving his time for the crime, proceeded to demonstrate why he is on the cusp of being a Top-20 starter. The 57/6 K/BB ratio he posted in 2020 is nothing short of amazing.
Sonny Gray (CIN) – The lack of consistency is a bit troubling, but he has clearly put the debacle in “The Bronx” in his rearview mirror. If the trend continues that every other year is a really good one, 2021 is cause for enthusiasm.
Max Fried (ATL) – In 2019, Fried allowed 21 homers in in 165 2/3 IP. In 2020, Fried allowed only two homers in 56 IP. He most likely won’t be that good in 2021 but based on his history, that final stat line should look a lot more like 2020 than 2019.
Zack Wheeler (PHI) – It was a long road back from the 2015 TJS, as Wheeler missed all of 2015, 2016, and most of 2017. He returned to form in 2018 and hasn’t looked back. He tossed 182 1/3 innings in 2018 and followed it up by tossing 195 1/3 innings in 2019. In 2020 he allowed only three homers and cut the walk rates. There is a lot to like when looking at Zack Wheeler as an option this season.
Kenta Maeda (MIN) – His four-year average, excluding 2020, is a pinch over 147 IP. I’ll take the under on 150 IP in 2021.
Stephen Strasburg (WAS) – His current ADP still reflects the injury concerns resulting from the carpal tunnel surgery he underwent last August. It’s a legitimate concern, but at the same time a return to that stellar 2019 form shouldn’t be ruled out. Draft him as a weak #2 starter and the potential is at-hand to receive some very hefty rewards.
Julio Urias (LAD) – It was a long road back from the anterior capsule surgery Urias underwent in 2017, but it appears as if it was worth the wait. He posted a great 3.27 ERA last year and then upped the ante in the playoffs, posting a 1.17 ERA and 29/4 K/BB ratio. His stock is on the rise as we head into the 2021 season and for good cause.
Jesus Luzardo (OAK) – It’s all about the health with Jesus Luzardo. One of these years we will be rewarded for our patience and the sky-high potential will come to fruition. Why not in 2021?
Ian Anderson (ATL) – Anderson took the world by storm last year, posting a 1.95 ERA and striking out 41 batters in 32 1/3 IP. This has created some lofty expectations. Will they be fulfilled?