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Starting Pitchers

SP rankings artworkPitchers only reported a week ago and already Clayton Kershaw, Sonny Gray, and Mike Soroka have been shutdown.  Yep…the fantasy baseball season has already started.

Starting pitching is the most volatile of all the fantasy positions.  Every year injuries and performance, both to the positive and negative have a significant effect on your team.  Sure, you can say that about any position, but it’s just more so with pitching, partially as in most formats, they account for half of your points.

We hope the list provides you some direction on where we see starting pitching falling. During the draft, we suggest not waiting too long for a couple of studs.  Remember, more and more teams are moving to the opener and pitchers that can provide 200 innings which usually equates to high strikeout totals are starting to disappear.  Don’t let that happen to you.

1. Max Scherzer (WAS) We all know about the outstanding ERA, Win, and strikeout totals Scherzer produces year-after-year, but since becoming a full-time starter back in 2009, he has never failed to start at least thirty games. The march to an eventual HOF enshrinement rolls on.

2. Jacob deGrom (NYM) Let’s hope that the Mets and deGrom can come to an agreement on an extension this Spring. Locking up the Cy Young winner for at least the next 3-to-4 years would go a long way in keeping the Mets competitive in a tough AL East.

3. Corey Kluber (CLE) Five consecutive seasons of 200-plus innings pitched and 200-plus strikeouts. 56 Wins over the past three seasons. In 2018 he posted a 2.89 ERA, the third best in a stellar career. Come October, the Indians will be glad they didn’t move him during the off-season.

4. Gerrit Cole (HOU) Remember when the Pirates had this young starter that they believed would be an ace? All it took was a trade to Houston for their wish to come true.

5. Chris Sale (BOS) If healthy, he’s the second best pitcher on the planet. Let’s hope that the “ounce of prevention” exercised in the second half, results in “a pound of cure” in 2019.

6. Aaron Nola (PHI) The Phillies and Nola agreed to a four-year, $45 million extension with an additional option. The odds are very good that there is a Cy Young Award in Nola’s future.

7. Walker Buehler (LAD) There is a new “ace” in LA, and he’ll confirm that fact by the end of 2019.

8. Blake Snell (TB) If the biggest complaint is that Snell only pitched 180 2/3 innings last year, it’s really not much of a complaint.

9. Trevor Bauer (CLE) He definitely marches to the beat of his own drummer, but on the field the numbers speak for themselves.

10. Justin Verlander (HOU) Yes, he’s no spring chicken, turning 36-years-of-age last week, but predicting his demise after posting a 2.52 ERA and recording 290 strikeouts in 214 IP might be a bit premature.

11. Noah Syndergaard (NYM) The skills are such that if he can pitch 200 innings he could be a Top-5 starter. The 154 1/3 IP he tossed last year, simply isn’t enough.

12. Luis Severino (NYY) He had his struggles in the second half, posting a 5.57 ERA, but finished September strong and throughout his struggles still maintained a great strikeout rate.

13. Clayton Kershaw (LAD) Lower the bar to 150 innings pitched, and hope that the “sore arm” currently being experienced in Spring Training doesn’t linger.

14. Carlos Carrasco (CLE) His past two seasons have been a model of consistency. We’ll add 2019 to the list at this same time next year.

15. Mike Clevinger (CLE) The concern entering 2018 was the walk rate, but he stepped up and held it in check, tossing 200 innings of 3.02 ERA ball with a 1.16 WHIP. It’s time to put the “walk rate concerns” to rest.

16. Jameson Taillon (PIT) Last year he upped his workload from 133 2/3 IP to 191 IP and in the process enjoyed a great second half, posting an 8-3 won/loss record with a 2.33 ERA. The concerns about an increased workload have been alleviated.

17. Zach Greinke (ARZ) Greinke has started at least 32 games in four-of-the-past-five seasons. He could be a very hot commodity at the trade deadline.

18. Jack Flaherty (STL) There’s no shame in being the second best rookie pitcher in the game.

19. Madison Bumgarner (SF) After six consecutive seasons of 200-plus innings pitched, the past two seasons have been wracked with injury. There are a lot of miles on that arm, but no reason to think that with any luck he can add another 200 innings of quality numbers to his resume.

20. Miles Mikolas (STL) Yeah, the strikeout rate is less than desirable, but he makes up for it with the miniscule walk rate.

21. Zack Wheeler (NYM) Finally healthy, Wheeler fulfilled the potential we first saw demonstrated back in 2014.

22. Stephen Strasburg (WAS) At the end of 2018 the velocity was down. Toss in the fact that he has thrown only 127 1/3, 147 2/3, 175 1/3, and 130 innings over the past four seasons and there is reason to be concerned.

23. Jose Berrios (MIN) The Twins will need Berrios to take a further step onwards and upwards to help chase down the Indians in the AL Central. We like the odds of that coming to fruition.

24. German Marquez (COL) I don’t think we’ve ever ranked a Rockie starter at this lofty level, but he has earned it. A 2.61 ERA in 14 second half starts, while holding the opposition to a miniscule .215 BA is reason for celebration at Coors Field.

25. Patrick Corbin (WAS) The Gnats are all-in, signing Corbin to a six-year $140 million deal. Paying for a career year from an oft-injured starter, could come back to haunt. Tread cautiously.

26. David Price (BOS) Against everyone but the Yankees, “The Price is Right!”

27. James Paxton (NYY) The 208 strikeouts in 160 1/3 innings pitched is huge, but the move to the Bronx from what once was Safeco….not so much.

28. Luis Castillo (CIN) The potential we witnessed in 2017 was followed by a rough 2018 first half. Castillo made amends in the second half, posting a 2.44 ERA in eleven starts. It’s time for him to take the next step.

29. Kyle Hendricks (CHC) Hendricks has accumulated 30 or more starts in 3-of-the-past-4 seasons. The upside is limited, but the floor is solid as a rock.

30. Mike Foltynewicz (ATL) After years of disappointment, Folty broke out to the tune of a 2.85 ERA, good for a tie for 8’th best in all of baseball. Toss in the 200 strikeouts and it was a truly amazing campaign. Do we see a repeat in 2019?

31. Charlie Morton (TB) He proved that 2017 wasn’t a fluke and improved his ERA by a full half run and converted that success into a two-year deal with the Rays.

32. Cole Hamels (CHC) The Cubs picked up his $20 million option for 2019 and understandably so after that stellar 2.36 ERA in 12 starts after being acquired from the Rangers.

33. Alex Wood (CIN) Heading into his walk year, the Reds acquired him from the Dodgers in their effort to go for it in 2019. If the Reds plan goes awry, Wood could be a hot topic at the trade deadline.

34. Jon Lester (CHC) The drop in the strikeout rate is alarming, but all-in-all 2018 was a good year for the veteran. Does he have another in the tank?

35. Jose Quintana (CHC) Cub fans are hoping to see a return to his 2017 level of play. Cub fans could be disappointed.

36. Yusei Kikuchi (SEA) The Mariners have potentially invested $106 million over the next seven years in the former Seibu Lions ace. They also plan to be careful with his workload in his first season in MLB, a solid approach. In Quality Start formats, drop him down a slot or two.

37. J.A. Happ (NYY) In 11 starts after being acquired from the Jays, he posted a 7-0 won/loss record, and a 2.69 ERA. Pinstripes are to his liking.

38. Hyun-Jin Ryu (LAD) It’s all about the health, or lack thereof. Pencil him in for 125 quality innings and consider anything more than that a bonus.

39. Robbie Ray (ARZ) His bugaboo, the walk rates, soared in 2018. Lower your ERA expectations, but the stellar K rates will still be on display.

40. Carlos Martinez (STL) After an injury riddled 2018 campaign, we didn’t need to hear that Martinez has been put on a no-throw program the first week of Spring Training, leaving his status for the start of the season up in the air.

41. Dallas Keuchel (FA) Is the market that slow for a solid southpaw or is Keuchel searching for something that might not be there? Either way, the clock is ticking and a delayed start to the season could be in the cards.

42. Yu Darvish (CHC)

43. Ross Stripling (LAD)

44. Chris Archer (PIT)

45. Kevin Gausman (ATL)

46. Kyle Freeland (COL)

47. Rich Hill (LAD)

48. Shane Bieber (CLE)

49. Nick Pivetta (PHI)

50. Eduardo Rodriguez (BOS)

51. Jhoulys Chacin (MIL)

52. Sean Newcomb (ATL)

53. Andrew Heaney (LAA)

54. Rick Porcello (BOS)

55. Matthew Boyd (DET)

56. Brad Keller (KC)

57. Trevor Williams (PIT)

58. Kyle Gibson (MIN)

59. Masahiro Tanaka (NYY)

60. Derek Holland (SF)

61. Tyler Glasnow (TB)

62. Alex Reyes (STL)

63. Anibal Sanchez (WAS)

64. Michael Wacha (STL)

65. Reynaldo Lopez (CWS)

66. Jake Arrieta (PHI)

67. Julio Teheran (ATL)

68. Touki Toussaint (ATL)

69. Josh James (HOU)

70. Nathan Eovaldi (BOS)

71. Jeff Samardzija (SF)

72. Chase Anderson (MIL)

73. Mike Minor (TEX)

74. Steven Matz (NYM)

75. Joey Lucchesi (SD)

76. Joe Musgrove (PIT)

77. Wade LeBlanc (SEA)

78. Sonny Gray (CIN)

79. Jon Gray (COL)

80. Jose Urena (MIA)

81. Mike Fiers (OAK)

82. Carlos Rodon (CWS)

83. Kenta Maeda (LAD)

84. CC Sabathia (NYY)

85. Collin McHugh (HOU)

86. Luke Weaver (ARZ)

87. Dereck Rodriguez (SF)

88. Michael Fulmer (DET)

89. Jimmy Nelson (MIL)

90. Dylan Bundy (BAL)

91. Trevor Cahill (LAA)

92. Jake Junis (KC)

93. Forrest Whitley (HOU)

94. Zack Godley (ARZ)

95. Daniel Mengden (OAK)

96. Danny Duffy (KC)

97. Marcus Stroman (TOR)

98. Matt Harvey (LAA)

99. Ryan Borucki (TOR)

100. Merrill Kelly (ARZ)

101. Wade Miley (HOU)

102. Jason Vargas (NYM)

103. Jaime Barria (LAA)

104. Mike Soroka (ATL)

105. Alex Cobb (BAL)

106. Pablo Lopez (MIA)

107. Bryse Wilson (ATL)

108. Tyler Skaggs (LAA)

109. Mike Leake (SEA)

110. Vince Velasquez (PHI)

111. Ivan Nova (CWS)

112. Lance Lynn (TEX)

113. Julio Urias (LAD)

114. Marco Gonzales (SEA)

115. Corbin Burnes (MIL)

116. Gio Gonzalez (FA)

117. Tyson Ross (DET)

118. Michael Pineda (MIN)

119. Andrew Suarez (SF)

120. Zach Eflin (PHI)

121. Marco Estrada (OAK)

122. Tanner Roark (CIN)

123. Brandon Woodruff (MIL)

124. Adam Wainwright (STL)

125. Sandy Alcantara (MIA)

126. Jake Odorizzi (MIN)

127. Anthony DeSclafani (CIN)

128. Robbie Erlin (SD)

129. Shelby Miller (TEX)

130. Brett Anderson (OAK)

131. Tyler Anderson (COL)

132. Felix Hernandez (SEA)

133. Dan Straily (MIA)

134. Joe Ross (WAS)

135. Aaron Sanchez (TOR)

136. Drew Pomeranz (SF)

137. Matt Shoemaker (TOR)

138. Zach Davies (MIL)

139. Chris Paddack (SD)

140. Antonio Senzatela (COL)

141. Eric Lauer (SD)

142. Lucas Giolito (CWS)

143. Justus Sheffield (SEA)

144. Jordan Zimmermann (DET)

145. Jeremy Hellickson (WAS)

146. Logan Allen (SD)

147. Nick Kingham (PIT)

148. Freddy Peralta (MIL)

149. Jorge Lopez (KC)

150. Daniel Norris (DET)

151. Trevor Richards (MIA)

152. Sean Manaea (OAK)

153. Jacob Faria (TB)

154. Wei-Yin Chen (MIA)

155. Jacob Nix (SD)

156. Drew Smyly (TEX)

157. Andrew Cashner (BAL)

158. Dylan Cease (CWS)

159. Mitch Keller (PIT)

160. Stephen Gonsalves (MIN)

161. Ian Kennedy (KC)

162. Bryan Mitchell (SD)

163. Ervin Santana (CWS)

164. Sean Reid-Foley (TOR)

165. Jesus Luzardo (OAK)

166. Martin Perez (MIN)

167. Tyler Mahle (CIN)

168. A.J. Puk (OAK)

169. Jerad Eickhoff (PHI)

170. Triston McKenzie (CLE)

171. Brent Honeywell (TB)

172. Jon Duplantier (ARZ)

173. Lewis Thorpe (MIN)

174. Taylor Widener (ARZ)

175. Griffin Canning (LAA)

176. Jonathan Loaisiga (NYY)

177. Taijuan Walker (ARZ)

178. Adbert Alzolay (CHC)

179. Brock Burke (TEX)

180. Ariel Jurado (TEX)

181. Clayton Richard (TOR)

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