2017 Rankings: Top 100 Starting Pitchers For Fantasy Baseball
3/13 update: I have since updated these rankings on March 13th. Check out those rankings here.
We’re continuing our rankings of the Top Starting Pitchers for 2017 after going through the Top 20, Top 40, Top 60, and Top 80 earlier this week. One more article awaits tomorrow going over all the possible options and today we have the Top 100 Starting Pitchers for 2017 (okay, it’s actually Top 125). Here we go:
Tier 7: Am I Helping? Please Tell Me I’m Helping (Continued)
81. Tyler Anderson (Colorado Rockies) – I have to hand it to Anderson – a 3.54 ERA and matching DIPS numbers while calling Coors your home is not an easy thing to do. Match that with a 7.79 K/9, 2.20 BB/9 and 51% GB rate and suddenly the idea of Anderson being a super sleeper is apparent. I wasn’t a big fan of Anderson last year despite these numbers and it comes down to his repertoire. Essentially, he’s trying to do the Keuchel/Hendricks style of ultra finesse with a heater that sits just under 91mph as he spots his Changeup/Cutter very well around the edges. This allowed him to mitigate Hard Contact at under 29%. That’s excellent command given how easy it is to get tatted in Coors. But if you guys have been reading all of these blurbs thus far, you’ll understand that I don’t like investing in finesse pitchers to duplicate their hard/soft contact numbers after a small sample (just look at how Keuchel fell off after his Cy Young year!) and if you’re drafting Anderson, you’re praying he maintains the same batted ball profile for 2017. Let’s say he does that – you get a #4 SP? But if you don’t, you have a guy who will demolish your team’s ERA in a heartbeat and on the wire before April ends. It could work out…maybe?
82. Zach Davies (Milwaukee Brewers) – Like Anderson, there’s been a bit of hoopla surrounding Davies as the next finesse pitcher to make things legit – (I really need to come up with a term for this…A Bruno? The numbers make him look strong but he’s really just a Finesse guy [Bruno Mars y’all]. I’ll think about it) – though I don’t buy it. He was really good at pinpointing his 89mph Two-Seamer down and in last year, but he still rendered nearly 34% hard contact and a sub 20% soft contact rate. Don’t get me wrong, that Changeup is legit (22.3% whiff rate and 50.6% O-Swing!), but it’s not enough for me to believe in a breakout. It’s possible he takes a step forward, but I need to see more before getting on this bandwagon.
83. Ivan Nova (Pittsburgh Pirates) – I can see Nova being a Call Boy a few times this year, but not a whole lot more than that. People will cite his improvement as a Pirate – a 2.97 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 7.34 K/9 and just a 0.47 BB/9 in his final 10 starts – because Searage is a god that told him to throw more Two-Seamers inside – and while it’s hard not to get some sort of curiosity from those numbers, realize that he had a five game stretch in there against the Brewers twice, Reds twice, and Phillies. Sure, he’s going to get easier opponents in the NL Central than AL Beast, but I’m far from convinced that this sample size will speak to all of 2017. I see a beneficial streamer that I may own for a few consecutive starts here and there based on opponent, but not a full-time guy.
84. Ervin Santana (Minnesota Twins) – I expected the MFRTSPA to go to Berrios last season, but we all know how that went and Santana surprised us with the best season he’s had since 2008. Oh how time flies. Anyway, said 2016 season was better than anyone could have hoped – Santana included – as he overperformed ERA wise with a 3.38 despite a 4.21 xFIP and 4.29 SIERA, but I have to hand it to him as he allowed just 29.3% hard contact and maintained a fantastic 17.0% whiff rate on his Slider to earn that 7.40 K/9. Sure, it was the lowest whiff rate on his Slider since his rookie year, but at least it’s still working. Speaking of his pitches, I’m absolutely blown away by the effectiveness of his heater, which registered its first positive pVal in eight years with a…wait this can’t be right. 14.7?! Holy bejesus that’s absurd. So absurd that it was the 7th best heater in the majors among qualified starters. Okay, so let’s bring this back home. Santana just had his best year in ages with a super lucky Fastball and all indications that it’s going to come crashing down in 2017. I’m sure you’ll have some thinking he’s ownable and a sturdy mcGurdy who can repeat his 3.38 ERA, but he’s just a Panda that you don’t want to draft.
85. Trevor Bauer (Cleveland Indians) – There’s a lot to be said about Bauer, but I think the most important issue to address is the strikeouts, which I think has people overvaluing Bauer for the year ahead. People see a career 8.29 K/9 and think he’s just a moment away from hitting that 9.00 K/9 mark, but I just don’t see it happening as he’s simply not consistent enough. Last season, he only had 11 games of 6 Ks or more across 28 starts. That’s under 40% of his starts and this is from a guy who’s supposed to make you forget about his poor walk rate (3.88 BB/9 career, 3.32 last year) and shifty ERA/DIPS numbers that suggest another 4.00 ERA season is ahead. The problem is that his Fastball and Cutter are not beneficial on their own and he relies on his great Curveball with a decent Changeup to get by. Oh yeah, that Curveball registered a 13.6% whiff rate last year and it was the highest whiff rate in his repertoire. Not the kind of stat you want to see from a K upside fella.
86. Junior Guerra (Milwaukee Brewers) – Guerra was one of the more interesting surprises of 2016, as he showed up with a stupidly good 2.81 ERA and 1.13 across 20 starts and featured a good 20.3% K rate along with it. If y’all recall (hey that rhymed!), I wasn’t a fan of Guerra as it was going on and for good reason – he was featuring a 8.3% HR/FB rate calling Miller Park his home, 33.8% hard contact, a near 80% LOB rate and absurd .250 BABIP. This adds up to a 4.29 xFIP and 4.42 SIERA, which is exactly what we don’t want in our leagues. I’m totally a fan of his Splitter, I simply don’t believe that his Fastball is going be nearly as effective as it was with a walk rate chilling above 3.00 BB/9 again. Some will chase this, but I think he’s going to hurt more than help.
Tier 8: Why Not?
87. Tyson Ross (Texas Rangers) – Now let’s talk about guys to draft in your final round in slightly deeper leagues because there’s no good reason not to. We’ve talked about TOS already and since we’re hoping Matt Harvey returns on time despite going through the surgery months before, I find it hard to believe we will be seeing Ross anytime before June. Let’s say he comes back mid-June. What you’re getting is a slightly shorter IPS – of course they will limit him a little at first to gear Ross up for the playoff picture – with a near K per inning and about a 3.50 BB/9. I haven’t been too high on Ross given those walk issues, but he’s always been rosterable and that strikeout production with his high groundball rate should dictate plenty of work-arounds for bonus free passes. If he were healthy out of spring training, I’d have Ross most likely in the 30s, but since he’s missing 1/3 of the season (we think?) plus we can’t expect him to be top of his game right away, this becomes a late round DL stash that we’ll be wondering if we can drop in early May when we need the bench spot. Unfortunately that delegates him to outside the Top 80, but obviously keep him in mind during drafts.
88. Robert Gsellman (New York Mets) – Gsellman was forced into seven starts last year with the Mets more depleted than Prince Fielder after hitting a double and he returned some impressive numbers – 2.63 ERA, 8.78 K/9 and a 55.5% GB rate. Holy sleeper Batman! Well…five of those seven starts were against the Phils and Braves – I know, it’s the NL Easy, he’ll get easy opponents – but more importantly, he doesn’t have a spot in the Mets’ rotation yet with Thor/Harvey/deGrom/Matz/Wheeler set to come of March. Sure, that has more injury concerns than using a metal fork to pry your power cord out of the socket, but he doesn’t even avoid the injury concerns! Okay fine, that wasn’t his throwing shoulder, but you get the point. I like him, I think he can be sneaky value at the end of your roster if he gets the starts – that K rate should be at least 7.50 K/9 with his Slider getting over two inches extra horizontal movement – I simply don’t want to invest at this point when his upside isn’t so grand. Remember, his minor league numbers never hinted anything close to this strikeout production.
89. Adam Conley (Miami Marlins) – A lefty with a 20.1% whiff rate on his Slider? Ohhh boy! Well, it’s paired with a mediocre 91mph Fastball and he can’t throw his Slider/Changeup for a strike (both 33% zone rate). That adds up to a lot of walks and a crushed Fastball (see Fastball, swing. See anything else, don’t swing.), which doesn’t bode well for Conley. There is Top 60 upside here if he can get trust those secondary pitches inside the zone, but I’m not paying that price until I see it. Don’t expect anything better than a 3.70 ERA and 1.30 WHIP until those changes happen.
90. Matt Strahm (Kansas City Royals) – If you’re looking for a deep sleeper that has sneaky value that may or may not see the light of day, Strahm is your guy. That sentence shouldn’t come as a surprise if you read my GIF Breakdown of him earlier this week. He was destined for the pen this year, but there’s a chance he can squeak into the Royals’ rotation if he beats out either Jason Vargas or Nate Karns – which certainly isn’t out of the question And if he does, there is some possible legit value to be had. The 25 year old southpaw had stellar K/9 and BB/9 marks in A+ and AA over the last two seasons as primarily a starter, who can gas it up to 97mph at times with a killer Curveball to boot. I’m curious to see more of his Changeup, but in the 43 he threw last season, a solid 51.2% zone rate with a 16.3% swinging strike mark sounds great for a third pitch. It’s a gamble you should take in all leagues as a flier during the final rounds as legit #3 upside is here. You won’t find a better ceiling on the waiver wire and he could be hanging on a roster through the full year if giving the opportunity.
91. Luis Severino (New York Yankees) – Bad news: Severino’s 2016 was a complete disaster. Good news: Severino is only 23 years old and still has plenty of time to come into his own. Bad news: He’s still displaying walk rates above 3.00 per nine in both seasons in the majors. Good news: he never had higher than a 2.61 BB/9 in the minors – including last year. Bad news: His Changeup needs a ton of work if he’s going to be a starter. Good news: He’s getting a good chance to start if he’s at all decent during spring training. Okay I’m done with this game. I can see Sev as a post-hype sleeper, but it would be naive to look past his inability to command his Fastball like he wants to while needing that solid third pitch to put it all together. There is upside in his Changeup and it might be some time still before it comes together nicely to be the stud we want, but this is a solid flier for the end of your drafts.
92. Jose De Leon (Tampa Bay Rays) – I think we can all agree that the Dodgers overpaid for Logan Forsythe, but I have to say that I was a bit unimpressed with what we saw from Leon during his few appearances in Dodger Blue. What I saw was a kid who had a solid – not spectacular – Fastball/Changeup combo with pretty average breaking stuff. Okay, his Changeup is super good but that doesn’t scream insta-awesome like we’ve seen for other highly touted prospects (I still like Jose Berrios‘ stuff more!) and there is a part of me that thinks the Dodgers knew they were underselling as they didn’t have as much faith in De Leon as the rest of the baseball world. Anyway, I think De Leon could be ownable once he becomes a mainstay in the bigs, it’s simply unknown when that will be. Maybe it’s out of Spring Training? Maybe it’s later in May as the Rays really don’t have any rush with Matt Andriese currently slated as the #5. But of course Alex Cobb will go injure himself and blamo, there’s his chance. Still have to dock him points for it.
93. Tyler Skaggs (Los Angeles Angels) – Skaggs hit the scene like Vince McMahon after earning 26 Ks in his two minor league games before his 2016 debut. What we got in the bigs was similar – 50 Ks in 49.2 innings – but the shine of a stud ended there, as it was paired with an atrocious 4.17 BB/9 and identical 4.17 ERA. There’s clear upside when looking at those numbers, but it’s tough to think it’s sustainable when none of his pitches registered a whiff rate above 12%. Okay fine, his Cutter did at 25% when he threw just four of them. Point is, I see more like a 7.50 K/9 while I do see him bringing down the walk rate closer to 3.00. He still doesn’t have the makings of ace like other young hurlers pushing him farther back on my targets list, but Top 50/60 is something he could achieve if he grows as a starter. I know I could say that about nearly everyone, but it’s more believable a guy like Skaggs at 25-years-old than someone like, I don’t know, Chris Tillman. Yeah, take that Chris.
94. Mike Montgomery (Chicago Cubs) – There are two problems right off the bat: The Cubs have a starting five currently that doesn’t involve Montgomery and Monty is currently the only lefty arm in the bullpen. Both don’t point to a starting job anytime soon for the tall southpaw. However, Brett Anderson is the fifth starter and he’s as durable as your office’s toilet paper. If Monty gets the gig in Chicago, he can easily provide Top 80 value as a starter with a collection of secondary pitches (Cutter, Changeup, Curveball) that are all so fun to watch. Sure, his Fastball needs work, but we’re talking about late value here bud!
95. Steven Wright (Boston Red Sox) – Don’t Trust a Knuckleballer. Seriously, there’s a reason I love that phrase and last year was a prime example…for the most part. After Wright crusted through 14 games of unreal 2.01 ERA ball with a 1.10 WHIP and 5.7 Ks per start, it turn to ash for the rest of the season to a 5.55 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, and 4.7 Ks per start. Now the Sox have a serious question of who their 4/5 guys are in the rotation with Sale/Price/Porcello on lock down and Pomeranz/Rodriguez/Wright all fighting to fill the final two spots. It’s possible Wright claims one, it’s possible he doesn’t. I hope not as I trust the other two more to be fantasy relevant given starting jobs while Wright’s glorious 2016 first half will most likely be a distant memory of SSS. So it goes.
96. Eduardo Rodriguez (Boston Red Sox) – Alright, I loved me some Eduardo entering last year – I totally bought that he was going to take a step forward from his 2015 season – and that didn’t really work out. His Changeup took a step back while he still couldn’t get his Slider working like it should. I still believe that upside is hiding inside him – he’s still one of the hardest throwing lefty starters out there – but there are a good amount of other upside plays that will most likely have me letting him go elsewhere. Just isn’t enough reward for the clear risk of another 4.00 ERA season and the chance of missing a rotation spot out of Spring Training.
97. Reynaldo Lopez (Chicago White Sox) – With the whisper of Quintana not being with the ChiSox much longer and consider that the back three of the rotation is Gonazlez/Shields/Holland, Reynaldo could be seeing some time as the #5 sooner rather than later and I can see the kid getting into a groove in a low-pressure situation. He has an electric heater (95+!) with a vicious hook and Changeup to match the Fastball. I like Lopez a lot for 2018 and there could be a good amount of days where Lopez needs to figure it out this year, but I definitely see the kid as a solid add for the second half becoming a little more than a streamer.
98. Chad Green (New York Yankees) – Considering that Green is going near the 500th pick of the draft, there is value to be had here. Sure, we don’t know if he’ll be fully healthy to start the year, but if he gets that #5 SP job in New York, It’s not out of the question his 10.25 K/9 and 2.96 BB/9 stick around to some degree – 13.8% whiff rate on his heater! – to give you strikeout production as a starter while not demolishing your WHIP. It would be silly to expect the world from him in the ERA department, but a 3.67 xFIP in 2016 shows that it is certainly possible. Keep in mind, he allowed a horrendous hard contact rate of 38.5% last year, so don’t go too crazy chasing the Green.
99. Francisco Liriano (Toronto Blue Jays) – The Jays traded for Liriano at the deadline and it was pretty ridiculous. Why would Toronto pay for a pitcher with 22 starts of identical 5.34 BB/9 and ERA numbers? Well, Liriano impressed mightily as he maintained his 9+ K/9 while lowering his walks dramatically above the border – 2.92 BB/9 – and once again mirroring his ER total as he also held a 2.92 ERA in just under 50 innings. Liriano should be in the rotation come the start of the year and there’s a chance he’s still beneficial to your team – those Ks aren’t going away – but that walk rate is soooo terrible and the division is obviously worse than the NL Central. Not to mention the Small Sample Size of last year shouldn’t make you forget how detrimental he was to your teams. And don’t forget doubly how his first start of the season on non-opening day was 10 Ks across six shutout innings. Crazy!
100. Homer Bailey (Cincinnati Reds) – It’s hard to grasp what we should expect from Bailey after he’s essentially done nothing since 2014 – TJS will do that to you. Now that he’s finally getting a smooth off-season, it’s totally possible Bailey provides value in 12-team leagues, going say, 3.70 ERA with a 1.28 WHIP and a 7.50+ K/9. That’s not necessarily a guy you hang out with every Saturday, but definitely someone you grab a beer with every so weeks to talk about how bad the Padres offense is.
101. Alex Wood (Los Angeles Dodgers) – I’ve had such an array of emotions regarding Wood over the years. Oh great, another one of THESE jokes…Hey! Let’s keep this mature over here. I loved Wood after 2014, reverted those opinions quickly entering last year and now…well it’s interesting. Across 10 starts through the first two months of the season, Wood was giving owners over 6 Ks per game (awesome!) though his ERA was touching 4.00 with a 1.31 WHIP (not awesome). He had a ton of bad luck – 67.1% LOB rate and .327 BABIP despite 29.9% hard contact – and we could be looking at a post-post hype season from Wood as he fights for a rotation spot come April with McCarthy, Kaz, Ryu, Urias all in the mix after Kershaw/Hill/Maeda. That’s the biggest problem here and it takes him out of the earlier tiers. He’d be intriguing to me with the playing time, but with the lack of firm spot I have to invest elsewhere and keep an eye through the next few months.
Tier 9: The Best of The Rest
102. Hisashi Iwakuma (Seattle Mariners) – Here’s a suggestion: Don’t be too crazy about the rankings in this tier. We’re past the #100 mark and it’s where I start going through a ton of guys that may or may not be drafted and the weight of their exact ranking is very heavy. I have little gripes if you want to switch em around. Have a ball. Anyway, when your two best pitches (Sinker and Curveball) each lose an inch of vertical drop and turn from positive pitches to negative ones, it can be tough to endorse for the year ahead. This is also ignoring the fact that Iwakuma’s Splitty has turned from a super good pitch to a poor one in just two seasons. The walk rate is great, but a good WHIP isn’t going to mask his meh K production and a trend for more 4.00 ERA goodness. Goodness? It’s what the marketing team told me say DON’T HATE ME.
103. Jaime Garcia (Atlanta Braves) – I saw a value season for Garcia in 2016 and saw wrong. I got my crystal ball from my cousin’s mechanic’s ex-roommate and I really should have invested better. The main issue was his heater, which had its best luck in 2015 and worst in 2016. It wouldn’t be surprising to see an improved 2017 for Garcia in the NL Easy and with a regression to the mean, but realistically you’re looking at a 3.80 ERA and 1.30 WHIP with a much lower floor with a handful of strikeouts. Not to mention the injury risk that could return again in 2017 after showing up four years in a row prior to 2016.
104. Dan Straily (Miami Marlins) – Ohhhh Straily. It was you and Lewis that made me come up with the term TEEs as this insolent man continued to defy his 4.88 FIP despite just 14.8% soft contact. That’s just silly. I know he’s an extreme FB guy (48.0%!) so his xFIP of 5.02 isn’t supposed to be that crazy but jeez, I can’t tell you he’ll have a sub 4.00 ERA this year and I wouldn’t be shocked if we saw 4.50 this year. Don’t forget, he also walked guys a ton last year at 3.43 BB/9 and it adds up to a guy that will be alright in the strikeout department but nothing much else. Go away Straily and don’t come back.
105. Collin McHugh (Houston Astros) – We all know about the mega hook McHugh brings to the table, but his real success hinges on his Slider that turned into Cutter, and the pitch lost 2.5 inches of vertical movment since his breakout 2014 year. There’s your difference maker and I don’t see it suddenly returning in 2017. That means I’d be expecting close to a 4.00 ERA again with a 1.30+ WHIP that sure don’t justify his 5.37 strikeouts per start.
106. Adam Wainwright (St. Louis Cardinals) – The problem with Wainwright last season wasn’t with his Cutter – still stellar – or his hook despite his Curveball not being what it once was. Nay, it was his inability to command his heater, specifically his Sinker. That’s a very troubling issue for an aging pitcher making it tough for me to believe he’ll reclaim his older days of excellence and turning into yet another Panda. I’m really hammering in that phrase, my apologies all around.
107. Luke Weaver (St. Louis Cardinals) – If you’re going to be a two-pitch pitcher as a starter, there’s no-better combo than Fastball/Changeup. The speed difference is far enough to whiff, but close enough to prevent batters from making a significant adjustment, their spins should look identical to increase deception, and it will render a ton of weak contact when executed correctly. Before his final two games of the year (including an awkward dance in Coors), Weaver was having the time of his life, featuring a 11.50 K/9, 2.67 BB/9, 3.21 ERA and 2.87 xFIP across seven starts. Now I don’t see anything like this happening again for Weaver as he doesn’t have that excellent third pitch to complete the three-pitch repertoire (think Kershaw’s Curveball), but there is definitely value to be had in Weaver for 2017. The bigger question is when you’ll see it given that he’ll have to beat out Alex Reyes and Michael Wacha for the fifth spot in the Cardinals’ rotation. I expect Weaver to be missing from the rotation out of the gate, but I wouldn’t be shocked if we saw at least 15-20 starts from the kids over the course of 2017. Don’t chase him in your drafts, but keep a keen eye for some deceptive value during the year.
108. Mike Clevinger (Cleveland Indians) – I really want to be a fan of Clevinger. I think he has the mold one of those “super-finesse” pitchers ala Jacob deGrom that features the stuff of a guy nibbling around the plate with deception but can gear it up to 95mph instead of hanging out sub 90mph. Problem is, Clev can’t seem to find the superb 2.28 BB/9 he had in his 2015 season in AA and instead has seen that number swell to a crazy 4.92 BB/9 during his 17 game rookie year stint. There will be a battle for the #5 spot this spring with Josh Tomlin, which may have Clevinger heading back to the pen (or dare I say minors) – though with the glass frames of Salazar and Carrasco, a trip back to the rotation seems inevitable. If he can figure out how to nibble and still throw strikes, there is gold to be had here with #3/#4 upside hiding in that frame. That’s a major IF though and not one to buy into come draft day.
109. Lucas Giolito (Chicago White Sox) – Reynaldo is ranked higher, though Gioltio has been touted as the better prospect of the two. The issue here is that Reynaldo is a little more MLB ready, which means I think Gio-twode gets less time in the majors and needs more time to put it all together. The long-term upside is larger, but for 2017’s sake it’s not worth it to chase.
110. Robert Stephenson (Cincinnati Reds) – Here’s a fun fact. Since 2014, Stephenson’s lowest BB/9 mark on his way from AA to the majors was 4.37 BB/9 in 11 AAA starts. Holy Peralta that’s terrible. Until Robbie makes a major improvement with the walks – unlikely anytime soon – I can’t consider him fantasy relevant.
111. Mike Leake (St. Louis Cardinals) – After three straight seasons of outperforming his FIP, the baseball gods elected to make Leake suffer their wrath, with a 65.6% LOB rate and .318 BABIP leading to a horrendous 4.69 ERA despite a 3.83 FIP and 3.76 xFIP. Given that Leak’s 6.37 K/9 was the second highest of his career (6.89 is champ!), you’re essentially pulling a Three-Fists Compromise when you start him and a 3.60 ceiling isn’t enough to outweigh that 4.50 ERA floor. Here’s to hoping Weaver gets to take his place at some point this year. Jered? Why would you want that? Oh lord, Luke Weaver ya dingus.
112. Scott Kazmir (Los Angeles Dodgers) – It was wild when 2013 happened and Kazmir suddenly had a 9.23 K/9. Then 2014 and 2015 happened when Kaz suddenly dropped his ERA from a poor 4.04 to 3.55 then to a shockingly good 3.10. But the party is over now as his walk rate rose to 3.43 BB/9 in 2016, which came with a 4.56 ERA in a camo bow. No one likes camo-designed bows. I’m sure there are some banking of Kaz finding his groove again for the third (fourth?) time but I see this as a poor investment for a 34-year-old.
113. Tyler Glasnow (Pittsburgh Pirates) – People are going to suggest Glasnow in your N/A slot, but not this guy! Which guy? Right, you can’t see me pointing…I don’t like Glasnow’s lack of command and he’s currently just a two-pitch pitcher. Seems like a fast-track to reliever to me and less so of the studly starter you’ve dreamed so long about for Glasnow. Womp womp.
114. Wei-Yin Chen (Miami Marlins) – Chen’s downfall in 2016 was due to his poor Fastball locations, which went from jamming right-handers inside to being a target for the middle of the plate (hence the rise in hard contact from 28.3% to 35.1%). I was wondering if he was going to fix the issue in the second half, but then he got injured and that was that. Look, Chen could wake up tomorrow and suddenly get the feel for his Fastball command again, I simply am not going to chase it when everything else is pretty boring. Even his breakout 2015 year was boring as his 3.34 ERA ws unsupported by a 4.16 FIP and 4.01 xFIP. His strikeout rate was at its peak in 2016 – 7.30 K/9 – so you’re praying his Fastball command returns and the reward is someone slightly better than Pandas. Yay?
115. Brandon Finnegan (Cincinnati Reds) – I labeled Finnegan a Young Gun often through 2016, meaning that his best days should be in front of him. There’s certainly potential in pushing his K/9 to 8.50 and beyond, but the largest obstacle is figuring out his atrocious control, rendering a 4.40 BB/9 last season. Without lowering that walk rate, expect the WHIP and ERA to be high while also coming of games earlier and diminishing his strikeout total. He’ll have his moments with the spotlight on him, just be aware that the battery doesn’t last long and shipping takes ages to arrive.
116. Michael Wacha (St. Louis Cardinals) – Is he even starting anymore? Between you and me (and pretty much everyone out there without a last name that rhymes with Socka) I hope Wacha is demoted to the pen and stays there through the year so Reyes or better yet Sir. Valuetown Luke Weaver gets time in the rotation. The kid simply doesn’t have the same heater he used to, which makes both his Cutter and Changeup that much worse. He looks to be headed to a role as a reliever full time after making the change in September last season and I wouldn’t be investing in Wacha to make a resurgence as a starter this year. Even if he does start again, I don’t see a super lucky ceiling better than a 7.50 K/9 and 3.40 ERA, with a much more realistic outcome of a 4.00+ ERA and 1.35+ WHIP. Not for me.
117. Mike Fiers (Houston Astros) – Oh Fiers. You’ve had your moments, but it has just gotten worse and worse from you. Hard contact has escalated to a monstrous 35.8% last season – 25.8% line drives! – and batters are finally locking into your Fastball as it registered an abysmal -16.9 pVal last year. It’s just all bad and while you were able to work off your FB/CH combo before, it just isn’t what it used to be. Not enough upside to chase and far too much risk to be drafted in even 14 teamers.
118. David Phelps (Miami Marlins) – Well this one just annoys me completely. After the Marlins were running out of serviceable pitchers to take the hill, Phelps was asked to move from his middle relief role – where he was performing like a stud – to start five games – where he continued to pitch like a stud: 2.22 ERA, 11.84 K/9 and a 52.7% GB rate. The best part was that he was able to maintain the superb velocity jump that he found as a reliever earlier in the season, spiking from 90 MPH averages in 2015 to 95+ MPH in 2016. Now you must be pumped for 2017 because absolutely no one is talking about Phelps…and there may be a good reason for it. As of now, there simply isn’t room for him in the Marlins rotation – especially now that Dan Straily was acquired in January and the President of the Marlins wants to keep him as a middle-reliever. OH COME ON. Now we’re essentially banking on possible injury stints ahead for guys like Wei-Yin Chen and…others. Okay, maybe just Chen, but point is, there’s a chance the Marlins will need someone to take a spot in the rotation and if Phelps gets the call early, it’s possible he gives you 20+ gorgeous starts on the year. There’s also a Slim Jim chance he gets it out of Spring Training, but that’s a man hoping for his Dad to return back from getting cigarettes fifteen years later. PLEASE DAD.
119. Alex Meyer (Los Angeles Angels) – There was a ton of hype surrounding Meyer when he was a prospect for the Twins as he featured a golden 10.57 K/9 across 130 innings as a starter in AA. Two years later, he got his chance on the hill for the Halos and it wasn’t all too pretty – you could say it was out of the frying pan and into the Meyer. That doesn’t make any sense. His walk issues stuck around and while the strikeout potential is still alive, I really don’t see Meyer being a stable starter with his lack of repertoire. A future to the pen seems all too likely and even if he does start, it’s hard to believe it will be pretty.
120. Jordan Zimmermann (Detroit Tigers) – That K rate just keeps falling as his ERA/DIPS are absolutely hating him. He’s been unable to command his heater in the zone in his last two years like before and Zim is getting punished hard for it. I can see him having a better season than last, but it’s a really bad Three-Fists Compromise that I can’t endorse being a part of out of your draft.
121. Nathan Karns (Kansas City Royals) – I think some are overlooking Karns a bit for deeper leagues, as the kid still put up a 9.64 K/9 in 22 games (15 as a starter) for the Mariners. Yes, that 5.15 ERA and 4.29 BB/9 were both atrocious, but he had some bad luck go his way – .327 BABIP despite a decent 30.6% hard contact and a horrid 69.0% LOB rate – and I don’t think it’s out of the question Karns meets his 2015 walk rate of 3.43 BB/9 or even surpasses it to give owners some value in 2017. He still needs to earn his spot in the Royals’ rotation keep in mind (please lose it to Strahm…) and he’s more of a deeper league option for now, though there’s a chance he squeaks into fantasy relevancy for the rest of us at some point this season.
122. Bartolo Colon (Atlanta Braves) – Maybe we’ll see Colon be a decent streamer as he faces some weak teams? It’s tough to endorse The Giant Peach (RIP The Big Apple) when he doesn’t have the Win chance like when he was a Met.
123. Luis Perdomo (San Diego Padres) – If you have a keen eye – which you have I DON’T KNOW YOU – you’ll have noticed Perdomo is the only Padre on here. Yep, I’ll even continue exhausting nearly every starter on every team tomorrow, even hypothetical ones, and I still have elected to leave off the rest of the Padres rotation. Perdomo is the only to me that can have a semblance of value in 2017 (okay maaayyybe Paul Clemens with that Curveball but that is just bad news for anyone considering him in any way. Outside of his significant other, of course.) as if he harnesses his (harnesseses) two-seamer then he can ride it to BABIP Gods country. That means there will be nights when the lords are welcoming and harvests are bountiful. But remember kids, harvests come only a few times a year.
124. Josh Tomlin (Cleveland Indians) – Boy does Tomlin hate walks (1.03 BB/9!). Boy does that not prevent him from being a low strikeout and high ERA pitcher. If you want to get lucky on a given night, why not go with someone who can actually produce a good strikeout night too?
125. Matt Boyd (Detroit Tigers) – There was a moment last year that it seemed like Boyd was figuring it out as a five game stretch from August to September gave Boyd a line of 2.40 ERA with a 2.40 BB/9 and…6.90 K/9. Oh, and a 4.15 FIP…and 4.58 xFIP…because of a 91.8% LOB rate…alright. Boyd doesn’t even have a spot in the rotation and he’s at best an ocassional streamer while most of the time you should simply be Boyd Watching. Yes I’m bringing that back because I love Gary Larsen. Who doesn’t?