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Top 200 Starting Pitchers For 2022 Fantasy Baseball: 41-60

Nick Pollack's Top 200 Starting Pitchers for fantasy baseball: 41-60.

Nick’s Top 200 Starting Pitchers for 2022 Fantasy Baseball rankings continue with pitchers #41 through #60.

 

Tier 5.5 – Y’all are going to hate me for this (Continued)

 

41. Shohei Ohtani (Los Angeles Angels) – We talk a ton about Ohtani the hitter, but we don’t appreciate the pitching enough, says me, the pitching guy. His splitter was as filthy as they come, allowing just 11 hits across 370 thrown while striking out 78 on the pitch. That’s seven strikeouts for every hit. Meanwhile, his slider worked well as a proper pairing to the splitter, tossing it in the zone near 60% of the time and earning plenty of strikes. But the heater…man that’s a little bit of a problem. It held a .319 BABIP and missed bats at just a 8.3% clip, a low number when you realize he averaged nearly 96 mph on heaters all year. I can’t help but get a sense Ohtani’s best pitching season is behind us if that heater doesn’t improve a bit this year.

But there’s more to that. Ohtani never hit the IL this year and yet, he still made just 23 starts. This has all the makings of a peak pitching season and I’m not ready to suggest he’ll stay healthy again all year. So then we’re talking 20 starts with a great splitter, solid slider, and questionable heater. Yeah, that’s not the kind of pitcher I want to chase – remember, this tier is about those who could hint at being an SP #1 and it’s just not there for a full year.

 

Tier 6 – The Vault

Look at this tier and Tier 7. Ignore the ranking and understand why they are in those tiers, then take what best fits your team. Have you only taken two or three starters and need a little more consistency? Take Bassitt or Valdez, they are safe and filled with valuable innings (like a vault!). Want to start shooting for legit Top 20 upside? Tier 7 is your guy. Want to have some legit fun? Take Clevinger or Severino instead from the other tier and ca–WHY ARE YOU THROWING TOMATOES AT ME. 

 

42. Chris Bassitt (Oakland Athletics) – I’ve noted over the last four months that I’m a little higher on Bassitt since my October ranks and it’s a product of underestimating the impact of his four-seamer. See, one of the many beautiful things about the PL7 website is now that we have 100% Statcast data on our player pages, we can properly separate sinkers and four-seamers on their pitch charts. And what do you know, his four-seamer earned a 15% SwStr last year. Bassitt had a strikeout pitch all along and I just didn’t see it. The fool I was.

It’s a huge deal as it answers the question as to how Bassitt – a sinkerballer without a wicked secondary pitch – was able to conjure a 25% strikeout rate in 2021. It didn’t feel right and while it still doesn’t feel quite right, I can certainly buy that he’ll be comfortably over 20% in 2022. Mix that with a high likelihood of 160 frames with a beneficial ERA and WHIP, and you have yourself a safe arm through the season. He’s not in the higher tiers due to his plethora of secondaries (the man is a kitchen sink arm) failing to hint at a great ascension, but that sinker will get the outs you want and hopefully the four-seamer can continue to earn the punchouts.

 

43. Ian Anderson (Atlanta) – If it’s not clear in the ranking, I’m a believer in Anderson. The over-the-top hurler has already impressed with a 3.58 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, and 23% strikeout rate and if you think he’s already established “who he is” at such a young age (just 24 in May!), I think you’d be overlooking plenty of potential growth ahead. He already took a step forward with his changeup this year, improving its strike rates via more swings out of the zone, he nudged his fastball’s velocity half a tick to 94.6 mph, and there’s hope in his curveball turning into a legit #3 pitch. In fact, we saw the hook look like an elite offering a few times during the year, including a 13-whiff performance against the Marlins. Yes, the Marlins, but you get the point.

There’s the chance Anderson simply can’t take that step forward in his command this year, but the good news is I think his potential development could be overset by his potential regression as he held a 79% LOB rate and .261 BABIP, equating to a 4.38 SIERA. Maybe he gets a little worse and doesn’t improve his curveball or his pitch efficiency, or maybe he finds his rhythm, jumps from 145 frames to 170+, and gives Max Fried a run for his money. I don’t think you’ll be tempted in the slightest to remove Anderson from your squad this year, and mixed with an alluring ceiling, he should have your attention.

 

44. Framber Valdez (Houston Astros) – 2021 was one of those rare seasons where the standard analysis of “I think he’s somewhere in between his last two seasons” was actually pretty good. Valdez didn’t hold the excellent 26% strikeout rate or 1.12 WHIP (21% and 1.25 in 2021), but a 3.14 ERA as he made up for lost time with a grand 6+ IPS that did many a service this year. He did something quite remarkable in his 135 frames, though – he held a 15% flyball rate. I was ranting about Webb’s 18% clip being outlandish and Framber’s was 20% better. He’s always been a ~20% flyball machine, allowing him to reduce damage from the longball and keep the ERA down. And yet, there are issues.

The .260 BABIP shouldn’t stick, for one. He simply allows too many grounders to believe he can sit below average. And with a Hit/9 climbing closer to 8.00, he better get that 10% walk rate intact – it may be hard to do when Valdez boasts a mediocre changeup and a fastball with a strike rate that fell dramatically to 61% from 68%. That sinker is often the bane of Valdez’s evenings and I’m not a believer that it will get awfully better in 2022. The reason Valdez is as good as he is, though, is his curveball, which is as incredible as they come. 36% CSW marks for three straight years paired with sub .130 BAA. Yeah, it’s unheard of. That pitch alone will keep Valdez on your squads through the season, but with my doubts that his fastball can truly soar, or the changeup becoming a legit secondary offering, I’m looking at Valdez as a step up from a traditional Toby but not a gamechanger.

 

45. Nathan Eovaldi (Boston Red Sox) – I like Eovaldi. Wait I don’t. Okay maybe a little. I vastly underrated Eovaldi entering 2021 as I overlooked the gains he made on his curveball – its 2020 40% CSW was matched last year – and as a whole, Eovaldi was a steal for many in drafts. Through the year, I often questioned if he had enough in his arsenal to become a true staple of fantasy staffs – the man throws upper-90s, but is the hook enough? What about the cutter, splitter, and slider? – and in the end, I’ve accepted Eovaldi as solid, but not excellent. I don’t see a path to legit Top 20 starter here. I do see a WHIP hovering the late teens, an ERA that will battle against a 4.00 all year, and a strikeout rate that’ll settle comfortably above 20%, flirting with 25% at times.

There’s one major problem I haven’t mentioned, though. Before 2021, Eovaldi hadn’t tossed 155+ frames since 2014. Don’t make the assumption that Eovaldi will be healthy enough to go 32 starts again this season. I’m not suggesting he’ll miss 100 frames, but we haven’t seen him healthy for a long stretch before and those drafting Eovaldi expecting another 180 inning season will likely be kicking rocks in September. That doesn’t mean he shouldn’t help you this year, but it’s a dent in his draft value.

 

46. Marcus Stroman (Chicago Cubs) – I’ve wanted Stroman to soar for years. I ranked him inside the Top 25 after his 2014 debut and sadly we haven’t seen the strikeouts rise enough to consider him as a legit Top 20 fantasy arm. 2021 did show life in the form of a 1.15 WHIP – his first season below 1.29 since 2015 – as his BABIP finally settled under .300 for a year, and you’re sure to get a pitcher hinting 180 innings once again. I have my concerns that Stroman will look awfully close to a Toby when all is said and done, though, and it makes it tough for me to rank him. In most cases, I’ll have Stroman on my personal draft list after plenty of the Tier 7 guys. However, I have to put him here given the stability he will provide. His ERA will be under 4.00 given the effectiveness of his sinker and he’ll likely have a WHIP better than what’s on the waiver wire. However, without major gains in his slider and cutter in 2022, his strikeout rate will stay pedestrian, relying on his sheer volume to keep the category afloat.

Please understand the ranking here. Stroman is safer than tier seven, but he’s also not nearly as exciting or game-changing as the youngin’s below. Play to your strengths – if you want to chase the potential Top 20 upside of Tier 7 arms (I’ll be doing it myself!) then skip over Stroman. If you want stable production better than the waiver wire all year, go Stroman. You. Do. Darvish. You.

 

Tier 7 – The Super Fun Time

As I mentioned for Tier 6, here are the guys I dream of drafting a full team with just because I personally am excited to see if they can blossom into their full potential this year. Strategically, that’s dumb as they all have large roadblocks that could slow down their progress, but I guarantee you at least one – if not many – rise to the occasion this year. For example, Joe Musgrove and Kevin Gausman are just a few names found here last season.

 

47. Michael Kopech (Chicago White Sox) – You want Top 20 upside? You got it in Kopech. We’ve waited patiently for Kopech to get his proper shot in the ChiSox rotation since his debut in 2018, but TJS, an opt-out of 2020, and a season easing him back via the pen got in the way. With the lockout, Kopech’s situation is muddy as he appears to be the #5 starter, but a single free agent signing could steer him back into his dominant set-up role once again. I’m an optimistic man and believe Kopech will get his shot this season, which spells a potential 140-150 frame season of excitement. The dude tossed 97 mph heaters that returned a 15% SwStr rate last year and backed it up with a 35% CSW slider. We didn’t see a whole lot of his curveball and changeup as he pitched from the pen, but they didn’t matter in his five-inning spot start against the Rangers where he carved them up for ten strikeouts and just one run.

There’s not a whole lot else to say. His fastball comes in hard and misses bats – this is not your Huascar Ynoa heater, this is your Brandon Woodruff heater – and his slider does everything it needs to as a #2 offering to make you say MmmK. The risk involved is more of workload but if he has the job, he’s going to be legit. In fact, if Kopech is confirmed as the starter in March, I’m raising him into the mid-30s above Dylan Cease. I think he’s that good.

 

48. Shane Baz (Tampa Bay Rays) – This is a tough call. On one hand, I want to draft Baz everywhere as the dude is as nasty as they come. If you’re bored and want to enjoy me squirming as I watch filth, check out my video breakdown of every pitch from his MLB debut. In the ultra-small 13.1 IP sample of last year, he boasted a stupid good four-seamer (16% SwStr rate lol), a filthy slider (26% SwStr rate still lol), and a curveball that held a 35% CSW rate (I CAN ONLY LAUGH SO MUCH). That curveball was awfully inconsistent and I’m not sure he can’t flirt with a 70% strike rate with both four-seamer and slider, but the skills are there. You all know it.

The reason I’m having trouble drafting him is the team he pitches for. My best guess is the Rays will use Baz exactly like the blueprint made for Shane McClanahan last year – bring him up weeks after the season starts and limit him to five frames for most of the season. It outlines ~120 frames for Baz and turns him into a HIPSTERnot a term you want slapped across your chest.

In some ways, it’s just like José Urquidy, but flipped. While Urquidy will likely be productive early but we question how long it’ll last given his health, Baz should be in the minors for the first couple weeks, forcing us to sit on our hands and settle for the production in May and beyond. Remember this – you won’t have direct access to the Rays’ front office to ask when Baz will get the call. You have to be disciplined to draft him, hold him on your bench, and not do anything stupid as you watch the early April performers get grabbed by other managers. It’s the game you signed up for.

So here we are, four paragraphs into Baz and I’m not sure what to do. His ability is Top 20 SP-esque, but we just don’t know how much of it we’ll see and when it’ll happen. Give me Kopech and his clearer path instead – at least you’ll know early on! – and I cannot wait to watch every single start he makes.

 

49. Patrick Sandoval (Los Angeles Angels) – The Irish Pan(a)da. If you didn’t fall for him last year when he earned 32 whiffs in one start, you gotta let your passion free. Only one other player hit the 32 whiff mark all year, and his name? Mike Trout Gerrit Cole. Sandoval gets his whiffs from a ridiculous changeup that led the majors with a 29% SwStr rate and limited batters to a stupid low .139 BAA. He hurls the pitch 30% of the time, paired with two breakers that each earned a CSW above 35% last year – including a hook that held a 36% called strike rate. Fine, that’s obviously not sustainable across its 10% usage, but the breakers combined make for a strong strike-earning duo, which leaves everything up to his heater to seal the deal. And that’s the biggest issue for Sandoval, outside of his left lumbar spine stress reaction that ended his 2021 campaign season short. His four-seamer just isn’t that good. It comes in at 93 mph and finds the zone often enough, but there are games where he makes too many mistakes with the pitch and the breakers don’t find the zone enough to set up the massive 45% O-Swing changeup.

Sandoval is a traditional Guardians pitcher hiding under a halo and if he’s capable of pitching 150+ frames this year, you’ll be rewarded with a 25%+ strikeout rate and solid ratios, with the chance he finds a rhythm that pushes him into ace territory – his changeup is that good. He carries one of the larger spectrums of success and failure (he tossed just 87 frames last year!) and while I want to take the chance in all my drafts, I’m careful to grab him only when I surround him with more dependable options.

 

50. Logan Gilbert (Seattle Mariners) – I absolutely adore two parts of Gilbert. First, his heater is fantastic. Don’t be deterred by its slightly above average .254 BAA, but rather understand it’s everything to Gilbert as he couldn’t rely on the rest of his stuff in 2021. It missed bats at a 12% clip and will continue to do so, likely at a better mark in 2022. It’s an envious foundation and allows for accelerated growth if his slider blossoms over time (or curveball + changeup, but I less faith in those). We saw glimpses of the sweeper work, but a 55% strike rate is far from what he needs.

The good news is he has a stranglehold on a job in Seattle, a place where they’ll allow Gilbert to comfortably toss six frames all year. I don’t expect Gilbert to come out of the gate swinging, but given the full season, I anticipate steps forward that include improvement in his secondaries somewhere, pushing him into a workhorse for your fantasy teams. It feels inevitable, though we haven’t seen it with consistency yet. Draft wisely.

 

51. Huascar Ynoa (Atlanta) – I’ve made my Ynoa love a little less vocal over the last few months as I’ve seen his name fall far outside the Top 200 NFBC picks and I think I’m starting to understand why. Oh, you don’t believe in his ability after all? What? Nah, it’s a product of the absurd amount of pitching depth in drafts this year. Despite how “furious” I am that he keeps getting passed on, his ADP is a product more of the relative pool than his own talent.

Yes, that should get you excited. His ability is simple: an elite slider that held a 38% CSW and .207 BAA as it was tossed nearly 50% of the time paired with a heater that cooks bats with 96.5 mph heat. He has a clear job in Atlanta, had two luscious months of a 3.02 ERA, 22 K-BB% rate, and 1.05 WHIP before an emotional punch fractured his hand, and I’d imagine the rough stretch we saw at the end of the year is not indicative of what’s to come…

…wait a second. That “rough stretch” began as a 3.93 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, and 38 strikeouts in 36 innings/seven starts, before a single blowup against the Padres where we allowed 7 ER – just one of two starts where he allowed more than one HR in the 17 he had. This is all to say that those who see Huascar and think he only was good during the opening stretch, that simply wasn’t the case. There is justifiable concern with his ERA given the two-pitch nature and a heater that gets banged up a little too often, but you’re gonna love the strikeouts (27% last year!), he’ll likely hold onto his 5.1 IPS if not improve upon it, and the WHIP will be glorious given the low walk rate. You outta (grab) Ynoa in your drafts at his discount.

 

52. John Means (Baltimore Orioles) – Once again, I am asking you to draft John Means. Despite his surname, he is above average and I see him as a solid volume arm who has a touch more risk than Tier 6, but a higher ceiling that should excite you. His fastball is solid, his changeup is great, his curveball steals tons of strikes, and his slider has potential for more as a whiff pitch. The volume should be there as the Orioles have nothing better to do than let Means toss 90+ pearls a game (he averaged 89 PPG last year) and his 13% SwStr last year speaks to a strikeout rate near 25%, not the sub 23% clip from last season. Pair that with a walk rate that likely won’t match last year’s 4.4% but still remain among the best and you have yourself a great WHIP as well.

There are risks, of course. His HR rate is scary inside Camden and the AL East, even if Baltimore is pushing back the left-field wall over 25 feet, and with a .240 BABIP and 80.5% LOB rate, it’s a decent chance Means’ 3.62 ERA inflates in the year ahead. And did I mention he’s on the Orioles? He returned just six wins in 26 starts and getting to double-digits may be a struggle. Still, the WHIP and strikeouts alone will make him worthwhile with the chance the ERA still sparkles, plus there’s room for growth in his secondaries that could turn him into a legit Top 20 arm (and hey, maybe that heater returns to ~94mph?). Don’t let your fear of the longball overlook 170 strikeouts and a glistening WHIP. John. Means. Business.

 

53. José Urquidy (Houston Astros) – You should feel pretty safe with Urquidy. He has a strong four-pitch mix featuring a fastball that gets a ton of strikes without the casual brutality of his contemporaries, a changeup that limits hits and snags strikes consistently, a slider that could return to its heavy-whiff form, and even a glorious curveball to steal called strikes (28% CS rate last year!). It’s all there, we don’t really need him to change a whole lot, save for getting a few more slider whiffs to push his strikeout rate closer to 25%.

The reason he isn’t drafted inside the Top 40 is because of his questionable health. Urquidy missed time in 2019, 2020, and 2021 and an anticipation of 160+ frames is certainly possible, but heavily idealist. Still, he seems good to go out of the gate and if something happens mid-season, it’s not like deGrom or Rodón where it’s tough to recover from the loss. He’s a lovely addition to every staff and you won’t be disappointed with him on your roster.

 

54. Tanner Houck (Boston Red Sox) – Have you seen Houck’s slider? Of course you have, you’ve been bombarded with GIFs comparing it to his mentor Chris Sale through the last eight months and to the surprise of few, it earned a fantastic 36% CSW. But get this, it wasn’t so amazing. Why? Because it held just a 59% strike rate, forcing Houck to get into deeper counts often and preventing him from earning six frames. Well, that and the Red Sox tendency of over-protectiveness that made us incredibly frustrated through the year as we wondered when the chains of youth would become unshackled. Let the Houck spread his wings, Boston. 

Back to the point at hand. Houck’s slider has a boatload of potential, but he has to iron out some kinks before it can achieve its seemingly inevitable destiny as an elite offering. Meanwhile, his heater is far from a poor offering, but it’s not why we’re into Tanner in the first place. It’s good enough to allow for an elite sweeper to do its thing and prevent after-game locker room shade thrown its way. I WOULD be an elite slider if it weren’t for that TERRIBLE HEATER. Sorry, that was Germán Márquez’s arsenal squeezing through the cracks. I’ve been ignoring Houck’s split-changeup in this discussion as I’m not a huge believer in its potential impact. It’s not necessarily bad, just not a pitch I think can take over and become a catalyst for success.

In short, I expect the Red Sox to let Houck start out of the gate, or at the very least a two weeks into the season – hey, maybe Michael Wacha and Rich Hill both force their way into the rotation or, even simpler, Houck gets skipped during the first or second rotation pass – and I anticipate Houck to be generally beneficial in ERA/WHIP/Ks. Just not the ridiculousness of 2021 and it’ll likely come at a mediocre ~5 innings per start or so. That’s cool with me.

 

55. Sean Manaea (Oakland Athletics) – I was so down on Manaea last year, ranking him outside the Top 80 as I saw a Toby who didn’t have enough in the tank to push a strong strikeout rate + command that made for a tough time to improve on a 1.20 WHIP. Well, he didn’t improve the latter, and a 3.91 ERA isn’t quite the push forward this ranking suggests, but his strikeout rate rose to 26% and the southpaw was a legit ace in the middle of the season. Seriously, he had a 12 game stretch from May to July where he held a 2.08 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, and 30% strikeout rate. It was BONKERS. Sadly, August was a rough time and while September gave more hints to dominance, he went 3-for-5 of being an ace and 2-for-5 being…horrendous.

The main cause for the surge in performance was a massive uptick in his heater. Manaea was sitting 90/91 early in the year (and in 2020!), but suddenly starting sitting 92…then 93…and even hinted 94 mph as late as September 15th. Crazy! I should note, we saw 91/92 mph in his final three outings and I’ll be honest, my heart can’t take it. His changeup is a cool thing – not overwhelming, but a solid secondary offering, the slider is good not great, and everything does rely on that fastball boasting that 13% SwStr again as he tossed 60% of the time last year. Mix that question with 2021 setting a career-high in innings and I think this is not the arm I ultimately want to chase.

 

56. Sonny Gray (Cincinnati Reds) – Some love Gray. He doesn’t allow a lot of hard contact, he steals a ton of called strikes with sinkers and four-seamers, grounders are his jam at a 50% rate last year, and he has two breakers in his curveball and slider that propel his strikeout rate above 25%. The problem is it’s so dang inconsistent. It’s oddly enough not a grey area for Sonny – if he can get strikes in-and-out of the zone with either his curveball or slider on a given day, he’ll be fine. H*ck, sometimes we get both and things are glorious. However, there were multiple stretches last year when Gray couldn’t get a feel for either, forcing him to rely on heaters to get the job done and, well, they didn’t. Oh, and pitching in Cincy is all kinds of bad for his 1.26 HR/9, but that should come back down to his sub 1.00 career mark…right?

There is a glimmer of hope, though. Gray shifted to a cutter in August that performed well as a pitch (40% CSW in 13% usage!) and the results were better – 3.63 ERA, 0.94 WHIP – but the walk rate stayed high above at 9% and he relied on a .160 BABIP for his success. In short, I hope the cutter becomes a staple and may bring stability to Gray, but ultimately a pick in Gray is faith in his breakers being plenty more good than poor and I’m not sure I want to take their hand and dance.

 

57. Jordan Montgomery (New York Yankees) – Is this the year for The Bear? I sure hope so, but it’ll take a step forward in two areas: trust in his changeup + curveball early in counts & a fastball + cutter combination that doesn’t get crushed. The latter combo really was a detriment to JorMont, with neither of his four-seamer or sinker performing well, nor a cutter that found the zone without getting shellacked. It’s a major issue and one I believe makes Montgomery more passive than I would like, leading to more nibbling and a quicker hook.

However, there is hope. Montgomery’s curveball is filthy – 37% CSW and a 22% SwStr is killer – and if he can sustain its 65%+ strike rate while bumping its usage past the 30% mark, things could get easier in a hurry. His changeup held similar numbers and the combination set the table for a potential breakout. Something needs to change, though – either throw fewer fastballs & cutters or make them better. If not, we’re going to see another season with a WHIP north of 1.20 and an ERA teetering 4.00. Let’s hope he can take the step forward.

 

58. Eduardo Rodriguez (Detroit Tigers) – I’m happy for Eduardo. He’s moving from the AL Beast to Detroit, where he’ll face weaker lineups and pitch in more favorable parks. He had a terrifying 2020 and was served some poor luck via the HOTEL last year (.363 BABIP and a 68.9% LOB rate. Yikes), which should be rectified on a path to “bliss” in 2022. Sorry for the quotation marks, but I just couldn’t say it with a straight face. Will it actually be “bliss” next year?

E-Rod’s repertoire is straightforward. His four-seamer is his best pitch with a whopping 15.5% SwStr rate, his sinker can surprise hitters at times, his cutter/slider can work as a called strike pitch, and his changeup is a legit whiff pitch, when it’s working. So he has one great pitch, one sometimes great pitch, and pitches he hopes to sneak into the zone? Bingo. I don’t think this changes a whole lot in Detroit, which makes me hesitant to suggest he has the ability to chase a sub 3.50 ERA/1.20 WHIP levels. I understand why people are chasing him given the sizeable expected volume, but a shorter ceiling in the ratios department, I get a sense many will be debating if it’s worth holding onto E-Rod through the year. Y’all know that’s the game I hate to play.

He’s better off in deeper leagues because of this – his ratios certainly play in 15-teamers and the strikeout rate should be around 25% – but for 12-teamers, I feel you can do better.

 

59. Tarik Skubal (Detroit Tigers) – Sometimes, rankings are a little bit of a leap of faith. You mean “all the time.” Okay fine. The best ranks are the ones that take a player who hasn’t done the thing before, days or weeks before they actually do the thing. Rankings are all about what will happen, right?

Skubal is a prime example of someone I think will blossom in 2022, without having that safety net of track record to nestle under like a warm blanket. Many have criticized his fastball mix of four-seamers and sinkers, the former which returned a ghastly -13.2 pVal in 2021, and it’s all fair. The results on his four-seamer were not what we wanted, but I don’t believe it’s a trend we’ll see sticking. Seeing a 12%+ SwStr and a 30% HR/FB rate seems as if the trend should point in the other direction.

And that sinker? 30%+ O-Swing for its 13% usage. That’s great. There’s a myth out there that I detest sinkers and allow me debunk it swiftly – I love sinkers when they are used correctly: roughly 10% as a surprise pitch to induce weak contact off the plate. Sure, a 60% zone rate isn’t ideal, but it gets grounders a ton and earns a ton of strikes. This is cool.

So with those two heaters at play, Skubal experimented with his secondaries, displaying proper development along the way. By season’s end, both his slider and changeup each returned 31%+ CSW marks and I see true potential in both pitches to hold his 25% strikeout rate, if not push it higher. Mix in ample opportunity in Detroit (149 frames last year outlines a full season’s workload without interruption in 2022) as they constantly let him hover in the mid-90s in pitch counts before they slapped a limit on him in September, and you have a potential breakout arm just waiting to crush the mediocre AL Central lineups. Just limit those homers a bit, okay Skubs?

 

60. Jon Gray (Texas Rangers) – Let’s do this. I think we’re near the point in these rankings where it’s time to lean into my Ms. Frizzle method (Take chances, make mistakes, GET MESSY) and I can’t help but endorse J.G. for 2022. He’s out of Coors and in a fantastic Rangers ballpark for a team that should be…fine? Yeah, sure. Gray gained a full tick on his fastball, even averaging 97 mph for a single start in July, but even at 95 mph, his four-seamer gives hope with permanent residence outside Colorado. Meanwhile, his slider is legit with high CSW rates and will propel a 25%+ strikeout rate in 2022.

Even if we don’t see his curveball turn into a solid #3 again or if the changeup resides in mediocrity, Gray should be able to constantly go six strong for a Rangers team that has zero reason to limit Gray next year. It’s unclear how much the ERA/WHIP will fall from 4.59/1.33 now that he’s firmly removed from the thin air, but I’m willing to gamble with his fastball/slider that he’s ready to soar.

Nick Pollack

Founder of Pitcher List. Creator of CSW, The List, and SP Roundup. Worked with MSG, FanGraphs, CBS Sports, and Washington Post. Former college pitcher, travel coach, pitching coach, and Brandeis alum. Wants every pitcher to be dope.

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