The List 6/23: The Top 100 Starting Pitchers For 2020 — 60 Game Edition

The season is coming: Nick has updated the Top 100 SPs for 2020.

Update: I have since updated these rankings on July 17th. Use those for your preseason drafts!

 

Hey.

It’s been a long time. I’ve missed doing this, and this is going to be a very weird update. Not a whole slew of changes since the March update, but a few things have changed, and now that we have a season announced, it’s appropriate to release an updated set of rankings.

Please, keep in mind that this is without all the information we normally have. I don’t know the schedule in full, the division alignments, how taxi squads will work, etc. There’s so much still up in the air and when we find out more, I will update it once again. It was either don’t put out an update and wait or do one with this caveat, and hey, I missed y’all, so here we are.

As always, read the notes and leave your comments (I now get notified when you leave a comment, yay!) and let’s talk about baseball.

 

Ranking Notes

 

  • Whoa, I’m doing notes again! I CAN’T WAIT FOR BASEBALL TO RETURN.
  • take note that I’ve removed both Noah Syndergaard and Carlos Carrasco from The List, granting an innate +2 boost to everyone after around #30. Syndergaard had TJS, while Carrasco’s recovery from cancer makes me assume he will sit out the season given a weaker immune system – there has been nothing announced thus far, but it’s a safe assumption to make. Carrasco would be around the early 20s if he plays in full.
  • June 24 update: It looks like Michael Fulmer is expected to return in full from TJS for the start of the season. There’s obviously concern if his sinker is still thrown and if he can find his old changeup, but I’d rank him around Jordan Montgomery and Alex Wood around #60 – there’s enough upside to chase that it could work out well as a late round flier.
  • During PitchCon, I sat down with injury specialist Stephen Lyman, where we discussed many players with injury questions and how to properly put weights on them. There are a number of players who have shifted in my ranks because of this discussion (watch our hour long talk here):
    • I’m placing Mike Clevinger ahead of Shane Bieber, as we shouldn’t be worried about his knee at all given the large time off to properly heal. I like Clev dog. You should too.
    • Charlie Morton often gets hurt by the longevity of the season and a season a third in length will do wonders for his overall performance. He was a true ace last year and gets a well-deserved bump.
    • I was giving Blake Snell a heavy drop before, given the injury cloud already circling, but given it was loose bodies that were removed and should be fully healed, I’m in on Snell rebounding from an odd year where he lost the feel for his curveball and slider in the zone. That should come back.
    • Griffin Canning‘s PRP injections should come with concern, pushing him down a tier.
  • I feel weird about the fourth tier. In February, I was favoring strong volume arms over the volatile upside from ranks 20-40, but I’m starting to question if that’s what we should be doing. I’m still leaving Corey Kluber high, as I think his overall talent warrants it, but Zack Greinke and Madison Bumgarner fall a bit.
  • Hyun-Jin Ryu, the one I’ve often avoided a ton, is back on the menu in a shortened year. Not someone I’d personally go for in this range, but I can’t ignore that he’ll likely perform along the lines of Kyle Hendricksif not slightly better.
  • On that note, you may notice that I’m not putting a major weight on injury-prone arms here. Since the update three months ago, I’ve had more credence that a shorter season returns fewer risks for injured arms, giving me a slight boost to many — not all, though.
  • Rich Hill comes to mind there, and I’ve pushed him up plenty given that all signs currently point to a healthy start to the year. Not too far though, he will likely break at some point, even in limited time.
  • There were a few little tweaks here and there — moving up Joe Musgrove slightly, as he should be removed from his shoulder stiffness, Caleb Smith talking about his hip injury hurting his second-half last season makes me a little more encouraged about a strong start to the year — but nothing too major otherwise.
  • I know it seems odd, but I like John Means as a late add for teams. A great changeup, an improving curveball, and a good enough fastball that warrants a better floor than most are giving him credit.
  • I’ve also bumped up Spencer Turnbull, who has a repertoire that could improve if he fully removes that terrible sinker – his four-seamer returned a 14.1 pVal last year!
  • Let’s welcome a few names to The List, as we’ve removed a few aces in Carrasco, Sale, and Syndergaard:
    • Kyle Gibson‘s injury was up in the air last time, but now looks like he’ll be entrenched in the Rangers rotation. I’m not terribly in, but hey, he’s got an incredible slider and changeup.
    • There was a brief moment of excitement last year when Brad Keller upped his velocity two ticks before coming down with an injury that ended his season. There could be something there.
    • Let’s bring in the Irish Panda Patrick Sandoval at the end, as he could be the sixth man with Shohei Ohtani likely getting an odd weekly spot in the rotation. There may be something to Sandoval with an intriguing trio of pitches, so let’s give him a warm welcome.
  • A few names I considered at the end but just missed the cut:
    • Pablo Lopez: In retrospect, I likely should have added Lopez. He discussed with Fast and I that he plans to use more changeups this year (yes!) and could be a sneaky add for an early productive year. Probably in the late 80s or so.
    • Miles MikolasWe’re assuming he’s healthy.
    • Freddy Peralta and Corbin BurnesWho knows who gets the job here…if there is one to get now that Eric Lauer is healthy. They become intriguing upside plays if they earn a legit role, but it’s also the Brewers – they could each go only four innings each even if they get a starting gig. Monitor this situation in the spring.
    • Carlos Carrasco: He’ll likely sit out 2020 as his cancer treatment makes possible exposure to COVID-19 more dangerous than for most.
    • Chase Anderson: I need to see a legit change in Toronto first. Same goes for Trent Thornton, Matt Shoemakerand Tanner Roark.
    • Anibal Sanchez and Marco Gonzales: I leaned toward upside in the final 15 spots and found myself not needing to go after a Toby like Anibal or Marco or a few more I’m sure you’re wondering about.
    • Austin VothI think Joe Ross has him beat right now. That’s sad. If he has a rotation spot, he slides in #85 or so.
    • I should also mention the Dodgers’ situation with Ross Stripling and Dustin May currently out of the rotation. This could change, they could go six-man if it’s a crunched season, among many other scenarios. If so, I like May more than Stripling, but we’ll see how the Dodgers play it out. They always find a way to make us pull our hair out, after all.
    • Nate Pearson and Spencer HowardI was tempted again to put them both on The List, but the fact remains we’re still waiting on news about how prospects will be handled inside taxi squads. If Pearson or Howard are invited and hit the rotation, they would both shoot up to around #60 or so, with Pearson > Howard (though Howard has the easier path to the #5 rotation spot).
      • Side note: I have zero expectations for other prospects, including Mackenzie Gore, Brady Singer, Matt Manning, Casey Mize, etc. to make this leap. Pearson and Howard seem more likely to jump.

All right, now that the notes are at the top and you understand where I’m coming from, let’s get to The List:

RankPitcherBadgesChange
1Gerrit ColeT1
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-
2Jacob deGrom
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-
3Max Scherzer
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-
4Justin Verlander
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-
5Walker Buehler
T2
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-
6Mike Clevinger
Aces Gonna Ace
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
+1
7Shane Bieber
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-1
8Charlie Morton
Aces Gonna Ace
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
+3
9Stephen Strasburg
Aces Gonna Ace
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-1
10Jack Flaherty
T3
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-1
11Blake Snell
Aces Gonna Ace
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
+6
12Patrick Corbin
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-2
13Clayton Kershaw
Aces Gonna Ace
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Ratio Focused
-1
14Yu Darvish
Aces Gonna Ace
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-
15Luis Castillo
Aces Gonna Ace
Quality Starts
-2
16Lucas Giolito
T4
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-1
17Chris Paddack
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Ratio Focused
-1
18Corey Kluber
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-
19Aaron Nola
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-
20Zack Wheeler
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
-
21Sonny Gray
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
+2
22Zac Gallen
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
-
23Tyler Glasnow
Aces Gonna Ace
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
+1
24James Paxton
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
+1
25Zack Greinke
T5
Aces Gonna Ace
Quality Starts
-4
26Lance Lynn
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
+2
27Frankie Montas
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
+3
28Trevor Bauer
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Cherry Bomb
+3
29Madison Bumgarner
Ace Potential
Quality Starts
Ratio Focused
-2
30Brandon Woodruff
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
+2
31Mike Soroka
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Quality Starts
Ratio Focused
+2
32Jose Berrios
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
+2
33David Price
T6
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Ratio Focused
+2
34Jesus Luzardo
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Playing Time Question
+2
35Kenta Maeda
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
+2
36Shohei Ohtani
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
+2
37Matthew Boyd
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
+3
38Carlos Martinez
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
+1
39Julio Urias
T7
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
+2
40Luke Weaver
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Playing Time Question
Ratio Focused
+3
41Hyun Jin Ryu
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Quality Starts
Playing Time Question
Ratio Focused
+18
42Max Fried
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
-
43Joe Musgrove
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
+4
44Lance McCullers
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Playing Time Question
+1
45Andrew Heaney
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
-1
46Kyle Hendricks
Ace Potential
Quality Starts
Ratio Focused
-
47Sean Manaea
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Ratio Focused
+1
48Caleb Smith
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
+5
49Dinelson Lamet
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Cherry Bomb
-
50Robbie Ray
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Cherry Bomb
-
51Mike Foltynewicz
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Quality Starts
Ratio Focused
-
52Mike Minor
Ace Potential
Quality Starts
Ratio Focused
+4
53Mitch Keller
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
-1
54Jose Urquidy
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
-
55Jake Odorizzi
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Cherry Bomb
-
56Eduardo Rodriguez
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Cherry Bomb
+1
57German Marquez
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
+1
58Dylan Cease
T8
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Cherry Bomb
+2
59Jordan Montgomery
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Streaming Option
Stash Option
+2
60Alex Wood
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Streaming Option
Stash Option
+2
61Sandy Alcantara
Quality Starts
Ratio Focused
Streaming Option
+4
62John Means
Quality Starts
Toby
Ratio Focused
Streaming Option
+6
63Garrett Richards
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
-
64Masahiro Tanaka
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
-
65A.J. Puk
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Stash Option
+7
66Josh Lindblom
Quality Starts
Toby
Ratio Focused
+1
67Adrian Houser
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Streaming Option
-1
68Michael Kopech
T9
Ace Potential
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Stash Option
+3
69Josh James
Ace Potential
Low Ips
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
+4
70Griffin Canning
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
-1
71Rich Hill
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
+18
72Dylan Bundy
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
-2
73Spencer Turnbull
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
+11
74Taijuan Walker
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Stash Option
-
75Joey Lucchesi
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
-
76Dallas Keuchel
Quality Starts
Toby
Ratio Focused
-
77Cole Hamels
Quality Starts
Toby
Ratio Focused
-
78Yonny Chirinos
Playing Time Question
Toby
Ratio Focused
-
79Ryan Yarbrough
Playing Time Question
Toby
Ratio Focused
-
80Marcus Stroman
Quality Starts
Toby
Ratio Focused
-
81Anthony DeSclafani
Strikeout Upside
Toby
Ratio Focused
-
82Zach Plesac
T10
Quality Starts
Toby
Ratio Focused
-
83Aaron Civale
Toby
Ratio Focused
Streaming Option
-
84Wade Miley
Quality Starts
Toby
Ratio Focused
Streaming Option
+1
85Justus Sheffield
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
+1
86Nathan Eovaldi
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
+1
87Kevin Gausman
Quality Starts
Toby
Ratio Focused
+1
88Jon Gray
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
+4
89Dakota Hudson
Quality Starts
Toby
Ratio Focused
Streaming Option
+4
90Johnny Cueto
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
+4
91Kyle Gibson
Strikeout Upside
Low Ips
Cherry Bomb
+UR
92Brad Keller
Quality Starts
Toby
Ratio Focused
+UR
93Asher Wojciechowski
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
-2
94Homer Bailey
Strikeout Upside
Streaming Option
+1
95Jordan Lyles
Strikeout Upside
Cherry Bomb
Streaming Option
+2
96Chad Kuhl
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Streaming Option
Stash Option
+2
97Steven Matz
Toby
Ratio Focused
Streaming Option
+2
98Chris Bassitt
Strikeout Upside
Toby
Streaming Option
+2
99JA Happ
Quality Starts
Toby
Ratio Focused
Streaming Option
-3
100Patrick Sandoval
Strikeout Upside
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
+UR

Labels Legend

Aces Gonna Ace
Ace Potential
Injury Risk
Strikeout Upside
Low IPS
Quality Starts
Playing Time Question
Cherry Bomb
Toby
Ratio Focused
Streaming Option
Stash Option

Photo by Mary Holt/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by J.R. Caines (@JRCainesDesign on Twitter and @caines_design on Instagram)

Nick Pollack

Founder of Pitcher List. Worked with MSG, FanGraphs, CBS Sports, and Washington Post. Former pitching coach and Brandeis alum. Wants every pitcher to be dope.

  • Avatar Yants says:

    Are you anticipating Brendan McKay is used as a reliever and that’s why he’s not ranked? Is it also a combination of the Rays having so many options for their SP5?

    • Nick Pollack Nick Pollack says:

      What up Yants!

      I imagine the Rays going with Chirinos and Yarbrough as their 4/5, with McKay likely in relief.

      I didn’t expect them to bring him up right away this year given his struggles in August/September 2019, and knowing the Rays, I bet they’ll likely want him to iron things out a bit more first before giving him a proper chance in the rotation.

      On top of that, if Mckay does get some kind of rotation role, it would likely be something along the lines of 4 IP after an opener.

      • Avatar BBHHI says:

        I hate to argue with your thought process, but I’m pretty certain MCKay gets as many innings as he can handle. Chirinos and Yarbrough are great, but McKay represents the near term future and the Rays are going to want to build up his innings…..

        • Avatar BBHHI says:

          In addition, both the other guys are proven”openers”.

        • Nick Pollack Nick Pollack says:

          You may very well be right!

          At the very least, it does look like the Rays will have McKay as the #6 arm for the Rays, which means he’d start out of the rotation.

          In a shortened season, I’m not for stashing any one on my bench out of the gate – it’s more important to have your hand in as many high upside pots as possible to see if any stick and can make a major impact.

          Not to mention, McKay had problems last year that likely aren’t completely fixed now. It’s a hard bet to make that he’ll A) get significant innings and B) those innings are of quality. I really hope to be wrong though, I think his repertoire speaks to a strong 2021 and beyond (and maybe 2nd half of 2020!).

  • Avatar Graeme says:

    If healthy and ready to go, where would you see Michael Fulmer landing in your rankings?

  • Avatar Aaron says:

    Hey Nick how’s it going? Would you take a chance on M. Fulmer this year now that he is healthy? If so where would you rank him?

    • Nick Pollack Nick Pollack says:

      Hey Aaron!

      I actually added an update to the notes given the news:

      June 24 update: It looks like Michael Fulmer is expected to return in full from TJS for the start of the season. There’s obviously concern if his sinker is still thrown and if he can find his old changeup, but I’d rank him around Jordan Montgomery and Alex Wood around #60 – there’s enough upside to chase that it could work out well as a late round flier.

  • Avatar Bill Johanpeter says:

    Thank you Mr. Pollack! The ease of use with the extra colored squares makes breaking ties in drafts a breeze.

  • Avatar Stephen Picciocca says:

    Low IPS
    Quality Starts
    Cherry Bomb
    Toby

    WHAT DO THEY MEAN?

    • Nick Pollack Nick Pollack says:

      Low IPS = Low innings per start. They don’t go deep into games.

      Quality Starts = Part of their value lies in their ability to go deep into games.

      Cherry Bomb = Either super sweet or blow up in your face. A volatile high risk/high reward player.

      Toby = A mediocre player who is debatably better than what’s available on the waiver wire. He’s on your team but you don’t like him. Inspired by Toby from The Office.

      Head to our glossary if you’re confused in the future! https://www.pitcherlist.com/glossary

  • Avatar Ivan says:

    Shouldn’t Luzardo have the pink LOW IPS tag? He has made 43 career starts and has only pitched more than 5 innings twice.

    • Nick Pollack Nick Pollack says:

      That’s a good call! I guess I haven’t seen enough yet to warrant it one way or another, but you’re right, he should likely have one right now for me to remove if he proves otherwise.

      Just added it :)

  • Avatar Perfect Game says:

    E-Rod was great the 2nd half of last year. Spring training 1.0 he was dominating. You don’t think he has taken a step forward? You ranked lower than I thought he would be.

    In my opinion, Gallen seems over rated by everyone for a back-starter who hasn’t pitched much or really proved himself in the majors.

  • Avatar SSS says:

    Nick, how would you rank Sale, Carrasco, Syndy and Severino for ’21?

    • Nick Pollack Nick Pollack says:

      Hey SSS!

      Carrasco should play on opening day, while the others likely won’t be recovered yet.

      So Carrasco, then the trio in the order I had them all before they were hurt: Sale, Severino, Syndergaard.

  • Avatar Eric says:

    This is great stuff, thanks. Are there rankings for hitters that are similar to this? With the labels, tiers, etc.

    • Nick Pollack Nick Pollack says:

      Hey Eric!

      There will be a Hitter List written by Jon Metzelaar. It’ll have tiers like it did last year, I can’t recall if labels will be there too, though. I’ll look into it, it may be something we do for 2021.

  • Avatar Perfect Game says:

    I thought you would be higher on E-Rod. He had a great 2nd half and was dialed in during spring training. Maybe he found another gear.

    Also, I think most are over estimating Gallen this year. He has talent, but has minimal big league experience. His SIERRA and FIP showed his ERA wasn’t earned; struggled to go deep into games and had some BB issues. Premature to consider him a top 25 arm in my non-professional opinion.

    • Nick Pollack Nick Pollack says:

      Hey PG! Good to see you again.

      100%, the Gallen rank is based on expected growth this season and I fully understand your expressed caution. I think his shift to Arizona benefits him plenty, helping him become a consistent K threat down the stretch. I don’t expect his 10%+ BB rate to return, but more like an 8% ala Clevinger’s transition.

      With Erod, he’s way too volatile. He had an eight game stretch in the second half that made owners forget he had a 4.00+ ERA and 1.37 WHIP across his first 20+ starts. I don’t believe he has the third pitch to prevent that volatility again, sadly. It’s just a headache I don’t want to deal with.

  • Avatar Mike H. says:

    No love for Carlos Carrasco THIS season? Seems to be on track to start the season.

    • Nick Pollack Nick Pollack says:

      Hey Mike!

      I’m going to wait and see there. I’d personally be very surprised if Carlos Carrasco wasn’t held back given his weakened immune system – even with the word that he’s “ready to go”.

      If Carrasco is starting, then he’ll be in the mid 20s.

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