We’re back for another set of 20 starting pitchers for 2020 fantasy baseball, this time closing out the Top 100 before I briefly dive into the final 75 arms you’re considering for your rosters.
Here are the Top 20 Starting Pitchers for 2020 Fantasy Baseball, Top 40 Starting Pitchers for 2020 Fantasy Baseball, Top 60 Starting Pitchers for 2020 Fantasy Baseball, and Top 80 Starting Pitchers for 2020 Fantasy Baseball articles if you missed them earlier.
Tier 8: The Final Drop (Continued)
81. Jordan Montgomery (New York Yankees) – Entering 2018, I was so in on The Bear. He had an overall 12% SwStr rate with a trio of secondary pitches that got the job done. Just a 1.23 WHIP in 155 frames! Then TJS happened and now with James Paxton hurt until May at the earliest and Luis Severino out for the year, there’s a clear hole in the Yankee rotation, calling for JorMont to come out of hibernation. I’m cheating a little with this rank as if I had released this back in February, JorMont would be hovering #100, thinking he’d be in the minors to start the year. Now with the rotation spot and throwing over 92mph regularly (he was sitting 90/91 in 2017!), I’m so in. I’m tempted to even thrust him into the Top 70 when I update my ranks next week, but for now, let’s hope the SwStr returns with the velocity and we get production right out of the gate.
Nick’s Reluctant Projection: 4.10 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 21% K rate in 120 IP
82. Alex Wood (Los Angeles Dodgers) – Like JorMont, the current velocity readings in spring training have me wondering if Wood should be in the higher tier. During his breakout 2017 season, Wood was averaging 92/93 across his first twelve starts, before settling to 90-92 across the final three months. So far in the spring? He’s been “consistently clocking 92/93.” Well then, there could be something there.
That 2017 season sported a 2.27 ERA and 1.06 WHIP with a strikeout per inning and 12% SwStr rate. If Wood can come close to that while dodging Dodgeritis (he’s currently fighting to be the 4th/5th starter with Urias, Gonsolin, Stripling, and May but should have the job), there’s a legit arm here that is going for very little. Give it a shot, even if you may not get more than 150 innings in the end.
Nick’s Reluctant Projection: 4.10 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 20% K rate in 130 IP
83. John Means (Baltimore Orioles) – I had the pleasure of talking to the incredible Eno Sarris plenty this weekend in Florida and Means kept coming up in conversation. His changeup is excellent (49% Zone rate and 14% SwStr with just a .206 BAA works!), his fastball is surprisingly decent at 92mph, and there’s even word that he’s developing his slider or curveball further to have a strong three-pitch mix. Hey, that’s a Toby who could be more!
I don’t think he’s going to be able to replicate a 1.14 WHIP across another 150+ frames, but a 1.20 WHIP and sub 4.00 ERA with a strikeout rate hinting 20%? Sure, why not? It gets more believable if that slider becomes a legit whiff offering and you have the sneakiest pick in your deep draft for stability. The Wins will be tough to get, but he did manage to hit 12 last year, who knows, maybe he can go six strong often and push double-digits again?
The old Means? He was overperforming and likely didn’t even earn his 3.0 WAR. This Means? WAR. Legit WAR. You really couldn’t resist could you. Nope, not at all.
Nick’s Reluctant Projection: 4.10 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 20% K rate in 180 IP
84. Austin Voth (Washington Nationals) – I think about Austin a lot. Like a Voth to a flame. The Nationals are deciding if Joe Ross is their fifth starter instead of Voth and I really hope they don’t let that happen—Ross doesn’t have overwhelming stuff and Voth, well he just might. His curveball held a 21% SwStr last season. Cutter had a 17% clip…and so did his changeup. Three pitches all returned whiffs, albeit with a ridiculously small sample (just 53 changeups thrown!). Still, a breeze coming through a small window is still a breeze, and maybe there’s enough wind to carry Voth through the season with a strikeout rate well about 20%.
I also wonder if I like his fastball or not. The heater has at times averaged 94 mph across a game and turned our heads quickly, but for the most part settles between 92/93. That could be good enough with his whiff-heavy secondary stuff.
So keep an eye on Voth. If he gets the opportunity, consider the add and let it fly in a possible first start against the Marlins. That could be sneaky gold.
Nick’s Reluctant Projection: 4.40 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 23% K rate in 130 IP
85. Spencer Turnbull (Detroit Tigers) – Turnbull’s name has been tossed around as another one of those young arms that could develop further and turn into something legit. I’m not sure I’m quite sold yet. His slider and curveball each have shown promise before, but his fastball approach irks me a bit, featuring an absolutely horrid sinker way more than he should. His four-seamer has some cut action that can eat up guys effectively, and I hope he turns to it nearly 100% of the time this season, leaning on its near 11% SwStr.
So let’s say Turnbull turns into a four-seamer/slider guy with the occasional curveball, maybe even turning both breakers into 15%+ SwStr pitches. Well then I get it and even with the Tigers offense doing their best to keep him in games, there would still be value. I’m not sure I quite buy it yet, but that’s only because I haven’t seen him throw this year. You deserve to give yourself the chance that he figured something out in the off-season, that’s what the final picks are for. And if he gets an opening matchup against the Royals, well, this could get fun real quick.
Nick’s Reluctant Projection: 4.50 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 22% K rate in 160 IP
86. Wade Miley (Cincinnati Reds) – Here’s something you may not have realized. Through his first 28 starts of the year, Miley sported a 3.06 ERA with a 1.22 WHIP and 20.6% K rate. That’s value. He got demolished in one of the strangest series of games I’ve ever seen, via a .491 BABIP, 45% LOB rate, with three starts tallying just 1.1 IP and 16 ER. Yeah, that’s a horribly small sample and those that are terrified it will carry over into a full season are wild.
He’s moving from Win-happy Houston to possibly competitive Cincy and I’m slightly lower on him given the HR-prone park, but there’s a chance for legit value here as Miley is getting completely forgotten about in drafts. And guess what, he is currently slated to get the Blue Jays and Pirates in his first two starts of the year. That’s streamable and worth an early pickup if you’re looking for something to help early on.
Nick’s Reluctant Projection: 4.20 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 19% K rate in 150 IP
87. Justus Sheffield (Seattle Mariners) – Sheff had an overall 13% SwStr rate across his eight games in the bigs last year. That alone should be enough to catch your eye, especially when the Mariners are sure to be looking at him for legit volume this season following over 160 across the majors and minors last season. I don’t like his changeup. It is a complete feel pitch and rarely shows up, and I don’t like his fastballs that aren’t commanded super well.
But I like his slider. A lot. It returned a 24% SwStr rate and 40% O-Swing last season, enduring a ridiculous .636 BABIP that is sure to come down astronomically. The Wins will be hard to find and the WHIP may take some turns, but I wonder if there is a 25% strikeout arm hiding in here that could shock many as he develops through the season. That slider is too good.
Nick’s Reluctant Projection: 4.40 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 23% K rate in 175 IP
88. Nathan Eovaldi (Boston Red Sox) – Eovaldi wasn’t kind to owners in 2019. After a mini-breakout the year before, Eovaldi suffered through injuries, then failed to get locked in during the season, returning a complete disaster.
Thing is, the skill set is still there. He’s still pumping upper 90s heat, he still has a splitter that could turn up and succeed, and he still has a cutter that can fall back into the zone for strikes and plays well off the high four-seamer. The question is if he can execute again like he did in 2018 and hey, why not? The Red Sox are looking for a heavy volume from Eovaldi this year with a staff missing Price, Porcello, and carrying a delayed Sale, and if Eovaldi is feeling it out of the gate, there could be a whole lot of production to grab for owners. And if it doesn’t work out? Okay, drop him by the middle of April. It’s worth it.
Nick’s Reluctant Projection: 4.20 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 22% K rate in 150 IP
89. Josh Lindblom (Milwaukee Brewers) – You don’t know. I don’t know. But isn’t that better than “Oh, I know he’s bad”? He’s coming from the KBO with a low 90s heater with an above-average spin rate and a strong splitter that should miss some bats. What we’re hoping for here is an ERA under 4.00 and a strikeout rate hinting 20% or higher. The best part here is that you’ll know from his first start how you feel. If it doesn’t go well? By all Johns, let him fly to the wire and be done with it. But hey, you may have a decent QS/Wins guy here that doesn’t kill you.
Nick’s Reluctant Projection: 4.40 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 22% K rate in 170 IP
90. Kevin Gausman (San Francisco Giants) – Here’s an interesting one. Gausman has moved around plenty across the last two seasons, but now, on his fourth team since 2018, Gausman has a legit role and could provide sneaky value. He still has a splitter that misses bats over 20% of the time and if he hits his spots with heaters, this could be a season of a legit Toby excelling in a pitchers’ park. There’s a real chance of winning Spider-Man here and hey, he could give you seven Ks on a given night if that splitter is hawt.
Nick’s Reluctant Projection: 4.20 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 21% K rate in 170 IP
91. Chris Archer (Pittsburgh Pirates) – I find it weird considering Archer after we’ve disliked him for a long time, but now could be the year. The Pirates have revamped their entire philosophy, emphasizing elevated four-seamers and strong secondary offerings often and it’s possible they figure out how to squeeze the most out of Archer.
His strikeout rate is sure to hover 25% again if not push higher, which innately makes him worth your consideration at this point. And maybe the WHIP is under 1.30 and ERA under 4.00? Maybe? Likely not? But fine, that chance in itself is worth the lottery ticket at this point.
Nick’s Reluctant Projection: 4.50 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 26% K rate in 180 IP
92. Asher Wojciechowski (Baltimore Orioles) – Y’all are likely laughing at this ranking, but we’ve already established that we’re past the cliff. This is the zone of “Toby or lottery ticket?” and why not consider A-Bomb’s slider & cutter combination? The cutter was stupid good with a 17% SwStr and near 40% O-Swing paired with a 42% Zone rate. He has a near money pitch while his slider was silly at times. We didn’t see him for long last year and he actually came out to say he ran out of gas by September and I wonder if a fresh spring can showcase some exciting value out of the gate. It’s an outside shot, it’s a wild one, but don’t overlook it as at this point, all of these picks could be gone before the season even starts.
Nick’s Reluctant Projection: 4.20 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 23% K rate in 160 IP
93. Jon Gray (Colorado Rockies) – This isn’t the life you want to live. Sure, if you have your super deep roto league and need to find someone who can give you close to 180 strikeouts, then okay. Go for Gray. For the rest of us, we’ll try to only start him on the road, but then you’re wasting a roster spot on just 90 IP…and that’s assuming he’s avoiding strong offenses on the road and that he’ll actually perform well in those starts.
Maybe one day he gets traded—although that doesn’t seem like the Rockies’ M.O. (it should be sign hitters, grow/trade for pitchers)—I’m not going to make that bet in my draft, not to mention you’ll have to deal with him until that day happens. Y’all didn’t think that anyway so sorry for wasting your time. Just like Gray will if you draft him! Yes random italics, how right you are.
Nick’s Reluctant Projection: 4.40 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 24% K rate in 180 IP
94. Dakota Hudson (St. Louis Cardinals) – We all know how much defense aided Hudson, how his 3.35 ERA and 5.08 SIERA don’t quite add up, and how an 18% strikeout rate with a 1.41 WHIP just doesn’t cut it.
But what if—and hear me out—what if he gets better? What if that cutter/slider thing that returned a 20% SwStr rate gets used out of the zone more and turns Hudson into a strikeout threat? What if he lowers his walk rate from 11% down to 8% as he features more four-seamers in the zone? Things could get interesting here and while I hate banking on any sort of dramatic change, he may not just fall off a cliff either. So hey, we’re in the range of Tobys, might as well stick Hudson in here.
Nick’s Reluctant Projection: 4.20 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 20% K rate in 180 IP
95. Johnny Cueto (San Francisco Giants) – I have very few expectations for Cueto, but at the same time I can fathom a situation where we all forget him in drafts, he has a shockingly good start against the Dodgers and we all wonder how dumb we were to ignore him. He could also blow up completely but then improve with an easier schedule and make us scratch our heads.
The simple fact that we can recognize this as a possibility should keep Cueto on your radar. Do I think it’s worth your 12-teamer draft pick? Likely not as he’s probably slated for the Dodgers and Diamondbacks to start the year and that spells trouble, especially when we don’t know what we’re getting. Still, don’t rule out a possible Cueto resurgence in pitcher-friendly Oracle park…once the season starts going.
Nick’s Reluctant Projection: 4.30 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 21% K rate in 170 IP
96. Homer Bailey (Minnesota Twins) – This is a quick one. Bailey can be good. He has a splitter that can show up and do great things like its 20% SwStr last season and return surprising stretches of success. Now he’s in Minnesota (Wins!) and has an excellent early matchup against the Mariners.
Looking for something during week one to help? Bailey’s got you covered. Yes, that deserves a Top 100 spot, just for that one start. I don’t buy a full season of it, but hey if his splitter looks good then, maybe you can ride it for a few starts too?
Nick’s Reluctant Projection: 4.50 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 20% K rate in 160 IP
97. J.A. Happ (New York Yankees) – With Sevy and Paxton going down with injuries, I can’t believe Happ is sitting pretty as the third starter in New York. And we were wondering if he’d outperform JorMont for the job back in January! It was a 4.91 ERA ERA that we all want to forget about as his HR/9 soared to a horrid 1.90 mark. That should come down closer to 1.50 at least, but don’t even look at it like that. You’re not getting Happ for the long term, you’re considering him for that first Baltimore start of the year. That could work out well, with four-seamers up-and-in and a few secondary pitches hoping to mix in for strikes.
You need a cheap win early? Go for Happ, but I slightly like Baiely more. Looking for legit upside? Move right along. Nothing to see here.
Nick’s Reluctant Projection: 4.40 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 21% K rate in 140 IP
98. Patrick Sandoval (Los Angeles Angels) – Do I think The Irish Panda is on the verge of a breakout? Likely not. Do I think that we’re overlooking him as a whole? Why yes, yes I do. With Ohtani off the SP grid until May, Sandoval has an opportunity to seize a spot in the rotation early and hold on for a good while, even in a six-man. He ranked seventh among all starters in CSW in the zone. That’s really dumb and weird and makes you wonder if there’s something here that could show up over a larger sample. His four-seamer was a major disappointment with a 49% Zone rate and 17% O-Swing, though his changeup earned a 25% SwStr rate, slider a 17% clip, and his curveball did fine inside the zone over 40% of the time. That’s a decent repertoire and if the fastball takes any sort of step forward, this could turn into legit value.
The biggest pushback is that Sandoval doesn’t have the smoothest hypothetical schedule out of the gate. If you think he won’t be on the wire—ridiculously thin and all—then I’m fine grabbing now. Otherwise, you can wait a little and be ready to grab him if it comes together.
Nick’s Reluctant Projection: 4.30 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 23% K rate in 130 IP
99. Jordan Lyles (Texas Rangers) – You’re probably overlooking Lyles. Last year’s 4.15 ERA is somewhat believable given the 24% strikeout rate and 1.32 WHIP, but it comes down to legitimacy. Is his four-seamer/curveball combo enough? The deuce returned just a 12% SwStr last year, but it helped by earning a .216 BAA and 38% strikeout rate. The four-seamer wasn’t overwhelming, but a near 10% SwStr hints that he can get by with the offering and have runs with heaters and deuces during the season.
I don’t love it, I don’t think you’re going to want to own Lyles a whole lot, but this could be a solid opening to the year until you find something else on the wire than can stick a lot longer.
Nick’s Reluctant Projection: 4.10 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 24% K rate in 170 IP
100. Chad Kuhl (Pittsburgh Pirates) – This is a wild one and may not actually be #100 come opening day, but we really should be aware of Kuhl. I wrote this article article about him in 2018 two games before he got TJS, one hour before he blew up for 8 ER in 2 IP against the Diamondbacks. There may be something here with his high 90s velocity, an incredible slider, and a completely revamped Pirates organization. The kicker? Brault and Holmes are dealing with injuries.
There is a legit shot at grabbing the #5 spot in the rotation from day one and who knows, maybe Kuhl is a changed man. If not, boom, dropped, onto the next one. You won’t get a season worth of hurt here and you could find yourself with a shocking #5/6.
Nick’s Reluctant Projection: 4.50 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 20% K rate in 140 IP
101. Steven Matz (New York Mets) – Here’s the thing. I see Matz as a Toby, but I also think he has slightly better strikeout ability than your standard Toby. So that’s cool. He’s also here today because he’s legit 100 given that I haven’t technically removed Severino yet. So welcome, Matz. Welcome.
Anyway, Steven effectively puts sinkers up in the zone and has a decent changeup/curveball mix that keeps him competitive often. I think for most 12-teamers he’s not worth your time but in deeper leagues, sure, you’ll get decent quality innings when he’s healthy (battling a sickness right now so don’t worry for Opening Day), and I understand there’s some value here. Yay.
Nick’s Reluctant Projection: 4.10 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 22% K rate in 160 IP
Photo by Kiyoshi Mio/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)