(Photo by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire)
I’ve gone over my Top 20, Top 40, Top 60, and Top 80 Starting Pitchers in Fantasy Baseball for 2018, and it’s time for the fifth – and not final – article, this time adding an extra twenty arms to the back end. There’s one more article left focusing on another 40+ starters, but for now, enjoy nearly 6,000 words talking starting pitchers.
81. German Marquez (Colorado Rockies) – It’s a Colorado pitcher. That right there will have people running away a good amount and it’s not unjustified. At the same time, Marquez had some ridiculous stretches last season, including a ten game run where he held a 26.5% K rate, 5.9% BB rate, 1.18 WHIP and 3.57 SIERA. His success is founded in a 16.2% whiff rate curveball that he hooks into the zone over 40% of the time, while confidently featuring a 95mph four-seamer in the zone 60% of the time. I don’t entirely buy it over the course of a season, but you have to question if there is another gear that he can touch that will make him at least a starter you want to feature in 60% of his games. That’s enough for me to take the flier over the guys in Tier 9.
Tier 9: Old n Busted
82. Alex Cobb (Free Agent) – I’ve been classified a lot this off-season as someone who overlooks “old n busted” in favor of “new hotness.” That’s not what they said. Fine, skipping “old reliables” in favor of “sexy/breakout” types. It often comes with another statement about winning leagues is all about resisting the urge of chasing the upside guys, and instead sticking with innings eaters that you can rely on through the year. There’s a ton to be said about it – I’m actually writing an article right now to dive more into detail about it – but the point is this: I still think guys Cobb could be valuable, but it’s all about the gap between your waiver wire and an innings eater. I don’t think it’s large enough often to justify holding tightly to Cobb. I’m going to save that for another time and talk about why I think Cobb isn’t someone you want to target this year. You know what really grinds my gears? When a pitcher loses a previously effective pitch and makes me question his future. Cobb’s changeup just isn’t what it used to, as it went from a split-change grip to what seems to be a circle-change, and it’s not even close to the same pitch it was prior. a 21.2 pVal in 2014 dropped to a -4.8 mark last season with a 13 point drop in O-Swing and whiff rate down from 18.8% to 11.5%. Yet, it was his highest whiff pitch, with a deuce well under 10% and his sinker at…under 4%. Yeesh. It means Cobbs has turned into a BABIP worshipper – 17.3% K rate last year – and I for one cannot believe he held a 3.66 ERA despite allowing under 15% soft contact and 36.9% hard contact. His bbFIP was 4.45, and that sounds about right moving forward. I really don’t want to chase Cobb regardless of the team he pitches for as he doesn’t bring strikeout potential to the table, making his value lie supremely in ERA/WHIP. That’s not going to turn out well.
83. Julio Teheran (Atlanta Braves) – Oh. It’s you. The man that has roped so many over the years, from your 2.89 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in 2014 to 4.04 ERA and 1.31 WHIP in 2015. But wait! 2016 was masterful at 3.21 ERA and 1.05 WHIP…but then a 4.49 ERA and 1.37 in 2017. So clearly he’s due for another great year, especially if you play him right! Uggggh I hate to acknowledge the ridiculous home/road splits that makes Teheran the poster child for streaming, but it’s hard to ignore that Teheran held a 3.14 ERA on the road and a 5.86 mark at home. There are two problems I have with this. 1) Are you willing to roster a pitcher that you would only consider starting on the road? What if he heads to Coors? Or faces the Nationals? 2) Did you know that ERA also came with an 11.7% K-BB rate, a meh 1.25 WHIP, and 4.51 FIP? I’m not saying I buy into the stickiness of Teheran’s road performance, but even if you do, it’s just for the ERA and hopefully a decent WHIP, though I don’t even buy that. His repertoire is mediocre, he overperformed before and I hate betting he will again.
84. Jake Odorizzi (Minnesota Twins) – There’s some debating about Odorizzi and I want to lay it out for you. On one hand, he held a 1.88 HR/9 and 10.1% BB rate that created a massive split between his 4.14 ERA and 4.90 SIERA (5.43 FIP ohhhh baby) as he lowered his First-pitch strike rate to a poor 54.0%. Hard contact went up to 36.8%, soft to just 15.3%, .227 BABIP vs. a .265 xBABIP (nearly 50% flyballs!), he missed time due to injury once again…but on the other hand, he increased his whiff rate 10.2%. What, you thought I had a lot more to say in favor? I’m staying far away from Odorizzi as I don’t see the ERA falling comfortably under 4.00 again, his BABIP being that fortuitous to help his WHIP dive below 1.25, and stay healthy enough to be on the field if he is beneficial. He’s not reliable, he’s not helping, he doesn’t belong on your team.
85. Marco Estrada (Toronto Blue Jays) – So Estrada was bad last year. Really bad, like 4.98 ERA and 1.38 WHIP bad. His money pitch, that sweet sweet change piece, was nowhere near as close to its former self, returning a -7.2 pVal after 10+ values prior. He was simply less consistent with the pitch, allowing a .234 ISO across 1k+ thrown, despite a .165 career mark. However, he’s noted that he “slowed down his arm” when throwing changeups last year, which may have been a part of the problem. It’s snake oil, sure, but you have to believe he hasn’t completely fallen off and can at least hint at the 3.48 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, and 22.8% K rate of 2016. I’ll take that even if it comes with the same career high 9.0% walk rate. Obviously I won’t bet on this returning, but it’s not so crazy to me that he could go sub 4.00 and sub 1.25 WHIP this year. That grants him some consideration and well worth the Top 100.
86. Kyle Gibson (Minnesota Twins) – Okay this is a super interesting one. I suggest reading this small piece I wrote about Gibson last week illuminating how his slider turned into a pure chase pitch right when Gibson had himself a luscious eight-start run to end the year. We’re talking 26.3% whiff rate over about 150 thrown, which is pretty dang good, y’all. His overall numbers in that span were legit ace level (2.92 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 23.7% K rate, 5.2% BB rate) and obviously small sample exists, but for the price of free, why not try to see if that can continue? It’s super shocking to find myself endorsing Kyle freakin’ Gibson, but this far down, I don’t see why it hurts to see how he looks early in the season and if his August/September ride can continue into 2018.
87. Mike Leake (Seattle Mariners) – Leake only had five starts with the Mariners after being dealt from St. Louis, but he made the most of the team posting a 2.53 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, and 19.5% K-BB rate in 32.0 frames. That’s what people are going to be focused on, amplifying the believability in repeating a sub 4.00 ERA and sub 1.30 WHIP. I don’t think it’s out of the question, but with his 16.6% K rate being the best since 2014, I don’t see myself treating Leake any more than a streamer. I’ll take chances on the ERA/WHIP in good matchups, but a ride through the year? Naaaah.
88. Jerad Eickhoff (Philadelphia Phillies) – Here’s a fun one. Eickhoff was terrible in 2017 after an impressive 2016 campaign featuring a 1.20 WHIP. His slider was the root of his problems (he lost plenty of drop on the pitch)…which makes sense given he lost feeling in his fingers and had to get season-ending surgery. It wouldn’t be right to see last season and think that’s the new normal Now healthy for 2018, it’s an easy bet hat Eickhoff will be better…just we don’t know how much better. A 20% K rate with a 6% BB rate seems attainable with an ERA hinting at sub 4.00 and a sub 1.30 WHIP. That’s value in some leagues, right?
89. Zach Davies (Milwaukee Brewers) – You’ll remember Davies being praised as the “next Kyle Hendricks” and with my lack of love for Hendricks, why would you expect me to be on the Davies train? But Nick! His final 18 starts returned a 2.87 ERA with a 3.48 FIP! Davies needed a 6.7% HR/FB rate to avoid his…um…4.62 SIERA, as he sported a 14.9% K rate. Yeah, that’s atrocious. Sure, a 6.1% BB rate and 1.19 WHIP in that same time are somewhat believable – I’d say more like 1.25 – 1.30 WHIP, but fine – though with a strikeout rate that I just don’t see hinting 20% and value resting on the shoulders of being a massive HR/FB suppressor in Miller Park, Davies isn’t someone that I’d be targetting for the year ahead. It just doesn’t add up.
90. Dan Straily (Miami Marlins) – You feel bad for Erik Bedard for having his name known mostly for being involved in the Adam Jones deal or Shelby Miller in the Braves’ fleecing of the Diamondbacks. The latest is Straily, who will be known as the man the Marlins acquired for Luis Castillo, but this all doesn’t matter because we’re talking Fantasy. Fantasy. You might not recall that Straily was actually cruising through the first half, with a 3.32 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 22.6% K rate, and 6.7% BB rate in 19 starts. That’s pretty dang solid for a guy that is getting completely forgotten about. So the rest was poor – 5.65 ERA, 1.64 WHIP and a 12.2% K-BB rate – and that’s enough for him to be left off…but it does intrigue me that his whiff rate was better during his horrid stretch, a 13.3% mark that often dictates better numbers. It wouldn’t shock me that Straily suddenly becomes worth a roster spot in the opening weeks of the year and people question if he can do this the entire year. That answer is no, but I like the idea of rolling with a possible hot streak from Straily more than plenty of names here.
91. Tanner Roark (Washington Nationals) – There are some interesting stats to mention with Roark. I could take the easy road and say his 4.31 SIERA in 2017 was about identical to his 2016’s 4.32, but that would be ignoring how he lost 7 points in soft contact, helping raise his BABIP from .269 to .300. He still maintained the same poor 8.0%+ walk rate, while he couldn’t avoid the HR surge with a 1.14 HR/9. The whole things added up to a 4.67 ERA and 1.33 WHIP, which you want no part of in 2018. I’m not saying it’ll be that bad, but I’m not buying that he can reclaim the magic of his heater in the year ahead. He’s an innings eater that will hurt more than help, which you know I’m passing like GO in my leagues.
Tier 10: So There’s A Chance
92. Mike Minor (Texas Rangers) – I want to love Minor so much for this year. He turned into a stud reliever for the Royals and saw his velocity bump, which is normal but not 4 ticks normal to 95.0mph. He also doubled his whiff rate on his slider while adding a few inches of horizontal bend, even holding a 10%+ whiff rate on his four-seamer. He does have a solid changeup and curveball as well, which makes me think he could come close to the 3.21 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 22.1% K rate numbers from 2013. Okay, that’s ridiculous, that was a long time ago prior to TJS and he’s a different pitcher now as the Rangers consider moving him to the rotation. The upside is here if he does get the chance out of the spring, maybe enough for me to consider him in a deep 12-teamer. Can’t wait to make major/minor jokes through the year. I’m going to hate it. It sure will be…dissonant to you. COME ON.
93. Brad Peacock (Houston Astros) – The acquisition of Gerrit Cole changed the value of one player the most,
Mrs. Mr. Peacock. I’ve been endorsing him since he began getting his starts last year and while there are some clear flaws like an IPS well under 6.0 and a 10.4% BB rate, boasting a 29.5% K rate with a 3.07 FIP is enough for us to overlook it. Now, I’m not going to tell you that Peacock’s value is completely void as the Astros have a staff waiting to hit the DL. Pair that with the possibility of Collin McHugh getting dealt before the season starts, and you could be seeing Peacock getting over 20 starts for the second year in a row. It could very well not be until May when that happens, making him a Bubbles early on (a resident of The Wire), but don’t rule out the fella for 2018 just yet. If you’re willing to be patient and are clawing to get back in the SP department in your deeper league, Peacock may be the right stash. On the real, his slider held a 20.7% whiff rate with a 44.2% zone rate. Come on man, that’s stupid good.
94. Collin McHugh (Houston Astros) – Speaking of which, there are a few things to mention about McHugh. Remember that McHugh from 2014? Yeah, that’s gone. Forget about him. I already knew that, he hasn’t been good since then! Oh, the guy that was around in 2016? Yeah, forget about him too. WHAT SHOULD I REMEMBER THEN?! How to control your anger, jeez. Remember that with McHugh, you’d be foolish to consider his 2014 year tangible, but you’d also be foolish to overlook that he was a new man in 2017. His fastball added a touch of movement, while he learned his slider from Peacock and returned an 18.2% whiff rate with the offering. His new approach returned a 3.55 ERA and 22.9% K rate in 63.1 IP and while it’s not super crazy good or anything, it does speak to some production at the backend of your rotation, and that makes him worth your attention. If he’s on a new team come April, I’m totally going to for this in the last rounds.
95. Jake Junis (Kansas City Royals) – You probably didn’t know that in Junis’ final 60 frames as a starter in 2017, he held a 3.15 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 19.3% K rate, and 3.3% BB rate. I’m a little disappointed in the strikeout rate, but it’s possible he increases his slider usage in 2018 turning into a McCullers type that can get by focusing on his #1 pitch more often. It’s a really good offering that holds a 45%+ zone rate and 15+% whiff rate, while Junis also focuses on changing its speed to get more out of the pitch. The problem is that his fastball goes through phases and the rest of his repertoire is a bit lacking. Still, I’m willing to bet on that slider more than any pitch in pitchers below Junis here, making him a decent upside play for 2018. I don’t forsee Top 40 talent here, but he could surprise plenty in 2018.
96. Sean Newcomb (Atlanta Braves) – Don’t rule out Newcomb for being relevant in 2018. His curveball legit enough to keep strikeouts afloat – 23.7% K rate, 11.1% whiff rate in 2017 – and his heater comes with enough punch to get two strikes comfortably. The problem here is his 12.5% walk rate last season that should come down somewhat, but not like other starters as Newcomb lacks a third offering he can throw with any confidence. That will limit his ceiling and prevent me from chasing him in most leagues, but I can see 12-teamer relevancy here based on the strikeout ability that will churn out productive starts here and there. And who knows, maybe he figures out a third offering that he can throw 15% of the time for a strike. He is just 24-years-old, so don’t rule it out.
97. Matt Shoemaker (Los Angeles Angels) – Ohhhh right, Shoemaker is a thing. You remember, the guy who essentially went two-pitch on us with his two-seamer and splitty and would go on ridiculously good runs ala Mary Keitany and then tank like Thomas. Last year was all kinds of disappointing with his 4.52 ERA across just 77.2 IP frames, but this is Tier 10 and let’s not ignore the 11.6% whiff rate or the digestible 1.30 WHIP he held in that time. But it was also 14.7% soft contact and 36.2% hard. Yeah…that’s pretty bad too. He also upped his slider usage five points to about 19% and that wasn’t all too good of a pitch either, as it dropped over 10 points in zone rate and 3.5 points in whiff rate. Pick one or the other Shoemaker, NOT BOTH. Still, the man had a forearm strain that could have been the cause of his problems…maybe. Or maybe he’s just not all that good. You’re hoping for a sub 4.00 ERA, sub 1.30 WHIP, and around a 21% K rate from Shoe and that’s not far out of reach, which makes him a deeper play in deeper leagues. I don’t see a way he does much better than that, though, forcing him off draft boards in 12-teamers.
98. Michael Kopech (Chicago White Sox) – I’ll give you three reasons why Kopech missed out on the previous tier of lottery picks. 1) He’s not expected to start with the team and with the ChiSox well out of contention, there’s just no reason to rush him. 2) His walk rates are atrocious, featuring a 12.3% mark across 22 starts in AA last season. But he had—No, I will not let his three starts of 8.0% in AAA sway me (five walks in his first two combined, zero in one start. ONE START). Fine. 3) He has a two-pitch repertoire that makes him look more like a stud reliever than a bonafide starter, with a great slider but a changeup he’s far from depending on. This is Glasnow 2.0 in many ways and that’s a terrible thing. Okay fine, he’s better than GlasLater, but I’m doing nothing more than pickup when he gets called up…which won’t happen because he has way too much hype already surrounding him. Fine by me.
99. Andrew Triggs (Oakland Athletics) – There’s something intriguing about Triggs. Maybe it’s a solid 10.4% overall whiff rate, his near 50% groundball rate, or his 26.7% hard contact allowing in 65.1 IP last season. He wasn’t able to stay on the field last season and a 9.37 H/9 amplified by a 62.5% LOB rate led to his 4.27 ERA and 1.33 WHIP, but there’s a chance his 17.7% K rate is a bit lower than what we can expect – after all, he had a 23.1% mark with a lower whiff rate the previous season. Triggs is apparently healthy and slotted in the rotation in Oakland to begin the year, making him an interesting option for those strapped to find arms.
100. Parker Bridwell (Los Angeles Angels) – You’d think with a six-man rotation heading the Angels’ way that Bridwell would be a lock for a spot, right? Nope. Ohtani, Heaney, Skaggs, Richards, Shoemaker…and JC Ramirez? Okay fine, there’s definitely a chance Bridwell makes it, especially with the way Los Angeles acts like Bob Dylan fans with how much they love Fallen Angels. So let’s say Bridwell is slotted for a rotation spot come April, am I chasing it? Ehhhh maybe. I hate that his 3.64 ERA over 121 frames last year came with a terrible 4.59 bbFIP and 5.06 SIERA. But I like that he had a solid curveball (18.7% whiff rate, 47.3% O-Swing!) that could indicate much better than his paltry 14.8% K rate. That’s really low and I have to see him take a step forward to feature his breaking ball more often to be sold. His fastball and cutter combination is…fine. Nothing exciting here and if it weren’t for that solid breaker, I’d be well out the door. Just bump its usage from ~20% to 30% and we could be talking 3.80 ERA with a 20% K rate. That has some value, right?
101. Jason Vargas (New York Mets) – Not too many guys here have their own terms named after them (save for Doug Fister who has like six), but Vargas deserved his own last year after going on his ridiculous 2.22 ERA run in his first starts. You knew this should have been happening, it didn’t feel right, in fact, it felt dirtier than accepting a bribe to rig a potato sack race. But you can’t deny he’s helping, spawning The Vargas Rule as I needed to come with terms that you’re going to keep starting this mediocre arm until he slips, at which point you remove him from your squad. After allowing six ERs in this 17th start of the year, Vargas held a 6.38 ERA and 1.60 WHIP – and that’s not including the 6 ER clunker. Soooo yeah, I want no part in this. Yes, his changeup is a great pitch with its 20% whiff rate, but everything is so terrible, with a sinker coming in at 85.6mph without Hendricks’ command and poor breaking pitches. Ouch.
102. Zack Wheeler (New York Mets) – We’ve been waiting for Wheeler to make another impact since 2014 when he went 32 starts of 3.54 ERA with a 23.6% K rate. Then TJS happened, and his 10%+ walk rates of yore paired with a .332 BABIP to return a 1.59 WHIP over 86.1 IP and 17 starts. Maybe he figures out how to use his slider/curveball more often in the zone to play off his heater, maybe he doesn’t lose batters so frequently, and suddenly he returns fantasy value in the NL Easy. I think people are forgetting how close he is with a 95mph heater and three pitches above a 10% whiff rate. It seems so far, but fantasy relevancy could show up quickly.
103. Cole Hamels (Texas Rangers) – Hamels lost 1.5 ticks of velocity and 1.5 inches of drop on his curveball. That’s bad. He also had the highest hard hit rate of his career at 36.0%, his overall whiff rate dropped to 9.7%, the first time under 11% ever with a 12.2% career mark. But Nick! He had a 1.20 WHIP last year! Do you legit think he can repeat a 7.60 H/9 and .251 BABIP? I don’t, especially when he had a BABIP between .290 and .300 for five straight years prior and never held as good of a H/9. I just don’t see Hamels rebounding making him a blegh arm for your 12-teamer. No joke this time? I will not Hamels it up for you. There it is.
104 Trevor Williams (Pittsburgh Pirates) – I’m trying to see what y’all see in Williams. I really am. Was it the 2.02 ERA in his final six starts? The stretch that – small sample size aside – came with a 10.0% walk rate and 4.69 SIERA with a meh 20.7% K rate as well? That’s my best guess as you can probably tell that I’m not chasing this whatsoever. He boasts a decent heater, nothing to write home about these days, and not a single secondary pitch for me to get excited about. So you have limited strikeout upside, a poor walk rate, and an ERA that will, in all likelihood, be above 4.00. I can fathom trusting Williams with a stream here and there, but I ain’t giving him the ocean, you feel me?
105. Jeff Hoffman (Colorado Rockies) – Hoffman, I don’t understand this. You have a slider that missed bats a whopping 23.0% of the time, yet you decided to throw it at 8.4% rate. Why. That just seems so silly to me when your curveball held a sub 10% whiff rate and your fastball held a sub 40% groundball rate while allowing batters to tee it off at a .311 BA and .237 ISO. You’ve got nothing to lose here, just throw the filth more often…in the bullpen. Totally forgot to mention that part as Hoffman doesn’t have a spot in the rotation right now. The amalgamation of Colorado, lack of starting job, and silly pitch mix has me staying far away from Hoff like I was trying to get Baywatch pulled off the air. It’ll be a weird time come May/June when Hoffman gets his shot again and who knows, maybe it comes with a double-digit strikeout game that’ll make us go nuts. But that’s just so far away.
106. Nathan Karns (Kansas City Royals) – This one is just so sad. I was so excited about Karns last year once he upped his curveball usage to a massive 45.5% mark across three starts and it came with a 41.4% K rate and 5.7% BB rate in those sweet sweet 17.1 innings. I was pumped because that could fall to a 25% K rate and we’re all still so happy. But then he hit the DL and got diagnosed with TOS and everything is stupid. He’s apparently healthy and ready to go this year…but I fell into that trap with Harvey last year and I won’t do it again. Yes, I’ll be keeping an eye on Karns out of the gate, but he’s so under the radar right now that I have zero interest in investing before April.
107. Tyler Chatwood (Chicago Cubs) – There’s a decent amount of love for Chatwood, but I won’t give it. His 3.49 road ERA last season came with a 4.99 FIP, while he still holds a sub 20% K rate and a walk rate well north of 10%. That groundball rate is still great and I’m sure the Cubs infield will help, but it’s not like that didn’t play well in Coors prior. Chatwood’s stuff just isn’t good enough for me to think constant production is coming our way in Chicago, making him a possible streamer and nothing more. Womp womp.
108. Felix Hernandez (Seattle Mariners) – It’s the beginning of the end for Prince Felix. He was the poster child of stability for a decade before his first sub 30 start season in 2016, then just 16 in 2017. He posted the lowest groundball rate of his career at 46.9%, his 4.36 ERA was the highest since 2006, his changeup – the money pitch, suddenly hit 22.6% flyballs after sub 15% marks the previous three years…while maintaining the same 20%+ HR/FB rate. If you’re betting on Felix rebounding, you’re betting on health, you’re betting on his changeup command, and you’re betting he somehow finds the inches of drop he lost on his curveball. Is that really what you want to do? Note: I wrote this before Felix was removed from Monday’s S/T game following a liner to the elbow, I had him initially in the Top 100, but there’s no reason to keep him there now.
109. Chad Kuhl (Pittsburgh Pirates) – There are some hyped about Kuhl and it’s not hard to grasp. The fella can touch upper 90s and holds a slider that came with a 20% whiff rate last year. There are problems attached. 1) Command of his heater is really bad. 2) He doesn’t throw his slider enough (under 25% of the time) and I don’t expect that to change with the Pirates being the Pirates. 3) He doesn’t have anything else. It’s too bad because that slider is legit really good and that velocity is oh-so-sweet. But it just isn’t lining up for him to take that leap that would make me confident on any given night that he’s going to kill it. It’s just not he Kuhl story you want your buddies to tell you about.
110. Jack Flaherty (St. Louis Cardinals) – Don’t look at Flaherty’s numbers from last year, that won’t do you any good. What’s important is recognizing what he brings to the table in his arsenal – a solid heater, with a whiffable slider and an okay curveball. It doesn’t add up to a “must add” young arm in my book, which makes it harder for me to get on board given the general assumption of “younger guys will be more volatile” approach. Then there’s the whole thing that he doesn’t have a rotation spot and Alex Reyes is coming back soon. But hey, I can see Flaherty finding his way into the rotation via injuries and becoming a fringe 12-teamer arm with decent strikeout upside via his slide piece. That’s the best case scenario, and it’s worth something at this point.
111. Steven Matz (New York Mets) – I used to love you Matz, but what you showed off in your limited time last season was so underwhelming. Maybe it’ll be much better now that you’ve had more time recovering from your injury, maybe the lack of pressure and proper spring training will iron out all the kinks, but right now I just can’t invest in this. His fastball lost a hint of velocity, his curveballs registered just 10 whiffs in 273 thrown last year with a 90%+ contact rate. I can get more swings-and-misses one night at The Blarney Stone. I’ll have to see a massive step forward in order to get back on the Matz train, and I don’t mean him taking a longer stride to the plate. I’ll be watching his early starts to see if anything has changed, but there’s no reason to invest in that now.
112. Matt Strahm (San Diego Padres) – Strahm, we had our fun last season. I thought you were going to get a role in the Royals’ rotation and that went south quickly after the Jason Hammel signing. Then your season ending abruptly undergoing surgery for a torn tendon in your knee. But there’s new life! He was dealt the Padres in the Trevor Cahill deal and now it’s not out of the question there’s room in the Padres’ rotation during the year and they give Strahm a shot. Control was a major problem for Strahm last season but given a larger sample and comfortable time in the rotation, it’s possible he showcases Top 50 talent. That’s a HUGE if, but that’s why he’s here. Worst case, you just watch him on the wire until he gets the proper chance, bench him for the first start, then drop him back to the wire. That ain’t so bad, is it?
113. Chad Green (New York Yankees) – The answer is no. I don’t buy this. It’s the rare situation that I think a player will lose value if he transitions from a reliever to a starter, but with how well Green performed as a reliever last season – on the back of pretty much just his stellar four-seamer – there isn’t anything here but disappointment ahead. His slider is solid, not incredible, and he doesn’t have a third option to make the switch the starter make sense. Not to mention, Green would have to beat out The Bear, which clearly isn’t going to happen. Right? RIGHT?! In all seriousness, it doesn’t make sense and feels more like a “healthy competition” thing instead of the Yankees truly trying to make this work. I’m moving on.
114. Mike Foltynewicz (Atlanta Braves) – Folty. You and I have had our times, haven’t we? From me ranking you in the Top 60 back in 2015 with your then gorgeous 24%+ K rate and sub 3.50 ERA as you got going…but since then everything has been atrocious, to say the least, forcing me to give you the dreaded PEAS label. Your fastball is hard, but neither the four-seamer or two-seamer render the results you want to see and your secondary stuff just doesn’t get it done. His slider improved but was still a sub 15% whiff rate pitch last year with a deuce that’s there just to steal strikes over the plate. The only exciting part is a changeup that he threw under 200 times last season but has showcased near 20% whiff rates. That’s legit the only hope here. It’s not absurd to consider that a 26-year-old could spend the time to master the offering this year, but it’s also not absurd to consider that I could take a vacation to West Virginia and enjoy it. I’m not going to do that, but you know it’s not out of the question.
115. Nathan Eovaldi (Tampa Bay Rays) – Right! Eovaldi! He’s returning from TJS after pumping triple digits as a starter for the Marlins and Yankees prior. I’m not going to tell you it’ll work out, nor that his ceiling is worth your time (I considered him as one of the guys who will always hover around the 50s/60s of The List, rarely higher or lower), but hey, there’s a chance. And that’s what this tier is all about. For those that forget him, there were times his fastball, despite its elite velocity, seemed so hittable, and while his splitter was developing, he didn’t have a solid breaking ball to pair up with the heat. This could be the same in Tampa as well, so don’t expect too much here.
116. Daniel Mengden (Oakland Athletics) – Don’t let his 1.54 ERA in 35.0 IP over his final five starts of 2017 sway you. This is a fringe starter who doesn’t bring the strikeout upside you want, and relied heavily on the best performance of his heater to acheive that wonderful run last year. It’s not his M.O. – unless that stands for Mustache Oustanding because that’s definitely the case – and beliving in that fastball will have you in the hole early in the year. This isn’t the late round sleeper you’re looking for.
117. Jesse Hahn (Kansas City Royals) – Hahn’s sinker is solid. It moves well, comes in around mid-90s, gets outs. That’s good. And all that is good. His secondary pitches range from okay to blegh (one day I’ll share the full scale), leading to terrible strikeout rates through his career, which isn’t great when he’s also sporting walk rates hovering 9.0%. It’s possible he finds his groove in Kansas City and is able to avoid the DL, but I see this plenty more as a guy that I have to convince ya’ll is a streamer in the first few weeks instead of someone you should be dropping your DL stash of Jimmy Nelson for.
118. Amir Garrett (Cincinnati Reds) – Yes his slider is good. Yes he had that one game of 12 strikeouts against the Orioles. And in some wild way I like him more than the rest because I have to image his 7.39 ERA will turn him into a leper for the full year, which isn’t just. Berrios had an atrocious 2016 before last year’s performance. Did you just call Garrett the next Jose Berrios? Oh lord, no no no. Just saying that you can’t react too strongly to a rookie’s struggles. I don’t believe Garrett should be someone you want to own through the year as he just doesn’t have anything else outside of that slider and his command is so volatile that it hurts. Just don’t rule him out for the occassional stream that may turn into three good starts in a row. Maybe. That is all.
119. Kendall Graveman (Oakland Athletics) – Remember the hoopla about Graveman last season? He was showcasing a touch more velocity – 94.2mph on his sinker after 93.6mph the previous season – and people were boarding the train after allowing just six ER in his first four starts. Even easier when he showcased strikeout upside via a seven-strikeout game in his first start…and his 11.5% whiff rate in that was just one of three across his 16 starts with a whiff rate above 10%. That’s not good at all. His overall mark for the year was 6.8%. That’s half of Zack Godley‘s mark. Ouch. Then there’s also the injury history to consider and the fact that his ERA/WHIP wasn’t nearly good enough for you there’s just no reason to bark up this tree.
120. Rick Porcello (Boston Red Sox) – Rick “Thief” Porcello shouldn’t be owned in your 12-teamer. Okay fine, if you’re desperate for vulture Wins, I can understand it. But seriously, he will hurt your team in the ERA/WHIP department. Don’t chase the 2016 season, that was luckier than Jamie Gold. His fastball is not that good, his slider -while showing some improvement last year – is far from the savior he needs, and there isn’t anything left for me to suggest a proper rebound. Just don’t do it.
There’s one article left – The Top 150 Starters – that will continue Tier 10, then stop ranking and briefly talk about all the other arms that could conceivably bring fantasy value in 2018. Not guys I’m drafting anywhere, but they could be streamers or are someone that theoretically could make a change that will go a long way, or someone I just don’t like and you need to know that I didn’t forget they exist.