It took a while, but another 6,000 words are in the bank as I dove in to talk about the next set of fifty starting pitchers to consider for your fantasy teams this year. If you’ve missed them so far, we’ve already gone over the Top 20 Starting Pitchers, Top 40 Starting Pitchers, Top 60 Starting Pitchers, Top 80 Starting Pitchers, and Top 100 Starting Pitchers, and it’s time we got into the deep arms.
These are much looser ranks and I have no qualms with people switching them around. Go with what you need (upside, a stash, injury spot, QS, etc.) and take chances where you want to. Feel free to send me a tweet if you highly contest any of these.
The final article —Top 200 Starting Pitchers — will be coming out early next week.
Tier 11: Yeah But What If
101. Matt Harvey (Los Angeles Angels) – Here’s your fun post-post-post hype sleeper pick. I’m not sure if I can really call him that since he broke out before he became a sleeper but here we are. After leaving the Mets last season, Harvey did something interesting. He raised his velocity by two ticks. Seriously, it was sitting at 93 mph, then shifted to 95 mph with the Reds. That’s fantastic. He’s also equipped with a strong slider that returned a 14% swinging strike rate last year and 52% zone rate. In other words, it gets him strikes and misses bats constantly, even returning a .244 BABIP and .210 BAA. These are good things. I think there’s a chance Harvey excels in Los Angeles, removed from the glare of New York and reinvents himself with his four-seamer and slider, moving away from his changeup and mixing in his curveball a little better. The skills from the past are not completely gone.
102. Carlos Rodon (Chicago White Sox) – We didn’t really expect Rodon to work out well when he returned last year, yet he gave us a 2.70 ERA and 1.01 WHIP through his first 14 starts. Hot dang! It also came with a sub 20% K rate and near 10% walk rate…and .194 BABIP and 80.5% LOB rate that returned a scary 4.83 SIERA. That mark turned to real life BUT DOUBLED in September with a 9.22 ERA. Yiiiiikes. So what happened? Rodon was pitching high-and-tight so effectively that when he would miss, he’d miss off the plate. Few mistakes over the middle of the zone, though it led to that 10% walk rate. In September, those mistakes came over the plate instead of inside, leading to more punishment and more everything outside of punchouts. The key here is that his glorious slider that we all love to watch just isn’t as good as it should be. Rodon isn’t getting strikes with it, holding Zone and O-Swing marks under 34%. He needs more from them, especially when he’s held batters to just a .117 BAA with the pitch last year. Oh, and then there’s also a changeup that we can nod at but never properly acknowledge its existence. Because it’s horrible and has no soul. In the talks of “how does he improve?” it comes down to perfecting that slide piece. He could rise up the ranks if I see him take strides with the pitch, though it feels like forever that we’ve been waiting for it to reach its full potential. I’m done waiting, if someone else wants to wait in line and twiddle their thumbs as they take a beating, let them do it.
103. Vince Velasquez (Philadelphia Phillies) – Velasquez has a really good four-seamer. So good, that it can carve up a poor lineup on a given night, like the Giants for twelve strikeouts on May 10th or the Giants for nine strikeouts on June 2nd. The reason he’s not in the Top 100 is how none of his secondary pitches are the right complement to the heater. His curveball and changeup struggle to earn strikes, forcing his decent slider to act more as a strike-getter than a putaway offering to pair with the high heat. It’s been the story of VV for a while and it’s VV annoying, making me wonder if Velasquez is destined for the pen—what he originally was with the Astros—instead of a starter. I can see owners jumping on Velasquez for streams here and there, but if you have to take the bad with the good, Velasquez is not the man you want through the year.
104. Sean Reid-Foley (Toronto Blue Jays) – At this point, we’re just considering names that have shown something that could show up plenty more in 2019. Reid-Foley started seven games last season. He allowed 6 ER in two of them, but he also struck out ten batters in two of them. That’s…very interesting. It was a 12% overall swinging strike rate, fueled by a wicked slider that returned money pitch values (just 150 thrown, though) and that is all you really need to know. I’m not too confident that his other options are good enough to let his slider shine constantly, but we’ve already seen a day where it all clicks and he fans ten Yankee batters. You can’t say that about other pitchers hanging around here and it makes you wonder if Reid-Foley is a deep sleeper for AL-Only leagues.
105. Anthony DeSclafani (Cincinnati Reds) – I’ve told y’all to chase a guy with two strong pitches in his repertoire thus far (Joe Musgrove, what up!), but you’ll start to see me now favor those with one really great offering with the hopes that something else clicks to send him into a warp pipe and jump a few levels. Tony Disco has that in an excellent slider—46.5% O-Swing, 42% Zone rate, 18% swinging strike rate—and made the smart move of increasing its usage last year to 35% from 27.5%. The problem is that its existence doesn’t seem to have a massive effect on success. It was a near 5.00 ERA and even with the 3.96 SIERA it’s still hard to jump in. Unless we see him go 45% or so sliders, he’ll continue to get his heater crushed (four-seamer, sinker, it doesn’t matter which he throws) without a strong third option to soften the blow. And even if we see 45% slide pieces—a hypothetical I’m not sure we’ll see—that’s still 55% of ineffectiveness. So I’m worried, but hey, that’s how he does it if it works.
106. Trevor Williams (Pittsburgh Pirates) – A lot of y’all love Trevor. His 3.11 ERA doesn’t tell the whole story as the 26-year-old went on one of the most ridiculous runs we saw last season, with a 1.29 ERA over his final 13 starts. Hot dang! It came with a…4.51 SIERA. Williams held just a 19% strikeout rate during this time, needing a .361 BABIP and 91.6% LOB rate with a 4% HR/FB rate to get that 1.29 ERA. But Nick! He’s so skilled that he can do a 3.00 ERA and make us happy! Sure, he had a 3.11 ERA last year, but that included this run. His fastball is the sole pitch that matters in his repertoire, a pitch that induced a stupid low .214 BAA last year at 91.2 mph. It makes you wonder if there’s something missing in the numbers, so I watched him. Tl;DW: Nope. This isn’t real. I can’t tell you how many poorly thrown heaters went at infielders, how often he got out of jams with hard hit balls, it was all so frustrating. It’s the opposite of watching Pivetta or Castillo last year. With Williams’ inability to miss bats, I can see this turning into the Andrew Cashner of 2019 where a pitcher gets hit with the regression they deserved the previous year. I don’t see a world where I buy Williams outside of a rare stream when you need to take a gamble. This isn’t sneaky value, it’s an obvious trap.
107. Zach Eflin (Philadelphia Phillies) – Some of you may have expected Zach-still-with-an-H to be in the Top 100 and I get it. He showed up with extra velocity and blew us away in his second start of the year against the Giants with nine strikeouts. And while he had a solid six-game stretch in June—8 ER and 24 Ks—it faded fast starting in July through the end of the year: 5.74 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, and 21% K rate. Yikes. His fastball went from solid to putrid during the stretch despite boasting a slightly higher velocity. That’s not good. The attack from Eflin is based in a hard slider that he trusts inside the zone and that aforementioned heater…but not much else. There isn’t that big breaking ball like Pivetta (he has two!) or Nola have. The biggest hope is that his changeup steps into that role as it held a 17% swinging strike rate and 43% O-Swing…though Eflin was very inconsistent with the pitch, holding a horrendous -5.8 pVal in 227 pitches as it allowed a .909 OPS. Maybe Eflin can fine tune both the hard slider and changeup to complement the velocity better and I’ll be watching for it early in the year. Just not with him on my team.
108. Shelby Miller (Texas Rangers) – Remember Miller? The infamous centerpiece of the trade that sent Ender Inciarte, Dansby Swanson, and Aaron Blair to Atlanta showcased increased velocity in 2017—nearly 95 mph!—before Tommy John hit. The Rangers have wisely signed him for the year, hoping Miller can retain that velocity spike for half a season and flip him at the deadline. There could be some sneaky value here if Miller features a strong heater, though we’ll need to see a pitch outside of his strike-getting curveball to take a step forward as well—maybe his cutter/slider? He’s a forgotten name that could surprise many if he’s hovering 95 mph, but it’s too much of a lottery ticket to hold through March.
109. Luiz Gohara (Atlanta Braves) – I haven’t forgotten about Gohara and if you have, don’t. 2018 was tumultuous in every sense, from multiple injuries to losing his father and getting shifted from rotation to pen. With last year behind him, Gohara is fighting for the final rotation spot against Mike Soroka and Touki Toussaint and there’s a shot he takes it, especially with the recent news that Soroka is dealing with shoulder discomfort. In fact, if he were healthy and stretched out, I’m confident he would have earned the spot last fall over Touki. He sports a powerful mid 90s heater that can be pushed to upper 90s, a fantastic swing-and-miss slider, and a changeup that can develop into a solid third offering. It’s all there, it’s a question of opportunity and experience to allow for growth. Monitor the Braves rotation and jump to grab Gohara if he gets the green light. Update: I wrote this prior to his recent news about recent shoulder tightness. This is bad as it may hold him from snagging a rotation spot. Monitor it closely.
110. Trevor Richards (Miami Marlins) – I really thought I’d favor Richards above the other Miami arms—his changeup is just so good—but for as good that changeup is, his fastball is just so bad. I’m weird in that I’m fascinated by terrible pitches almost as much as the elite and Richards’s four-seamer is all kinds of intriguing. A minute 3.4% swinging strike rate among 1,222 pitches is abysmal, allowing a .927 OPS and just 13.7% O-Swing is laughable. Remember, this made up 1,200+ of Richards’s pitches last season! There isn’t any help with his other secondary offerings either, with just a curveball to showcase that found the zone under 35% of the time, allowing a .321 batting average and inducing swings-and-misses at a poor 7% rate. This may remind you of another pitcher, one with an excellent changeup and nothing else and that’s a terrible thing. Yes, I’m referring to The Devil himself, Mr. Jeremy Hellickson, a man who can go a short stretch of dominance before burning down your entire week. Don’t get me wrong, I think there’s a little more room for Richards to grow, but his lack of supporting cast around that elite changeup is enough to turn me away at drafts.
111. Jonathan Loaisiga (New York Yankees) – I really wanted to believe that Loaisiga would have a shot at the rotation this year, but I just don’t see it at the moment with CC Sabathia and JA Happ returning in addition to the James Paxton deal. It’s too bad, really, as Loaisiga has all the tools to be a stellar arm in the bigs—an electric heater in the mid-90s, a solid changeup, and great curveball. The moment he gets another shot in the rotation, you can bet he’ll be back in the Top 100, but who knows when that will be, and I’m not the kind of guy to stash.
112. Domingo German (New York Yankees) – If you’re going to stash a Yankee arm, I think Loaisiga is the better option, though I can see the Yankees going with German first. I wouldn’t prefer it, but German and his big hook could work well, it just comes down to how his changeup feels on a given day. In control? The sun will shine bright and picnics will be had. Changeup on vacation? Thunder roars as trees crash down in a blazing fury. That sounds amazing. IT’S NOT SUPPOSED TO. Like Loaisiga, not worth the get now, but if he gets the chance, I can see us rolling with it if we’re desperate for strikeout upside. I am worried about the ratios, though, definitely more than with Loaisiga who has the three-pitch mix plenty more often (and a better heater).
113. Wade Miley (Houston Astros) – Surprisingly, Miley isn’t a bad option to chase now that he’s a member of the Astros. Following his horrible years in Baltimore, Miley found success with Milwaukee, introducing a cutter (of course a cutter after his time in Baltimore) that fueled plenty of success. It would be unreasonable to anticipate the same 5.2% HR/FB rate and .269 BABIP, though I can see the magic continuing with an organization like Houston. Those looking for cheap Wins and innings without sacrificing the ratios could look toward Miley late. He’s not with the others simply because a half a season with an over-improving cutter is hard to put heavy stock in, but it’s the price of free and you can cut the cord early.
114. Jose Urena (Miami Marlins) – Do I think Urena can get to the point of being a consistent add in 12-teamers? Not really. Can I see him keeping under a 4.30 ERA and better than 1.30 WHIP? Sure, why not. QS leagues should favor Urena and his aggressive heater inside to right-handers that will allow him to go deeper into games than most, but there will be plenty of “why did I start Urena?” along the way. After all, if you roster Jose, Urena boatload of trouble.
115. CC Sabathia (New York Yankees) – It’s the mini-tier of Pandas and I expected to be a little more favorable with CC…except that he went six frames in just 11 of his 29 starts last season. That’s not the lengthy veteran arm I was expecting. It meant that he had under 10 Wins despite pitching nearly 30 games for the Yankees, and that should make a few of you hesitate as we add one final year to his resume. Still, this could easily be sub 4.00 ERA of roughly 150 innings and I could see myself rolling with him as a streamer if his name doesn’t warrant spots on an inflated number of teams.
116. Brandon Woodruff (Milwaukee Brewers) – There’s a lot of talk about the Brewers’ rotation, focused plenty on the possible battle between Corbin Burnes (slotted in the Top 100) and Woodruff. Some like Woodruff, some like Burnes, I kinda don’t like either but between the two, I’m favoring Burnes (mild shock) as he has the best pitch of the two in his slider. Woodruff doesn’t have a putaway pitch—his slider and changeup both sat under a 15% swinging strike rate—and I’m not in love with his fastball command. He seems more like one of those arms that will have a collection of good starts here and there, but good luck figuring out which ones they’ll be.
117. Brad Peacock (Houston Astros) – Update: I just re-wrote all of this, with Peacock’s rank rising into the Top 100. With the news of Josh James out of the running with his strained quad, Peacock becomes the likely winner of the fifth spot in Houston, boosting Peacock’s value considerably. His slider took a bit of a step back last season, though the fastball/slider combination has the upside to make owners salivate—don’t forget, Peacock returned a 29.5% strikeout rate and 3.00 ERA in 132 frames just two years ago. Peacock is a solid late pick at this point, just be ready to let him loose if his slider is getting hit or the Astros elect to fill the spot elsewise.
118. Lucas Giolito (Chicago White Sox) – There was sudden excitement for Giolito in August last year as he changed his arm angle, added some velocity, was able to throw his curveball for strikes briefly, and earned strikes with his slider and changeup. It was peak Giolito that with any sort of consistency, should return a Top 50 starter. But then September arrived and it all went south and we’re sad again. Maybe this is the spring where Giolito gets comfortable in his own shoes and surprises us all. Or maybe he’ll always be this undulating arm of hope and failure. The upside is still in there for those that don’t care about the floor. Update: Giolito was reportedly throwing 95 mph in Spring Training. This could be something.
119. Michael Pineda (Minnesota Twins) – Pineda is coming back from Tommy John surgery this year and we’re wondering how he’ll look. This may be a Tyson Ross scenario like we saw last year with Pineda surprising everyone with a few stretches of dominance on the back of his slider, though I’d be shocked if we could buy into it for the long haul. Don’t go into drafts expecting Pineda to pan out, though if I see him boasting a heater near 94 mph in spring training, you may be able to catch lightning in a bottle in deeper leagues. Just deeper leagues? Yes, have you forgotten that Pineda’s previous three seasons all came with an ERA north of 4.35? The strikeouts aren’t worth that much in a 12-teamer.
120. Sandy Alcantara (Miami Marlins) – There is a battle for the final two spots on the Marlins’ rotation, but Alcantara certainly seems to be on the outskirts at the moment, a product of his unpolished command. Still, consider Alcantara as the year develops as he’s armed with a pair of fastballs with life at 95 mph and a great changeup to back it up. There is upside here, but he won’t gain Miami’s or your trust until he reins in his fastball command inside the zone.
121. Touki Toussaint (Atlanta Braves) – It may shock some of you that I’m not a fan of Touki, but consider this: If Mike Soroka or Luiz Gohara were healthy in September last year, do you really think the Braves would have sent Touki out there instead?
With those two arms healthy in spring training, I imagine Touki may be slotted into the pen or even back down to Triple-A out of the gate. The former makes more sense in the long run, as Toussaint features a great breaking ball, but an inconsistent split-changeup and a good-but-not-great fastball that lacks the precision to nibble corners. Soroka and Gohara bring more to the table as starters and turn into stronger late-round options with better chances to steal the final rotation spot. UPDATE: I wrote this before the recent Spring Training news and Touki should have a starting job out of the gate. Still don’t love him given the meh fastball, but I understand chasing it at the end of 12-team drafts. He jumps to the mid-to-late 80s.
122. Chase Anderson (Milwaukee Brewers) – Man, I really liked Anderson entering last year, believing that the whole was greater than the sum of his parts, but instead the sum of his parts created a massive hole. His strikeout rate dropped as his velocity fell back down (two-point spike in 2017 down almost a full tick in 2018), with his cutter taking a major step backward and lost command on his sinker. There’s a chance he makes some adjustments—as he’s already claiming he’s doing—but from here this looks like a Panda through-and-through without enough to make me buy into his magical 2017 season.
123. Jaime Barria (Los Angeles Angels) – What I like about Barria is how both his changeup and slider can each be money pitches. Crazy, I know. What I don’t like is how mediocre his heater is and his secondary stuff—while good—isn’t so good that it hides his poor heater like an Indians pitcher. I see a possible “better than Toby” situation with a K rate above 20%, but there’s a lot of risk here that I just don’t want to chase.
124. Frankie Montas (Oakland Athletics) – For a guy that throws ched, I’m disappointed Montas is a sinkerballer. There’s a chance he turns into a four-seamer heavy arm with a slider and changeup to match it, screaming fantasy relevancy in a heartbeat. But it could also mean a lot of failure and sadness and I don’t want to be here anymore.
125. Freddy Peralta (Milwaukee Brewers) – He’s the ultimate Cherry Bomb, either demolishing teams with his four-seamer that carries legit cut action, or finding it not enough on a given day and getting lit up like the cool kids under the bleachers. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to truly trust him until his curveball and/or changeup becomes a significant offering, allowing Peralta to move away from the ~80% heater usage and bring it down closer to 60%. Pair that with the concern that he’ll be pushed into the pen and I can’t recommend chasing the volatile youngin.
Tier 12: The Young Dudes
126. Forrest Whitley (Houston Astros) – Whitley should be higher. There I said it, but when I originally did these rankings, the only thing that would elevate Whitely to the majors earlier would be an injury to the starting five…and we got it from Josh James. I expect Brad Peacock to get the fifth spot in the rotation now, though I can imagine Peacock’s role a bit questionable through the first six weeks and even if Houston elects to go with Valdez for a moment, Whitley will be sent up whenever the Astros make their decision on the Super Two. At worst, he comes up in July. At best, he’s a late April call-up. There’s Walker Buehler upside here and with the recent Spring news, he’s landing in the early-80s now right ahead of Sheffield. BUT THAT’S NOT HOW THIS WORKS AND WHATEVER. Take a chance in your 12-teamer on Whitley in the final few rounds as there’s so much SP depth you can swap him out later if you need to.
127. Chris Paddack (San Diego Padres) – I didn’t really think the Padres would consider Paddack this year, but after his Spring Training debut (Read my article about it here because it answers all your questions), there’s talk that Paddack could be up after the initial two weeks of the season (Yes, he’s now after Whitley and before Sheffield in the Top 100). It makes sense given the horrific Padres rotation (Eric Lauer? Robbie Erlin? Bryan Mitchell? Luis Perdomo? Fellas, FELLAS…) and even if Matt Strahm takes a spot—as he should—there’s plenty of room for Paddack. I do have slight concerns about his stuff as his curveball is decent but not great and his Vulcan-changeup grip often leads to inconsistency. However, his fastball is elite with top-of-the-line command and he’s a must-own the moment he’s in the rotation. Keep an eye on this one as well.
128. Triston McKenzie (Cleveland Indians) – These other five aren’t as pressing as the top two, but they should at least be mentioned here as possible impact call-ups this year. McKenzie seems to be the sixth-in-line for the rotation in Cleveland and while he won’t earn a spot based on an Indian starter failing, there is always the possibility of an injury. If there is a significant loss around June/July, McKenzie could get the call the same way Shane Bieber did, with a similar impact (and hopefully better BABIP). Good command, great fastball/curveball, and the possibility of a 25% K rate in the majors with a decent walk rate. Works for me.
129. Bryse Wilson (Atlanta Braves) – With the injury plague hitting the Braves rotation, there’s a chance we see Wilson sooner than anticipated and that’s a very good thing. He won me over mightily in his MLB debut last year (GIF Breakdown here from Andy Patton- READ IT) pumping 95 mph with an excellent slider and changeup. It’s a question of innings, though if he finds his way into the rotation, Wilson is a sneaky Spice Girl that could produce through the year.
130. Ian Anderson (Atlanta Braves) – Wilson isn’t the top pitching prospect, though, with that title going to Anderson. He’s excelled in the minors thus far, though just four starts in Double-A makes me believe Atlanta will take its time giving Anderson the call. Whenever he does pitch in the majors, though, you best be ready to snag him and see where it takes you.
131. Dylan Cease (Chicago White Sox) – It may sound weird, but with the ChiSox missing out on both Machado and Harper, I’m a little less eager to grab Cease. It means Chicago will not be as competitive in an easy AL Central, putting less pressure on fixing their developing rotation. However, whenever they roll with Cease, he could be special. He’s a flamethrower with a legit curveball to back it up, boasting 15%+ swinging strike rates in both A+ and Double-A last year. There’s a bit of concern in his overall command and changeup, but the foundation of heat and break could return a big splash when he comes up.
132. Mitch Keller (Pittsburgh Pirates) – I expect the Pirates to be a little slow with Keller given their lack of pressing need in an unbelievably competitive NL Central, but when Keller does get the call—probably in July—I expect a command-focused arm that should be a solid ratio play, but needs to take a step forward in the strikeout and whiff department. There’s always a chance he takes the step faster than others, but he’s not my favorite minor league stash due to the lack of overpowering stuff.
Tier 13: The Infirmary
133. Dinelson Lamet (San Diego Padres) – Alright, it’s time we talked about the guys you’re considering stashing. First I’ll do the injured arms as at the very least they can save you a roster spot via the IL. Lamet is often the first IL stash (it still feels weird saying that) off the board…and I guess now is the time for a mini-rant about this strategy. If you can add an injured arm in the last round, go for it as it’s the same as “free” since whatever pick you’d have made will be on the waiver wire. However, proceed with caution as these stashes are not worth a real roster spot in April and May. Bench spots are incredibly valuable early in the year as you want to grab as many lottery ticket assets as possible as we sort what is real and what isn’t. These injured arms are simply not worth holding over early breakout players. Back to Lamet, I’m skeptical he’ll be a big impact this year. His slider is excellent and will keep strikeouts flowing, but a split-changeup that he struggles heavily to command and a middling fastball that works some days and peels over the plate in others means Lamet will be a volatile arm and possibly detrimental. This ignores the whole “needs time to get his feel back from TJS” part of the equation as well. If you can stash without worry, sure, why not. If it costs you an actual roster spot at any point, call him McNulty and send him to the wire.
134. Brent Honeywell (Tampa Bay Rays) – We were all pumped for Honeywell last year, but TJS struck and now we’re here waiting. We still haven’t seen him against major league hitters and it’s possible that 2019 will push Honeywell into a False Starter role as they ease him back to live-ball with an Opener. That doesn’t speak to a guy pushing the needle as much as you need him too. Things can change on a dime and Honeywell could be one of those pitching prospects that shows up and dominates from Day 1, but I won’t invest in that now. Maybe in a few months as we all play injury chicken.
135. AJ Puk (Oakland Athletics) – The best news for Puk is the state of the Athletic’s rotation. In short, it’s terrible. Once Luzardo gets the call the sun may shine a bit more, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Oakland fighting for that second Wild Card spot and forcing Puk instantly into the rotation. The upside is phenomenal here, earning 14%+ swinging strike rates in A+ and Double-A ball as he boasts a great fastball/slider combination from the left side. It could turn into instant money, but we’ll most likely have to wait until the second half.
136. Taijuan Walker (Arizona Diamondbacks) – We’ve been waiting ages for Walker to have that one full year of dominance. 2017 was a taste, though his 1.33 WHIP and 4.42 SIERA thought otherwise. There isn’t an overpowering offering inside his repertoire, but it’s well fathomable that Walker returns in July and gives better-than-a-Toby production and that’s something.
Tier 14: The Rest
137. Alex Cobb (Baltimore Orioles) – It’s really weird how fast we’ve come around to say “yep, Cobb is not worth anyone’s time.” This was a back-to-back sub 3.00 ERA guy back in…oh right. 2013/2014. Fine. It may surprise you that Cobb held a 2.59 ERA in his final 12 starts, but before you take that to the bank—Hi, I’d like to deposit one Alex Cobb, please—note that the low ERA came with a 7.7% swinging strike rate, 4.58 SIERA, and 16% strikeout rate. Yeah, this is only going to hurt.
138. Ivan Nova (Chicago White Sox) – If you’re in a deep Quality Start league, I can actually say that Nova may be a decent add. Moving to the White Sox will only help as they are known to let their starters go deep into games—ahem, Rodon & Lopez—and Nova allowed 3 ER or fewer in 20 of 29 starts. In non-QS leagues, there is nothing here for you. It’s going to be an ERA north of 4.00, a low strikeout rate, and a WHIP over the 1.25 mark. Blegh.
139. Tyson Ross (Detroit Tigers) – That was a fun April of 2018 as Ross was making things work with his slider despite showcasing dropped velocity across the board. And despite keeping his head above water until the middle of May, we knew it wasn’t going to last, earning more than five strikeouts for the last time on June 9th. Ross seems like damaged goods at this point as Detroit will start him, hoping to squeeze some value out of him at the trade deadline. He’ll get his chance to impress as the Tiger’s let him fly—there’s a possibility he could repeat his string of 9/10 starts with 6+ IP to begin 2018—but this screams occasional stream to me.
140. Matt Shoemaker (Toronto Blue Jays) – Look, we all know that Shoemaker can go on ridiculous stretches with that split-changeup of his. Maybe he goes on a few of those runs and this turns out okay. At the very least, we can fathom that he gets considered as a streaming option and that’s worth something, right?
141. Brad Keller (Kansas City Royals) – It’s easy to write off Keller. His 3.08 ERA was supported by a 4.51 SIERA, his WHIP was a pedestrian 1.30, and it all came with a sub 17% strikeout rate. This all speaks Panda and that’s unfortunate. There is hope that he can outperform his ERA and improve his strikeouts, though. His slider improved in the final months of the season, returning a 10.5% overall swinging strike rate…and 19.3% strikeout rate, but at least it’s better. Our very own Michael Augustine wrote a piece about Keller’s approach, detailing how he uses tunneling to squeeze the most out of his arsenal. There’s a possibility he turns into the Toby we all want, there’s just not enough here for me to believe I can’t find something similar off the wire—a true Panda.
142. Wade LeBlanc (Seattle Mariners) – You see a 3.72 ERA and think there may be something here. I see just see 41% starts going into the sixth inning and a sub 20% strikeout rate and I’m out. LeBlanc throws 86/87 mph and relies on command and contact to make things work. This isn’t Kyle Hendricks 2.0, this is a fortunate year that gets ugly when luck runs out.
143. Tyler Mahle (Cincinnati Reds) – I’m not ruling out the chance that Mahle squeaks into the rotation in April, even if Sonny Gray‘s “injury” was a whole lot of nothing, and there’s a chance Mahle becomes 12-team relevant. His fastball is fantastic, but his secondary stuff has held him back tremendously. Now he’s working on a new curveball that could become a solid complement and BAM! You have 12-teamer relevance when he’s in the rotation. Just a thought.
144. Tanner Roark (Cincinnati Reds) – In deeper leagues, I understand focusing on Roark more as he enters the sixth inning often (hello QS leagues!), but Roark has all the makings of another 4.00 ERA season, especially moving to homer haven in GABP (or is it GAB?). He’s a Panda and we don’t draft Pandas. We don’t even draft Tobys.
145. Mike Fiers (Oakland Athletics) – I’m surprised how much I had to talk about Fiers last year and I really hope I don’t have to again. His fly-ball tendencies should play up in Oakland, but not so much that he’s evading that 4.75 FIP while maintaining a sub 20% K rate. It’s a Panda, y’all.
146. Marco Estrada (Oakland Athletics) – Maybe this works? Since Estrada had his breakout year in Toronto, we’ve been dreaming of a scenario like this where he moves from the AL Beast HR haven to the embracer of fly-ball outs in O.Co. It’s a gamble to take, but for those desperate in AL-Only or deeeeep QS leagues, I can fathom this being a decent sleeper pick.
147. Joe Ross (Washington Nationals) – The Nationals have a full rotation, though Ross could get some time given the inevitable injury to Strasburg…and Sanchez…and Hellickson. The problem is, Ross has always been raw and still misses the polish that would make me believe he’d be a big impact when he does start. For now, let’s watch from afar and maybe jump if he shows us something to get excited about.
148. Gio Gonzalez (Free Agent) – Gio is still a free agent and he could still be one for a bit. Let’s say he signs—the Astros/Mets/Padres all fit in my book—I’d still not touch him. Gio’s fastball velocity is down to sub 90 mph levels without the big hook performing as well as it needs to if he wants to cover it up. Seriously, it was a -10.9 pVal deuce in 2018. Those hoping for the good ole days are going to be disappointed and it’s part of the reason he’s still looking for a job. This is a Panda and that’s not your game.
149. Jake Odorizzi (Minnesota Twins) – It’s just a whole lot of blegh and save for a strikeout rate that sits over 20% and a few stretches a year, there’s just nothing here that makes you want to assign yourself to him. Old times, maybe. Now? Not so much.
150. Jake Faria (Tampa Bay Rays) – Faria is here without his other False Starters in Tampa because this is the end of the Top 150 and they’ll be in the next and final article. I really do believe Faria has the tools to be a legit starter—good fastball that often features cut with a pair of swing-and-miss pitches in his slider and split-change—though it’ll take some time for him to get comfortable, while the Rays are not going to let him collect the innings as he begins games in the second or third. This may turn into something in the second half when Charlie Morton is hurt or we may even need to wait until 2020, but for the most part, I don’t think he’ll give you enough to make you happy this season.
(Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire)