(Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire)
We featured the Top 25 Catchers, Top 30 First Basemen, Top 30 Second Basemen, Top 30 Shortstops, Top 30 Third Basemen, Top 30 Outfielders, Top 60 Outfielders, and Top 90 Outfielders in dynasty leagues so far this week — today, day nine starts us on our journey through starting pitchers.
Tier One: Suit Up!
5. Corey Kluber (Cleveland Indians, 32)
Tier Two: How You Doin’?
11. Carlos Martinez (St. Louis Cardinals, 26)
12. Carlos Carrasco (Cleveland Indians, 31)
Tier Three: Is That Your Final Answer?
14. Lance McCullers (Houston Astros, 24)
18. Gerrit Cole (Houston Astros, 27)
Tier Four: I’m Listening
24. Jose Quintana (Chicago Cubs, 29)
25. Jose Berrios (Minnesota Twins, 23)
Tier Five: Live Long and Prosper
Way Too Deep Prospects
I plan on doing three starting pitching prospects for each of my three starting pitcher articles. The next three I have my eye on but do not own (yet) are: Freisis Adames (Milwaukee Brewers, 21), Ramon Rosso (Philadelphia Phillies, 21), and Luis Rijo (New York Yankees, 19).
- The deciding reason I prefer Noah Syndergaard over Corey Kluber is age. Yes, Kluber is as stable as they come (875 innings over the past four years), whereas Syndergaard is a Mets’ pitcher (so, 363 innings over the past three years). Both have the talent to be the #1 pitcher in each of the next few years — but with nearly seven years between the two, I’ll take Syndergaard’s injury risk over Kluber’s age.
- In another Corey Kluber debate, I struggled with Kluber v. Luis Severino. I preferred Severino with his 29.4% strikeout rate and 6.5% walk rate (at 24 years old). My biggest concern in this ranking is Severino’s lack of historical success (2017 ADP of 260). Undeterred, I remain convinced Severino’s breakout was real and feel confident streaming him for years to come (I paid for him recently in my dynasty league). Again, age and upside triumph (perhaps a common theme to my rankings).
- Aaron Nola will be a top 10 pitcher this year (if healthy). Nola’s July 2017 presents a ceiling in the realm of a top 5 (or higher pitcher) where he pitched a 1.32 ERA/2.10 FIP, 32.3% strikeout rate, and a 6% walk rate. F****** sexy. Although his season was marked by highs and lows, I think his lows can be written off as a young, developing pitcher.
- Shohei Ohtani is probably ranked too high here. Its too soon to tell whether he’ll live up to the insane amount of hype that has preceded him for the past three years, but in a dynasty league – we don’t have the opportunity to wait. I envision these rankings for first-year dynasty leagues and the upside behind Ohtani merits a draft pick here. After a full season, the hype could be for naught — but a 23-year-old top-end starter is worth the risk.
- Lance McCullers, James Paxton, and Luis Castillo were all a razor’s edge between one another. I gave McCullers the edge – few pitchers have his combination of swing & miss as well as potential to be injured. He’s only 24 years old and if he can (and its a relatively big if) put together a full season, his numbers would align with any of the Tier One pitchers. Paxton shares McCullers proclivity for the DL and is a bit older, but I think he would be a more stable arm in the short term. Castillo will continue to make the jump into the SP1 realm this year — with a 27.3% strikeout rate and 8.9% walk rate. If you ignore his rough landing into the season, Castillo finished the season with all lights green moving forward.
- In 2017 Aaron Sanchez did what no one else thought was possible, out blistered Rich Hill. I am, perhaps obstinately, ignoring anything that happened in 2017 and will focus on the budding star that 2016 brought us. Other than Kevin Millwood’s improbable run in 2005 and I suppose Anibal Sanchez in 2013, the last not-fantasy-relevant AL ERA king was Juan Guzman in 1996 (who ominously played for the Toronto Blue Jays). Aaron Sanchez threw an entirely league average 20.4% strikeout rate and an 8% walk rate. Combined with a well above average 54.4 ground ball percentage, Aaron Sanchez is looking like a highly successful groundball pitcher. While he may never ascend into the elite, his incredibly high floor makes him a safe pick to fill out your roster…if healthy.
- Zack Greinke & Justin Verlander could do great this year…or not. Grienke had a 2.86/3.66 ERA splits in 2017, Verlander had 4.73/1.95. Clearly, Verlander had a wild course correction in July, but before digging any deeper – these splits at their age demonstrate to me the volatility in their stock. Grienke will be getting a humidor and Verlander a slightly more pitcher-friendly park, but at ages 34 and 35 respectively – their days of fantasy relevance are clearly numbered. I kept them in my top-30 because at least in the short-term they could provide ace value – it really depends on individual roster compositions.
I’ll be making notes in each of my rankings for players/situations/choices worth noting — if there is something specific you wish to discuss regarding the ranks — drop a comment.